‘A balanced curriculum, excellent pastoral care and a high A level pass rate make Merchiston one of the UK’s leading independent schools’ – www.ukboardingschools.com
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 per cent 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 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 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.
Merchiston really does turn the ‘C student’ into a ‘B student’ and the ‘B student’ into an ‘A student’. Our 2016 results at every level offer clear evidence of the value-added by the School, for which we are in the top 5 per cent of the UK schools.
Merchiston’s exceptional performance at A Level and GCSE over a significant number of years, demonstrates that our boys, as a cohort, are consistently amongst the highest achieving boys in Scotland. Furthermore, nine of our leavers in 2016 are attending top 30 international universities in QS World University Rankings 2016-17, and 50 per cent of students have gained places to Russell Group Universities, such as Bath, Cambridge, Oxford and other top international institutions. A number of students gained admission to USA Ivy League Universities, such as Cornell and Brown.
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. In 2016-17, there were 73 different teams, of all abilities, playing competitive fixtures across 16 sports: a total of 539 fixtures. More impressive is that 89% of all pupils, from 7-18, represented the school at some stage in the 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. The Tennis Academy is ranked number two World Tennis School, by the ISF World Schools Championship, 2017 and number two in the UK in the LTA Team Tennis Schools rankings, 2017; the Golf Academy is the number one UK Junior Ranked Golf School in the ISGA rankings 2016-17, with two members ranked in the top four UK Individual Junior Players, 2017.
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.
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 (Director of Admissions): +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 on our website.
“Record number of Olympiad medals too - of the natioanl academic variety (they're particularly ace at science).” Tatler Schools Guide, 2017
“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