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Development Plan 2017-18



Scottish Schools' FA Development Plan 2017-18





The Scottish Schools' Football Association was formed in 1903 and currently has 24 affiliated Primary and Secondary Local Associations from all parts of Scotland, as well as 330 secondary state schools that regularly participate in schools' football. Around 260 secondary schools register annually to play in national competitions. In addition up to 11 independent schools participate in local and SSFA competitions.  Normally about 400 primary age teams regularly take part in schools' football and many others do on a non-formal basis. 

The Association's Constitution states that:

'The object of the Association shall be to foster the mental, moral and physical development and improvement of pupils through the medium of association football and to help charitable funds and purposes.'

Management & Administration

The Association's activities are governed by its Council which is elected at the Annual General Meeting and comprises 32 members drawn from Local Associations according to population. The President's Committee, consisting of the Association's Office Bearers, is responsible to the Council and the Annual General Meeting.  The President's Committee has wide ranging responsibilities for the conduct of Association business. The General Secretary, the Assistant General Secretaries and the Treasurer are volunteers who receive honoraria.  All the Association's activities at international, national, local and school level depend entirely on volunteers.


The Association's activities stem from its constitutional objectives and may be summarised under the following headings:

  • Education and development activities
  • Competitions and Festivals between Schools and between Local Associations
  • Representative matches for boys and girls at international level
  • Membership of The Scottish Football Association (SFA) with representation on its Congress and NPGB
  • Membership of the Schools' Association Football International Board (SAFIB) – the International forum for schoolboys and schoolgirls football.
  • Membership of Scottish School Sport Federation (SSSF) - open to all school sports associations
  • Planning to meet the future needs of Scottish schoolchildren

Education and Development

The education and development of youngsters is, by definition, at the very heart of the Association's activities.  The Association is committed to raising achievement in Scottish Schools.  Its activities add significant value to the curricular life for many school pupils.

The Association provides support for its Coaches and Selectors to participate in Staff Development through the Coach Education programme of the Scottish Football Association.  In addition, members of the Association contribute to the development of appropriate curriculum materials for a range of stages as well as delivering related INSET. The Association's website acts as an important means of communication, provides a news and results service to affiliated schools and associations, and serves as a record of the Association's activities each year.

The Association's future development depends heavily on securing funds to support its activities. The current level of sponsorship support from TSB ended in June 2015.

Scotland United

The Association is committed to making a meaningful and sustained contribution to the Scottish FA strategy and will focus its work as follows.

Perform and Win

  • The SSFA will continue to foster its links with the professional game at a range of levels, including local liaison between schools and clubs regarding player development and access to facilities, as well as monitoring demands on young players
  • Talent identification for players already takes place through the processes of creating representative selects at Local Association and National level and the SSFA will continue to conduct its programme of trial games and matches.  These events also provide significant opportunities for the identification of coaches and they are encouraged, via mentoring and financial support, to embark on the appropriate Scottish FA Coach Development pathway.   One element of player identification that has been noticeable in recent years has been in the identification of late developers, often players who are no longer in, or have yet to take part in, Club Academy Scotland.  The SSFA is committed to sustaining these opportunities for players and coaches 
  • The SSFA will continue to foster the playing of the game in Primary Schools with its programme of festivals and events for boys and girls from P6-P7.  It regards the preparation of players for these occasions as an integral part of its contribution to the 10,000 hours.  Furthermore, in-school activities contribute via curricular PE and in-school events such as inter-house festivals.


Strong Quality Growth


  • 2016-17 census returns indicate the following :

A total of 24 Local Associations and 226 schools affiliated + 23 Association only for season 2016-17

Number of State Secondary Schools                360

  • playing in local leagues and cups                262
  • playing in local leagues or cups only             42            
  • playing in national competitions only           10……………………a total of around 1,250 teams 
  • not playing in local or national competitions  46 (13%) 

                                                          Total  360  
  • 135 secondary schools ran 5 or more teams (8 being the maximum)
  • 205 secondary schools played in national shields
  • 195 secondary schools played in local leagues, cup and national shields
  • 315 secondary schools played in organised schools' football.

*NB 40% of schools not playing schools' football in season 2016/17 are small schools based in the remote areas of the Highland and Island communities. There is no local cup or league football in the 9 Border Secondary schools where Rugby is the dominant school sport.

Number of Secondary Independent boys Schools 24

Playing in local cup and league competitions        

Playing in local competitions only                        

Playing in national competitions only                   4 

Not playing schools' football                              13

                                                             Total 24 

  • As noted above normally around 400 primary age teams (largely Primary Six and Seven) regularly take part in schools' football and many others do so on a non-formal basis.


2016-17 National Census

  • 904 boys' teams participated in the national shields at Under 13/14/15/16/18
  • 161 girls' teams participated in the U15/18 national shields and Under 14 sevens
  • 191 boys' teams participated in the Under 13 Cashback sevens
  • 110 girls' teams participated in the Under 15 Cashback sevens
  • 16 associations participated in the Under 18 (Senior) National Trophy
  • 15 associations participated in the Under 15 National Trophy


2016-17 International Fixtures

  • Senior national team competed in the Centenary Shield (trophy presented by the SFA to recognise the SFA's 100 years in 1973) against England, Wales, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and in a friendly v. Australia.
  • The girls' Under 15 national team came third in the Bob Docherty five-nation tournament in Dublin. Other countries involved were England, Wales, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The Association presently has three main aims with regard to levels of participation:

- To sustain levels of secondary school involvement as outlined above in view of the ever-increasing travel costs especially in, but not restricted to, rural areas, increasing staffing and budgetary challenges in all schools, staff workload associated with Introducing the Curriculum for Excellence, members' concerns over the domination in national shields of the SFA Performance Schools and rationalisation of the school estate by Local Authorities.

- To somehow stem the reduction in primary school participation where there are issues of funding, volunteering and communication.

- To strive to continue representative football at association and national level (a proud and very successful tradition since 1911) as outlined above.

  • Only a few schools have achieved the SFA Quality Mark and the Association will continue to liaise with Club Development Officers in supporting schools which are seeking to obtain a Quality Mark award.   The Association has, from season 2015-16, introduced a Schools' Quality Award Scheme that appropriately reflects the current circumstances of schools. The objective is to recognise: the provision of football in schools for both boys and girls at local and national level and the attainment of Scottish FA coaching certificates by team coaches. Two schools were successful this season, 2016-17, one gaining a silver level award and another gaining a gold level award.
  • Positive Coaching - the Association is committed to working with Positive Coaching Scotland Football Development Officers to promote the values of Positive Coaching in schools and school groups via its network of Local Associations and members of Council.  The Association also has a Code of Conduct for players, coaches and parents and the code of conduct reflects the spirit of Positive Coaching.
  • Regions - since the formation of SFA Regional Committees, SSFA representatives have made a significant contribution to their work and development.  This will continue via membership of the six Regional Committees.
  • Data Collection - The SSFA is committed to the submission of an agreed data set on an annual basis, subject to constraints of data protection and the fact that the Association works with young people.  The structures are now currently established to enable this data capture to take place. An upgrade of the Schools' Membership IT Admin system which captures school affiliations, association affiliations, entries to competitions, player registrations, details of officials and which generates relevant invoices is now in use. The SSFA worked closely with the SFA IT Department in early 2015 to test the functionality of the system to ensure it is fit for purpose.   The SSFA working with other ANAs and the SFA IT Department during 2015-16 now have the use of a new Competition Management system for recording fixtures and results.

Better Financial Returns

The Scottish Schools FA is governed by a continued commitment to being self-sustaining and has managed its affairs on such a basis for many years.  

The budget for 2015-16 is based ideally on realising an income of ca. £125,000 from Affiliation & Entry Fees, Sponsorship, Gate Receipts, Grants and Donations.   That then determines levels of expenditure on Representative Selects, Competitions & Events, Administration & Honoraria, Grant Aid for Exceptional Travel to Schools and Associations, Insurance and Miscellaneous costs.  All budget planning is based on a minimum target of break-even for the year. Annual Accounts are produced, are subject to audit by professional auditors and, because the SSFA is a registered charity, also subject to scrutiny by OSCR.

Two important targets for this year again are to find a sponsor to replace TSB, a long-standing and great supporter along with the Bank of Scotland of the SSFA since 1982 and a kit sponsor.


Respected and Trusted to Lead

  • The Association depends entirely on volunteers to conduct all its business. Therefore, the development of volunteers is of central importance and will continue to take place in a number of ways, both formal and informal.  The SFA Coach Education programme is very important, as is the use of guests at meetings to inform attendees of developments in the game, and the role of mentoring & support will also continue in importance.  The continued use of the SSFA Awards Scheme will be an important element in the recognition and retention of volunteers.
  • The Association will continue to make a positive contribution to the overall governance of football in Scotland through active and contributing membership of committees and groups at local, regional and national levels.  Specifically, it will continue to elect a Representative to the Scottish FA, to engage in the processes of governance via the SFA's Non-Professional game Board, SFA Congress and SFA Regional Committees.
  • The SSFA will continue to provide affiliated schools and associations with information that meets the need to ensure effective operating requirements.  The Annual Handbook and website provide the necessary information, including codes of conduct, recommended levels of coach qualifications, competition rules and disciplinary procedures.  There is also information on the type of football that should be played at different ages, in accordance with the National Player Pathway.  The SSFA will continue to publish all this information annually.
  • The SSFA will continue in its commitment to working for all schoolchildren, as stated in the Object of the Association.  It will continue to provide opportunities for boys and girls of all ages and will continue its use of the age group exemption for special needs cases.
  • The SSFA will continue to provide training as identified by members.

J Gold

August 2017