Merchiston Castle School Main Building

Merchiston Castle School

“A balanced curriculum, excellent pastoral care and a high A level pass rate make Merchiston one of the UK’s leading independent schools”

Why Merchiston?
Merchiston is one of the UK’s leading boarding schools, and a member of the World Leading Schools Association (the only school in Scotland), offering the English curriculum, but with a global, outward-looking dimension. Over 65% of pupils board and a full boarding programme is provided, seven days a week. Merchiston is a remarkable school where boys make lifelong friends and community connections, whilst excelling far beyond their expected results and being prepared to leave ready for the world.

‘In order to join WLSA, schools must pass exceptionally high requirements to become an associate. Such rigorous standards include obtaining remarkable academic results, demonstrating a holistic approach to student well-being, and championing respect and concern for different peoples and cultures. Based around Edinburgh, the historic and atmospheric capital city of Scotland, Merchiston is renowned for its success in guiding its pupils to try their hardest and to strive to achieve the highest levels possible in all areas – academic, cultural, sporting, leadership and simply living together as part of a community.”   World Leading Schools Association

The Merchiston Difference
Many schools can boast about their exceptional academics, leading university successes, including Oxbridge and Ivy League, extensive sporting and co-curricular programmes, internationalists, specialist sports academies, welcoming atmospheres and stunning grounds and facilities. Indeed, we can do that as well. What makes us different, however, is a combination of things: our size, a genuine focus on the needs of the individual, and the fact that we really understand boys and how to get the very best out of them. It is a potent trio. It is what enables us to know our boys well and to understand what makes them tick. It is the reason your son will strive for personal excellence and want to be the best version of himself.  It is the secret of their, and our, success. Our mission is to provide a caring community for every boy, which treats him as an individual, unearths and tends his talents, encourages him to pursue excellence in all he does, and enables him to flourish. Our community’s wellbeing is central; without it, no one will ever achieve their best. That is why wellbeing underpins everything we do.  Our boys thrive because they are known, understood, valued, and supported in everything they do.

‘Traditional, warm and personal school – small enough for everyone to know everyone.’ Good Schools Guide, 2020

Our young men leave us as rounded individuals, not only having achieved the highest level of personal academic success, but with a sense of who they are and with respect for others, having learnt what it means to have true integrity and character. Our success proves that what we do works.

‘Great City Prep’ Winner, ‘The Best of the Best Preps’ The Week, 2019

Best School Food UK Golden Whisk Awards — 2019

Independent Schools’ Grounds Team of the Year Institute of Groundsmanship — 2019


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)

Further information

Links with Girls Schools
Of course, we never forget the importance of mixing with girls. Our close links with our sister schools, St George’s and Kilgraston, ensure that there are plenty of opportunities to interact with girls across the educational, co-curricular and social calendars. Ask any of our boys, and they won’t complain about lack of female friends; in fact, they consider themselves to be at an excellent school that offers them space, and freedom, to mature without the social distractions, and pressures, inherent in a mixed classroom setting.

“Success doesn’t stop here: an average of 141 UCAS points (AAA being 144) bears testimony to high teaching standards. The majority, unsurprisingly, end up at the best universities in the UK, with a small number venturing across the Pond.” Tatler Schools Guide 2020

Committed to leading students towards ‘personal excellence’, Merchiston has an impressive record of helping boys excel far beyond their expected results. The School’s exceptional academic performance over a significant number of years demonstrates that our boys, as a cohort, are consistently amongst the highest achieving boys in Scotland. Maths, Further Maths, Science and Technology (including Electronics) are particular strengths, although Humanities and the Arts are also excellent. Our most recent A-Level Further Mathematics students achieved a 100% A*/A/B pass rate with 67% A*/A. In 2019, 64% of pupils went to UK Russell Group Universities, Bath, Cambridge, Oxford, St Andrews and leading international institutions. In the past few years, students have gained admission to Ivy League Universities such as Cornell and Brown, mini-Ivies such as Amherst and other prestigious academic and sporting universities in California, New York, Colorado and San Francisco.

Our international boarders form, in most years, around 20 per cent 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 calendar is always full at Merchiston. Our small community means that there is ample opportunity for every boy to engage in many aspects of School life which, in a positive way, can encourage each individual to step out of his comfort zone and try something new, or discover a hidden talent! Sport Merchiston prides itself on fostering the pursuit of excellence in a sport-for-all environment. In 2018-19, there were 75 different teams, of all abilities, playing competitive fixtures across 16 sports:  a total of 550 fixtures. More impressive is that over 85% of all pupils, from 7-18, represented the school at some stage in the year. The School is represented at national and international level in many sports and operates specialist Golf and Tennis Academies. No.1 UK Tennis Academy – LTA 2020 No.1 UK Golf Academy – ISGA 2020

The Co-curriculum forms a significant part of the School’s Total Curriculum, and it is an area where our pupils are given a chance to experience a wide range of opportunities outside the classroom. This allows them to explore and find their talents for the School to nurture. These include sport, drama, music, outdoor education, Medical Society, and other activities including academically related societies. Of course, being a boys’ school, our most popular activity has to be sport-related. At Merchiston, rugby is the one sport which has the greatest number of pupils involved. Although, it is important to highlight that music is a close second with 113 boys attending our Choral Society.

Wellbeing underpins everything we do, and your son’s wellbeing will always be our primary concern. One of our key goals is to ensure we are a safe and happy community, and this depends on everyone within the community feeling healthy, included, nurtured, respected, safe, valued and supported as well as able to achieve and lead active, responsible lives. All boys have a defined support structure in place to monitor and mentor their wellbeing and day-to-day happiness. Every boy has a Housemaster, a Tutor and specific Prefects, whose role is to safeguard their welfare when at the School, but also to understand and help with any other issues. From Junior Four to Sixth Form inclusive, there are Housemothers who also help look after the 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.” Parent

“Record numbers of Olympiad medals too – of the national academic variety (they’re particularly ace at science).” Tatler Schools Guide, 2017

‘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.’ Parent

‘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.’ Parent

‘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.’ Parent

“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.” Parent

“Science is a great strength.” Tatler Schools Guide, 2015

Admissions & Fees

We know that choosing a school for your son is an important decision, which is why we treat every application individually. No two families are the same, so there is no typical process. We offer many opportunities for you and your son to visit us throughout the year so that you can decide what the best fit is for you as a family. Director of Admissions, Mrs Kay Wilson Tel: +44 (0) 131 312 2201 Email:

Merchiston offers a number of prestigious awards including scholarships 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.

Financial Assistance
Merchiston offers financial assistance by means of a Bursary Fund designed to enable any child to have access to a Merchiston education, irrespective of his family’s financial circumstances. All bursary awards are means-tested and require a financial statement from parents which is treated in the strictest confidence. A range of factors is considered in making the awards, and as a result, the number and size of bursaries can vary considerably. Bursary awards may be up to 100% fee remission. More information about support with fees can be found here. 

Fee Reductions You may qualify for a fee reduction:

  • if you are a serving member of HM Forces or a member of the clergy (10%).
  • if you have more than one son attending Merchiston at the same time (5% for your second son and 20% for your third son).
  • if you have a daughter at our ‘sister’ school: St George’s School for Girls, Edinburgh you will receive a 20% discount for the third child (across Merchiston and St George’s only). Discount only applies whilst all siblings are at the schools.
  • if you have a daughter at our ‘sister’ school: Kilgraston School, Perthshire you will receive a 5% discount for your second child (across Merchiston and Kilgraston only). Discount only applies whilst all siblings are at the schools.
  • if you are/your son’s father is a Merchistonian (10%). The remission is only offered against the first year’s fees and would apply to new pupils joining from January 2020.
Boarding fees per term£7,220 - £11,730
Day fees per term£5,010 - £8,510
Registration fee£100
Deposit£500 for UK students, £5000 for non-UK residents