Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


  • When do applications need to be submitted by?

    For Primary 1 to S6 the closing date is Friday 16 November 2018 for entry in session 2019/20.

    For entry to Nursery in August 2020, completed Nursery Application Forms should be submitted no later than August 2019. (Places for nursery in session 2018/19 have been allocated but we can still accept applications and will add to our waiting list).

  • At which entry points can my child be considered?

    The main entry points are at Nursery, Primary 1, Primary 6 (new class created for session 2018/19), Primary 7 and Senior 1 levels, but we are pleased to consider pupils for a limited number of places in other years.

  • What happens if I miss the deadline for applications?

    The assessments for Primary 2 - Primary 7 occur in December, and demand for spaces means that late applications will have to join a waiting list. Primary 1 assessments happen in early January. Financial assistance is also determined at this time, and so a late application is unlikely to be able to apply for help with fees.

  • Is financial assistance available?

    Yes – in the Junior School for Primary 6 and Primary 7 only.
    In Senior School priority is given to applicants in S1.

  • Can I apply for financial assistance?

    This is fully explained in the Financial Assistance and Scholarships section. However, a limited number of means-tested Foundation Places are offered each year to children whose parents would otherwise not be able to afford the school fees. This financial assistance takes the form of a discount of up to 100% of the fees and is available for children in Primary 6 to S6, with priority given to those joining us at Primary 7 and S1. To apply, tick the box on the Application Form and our Foundation Awards Manager will contact you – this is means-tested, so evidence of the income that comes into your home will be requested confidentially.

  • Why do you assess children for Junior School and Senior School places?

    This process provides a valuable opportunity for both the School and the parents to ensure that pupils are placed in an environment which is suited to their own set of abilities and needs.

    Each application is carefully considered on an individual basis, taking into account our observations when meeting the child, the outcome of the assessment and reference from her/his current school, where appropriate.

  • When are your main intakes?

    Nursery, P1, P6 (from 2018), P7 and S1. S5 and S6 is another option. S5 provides the choice of IB and SQA qualifications. S6 entry enables pupils to study for Highers or Advanced Highers. IB is only an option for an S6 candidate who is already on the IB programme.

  • What if I have applied to more than one school?

    Offers from all of the Edinburgh Independent Schools are sent out within a set time period and places have to be accepted by the same dates.

    Primary 2-Primary 7 Offers posted after assessment, to be accepted by 19 February 2018
    Primary 1 Offers posted on Thursday 1 February, to be accepted by 19 February 2018
    S1 Offers posted Thursday 8 February, to be accepted by 27 February 2018
    S2-S6 Offers posted after assessment
  • Should my child be tutored prior to the assessment?

    No. This is not an exam, it is an assessment of your child's true capabilities based on their education to date. 

  • When are the entry assessments?
    Assessments for Primary 1 Saturday 13 or 20 January 2018 (attend one)
    Assessments for Primary 2-Primary 7 Saturday 2 December 2017
    Assessments for S1-S6 Friday 12 January 2018
    S5 Testing/S1-S3 Mop up Friday 19 January 2018
    S1 Scholarship Assessment Wednesday 24 January 2018
    Music Scholarship Friday 26 January 2018
  • What do the assessments involve?

    This will be different for different stages.

    To assist with the admission process, prospective pupils for the Junior School undertake an assessment which is both age and stage appropriate.

    For admission to Primary 1, pupils take part in a one-to-one interview with a member of the early years staff where they would talk together and take part in interactive games and activities.

    The procedure for admission into Primary 2 or Primary 3 also takes the form of a one-to-one interview where children talk with the member of staff and undertake literacy and numeracy based activities. It is extremely helpful if candidates would bring with them their current reading book.

    At the Primary 4 stage, pupils sit standardised assessment papers in both English and Mathematics.

    For Primary 5, 6 and 7 pupils sit standardised assessment papers in both English and Mathematics and they also complete a Non-Verbal Reading Quotient assessment.

    Assessments in the Senior School involve a test of each pupil's skills in English and Mathematics. For S1 and S2 pupils, we also assess wider problem-solving skills, and for applicants for S3 and upwards we assess ability in a modern language. In addition, we like to get a wider sense of each applicant through discussion of their interests and enthusiasms. 

  • How do I apply?

    Full details on applying can be found in our Admissions section.

  • What is your Admissions Policy?
  • How much is the registration fee when applying for a place?

    The registration fee is £40 – this can be paid by cash, cheque, debit card or bank transfer.

  • Is there much competition for places?

    Yes. Most years are often oversubscribed – in particular, our main entry points (Nursery, P1, P6, P7 and S1).

  • Does the School take into consideration family connections with George Watson’s College?

    Where connections are taken into account, these are in descending order as follows:
    1. Brother(s)/sister(s) already in the School, or who have been at the School
    2. A parent who is a former pupil of George Watson's College, George Watson's Boys' College, or George Watson's Ladies' College
    3. A grandparent or other close relative who is or was a former pupil of the above schools, or of John Watson's School
    4. A parent or grandparent who is a member of the Company of Merchants of the City of Edinburgh.

  • If there are more applicants than places, how will the School decide on who enters the School?

    Selection will be made on the following criteria:

    • Ability to cope with the curriculum at Watson's as demonstrated in entrance assessments and information from previous school(s)
    • Sibling(s) already in the School, or who have been at the School
    • Potential contribution to the extra-curricular life of the school based upon information received from
    • references and interview
    • Other connections with the School (see above)
  • Do you have a waiting list?

    If an applicant does well in the entrance assessment but we are over-subscribed, then they will be added to our waiting list. If no place becomes available then we will carry forward their application to the next academic year. The prospective pupil will then be required to sit an entrance assessment for the following year.

  • Do you provide wrap-around care?

    Yes – from Nursery to Primary 7 and we also provide holiday clubs for these year groups.

  • My child needs additional support for learning. Will the School take this into consideration?

    Parents of applicants are requested to provide full information on pre-existing diagnoses such as an educational psychologist's report for a dyslexic pupil or where there is a learning or social difficulty of any kind. Once we have that information the assessment of applicants with additional support needs can be undertaken with appropriate additional support (eg a scribe, laptop, extra time etc depending upon the specific needs of the applicant).

  • Do you have school buses?

    Yes. The School provides buses for the following routes:

    Peebles Bus Innerleithen, Cardrona, Peebles, Eddleston, Waterhead
    Midlothian Bus Birkenside Terminus, Newtongrange, Eskbank, Bonnyrigg, Bonnyrigg, Lasswade
    East Lothian Bus North Berwick, Dirleton, Gullane, Aberlady, Longniddry, Tranent, Musselburgh, Milton Road East, Duddingston
    West Lothian Bus Livingston, Mid Calder, East Calder, Kirknewton, Newlands, Balerno, Currie
    Haymarket Bus Haymarket Station

    Parents are billed for this service. Full details available on request

  • Do you offer school lunches?

    Yes. Our school meals and snacks are prepared in-house fresh each day. Pupils can choose from a balanced selection of sandwiches and hot main meals or from a potato and salad bar offering a choice of salads prepared from fresh fruit and vegetables. Dietary restrictions are also catered for.

  • How do I pay for school lunches?

    George Watson's College uses an electronic swipe card payment system for school lunches for pupils in Primary 1 to Senior 6. The electronic swipe card shows the pupil's photograph, name and roll number. Class teachers look after cards for Primary 1 – Primary 3 pupils; pupils in Primary 4 to S6 are responsible for looking after their own card. The swipe card system allows parents to view account balances and details of purchases made by their children through the School's website Lunches system.


Junior School

Senior School


  • What is the Homestay Programme?

    The Watson's Homestay programme enables senior pupils to join our International Baccalaureate Programme* or to study for Scottish Qualifications in S5 and S6 even if they live too far from Edinburgh to travel to the School every day. Further details can be found in our Watson's Homestay Programme section.

    * Please note that during Session 2018/19 the IB Diploma Programme is ‘on pause’. If you are interested in commencing the Programme in Session 2019/20, please let us know.