​Education is provided at pre-school, primary and secondary levels in both mainstream and special schools. In accordance with the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, the provision of education is the responsibility of local authorities who perform the function of education authority. Education has to be flexible to fit individual needs, be tailored to 'age, ability and aptitude' (Education (Scotland) Act 1980) and aims to develop the 'personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of children and young persons to their fullest potential' (Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000).

Explore the most important legislation that underpins Scottish education.

The Education (Scotland) Act (1980)

An Act with specific reference to the provision of education by Education Authorities and the rights and duties of parents and functions of Education Authorities in relation to individual learners.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an international statement of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children. It came into UK law in 1992.

Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000

This Act is about the provision of school education specifically relating to children's rights and the duty of the education authority.

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

This Act concerns the provision of services and support for children and young people; it covers adoption, children's hearings, detention in secure accommodation and consultation on certain proposals in relation to schools. 

The Equality Act 2010

This Act places a duty on schools and education authorities not to discriminate against pupils with protected characteristics including disabilities, sexual orientation and ethnicity. This includes admission to school, the way education is provided, access to a benefit, facility or service, and exclusion. They must not treat pupils with disabilities less favourably and must take reasonable steps to avoid putting these pupils at a substantial disadvantage. The duty related to aids and services means that, since September 2012, schools (including independent schools) have to make reasonable adjustments.  

Education (Scotland) Act 2016

This Act includes provisions for strategic planning to consider socio-economic barriers to learning. It includes provisions which extend the rights of children aged 12 and over with capacity under the Additional Support for Learning Act. Children who are able to can use rights on their own behalf to affect decision making about them.

Legislation for Gaelic Education

The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 contains provisions on Gaelic Education. These include placing a duty on education authorities to promote and support Gaelic Medium Education (GME) and Gaelic Learner Education (GLE). The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 establishes a process by which parents can request Gaelic Medium Primary Education (GMPE) from their education authority. 

Statutory Guidance has been issued under Section 9 of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. It consists of two parts. Part 1 provides Guidance specifically relating to the Education (Scotland) Act 2016. Part 2 provides Guidance on GME and GLE in schools.

The Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013

This legislation places requirements on every local authority in Scotland to secure and co-ordinate the provision of community learning and development (CLD) in their area. 

Documents relating to the CLD Regulations and CLD provision in Scotland:

PDF file: CLD Regulations 2013 - Minister's letter (151 KB)

PDF file: CLD Regulations - Guidance for local authorities (499 KB)

PDF file: CLD Regulations 2013 - Frequently asked questions (104 KB)

PDF file: What are the barriers to efficient and adequate community learning and development provision in our area? (51 KB)

PDF file: Advice note: Local area networks and the CLD Regulations 2013 (106 KB)

PowerPoint file:  The Requirements for CLD (Scotland) Regulations 2013 (558 KB)

PDF file: Community Learning and Development Plans 2015-18: Planning for change in Scotland's communities (2.6 MB)