Local Talk

Heriots and Watsons

(23 Posts)
JennPen Mon 07-May-12 21:04:42

Hi all

I know there have been various postings about this, but I wondered if those of you with kids at Heriots or Watsons could provide some feedback on a few specific issues that we're facing when making a decision between the two.

Ds has an offer of a nursery place at Watsons for next year, and we might be offered a place at Heriots nursery later in the year (ds has been on the waiting list for ages). We do need to decide on the Watsons place shortly, however, before the Heriots offers are made.

My gut instinct is to go with Watsons due to the single campus, resources/facilities, music opportunities (v imp to us) as well as strong academics. We're sure that both schools would give a a good, rounded education, however, and there may not be that much in the decision. The big school v smaller school issue is not a major factor for us in itself; and it is difficult to tell which school ds would be more suited to as he is just 3.

The complicating factor is that the commute to Heriots would be a lot easier for us than Watsons (walk or direct bus to Heriots from our house and near my work), and if there is not much in the decision, we'd like to try and make our daily lives a bit easier.

The specific questions we have are:

- with Heriots games at Goldenacre, is there much time wasted busing children around town? Also, we understand that from P5 the children have to make their own way home from games. Are parents generally ok with this? I dont have a feel yet whether I would be comfortable with this when the time comes - we live on the southside so changing buses would be required. We would be reliant on the afterschool club so couldnt be running across town to do pick ups. Is the single campus at Watsons a big advantage in reality?

- I've not heard any feedback about the Heriots after school club, but lots of positive feedback about the Watsons club. We'd be using this heavily so want to feel entirely comfortable about it.

- any feedback on music at Heriots? From first impressions (and these were general impressions and may not be well founded) music seems perhaps to be more of a focus at Watsons with more diverse opportunities than what we observed on visits/opendays at Heriots. Can anyone feedback on opportunities/standards/music groups at Heriots?

Any views on these points, positive or negative, as well as any other feedback you may have, would be greatly appreciated! Please feel free to contact me direct if you prefer.

Many thanks!

rookiemater Mon 07-May-12 21:25:51

I must admit we didn't look at any other private schools but selected Watsons purely on the grounds of relative affordability and being en route to my work grin. You are going to be doing the school run for a long number of years so I don't think including proximity to home is such a bad thing to consider.

OwlMother Tue 08-May-12 13:15:05

Have you asked the school about arrangements for after school club children getting back from Goldenacre? My son is at SMC and has rugby at inverleith. We have the option of collecting from there or them getting a school coach back up. All the after school club children get the coach back up ( not sure but I don't think they are charged for this) as do children like my son who lives close to the school and can get back more easily from there (nominal cost in extras account for this)

Would second what rookie mater says though, proximity to home is priceless, and as they get older we're finding it allows for a lot more independence and a lot less mum/dad taxiing.

kaumana Wed 09-May-12 22:52:05

Not an issue atm but they will be doing games/ training/matches every Saturday morning from p6 onwards. So there will be travel involved regardless of where they school.

kaumana Wed 09-May-12 23:02:02

Sorry I wasn't clear in what I meant to say. Heriots have to travel to Goldenacre for training/games in the later primary years for two days per week after school and on Saturdays for games, but of course matches are held across the city through out the year.

JeanPaget Wed 09-May-12 23:42:37

My dd went to Heriot's, she left school last year.

Although she wasn't particularly musical a couple of her close friends were and the sense I got was that the music department was rather chaotic and lacking in leadership. Although Advanced Higher Music is offered, dd's friends said they more or less had to teach it to themselves (although I'm sure there was a degree of teenage exaggeration!). The music department facilities also aren't great to be honest, very overcrowded, although the development of the grassmarket campus may be making a difference to this since her time. Of course a lot of this will be many years off for your son, but I would certainly bare it in mind if the provision for music is very important to you.

I think Heriot's is a brilliant school in many other respects. Great pastoral care, a really good size and fantastic at stretching the academically able. I did sometimes feel that kids who struggled academically were catered for less well, the learning support department for example leaves a lot to be desired, whereas I hear Watson's is very good. There was a boy in my daughter's primary school class who suffered some learning/behavioural difficulties who was more or less asked to leave in P6 - Heriot's just didn't have the set up to cope with his needs.

I think Heriot's is best for very academic kids rather than those whose interests lie in sports/music etc. to be honest. The provision for art, drama and particularly debating on the other hand is excellent. The head of the senior school is very influential so do meet him if you get a chance, it will give a really good sense of the ethos of the school.

We didn't really look at other school, and moved DS to Watsons in P2. I know people with children at Heriots, and they seem happy with it, but I can't answer your specific questions for it.

In terms of Watsons, the after school club / holiday club are great. The manager of the activites is lovely. It closes about 5.45 I think which seems quite early compared to other schools.

I would say music in the junior school at Watsons is excellent. The music teacher is fabulous, and has inspired the children with a real love of music. As an example almost every child in DS's P3 class is in the choir or playing an instrument out of choice! When the choir was announced I saw boys running out of school bursting with excitiement to tell their parents they wanted to join.

The learning for support also seems good. DS requires support for writing (and is possibly dsylexic/dsygraphic) and I've found the school have been really supportive of him and have helped maintain his confidence.

Once they start rugby etc. they play games all over town, but their practice sessions are at watsons which helps.

DD is currently in the pre-school and loves it, I've been impressed by the staff there as well.

Where are you in the Southside? Feel free to PM me, we're in the soutside as well so I may be able to give you some thoughts on buses etc.

JennPen Tue 15-May-12 20:15:56

Thanks everyone for the useful feedback. I've asked the school for some feedback on the transport options but it sounds like it wont be an issue for a while in any case.

zumbamumi Sat 19-May-12 18:39:39

My boys haven't started Heriots yet, go in August. I do know though that the after school club can collect your child from Goldenacre :-)

catrachmattben Tue 04-Sep-12 11:29:18

Any views on Watson's verses Stewart Malville college Junior and senior schools.. Thinking of applying for my son to go into P5. August 2013. Quite able little boy into maths and music particularly. Quiet and well behaved needs breath and a little stretching, but we don't want hot- housing just more individualised learning to his abilty. Thanks

edinburghschool01 Thu 31-Jan-13 03:50:42

Hi, just reading all the comments above for GW and GH , very useful. I just wondered if there was any up to date experiences as last post on these 2 schools was May 2012. I need to decided between GW and GH . All one campus sounds better . Do the GH kids make their own way to and from Goldenacre for games on public bus ? I realise that they can be collected from GA but one in senior and one in junior so would be different days , logistical nightmare ?Music and sports along with of course academics are very important so also thinking GW might be better? Just concerned about size of school compared to GH , what are class sizes like, does it feel like a huge school ? I know I can ask school this but just wanted some parent feedback. Academically they both sound great, not much in it ? We will be travelling in from North Queensferry , any thoughts on which school is better to get to traffic wise ? We are not in the area right now and wont be able to visit until after cut of date for acceptance and decision has been made. Going on word of mouth and wanted a mixed school rather than all girls all boys. Any views on these points, positive or negative, as well as any other feedback you may have, would be greatly appreciated!

The DCs are at gw so don't know about gh. However, yes gw is a huge school. It doesn't feel huge though as it is split into different cohorts eg lower primary, upper primary, seniors. Classes are 21-24 I think in lower primary. Up to 27 in p7.

Overall it feels very friendly to me, and if has an excellent reputation for learning support.

It also has its sports grounds on the same campus as the school which makes co- ordinating activities a bit easier.

However I understand gh is also good. Possibly a bit more focused on academic ability which may or may not suit you?

Hopecove Tue 05-Feb-13 12:18:24

Hi Edinburghschool01, Our daughter has been offered places in upper Primary at both Heriots and Watsons, and like you, we need to make our decision soon. We have visited both in the few weeks. This is where we are in our thinking:

Heriots: - Very disciplined and conservative. Really strong teachers [very short-term contracts until they have proved themselves] and pastoral care. For the able academic kids this is the place to be - for the less able they will still probably get you the best grades possible as long as your kid is happy being pushed hard. They are tested in class frequently. Very cramped site but inspirational surroundings. Being taught in a Hogwarts type castle with Edinburgh Castle towering over the playground is pretty special. Sports facilities at Golden Acre is a bit of a pain and the school only bus them there - parents have to pick-up or they get the 23 or 27 bus back into town. Some might say busing themselves around town is an education in itself. Music is in some fairly basic accommodation although this may change if they use the Grassmarket acquisition to upgade these. Don't seem to have the variety of music opportunities that are available at Watsons.

Watsons: Fantastic facilities and very strong leadership. Less selective so a greater mix of abilities and classes [Heriots appears more posh]. Considering this it could be argued that they do as well academically as Heriots do whatever the league tables show. They seem to know all their kids as individuals which is incredible for a big school. Music is superb - have their own music school building and inspirational music teachers. Sports facilities are also great and all on site [proper swimming pool too unlike Heriots who had a small one]. Our feeling was they also had the edge on Art and Computer provision. Apparently leading the field in support for Learning so for dyslexic kids and the like, this is the place to be. Sounds like they find out the strengths of your child and shine a light on it - maybe a more rounded education rather than just academic grades. Kids all seemed really happy during our visit. A more local school than Heriots in that lots of their kids live nearby whereas the Heriots kids come from all over the place. Seems a less strict and pushy place.

In conclusion, Heriots for the academic kids that thrive in a disciplined, competive environment. The kids there seemed very proud of being at the school. Watsons for perhaps a wider range of kids and those with real ambitions in Music and Sport. Maybe a better choice for kids who could crack under the pressure within an academic hot-house environment. We loved both schools and are struggling to make the final choice. Our daughter is marginally leaning towards Heriots because she is a big Harry Potter fan and likes the castle with its spiral staircases! However, the undoubtedly better facilities at Watsons may yet win the day especially as she is quite musical. The bottom line is that you wouldn't go far wrong with either school. We know kids who went to both schools and they all had the times of their lives. It is worth noting that both schools have a fierce rivalry and dislike each other intensely which rubs off onto all former pupils and parents - you should take comments from one about the other with a huge pinch of salt!

edinburghschool01 Thu 07-Feb-13 05:35:55

Thank you for your comments , especially Hopecove, great info ! You have done the visit for me ! We have gone with GW, and happy with decision. Good luck with GH if you go that way, and if you go GW , see you there in August. Both my kids are musical too and love sport , I think both these things brings out the best in them academically. Too much pressure can sometimes not be a good thing later on. Good all round education like you say.

Scienceattack Fri 08-Feb-13 00:18:42

Along the same lines can I please invite comments on Heriot's vs Stuart Melville College. DS has been offered places in both in P7 & we have to decide pretty soon. We live outside the city (north side) so travel is one consideration. DS is very athletic, loves sports and we would have to rely on aftershool club. so any input about SMC and its other facilities would be highly appreciated as I hv read lots above about GW vs GH but can anyone include SMC into this and update please.
Thanks

Pikeymay Mon 11-Feb-13 22:24:21

In the midst of he same dilemma of whether to go with GW or GH. The info on this discussion thread has been fantastic so hopefully you can help with a few more questions! I am relocating to Edinburgh and our preference is Stockbridge/Inverleith area. Does anyone know how long would it take to travel to Watson's from here in the morning/evening? Are there kids attending GW from the North side? For both GW and GH, is the wrap round care popular and can you collect them early rather than at the end of that time block? Many many thanks.

emma12344 Mon 11-Feb-13 23:44:53

I would personally HATE to do the drive between Stockbridge and GW every day! Reckon on 30-40 minutes through lots of traffic lights, diversions, tramworks and lots of other traffic!

Because you're driving, I assume your DC is still in primary school? Have you thought about putting them to Stockbridge Primary, which is one of the best schools in town? It'd be walkable, free and your DC would have lots of local friends to play with. There is an after school club as well. HTH

edinburghschool01 Mon 18-Feb-13 04:55:53

Quick question for anyone who is currently at GW or attending in August . Do the girls P.7 wear the official Navy tunic only or do/can they also wear another navy pinifore/tunic ?? Same question for official cardigan ? Anything else I should know about uniform. I know I can buy at Clan House or Aitken &Niven and will receive information from school at a later date, just curious.
Thanks in advance.

P4-P7 girls wear a navy skirt I think. Certaily P4 girls do. The tunic is only for P1-3. Cardigans you can get from M+S.

Also, I found the thrift shop for the first time recently. What a revelation - they have loads of good quality uniform there! It's on the school campus, behind the senior school.

12Poppyfield Sun 10-Mar-13 22:06:26

Hi, we are interested in DS attending either GW or GH and have found this thread really useful, thanks to everyone who has posted comments. We have registered DS at both GW and GH for nursery, to start August 2014. The problem is that it seems that GW confirm places in May, and GH not until October, and so would need to make a decision on GW without hearing from GH. I'm not sure how likely it is that he will get a place at either/both, and wondered if anyone who has had children accepted at either school for the nursery (other than with a sibling connection, which seems to give priority and doesn't apply to us) can tell me how long in advance they put their DC's name down (since it seems to be 'first come first served')? I know it will vary each year but just an indication would be really useful. thanks in advance!

Eman83 Mon 11-Mar-13 07:45:43

Hello I have had my sons name down since he was 2/3 days old for GH, starting nursery in august 2014. From my understanding GH has a high number of applications so I'm hoping I get a place.
GW I wasn't too keen on even though my DH was a FP there. My son is at EA nursery at the moment and loving it so they are my back up school.
My friend put her sons name down when he was 6 months old, but he didn't get a place at GH or GW and now she is on the waiting lists.
Maybe I shall see you at GH hopefully next year, fingers crossed for both of us

12Poppyfield Mon 11-Mar-13 21:05:33

Thanks Eman83. Unfortunately, based on that experience it sounds as though we may have missed the boat as we weren't nearly as organised as either you or your friend....ah well, fingers crossed, but sounds as though we'll need to think about P1 instead.

Eman83 Mon 11-Mar-13 22:58:27

Where do you have your son at the moment?

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