Admissions FAQs

Everything you need to know about our application process.

From where and when to apply, to assessments and what comes next, read through our FAQs below to find out more about our application process across our Nursery, Junior and Senior Schools.

What is the Admissions process?  

At ESMS, the Admissions process is different for Nursery, Primary and Senior Schools. We advise families to arrange a visit with our Admissions team of their chosen School, to tour the School and speak to our teachers. Once you are sure that you would like to apply for a place, we ask you to fill in an application form online. Children applying for our Junior and Senior Schools will then be invited to an assessment (more details on timings further down).  

It is never too early to apply for a place in our Nursery. Many parents do so as soon as their baby is born. Places are offered by date of application, although we do give some priority to siblings and the need to ensure a balance of boys and girls. The vast majority of children in our Nursery move on into Primary 1 without the need for assessment. Fewer places are available for entry into Primary 1, so applying for a place in our Nursery is strongly advised. More information can be found here

What are the next steps after submitting an application?  

Once you have submitted your form, a member of our Admissions team will contact you to discuss your application, or to invite you to attend an assessment. Please note that for Primary 1 and up a non refundable application fee of £90 per child will be taken in the final step of the application process, so have your debit or credit card handy when filling in the application.  

What do I do if I’ve missed this year’s deadline? 

Nursery applications are accepted all year round. For Junior and Senior School we advise that you apply the year before your child would like to join, ideally before the December of that academic year. For example, if you’d like them to start in August 2025, you should apply before November 2024. If you haven’t managed to apply in time, don’t despair. We do sometimes have late vacancies, so it is always worth getting in touch and we will endeavour to find your child a place. 

Are children assessed to join the School?  

Children already in our Nursery are not usually assessed ahead of their entry into Primary 1. Instead, they're nurtured in a supportive environment where they naturally acquire the confidence and readiness needed for school. 

Our Primary 1 assessments take place in January, and Primary 2 and 3 run from early November – end of January. Primary 1, 2 and 3 assessments are carried out in a one-to-one situation with a senior teacher who will put your child at ease and make the session fun. There is no preparation required.  

Assessments for Primary 4-7 children take place throughout the year and the children are assessed in small groups.  There is no pass mark for any of our assessments, we just want to make sure that we can meet the needs of your child. More information on our Junior School assessments can be found here

Assessments for S1 are held in January each year, and include papers in Mathematics, English and Verbal Reasoning. For overseas applicants or those some distance from Edinburgh, we are able to send out entrance papers to be administered in the applicant's current school.  

How will families be notified if they are successful in securing a place for their child? 

For Nursery, our places are secured the year before your child is due to start at ESMS. The timing of this will vary depending on when you applied. For Primary 1, offers are sent out on a date agreed with the other independent schools in early February, and we ask families to respond by the end of February. For P2-6, our Admissions team will be in touch shortly after your assessment to let you know the outcome, and P7 offers are done in December. 

For places in S1 in Senior School, we make offers to children assessed in January on the offer date agreed with other Edinburgh Independent schools. This is usually in mid-February. If you have applied out with the usual timeframe or for places in older year groups, our Admissions team will be in touch with you following your assessment.   

Do you offer financial assistance, and how can families apply? 

Fee assistance in the form of bursaries is available from S1, and scholarships can be awarded to students from S1 as well. Our bursary process is inclusive, accessible and confidential. To be considered for a bursary you are required to inform the Admissions Office by the October prior to the start of the session you are applying for. To find out more about our bursaries please contact our Admissions Office, you’ll find more information here

Do you offer Scholarships?

Scholarships can be awarded to children entering S1. They are awarded as a result of a competitive scholarship selection process. Scholarships are not means tested or used to subsidise fees, but rather are awarded and then held in trust for pupils until they complete their sixth year. This creates a sum of money that can then be used to provide benefit in the future, such as contributing towards the costs of higher education.

Can families come in for a tour?  

Of course! The best way to find out about our School is to come along for a visit. You can contact our Admissions team to arrange a tour at a time that suits you:  

Nursery & Junior School (Nursery - P7): 
The Mary Erskine School (S1-5):  
Stewart’s Melville College (S1-5):  
Sixth Form (S6):