About Us

Head of St Leonards

Simon Brian

At St Leonards we are proud of our School’s pioneering educational heritage. We offer a unique and inspirational education, with a strong focus on preparing our pupils Ad Vitam, for life. Education at our school, from Years 1 to 13, is underpinned by the forward-looking, globally-recognised International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, where pupils develop skills which equip them for the years ahead. Through the blend of our outstanding academic programme for learning and teaching, our wealth of sporting and co-curricular activities, and our passion for exceptional pastoral care, our boarding and day pupils complete their journey at St Leonards ready for success, at university, in the world of work, and beyond.

Our curriculum is unparallelled. It is designed such that young people develop both their academic strengths and their weaknesses, work collaboratively, are forever inquisitive and develop a real sense of purpose in their lives. We are a vibrant, globally-minded community, a school that is forward-thinking and innovative, yet steeped in history and tradition. We are a school where pupils become lifelong learners, and make lifelong friendships.

As Head, I am delighted to lead St Leonards as it continues to flourish; I extend to you the warmest of invitations to visit us, and to learn about life at St Leonards.

Our Strategic Focus

St Leonards has been at the forefront of pioneering education since it was founded in 1877. As we look forward to celebrating our 150th anniversary in 2027, we remain focused on our fundamental purpose: to educate young people for life.

This is Our Strategic Focus for St Leonards, for 2023-2027, which outlines our purpose, our vision, our mission, our learner values and our areas of focus between now and the School’s anniversary year.

Our History

St Leonards has been at the forefront of education in Scotland – and the United Kingdom – since its foundation in 1877. Co-educational since 1999, St Leonards continues to inspire young people to adopt a global outlook, challenge themselves, ask questions, and care about the people and planet around them.
  • 1877 – 1899

    1877 – St Andrews School for Girls is founded. Dame Louisa Lumsden was appointed Headmistress, with the belief that “a girl should receive an education that is as good as her brother’s, if not better.”

    1883 – The School adopts the name ‘St Leonards’, and moves to the site it occupies today. The campus is rich in history, having served as a place of education almost continuously since it was first used as St Leonard’s College for poor clerks in 1512. One of the founders of St Leonard’s College was Prior John Hepburn, whose motto was ‘Ad Vitam’, interpreted as ‘for life’. This was adopted as the school motto in the 1880s.

    1890 – St Leonards became known as the “cradle of women’s lacrosse” after the first two headmistresses, Dame Louisa Lumsden and Dame Frances Dove, were inspired by a men’s match in Canada and introduced the game for girls at the School. St Leonards has a strong sporting history in lacrosse, hockey, tennis, goals and women’s cricket. It is estimated the School has provided well over 100 players for the Scottish national lacrosse team since international matches began in 1913.

    1894 – The Junior School was founded, namely St Katharines. The pupils transitioning from St Katharines to the Senior School were affectionately known as ‘O.K.’ – Old St Katharines.

  • 1900 – 1949

    1910 – Sir Ernest Shackleton formally opens the newly built Science Buildings. These were one of the very first science departments for girls.

    1927 – As part of the Jubilee celebrations, HRH the Duchess of York (later HM the Queen Mother) visited St Leonards to formally open Queen Mary’s Library.   

    1942-1946 – During World War II, St Leonards remained open and housed girls from its sister school Wycombe Abbey, after their premises were requisitioned by the Air Ministry.

  • 1950 – 1999

    1967 – The swimming pool was constructed. This addition not only enhanced the school’s physical education facilities but also underscored its commitment to fostering a comprehensive educational environment.

    1999 – Formerly an all-girls’ school, St Leonards opens its doors to boys for the first time, becoming fully co-educational. Today, the School has an even gender split across all ages.

  • 2000 – Ongoing

    2006 – St Leonards introduced the International Baccalaureate curriculum with the Diploma in the Sixth Form.

    2019 – The School is named Scotland’s Independent School of the Year by The Sunday Times.

    2020 – St Leonards becomes one of just two schools in the UK to actively offer all four IB programmes, from Year 1 to Year 13.

    2022-23 – National recognition continues in the form of the title Independent School of the Year 2022 for International Student Experience, and two consecutive awards from the Boarding Schools’ Association celebrating excellence in boarding research.

    2024 – St Leonards is named Scottish Independent School of the Year for Academic Performance 2024 by The Sunday Times.

Contact us to find out more or to arrange a visit