2. Education

Katie Barnes studied at Stevenson College in Edinburgh. It is one of the largest further education colleges in Scotland. It was founded in 1970, and is named after famous Scottish engineer, Robert Stevenson. The college has five faculties offering a wide range of subjects:

College Students

Access & Continuing Education
Business, Administration & Languages
Creative Arts
Early Education, Health & Social Care
Science, Sport & Engineering

The college welcomes approximately 17000 students each year, of which approximately 1000 are from overseas.

Scotland’s 46 Further Education colleges provide much of the country’s vocational education and training (work-based learning), school-level qualifications such as Higher Grade exams as well as a wide range of higher education courses.

A step ahead

Find out more about the place where Katie studied.

This is Stevenson College Webpage. Find a course you are interested in and tell your course mates about it in the forum.


Education in Scotland has a long and distinguished history. By the end of the 15th century, for example, Scotland already had three universities (St Andrew’s, Glasgow and Aberdeen.) Schools run by the Church already existed in the Middle Ages but by the 16th century the burghs (towns) were also founding schools. In 1560 the Protestant reformer, John Knox, called for the setting up of elementary schools in every parish. In 1696 the Scottish Parliament passed what is believed to be the world’s first national education act, which provided for a school in every parish, a fixed salary for the teacher and financial arrangements to cover the cost.

Scotland Street School, Glasgow
Image in Flickr by Alex Liivet under CC 

Over the years many schools were established in Scotland, some by the churches and others by the larger towns, by societies and by individuals, with the result that in large areas of the country by the mid-19th century a very large proportion of the population was literate.

In 1872 a Board of Education for Scotland was created. It established the responsibility of parents to see that all children between the ages of 5 and 13 received education and provided for the funding of education from the local property tax. Education was taken out of the hands of the churches and made it the responsibility of local elected bodies, the School Boards. It allowed the right to opt out of religious education. All head teachers should hold a certificate of competency to teach and that all teachers should be trained. Free primary education was introduced in 1890. The age for compulsory education was extended to 14 in 1901.

The Scotch (later Scottish) Education Department, created in 1885, was at first located in London and did not move to Edinburgh until 1922. Its formation, however, took Scottish education along quite a different path of development from the educational system of England and Wales. The most striking developments in the period up to 1945 were the establishment of a single external examination system for Scotland in 1888 and the creation of 36 local education authorities in 1918 to replace the complex system of almost 1,000 School Boards. From 1936 Scottish primary education covers the seven years from age 5 to age 12 and it is clearly separated from secondary.

The period immediately after the Second World War saw the publication of major reports reviewing primary and secondary education and the eventual implementation of their recommendations laid the foundation of the present system. A major aim was to provide educational opportunity for all pupils proposing teaching methods suitable for mixed-ability classes, enabling children to proceed at different rates in the same class. The removal of selection for secondary education at age 12 also played an important part in breaking down a system in which pupils in larger schools had been streamed by ability. In secondary education the aim of equal educational opportunity was met through the change from selective to comprehensive schools.

Many of these developments were not put in place until the 1960s. Changes in the public examination system made it more accessible to a larger number and led to consequent changes in the curriculum. There was also a rapid expansion of vocational further education provision, not only through evening classes but, more importantly, through full-time and day-release courses, taught in almost 50 new further education colleges.
In secondary education changes continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including the implementation of the current examination system at age 16, which has the aim of providing for the whole school population at school leaving age.

During the 1980s the Government introduced measures to involve parents more in the education of their children, leading to the formation of School Boards and the publication of a Parents’ Charter.

Changes and developments to make education more widely available and more effective continued in the 1990s in higher education and further education, as well as in the other sectors. During this period there was an increase in the number of universities.

Nowadays, the ongoing debates in Scottish education include curriculum reform, reduction of class sizes and assessment.



Pregunta Verdadero-Falso

Now answer the following questions.
The education system in Scotland is similar to the English one.

Verdadero Falso

In 1696 Scotland was under English rule.

Verdadero Falso

The age for compulsory education is 14.

Verdadero Falso

Parents take part in School Boards.

Verdadero Falso

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