1. All independent schools in Scotland are required, in accordance with the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, as amended, to be registered with the Registrar of Independent Schools. The Registrar is an official of the Scottish Government appointed by the Scottish Ministers.
2. This guidance has a number of purposes. Firstly it sets out the procedures prospective proprietors should follow to register their school with the Registrar. Secondly it informs existing proprietors about the arrangements that were introduced following legislation which commenced on 31 December 2005. 
It also highlights some of the issues prospective proprietors will need to consider, and directs proprietors to sources of useful advice and information.
3. This version was produced in July 2006 and is regularly updated. However we strongly recommend that proprietors contact the relevant organisations to ensure that they have the most up to date information when deciding on their policies (e.g. on child protection) and making decisions about their schools. It has been prepared by the Scottish Government Learning Directorate, Education Scotland HM Inspectors, the Care Inspectorate and the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) have contributed to the development of this guidance.
4. The information in this document is for guidance only. You should not regard it as an authoritative or definitive interpretation of the law, which can only be provided by the Courts. You should therefore consult your own legal advisers as appropriate.
5. This guidance does not provide an exhaustive list of issues and legislation that prospective or existing proprietors should consider when establishing, or continuing, an independent school. It is the responsibility of prospective and existing proprietors to be aware of, and comply with, any legislation relevant to the running of an independent school. Proprietors may therefore wish to contact the organisations listed at Annex A (and any other relevant organisations) for advice and guidance.
Definition of an independent school
6. An independent school is defined in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (referred to as "the 1980 Act" in this guidance), as amended, as "a school at which full-time education is provided for pupils of school age (whether or not such education is also provided for pupils under or over that age), not being a public school or a grant-aided school".  The 1980 Act does not prescribe a minimum number of pupils needed in order to constitute a school, and it defines school age as a person of school age if that person has reached the age of 5 and not attained the age of 16. 
7. The responsibility for obtaining and maintaining registration of an independent school rests with the "proprietor". That term is used in the provisions relating to the registration of independent schools contained within Section 98 of the 1980 Act, which defines proprietor in relation to an independent school as meaning "the managers of such school", and in relation to an application to register an independent school "includes any person or body of persons proposing to be the managers".  For consistency this guidance uses the term 'proprietor' throughout.
8. The term "manager" may also be relevant to proprietors of independent schools, and is defined in the 1980 Act as meaning, in relation to an educational establishment, "the governing body, trustees, or other person or body of persons responsible for the management of the establishment but does not include an education authority". 
9. A nursery school which caters exclusively for children who have not reached compulsory school age does not fall to be registered as an independent school. It will, however, require to be registered with the Care Inspectorate.