Stewart's Melville College

Stewart's Melville College
Motto "Never Unprepared!"
Established 1832 (Melville College)
1855 (Daniel Stewart's College)
1972 (merger)
Type Independent day and boarding school
Principal David Gray
Location Queensferry Road
Students 756 (2015)[1]
Gender Male
Ages 11–18
Colours Black and red
School fees Day: £7,449 (Nursery)-£10,548 (Senior School); Boarding: £18,291-£21,162 Per Annum (2015)[1]
Junior school 1254 students (2015)[1]

Stewart's Melville College (SMC) is a private school situated in Edinburgh, Scotland. Classes are all boys in the 1st to 5th years and co-educational in 6th (final) year. It has a roll of about 750 pupils.[1][2] About 3% of pupils board on site, and the rest are day pupils.[1]

The school is twinned with the Mary Erskine School (MES), an all-girls private school approximately one mile (1.6 km) from Stewart's Melville College. Together the combined Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools (ESMS) have a co-educational Junior School which is split between the two campuses and caters for pupils from 3 to 12 years old. The two schools share a Principal, and most extra-curricular activities, such as performing arts, are run jointly. Both SMC and MES are managed by the Merchant Company of Edinburgh, which is also responsible for the co-educational George Watson's College.


Front of David Rhind's building of 1855 for Daniel Stewart's Hospital

Stewart's Melville College originated following the merger of two schools — Daniel Stewart's College and Melville College — in 1972 to become Daniel Stewart's and Melville College. After the merger Melville's bright red trim replaced the dark red and yellow trim on the black Daniel Stewart's blazer for general use and the red blazer of Melville College was adopted for those awarded colours (for sporting and other achievements).[3]

Melville College was founded in 1832 by Rev. Robert Cunningham[4] in George Street but soon moved to Hill Street in the centre of Edinburgh[5] with a teaching emphasis on modern subjects, such as science, rather than classical subjects – unusual at that time.[6] The school moved a short distance to 8 Queen Street which was purchased in 1853[5] and then to Melville Street in the city's West End in 1920.[7] Originally named "The Edinburgh Institution for Languages and Mathematics", its name changed to Melville College in 1936[6] about the same time as the caps and blazers of the boys were changed to bright red.[3]

Library of Stewart's Melville College

Daniel Stewart's Hospital was opened in 1855 by the Merchant Company of Edinburgh. Daniel Stewart (whose wealth came from India and was Macer to the Court of the Exchequer), upon his death in 1814, left a sum of money and instructions that, once it had reached £40,000 it should be used to create a hospital for needy boys within the city.[8] The hospital was located on the current Queensferry Road campus (designed by David Rhind).[8] The hospital was transformed into "Daniel Stewart's College" in 1870. The school uniform from 1924 onwards was a cap with red, yellow and black stripes and a black blazer with red and yellow trim.[3]

The school now has in its possession a medal dated 15 July 1870 presented to a John Stewart[9] The medal was gifted to the school by a Mrs Rose Connolly of Glasgow whose birthday is coincidentally also on 15 July.

In 1974 the link with another nearby Merchant Company school, the all-girls Mary Erskine School, was formalised and The Mary Erskine and Stewart's Melville Junior School was formed. Nursery to Primary 3 are housed on the Mary Erskine campus, with Primary 4 to 7 on the Stewart's Melville campus. The sixth (final) form of both senior schools is coeducational[10] and girls are also awarded the bright red blazers for sporting or other distinctions.[3]

In 2013, Stewart's Melville was voted the Scottish Independent School of the year by the Sunday Times newspaper[11][12] and Mary Erskine School was voted the Scottish Independent School of the year in 2012.[13] In 2014 the combined Erskine Stewarts Melville school, with over 2,700 pupils,[14] claimed to be the largest independent school in Europe.[15]

In 2014, a programme of improvement work on buildings of the junior school was announced.[16]


The school is involved in a wide variety of sports, most of which are coached by mixture of staff from general departments as well as the physical education department staff. Winter sports include Rugby Union, field hockey, and curling, whilst in summer pupils take part in athletics, cricket and tennis.

A number of pupils have been selected to represent district and national teams.[17] Stewart's Melville College has won the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup Under-18 rugby championships three times: in 1999 (in their first year of entering), 2006 and 2011.[18] The Former Pupils Rugby club also play in Division 1 of the Scottish National Premier League.[19]

There is also a school rugby club available to pupils and non-pupils of Stewart's Melville, named the Stew Mel Lions, although the majority of players within the club were pupils at the school. This club is for young teenagers keen on rugby and is held at the school's sports ground at Inverleith.

The development rugby squad (consisting of fourth and fifth year students) go abroad on tour every second year. Past trips have been to South Africa, Argentina, Chile and Australia.

"Ravelston Sports Club", a large on-site sports centre opened in 2000. The sports centre is mainly used by pupils for physical education lessons and sports training (such as swimming, basketball, badminton, short tennis and table tennis) but is also open to members of the public for a monthly membership fee.[20] Extensive rugby pitches, cricket pitches and athletics facilities are also located at the school's sports grounds in Inverleith, two miles north of the school.[21]

Tom Fleming Centre for Performing Arts (Formerly "Performing Arts Centre")

Tom Fleming Centre for Performing Arts in 2015

The school's main Victorian assembly hall was converted to the "Performing Arts Centre" between 2005 and 2007. This £3.5 million project,[22] was paid for in part by donations from the parents of the schools current pupils and former pupils. The Centre has 800 seats that fold back into the wall, providing a variety of possible configurations and was officially opened in 2007. It is also available for use by the public and is used as a venue for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[23]

In 2011 actor John Cairney unveiled the new name for the centre, "Tom Fleming Centre for Performing Arts", named after former pupil Tom Fleming, one of Scotland's leading broadcasters.[24]


Since 1965, the school has organised an outdoor education programme for the boys of SMC and the girls from MES in the third year. It is located in the north of Scotland at Carbisdale Castle, a historic castle which has been converted into a Youth Hostel.[25] The trip consists of a number of outdoor activities that vary from year to year including hillwalking, orienteering, golf, kayaking, team-building activities, visits to nearby historic sites and environmental studies of the surrounding woodland. Carbisdale Castle has a plaque of the Stewart's Melville College badge in its foyer above the main door.


In the first year pupils have a form tutor who is responsible for their well-being. Each form tutor will have approximately 20 students: these students will be in the same Form Class. There is an Assistant Head Teacher who has overall responsibility for the first year.

Between Second Year and Fifth Year boys, are split into house groups. There are six different houses (named after areas of Scotland):

These houses correspond with the houses of the same names at the Mary Erskine School, and are the basis for the 'ESM Challenge'. This is a series of annual events involving both the boys and girls in each house. It covers a wide variety of school societies, ranging from the House Music Competition to the Inter-house Hockey. The competition comes to a climax on Sports Day with a 4x100m relay between each house. The winning house is then awarded a cup at the school's prizegiving ceremony.

Sixth form

When pupils enter the sixth (final) form they are merged with the girls from the Mary Erskine School. Classes take place at both school sites, with buses operating regularly to transfer students between the two. There are approximately 140 students in a normal year group.

In sixth form students are largely independent. Students have a tutor (twinned with another at the other site) with whom they register in the morning, and who also helps them with their UCAS applications.

All members of the sixth form are prefects and are expected to help out with duties around the school sites. The maintenance of the prefect body is the responsibility of a Head Boy and a Head Girl, along with five deputy head boys and five deputy head girls.


Pupils at Stewart's Melville mainly sit Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) examinations, including (as of 2013) National 4, National 5, Higher Grade and Advanced Higher Grade levels. The English GCE Advanced Level examinations can also be sat in art and music. As is the case with many independent schools SMC has examination results well above the national average. For example, in 2013, 86% of pupils passed Higher grade exams at the A or B level and passed an average of five Higher Grade exams each.[1] Almost all pupils go on to higher education.[26] In 2014, popular destinations included Aberdeen (18), St Andrews (17), Glasgow (17), Strathclyde (10), Edinburgh (8), Newcastle (6) and Heriot-Watt (5).[27]

Notable former pupils

The school maintains a Former Pupils Club, which organises social events throughout the year. There are branches throughout the UK and abroad.

War Memorial in the College grounds

Notable former pupils include:


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Miller, Nikki (Editor) (2014) "School Guide Edinburgh & The Lothians, 2015 Annual Issue", Select Publishing Ltd.
  2. "SCIS – Stewart's Melville College". 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Roberts (2009, p. 55)
  4. Roberts (2009, p. 92)
  5. 1 2 Sutherland (2003, p. 2)
  6. 1 2 Roberts (2009, p. 39)
  7. Sutherland (2003, p. 4)
  8. 1 2 Roberts (2009, p. 42)
  9. Mrs Rose Connolly.
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  11. Macaskill, Mark (17 November 2013) Giffnock school is top of the class The Sunday Times (requires subscription), Retrieved 8 March 2014
  12. Leonard, Sue (2013) Success is Catching in and out of the Classroom The Sunday Times, Retrieved 8 March 2014
  13. Allardyce, Jason (17 November 2012) Mary Erskine and Boroughmuir top our schools guide The Sunday Times (requires subscription), Retrieved 8 March 2014
  14. (2014) Erskine Stewarts Melville Schools Scotland's Boarding Schools, Scottish Council of Independent Schools, Retrieved 8 March 2014
  15. (2014) Erskine Stewart's Melville School The Tatler Schools Guide 2014, retrieved 8 March 2014
  16. Holden, John-Paul (17 April 2014). "Erskine Stewart's Melville to revamp classrooms". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  17. "Club History Scottish Internationalists". Stewart's Melville R.F.C. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  18. "Stewart's Melville – School Team of the Month". Rugby World. Time Inc (UK) Ltd. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  19. "Club History". Stewart's Melville R. F. C. website. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  20. "ESMS Sports Centre – Ravelston Sports Club". ESMS. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  21. "Stewart's Melville College – Appointment of Teacher of Physical Education" (PDF). Stewart's Melville College. Erskine Stewart's Melville Governing Council. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  22. "Performing Arts Centre".
  23. "Shows at Performing Arts Centre Stewart's Melville College". Broadway Baby. 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  24. "Distinguished Former Pupils" (PDF). Stewart's Melville College Former Pupils Club. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  25. Roberts (1972, p. 161)
  26. "Academic Results & Leavers' Destinations". 2008–2009. Archived from the original on 6 March 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  28. Macpherson, Hector (July 1954) Thomas David Anderson, "Watcher of the Skies" Publications of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh No. 2, Retrieved 28 September 2014
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  32. Waterson, C.D. and Shearer, A Macmillan (July 2006) Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 Published by The Royal Society of Edinburgh, ISBN 0 902 198 84 X
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  34. 1 2 "Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Drugs shame of four boys thrown out of top school". 2010-09-11. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
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  37. Elizabeth Baigent (2004). "Herbertson, Andrew John (1865–1915), geographer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40187. ISBN 9780198614128. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  38. "Edinphoto – Daniel Stewart's College". 16 August 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  39. "BBC Press Office – Kheredine Idessane Biography". August 2009. Archived from the original on 17 February 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  40. Smith, Aidan (29 February 2008). "Natural born thriller: Philip Kerr interview". The Scotsman. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  41. "Sir Peter Redford Scott Lang (Obituary)". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, Scotland. 7 July 1926. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  42. "International Ski Federation (FIS) Biography – Finlay Mickel". Retrieved 9 July 2010.
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External links

  • Roberts, Alasdair (2009). Ties that Bind. Steve Savage Publishers. ISBN 978-1-904246-29-9. 
  • Sutherland, Kenneth, ed. (2003). Edinburgh Institution and Melville College 1932–1973, A History and School Register. Edinburgh, U.K.: The Melville College Trust. ASIN B004N6JLDY. OL 22817176M. 

Coordinates: 55°57′N 3°13′W / 55.950°N 3.217°W / 55.950; -3.217

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