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Scottish Boarding Schools


St Leonards School, St Andrews
St Leonards School, St Andrews

Each boarding school offers something different, particularly its location, percentage of boarders and age range. Also the type of boarding each school offers: full, weekly or flexi boarding.


We found each school has a slightly different setup so you will need to contact the schools directly to find out how boarding works at that school. But here the goodschoolsguide.co.uk gives a good general overview of what the terms full, weekly and flexi boarding mean.


What type of boarding - full, weekly or flexi?

Unlike the old days, when youngsters were packed off to school at the age of 7 or 8 and didn’t see home again until the end of term, today’s boarding schools offer parents a choice of full boarding, weekly boarding, flexi boarding or even a combination of these.


Full boarding

Full boarding schools are in the minority these days, but if you’re looking for a school where everyone boards and there isn’t a mass exodus at weekends, you still have quite a few options.


At these schools all pupils board and may go home only for exeats, usually two per term, Saturday pm to Sunday pm. However, parents are more involved with school life than formerly; those who live close enough attend matches, concerts and plays. Technology enables much closer contact over long distances too, although pupils whose families live abroad must still have guardians, either relatives or else professional guardians to act in loco parentis.


Weekly boarding

Weekly boarding is growing in popularity, particularly for children who live too far away to be day pupils or whose parents work long hours and/or frequently travel abroad. Weekly boarders either go home on Friday evenings or Saturday afternoons and return to school on Sunday evenings or Monday mornings. For many children, this offers the best of both worlds: they can enjoy school during the week, work hard and spend lots of time with their friends, then relax at home with their parents on Saturdays and Sundays.


Parents are keen on weekly boarding too. They like the fact that they don’t have to nag about homework or getting up on time in the morning and feel that home time is ‘quality time'. Many opt for boarding schools within an hour’s drive so they can still turn up for sports matches, concerts and drama productions during the term.


Flexi boarding

The term flexi boarding captures a variety of options, all of which involve sleeping at school but not with the frequency or consistency of weekly or full boarding. It receives a mixed press; parents are generally in favour but for some schools it’s a step too far. One prep headmaster describes it as ‘a bit of a nightmare, like glorified hotel management.’ Unlike full and weekly boarding, one school’s definition of ‘flexi’ may not be the same as another’s. It’s certainly never going to be bed and breakfast at the drop of a hat. Most schools require parents to book boarding nights at the beginning of each term, with Thursdays and Fridays being the most popular. Not surprising if it means parents can travel for work or even enjoy a night out without having to find a babysitter (and not have to get up for the Saturday morning school run).


While it can be complicated for schools to manage, flexi boarding could be just the ticket if your child has to stay at school late for sport, music or drama one or two nights a week, or if you want to dip your toe in the water and see if boarding suits your family. Schools that offer flexi boarding will inevitably have some spare beds and many told us that they will always do their best to accommodate a pupil at short notice if there’s a family emergency.



​Ardvreck School

  • Location: Perthshire

  • Age range of boarders: 7 - 13 years of age

  • Number of boarders (%): 63% - 67%

  • Boarding options: We offer full, weekly and flexi options.



Belhaven Hill School

  • Location: Dunbar, East Lothian

  • Age range of boarders: 8-13 yrs

  • Number of boarders (%): 74 (63%)

  • Boarding options: Fortnightly Boarding (11 nights in school followed by Friday lunchtime–Sunday night/Monday morning exeat).



Cargilfield Prep School

  • Location: Edinburgh

  • Age range of boarders: 8-13 years

  • Number of boarders (%): 50 (16% of school)

  • Boarding options: Weekly and Flexi



Dollar Academy

  • Location: Clackmannanshire

  • Age range of boarders: 10–18 years

  • Number of boarders (%): 100 (10% of school)

  • Boarding options: Full and Weekly



Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools

  • Location: Edinburgh

  • Age range of boarders: 14–18 years

  • Number of boarders: (1% of school)

  • Boarding options: Full, weekly, flexi (3,4 and 5 nights per week) and occasional boarding available. Please note that our Boarding House will be closing in July 2025, however we are still accepting new boarders for 2023/24 and 2024/25.



Fettes College

  • Location: Edinburgh

  • Age range of boarders: 7 - 18

  • Number of boarders (%): over 70% of our students are boarders

  • Boarding options: Full Boarding



Glenalmond College

  • Location: Perthshire

  • Age range of boarders: 12 – 18 years

  • Number of boarders: 350 (80 % of school)

  • Boarding options : Full boarding. Day pupils all have a bed for ad hoc boarding.



Gordonstoun

  • Location: Moray

  • Age range of boarders: 8–18 years

  • Number of boarders: 394 (74% of school)

  • Boarding options: Full Boarding



Lathallan School

Location: Johnshaven, Angus

Age range of boarders: 10+ years

Number of boarders: 38 (16% school), Boarding Options: Full, weekly and flexi



Lomond School

  • Location: Helensburgh

  • Age range of boarders: 9 – 18 years

  • Number of boarders: 58 (16% of school)

  • Boarding options: Full, weekly and Flexi



Loretto School

  • Location: Musselburgh

  • Age range of boarders: 11 - 18 years

  • Number of boarders: 56% (based on our Senior School only pupil numbers

  • Boarding Options: Full and Flexi



Merchiston

  • Location: Edinburgh

  • Age range of boarders: 12-18 years

  • Number of boarders (%): 60-65%

  • Boarding options: Full boarding - The calendar offers weekend leave occasionally and half terms which gives boarding students opportunities to head home (or stay with a guardian) in between the longer holidays.



St George’s School for Girls

  • Location: Edinburgh

  • Age range of boarders: 10 - 18 years

  • Number of boarders (%): maximum of 50 (7%)

  • Boarding options: Full, Weekly and Flexi



​St Leonards School

  • Location: St Andrews, Fife

  • Age range of boarders: 10-19 years

  • Number of boarders: 134 (24% of School)

  • Boarding options: Full, weekly and flexi



St Mary's Music School

  • Location: Edinburgh

  • Age range of boarders: 9-19

  • Number of boarders (%): 35 %

  • Boarding options: Full



St Mary’s Preparatory School

  • Location: Melrose

  • Age range of boarders: 8 – 13 years

  • Number of boarders: 70 (40% of school)

  • Boarding: Flexi - up to 4 nights



Strathallan School

  • Location: Perthshire

  • Age range of boarders: 7-18

  • Number of boarders (%): 110 Junior boarders, 127 Senior boarders

  • Boarding options: Full Boarding.




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