Answering Your FAQs About Grammar Schools in Scotland


  1. Does Scotland have grammar schools?
  2. Which is the best school in Scotland?
  3. Do you have to pay to go to a grammar school?
  4. Why are they called grammar schools?


The Scottish Education system isn’t the same as in the rest of the UK. It has a completely different system based on the Curriculum for Excellence covering the ages from three to eighteen. It’s natural, then, that many parents who are moving to Scotland or who are considering sending their child to be educated there should have a number of questions about the types of schools in Scotland. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to know about Grammar schools in scotland. 👍empty school classroom

Does Scotland have grammar schools?


In short, yes! But not in the same sense as the grammar schools in England and Northern Ireland. While there are a number of state grammar schools in England (164) and Northern Ireland (69), there are no state Grammar schools in Scotland.

Independent schools in Scotland are equivalent to what would be Grammar schools in Scotland, but can’t be accessed through the state school system as they can in England and Northern Ireland. Scottish independent schools have their own entrance tests which are often similar to the 11 + exam with the following subjects:

As verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning aren’t usually taught in primary schools, even if your child is a high-performing student, many parents employ tutors to help kids prepare for the exams. GoStudent tutors work 1:1 with your child and create a personalised learning plan to suit their needs and learning style. There are several advantages to working with a GoStudent tutor:

You may also choose to have extra lessons for your child in maths and English if your child finds either of these subjects a challenge. 

Entrance to independent schools (the nearest equivalent of Grammar schools in Scotland) can be seen by comparing to the English system as in the table below:  👇


English system

Scottish system







Year 1




Year 2




Year 3




Year 4




Year 5




Year 6




Year 7




Year 8




Year 9




Year 10


National 3, 4 & 5 (Scotland)


Year 11


GCSEs (England)


Year 12


Advanced Highers (Scotland)


Year 13


A Levels (England)


Independent school intake can be at any age and depends on the school, but is usually in P1, P6, P7, S5 and S6.


Which is the best school in Scotland? 


In 2021 Jordanhill School in Glasgow topped the league tables for the 6th year in a row. As already stated, traditional grammar schools in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen don’t exist so you may expect this to be an independent school. In fact, the school describes itself as ‘neither a local authority nor an independent school’ as it has its own unique admissions system. However, no fees are necessary and there is no academic selection of students.


Do you have to pay to go to a grammar school?


Are there grammar schools in Scotland? Only by name. So, the fee-paying independent schools are the nearest fit, and they range in price. Boarding schools cost more than day schools. For example Fettes College in Edinburgh is the most expensive school in Scotland: 💰

Preparatory School

Fee per term

Senior School

Fee per term

Day pupils


Day pupils







But prices do vary a lot so it’s best to check with the school you’re interested in.


Why are they called grammar schools?


A little bit of history will hopefully clarify things. 1944’s Education Act stated that every child was required to sit the 11+ exam in their final year of primary education. This is a selective exam designed to take only the most academic pupils.

In Scotland this meant your life could go in two directions at the age of 11. The senior secondary, which could lead to doing Highers and then potentially university, or the junior secondary which was geared towards learning a trade or doing an unskilled job. Many people thought this was an unfair system and Grammar schools in Scotland were phased out in the 1960s.

Some of the schools which had been grammar schools in Scotland in the traditional sense, retained their name. How many grammar schools in Scotland is therefore not easy to answer, but there are 91 independent schools in Scotland according to latest figures. Some of these are selective, some are non-selective. They are fee-paying but all independent schools offer financial assistance by means-tested awards. Financial assistance can range from 100% of fees paid by the school to awards which typically cover 20% of the cost. See here for more information.

We think the best thing you can do for your child is choose the school in which they’re going to thrive. If they pass an independent school entrance test, that’s great! They deserve a gift for their achievement and hard work. If they don’t, well you’ll save yourself a few quid and they may well be happier somewhere else anyway! At least, if you’re reading this, you’re looking at all the options and that’s great parenting! 🏆

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