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The Scottish government is responsible for education in Scotland, and Education Scotland is the executive agency appointed to oversee its educational system.

The Scottish system of education, at the secondary level, differs from that of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, in that it teaches a wider range of subjects, whereas secondary schools in the remainder of the United Kingdom have a more in-depth focus on a narrower range of topics.

The Curriculum for Excellence is the national curriculum for Scotland, guiding its programs from nursery school through secondary school. The curriculum is characterized by interdisciplinary learning, skills development, and personal achievement, and is intended to foster successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens, and effective contributors.

Scottish children are eligible to attend public nursery school at the age of three, although private nurseries will enroll children earlier than this.

Secondary education is provided through public and independent schools, with the vast majority state-operated. State-funded schools are under the management of an education authority. These do not charge tuition and have no entrance requirements other than age. In Scotland, these can be denominational or secular. Grant-aided schools are independent of the education authority, but are funded by the government. Independent schools are those not under the management of an education authority, and not funded by the government. To qualify as a school, the facility has to provide full-time education to at least five school-aged students, and be registered.

Secondary schools go by a variety of names. The majority are known as high schools, while a significant number of them are known as academies. Smaller numbers are known secondaries, schools, grammar schools, junior high schools, community schools, or colleges.

Scottish colleges are largely vocational, offering study programs designed to lead straight into employment in a specific industry. In college, there are a number of course level options, such as a Higher National Certificate (one year), or a Higher National Diploma (two years), each level offering a certified qualification. Colleges are operated in partnership with local education authorities and employers. Modern Apprenticeship programs are also offered. Although colleges are mostly designed to prepare students for work, some of them offer arrangements with universities to allow for a fast-track degree entry.

Scottish universities offer degree-level educational programs that usually require four years to complete. University programs are mostly academic in nature, although vocational courses may also be available.

The Scottish Credits and Qualifications Framework Partnership promoted lifelong learning in Scotland.

Scotland. has offered free education to boys and girls as early as the 17th century.

Organized education in Scotland began in the Middle Ages with church choir schools and grammar schools for boys. By the end of the 15th century, girls' schools were introduced, and universities were founded at Aberdeen, Glasgow, and St. Andrews. In 1496, a grammar school education was made compulsory for the sons of barons and freeholders of substance.

The Scottish Reformation brought an end to the choir schools and an expansion of parish schools and universities.

Due to religious divisions, the growth of industrialization, migration, and immigration, Scotland's education system was reorganized in the late 19th century, and expanded to include a state-funded national system of free basic education and common examinations. Women were admitted to Scottish universities beginning in 1892, and the 20th century brought further access to a basic education for girls. In 1999, student tuition fees were eliminated at Scottish universities. Roman Catholic schools were included in the Scottish education system in 1918, although they retained their unique religious character.

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