Loretto is a co-ed day and boarding school for Prep through to Year 13 with an outstanding golf academy and an emphasis on outdoor education.
Founded in 1827, Loretto offers an all-through education in the heart of Scotland – from Pre-school (three to five years) and Junior School (five to 12 years) through to Senior School (12 to 18 years). Each standalone school has its own campus, where students from three to 18 years stay within a much smaller learning community where they can feel comfortable, secure and supported. The Senior School boasts the largest and most well-equipped campus, and its facilities are frequently used by those in the younger year groups.
Its small community of just 600 students means that this is a school where children can expect a higher level of personal attention (the staff:student ratio is 1:7), and a greater likelihood of being known by name by the many teachers as they walk around campus. Wearing their distinctive red jackets, Loretto students may be just as focused on their after-school club or getting to the golf academy as they are on passing their GCSEs or A Levels – and they manage to achieve highly in all of them.
Loretto is proud of its Scottish heritage, and pipes and drums and highland dancing are all a firm fixture in the school’s extra-curricular programme. It’s not only a school for the Scottish though, with students representing more than 25 different nationalities. To make all students feel included, the school has designed its own tartan for boys and girls to wear – meaning no one feels excluded when some students wear their family tartan for events such as chapel service.
Students come from as far afield as Midlothian, Edinburgh and the Borders to this popular and well-regarded school; there’s boarding from Year 7, which is a draw for many international students, particularly those from Russia and China (the school even has translated versions of its prospectus in Russian and Chinese). More than two thirds of students choose to board at Loretto.
The school uses its extensive grounds to foster outdoor exploration and discovery through Forest School sessions, as well as activities off-campus for its most adventurous teenagers.
From Pre-School onwards, students are taught by specialist teachers in modern languages, music, PE and art. Students in the Junior School, known affectionately as The Nippers, follow a timetable that balances the rigour of traditional academics with the freedom of less structured learning. So, while Latin is taught from Year 7, students will also discuss questions such as ‘Should we give to charity?’ and ‘What is the point of money? in the school’s bespoke philosophy lessons.
One of the first Forest Schools in Scotland, Loretto offers timetabled outdoor lessons to every child from Pre-School to Year 5; qualified and nationally accredited Forest School leaders run sessions in den building, knot tying, woodland crafts and many other activities that offer a fresh approach to outdoor play and learning.
The Senior School teaches a broad curriculum that prepares students for GCSEs and A Levels. It’s also a SAT Test Centre, making it popular with a small group of American students going on to study at a university in the US.
Both golf and art are particular strengths of this school. The school has a state-of-the-art golfing academy next to the world’s oldest playing course, which attracts players from around the world. Offering coaching on the Links course and teaching full swing practice, pitching and chipping inside the school’s very-own Indoor Centre, Loretto delivers golf to more than 200 students a week, aged five to 18; it is known as one of the top independent schools in Europe for golf.
In line with the school’s sport for all ethos, students of different abilities attend after-school golf clubs; they have one-to-one coaching as well as representing Loretto in tournaments as part of the Development Squad or Senior Squad; and the most elite golfers can enrol into an intensive schedule of one-to-one coaching, practice, and tournament play.
PE lessons introduce students to a wide range of sports including dance and gymnastics, cross-country and orienteering, swimming, badminton, basketball and volleyball, health-related fitness, short-tennis, tennis and athletics. Students can also play indoor football, tennis, lacrosse, swimming, badminton, athletics, gymnastics and squash – and of course, golf.
Juniors have their own Astroturf and also use the Senior School’s sports hall, netball courts, swimming pool, outdoor Pinkie nets, Astroturf, and playing fields.
The arts are also seen as important here, and facilities including an art centre, music school, theatre, and dance and drama studio support this. There are productions from musicals to challenging plays, orchestras and various ensembles, and choirs.
Loretto puts huge emphasis on the importance of outdoor pursuits, so students are strongly encouraged to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Combined Cadet Force, and the truly adventurous Loretto Borealis Society which undertakes scientific research in Greenland and Iceland.
There’s also full programme of extra-curricular activities for all ages, as varied as jewellery making, chess, pipes and drums, bike ability, and seasonal crafts for the Juniors. There are optional Saturday activities for Years 4 to 7. And Loretto helps to making learning real with regular trips to local museums and environmental sites,
Loretto has six boarding houses, a place where full and flexi boarders join day students to study, socialise and sleep. Housemistresses, housemasters and tutors share responsibility for every student’s wellbeing, so there’s always a watchful eye and a listening ear available during and after the school day.
It’s just six miles away from the glorious city of Edinburgh, giving students plenty of cultural attractions on their doorstep (although it can feel hard to leave such a beautiful campus). Each school has dedicated spaces for specialist subjects including art, science and music.
Loretto is a selective school, where students sit the school’s own assessment tests in English, Maths and reasoning; however, the school is also looking for an enthusiasm in art, drama, music, sport and co-curricular activities. This is not a school for students looking for an academic hothouse – there’s a much broader, more relaxed approach to education here that will certainly suit children with plenty of outside interests and artistic or sporty talent.
Scholarships include one for exceptional ability and potential in golf, which offers a 10% remission in school fees.
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