Belhaven Hill School Main Building

Belhaven Hill School

Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar is only 40 minutes from the centre of Edinburgh and sits in the most stunning coastal location. The school has a long and proud history, having been founded in 1923 and is now one of Scotland’s leading co-educational full boarding and day prep school for 7-13 year olds. Headmaster, Henry Knight and his wife, Susannah, have been at the helm since September 2016. The school offers full boarding (70% of children board) and day places, and has a one ‘weekend in’, one ‘weekend out’ system, regarded as the perfect balance for children of prep school age.

Outside its back gate is a golf course, leading directly on to the sandy Belhaven Bay. Drama, music, sport and art are all part of the daily curriculum; the children can surf, ride, ski and play golf, not to mention the more traditional pursuits of reeling and piping!

They are however just as happy to play with their friends, enjoying the schools beautiful grounds, walled garden and outdoor heated swimming pool! Belhaven has seen many recent developments to ensure its facilities are as one would expect and this refurbishment is ongoing with revamped boys’ dormitories, and plans afoot for the girls’ house too with a dedicated medical centre.

Our pupils go on to the top schools in England and Scotland, many having won academic, sport, art, music and all round scholarships. The match teas are legendary and you immediately feel the warmth when you arrive at Belhaven Hill, but that could just be because the sun always seems to shine in Dunbar. A visit is a must!


Belhaven Hill has a coastal location near Edinburgh. The School enjoys the best of all worlds being situated next to the sea, surrounded by the rolling countryside of East Lothian on the outskirts of Dunbar and only 40 minutes from the centre of Edinburgh. Just 2 miles from the A1, Dunbar is on the main Edinburgh to London rail line and only 45 minutes from Edinburgh International Airport.

Nearest Airports: Edinburgh – 40 minutes, Glasgow – 1hr 30 minutes, Newcastle – 1 hour 45 minutes, Glasgow Prestwick – 1 hour 45 minutes.

Nearest railway stations: Dunbar- 2 miles/5 minutes, Edinburgh 29 miles/50 minutes, Berwick upon Tweed 30 miles/50 minutes.

Further information

A strong Learning Support department with two dedicated, trained staff, provides one-to-one and small group tuition. The emphasis is on nurturing pupils’ many talents and encouraging high standards in all that they undertake.

Above all Belhaven Hill pupils are renowned for being happy children and this is in no small part due to the excellent pastoral care provided. Over half of the staff live on site and the policy of the governors has been to keep the school comparatively small in order to retain a family atmosphere. The boys are housed in the original main building and the girls in a newly refurbished purpose-built house. The pastoral system revolves around the six patrols, with each pupil being looked after by their form teacher in the junior years and a personal tutor, higher up the school. Seven matrons take care of the children’s health and the school doctor visits regularly.

Developing academic excellence is at the core of a Belhaven education.  However, the school also encourages practical application and hands-on experience, so has recently introduced Outdoor Education.  This is particularly beneficail for its new intake of 7 year old boys and girls, and makes the most of the school’s secure parkland campus near the beach.

The school is very well resourced and has an excellent reputation for sport with Rugby, Netball, Hockey, Cricket, Rounders, Tennis and Athletics making up the main part of the sporting programme. Swimming takes place all year round either in the school’s heated outdoor pool or in the local indoor pool at Dunbar.

Music and drama flourish at Belhaven and every child has the opportunity to perform in regular concerts and productions throughout the year. A new state-of-the-art music building houses a vibrant department which caters for a wide range of instrumental ensembles and choirs. Over 90% of the children play one or more instruments, with specialist tuition provided by a team of visiting music staff.

Opportunities abound for a wide variety of other recreational activities: skiing, surfing, horse riding, golf on the adjacent links course, carpentry at a local renowned furniture makers and gardening for those who want to grow their own produce in the school’s walled garden. Every sort of hobby and activity is practised and encouraged: debating, ‘Mastermind‘, singing, model-making, computer programming, cookery, chess, fencing, modern dance and reeling to name but a few.

The children are at the centre of all that Belhaven Hill aims to achieve: happiness, confidence and success. The school seeks to nurture the whole child, by providing an all-round education, where children are encouraged to look out for one another, where friendships are valued and where a sense of community and respect for others is paramount.

Prep schools should be all about fun, friendship, confidence, endeavour and ambition – they get all of this and more in a Belhaven education


Rear-Admiral Sir Ronald Stephen Forrest KVCO (1923-1972) Senior Royal Navy Officer and Defence Services Secretary (1972 to 1975)

William Dunbar, one of three survivors on HMS Hood (1923-1965)

Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003) English historian


“The school is characterised by a strong sense of community with positive relationships between staff and pupils.”

“Children interviewed are very positive about the range of experiences they have within the planned curriculum and through the wider life of the school, including boarding.”

“Relationships are built on trust and mutual respect, leading to a positive rapport with children. This aspiration was endorsed and validated by each of the pupil focus groups, younger and older.”

“Children with particular talents and interests are very well supported to a high level.”

HMIE Inspection 2012

“I think the children have always looked on your wonderful staff more as friends and mentors than teachers”.

“Are you sure the school can’t take the children on to 18 – they don’t want to leave?”

“Belhaven is the Jewel in Scotland’s Crown.”

“Everyone knows that Belhaven is just the happiest place to be.”

Comments from Parents

Admissions & Fees

Entry Requirements

No formal entry assessment. Informal day spent at school with low-key assessments for setting purposes, as necessary. Open morning: Saturday, 14 March 2020 from 9.30am to 12 noon

Admissions procedure:

No need to put names down at birth

Non selective

First come, first serve basis

What are we looking for in a candidate: Children that will benefit from the full boarding model

Children come from all over the country, however mainly northern England, Edinburgh and all over Scotland

Scholarships and Bursaries

Belhaven Hill School strives to make a Belhaven education accessible to all, regardless of financial status. To help make this possible, financial assistance is available through means tested bursaries. A number of bursaries – up to 100% of the fees – can be awarded to those who require financial assistance. As the School has no financial endowments, funds available for bursaries are limited.

All applicants are required to fill in the information as requested in the Bursary Application forms annually. All matters between the School and the applicant are strictly confidential, and such confidentiality is a condition of any Bursary that may be offered. All Bursary awards are reviewed and revised annually by the Bursary Committee to reflect any changes in fees payable, and approved by the Governors, whose decision is final in all matters.

In addition to the School’s own Means Tested Bursaries, there are grant-making trusts for those in genuine need as well as discounts and children of parents in the Armed Forces.

Scholarships/Awards 2016/17

All rounder scholarship to Merchiston

Sports scholarships to Rugby

Public schools: Eton, Glenalmond, Fettes, Merchiston, Oundle, Radley, Rugby, Stowe, Tudor Hall, Uppingham

Boarding per term£8,525
Day fees per term£4,050-£6,400
Registration Fees£100