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Moving to Edinburgh, any advice on good academic oriented Prep schools close to city centre and nice areas to live by....

(54 Posts)
gtans Thu 08-Sep-16 11:36:24

Hi, I'm a newbie here and delighted to say we are moving to Edinburgh as part of work assignment. We will be working near by city centre, any advice/ suggestions for a good Prep school for our 7yr old one? Also please suggest any nice and safe multi cultural place to live not too far away form city centre. Thanks

motherstongue Thu 08-Sep-16 13:50:55

there is only really 1 proper Prep school in Edinburgh and that is Cargilfield. Great school with lots of diversity. The school is in Barnton area of Edinburgh which is a very nice area but they do buses from the centre of Edinburgh if you want to live more centrally.
All the other Fee paying schools tend to be 3-18 "all through" schools so it depends if you are only staying for a certain amount of time and need your wee one to follow the Common Entrance/Scholarship route or if you are happy to follow the Scottish Curriculum. Lots of day schools, only a handful of boarding schools. Day schools tend to follow Scottish Curriculum, boarding schools (which admit day pupils too) tend to do the English curriculum. Hope that helps.

gtans Thu 08-Sep-16 14:08:35

Thanks for that info motherstongue, yes , though we are moving for work atm , from the reviews of the city we are thinking of a long term , esp with the availability of universities in and around edinburgh, I would tend to settle there until my son goes to university , yeah i Know that's really a long time to go. Saying that i wouldn't mind going for a 3-18 yrs one , but I am not sure about the scottish curriculum. Is it recognised internationally? Also how is EH10/ EH15/EH16 postcode areas? would there be a problem if you're not a scot and living in a detached house?

Noofly Fri 09-Sep-16 12:19:38

You might want to also post on the Scotsnet section to get more responses. As mentioned, Cargilfield is the only proper prep school. I've known a few people who have sent their children their and it seems to be a lovely school.

Open days are coming up soon for the main private schools (Watson's, Heriot's, Mary Erskine Stewart Melville etc) so you may want to pop along to at least one if you are able to visit before you move here.

I will add that for a 7 year old, you may struggle to get a place. The main intakes are for P1 and then not again until P7 (or possibly P6 depending on the school) and S1. Application deadlines will be within the next couple of months for most schools.

Cargundian Fri 09-Sep-16 12:45:26

Happy to recommend Cargilfield, and to try to answer questions if you have any. It has a significant entry at P4 (7-8 years old in August) which might suit you, but whether it has spaces, I don't know - give them a ring? The school twitter feed is very active and would give you a feel for the school before you visit (though perhaps makes the school look more sport-focused than it is, because the deputy head who runs it is into his sport - in fact, while there are loads of opportunities, unsporty kids thrive too).

Edinburgh generally feels pretty safe anywhere I've ever been, and sounding English is not a problem. The city is very white, though, shockingly so compared to places I lived in England. The most diverse areas are probably EH8 and EH9, which are (not coincidentally) studenty/academic. I'm not aware of racial tensions, but perhaps I wouldn't be. This wikipedia page has a bunch of links that might be good starting points.

The Scottish curriculum is recognised internationally in the sense that major universities will have someone who understands it, but of course fewer people on the street/employers outside Scotland will really understand it than will understand A levels, just because Scotland is smaller.

gtans Fri 09-Sep-16 16:14:12

That's quite informative , Thanks a lot Cargundian, Noofly. Will keep an eye on the open days for these schools, just not sure about the timelines of it probably I will ring the schools next working day and see if I can make it , otherwise the plan is to move by first week of November. It's a bit worrying to hear it might be hard to get into P4 as he will be finishing up here before Halloween and was expecting to join there sometime in Nov itself, fingers crossed. Any reference to postcodes of nice areas close to Heriot's or watson's as these are our primary interests with a short commute to school?

Cargundian Fri 09-Sep-16 17:43:04

If you're looking for a place this November, open days are not what you want - but your plan to ring the schools on Monday is a good one. (Actually you could ring Cargilfield now: the school day isn't over yet.)

If you want to move that fast, and have a short commute to a given school, then I suggest that the easiest thing would be to put the school's postcode into along with the property type you're looking for and see what comes up. Unlikely to be an unmanageable number, and I can't think of any definitely avoidable areas near either Watson's or Heriots. We don't really know enough about your tastes to be able to rule in or out any particular areas! Google StreetView is great for getting a general idea, too, once you're wondering about somewhere in particular.

Noofly Fri 09-Sep-16 21:16:34

Most of the Edinburgh private schools are academically selective and have waiting lists (Clifton Hall isn't and will take children as and when they have space, but it's outside town and probably not in a suitable location for you- not sure if there are any others- I think Merchiston isn't selective but still follows a process?). You might have to use a State option in the short term and apply for a private place for next year. Edinburgh has some very good state schools - possibly look into these and housing in these catchments?

Noofly Fri 09-Sep-16 21:22:08

Oh, I should add that Watson's run several school buses in various directions so you don't necessarily need to be in walking distance from school- e.g. the last pick up on the West Lothian route is in Balerno which is quite nice if you want a bit out of town. When your child is a bit older it's also an easy run via public transport if they don't want to take the school bus.

Alwaysinahurrynow Fri 09-Sep-16 22:03:13

The other prep type schools are Fettes and Merchiston, which are traditional public schools as opposed to Scottish day schools, but both go from 7 to 18. The only issue may be that I'm not sure whether they do CE prep (Cargilfield send a number of pupils each year to Fettes and Merchiston), so it may limit options at 13. They are both significantly more expensive than the Scottish day schools.

All of the day schools are within easy reach of the city centre on foot or bus, so I would not limit yourself to Watson's or Heriot's especially given the pressure for places. Edinburgh has one of the highest percentages of privately educated children in the UK.

Cargundian Fri 09-Sep-16 23:01:35

Neither Fettes nor Merchiston do CE, I think; why would they? So not prep schools, though worth considering. Merchiston is boys only: don't think OP mentioned the sex of the 7yo.

Noofly Sat 10-Sep-16 07:46:28

Sorry, yes, I had in my head that the child was a boy, but no, the OP hasn't said! The other main day schools are Stewart Melville Mary Erskine which is coed then splits to single sex then coed the last year (I think) and Edinburgh Academy. I've heard mixed things about EA if you don't live in the New Town and we didn't really consider it.

morningtoncrescent62 Sat 10-Sep-16 16:10:03

EH15 is Portobello, the most wonderful place in the world to live. It's Edinburgh's seaside with two miles of sandy beach and car-free prom, and it's exceptionally child-friendly. I've never come across any racism here, though it's not the most diverse community. We have an excellent primary, Towerbank, and I don't actually know anyone nearby who sends their children to a private school so I can't really comment on schools except to say that Loretto in Musselburgh (of which I've no experience) would be an easy journey, as well as the city schools.

gtans Mon 12-Sep-16 10:26:38

Thanks for the details, heard mixed comments about EA so wouldnt be including in our list of preferred schools, nice to know EH15 is a lovely place , we would like to consider it while looking around for house definitely , need to sort out the school anyway , called up a couple of prep , looks like there is a chance in Nov , just that we would need to come down for an assessment and it s on a first come first serve basis, and as of now the plan is to be available there only in first week of Nov :-(.

gtans Mon 12-Sep-16 10:55:00

Also , anyone knows if there is an international school in Edinburgh?

pepperpot69 Mon 12-Sep-16 13:08:21

Another vote for Cargilfield if you want central Edinburgh. The other one to consider which is a little further out is Belhaven Hill, has a wonderful country feel to it. Both superb schools and prepare really well for senior school. Have friends with DCs at both and if I lived in Edinburgh I would consider either of them, especially with a DC aged 7 as they are both more nurturing than the bigger 3-18 schools like Fettes.

gtans Mon 12-Sep-16 15:09:51

Belhaven Hill looks good too, just that it wouldn't suit us because of its location. Cargilfield is definitely in the consideration and was trying to reach out to different schools today and got some updates from GW, GH and SM, couldn't get to talk to anyone in Cargilfield as the number in the website keep going to voice mail and no one seems to be responding to it too. One of the schools which tops our list has places full and they would consider us in next August , so not sure but thinking if we can join him in a state school for now and move in to the prep as and when they have a place available. But have never sent him to a state one so no idea what it would be like especially interms of bullying. Are there nice state school near city centre , if so what are the catchment areas for the same? Also would it be easy to get in there at this time of the year as I imagine most of the places would be full and we might not get into a good one?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 12-Sep-16 15:17:58

Edinburgh is nice. All of the primary schools are nice. Seriously, there are hardly any primaries I would worry about sending my child to. Places is a different matter - many schools are full to bursting, but there is movement in and out throughout the year. EH15 is Portobello/Towerbank primary - excellent.

EH16 - well, EH16 isn't all wine and roses but I'm assuming you're looking at Newington/Blackford rather than Niddrie, no problems there. EH10 again very nice area/school.

I know you're trying to do a quick move which can be very overwhelming and worrying, but don't fret about state schools, they're good. Most people go catchment too - we're very lucky.

Noofly Mon 12-Sep-16 15:19:27

What sort of budget do you have for a property? That would be helpful to know in terms of areas to look at. I don't know much about specific Edinburgh state schools (other than the fact that they are much better than our local schools!) but many of the children at our children's school come from state primary schools in Morningside/Colinton and then heading west from Currie, Juniper Green and Balerno.

gtans Mon 12-Sep-16 15:27:12

yes LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett , this is indeed a quick move and you picked up me for my challenge! Unless I hear atleast a verbal confirmation from any preps we have no option other than just move in to any of the post codes close to city and then go through a formal process of school selection as there is no choice to call over for a week or so before November. So thinking I should narrow down my search to a nice location for renting house for the time being. Any thoughts about EH3 to EH16 , with proximity to the city centre and a nice and safe area to live , once we manage to find a school , we might plan to get a house sooner too, so prefer if we can rent out somewhere close to all these possibilities.

gtans Mon 12-Sep-16 15:30:52

@Noofly , we are looking for 2 bedroom one within a max of 850£ budget. Can slightly go up if I can find a 3 bedroom one in another 100-200 or so.

Roseformeplease Mon 12-Sep-16 15:40:03

That is tonnes of money. We own a 3 bed flat 400 yards from Princes St, in the New Town (EH3) and it is "only" worth about 300k.

gininteacupsandleavesonthelawn Mon 12-Sep-16 15:40:10

Stockbridge is my absolute favourite place to live, spent a glorious couple of years there but moved out of town to buy with more space. You may manage to find a 2 bed for £850ish. ESMS was my preference for DD before we moved, she goes to local school now as I felt commute was too long into and out of town each day. It's not as academically focussed as the others but I loved it.

gininteacupsandleavesonthelawn Mon 12-Sep-16 15:41:35

Sorry, I may have misunderstood- do you mean renting at £850 pcm or buying at £850k?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 12-Sep-16 15:41:37

is that £850 pcm to rent or 850k to buy, sorry?

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