Junior School

An opportunity to grow 

At George Watson’s College, our Junior School is a vibrant, encouraging environment providing outstanding primary school education.

Our Primary 1 to Primary 3 pupils are based in the Lower Primary Building, with individual classrooms formed around creative areas where groups of children are able to work collaboratively on practical activities from science to creative arts. 

Once pupils reach Primary 4, they then make the very short move to the Upper Primary, including the beautiful new John Martin Building, which houses our classes through to Primary 7. As well as a major new extension, the building has also been extensively renovated providing modern, airy classrooms, an open plan library with stunning views  and a Music hub with classrooms, individual practice rooms and a performance area.

Scottish Curriculum for Excellence

Watson’s Junior School curriculum is based on the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence which has Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Wellbeing at its three main pillars.

Learning is enriched by a broad range of specialist teachers, in subjects such as Art, Music, PE, Drama, French and Spanish. 

Pupils in the new arts hub
Pupils in the John Martin Building Music Hub

Lower Primary - Primary 1 to Primary 3

Even from an early stage, at Watson’s we give our pupils the opportunity to take responsibility for their learning. 

As you would expect from a leading independent school, both literacy and numeracy form a core part of the curriculum throughout the Junior School, but particularly in Primary 1 and Primary 2. At this stage, children quickly learn to read, they master the art of writing and are challenged to establish strong numerical skills. 

Wider learning tends to be based around cross-curricular themes, which help pupils learn in context and to apply their knowledge and understanding. In doing so, it gives them a deeper understanding and confidence in the new skills they learn every day. Pupils also enjoy specialist early years learning and teaching in Music, the Arts and PE.

Classes also make regular trips in and around Edinburgh. These experiences offer a practical dimension to our pupils’ learning. 

In Primary 3, our pupils are introduced to new subjects and experiences - such as French and swimming with specialist teachers 

As well as the Class Teacher, classes in the Lower Primary are supported by Junior School Assistants and, where pupils need more support with their learning, our highly experienced Additional Support for Learning team will be on hand to develop a programme to meet their needs.

Upper Primary - Primary 4 to Primary 7

By helping them to understand how they learn, we empower pupils to be happy, confident and successful. 

From Primary 4 upwards, classes are organised in year groups. Our Primary 7 pupils now enjoy a superb new suite of classrooms and a curriculum carefully tailored for successful progression into our Senior School.

Some of the key highlights in the Upper Primary 

  • In Primary 4, our pupils head to York, in their first trip away from home, as part of their learning about the Vikings
  • Spanish is added to the curriculum at Primary 4, in addition to French
  • Our Primary 5s enjoy a residential experience early in the school year, helping them to bond with their new classmates, at Dounans Camp, Aberfoyle
  • Pupils in Primary 6 learn about the Jacobites, and head to Meigle Camp in Perthshire for a residential trip 
  • The entire Junior School comes together each year for a cross-year group, collaborative week of learning and engagement around good mental health and wellbeing; pupils of all ages learning together in a unique setting  
  • Primary 7 brings about one of the key highlights of the Junior School, a week-long trip to London 

By the time pupils reach the Upper Primary, we also encourage them to take part in one of the broadest programmes of extra-curricular activities available at any primary school in Scotland. These clubs afford our pupils the opportunity to make new friends, to try a new skill, to have fun and to further enhance their confidence. Hockey, cricket and rugby coaching starts in Primary 5, with pupils in Primary 6 and Primary 7 representing our school at both home and away matches, predominantly on a Saturday morning

Pupils at Meigle Camp
Pupils building a fire at Meigle Camp

Gold Rights Respecting School 

The health and wellbeing of our pupils is our top priority at Watson’s. Our approach is based on the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). 

We have been recognised as amongst the most forward-thinking schools in the country, having been accredited as a Gold Rights Respecting School by UNICEF.

Learning supported by Technology

The ability to use technology is now an essential life skill. As such, it is fundamental to our approach to learning and teaching at Watson's.

Our pupils learn specific skills including: digital literacy, computer science, coding, and safety online. 

Every classroom has high-speed Wi-Fi enabled. Every pupil has access to an iPad,  and other devices such as interactive Promethean boards and programmable toys are introduced as tools for learning.

Using technology is not about replacing learning, but about augmenting opportunities to learn in creative ways, whilst encouraging responsible use. In particular, we aim to build a thorough competence in the use of technology in advance of our pupils going into Senior 1, where every pupil brings their own device to school to support their learning.

The development of new solutions in technology also enables our staff to analyse data in more powerful ways to better assess learning and to understand trends and patterns both for individual children, and for whole cohorts.

Using a tablet in class
Using technology in the classroom

Global Education for Junior School 

At Watson’s, we help our pupils learn about global issues as part of our commitment as a gold accredited Rights Respecting School to engendering positive change. 

This includes building an understanding of issues such as:

  • Conflict and peace
  • Identity and belonging
  • Sustainability
  • Rights and respect
  • Fairness and equality

Some of the key highlights from our global curriculum include: 

  • Pupils in Primary 1 and Primary 2 learn about their family, the history of our school and their local area to ensure they have a firm understanding of self before exploring further
  • In Primary 3, pupils learn about Malawi with a particular focus on the Watson’s Malawi Partnership
  • Twinned social studies projects, alongside modern foreign language projects, with a partner school in France enhance learning in Primary 5, as does the study of John Muir and the work undertaken to gain the John Muir Award
  • In Primary 7 our pupils study Scottish and British politics, campaigning and activism, and learn about ethical trading