Schools & Education

all you need for relocation to scotland: edinburgh

Schools & Education: Primary Schools

Starting Primary school in Edinburgh

warning-32.png In Scotland, children aged between 4½ and 5½ start Primary school in August. 

Children born in January and February can have their entry to primary school deferred and a free pre-school nursery place for an additional year. If you make an application for referral to your child’s nursery, you will automatically be granted funding for an extra year at nursery.

Children born between September and December can also have their entry to primary school deferred however, an extra year of free pre-school education is at the discretion of the child's local authority. If you apply for referral, you need to support your application for instance by describing concerns about your child’s development and explaining what action(s) have been taken to support them and specifying a proposed plan for the additional year at nursery.

All applications are considered by the Council’s Early Years Service Manager who will inform you of the outcome.

practical-info.pngScottish children attend Primary school between the ages of 5 and 12.

Find your nearest primary school & catchment areas

Placement in Edinburgh primary schools is based on home address and for every address in the City of Edinburgh Council there is a catchment area for non-denominational primary schools and a catchment area for Catholic primary schools. 

To help you find which primary school is your catchment area school, use the city-wide catchment areas.  

If you need advice about catchment areas, contact the school catchments team at Edinburgh Council on (0044) (0)131 469 3219/3132 or by email:

warning-32.png Catchment places are only guaranteed to children living in a primary school catchment by the last day of February. 

Register your child for primary school

Parents and carers should apply for a place in Primary 1 (P1) in November before the year your child is due to start school. Applications are made to the school of your choice in your catchment area. If your child already attends a private nursery they will remind you of deadlines. 

practical-info.png When you register for a place in P1 you need to bring your child’s birth certificate and 2 proofs of residence (council tax and a recent utility bill). 

Should the catchment school being oversubscribed, the Council’s Grants, Awards and Placements department will contact you in February and will ask you to complete a Catchment Enrolment form. The Council will advise you of the outcome of your catchment request by 30 April. 

Grants, Awards and Placements
City of Edinburgh Council
Children and Families
Waverley Court, Level 1/14
East Market Street
Telephone: (0044) (0)131 469 3033

Non-catchment areas

Although most parents choose to send their children to their catchment schools, they have the right to request a place in a school other than the local school. This is done by completing a non-catchment placing request form in December. If you wish to submit such request you should still register your child at your local school. Thereafter you can obtain a “placing request” application form from the Head teacher of the local school where you are registered. 

practical-info.pngThe deadline for placing non-catchment school requests is 24 December each year.

Note that if your child is allocated a P1 place at a school outside your catchment area, at Secondary 1 (S1) transfer, you will be reserved a place at the secondary that serves your address, and not at the secondary which feeds from the primary school.

Edinburgh Council has produced useful information online about placing non catchment requests.

Registering after the start of the new school session

School starts in mid-August each year following the summer break. If you arrive in Scotland after that date, you should contact in writing the school in your catchment area (closest to where you live) to enquire whether a space is available for your child. Do mention the group year (i.e. P1, P2…) your child falls under, his/her date of birth as well as your full address in Edinburgh including phone number and email.

To help you find your nearest primary school visit Education Scotland website . Simply search by postcode, school name or local authority name.

How good is the school in my catchment area?

This is a very legitimate question to ask and there are 3 easy ways to find out how good the school in your area is.

1. Ask other parents in your area who have children at the school and not at the school. Each experience is unique but you should gather enough information to make a balanced view.

2. Visit the school’s website and ask to meet with the head teacher or deputy head. 

3. Visit Scottish Schools Online website which has information on every primary school in Scotland. Simply select your local school to find out the total number of pupils, exam results, free meal entitlement, absence record, teacher ratio plus the inspection reports from HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE).

did-you-know.png Did you know?

HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) inspects schools in order to let parents, children and the local community know whether their school provides a good education. Inspectors also discuss with school staff how they can improve the quality of education.

School term dates

To find out about school term dates for 2014/2015 for Edinburgh and the Lothians visit our school term dates page.

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