At Belhaven, we believe that children thrive in a warm and familiar environment. Happiness is key to the success of an all-round education.
Time spent with friends under the stewardship of our experienced boarding staff is not only great fun, it’s also fundamental to developing the emotional intelligence that produces resilient, responsible and caring young people.
Many of our younger children and some older children are day pupils who also benefit from our action-packed, holistic educational ethos and 24-hour, wrap-around care. You decide if and when you want your children to board during their Belhaven career.
Belhaven is one big family and generations of Belhavians will agree that the friendships made here at school are those that last a lifetime, and that it is boarding that truly confirms and accelerates that process.
You may be surprised to hear that the school’s food gets rave reviews from everyone (and our match teas are the envy of other schools!). The school’s kitchen provides a healthy, wholesome diet with lots of local produce, which even includes fruit and veg from our own kitchen garden!
Watch this video to find out why our houseparents think boarding at Belhaven stands out.
The Benefits of Boarding
As we prepare our pupils for the challenges of life, and to go onto the top senior schools in the UK, we have identified several important areas where boarding offers significant benefits:
- Builds confidence and independence – boarding provides a transformational pastoral experience.
- Learning the value of teamwork, responsibility and empathy - contributing to a community.
- Broader, all-round curriculum - more time for sports, music and art.
- Breadth of opportunity – more time for activities and outings.
- Learn how to harness the positive elements of computing and robotics.
- More time to explore and nurture our core values of courtesy, courage and creativity.
- Time with friends – forging friendships that last a lifetime.
Why We Do ‘Fortnightly Boarding’ at Belhaven
We are now the only prep school in the north of the UK that offers full boarding with no ‘weekly’ or ‘flexi’ options. Belhaven follows this ‘fortnightly boarding’ model because we believe that this is in the best interests of the children: strong friendships and a familiar routine, delivered with a light touch, helps to foster good habits for life.
If your children want to board, Belhaven does offer a flexible approach which recognises that it may take some children longer to make the transition from day to boarding. We therefore offer a range of transition options that can be discussed with the Headmaster and house-parents, as and when appropriate.
Belhaven is such a unique school where my child and his abilities have been nurtured. He has learnt the key life skill of tolerance which can only come from a boarding environment.
(Parent, Form 3)
The key features of Belhaven’s boarding model
- Fortnightly boarding – 11 nights in followed by a ‘weekend out’ – Friday 1pm to Monday 8.30am.
- Regular communication with parents, events at school and a family-friendly approach to decision-making.
- Lots of fun! Outdoor adventures and a range of activities that foster courage, creativity and courtesy.
- Taster boarding experiences – typically Thursday to Sunday mornings.
- Transition to boarding – a longer, phased approach to full boarding, arranged to suit individual family circumstances.
- An extensive, supportive boarding community: from Staff, Local families and across Scotland and England, to Military families and International families.
Our boarding ‘fortnights’ are jam-packed full of learning and activities, from a Sunday evening or Monday morning until the following Friday, eleven nights later. ‘In weekends' at school are a heady blend of academic stretch and good fun.
Action-packed weekends at Belhaven
There is a full timetable of lessons on a Saturday morning, sporting competition with matches against fellow prep and junior schools are followed by free time on a Saturday evening, ‘Saturday sweets’ and a movie.
Sundays mix the traditional with the modern in a microcosm of the Belhaven education – letter-writing and a Sunday service (to which parents are invited) and then a full programme of activities: ‘Pirates’, ‘Capture the Flag’ and the intriguing ‘Wookie Special’ sit alongside Art, Golf, surfing, coding and cooking.
Sundays are varied to suit the weather, the children’s mood and the skills of our dedicated staff (most staff still live on site).
Our idyllic location by the seaside allows us to cater for every desire: 40 minutes from Edinburgh, a stone’s throw from the beautiful Belhaven Bay and a short hike from the Lammermuir Hills. We can guarantee that our children experience the full majesty of life in Scotland in the company of their friends.
Belhaven boarding also features:
Edinburgh Christmas Market
Free time in Dunbar for senior pupils
Meet the House Parents
We are very fortunate to have two wonderful families in charge of our boarding houses. Anna McGrath runs the girls’ house, supported by husband James and twin sons Ciaran and Sean. Jack White runs the boys’ house, supported by wife Vicky and daughter Rosie.
Both houses benefit from the warmth and professionalism of a team of matrons, as well as the support of all of the teaching staff on a rotational basis.
House parent videos and profiles
Jack White joined Belhaven in Sept 2021 from Marlborough College Malaysia, where he was the Assistant Boarding Housemaster and Head of Year 7. Trained as a Secondary Maths teacher whilst working at Barnard Castle School, he made the transition to Prep School teaching and loves the variety that it brings. He is a keen sportsman and outdoor enthusiast and very much looks forward to exploring the East Lothian coast with pupils, his wife Vicky and one year old daughter Rosie.
Anna McGrath joined Belhaven in 2020. She previously worked as a Residential House Tutor and Director of Drama at Fettes Preparatory School. Anna trained as an actress at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is passionate about pastoral care. Anna says, “I love the feeling of family, community and home-from-home at Belhaven. I was also drawn by the blend of great academics and outdoor education, as well as the opportunities to do more with Drama and public speaking.”
Whether you choose day or boarding, the happiness and welfare of your children is of the utmost importance to us all: pastoral care is at the heart of everything that we do at Belhaven.
The school is divided into four Patrols, each one led by a member of staff. They are aided by a boy and a girl Patrol Leader in their final year who are responsible for looking out for the other members of their patrol.
Forms 1, 2 and 3 have Tutors who meet weekly with their tutees to discuss extra-curricular commitments, ongoing academic progress and any concerns.
Pupils in Forms 4, 5 and 6 are looked after and supervised by their Form Teachers who can be approached by a child with any concerns or worries.
There is a strong network of other staff throughout the school with whom the children can talk, including other subject staff, House Parents, the Matrons or the Headmaster and his wife. The relationship between staff and pupils is of fundamental importance at Belhaven Hill and is based around a framework of mutual respect.
Our excellent team of a Nurse and 6 matrons ensure the physical welfare of each child.
Travelling to and from Belhaven
Situated just outside Dunbar on East Lothian’s finest coastline, Belhaven Hill not only enjoys the benefits of an idyllic natural setting but also easy access to the A1, East Coast Rail Line and Edinburgh Airport. Our back gate opens onto the Winterfield golf course and it is a 10 minute stroll down to Belhaven Bay.
Minibuses run to Stonehaven, Perth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dumfries, stopping at suitable points along the way, on the Fridays and Sundays of Weekends Out and Half Term. View our weekend bus timetable
Rail: Children can be accompanied by staff for rail travel to and from York and London via the East Coast Main Line.
Air: We can accompany children on flights to and from London Heathrow where our staff member will check them in and hand them over to the airline ground staff for their onward flights, making use of the unaccompanied minor service. We will in turn meet them off their international flights and accompany them back to Scotland.