Junior School

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 collaborative creative areas where groups of children are able to work in groups on practical activities from science to creative arts. 

Once pupils reach Primary 4, they then make the very short move to the Upper Primary, which includes 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 of 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 hone their arithmetic skills. 

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, such experiences providing 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 tailored for successful progression into our Senior School.

Some of the key highlights in the Upper Primary 

  • In Primary 4, our pupils first travel away from home heading to York, as part of learning about the Vikings
  • We introduce Maths sets or broad bands at Primary 4. Doing so enables our staff to challenge our pupils to learn at the right pace. These placements are assessed at regular intervals 
  • Spanish is added to the curriculum at Primary 5, in addition to French, whilst they head  out camping for their annual trip 
  • 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  
  • Hockey, cricket and rugby coaching starts in P5, with pupils in P6 and P7 representing our school at both home and away matches, predominantly on a Saturday morning
  • 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. 

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 recognised by UNICEF as a  Gold Rights Respecting School. 

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. The development of new solutions also enables our staff to use data to better assess learning and understand trends and patterns for individual children, as well as within the context of the class.

This approach is about building confidence in technology in advance of our pupils going into Senior 1, where every pupil brings their own device to school to support their learning. 

Using a tablet in class
Using technology in the classroom

Global Education for Junior School 

At Watson’s, we help our pupils learn about some of the global issues, part of our commitment as a gold accredited Rights Respecting School to helping to engender 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
  • Edinburgh’s International Festivals, and the impact they have on our city, are a focus for our Primary 4 pupils
  • 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
  • Building on the knowledge of mainland Europe gained throughout Primary 5, our Primary 6 pupils undertake a study of Spanish culture, with a focus on South America to explore further afield
  • In Primary 7 our pupils study Scottish and British politics, campaigning and activism, and learn about ethical trading