Cargilfield Prep School

Welcome to Cargilfield

Cargilfield is the oldest independent boarding and day prep school in Scotland, for more than 300 girls and boys, aged 3-13 years. Each child has an extensive range of opportunities to learn, explore and discover before they leave Cargilfield to join leading senior schools across the UK.

Children leave with confident, lively minds, secure values and a sense of identity and community spirit that serves them well for their future lives. We achieve this by delivering a broad and challenging education in a supportive and caring family-led environment.

We pride ourselves on high standards of teaching and a coherent programme of learning from Nursery through to Form 8. This is perhaps best measured by the outcomes for our pupils.

In the classroom, we aim to take our children well beyond the conventional curriculum expectations for 13+, through a coherent programme of learning from the Nursery and early years towards success in Common Entrance and Scholarship examinations in Form 8.

We prepare girls and boys for senior schools all over the country, offering parents the choice of the very best schools in Edinburgh, across Scotland and the United Kingdom.

There are a broad range of abilities at Cargilfield but a combination of excellent teaching, high expectations and small classes (an average of 14-16 children per class) helps to explain our results.

Cargilfield is a family school, with boarding at the heart of what we offer; an extension of our family home and a place where children are valued members of the community and secure of their place in that community.

We play sport every day and creative activities such as music, drama, art and design are an important part of our curriculum. We also offer over 50 clubs that take place during the term, either during the day, the evening or on boarding weekends. Whether it be cooking or jewellery making, climbing or archery, skiing or fencing, debating or dance, your child will find something to enjoy at Cargilfield and develop interests for their future education and the rest of their lives.


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

Nearest Airport: 15 minutes (4.7 miles)

Nearest Railway Station: Edinburgh Gateway – 12 minutes (3.3 miles)

Admissions & Fees


You will find detailed information about Cargilfield on our website but since deciding on the right school for your child is very important, we believe that a personal visit is essential and we would want you and your child to visit the School before we offer a place. Please contact Fiona Craig, our Registrar on 0131 336 2207 or to arrange a visit which will include a private tour and a meeting with the Headmaster and his wife. This will enable us to spend time with you and to explain the nature of Cargilfield and our admissions process and to help us all to arrive at the right decisions for your child.

Points of Entry

Admission to Cargilfield is generally via our Nursery for children aged 3-5 although we do also accept a significant group of children into P1 aged 5-6 and at other ages throughout the School. It would be unusual for us to accept a pupil into Form 8 for only one year as this would offer very limited time to prepare a child for Common Entrance or Scholarship examinations.

The Assessment Process

We look to accept a broad range of abilities and do not have a selective entry system. Nonetheless, our pupils are all expected to sit either Common Entrance or Scholarship exams in their final year at Cargilfield. The nature of this curriculum is demanding and goes beyond normal expectations for children of this age. While we feel that we can offer this more demanding curriculum to a broad range of abilities through good teaching, small classes (an average of about 15-16 children per class and a maximum of 18 per class) and high expectations, there may be some children who will not benefit from this challenge at this stage.

With that in mind, we do conduct a short assessment for pupils joining the school:

  • For Nursery pupils, this comprises a general observation of how children behave and interact with others, and a short play based assessment activity. These are designed to check whether developmental milestones have been met and children are ready for the challenges of a school-based nursery. Entry into the Nursery does not guarantee a subsequent place in P1. However, it is very unusual for a place not to be automatically offered. There are however, rare occasions where we feel both our expectations, and the nature of the curriculum on offer would not suit a child. In this instance, we would have an initial conversation with parents before Christmas in the final year of Nursery and would, even then, expect to review their progress across the next two terms.
  • For pupils looking to join Cargilfield in P1, the process also comprises a general observation along with a more detailed assessment of early numeracy and literacy skills. This is to ensure that a child has the basic skills necessary to access the P1 curriculum.
  • For pupils entering the school after P1, we wish to ascertain that children will be suited to the nature of a Cargilfield curriculum. We, therefore, gather more specific information by carrying out standardised testing in English and Maths along with classroom observations and, for older children, there is sometimes an interview with the Headmaster.

Our aim in all of this is to assess a child’s potential – and not simply their current attainment – and whether they will benefit from the education we provide. There is, therefore, no need to do any preparation with your child prior to visiting Cargilfield. While the Headmaster will be happy to discuss the results of any assessment with prospective parents, the School reserves the right not to release any specific test materials or scores.

For all pupils, we would request reports from a child’s current nursery or school. In the case of children yet to start at a nursery, we might seek a report from their health visitor. This is to help us better understand a child’s educational needs.

Parents of those who we judge are not ready to come to Cargilfield will be informed and given advice as to whether they may benefit from being re-assessed at a later date.


Admission to the School is, generally, on a first come-first served basis. Cargilfield seeks to eliminate unlawful discrimination and is committed to equal treatment for all regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, cultural or social background and special needs. Where a year group is full, a waiting list will operate in order of the date of registration. We do, however, reserve the right to prioritise the children of
staff, the siblings or children of current or past pupils, weekly boarders or pupils of a particular gender where we feel the need to balance the gender mix of a year group. We would also prioritise applications from boarders who were unable to join the School at a younger age or children joining the Nursery in the year before they would enter P1.

Cargilfield is a Christian School. We do not select for entry upon the basis of religious belief although parents should be aware that assemblies and chapel services will follow a broadly ecumenical Christian structure. The Headmaster is happy to discuss a parent’s concerns regarding this and to make sensible compromises so that children can take part in this important part of the school day without undermining other religious faiths.

Additional Support for Learning

For the purposes of this document, an additional support for learning need includes a physical disability, a medical condition or a specific learning difficulty.
We do not discriminate in any way regarding entry. We welcome pupils with additional support for learning needs provided that we can, with reasonable adjustment, offer them the support that they require to allow them to cope with the nature of our curriculum and our environment. We welcome pupils with physical disabilities provided that we can make the reasonable adjustments to accommodate them. While Cargilfield is a small and flexible school, the length of the day and the academic expectations, especially for our older children, means that it may not be right for every child. We like to offer opportunities for all children in a family but our size means that we have limited support for more significant learning needs.

Parents of a child who has any known additional support for learning need must provide the School with full written details of this during the admissions process. Where appropriate, we will request to see any available reports from, for example, an educational psychologist or health professional. We will then consult with parents over any reasonable adjustments that can be made and will do everything that we can to comply with our legal and moral responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 and the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2009. Similarly, if an additional support for learning need becomes apparent after admission, the School will consult with the parents about any reasonable adjustments that can be made to allow the child to continue at the School.

We expect that parents of all children – prospective or current – with additional support for learning needs, will provide full disclosure of any medical, educational psychologist or other reports regarding their child’s additional support for learning needs. In assessing any pupil or prospective pupil, the School may require parents to seek assessments as it regards appropriate. Parents will be responsible for the costs of any professional fees incurred through this process. We will, of course, talk each stage through with parents on a case by case basis. Failure by parents to make the necessary disclosure of information may prevent the School from providing adequate support and may jeopardise the entry or advancement of the pupil through the School.

International pupils

We do welcome a handful of pupils from overseas for either a term or a year although the former group will generally return over the course of a few years for a term each time. We feel that these children add to the more cosmopolitan blend of Cargilfield, helping our pupils and families to develop friendships further afield and a broader prospective. Nonetheless, we cannot offer more than weekly boarding (with some additional weekends) to these pupils and so it is essential that there are appropriate guardianship arrangements in place. We do not currently offer specific tuition in English as an Additional Language and will immerse children into the full life of the School. It is, therefore, essential that they have a reasonable working knowledge of English before they arrive.


The Governors of Cargilfield are pleased to offer means-tested bursaries aimed at children who might not otherwise be able to attend the School but would, in the opinion of the Governors, benefit from the education at Cargilfield and an on-going independent school education. The School offers a limited number of awards each year to pupils joining Form 4 or above.

In this case, both parents are required to provide proof of their income and assets. The level of support depends upon parental need but can be extended to full fee remission in cases of proven need.

All bursary awards are subject to an annual review of parental means and may vary depending on changing parental circumstances. It may sometimes also be necessary to operate further checks such as home visits as part of this review.

Please download for Bursary Qualifications Bursary Qualifications 

Terms and Conditions

Copies will be made available to parents as part of the admissions process.

Parents are also advised that they should keep any current school informed of any intended move to Cargilfield and must observe their rules for giving due notice. We cannot accept any pupil from another independent school where parents have failed to meet their commitments to that previous school in full prior to joining us.

Although every effort will be made to notify parents, please note that the School reserves the right to change the admissions process without notice at any time.


We hope that you and your child do not have any cause to complain as a result of our admissions process but copies of the School’s Complaints Procedure can be sent to you on request.

Admissions process

We encourage parents to come and visit the school and meet the Headmaster and his wife which can be arranged through the School Registrar, Fiona Craig – or 0131 336 2207 (Mon, Tues and Thurs 8.30am-4.30pm).

Following a visit, families who are keen to proceed with their applications and have not already registered their child will complete the Registration Form and return it along with the Registration Fee of £75. (This payment is non-refundable). Although it is not necessary to register at birth we do recommend registering at least a year before entry.

On receipt of the Registration Form, we will confirm a place on the relevant lists or make you aware of any waiting lists in place for the required year group.

In the Spring Term prior to joining we will contact you to invite your child for an assessment. These are as follows:

For entry into Nursery and P1:

Children will come and spend some time in the nursery so we can see how they interact with other children and staff and to carry out a readiness assessment aimed to ensure that a child is truly ready for school.

For later entry into Pre-Prep:

Children will come and spend a day with us so they can get a feel of the school but also for us to get a chance to meet them and carry out some standardised Maths and English tests.

For entry into the Upper School:

Children will come and spend the day with us where they will be involved in all aspects of school life, including, where appropriate, boarding. Some standardised test in English and Maths will be carried out. (It is normally possible for children relocating from abroad to sit the written assessments at their current schools although we would still like them to spend a School day with us wherever possible).

Subject to the assessments, places will be offered and we will send out a Parent Contract and ask you to confirm your child’s place by paying the £500 Admission Fee which acts as a deposit and will be refunded when your child leaves the School.

Once places have been confirmed, we organise Taster Days at the School to make the transition as easy as possible.

Please note:

  • We like to keep in contact with everyone who is registered for the School so please keep us up to date with any change of contact details;
  • At any given time, we are only actively working on the next academic year. For all subsequent years, the lists are static;
  • We are always happy to answer questions over the phone or via email so please do not hesitate to contact us;
  • Do look at the website for further information and a hard copy prospectus is available to take away after your visit;
  • To enquire please email:
Boarding Fees per Term£6,481
Day Fees per Term£3,427 - £5,281
Registration Fee£75