Cargilfield Prep School Main Building

Cargilfield Prep School

Welcome to Cargilfield

Situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Cargilfield was founded in 1873, the oldest prep School in Scotland, and remains a small, friendly school of around 300 pupils, aged 3 to 13. We are proud of our academic record, but are also proud of what happens outside the classroom: in drama, music, sport, and in over 70 activities. Cargilfield is a place of hard work, challenge, courtesy, humour and a great deal of fun.

Cargilfield is one of the finest Prep Schools in Scotland and has a superb blend of traditional education with modern facilities, techniques and a warm family feel to our daily life here. We offer a distinctive and unique education which allows young people to grow and progress to the best of their ability. A Cargilfield education is based on developing confident, free-thinking individuals and we also pride ourselves on instilling our pupils with values and courtesy. At Cargilfield we provide opportunities and form the foundations for children to develop, thrive and face the next part of their education with confidence and a hunger for learning.


Cargilfield is located on the south west side of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city.

Nearest Airport: 15 minutes (4.7 miles)

Nearest Railway Station: 17 minutes (5.7 miles)

Further information

With class sizes around the 14 mark and with the school not wanting to get any bigger it is certainly the case that all the children are well known to the staff as individuals. The staff are keen to ensure that all pupils thrive and are prepared to go the extra mile to achieve this. Cargilfield has an excellent record at the Scholarship and Common Entrance level to senior schools all over the United Kingdom. There were 27 scholarships awarded by 12 different schools at the end of the summer term in 2012.

We see ourselves as a school that tries to ignite enthusiasm and build confidence. We hope that every child finds something that they are passionate about, and subsequently feel good about themselves, so that the next step is one they are comfortable about and ready for.

We prepare boys and girls for senior schools all over the United Kingdom.

We are keen that sporting opportunity is for all our pupils here. The concept of pulling on the school strip and representing the school, winning or losing with grace, and acting in a dignified manner is crucial for all pupils. At the top end we are keen to develop and stretch our coaching staff and their international experience.

We aim to instil independence for our pupils. We are delighted that there is no such thing as a “Cargilfield type” and that our pupils leave full of confidence. Equally as they progress through the school we talk to you the parents about what schools you may aspire and whether they fit with the interpretations of your child. Getting “the hand to fit the glove” is a crucial bit about what we do here.We are unusual as we don’t set homework for our pupils (we work them hard enough when they are here). Equally we are a 5 day week school. The result is that we enable families to still be families, and for there to be positive time at home. Should you wish to board, we have a range of boarding options that provide complete flexibility for your busy lifestyles, including a day option from 8am to 8pm.

Our location is the envy of many Prep Schools. We have the great outdoors on our doorstep, for our camps and activities only 15 minutes away, and yet our pupils can be in the museums and theatres of Edinburgh city in only 15 minutes in the other direction.


“Cargilfield is in extremely good heart at present and what is so impressive is the quality of the staff and their commitment to all aspects of the way of Cargilfield life, both within and out of the classroom.” 

Andrew Hunter, Headmaster of Merchiston

“We currently have six Cargilfield children at Oundle and all are thriving. They have been well-prepared for life here; they come across as calm, confident and assured; they are generally bright and understated. They make a fundamentally good impression for the right reasons and are noticed within the Oundle community, containing many talented children, for being contributors with high standards. We greatly value our connection with Cargilfield.” 

Charles Bush, Headmaster of Oundle

“Cargilfield is a school which values the individual and allows each boy and girl to develop their own strengths. The children are celebrated for who they are and grow into happy, well-adjusted young adults.” 

Fr Gabriel, Headmaster of Ampleforth

Admissions & Fees

Entry Requirements

Despite achieving envious academic results, we do not want to become an academic hot house. We pride ourselves on the well rounded nature of our pupils and their ability to have a go at anything, either inside the classroom or outside it. That ability to think and go outside one’s comfort zone is crucial as a life skill and as a means to improving.

We do ask all incoming pupils to sit some basic assessment tests, which measure pupils against national averages. These tests enable us to ensure that incoming pupils are able to access the work we do here and therefore not only flourish in terms of knowledge but also in terms of confidence. So long as we can ensure that a pupil will be happy here (socially and academically) we offer them a place. The feedback we get from any tests is of course cross referenced with any report from the pupil’s last school, to ensure we have got it right.

Bursary programme

Cargilfield is proud of the opportunities it has to award bursaries to pupils up to and including 100%. All bursary applications are means tested to ensure they are going to genuinely deserving families. However, the life changing opportunities that Cargilfield can provide, more than make up for the form filling! While we can process applications at any time, the preferred deadline is February, after which the Bursary Committee sit to awards funds for the start of the forthcoming academic year. Forms are independently assessed by a firm of accountants, and the offers are checked each year for accuracy. To offer the opportunities of a Cargilfield education to all is one of our main aims, and so if you feel that you might benefit from attending the school, please do apply.

Boarding Fees per Term£6,065
Day Fees per Term£3,025 - £4,940
Registration Fee£75