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Edinburgh independent schools

(61 Posts)
maggiethecat Thu 13-Jan-11 20:51:47

Have considered a lot of the advice given here (Dh refers to it as 'gospel according to MN') and have shortlisted a few state schools to see when we visit Ed in just over a week.

I thought that it might be useful to look at a couple of independent primaries as well since there is no guarantee that we'll get our chosen schools (esp since we've missed application deadline) or that both girls will be together.

We've heard that St Georges is good academically but that's not all that matters to us - also still not sure if we want same sex school.

Watsons has been mentioned as being very nice and will have a look at that.

Any others recommended?

carolscotland Fri 14-Jan-11 16:48:09

To be honest academically there is not much difference between the various independant schools in Edinburgh. Each one has its plus points and its minus points (not many of those!), however what I would say is that all of the independant schools have MUCH better exam results than the state schools if it is exam results that you want to compare. Schools differ so much in terms of size, gender, and strengths and it would be best to select a few and visit them and see which suits your children best. Edinburgh is a fairly large city and you might want to select the schools that are closest to where you are living, from certain parts of the city it can take 1-2 hours at peak times of day to cross the city for a school at the other side. Independant schools often have slightly longer standard days than the state schools and when the children are younger this can make the day even longer, and when the are older and wanting to catch the bus themselves some bus journeys are not the easiest. My dd has to get 3 buses from school to her dentist. In a car that can be done in under 20 minutes! My advice is find somewhere to live and then look at schools.

However I think you may have difficulty with your younger child as most p1 places are allocated months in advance and to get an independant school place might be tricky. State schools you will already have missed the date so if the school is full, and the good ones will be, you may get a not so good school.

Contact me later if you need advice on particular schools (already done the homework for dd!)

Cargilfield (prep) is good and they pick up from Stockbridge and other places by bus.

scotgirl Sun 16-Jan-11 10:12:46

You have not missed the date for the state schools. Yes, enrollment was in November, but they are not doing anything with the info yet.

I enrolled my DS (4yrs) into P1 (starting August 2011) this week. Yes, I was late, but we have just moved into the catchment area. At this stage you do it direct with the school. I was no problem. I was told that they do not consider the out of catchment requests until early March and, as long as you have applied and are in catchment before this date you are pretty much assured of a place at your local school. The Early Years team at the council confirmed this.

This was for P1 mind you, not sure how this works for an older child.

bairn24 Wed 19-Jan-11 12:34:13

My children are at Mary Erskine Stewarts Melville. We have been really pleased with the facilities and teaching. It is co-ed till P7 (age 12), then single sex til they have done their Standard Grades, then back to mixed for 5th and 6th year.
I know people with children at Watsons, they are also very happy. It's co-ed all the way through.
We have also had experience of the state system in Edinburgh.
I visited the school twice and met with the headmaster before making my decision. So much depends on the feeling you get about the atmosphere in the school and whether you think your child will fit in and be happy.
Good Luck

maggiethecat Wed 19-Jan-11 14:41:42

Thanks Scotgirl - realise the urgency.

Bairn, another poster has told me of ME where her child is quite happy. I called the school and looked at their website and quite liked the feeling I got as well as the values emphasised by the Head who sounds great.

Difficulty is that dd1 would be in P4 Sep 11 and dd2 enters P1 Sep 11 so they would never be at junior school together. I had an appointment to visit but cancelled when I realised that the prep and upper junior school were split sad. This may seem silly but since we would be moving to a new place I feel it is important (esp for younger girl) that they are together.

We don't have to go private if girls were to be together at a decent state school - have earmarked, St Peters, James Gillespie, Sciennes and Flora Stevenson.

Having said that, I think that my girls could benefit from a bit of reigning in in terms of discipline, manners and older one could certainly do with concentrating a bit more - ME sounded as if it would be good for these reasons and also for the music which is important to us.

scotgirl Wed 19-Jan-11 20:29:38

I feel you pain! Do you know where you are going to live? We were trying to decided both and I just about drove myself mad!

scotgirl Wed 19-Jan-11 20:34:20

I bought the Edinburgh Good School guide - buy here Good School Guide gives a summary of all schools - particulary good for comparing the facilities and fees offered by independants and what are off site an what are on

bairn24 Wed 19-Jan-11 21:37:23

Hi,
I don't envy you trying to decide what to do - it's so hard!
If it helps at all, I do understand what you are saying about the different campuses at MESM, but going in at P1 and P4 is actually good timing.
In P4 they move campus and the classes are mixed up. There is an intake of new pupils and they are very experienced at settling new children, so your eldest would be fine.
P1 is a huge thing for all little ones, everyone will be new, and it would be great for you in terms of getting to know other families.
I would hate for you to be put off by the different campuses - they are only 5 mins away by car, 10 mins walking and they finish at different times so pick up isn't a problem.
My 2 are the same age difference as yours so they are finally together at the same site this year, but to be honest they don't see THAT much of each other - it's a big school, they lunch at different times and have different playgrounds.
If you want to know any more about the school you can PM me.
It must be so hard trying to decide what to do at an unsettling time. XX

maggiethecat Wed 19-Jan-11 21:46:25

Scotgirl and Bairn I am trying to breathe deeply and tell myself as long as we keep calm and make them feel secure all will be well regardless of which school they go to [reaches for the Guiness].

Shitemum Wed 19-Jan-11 21:54:41

Stockbridge Primary is also good. Small, friendly, good new head. Don't want to start a bun fight but I know of 2 families who moved their kids from Flora's to Stockbridge recently...

maggiethecat Wed 19-Jan-11 22:01:36

Interesting that bcos during property searches I was coming up with more properties in Stockbridge out of FS's catchment but which may well fall within Stockbridge's.

cuckooclock Wed 19-Jan-11 22:03:52

Do you realise that even at the same school a p1 and p4 child is very likely to be separate. P1 is infants and they do a shorter day with different playtimes and lunch to the older p3-7. Schools often have different playgrounds for the little ones too so that the big ones don't run them over

cuckooclock Wed 19-Jan-11 22:16:12

I should add that if I had the opportunity to go private for my kids I would jump. They are sooooo much better than the state schools

bairn24 Wed 19-Jan-11 22:21:31

Guiness maggie?!
Lol!!
U MUST let me know if ur dds end up at MESM - we will go out for a drink! XX

Well I don't have kids at independent school but I did go to Watson from p4 to the end grin

I would say that the Independent schools have AMAZING facilities/clubs/extra-curricular activities on offer PLUS they do produce good exam results. A major reason for this that I noticed while I was there is that they teach you how to study and really start preparing you for exams way before the state schools do (I had lots of friends in state schools, some of whom did really well but I definitely noticed that).

HOWEVER, consider your dc's characters well before you choose. My parents chose private for mainly academic reasons and because they thought private schools were a 'nicer' environment, I think hmm Well I think kids can be pretty much the same wherever they are. I was quiet and very shy at school and I was bright, quite artistic and fairly sporty. But in Watsons, a school of over 2000 pupils, many of whom are exceptionally talented I was very much middle of the road and didn't stand out in any way at all, as a result I think I actually underperformed!! lol. Plus I didn't make a lot of friends as it was really cliquey right from the start and I was just too quiet to be significant.

I didn't hate school at all. I had some friends and I did well but I don't think it was the right choice and I don't think for me it was worth all the money my parents sacrificed- for us it was independent school instead of 2nd car, holidays, cool clothes, meals out etc.

It really depends on your dc. My ds for example is really outgoing and sociable and very streetwise, I think he would thrive in that environment grin

If I had the money and could choose an independent school for him I think I would be tempted to have a good look at Clifton Hall- it's like a prep school but looks lovely.

Oh and Watsons doesn't have really long days. In fact I'm sure the lower primary used to finish at 2.30pm but I could be wrong. My ds started p1 this year at state school and went straight into 3.15 finishes.

In secondary we finished at 3.35 I think but we got a 40min afternoon break at like 2pm or something. Plus much longer holidays. Also Watson's operates a 7day timetable not Mon-Fri grin I'll explain if you want to know more!

Sorry for going on a bit!

Shitemum Wed 19-Jan-11 22:27:13

Stockbridge's catchment has just been enlarged to take in some of what was Flora's catchment.

maggiethecat Wed 19-Jan-11 22:28:17

Cuckoo, is that for the state schools too? At my dd1's current state school the older children do see the younger ones at playtmes sometimes, also assemblies. There is also the buddying scheme so older may even be a buddy eventually to someone in dd2's class.

Bairn, I have cat you but while I'm here again, surely there must be opportunities for ME children from lower and upper junior school to mix - assemblies, concerts, even a few times a year so that they connect?

Shitemum Wed 19-Jan-11 22:29:27

www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/download/663/primar y_school_catchment_maps
maps here

cuckooclock Wed 19-Jan-11 22:34:23

Maggie yes especially state schools, p1+2 at dcs school finish 40 mins before older ones, they have playground and door round other side. Often assemblies are split too so younger ones don't often see older ones. Lunches are 5 to 12 for infants and 12.25 for p3+. Buddies are usually p6 or 7.
I would kill for a place at watsons or erskines stewarts

maggiethecat Wed 19-Jan-11 22:37:36

Shitemum, I heard that in recent times some schools have been very oversubscribed and classes have been spilling over.

I'm really beginning to hold my head.

Monster, I think that with 2 children there certainly would be fewer frills for us (if any!)

Dd1 is very reserved and would I think suffer a bit initially before coming out of her shell. She is ok academically but I think may have a confidence problem and I'm not sure if things would get worse if surrounded by very bright children. Dd2 on other hand is confident and bright.

I suppose it's what you want for your dc. Sciennes is a possibility - heard that quite a few university people send their children there - dh will be with the uni and I wonder if there may be some easy friendships for them to make.

maggiethecat Wed 19-Jan-11 22:43:03

really want to know Cuckoo, why do think these schools are so much better? are your dc happy at their school and are they doing well? I don't know a lot about any of the schools, state or private but some of the private schools sound huge (dd's school has 60 intake per year ie 2 classes of about 30 each) and I think it's nice and cosy. But then I don't have the other experience to make a fair comparison.

Maggie, your dd2 should be fine whatever and possibly your dd1 will as well as long as you are aware and help to boost her confidence (which I'm sure you will). I didn't come out of my shell at school until 5th year and then I left without doing 6th year to go straight to uni!

It is so difficult to make these decisions!
We moved to a small town in west lothian and I never thought the dc would end up going to school here but they are seeing as we can't afford to move. DS has 17 in his class and the other p1 has 16. All schools here have half days on Fridays, even high school, which I like. DS has taken to school like a duck to water. He gets a small amount of homework once a week which he finds fairly easy. He isn't being pushed/stretched at all but at the moment I like that. He is enjoying learning and school and is thriving. If things change then I will think again!

Shitemum Wed 19-Jan-11 23:53:02

I think it was Sciennes where the kids were sitting in the corridors for lack of space but could be mis-remembering.
All I know is that Flora's is almost 4 times the size of Stockbridge and I prefer a small school. Have heard some fairly negative things about Flora's new head too...

I think you have to visit the schools to get an idea of the atmosphere and try and talk to some parents if you can - PTA's and Parent Council parents ususally have an ear to the ground. You can ask to be put in touch through the school office.

maggiethecat Thu 20-Jan-11 09:44:45

I think I did hear that it was Sciennes.

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