The Merchant Company Schools

Scottish Charity No: SC009747

The Merchant Company Education Board (Scottish Charity No: SC009747), under the chairmanship of the Master, is responsible for overseeing the work of two Governing Councils, established in 1989, one covering The Mary Erskine School and Stewart’s Melville College and the other for George Watson’s College. In all three schools, demand for places is strong, academic achievement is consistently high and extra-curricular activities thrive.

The Merchant Company Schools help to shape future generations of business and professional people for Edinburgh, Scotland and the wider world. The schools have evolved from hospitals for orphans and destitute children into predominantly day schools which provide high quality education for boys and girls in Edinburgh.

Membership of this management body is determined by an Educational Endowments scheme and consists of The Master, the Treasurer, the two Chairmen of the Governing Councils, the two Principals, the two Finance Chairmen, the Property and Buildings Chairmen and six other elected Members, not all of whom are Members of the Merchant Company. The School Governing Councils, which meet regularly, are sub-committees of the Education Board and consist of 13 members, 8 of whom are appointed by the Education Board.

Scotland’s long-term economic prosperity depends on the quality of young people attracted to careers in commerce and industry. A major initiative by the Merchant Company is fostering the enterprise culture, and forging new links between the schools and local companies. Members have the opportunity to help develop real partnerships between teachers and pupils and commerce and industry by taking part in enterprise in our schools.

The Company also aims to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in young people and to give the teachers a broader insight into business life today.

The Merchant Company’s Charitable Trust also encourages and supports young people in a wide range of entrepreneurial projects, benefiting the wider community.

George Watson’s College

George Watson’s College for boys was opened as a charitable hospital in 1741 by the Merchant Company from the bequest of a successful Edinburgh merchant and financier, George Watson. In 1871 a girls’ school, George Watson’s Ladies’ College was founded as the Merchant Company schools grew in popularity and demand increased. The two schools merged in 1974 to create the co-educational school at Colinton Road and today George Watson’s College also has a nursery department and junior school.

For further information, visit the school’s website at or telephone 0131 446 6000.

The Mary Erskine School

The Mary Erskine School was founded in 1694 with a donation from Mary Erskine, widow of an Edinburgh apothecary, in response to a proposal by the Merchant Company to establish a foundation for the education of daughters of the burgesses. The Mary Erskine School is one of the oldest girls schools in the world and continues to flourish today as Scotland’s premier school for girls.

For further information, visit the school’s website or telephone 0131 347 5700.

Stewart’s Melville College

Daniel Stewart’s College was opened in 1855 from a bequest by Daniel Stewart, an officer of the Court of Exchequer, and was housed in the magnificent buildings designed by David Rhind, in Queensferry Road, which the school still occupies. Melville College was founded by the Rev. Robert Cunningham in 1832. The two schools merged in 1972 to make Stewart’s Melville College.

For further information, visit the school’s website or telephone 0131 311 1000.

Modern Slavery statement

The Merchant Company Education Board recognises that modern slavery is a crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It takes various forms, such as slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking, all of which have in common the deprivation of a person’s liberty by another in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain.

The Merchant Company Education Board is alert to any possibility of modern slavery amongst its staff, suppliers and stakeholders, and has a zero tolerance approach. We are committed to constantly monitoring our practices to guard against slavery and human trafficking in both our core business and our supply chains.

This statement is made pursuant to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes The Merchant Company Education Board’s slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 31 July 2020.  This statement was approved by the Merchant Company Education Board who will review it annually.

Anti-bribery statement

The Merchant Company takes a zero-tolerance approach to bribery, which is defined within the Bribery Act 2010 as the giving or receiving of a financial or other advantage in exchange for improperly performing a relevant function or activity.

Under no circumstances is the giving, offering, receiving or soliciting of a bribe acceptable and we will not tolerate this in any form. This applies to all staff, volunteers and elected representatives at all levels of the Merchant Company.