In Glasgow, as in the rest of Scotland, parents have a range of public and private choices with regards to the school their child attends. However, expat parents interested in an international curriculum will have to look further afield. There are only four International Baccalaureate schools in all of Scotland, none of which are in Glasgow.
While public schools are free, private schools have fees. Notably, Glasgow is home to some of Scotland's best-performing public schools, so parents should keep an open mind when deciding to go private or public. Education Scotland provides reports on both public and private schools, a helpful resource for investigating options.
All of Glasgow’s schools follow the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence in which schooling is divided into two phases. The first phase is a broad general education, beginning at nursery (age 3) and continuing through seven years of primary school (P1 to P7) and three years of secondary school (S1 to S3). The senior phase starts in S4 at age 16 and concludes in S6 at age 18.
Public schools in Glasgow
The vast majority of children in Glasgow attend state-funded public schools. Some of these schools are particularly well regarded, topping the list of best-performing state schools in Scotland year after year. However, quality does vary among government schools as a whole so thorough research should be undertaken before making any final decisions.
Schools are automatically assigned according to catchment areas, so this is an important consideration when deciding where to live. If parents wish, they can submit a placing request to Glasgow City Council for a school outside their area. However, priority placement is determined according to extensive criteria, and there is no guarantee of acceptance.
Private schools in Glasgow
Glasgow has a number of private independent schools where funding is from fees and charitable donations. There may be scholarship or bursary schemes to assist with costs. While private schools do adhere to the local curriculum, they have more freedom in teaching methods and may have better facilities.
It is always worth organising tours of the schools, ideally during a school day, so that one gets a feel for the school’s approach and ethos. Some topics worth addressing include the length of the school day, extracurricular activities, class sizes, assessments and possible summer school activities.
Independent schools tend to run entrance tests and these can be at various times of the year. Whatever school one chooses for their child, it is important that it meets their needs and works well logistically for the whole family.
International schools in Glasgow
Unfortunately, all schools in Glasgow follow the local curriculum, meaning that there are no full-time international schools. In all of Scotland, there are only four International Baccalaureate schools, none of which is in Glasgow. The closest IB schools are the two in Edinburgh, about an hour's train ride from Glasgow, but neither school has boarding options. Scotland's other two IB schools are located even farther away in St Andrew's and Aberdeen.
As the expat community of Glasgow grows, there may be a rise in the number of international schools but at present, the options are limited in this area.
Special needs education in Glasgow
Special needs in education are addressed according to Glasgow City Council's "Every Child is Included and Supported" policy. This policy works according to staged intervention levels which range from localised intervention at a school level to multi-agency involvement. These stages ensure that the support given is consistent and appropriate to the child's needs.
Expat parents may find it useful to know that Glasgow Education Services also offers specialised support services for children who don't speak English as a first language. The English as an Additional Language (EAL) service is available to all children attending nursery, primary and secondary schools. The service assists children of all English levels, from those just learning English to those who have been speaking English for longer but need some extra support.
Homeschooling in Glasgow
Given that there are no international schools in the city, homeschooling can be a good solution for parents living in Glasgow who would like their child to continue with a non-Scottish curriculum.
Parents must submit notification to their local council if they wish to withdraw their child from public school and educate them at home. If the child is being withdrawn from an independent school or hasn't been enrolled in school yet, it isn't necessary to notify the council.
There aren't any restrictions regarding curriculum and scheduling doesn't necessarily have to follow a fixed daily or termly timetable. However, parents do have a legal obligation to provide a suitable education according to the child's age, ability and aptitude. Parents will need to prove this in complying with checks from council investigation officers, which usually take place once a year.