Attending school

As a parent, you are legally responsible for making sure that your child is educated. This usually means going to school, although some parents choose to educate their child at home.

This Scottish Government parent guide to school attendance includes information on:

  • what to do if you child is ill and will be off school
  • holidays during term-time
  • truancy.

When will my child start school?​​

Generally, children in Scotland start school when they are aged between four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half. When they are eligible to start school depends on when their fifth birthday is:

  • If your child’s birthday is on or between 1 March-31 August, your child will usually start school in the August (the beginning of the Autumn term) of the year they turn 5.
  • If your child’s birthday is on or between 1 September-last day in February, your child will usually start school in the August (the beginning of Autumn term) in the year before they turn 5.

Deferring school

If your child is still 4 years old on the date they are due to start primary school, you can defer your child's entry to primary school by a year.

If your child is deferring entry to school for a year, you can:

  • automatically get an extra year of early learning and childcare funding if their 5th birthday is on or between 1 January and the end of February
  • apply to your local council and request an extra year of early learning and childcare funding if their 5th birthday is after the beginning of the autumn term, in August, and before 1 January. Your local council will decide if your child will get an extra year of funding. Even if your child is not granted an additional year of early learning and childcare funding, you are still entitled to defer their entry to school for a year. 

More information on children’s birthdays, primary school deferral, and the early learning and childcare funded provision (which may be available in a deferred year) can be found on the MyGov website.

If you would like your child to start school later than the local authority would expect them to start, you should discuss this with your local authority​ as early as possible.

At what age will my child leave school?

In Scotland, if your child's 16th birthday falls within or between March and September, they can leave school in the May of that year. If their birthday falls between October and February, they can leave at the start of the winter holidays.

Useful documents

PDF file: School education in Scotland - A guide for refugees (271 KB) -  Information about the school system in Scotland, including when children start and finish school and what children study.