Scottish Schools’ FA Profile and Activities

Who Are the Scottish Schools’ Football Association?

The Scottish Schools F. A. which was established in 1903, is an independent charity whose purpose is to, “work with schools to support and promote pupils’ wellbeing through the medium of association football and related experiences, and to engage in relevant charitable enterprises.” The SSFA depends entirely on volunteers to conduct all of its business at International, National, Local and School level. Honoraria are paid to key administrative personnel when financial conditions permit.

The Impact of Coronavirus

In common with every other grassroots football association, the Coronavirus Pandemic impacted on the final stages of the SSFA’s 2019-20 season. At local, national and international level, fixtures, leagues and competitions were either called, cancelled, or placed in abeyance. Consequently, the main focus of the SSFA’s activities for season 2020-21 has been to find a way of enabling the pupils and staff who had worked so hard to reach the latter stages of national competitions in 2019-20, to finish the job.

Management and Administration

A new governance structure replacing the President’s Committee, Operation’s Committee and Council was agreed at the June 2019 AGM and is now in place as below:


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 Non Professional Game Board (NPGB) and Congress.
  • Membership of the Schools’ Association Football International Board (SAFIB) – the International forum for schoolboys and schoolgirls football.
  • Planning to meet the future needs of Scottish schoolchildren
  • Charitable Enterprises

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. The Association’s website acts as an important means of communication, provides a news and results service to affiliated schools, associations and the wider community, and serves as a record of the Association’s activities each year.

Securing sponsorship will help the Association maintain and develop its activities.

Working in Partnership with the SFA

The Association is committed to working in partnership with the Scottish Football Association in areas where aims, objectives and values are shared.

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

Membership, Participation and Quality Growth

Census returns for season 2019-20 indicated the following:

Members: 17 Local Associations and 285 affiliated schools (including 9 Independent Schools).

  • Boys’ teams playing in local leagues 824
  • Girls’ teams playing in local leagues 63
  • Boys’ teams playing in local cups 878
  • Girls teams playing in local cups 119
  • Overall total of school teams playing league and cup football at local level – 997
  • The total number of State Secondary Schools is 340 of which 292 (276 affiliated and 16 locally affiliated) played in organised football. 27,203 secondary school aged players were registered.
    N.B. 30 of the schools that did not play schools’ football in season 2019-20 were small schools based in the more sparsely populated areas of the Highland and Island communities. There is no local cup or league football in the 9 Borders secondary schools where rugby is the dominant school sport.
  • Normally approx. 400 primary age teams (largely primary six and seven) take part regularly in organised schools’ football and many others do so on an informal basis.

2019-20 National Shield, 7s, Local Association and Regional Participation

  • 651 boys’ teams participated in the national shields at under 13/14/15/16/18
  • 187 girls’ teams participated in the u15/18 national shields and under 14 sevens
  • 127 boys’ teams entered the under 14 shield plate competition
  • 117 boys’ teams entered the under 13 shield plate competition
  • Boys under 13 7s postponed due to the coronavirus restrictions
  • Girls under 15 7s postponed due to the coronavirus restrictions
  • 15 Associations participated in the under 18 (senior) National Trophy
  • 14 Associations participated in the under 15 National Trophy
  • 6 Regional squads participated in the girls Inter-Regional Trophy

2019-20 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 Northern Ireland. Fixtures against England, Wales and Republic of Ireland were cancelled due to the coronavirus restrictions. A friendly fixture was played against Australia in January at Renfrew FC as part of the preparation for the Centenary Shield.
  • The Bob Docherty Tournament for the girls’ under – 15 national team was cancelled due to the coronavirus restrictions. In order for the girls to receive their well merited caps however, a friendly international against England was organised at Newcastle in June 2021. Scotland won 2-1.

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, members concerns over the domination in national shields of the SFA Performance Schools, rationalisation of the school estate by Local Authorities and the costs of hiring/accessing local facilities.
  • To encourage the playing of football in primary schools.
  • To strive to continue representative football at association and national level (a proud and very successful tradition since 1911) as outlined above.

Related Matters

Conduit to schools for SFA – The SSFA provides an important means by which appropriate guidance and advice, including information relating to coach education, from the SFA can be promoted and disseminated to its members.

Scottish Schools F.A. Schools Quality Award Scheme – In season 2015-16 the Scottish Schools F.A. introduced a Schools’ Quality Award Scheme. The objective of the Award Scheme is to encourage and 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. In season 2018-19 four schools were successful in attaining an award, three gaining a gold 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 the Executive Committee. The Association also has its own Code of Conduct for players, coaches and parents which 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.

Charitable Activities

The SSFA undertakes charitable activities which are consistent with its values and ethos. These include, supporting and/or donating money to charities which support children and young people’s wellbeing. The SSFA believes it is important that the young people who benefit from playing football with their school friends should also understand that they can help support other children and young people in need. Consequently, the SSFA has engaged with various charitable enterprises over the years including, the STV Children’s Appeal, the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, the Chris Mitchell Foundation, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and CHAS (Children’s Hospice Across Scotland)


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 annual budget is based on realising an income 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.

An important annual target is to raise income from Sponsorship.

Ongoing Commitment to Schools Football

  • 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 Representatives 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. In addition to communicating with members directly, the Association’s website provides important information including, the SSFA’s Constitution, the SSFA’s Codes of Conduct, its Children’s Wellbeing policies and procedures, Data Protection, competition rules, disciplinary procedures etc.
  • 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 endeavour to provide training as identified by members.

June 2021