Erskine Stewart's Melville School Building


Welcome to our unique family of independent schools for boys and girls in the heart of Edinburgh. Together these schools have been turning out world-class boys and girls for over 150 years.

There are times in their growing up when boys and girls develop in different ways. At primary stage, they love to learn and grow together in the same warm, nurturing environment. By adolescence, boys’ and girls’ learning styles differ, so we give them the chance to develop without the distractions and pressure to conform to stereotypes. Uniquely however, our boys and girls join together for many sporting, musical and dramatic activities, as well as outdoor activities and cultural trips. Our students spend their Sixth Form together, preparing for the university life that beckons.

Excellent results… all round
Known for its academic excellence, the Erskine Stewart’s Melville family of schools has been turning out world-class students for over 150 years. It’s good to see that our boarding facilities also make the grade. A recent study by the Care Commission awarded both houses an Excellent grading for the standard of care and support they provide. This recognises the level of care and individual attention each child receives at all times from the Housemaster, Housemistress, resident tutors and resident matron.

Regular communication
Staff are in regular contact with every parent, keeping them updated on their child’s progress and wellbeing. Every boarder also has their own email address so you can find out how their day has been. Last but not least, each house has its own Facebook page just for parents.

With a teaching staff of over 220, and a choice of over 25 academic subjects, we believe our family of schools provides our children with an education that will serve them well for a lifetime.


The ESMS unique family of independent schools can be found in the heart of Edinburgh. Our schools are centrally located to the West of the city centre. The schools have wonderful views across the city to the Firth of Forth and to Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Airport is 7 miles from the schools and should take approximately 20 minutes by car or taxi. Edinburgh Waverley (2 miles, approx. 12 minutes), Edinburgh Haymarket (1 mile, approx. 5 minutes).

Main local attractions: Edinburgh Castle, Modern Art Galleries and Museums, Holyrood Palace and Scottish Parliament Building, Princes Street, Edinburgh Zoo, Royal Yacht Britannia.

Further information

First rate schools such as ESMS Junior School, The Mary Erskine School and Stewart’s Melville College demand top class boarding facilities and ours don’t disappoint. For children whose parents work overseas, or live too far from Edinburgh to commute daily, our boarding houses provide a comfortable, close-knit and surprisingly affordable home from home for children from Primary 6 to Sixth Form.

It’s not a boarding house, it’s a boarding home
Dispel any ideas you may have about cramped dorms and dark corridors. Our boarding houses are comfortable, fresh and spacious, but most of all welcoming after school.
Each house can accommodate up to 30 boarders. Their size means that boarding is just like being a member of an extended family and boarders often forge deep and lasting friendships.

As for our house staff, they care for the boys and girls as if they were their own, catching up with them at mealtimes, keeping an eye on their homework, ensuring that no-one is left out and organising a full programme of weekend and evening activities, drawing on the many local attractions.

Boarding facilities that are anything but boring
In keeping with the schools’ reputation for providing unrivalled opportunities, our boarding facilities are second to none. How many other children do you know with a state-of-the-art swimming pool, fitness suite, games hall, Astroturf football/hockey pitches and tennis courts right on their doorstep?

As for the boarding houses themselves, they’re equipped with table tennis, air hockey, pool and table football, computers with internet, email, printer and access to Skype for keeping in touch, music practice rooms, each with their own piano, a kitchen for preparing snacks, and study bedrooms for Sixth Form boarders.


Tom Fleming (Scottish actor, director, and poet, and a television and radio commentator for the BBC)

Dario Franchitti (Indy Car Racer)

Lynsey Sharp (Olympic Athlete, 800m)

David Wilkie (Former Olympic Athlete, Swimming)

David Florence (Olympic Athlete, Canoe Slalom)

Fraya Mavor (Actress)


A Day in the Life of Erskine House
by one of our girl boarders

Boarders always get the usual questions of, “Are you allowed out?”, “Are you locked in your room at night?” and, “What do you actually do?” Well here is an account of a typical day in Erskine House. Unlike Harry Potter, we don’t arrive on the Hogwarts Express, or share one giant room like in St Trinians and we definitely don’t have our phones confiscated like in Wild Child. Each morning, we’re woken at 7 o’clock by our beloved matron, Miss Wilkie, and told to “make our beds and tidy our rooms” which is sometimes forgotten in our morning bustle. We eat in the boys’ boarding house anytime between 7.30 and 8.00 and there is the usual selection of cereals, toast, fruit and juice and then the daily surprise of waffles, pancakes, croissants or bagels.

After breakfast we shuffle onto the bus and await our arrival at Craigleith Rise Car park where we join the crowd of kilts hurrying up the hill. Like all other pupils we face the daily tasks that school provides but then wander back to the welcoming atmosphere of Erskine House and, more importantly, afternoon snack, chat and gossip. We are greeted by Mrs Anderson, our House Mistress, who is honestly nothing like Miss Trudgebull from Matilda but is in fact kind, understanding and always bubbling over with fun and excitement. We then relax until dinner which is served at 6 o’clock in the boys’ house and which, despite what you may think, is always tasty and varied. After that we face the sometimes dreaded prep session which is really beneficial as we get our work done and receive help from members of staff.

After prep, we can go outside, watch TV, socialise around the kitchen table, head to Sainsbury’s, or just chill out with a DVD until we crash on our beds awaiting the sound of the switch flicking and the voice of Miss Wilkie echoing around the room once more. Weekends vary with trips organised, curfews extended, church for younger years and boarders spending weekends away. Saturday nights are filled with interesting conversations and addictive TV. Boarding house life is generally very laid back, fun and full of new exciting things to do, and even though we all come from a variety of destinations we get along extremely well whether we are in Primary 6 or Sixth Form.

Admissions & Fees

Entry Requirements, testing and Open Days

Primary 6 and 7
Entry to these Year Groups requires a written assessment. This concentrates on basic Language and Mathematics and is definitely not an ‘examination’. It is designed to ensure that your child will be able to cope with and enjoy the academic environment we provide.

The entrance assessment for S1 includes papers in Mathematics, English, Verbal Reasoning and Spelling. We will also request a reference and/or report from your child’s current school.

S2 and S3
Assessments for pupils entering S2 and S3 are arranged on an individual basis. We will also seek references/reports from your child’s current school.

Entrance to S4 depends on interview, examination results and reports received from your child’s current school. There is no written assessment.

There is no formal assessment for entrance to S5, but an offer is subject to interview, reports from your child’s current school and examination results. They should have at least five credit passes at Standard Grade/Intermediate 2 or GCSE equivalent in the subjects they are continuing to study.

Sixth Form
Applications to the Sixth Form are handled on an individual basis. We will seek references and reports from your son or daughter’s current school, and invite students for an interview with the Director of Sixth Form.

Our annual Open Day takes place in September each year. Our next Open Day is on 21 September 2103 from 10am – 1pm

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer help with fees by awarding financial assistance in the form of bursaries. These are means-tested awards, available to children who meet our academic entry criteria but would otherwise be unable to attend. Bursaries can be awarded up to a maximum of 100% of the tuition fee. The value of the bursary is determined by the extent of the applicant’s financial need.

At ESMS scholarships are not means-tested and are not used to subsidise fees. They are paid to the pupil and held in trust by the school until completion of their Sixth Form year (or the equivalent age if they leave us sooner). This creates a sum of money that can then be used to provide benefit in the future, such as contributing towards the costs of higher education.

How academic scholarships are awarded
Parents and pupils do not apply for a scholarship. If your child demonstrates academic excellence in their entrance exam, we will invite them to sit a scholarship exam, held very shortly afterwards. Scholarships are awarded to candidates who perform especially well in the scholarship examination.

Music Scholarships
Music Scholarships of £250 a year are offered together with free music tuition. They are made to girls and boys from S3 onwards, whether they are already in our schools or have been offered a place. They are awarded on the same basis as academic scholarships.

Boarding fees per term(L to H) £5,784 - £6,504
Day fees per term(L to H) £2,128 - £3,242
Registration Fee£60