Applying to ESMS Nursery

Welcome to ESMS Nursery. We are delighted that you are considering ESMS for your son or daughter. My name is Cally Graham and I am the Admissions Manager for ESMS Nursery and ESMS Junior School.  The following pages will tell you everything you need to know about our admissions process. I am always on hand to answer any questions you have and to arrange a tour of our Nursery and the wider School.  

Mrs Rhona Watt (our Head of Nursery) or Mrs Alison Lydon (our Senior Deputy Head of Early Education) would be delighted to meet you, show you our facilities and answer any questions you may have.

You can contact me by email: or by phone, Tel: +44(0)131 311 1115.


“The nursery has fantastic facilities, great teachers and a real sense of fun. It’s wonderful to see the children in their muddy puddle outfits sledging on boxes down a hill, climbing trees and cooking up some fun in the mud kitchen.”


When to apply

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.  It is, however, always worth getting in touch if your child is a little older as spaces do sometimes become available due to family relocation etc.

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.

Come and visit us

The best way to find out about our Nursery is to come along for a visit, meet our teachers and see the children at play.  Please contact our Admissions Manager, Cally Graham, to arrange a tour.

How to apply

Click the Apply Now button below to complete our application form. Once you have submitted your form a member of our Admissions staff will contact you to discuss your application.  

Apply now

Ensuring we can meet our youngest children’s individual needs is our priority and we take pride in offering lower ratios so that the staff are able to spend quality time with each child. In addition to this, our specialist teachers in Music and PE and our Head of Nursery work closely with small groups of children.
If you have submitted an application for your child, it is possible to defer for a year without having to fill in another form. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee your child a place if you choose to defer but we will always endeavour to try and find a space.
Every room is overseen by a qualified Class Teacher who is supported by a team of qualified Early Year Practitioners and Teacher Assistants.
Our outdoor learning programme begins in the Nursery because we believe it is vital to children’s early development. Our Forest Kindergarten programme is led by a qualified member of staff who also runs training programmes for teachers, across Scotland, on behalf of the Forest School Association. Forest Kindergarten is run in the mornings and each child will experience at least four to six specialist sessions. All children also make full use of the extensive school grounds and are taken for adventures and regular ”Welly Walks” to explore the world around them. While children are busy having fun and problem solving, they are also improving their physical health and mental wellbeing and developing essential life skills.
Most of our children move into Primary 1 without the need for assessment. Some pre-school children born in November, December, January or February may benefit from having an additional year in Nursery and staff work closely with parents to determine whether this would be advantageous or whether parents feel their child is ready for school.
Children in our Nursery learn through play. They are gently guided by staff who encourage them to explore and play throughout the Nursery, helping them to develop a wide set of important skills across the curriculum. Children and staff come together in small groups throughout the day to develop confidence, social skills and have fun while our specialist teachers in Music and PE and our visits to the library gently introduce children to slightly more structured learning in small groups.
Childcare vouchers can be used towards Nursery fees and towards e-plus wraparound care which operates before school, after school until 6pm and during most holiday periods.
ESMS Nursery is in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, which gives eligible parents living within the boundary of the City of Edinburgh, the opportunity to benefit from 1140 hours of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) funding a year. This equates to 30 hours of funded childcare a week, during term time, from 8.15am to 2.45pm, Monday – Friday and includes a hot lunch in our bespoke early years dining facility. The funding can be accessed for the term starting after your child's third birthday but cannot be used for our wraparound care provision. There are some caveats to the funding, and we are not permitted to offer new funded places to children who are, or whose parents are subject to immigration control, so please contact Cally Graham, in our Junior School Admissions Office, who will help you confirm whether you are eligible. For families who do not qualify for funding, we offer a special, subsidised fee model for our Nursery provision. Families interested in learning more should contact again contact Cally, who can provide you with further information.