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Merchiston Plants Seeds for co-educational forest Pre School & Junior School

Leading independent boys’ school, Merchiston has announced ground-breaking plans to open a co-educational forest Pre-School and Junior School to complement its world-class education and meet the booming demand for outdoor learning for younger children.

Nestled in Merchiston’s expansive, wooded campus, The Forest pre-school will open in September 2024 for children aged 3-5.

Meanwhile, The Forest co-educational Junior school will accept Primary 1 to Primary 3s in Sept 2024 (with the Junior School being fully co-educational by 2030).

The announcement comes on the back of FSA research (Forest Schools Association) that shows two-thirds of UK schools had experienced an increase in demand for places at forest schools as parents seek alternatives paths to traditional education in the wake of the pandemic.

Where learning happens naturally

Under the banner ‘Where learning happens naturally,’ The Forest brand mirrors the core aims of Merchiston, with a focus on wellbeing and developing the potential of every individual so they thrive. Its nurturing approach and stunning, wooded environment will afford children the physical freedom to learn and grow in a natural environment underpinned by the very best educational methodology.

The Forest at Merchiston will be a unique offering within Edinburgh focussing on learning through play, the natural environment, limitless adventures, and child-led learning all with a foundation in academic excellence. Teaching will be child-centred with high staff/child ratios and small class groupings. As well as an idyllic start to their education, the boys and girls will receive the very best academic start.

Jonathan Anderson, Headmaster says:

“Merchiston has provided a world-class, outward-looking education for boys and young men for nearly 200 years. Since our establishment, we have continuously evolved our offering, through bold and innovative approaches that are at the cutting edge of education.

“With the introduction of The Forest Pre-School and Junior School, we will meet the huge demand for alternative approaches and offer the very best in the formative early years of education.

“Our Forest pioneers will embark on a nurturing educational journey immersed in and surrounded by nature, allowing them to flourish as individuals throughout their academic years and beyond.

“It is a momentous occasion for Merchiston, as we extend our exceptional educational offering to girls as well as boys for the first time in nearly 200 years”

Pre-registrations are open

Places at The Forest at Merchiston are extremely limited and anticipated to be in high demand from Edinburgh families due to Its unique, ground-breaking approach that reflects the educational desires of modern families. Prospective families of boys and girls are invited to register their interest by contacting The Forest admissions team to learn more about their son or daughter joining by emailing

A series of family-friendly information events will take place from Autumn 2022 and early registration is recommended.

Merchiston Castle School remains all-boys

Merchiston Castle Senior School will remain Scotland’s only all-boys independent boarding and day school, providing exceptional education for boys aged 12 -18.

With the opening of The Forest at Merchiston, girls will be able to join from Pre-School (aged 3) up to aged 12, at the end of the Junior School. All girls will be supported at that time in choosing the next step of their education.


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