St George's School, Edinburgh

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St George's School, Edinburgh
St George's Edinburgh.png
St George's School: Crest
Garscube Terrace

City of Edinburgh
EH12 6BG

TypeIndependent day and boarding
MottoTrouthe and honour, fredom and curteisye
Religious affiliation(s)Non-denom
FounderDame Sarah Mair
HeadteacherAlex Hems MA Oxon
Age3 to 18
Houses6 school houses: Argyll, Buccleuch, Douglas, Lindsay, Moray and Strathmore
Colour(s)Red, navy, white
PublicationThe Chronicle

St George's School is an independent girls' school situated in the Ravelston district of Edinburgh, Scotland, which was rated 'Excellent' by Education Scotland in its most recent inspection.[1]

In 2018 the school celebrated the 130th anniversary of its founding in 1888.[2]

In 2021 the school announced that it would extend its provision for taking boys. Boys are welcome to the end of nursery in the academic year 2021 - 2022 and to the end of Primary 3 by 2024.[3]

The school remains committed to the benefits of an all-round education with a distinctive ethos which is totally focused on and designed to educate girls aged 8 to 18 years.

In 2021 the school updated its name to ‘St George’s School, Edinburgh'.[4] to reflect the addition of boys in the younger years of primary up to the end of Primary 3 by 2024.[5]

The school is an all-through[6] school from 3–18 years on one self-contained campus in the heart of Edinburgh. The size of the whole school is typically around 700 pupils and this is divided into three schools based on age and stage, including an Upper School (and Sixth Form), Lower School and Junior School with a Nursery.[7][8]


The history of the school is an important part of the story of the Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women and their drive to create university education for women in Scotland. The first meeting had taken place in 1866 before involving Mary Crudelius, Madeline Daniell and Sarah Mair.[9] Their aim was to get women into Edinburgh University and Walker became the "chief intellect and administrator".[10] In 1876, the ELEA decided to improve the pre-university stage of women's education and advertised classes in St. George's Hall to help women pass university entrance level qualification. They also developed correspondence courses for women who could not attend classes,[11]

In 1885 Mary Russell Walker was recalled from the Maria Grey Training College to Edinburgh[10] to lead the St George's Training College which would train the first women secondary school teachers in Scotland. Mary was made the head of the college and when St. George's High School for Girls was formed in 1888 she became its head as well.[10] The first fifty students started in October 1888 using a building in Melville Street.[12] The school was the first Scottish day school for girls which taught students all the way up to university entrance level. Girls from St. George's were among the first female graduates of Edinburgh University.[10]

In 1912 the school took its first board students[13] and the following year St George's Training College became part of the school. By 1920 it had fifty trainee teachers.[14]

In 1939 the training college facility closed.[14] During the second world war the army had the use of the school building whilst the students went south. Hallrule Hall in Bonchester Bridge became the school's temporary home from 1939 to 1942. When the students returned the building had to be renovated.[15]


The school's academic curriculum is a mix of GCSEs at 16, followed by Highers and Advanced Highers in the Sixth Form (S5 and S6).[16]

Examination Courses[edit]

St George’s students follow two-year GCSE courses, leading to examination at age 16, at the end of S4. Most girls will take nine subjects, including English Literature and English Language.[17] Following GCSEs, the vast majority of pupils will stay on to complete Highers at 17 (typically studying five subjects) and Advanced Highers at 18 (typically studying three or four subjects) in preparation for university entrance.


Activities include:

  • the Model United Nations and Debating clubs
  • an extensive international student exchange programme with partner schools around the globe
  • the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Combined Cadet Force, and charitable fundraising [18]
  • numerous orchestras, choirs and bands, winning national competitions and performing on international tours
  • sports teams covering everything from tennis, hockey, lacrosse, fencing, athletics, judo, and many more
  • A recent addition to the clubs is the engineering club in which the school are restoring a Triumph Spitfire car. The school has its own St George’s Spitfire girl, Annie, who was at St George's as a boarder from 1924, with her younger sister.  She died on 2 October 2011. Her obituary in 'The Telegraph' described how Britain's most famous fighter 'plane, the Spitfire, was named after her.[19]  Her father was Sir Robert McLean, chairman of Vickers in the 1930s.  He worked with the engineer R J Mitchell who was responsible for the aircraft's design.  When the time came to name it, McLean suggested 'Spitfire', his affectionate name for his daughter, Annie.[20]

International Programme[edit]

The school has a well established exchange programme with partner schools in Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, South Africa, Spain and the United States. The school also runs digital exchanges with partner schools across the world where students collaborate on curriculum projects.[21]

British Council’s International School Award (2017–2020)[edit]

In 2019 the school was awarded a two year grant to run an Erasmus + programme entitled Community and Culture. This allows girls currently in S2 (Upper 4) to work collaboratively with students in Austria and Italy. Students will visit each other’s schools and learn more about what community and culture mean for them.[22]

Links with boys schools[edit]

Many events are held in conjunction with the long standing Edinburgh boys' school, Merchiston Castle School.[23]

Former pupils[edit]


The girls from the ages of ten to eighteen live in Houldsworth House on the campus on the edge of the school grounds. The student Head of Boarding is elected by the boarders. The school has around 50 boarders, about 7% of the number of pupils.[27] The boarders form an integral part of the school and are made up of approximately 50% UK and 50% international students.[13] St George's School celebrated the centenary of boarding at the school in 2012.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "St George's: Scotland – A Top Girls' Private Independent Day & Boarding School". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  2. ^ "St George's 130th Birthday (2018–2019) » St George's School For Girls". Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  3. ^ lamotte, bornie (26 July 2021). "St George's School Extends Provision for Boys in Younger Primary Years".
  4. ^ lamotte, bornie (26 July 2021). "St George's School Extends Provision for Boys in Younger Primary Years".
  5. ^ lamotte, siobhan (2 August 2021). "St George's School".
  6. ^ "All-through Schools are an Education in Getting it Right for Kids – Alex Hems". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  7. ^ "Our School Structure – St George's School for Girls in Edinburgh". Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  8. ^ lamotte, bornie (26 July 2021). "St George's School Extends Provision for Boys in Younger Primary Years".
  9. ^ Begg, Tom (2004). "Daniell [née Carter], Madeline Margaret (1832–1906), educationist". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56167. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  10. ^ a b c d "Walker, Mary Russell (1846–1938), headmistress and promoter of women's education". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/48670. Retrieved 8 April 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ "Mair, Dame Sarah Elizabeth Siddons (1846–1941), promoter of women's education and campaigner for women's rights". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/48668. Retrieved 8 April 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ "Our School's History - St George's Independent Day & Boarding School". Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  13. ^ a b "St George's School For Girls". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Part 5: The Four Provincial Committees: 1907 onwards". The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Our School's History – St George's Independent Day & Boarding School". Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  16. ^ "St George's: Scotland – A Top Girls' Private Independent Day & Boarding School". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Open Morning Speech 2019". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  18. ^ "St George's co-curriculum programme".
  19. ^ "Annie Penrose". Daily Telegraph. 25 October 2011. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  20. ^ "St George's Spitfire Girl". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  21. ^ "International Exchange Programme – St George's Girls School Edinburgh". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Open Morning Speech 2019". Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  23. ^ "St George's School links with Merchiston Castle School for boys".
  24. ^ "Carol Brown engaged to William H. Janeway" (PDF). The New York Times. 6 June 1969. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  25. ^ a b "Notable Alumnae " St George's School For Girls". Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  26. ^ "Cordelia Fine". Cordelia Fine. Archived from the original on 20 January 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  27. ^ "Scotland's Boarding Schools", Scottish Field, Edinburgh, p. 117, February 2013, retrieved 27 January 2013
  28. ^ "Boarding Centenary", The OGA (Old Girls' Association annual magazine), Edinburgh, pp. 6–13, December 2012

Coordinates: 55°57′00″N 3°14′00″W / 55.95000°N 3.23333°W / 55.95000; -3.23333