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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 1 July, 1999, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Scotland
Scotland's education system has marked differences to that in the rest of the United Kingdom, a divergence which could grow greater under the Scottish Parliament.

Responsibility for education transferred in 1999 to the new parliament, replacing the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department.

In particular, there are different examinations - Standard and Higher grades - based on a much less centralised curriculum. University courses are usually four years long, not three.

An Act passed in 1872 transferred responsibility for Scottish education from the churches to elected school boards, providing compulsory education for children between the ages of five and 13, and evening schools for older children.

The working of the new system was supervised by a central government department which also administered the funding.

In 1901 the school leaving age was raised to 14. By 1918, the school boards were replaced by the local government authorities, while preserving their religious character. The school leaving age was raised to 15 in 1947 and to 16 in 1972-73.

There are two main types of school in Scotland: publicly-maintained schools, which charge no fees, and independent schools which do. In Scotland, there are no voluntary schools.

Church schools which have chosen to transfer to the education authority, rather than be independent, became "public schools" (the term used in Scotland for maintained or state schools), although they can make separate arrangements for denominational instruction. Most are Roman Catholic.


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