Merchiston to welcome first girls in nearly 200 years

When Merchiston opens two forest schools for its youngest pupils in 2024, both facilities will be coeducational

Merchiston, Scotland’s only all-boys independent boarding and day school, is set to welcome girls for the first time, it was announced yesterday (31 August).

The coeducational offer will apply to a forest pre-school when it opens in September 2024, catering to children aged three to five.

A coeducational forest junior school will open the same month, initially accepting pupils from primary one to primary three, before becoming fully coeducational by 2030.

Merchiston Castle Senior School will remain a boys-only institution for pupils aged 12-18.

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

The outdoor-focused schools will be housed amid Merchiston’s extensive, wooded campus, and follows research showing that two-thirds of UK schools had experienced an increase in demand for places at forest schools since the onset of the pandemic.

Merchiston says that the new facilities will boast high staff/child ratios and small class groupings, with a focus on learning through play, the natural environment, adventure, and child-led learning.

“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,” added Anderson.

“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.”

You may also like: Back in August 2020, we reported on how the pandemic was being seen in some quarters as the catalyst for a renewed focus on outdoor learning

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