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16 School Quirks That Scottish People Think Are Normal, But They're Not

We'll give you our play piece if you let us copy from your jotter.

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1. Saying "S1" or "S6" baffles people outside of Scotland.

Channel 4 / Giphy / Via

We have Secondary 1 to Secondary 6, but seemingly everyone else in the UK goes from Year 7 to Year 13 instead. This seems to make a lot less sense, to be honest. But each to their own.

3. We're served up dry haggis for canteen lunch on Burns Day (whether we like it or not).

Twitter: @dayzu__ / Via

When you're a kid this is basically punishment. But, a bit like Scottish country dancing, this is one tradition that seems to get better with age. Plus it's much nicer when you can cover it in whisky sauce.

4. But we’d eat anything for school lunch if it meant there was a caramel tart for pudding.

Twitter: @Roselady64 / Via

Some other parts of the UK do have a very inferior version of this, but Scottish caramel tart is by far the best. The day they’re on the menu is the day everyone abandons their packed lunch for school dinners.


5. While we’re on the subject of food, no one else calls their break time snack a “play piece.”

@jenrenk87 / Via

“Piece” is a Scots word for lunch or a sandwich (see: The Jeely Piece Song), but transplant the word to school playgrounds and you get the mighty play piece. We always wanted an Irn-Bru bar, but we inevitably ended up with an apple.

6. To most other kids, these are exercise books. But to us, they're “jotters.”

Twitter: @hhardtimes / Via

It doesn’t matter which class you’re in, or even what you’re studying – every notebook you write in will be called a “jotter.” And it'll be full of menchies and insults before the term is over.

7. And the pressure to have the best-looking jotter is fierce.

Twitter: @dededoodledums / Via

The best part about going back to school for a new term is getting to put a "protective" cover on your jotter, made out of the coolest wrapping paper, wallpaper, or combination of the two you can find.

8. Looking for the caretaker? You better ask for the "janny".

NBC / Giphy

That's Scottish shorthand for "janitor," of course, and they're the ones who do the most important school task of all: putting down sawdust over piles of sick.


9. Our qualifications are so uniquely Scottish that they practically need translation.

Twitter: @mhairifranklin / Via Twitter: @erynldouglas

The rest of the UK, tends to stick to GCSEs and A-Levels. Here, it's way more baffling. We used to study for Standard Grades and Highers, but now it’s changed (again) making it even more complicated. Sitting the new National Qualifications? Good luck explaining those to the rest of Scotland, let alone the world.

10. And forget politics classes; we’ve got modern studies.

Twitter: @agbthirIs

This is where we learn all about contemporary local, national, and international issues. It’s a bit like a mash-up of politics, history, and geography, and it's only taught in Scotland for some reason. Surely everyone needs to know those things?

11. We're the only kids who have to ceilidh dance in P.E. classes.

Twitter: @YoorWullie

The Dashing White Sergeant, Gay Gordons, and the Canadian Barn Dance: by the time we leave primary school – let alone secondary school – we’ve memorised the moves to these dances for life. But it's just not a thing anywhere else.

12. …then we're forced to put our moves into practice at the Christmas party. / Via

This is the ultimate form of embarrassment, especially when teachers start forcing you to choose dance partners. But although we may moan about the ceilidh dancing at the time, 15 years later when wedding invitations start rolling in, we’re glad we vaguely remember the Military Two Step.


13. Other kids say form tutor; we say guidance teacher.

Twitter: @katiejessxo

They both teach students the ins-and-outs of personal and social health, so “guidance teacher” is a more accurate name. Form tutor doesn't really sum it up.

14. When we go back to school at the beginning of August, the rest of the world is enjoying the height of summer.

Twitter: @deliveraball / Via

Scottish school holidays begin at the end of June, almost a month ahead of schools in the rest of the UK. Which means, of course, that while everyone else is sunning themselves in the August heat waves, we’re back in the classroom, looking longingly out of the window and sweating profusely.

15. And Gaelic isn't something English kids have to struggle with.

@dochasach / Via

Gaelic is a beautiful, ancient language. It's also one of the official languages of Scotland, so it makes sense that most Scottish kids learn it. But unless you live in the Gàidhealtachd, it's not going to prove quite as useful as, say, Spanish, especially when you're in Magaluf.

16. But for all the quirks, we wouldn’t want to go to school anywhere else.

@HolyroodSec / Via Twitter: @HolyroodSec

We can't even imagine a school life without ceilidhs and caramel tarts.

It would be nice if we could actually have summers off, though. Cheers.