Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston is the only boys’ independent boarding school in Scotland, offers the English curriculum, and has a global, outward-looking dimension. We take pride in specializing in the education of boys and preparing them for the world, as we have for over 175 years, developing aspirational, and sensitive, yet gentle-men! Think about a wonderfully caring and nurturing family environment, where they will learn to like learning more.
With an ethos based on traditional values, Merchiston encourages self-reliance and independence, as well as respect for and tolerance of others. Our main objective is to motivate pupils to try their hardest and to strive to achieve the highest levels possible in all areas – firstly academic, then cultural, sporting, leadership, and simply living together as part of a community.
The modern way of life at Merchiston is therefore busy and exacting and we seek to maintain the delicate balance of priorities within and outwith the classroom. However, whilst revelling in the excellence of the sporting, musical and numerous other activities, we continue to emphasize the primacy of academic work, which is at the heart of the total curriculum.
We provide a stimulating, challenging, yet supportive and encouraging environment where your son can grow up surrounded by his friends within our unique house structure. Over 65% of pupils board so there is never a dull moment as we provide a full boarding programme seven days a week. Our international boarders form, in most years, around 20% of our School population and come from over 20 different countries.
Each boarding house caters for a particular age group and the atmosphere and activities are tailored accordingly. The House structure enables boys to develop a wide circle of friends, and to learn how to support each other. Pringle House, set within a walled garden, is home to boys entering the School between the ages of 7 and 12. Between 13 and 15 boys move through the Chalmers and Rogerson Houses, where there is a high level of pastoral care as the boys grow through adolescence. The purpose-built Sixth Form boarding house offers 126 en-suite bedrooms for boys in their last two years of school.
The 2015 A Level results were again outstanding, and show a 100 per cent pass rate and 40 per cent of boys achieving A* and A grades. This year’s GCSE results set a school record, with 70 per cent of boys gaining A* and A grades. Both sets of results continue a long‑running trend of Merchiston’s boys being amongst the highest attaining in Scotland. Merchiston really does turn the ‘C student’ into a ‘B student’ and the ‘B student’ into an ‘A student’. Three students secured places at top American universities in 2015, as well as boys gaining places at Russell Group universities, Bath, St Andrews and other top international institutions.
Merchiston is committed to leading students towards ‘personal excellence’. Currently, our extra-mural initiatives include entry for the Mathematics and Physics Challenges and Olympiads, English Speaking Board examinations, foreign language trips, Arkwright Scholarships (Design and Technology), and many others.
Sport for all
Merchiston prides itself on fostering the pursuit of excellence in a sport-for-all environment. So far this school year, there have been 76 different teams, of all abilities, playing competitive fixtures across 16 sports: a total of 489 fixtures with a win ratio of 59%. More impressive is that 87% of all pupils, from 7-18, have represented the school at some stage this year. The School is currently represented nationally and internationally in many sports, such as athletics, cricket, golf, rugby and target shooting. We have also achieved Scottish honours in tennis, rugby and clay pigeon shooting in the last three years. There are over 20 sports and 30 co-curricular activities on offer for boys of all abilities, as well as specialist tennis and golf academies. The Tennis Academy is ranked number two in the UK in the LTA Team Tennis Schools rankings, 2015; the Golf Academy is Joint National ISGA Junior League Champion, 2015.
The co-curricular programme at Merchiston delivers life skills, such as: leadership, teamwork, and mentoring through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, Combined Cadet Force, prefectship, Koinonia and other activities.
Music and Drama are major parts of life at Merchiston. These departments collaborate regularly and pupils of all ages have the chance to be involved, either performing on stage or working behind the scenes. There is an orchestra and other instrumental groups, including pipe bands, and a choir and choral society, as well as opportunities for individual instrumental lessons. Merchiston also benefits from its strong links with local girls’ schools for drama and musical performances, other cultural events and social gatherings. Our links ensure that our boys can develop their social skills and relationships soon blossom.
Merchiston stands on the edge of the picturesque riverside village of Colinton, some four miles south west of the centre of Edinburgh, in about 100 acres (c. 40 hectares) of exceptionally beautiful and spacious, part-wooded grounds shadowed by the stunning Pentland Hills.
Nearest Airports: 20 minutes from Edinburgh International Airport by car (7 miles)
Nearest Railway Station: 20 minutes from Waverley Station (5 miles)
Plans for the future
The School has, over the past 40 years, built new teaching facilities and boarding accommodation to support its pupils’ high academic aspirations. Merchiston is now turning its attention to upgrading its sporting facilities: plans have been drawn up to construct a new sports complex with a swimming pool. Alongside this will be an all‑weather multi‑purpose (2G) artificial grass playing surface, and, uniquely in Scotland, an all‑weather rugby (3G) pitch.
‘It is my common experience in life that when I buy something new, after the original excitement of the purchase dies down, I often start finding small faults with it. With our children’s education at Merchiston, however, it has been exactly the opposite. In every respect – academic, sporting and pastoral – the School has exceeded our expectations, and continues to do so. In particular, the staff appear to have an almost magical ability to maximise the potential of every boy, irrespective of their natural talents. But above all, it is the Merchiston “end product” that impresses us year after year; the young men that leave the School for university each year are polite, confident gentlemen, that any parent would be proud to call their sons.’
‘We have been so impressed by the real care and warmth we have met in all members of staff. The School has exceeded our expectations in every way. There is something extraordinarily special about Merchiston.’
‘My sons would have done well at other schools, but none of these schools would have given them the ‘edge’ that they needed. Merchiston delivered that final 5%- the 5% that made the difference. And that’s down to the focus and expertise in teaching boys.’
“I am very happy with my son’s Merchiston journey – he has turned into a thoughtful, confident, friendly, ambitious young man, eager to make his way in the world, safe in the knowledge that he has the backing of a group of fellow Merchistonians with whom he has shared his journey. He can stand in any company and speak eloquently with wit and charm and we are extremely proud of him.”
“Science is a great strength.”
Tatler Schools Guide, 2015
Admissions & Fees
We welcome applications for admission from all over Scotland, the UK and overseas – both for boarders and day pupils. Boys can apply to enter the School at any age between 7 and 16. A good first step if you wish to make an application for your son(s) is to speak to us personally. Our Admissions team will be able to help and advise you.
Kay Wilson (Admissions Manager): +44 (0)131 312 2201
Heather Aitken (Admissions Assistant): +44 (0)131 312 2204
We recommend that you come and visit us and see the School, meet some of the staff and talk to some boys. This will give you the best flavour of the spirit and atmosphere at Merchiston, and you can also see our facilities first-hand.
Merchiston offers a number of prestigious awards each year to suitably qualified candidates, depending upon the year of entry to the School. Awards are competitive, and are made for the duration of a boy’s career at Merchiston, subject to continued performance and good conduct. The main categories of awards are: Academic, Music (including Piping), Sport, All-Rounder, Art & Design, Design & Technology.
Scholarships are granted to candidates who can demonstrate above average ability, and bestow honour on the successful candidates. Scholarships no longer carry an automatic fee concession. However, where parental income is not sufficient to allow the pupil to attend Merchiston, parents may apply for means-tested assistance; see our Help with Fees. A Scholarship Application Form is available here.
|Boarding fees per term||£6,345 - £9,900|
|Day fees per term||£4,540 -£7,315|
|Deposit||£800 for UK students, £5000 for non-UK residents|