George Watson's College Prospectus 2021

George Watson’s College provides a world class education for children and young people from Preschool to S6. We encourage our pupils to develop a love of real learning through an inspiring curriculum and an extensive and inclusive enrichment programme.

George Watson’s College provides a world class education for children and young people from Preschool to S6. We encourage our pupils to develop a love of real learning through an inspiring curriculum and an extensive and inclusive enrichment programme.


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Our School

We provide a world class education for children and young people from

Preschool to Senior 6. We encourage our pupils to develop a love of real

learning through an inspiring curriculum and an extensive and inclusive

enrichment programme.

We challenge and support our pupils to discover their own limitless potential. We nurture the

knowledge, skills and confidence they will need to become engaged and successful citizens and make

their own unique contribution to the world. We are proud of our heritage and passionate about our

plans for the future.

Our Values

Our values sit at the heart of our school. They are who we are. They are what we do. They are the standard

we set to measure ourselves and the contribution we make to the strength of our community.

Aim High

We challenge ourselves and encourage excellence.

Be Kind

We support each other to be confident,

engaged and ambitious.

Join In

We create a diverse range of opportunities and

enjoy the freedom to discover who we really are.

Respect All

We care for others in an environment where

all of our voices are valued and respected.


We believe our children should be able to go on magical adventures every

day. Our Preschool has been designed to create flexible, collaborative

places for children to learn both in the classrooms and outdoors.

Each of our Preschool classes is teacher-led and children are supported by a team of experienced

Preschool practitioners. This means that our Preschool combines the best of childcare with an

environment that really encourages learning, enabling children to move successfully into our Junior

School when they are ready to do so.

We are committed to

creating a clear pathway

where children will have the

best possible opportunity to

move forward successfully

into the Junior School.

The outdoor space around our Preschool provides

a safe yet inspiring space for children to enjoy the

freedom to explore, play and learn. We also make

full use of the wider campus for children to have

their adventures. All our Preschool children have

a hot, healthy and delicious lunch to fuel them

through their busy days.

There are no entrance assessments for Preschool

and, as places are allocated on a first-come, firstserved

basis, early applications are advised.

We know that children

who are happy and

motivated are the most

successful learners.

Junior School

The journey of learning and discovery that starts in Preschool continues

in our friendly, welcoming Junior School.

The rich and varied Junior School curriculum

ensures that children acquire a deep

understanding of individual subjects including,

English, Maths, Science, History, foreign languages

and the creative arts, whilst cross-curricular

themes ensure that understanding is developed

in interesting and rewarding contexts. By helping

them to understand how they learn, we empower

pupils to be happy, confident and successful in

their learning.

Our classrooms are all fully Wi-Fi enabled and

iPads and other devices are introduced as natural,

but not dominant, tools for learning.

Specialist Teachers by Year


In addition to the expertise of their class teacher,

Junior School pupils benefit from an increasing

Primary 1–2

number of specialist teachers as they progress

from year to year. Where pupils need additional

support with their learning, our highly experienced

Primary 3

Primary 4

team will be on hand to develop a package to meet

their needs.

Primary 5–7

In the early years of the Junior School (P1–P3),

individual year group classes are arranged in

clusters, giving younger pupils positive role models

and enabling older pupils to develop a sense of

responsibility for their younger schoolmates. From

P4 upwards, classes are organised in year groups,

with P7 enjoying a superb suite of classrooms and

a curriculum tailored for successful progression

into the Senior School.

The health and wellbeing of our pupils is our top

priority throughout our school. Our approach

is based on the principles of the United Nations

Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and

has been recognised as amongst the more effective

and forward thinking of any school in the country

by the award of the Gold Rights Respecting School

Award by UNICEF.

For everyday support, our wellbeing hub staffed

by registered nurses and the Wellbeing Room is

a place where pupils can relax if the pressures of

school life begin to feel a little overwhelming.

Throughout their time at Watson’s, pupils’ lives

and learning are enriched by the many experiences

beyond the classroom. Day trips and residential

visits enable pupils to extend their learning and

develop independence. Music lies at the very heart

of the Junior School and pupils have the chance

to learn an extensive range of musical instruments

and benefit from many opportunities to perform

either individually or in ensembles, choirs and

orchestras. No less important are the opportunities

to perform on the stage and the sports field. Whilst

we encourage excellence and celebrate success,

our real commitment is to participate and to make

sure that all pupils have the freedom to find out

what they love doing.

Every lesson is imaginatively

planned by teachers who

understand that each pupil

is different.

We offer one of the

broadest ranges of

curricular choices


Senior School

In our Senior School pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes

they need to thrive as adults and to make their own individual

contribution to the world.

The Senior School curriculum builds on the

learning experiences of the Junior School but

is equally accessible to pupils joining Watson’s

at other stages. Excellent specialist teaching is

offered within a structure that enables pupils to

explore links between subjects and understand

the fundamental concepts which underpin their


In Senior 1 and 2, pupils benefit from specialist

teaching in English, Maths, foreign languages,

physical education, creative arts, the sciences

and other “STEM” subjects and social studies. A

common approach to literacy is taken across the

social studies subjects to enable pupils to build on

core writing skills. Similarly, coordinated teaching

takes place across the science subjects to develop

generic STEM skills.

We prepare pupils for Scottish National

Qualifications and provide an exceptional range of

courses in combinations that are designed to suit

the needs of the individual pupil. We operate an

open presentation policy so that pupils have the

freedom to choose to take the examinations that

are right for them.

In Senior 3 and 4, most pupils study eight subjects

for National 5s from the approximately 31 that are

offered. Pupils usually take English, Maths and a

foreign language within their choices.

In Senior 5, pupils usually study five Higher

subjects – often including English and Maths

– from the approximately 32 different courses


In Senior 6, pupils study a range of Higher and

Advanced Higher subjects depending on their

future plans. Again, a wide range of courses

(including 25 at Advanced Higher) in many

combinations is available.

In addition to certificated courses, pupils study

a core curriculum and older pupils may choose

enrichment courses to further broaden their

academic experience.

S3 S4 S5 S6


Nat 5s


8 Subjects

(inc English,

Maths & Foreign





5 Highers

(usually inc


& Maths)





Mix of Highers

& Advanced



The health and wellbeing of pupils remains a key

focus in the Senior School. Working closely with

parents and pupils themselves, Form Tutors,

skilled and experienced pupil support staff, a

school counsellor, school nurses and our network

of trained peer-to-peer supporters combine to

ensure that every pupil can flourish.

We have a long history of helping pupils to overcome

barriers to their learning and there is access to

the expert support for learning that is required.

Additional support for learning is provided in-class

or through small group activity, as needed.

In Senior 6, pupils choose their own Personal

Tutor to guide their choices as they prepare for

university, college or the world of work. The

majority of our pupils progress to university but

we never take it for granted that university is the

right destination for any pupil and we are equally

pleased to support those who wish to pursue a

different path that is right for them.

Senior School pupils benefit from the extraordinary

range of enrichment opportunities including

some of the most extensive programmes of extracurricular

sport and music of any school in the

UK, ambitious drama productions and highly

successful clubs and societies. The programme of

educational visits begins with an orientation trip

in the early weeks of Senior 1. From then on, the

opportunities multiply both for group visits and

individual experiences supported financially or

practically by the school.

Exam Results for Session 2018/19*

SQA Pass rates A-B (including year-on-year comparison)

National 5 S5 Higher S5 & S6









1.8% 0.5% 1.7%

+32.7%* +28.2%* +23.0%*

*Difference from National Average


SQA exam



score per S5



*Exam results for 2019 are published here given the

lack of comparability in 2020 and 2021 due to modified

assessment arrangements necessitated by COVID-19.

Top 10 University Destinations

(including numbers with firm acceptance)

1. Glasgow (33)

2. Dundee (31)

3. Aberdeen (24)

+29.0%* 4. Edinburgh (20)

5. St Andrews (17)

6. Robert Gordon’s (13)

7. Heriot-Watt (9)

8. Strathclyde (7)

9. Napier (3)

10. Leeds (3)

We encourage our pupils to

make their own curricular

choices and have an open

presentation exams policy.

The friendships that are made

and the fun had participating

in the many opportunities at

Watson’s has a hugely positive

impact on pupils’ confidence

and overall development.

Beyond the Classroom

At Watson’s, we believe that some of the most important learning takes

place outside the classroom.

Pupils have every opportunity to discover

exciting things about the world and to develop as

individuals through a huge range of extracurricular

activities, a carefully designed programme of

residential trips and other opportunities for

learning off the school site. The friendships that

are made and the fun had participating in these

activities has a hugely positive impact on pupils’

confidence and overall development.

In Preschool children start their discoveries by

exploring first the campus and then further afield.

Our programme of residential trips begins in the

Junior School with a class visit to York in Primary 4.

A camping experience follows in Primary 5 with a

focus on making new friends and team building.

In Primary 6, children visit Meigle to study life

as a Jacobite and the programme culminates in

Primary 7 with a week-long visit to London.

Junior School Residential Trips




Primary 5


Primary 7


Primary 4


Primary 7

Ski Trip

Primary 6


Extra-curricular Activites Available Across the School

67 Clubs

24 Sports 35 Music Ensembles

Trip Destinations















Our unique S3 Projects programme

sees small groups of pupils set off

on a two week trip to destinations

across Scotland engaging in a wide

variety of activities.

The Senior School offers enrichment opportunities

which include a Global Education Fortnight for

Senior 1 and 2 pupils, language trips in Senior 2 and

Projects in Senior 3. A huge range of cultural and

language exchanges also begins in Senior 3, along

with opportunities to tour with sports teams. Older

pupils can apply for generous financial awards from

the school to help fund their own adventurous plans

and there are exciting opportunities for leavers in

many parts of the world.

Project 810 is a College wide

initiative providing opportunities

for all pupils to make a difference

by acquiring new skills and

understanding so they can confidently build

a fairer, kinder, and more sustainable world.

Our aim is to nurture compassionate global

citizens who feel equipped, emboldened and

empowered to take action to improve the

world we live in.

Our unique S3 Projects programme sees small

groups of pupils set off on a two week trip to

destinations across Scotland engaging in a wide

variety of activities. This 60-year-old tradition

remains a key part of a Watson’s education.

Our Facilities

All our educational and sporting facilities are located on our single, easily

accessible campus where all our pupils learn, play and grow together.

They enjoy the freedom of the beautiful green spaces that wrap around the campus whether that means

exploring in a lesson, playing with friends or eating a snack on the grass.

All our educational and sporting

facilities are located on our

single, easily accessible campus.







Playing Fields

Lower Primary

Junior School

Dining Hall

Upper Primary


Junior School

We believe our children should be able to go

on adventures every day and our stunning

Preschool classrooms are flexible, collaborative

places to learn with outdoor spaces that promote

exploration and discovery.

Our Junior School provides a range of facilities

to support the learning and development of each

pupil. It is a safe, comfortable yet vibrant place with

indoor and outdoor spaces that encourage both

independence and constructive play. The library

and informal learning spaces in the John Martin

Building support pupils in acquiring good habits

for study and collaboration with others.


Centre for Sport

Senior School





Design, Technology

& Engineering



Senior School

Sports Facilities

In the Senior School, bright and spacious

classrooms are complemented by well-equipped

laboratories and a variety of other specialist learning

areas, well-resourced libraries and informal spaces.

Our Senior School Assembly Hall is one of

Edinburgh’s finest performance venues with a

heritage that includes hosting some of the world’s

greatest musicians. However, it is mainly the place

where our community meets each week, where

we share ideas, music and drama and where we

celebrate the many achievements of our pupils.

Our Centre for Sport boasts four sports halls, a

fitness suite with cardio and resistance training

equipment and a 23.5-metre swimming pool.

Outside, the famous Myreside Grandstand pitch

sits at the centre of a range of other excellent

grass pitches, astroturf pitches, tennis courts and

cricket nets. The Myreside Pavilion provides social

facilities for the school and wider community and

houses some excellent squash courts. The nearby

boathouse is the home of our Boat Club.

Our Centre for Sport boasts

four sports halls, a fitness suite

with cardio and resistance

training equipment and a

23.5-metre swimming pool.

The Arts, Design and Technology

Creativity is a crucial component of our pupils’

education and purpose-built facilities support their

enjoyment and achievement in music, art, design

and technology.

An attractive exhibition gallery lies at the centre

of our Art School which also has dedicated areas

for pottery, sculpture, textiles, painting and


The Music School with its distinctive roof is a

wonderful venue for all kinds of music learning

and performance, whilst the Drama Department

provides specialist performance studios and is the

focus for drama in the Senior School. The Junior

School benefits from performance spaces and

dedicated music rooms at the very heart of the

John Martin Building.

Our Design, Technology and Engineering

Department has excellent facilities where pupils

can develop skills using a wide range of specialist

equipment ranging from a chip forge to the latest

in computer-aided fabrication technology. The

emphasis here as elsewhere is to liberate the

creativity of the individual to identify innovative

design solutions.

Fees and Financial


Current school fees can be viewed on our website. Fees are reviewed annually in June for the following


George Watson’s College aims to be an inclusive and welcoming environment in which children and

young people from a wide range of backgrounds can learn, grow and thrive. We are pleased to be able

to offer the following forms of financial support to help parents and carers who wish their children to

join our school.

Foundation Places

Foundation Places are available to pupils joining us in year groups from Primary 6 upwards and are

intended to provide life-changing opportunities for children and young people from families with

little or no previous experience of independent education. Pupils receiving Foundation Places will

typically have a particular ability or talent which might not otherwise be developed at their catchment

school and/or face particular social or educational challenges which attending Watson’s could help to

address. Although all pupils awarded Foundation Places must meet, or have the potential to meet, our

usual academic standard, Foundation Places are not scholarships and are not awarded on the basis of

academic criteria alone.

Financial Assistance

for Parents Scheme (FAP)

We recognise that the payment of independent

school fees can be a daunting prospect for

many parents and, in addition to the award of

Foundation Places, we are also able to support

a small number of families every year whose

household income is above £30,000 through the

FAP scheme. Financial support is available for

pupils in Primary 6 upwards and is calculated on a

sliding scale depending on income. The maximum

award under the FAP scheme is 75% of school

fees. The funds available through the FAP scheme

are limited and not all families who apply will be

successful in receiving support.


Our scholarship scheme has traditionally

recognised a small number of pupils who perform

particularly well in the S1 Entrance Assessment.

Our approach to these scholarships for 2022 is

currently under review.

Applicants for entry to Senior School can apply

for the Ferguson and Bruce Music Scholarships

which provide free annual music tuition on two

instruments, or for voice and an instrument.

These scholarships are available irrespective of

household income and the award is made initially

for three years. Subsequently, the award depends

on progression during S1 to S3 and commitment to

studying Music at Watson’s.

More Information

If you would like an informal chat about Foundation

Places, the FAP scheme or scholarships, please call

Admissions on 0131 446 6005.

Making an Application

Our main entry points are Preschool, Primary 1, Primary 6, Primary 7

and Senior 1 but we are pleased to consider pupils for a limited number

of places in other years. Once we have received an application we will

invite applicants in for an assessment.

The entrance assessment provides a valuable opportunity for both the school and parents to ensure that your

child is placed in an environment which is suited to their own set of abilities and needs.

The assessment is not an exam, it is an assessment of your child’s true capabilities based on their education

to date. The assessments are age and stage appropriate and differ depending on the year group you are

applying to. Each application is carefully considered on an individual basis.

Join us for our

Open Morning

Submit your


mid November

Primary 2


Primary 7



Primary 2 to

Primary 7

offers made

Primary 1

and Senior




Primary 1 and

Senior School

offers made




Please check our website for confirmed dates.

General Information


Wraparound Care

We are a city school with great access to public

bus and rail links. We also provide school buses

from Peebles, Midlothian, East Lothian, West

Lothian and Haymarket Station.

We provide Breakfast Club and Afterschool Club

(7.45am–6pm) from Preschool to Primary 7 and

also offer holiday clubs for these year groups.

We provide a flexible package of care, allowing

parents to opt for the care sessions that suit their

individual needs. Sports and drama camps are also

available during the holiday periods.


Visit Us

Our catering provides our pupils with the fuel

needed for a busy day at school. Pupils are offered

a range of healthy food choices with a commitment

that 90% is sourced from local suppliers. Payment is

made through a cashless payment system providing

parents with quick and easy tracking and top-ups of

their children’s lunches.

We would encourage you to visit our school and

take the opportunity to learn more about what we

offer and how your child will benefit from joining


Contact Admissions to arrange a tour.

www.gwc.org.uk/joinus admissions@gwc.org.uk 0131 446 6005


George Watson’s College, Colinton Road, Edinburgh EH10 5EG

An Edinburgh Merchant Company School, Registered Charity SC009747

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