Merchiston Castle School: middle years

New boys start in Fourth Form, when they join Chalmers West House. They meet up with those boys who have moved up from our Juniors and form a year group of around 60 boys. In the following year, which we call ‘Shell’, the boys are starting to focus on their GCSEs. The next year, Fifth Form, is then the crucial GCSE year, and this is when all the preparation and hard work pays dividends.

My role as Head of these years, is to ensure these three years are not only a time of strong academic advancement, but also a time of fun, exploration and cultural and sporting expression. Boys mature rapidly between 13 and 16, and our specialist knowledge of teaching boys in a boys only environment gives the Merchiston boy, in my view, the best possible platform for moving onwards into the Sixth Form.

RSRPCome and visit us and see for yourself the spirit, ethos and demeanour of our boys. I’m sure this will do more to convince you of the ‘Merchiston way’ than anything I can say.

Robin Pyper, Head of Middle Years


Boarding in the Middle Years

Many boys who start out as day boys quickly convert to boarding when they see the benefits of spending longer with their peers, and the numerous evening activities on offer.

In the Chalmers Houses (IV Form & Shell) accommodation is in dormitories which are subdivided into smaller areas of 3 or 4 beds. In V Form, boys have a shared or single bedroom/study.


Freddie Main
Head of Design & Technology; Housemaster of Chalmers East
Mr Main has been teaching D&T since September 2001. He has also taught ICT and PSE at the School. He coached the 1XV for 2 years and currently coaches the U16A XV. His other responsibilities include overseeing Engineering at Merchiston and the Arkwright Scholarships. He takes over as Housemaster of Chalmers East in August 2015.
Robin Pyper BSc
Teacher of Physical Education, Housemaster of Chalmers West, Head of Middle Years
Mr Pyper teaches both practical Physical Education and the A level and GCSE courses, where his particular focus is the Physiology area. Mr Pyper also coaches cricket at the School and has a passion for running and hill walking.
Philip Rossiter MA
Housemaster of Rogerson
Philip has been at Merchiston since 1985. He has been Housemaster of Third Form, Chalmers West and Chalmers East during that time, and was Director of Music for some 20 years of his Merchiston career.



Full details of the curriculum offered in these years is available on the Curriculum page of the Academic section of the website.

Entry Requirements

IV Form (13+) and Shell (14+)

For those joining IV Form from preparatory schools, the qualifying examination is the Common Entrance set by a central HMC/IAPS board. For those coming from other schools into IV or Shell Forms, candidates sit examinations in Mathematics and English, and also sit a Non Verbal Reasoning test and complete an online screening assessment.

V Form (15+)

Candidates may be asked to sit written examinations in Mathematics, English and in Science.

Daily Routine

IV Form Shell V Form
Wake up call 7.00 7.10 7.10
Roll call for boarders 7.40 7.30 7.30
Breakfast 7.40 onwards 7.30 onwards 7.30 onwards
Day boy roll call 8.15 8.15 8.15
Assembly 8.15 Tues & 8.20 Weds 8.15 Tues & 8.20 Weds 8.15 Tues & 8.20 Weds
Lessons 8.50-10.50 8.50-10.50 8.50-10.50
Break 10.50-11.15 10.50-11.15 10.50-11.15
Lessons 11.15-12.35 or 1.15 11.15-1.15 11.15-1.15
Lunch 12.35 or 1.15 1.15 1.15
Lessons 2.05-4.05 Mon, Weds, Fri 2.05-4.05 Mon, Weds, Fri 2.05-4.05 Mon, Weds, Fri
Games/Activities 4.20 Mon, Weds, Fri/2.30 Tues, Thurs 4.20 Mon, Weds, Fri/2.30 Tues, Thurs 4.20 Mon, Weds, Fri/2.30 Tues, Thurs
Tea 5.20 onwards 5.20 onwards 5.20 onwards
Prep 6.30-8.00 7.00-8.30 7.00-8.45
Day boy pick up 8.10 onwards 8.30 onwards 8.45 onwards
Evening activities 8.15-9.15 8.45-9.30  8.45-10.00
Duties/Bed 9.15 9.30 10.00
Lights out/silence 9.45 10.15 10.15


Weekends are busy times for our pupils, with plenty on offer. Saturday is a normal school day with lessons taught as they would be on a Tuesday or Thursday. After lunch, most boys will have sports fixtures, either at home or away. The evenings will often see an activity such as a pizza or DVD evening, or reel clubs and ceilidhs with local girls’ schools.

On Sundays, a Service is held either in the morning or evening, and activities are organized during the rest of the day.  The range is vast, and typical examples include: , cinema trips, go-karting, swimming pool/leisure centre visits, ice skating, international rugby matches at Murrayfield, museum visits, visits to places of interest, paintballing, football and other games. Boys may choose to have ‘leave-out’ or to visit Edinburgh to meet with friends or family.

Middle Years Gallery

Please follow the link to the Photo Gallery