George Heriot's School


George Heriot’s unofficial motto of work hard, be kind, be happy is one of the first things pupils learn on joining George Heriot’s School. For many, these values stand them in good stead for a lifetime.

About the school

As Edinburgh’s oldest independent school sited on a UNESCO world heritage site, George Heriot’s is an integral part of Scotland’s history. Today Heriot’s educates boys and girls aged 4-18 with a modern, vibrant curriculum which balances academic rigour with an array of activities and sports. The School is a UNICEF Rights Respecting gold award holder, a British Council International School and an LGBT Schools gold charter holder. Recently voted Scotland’s highest-achieving school by the Times/Sunday Times, Heriot’s leads in best practice for the teaching of Philosophy to children as well as in supporting bereavement, in keeping with its Foundation, set up by George Heriot, to educate children who have lost a parent. I distribute chearfullie is the school motto: to give of kindness, of support, and of generosity, to others.

George Heriot’s School is a happy school and cares about its pupils, who also care about each other. It is an ethos rooted in the Heriot’s Foundation which remains the beating heart of the school. There are high expectations of the young people and each individual tries their best. In return, every opportunity for our young people to flourish is provided by the encouraging staff and wonderful school.

Charitable heart

Care and respect for others sit at the very core of the George Heriot’s community. Founder George Heriot established the school in 1628 to educate Edinburgh’s ‘faitherless bairns’. Today, the Foundation continues to provide free places for children who have lost a parent. Over 5,500 Foundationers have benefited from a fully funded Heriot’s education since the school opened, while today the school is a recognised specialist for its work in grief support. Heriot Bursaries are available to other pupils in need of financial assistance to benefit from a Heriot’s education.

Distribute chearfullie (of kindness, of support, of generosity) is the school’s official motto. It is embroidered onto the pockets of the distinctive school blazer to remind us daily of our founder’s philanthropic vision. Within school there is a focus on giving back, with a broad voluntary service programme and charitable activity in every year group.

Academic excellence

Heriot’s is one of Scotland’s leading independent schools – and Edinburgh’s oldest (1628) – with a reputation for academic success. We celebrate hard work and achievement, yet not just in pursuit of top exam results. Every child is valued as an individual, with a unique set of abilities, needs and interests. The main focus is on developing each child’s potential in a happy, caring and stimulating environment.

Heriot’s delivers an education which leads the market and exemplifies best practice. The curriculum is purposefully broad in content, while our SQA results place us consistently in the top three of Edinburgh schools. In terms of teaching Philosophy, schools from afar attend their best practice workshops, while their teachers contribute to the wider educational landscape as SQA markers and HMle Inspectors.

Work hard. Be kind. Be happy. It’s a simple set of values which underpin all that George Heriot’s does.

Family community

Heriot’s welcomes children of all backgrounds from across Edinburgh and beyond at the historic city centre campus. Pupils aged 4 to 18 learn side by side, as part of one big Heriot’s family. Every child belongs to a house, while sports teams, musical events and drama performances bring together different year groups. Younger pupils are surrounded by role models; older pupils are inspired to lead by example.

An ethos of support underpins the relationship of all pupils and runs across year groups.

Rounded citizens

Right from the start, children are askedto read widely, discuss ideas and think for themselves. Taking part and doing well are only ever seen as good things, while individuals flourish with so many activities to try outside the classroom. Every child is supported to do their best, and many will go on to excel in their exams. All should leave as socially aware citizens with a love of learning and a confidence that will carry them far in life.

For more information or to apply for your place, please visit the website:, or email

Key Facts

Open Days

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Finding out more

Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9EQ
0131 229 7263
Email Web

Key Facts

Open Days

No Forthcoming Events