Special schools and units

The right to attend mainstream school

All children and young people in Scotland have the right to be educated alongside their peers in mainstream schools, unless there are good reasons for not doing so.

This right is in line with Article 24 of the United Nations Charter for People with Disabilities. It is based on the knowledge that it benefits all children when pupils with additional support needs are included with their peers in mainstream schools, within a positive environment. It also helps meet the wishes of many parents for their children to be educated alongside their friends in a school as close to home as possible.

How schools work to meet all children's needs

Many mainstream schools are very successful in meeting the needs of all children. Staff are guided in this by a set of inclusive national approaches that aim to address barriers to learning, however these arise:

About Scotland's special schools and units

However, the needs of some children and young people will be better met in specialist settings rather than in mainstream schools. It is important that parents’ and children's views are taken into account when it comes to school placement and that there continues to be an element of choice in provision.

Approaches differ between local authorities. Some local authorities offer specialist settings within mainstream schools, others have no special schools.

Many of our special schools are among the best schools in Scotland and ensure positive outcomes for children and young people and high-quality support for them and their families. Excellent education is offered, with very effective leadership from headteachers and principals.