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What says..

Enormous. Over 1250 girls and boys in total. Music and drama outstanding. As ever. Stunning Tom Fleming Centre (FP, actor, broadcaster) carved out of old – rather grand, but past its sell by date – Victorian assembly room. Brilliant scheme: the architects dug down into the cellars. Original entrance to the great outside is now a delightful Romeo and Juliet balcony, floor level in the old hall, now half way up the wall. This is a busy academic school and for some the going may prove too tough: and, after much consultation with the parents…

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What the school says...

We believe this is a time when children should not lose the joy of discovering the world outside - or the potential within themselves. Here your child will be nurtured to become a happy and confident young person. Girls and boys will learn that if they always do their best they can be proud of themselves and their achievements. They will develop all aspects of their personality, preparing them for the next stage of their education with grace and integrity. ...Read more

What the parents say...

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What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since 2016, Mike Kane, previously head of upper school at Stewart's Melville College.

Entrance

Automatic from nursery (wise to register at birth), otherwise by assessment. Hugely oversubscribed at age 4/5, not quite so blistering further up but waiting lists throughout. Priority to siblings but occasional places available at every level. Roll is currently the highest in the school’s history. From age 6 up, assessment for all, plus reports from previous school. Main entry point after year 1 is at year 6 – a very few places available at year 7.

Exit

Almost all to the senior schools (Mary Erskine or Stewart's Melville); occasional toff may have skived off at 8 or 9 to trad prep, but not really a toff’s school despite the location. Minimal trickle leave to go elsewhere, and occasional to-ing and fro-ing with other independents.

Our view

Enormous. Lower junior school (nursery to age 8) is based at Ravelston (Mary Erskine site) and upper junior school is at the Stewart's Melville College site on Queensferry Road.

Spread over both sites, little people don’t feel quite so overwhelmed, the nursery and first three years of proper school are tucked into a corner of the Ravelston campus in stunning purpose-built classrooms with secure dedicated playgrounds for each age group, surrounded by games pitches and mature trees.

Nursery: (vouchers and dry please), from age 3, based at New Ravelston. Forty 3 year olds (Snowdrops) in own rooms; joined by 80 more in four splendidly decorated rooms (well, it was nearly Hallowe’en) bung full of the kind of kit no child can resist. Specially trained teachers, nursery nurses; the result of lot of dosh, discussion and planning: wizard outcome including sensory quiet room – moving lights, swimming fish projected over the ceiling, soft music and seating. Parents encouraged to get involved.

Serious wrap around care from 7.45am-6pm. E-Plus operates throughout the year, on offer to all the junior school, and includes parent workshops. Forest school for all (and forest school trained leaders) ‘where they discover for themselves the magic of (the not really very wild) outdoors’.

School proper age 4/5; reading, writing, ‘rithmetic: reading taught which ever way works best, phonics, sound recognition: glitches picked up early (if not already flagged). Everyone screened and assessed annually, support either in class, small groups, workshops, or one-to-one. This is a busy academic school and for some the going may prove too tough: and, after much consultation with the parents (‘we hate doing it’) the odd child may be advised to go elsewhere, either to a special or a smaller school. Head of learning support and four other qualified LS teachers work across whole school. School not afraid of any of the dys-strata, and discipline rigorous enough to cope with ADHD et al. Drop in lunch-time support; Listening Team of teachers available on rota during playtime and lunchtime to listen to children who want to chat about worries or problems. Lots of input from sixth form pupils, who help with reading and classroom support. Reading time set aside for each child, each day. Head runs a very popular lunchtime Spelling Bee club - the children challenge teachers in all three schools each year, usually successfully, as well as senior pupils.

Age 6, all move to Wester Ravelston for a couple years where they now enjoy new play facilities. Five parallel classes for 5 and 6 year olds, six for 7 to 9 year olds and eight thereafter, with by which time the young will have moved to the Stewart’s Melville campus with full use of all the big school facilities. Certain amount of setting (fluid ability groups) for maths and language with specialist teaching for the sciences and art. Head of junior French oversees specialist teaching for P1 upwards; P6 also gets six month blocks and German and Spanish teaching. School majors on academics. Specialist teacher helps embed DT projects eg ice blocks and Santa's sleight in nursery, trebuchets in P3, Viking roundhouses in P4. Strong emphasis on basics: spelling, presentation; Lewis insists on fountain pens as a 'commitment to presentation skills, matching commitment to basic good manners'. Maximum class size 25, 20 for practical subjects: home economics, science, ICT. The subject-based curriculum at the top of the junior school eases the transition to senior school.

Sport fantastic, as you would expect in the junior department of a truly great school: swimming pool, super gyms, massive games options – rugby, football (Scottish champions again, ditto cross-country champions, tours all over), cricket, hockey, netball etc, with at least 10 teams in action every Saturday, plus inspired expeditions and the like, Italy, Greece, London, skiing, annual exchange of 10 year olds with Colorado Academy. Trips cost, but funds on hand to help the less financially able, for curriculum enhancing, sport, art, rather than for jollies.

Music and drama outstanding. As ever. Junior school children used to appearing in professional musicals and operas, recently in Joseph yet again and Jesus Christ Superstar. Plus, of course, the odd play in the festival, at Christmas. And, since 2013, the junior school became the choir of the Edinburgh Tattoo (a welcome respite from previous songsters). Each year boys and girls sing their hearts out – and join the throng of professionals marching off (and waving) to the massed bands at the end. Five choirs, four orchestras, a hefty 300 learn an instrument. Fabulous art, with a great millennium staircase decorated by all the pupils.

Parents mostly first time buyers, huge amount of charity work both for and outwith the school; they have terrific contact with Malawi and have built a girls' secondary school there - it is called The Edinburgh Girls' High School and the pupils wear Mary Erskine uniform. Over £50,000 raised in the junior school alone for its other charities last year eg all 200 P7 children walking for up to 12 hours in the hills to raise £20,000+ to support a local OE centre and two others walking for 40 miles across the width of Scotland over two days to raise another £13,000 for children's sports charities. Walking even further recently along the West Highland Way and the John Muir Way - again the emphasis on challenge.

Coaches to and from school, from all over, but only after age 8: from Dunbar, Dunfermline, Melrose and Falkirk as well as all round Edinburgh. Coach at beginning and end of school day between the two campuses, otherwise it’s shanks’ pony or one of the many school fleet buses. Boarding from age 11 upwards, either full time or weekly, flexi on offer with bed and breakfast ok if space available, couple of segregated houses quite close to school, each house capable of holding max 30 at any one time: married couple at the helm in both.

Strong anti-bullying programme. Every child made to feel loved. Central to the ethos and now rolled out over the whole school, but started in the junior school is a nine point set of values: written everywhere: illustrated everywhere: each boy and girl must show appreciation, commitment, confidence, enthusiasm, grace, integrity, kindness, respect and responsibility. They are expected to thank everyone for everything, open doors, allow others to pass. ‘Boys’ behaviour has improved enormously.' Etiquette is important.

The unannounced HMI report a few years back couldn’t fault the place. We rather agree.

Special Education Needs

We offer Support for Learning. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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