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Merchiston Castle School

(23 Posts)
Sarahlou456 Wed 12-Nov-14 19:26:34


Does anyone have any experience of this school? Strengths/weaknesses and also the academic requirements for entry? Looking at entry into S2.

Thank you in advance.

motherstongue Thu 13-Nov-14 21:19:10

DS has some friends who go to Merchiston and all seem to like it. They are sporty types which helps as rugby in particular is very important to the school. Don't know about the academic requirements as such as they all went to Merchiston from a prep school so they sat Common Entrance for entry into S2. We went to visit several years ago and liked the school and the Head but ultimately felt it wasn't the right school for our son but it has a good reputation locally.

Pepperpot69 Thu 13-Nov-14 22:56:20

Agree with motherstongue, great school,great head we looked at it, some of the facilities need updating which I believe they are. Not a big school and houses work on an age system as opposed to the public school system of mixed age houses. Big on rugby!

7to25 Fri 14-Nov-14 10:10:31

Just going to Say they are good at rugby!

LittleBairn Fri 14-Nov-14 11:53:01

I've always had the impression it's a very academic school, its selective after all. If a boy isn't making the grade at 7+ and 13+ then I wouldn't be suprised if he didn't progress up the school.
I like that it does A levels too.

Sarahlou456 Sun 16-Nov-14 17:36:56

Thank you all for the information, my son is hopefully going in for a taster visit soon.

Taz1212 Sun 16-Nov-14 20:06:55

It's a very good school. We considered it for DS but decided it wouldn't be quite the right fit for him.

Pepperpot69 Sun 16-Nov-14 22:50:46

LittleBairn I would be very surprised (FMOE) if it is at all selective. They might want you to think they are but no boarding school in Scotland can really afford to be! It's def a buyers market in Scotland! Yes their academics are good and particularly on math and engineering but they are not selective.

LittleBairn Mon 17-Nov-14 17:35:58

I would disagree on the point of being a buyers market, not in Edinburgh its not with 25% of kids privately educated.
But I actually did a bit of reading up and your right they aren't that selective.
The mai. Thing that outs me off it is the Rugby is compulsory from the very beginning.

Pepperpot69 Wed 19-Nov-14 15:26:29

Yes but LittleBain look at how many day schools there in Edinburgh to cater for that number, my reference was towards the privates sector as a whole in Scotland. As someone who has just toured the majority of Scottish senior schools (boarding only) and has DCs in a boarding prep in Scotland, I stand by my comment that if you have the funds the choice is for the taking.

Taz1212 Wed 19-Nov-14 16:02:34

There is a lot of competition for the Edinburgh day schools and they are certainly not a buyers market. For the most part, the fees are not that high especially if you've been used to private nursery in Edinburgh- that extra bit isn't that hard to swallow! Scottish boarding schools are in a rather different position.

Taz1212 Wed 19-Nov-14 16:11:32

Then again, most of the Edinburgh boarding schools also take day pupils- I wonder if their day places are as competitive as the day schools... Hmmm, possibly should have asked at the time. grin

LittleBairn Wed 19-Nov-14 16:40:50

pepper fair enough, I'm more than happy to know it's a buyers market. grin

Pepperpot69 Wed 19-Nov-14 17:43:26

The best of it is that its nice to have a bit of a wee blether over the border rather than all the English chat (I'm English by the way before anyone starts!) smile

LittleBairn Wed 19-Nov-14 17:54:19

pepper was there any in particular that you were impressed by?
Yes I often keep a look out for the Scottish prep threads too.

LittleBairn Wed 19-Nov-14 17:54:56

pepper was there any in particular that you were impressed by?
Yes I often keep a look out for the Scottish prep threads too.

Pepperpot69 Thu 20-Nov-14 10:06:13

LittleBairn Do you mean prep or senior? We liked both Merchiston & Glenalmond for senior both very different but our boys are quite different.

3nationsfamily Thu 20-Nov-14 10:16:21

As a current parent of a Merchiston boy,- I copy below the reply I put in a PM to the poster for future reference if anyone else is considering the school.

I'm glad you took the time to look around and get a feel for the school, it is really the best way. The school truly is mixed ability- and they make a point of treating each boy as an individual to be the best they can be.

The entrance exam is more about making sure the boys are put in the right set rather than a test to see if they are good enough for the school academically. They do state that they are not a particularly selective school.

My son is in that S2 year group now and there are 60 boys spread across 4 maths sets. The top set yes are very high achievers and probably GCSE level already, but the bottom set will be just aiming for C in GCSE in 2 years time. There are also "drop in" sessions for support for learning for anyone who needs it and there is no stigma attached.

The less academic boys don't do Latin and some don't do a foreign language either if they struggle, but get extra help in those lesson times instead.
The school values sports, music, leadership, engineering ability, drama etc very highly and gives opportunities to boys to excel in whatever it is they are good at; or just be a good all rounder with good manners, a decent education and confidence to go forward in life.

If you have concerns, I would talk to the school. They are very open and will be honest with you. At the end of the day they are a business too and will work with you to get your son fitted in to the right place in the school. They have a support for learning department who work closely with the less academic boys . They may even suggest going back a year which is not unusual in the school especially if students are coming in with a summer or autumn birthday. In my son's year there is a spread of 18 months+ of ages in the year group.

We have been very happy with the school, this is my son's 3rd year there as a day boy. We had some settling in issues in the first year as it was a huge culture change from his previous school and much longer days, but they were very supportive and helpful in getting over it. The parents are also lovely- not at all snobby as I was afraid of!- and the school is very inclusive of parents with lots of opportunities to go to matches/church services/concerts/ dinners etc.

LittleBairn Thu 20-Nov-14 11:13:29

pepper Prep & Senior would be of interest to me.

3 thank you, it sounds like a nice inclusive school with enough diversity that there is a place for all.

iseenodust Thu 20-Nov-14 11:24:14

I believe also very good for tennis. Some teen GB prospects placed there.

Pepperpot69 Thu 20-Nov-14 15:07:38

LittleBairn our two DS are both at Ardvreck in Crieff and words would not do the school justice except to say it has been 100% fantastic in every single way for both of them. There isn't a sector in the school (bar the nursery) that we haven't used so Learning Support, Music, Sport, Pastoral. I know it always sounds like a cliche when people tell you that a school is just like one big family but at Ardvreck it really has been true! Looking in from the outside I can imagine that Belhaven might be similar, it had the same 'feel' when we were there for match tea. Full boarding was important for us as we are 3hrs away but we still go up regularly for matches and there is a very good Parent Committee that organises events for parents to join in socials with children from time to time. The head is hugely academic but very quiet and patient with the children but guides with a strong positive line of right and wrong. I could keep going but if you are looking go and see for yourself. The best way to sum Ardvreck up is that children are allowed to be children, staff don't mind a bit or a lot of mud, climbing trees etc and friendships we suspect will be for life. Feel free to pm me if you want to know more! Boarding is key to get the most out of an Ardvreck life!

Pepperpot69 Thu 20-Nov-14 15:10:18

Should also add, for fear of taking over OPs thread, that there are quite a few going to Merchiston from Ardvreck this year and the Merchi HM is a governor of Ardvreck too. Hugely impressive head!

LittleBairn Thu 20-Nov-14 16:56:34

Thank you that was really helpful. Ardvreck is my top schools to have a good look at when the time comes. Most seem to have a high opinion of the HT which is always a good sign.

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