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As your child approaches the end of their primary school years, it’s important to spend some time looking at your secondary school options.

Secondary school is a crucial stepping-stone toward higher education and plays a fundamental part in your child’s personal, social and academic development.

If you are considering an independent secondary school for your child, have a read of our guide on how to choose an independent secondary school in Scotland.

First things first 

If you’re looking to send your child to an independent secondary school in Scotland, the first thing to do is use our find a school tool to identify the independent schools in the area.

With filters for boarding, coeducational* and location, this interactive map shows you all our member schools. 

From here, you can create a shortlist of secondary schools that are of interest and then take a look at each school’s website to get a greater insight into what’s on offer. 


When assessing different secondary schools, parents should take a close look at the curriculum. What National 5 and Higher subjects are on offer? Are there options to study languages – and if so, which? Does the school follow the Scottish Highers, A-level or International Baccalaureate system?

Independent schools can vary on the curriculum offered, with some secondary schools offering a broader range of subjects than others. Keep these in mind when reviewing your options, as it may influence your child’s later choices for higher education.

Extra-curricular options

It is also worthwhile looking at the various extra-curricular options available to pupils. From the orchestra to drama clubs and more, independent schools offer a wide array of activities for young people to discover and sink their teeth into. 

Participating in a wide array of hobbies and interests from a young age supports the healthy development of children into well-rounded, interested adults. It’s also a great way for them to form friendships and forge bonds with their fellow pupils.

The hobbies children take up in childhood may well go on to shape their career, be it by igniting an interest in STEM or fuelling a life-long love of music.

Visit the school – Does your child love it? 

The best way to get to know whether a school is the right fit for your child is to visit! Attend open days, meet key staff members and chat with current students to get a genuine feel for the school.

Your child will likely spend the next five years here, so it is important they have the opportunity to visit and get a sense of the school environment for themselves.

Have a read of our guide on what to ask at a school open day here!


Most independent secondary schools will require your child to sit an entrance assessment before being offered a place. This will examine their current reasoning, writing, language, and maths skills, although it’s not an exam - it is simply a means to understand their current strengths and areas for improvement.

Some schools may also ask pupils to attend a meeting with the head teacher, which is really just a way of getting to know the child a little better.

Choosing an independent secondary school in Scotland may feel overwhelming at first. However, with careful consideration of the pointers above, you should find that decision making process much easier and ultimately, find the very best school for your child.


Looking for an independent secondary school? Use our find a school tool here.