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Scottish School Records



School education prior to 1873
Prior to 1873 primary and secondary education was provided principally by the Church of Scotland, other religious denominations and charitable organizations. In many Scottish towns, burgh schools were operated by burgh councils. Many families, who could afford to do so, paid for the services of private tutors. Records created by schools themselves for this period are very few, but details of their administration can often be extracted from the minute books of bodies which ran or supervised them, such as kirk sessions, presbyteries and burgh councils. Family papers may include records relating to private schooling (both at fee paying schools and by private tutor within the home).

School education after 1873
The 1872 Education (Scotland) Act set up a system of local schools controlled by elected local authorities (initially school boards) and funded partly by local rates and partly by pupil fees. From 1873 onwards the records of the administration of schools, in the form of minute books of school boards and later authorities have passed to local authority archives via county council records. In most areas of Scotland the records produced by schools (such as log books and admission records) are still in the hands of the schools themselves. In many cases records are lost when schools close. Some schools have simply destroyed historical records, at the whim of head teachers, over the years. In the 1980s and 1990s some local authority archives attempted to preserve school records for their areas by systematically approaching schools to ask for the transfer of school records to archives. For more information about this click on one of the entries below:

Schools in Glasgow
Schools in Ayrshire
Schools in Aberdeenshire (Grampian)
Schools in the Highlands
Schools in Fife
Schools in the rest of Scotland

Other SCAN Knowledge Base pages on Scottish Education:
School Log Books
School Admission Registers


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where can I obtain confirmation of my own school examination results?

2. Where can I obtain information about the examination results of another person (e.g. an ancestor, or the subject of a biography)?

3. Where will I find records relating to a pupil who attended school prior to 1873?

4. Where will I find records relating to a pupil who attended a public school after 1872?

5. Where will I find records relating to a pupil who attended a private school after 1872?

6. How can I find out which schools operated in a particular place at a particular time?

7 Where will I find photographs of schools and old school class photographs?

8. Will I be able to get hold of essays, artwork and other class work I did at school?