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Choosing a deaf-friendly school in Scotland

Can I choose which school my child goes to?

In Scotland, your local council decides where your child goes to school based on your ‘catchment area’ (which is an area around a single school). Find out about your catchment area from

You have a right to request a place at a school outside of your catchment area. Education authorities must grant your request unless there are no places available or there are other special circumstances.

If your child has a coordinated support plan (CSP), this document will state the nature of your child’s additional support needs and the type of support they need. You can use the CSP to choose a school that will be most suitable for your child’s needs.

Enquirethe Scottish advice service for additional support for learning (ASL), have a helpful factsheet about school placements in Scotland.

How to request a place at a different school

To request a place at a school outside your catchment area, you must submit a written request to the local council that manages that school.

If your child is due to start primary or secondary school in August, your council will send you information on how to request a particular school in the previous December, January or February. You must submit your request by writing (usually through an application form provided by the council) by 15 March of that same year. The council must give you a written answer by 30 April. If they do not, your request is treated as if the council had turned it down, and you may appeal.

If your child is already attending school, you can ask for a place at a different school at any time by writing to the council (you don’t have to wait until the beginning of the next school year). The council has two months to give you a written answer. If they do not, your request is treated as if the council had turned it down, and you may appeal.

See the Scottish Government’s guide for parents on choosing a school.

Starting your search

  • Start your search early.
  • Search on the internet – look at each school’s website, order or download the prospectus, and contact the school for more information.
  • Read individual school inspection reports for Scotland.
  • Ask other parents about schools in your area.
  • If your child is moving from primary to secondary, (or moving to a school in another area) ask their Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) and other teaching staff who know your child about local schools.

Visiting schools

Visit the schools you’re interested in. Many schools will have open days or evenings where parents can look around the school and ask questions. Visiting a school can give you a more complete picture of what the school is like and how it will suit your child. There are lots of things to look out for and ask when you visit prospective schools.

Download and print our Choosing a school for your deaf child checklist and take it with you when visiting a school to collect key information. The questions are for guidance only; you can adapt the checklist to include other questions you want to ask. Try and ask the same questions when you visit each school. This will help you to compare the schools.

You may also find it helpful to make an appointment to see the school’s additional support for learning co-ordinator (ALNCo) to discuss your child’s needs and how the school will be able to meet them.

There may be opportunities for your child to visit schools. Ask them what they think about the building, teachers, other children and the general feeling the school gives them.

Additional support

It’s vital to check that a school can meet your child’s needs or, if they don’t yet have the right equipment and support for your child, that they would be willing to put it in place.

There are different ways of helping deaf children work to the best of their abilities at school. Schoolwork, for example, can be adapted to an individual child’s needs by adjusting the pace and length of a learning session, using visual cues to support teaching, creating opportunities for one-to-one and small group work and by checking a child’s level of understanding after a lesson.

Some examples of ways that deaf children can be supported at school include:

  • pre- and/or post-lesson tutoring
  • meeting their communication needs, for example, if your child uses British Sign Language (BSL) it’s important that staff are qualified in signing to interpret
  • providing equipment and technology, such as radio aids, flashing fire alarms and computer software
  • providing a good listening environment in the classroom for learning
  • making sure staff and pupils at the school are deaf aware
  • help with homework
  • adjustments to exams so that your child isn’t at a disadvantage
  • adjustments to help deaf children access specific subjects, like learning a foreign language or music lessons.

All these types of adaptations are examples of ‘reasonable adjustments’, and as the list shows, they can vary from cheap or cost-free adaptations to more significant changes to the delivery of teaching or providing special equipment.

Read more about the additional support at school your child could get.

Other things to consider

  • Location of the school – how far will your child have to travel?
  • What extra-curricular activities are on offer? And is the school prepared to make adjustments so that your child can participate fully?
  • Are there any other deaf children currently studying at the school?
  • If you’re considering a school with a specialist resource provision, check the qualifications of staff in the resource provision. 

Are all schools covered by the Equality Act?

The Equality Act 2010 requires all schools in Scotland to make reasonable adjustments for disabled children (a change the school makes so that a deaf child can do something which they would not otherwise be able to do). This includes a duty to provide additional aids and services, for example, radio aids. 

State-funded schools must also comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). The Equality and Human Rights Commission have more information about the PSED.

We have more information about the Equality Act and your child's education.

My child didn’t get into our choice of school – what now?

If you’re not happy with the school placement your child has been given, you have the right to appeal – it doesn’t matter if they have a coordinated support plan (CSP) or not, but how you go about appealing is different.

Find out how to appeal a school placement in Scotland.