Classroom Differences: Scotland vs. Elsewhere
If you currently teach in England but are ready for a change, Scotland could be the place for you. It’s as familiar as the rest of the UK but Scotland has an education system that focuses on supporting both teachers and students. Keep reading to learn the benefits of teaching in Scotland vs. Elsewhere , from teacher-friendly legislation to student-focused classrooms.
The Scottish Government has control over Scotland’s education system, so there are several differences from other education systems.
- Scotland's schools range from Primary 1 to 7 (primary school), followed by Secondary 1 to 6 (high school). Primary 1 starts at age 4-5.
- Instead of GCSEs and A Levels, Scottish students sit examinations called Standards and/or Highers.
- Scotland has no prescriptive national curriculum of specific subjects or timings. Instead, the Scottish Government sets guidelines for learning and teaching allowing schools to make their own decisions on what to teach based around pupil needs and interests.
- Secondary school qualifications are awarded by the Scottish Qualification Authority, whereas other countries might use a number of different exam boards.
Many of the demands of teaching remain the same wherever you go, but Scotland offers many rewards you probably won’t find elsewhere .
- Starting salaries for teachers are roughly the same, but the cost of living in Scotland tends to be more affordable, especially when compared to the London metropolitan area.
- Providing support for educational leadership is a fundamental policy of the Scottish Government’s Teaching Scotland’s Future programme, which provides a structured framework for promotion.
- According to the OECD, teachers in England receive half the development time of teachers in other countries. Scottish teachers enjoy 35 hours of continued professional development (CPD) each year, as well as the right to a constructive annual review.
Scotland takes a “student first” approach to education, valuing learning and development over cost-cutting and exam scores.
Class sizes tend to be slightly smaller. The maximum class size is 25 for Primary 1 (P1) students and 30 for P2 and P3 students. The Scottish Government has set targets to reduce class sizes for all three years to 18 or fewer students.
Whereas England follows the National Curriculum, Scotland follows the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), which focuses on a wider, more flexible range of subjects. The aim is to provide options and choice across a broad range of subjects, rather than specialising at an earlier age, as with A levels. There are seven principles educators must consider when planning their students’ learning:
✔ Challenge and enjoyment
✔ Personalisation and choice