St Benedict's School

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St Benedict's School, Ealing
St Benedict's School logo.png
Motto A Minimis Incipe
(From The Smallest Beginnings)
Established 1902
Type Independent day school
Religion Roman Catholic
Headmasters Christopher Cleugh (Senior School)[1]
Robert Simmons (Junior School)
Founder Fr. Sebastian Cave, OSB
Location Eaton Rise
W5 2ES
United Kingdom Coordinates: 51°31′16″N 0°18′25″W / 51.521°N 0.307°W / 51.521; -0.307
Students ~650 (Senior School)
~265 (Junior School)
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–18
Houses Barlow, Gervase, Pickering, Roberts

Green, Yellow and Black

Publication The Priorian
Former pupils Old Priorians

St. Benedict's School, usually referred to as St. Benedict's is a leading British co-educational independent Roman Catholic private day school situated in the Greater London suburb of Ealing, West London. From 1 September 2012 the School, which has been under the Trusteeship of the Monks of Ealing since its foundation in 1902, is now an independent charity with a lay Chairman, Mr Patrick Murphy-O'Connor. The school will continue to promote Catholic Benedictine values by living out its mission of ' Teaching a way of living '. The school accepts pupils of all faiths.[2] Former pupils are known as Old Priorians, a reference to Ealing Abbey, the nearby affiliated parish church run by the Benedictines.


St. Benedict's School Abbey


Senior School

St Benedict’s School, Ealing was established following the arrival of Benedictine monks from Downside Abbey into Ealing in 1897 to found the first Benedictine Abbey in London since the Reformation. Under the leadership of Dom Sebastian Cave, Ealing Priory School, as the School was known, (becoming St Benedict's School in 1948) opened on 2 October 1902, with three boys enrolled.


The school has occupied various premises at various times in its history, firstly in Blakesley Avenue, then taking rooms in the priory in 1904 before moving across to Orchard Dene (which currently houses the Junior School) in Montpelier Avenue. In 1906 15 acres (61,000 m2), about a mile from the main school grounds, in Perivale were purchased to provide a sports grounds. By the 1920s Orchard Dene was used for boarders and the school was located in two houses on Eaton Rise. A purpose built school building linking these houses was in use by 1936. During the Second World War pupils were evacuated - boarding ceased - and the Abbey church was badly damaged by a bomb on 7 October 1940.[3]

The Junior School[edit]

The Junior School was 'spun off' as a separate entity with its own headmaster, in 1946. The Junior School's first lay headmaster, Dennis McSweeny, was appointed in 2000. The present headmaster, appointed in 2005, is Mr Robert Simmons, himself a former pupil of St Benedict's School. Visits to many places of interest in London, and further afield, extend pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the world around them. In Year 5, pupils visit Normandy. In year 6 they visit the Lake District on a PGL style activity. The school has worthwhile links with the local and wider community. The pupils demonstrate concern for others less fortunate than themselves by supporting local and international charities. Concern for the environment is encouraged and the school has an effective school travel plan. Support of the Healthy Planet project has resulted in the purchase of a piece of land in Central America which has been planted with trees. Each year a whole school (Junior and Senior) charity day takes place at the end of March to support the Abbey’s Lenten Appeal.[4]

Junior School

Move to co-education[edit]

Although St Benedict's was originally founded as a boys' school, girls have been admitted to the Sixth Form of the Senior School since the 1970s and to the nursery since it was founded in 2002. In June 2006 the Monastic Chapter voted to extend co-education across the whole school and since the Michaelmas term of 2007 the Junior School has been fully co-educational. The Senior School became fully co-educational in Michaelmas 2008[citation needed].

Sex abuse scandal[edit]

In October 2009, Dom David Pearce, a monk of Ealing Abbey and former headmaster of the Junior School, was jailed for eight years, subsequently reduced to five years, for sexual abuse offences at the school in the period from 1972 - 1992 and for one further offence in 2007 after he had ceased to work in the school.[5][6] In March 2011 Dom Laurence Soper, the Abbot of Ealing Abbey during the 1990s, was arrested on child abuse charges relating to the period when he was a teacher at, and the bursar of, St Benedict's School; it was reported in October 2011 that he had failed to answer bail and was being sought by the police.[7]

In August 2010 the Abbot commissioned an enquiry into the claims of sexual abuse at the school, to be conducted by Lord Carlile of Berriew; its report was published in November 2011 and detailed 21 separate abuse cases since 1970 and concluded "that the form of governance of St Benedict's School is wholly outdated and demonstrably unacceptable." It recommended that two trusts be formed to remove control by the abbey, but maintaining a Benedictine connection for the parents.[8][9] In October 2011 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered its own enquiry into the same matters, to be conducted by Bishop John Arnold.[10]

School life[edit]

Since its earliest days, members of the monastic community at Ealing Abbey have taught at, and provided pastoral, spiritual and educational leadership, within the School. Until the Senior School's first lay headmaster, Dr A.J. Dachs, was appointed in 1987, all headmasters were monks of the Abbey. The present Senior School headmaster, Mr Christopher Cleugh, joined the school in 2001 and so, as were his predecessors since 1951, is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

There are three academic terms in the year:


Instead of Reception, year 1, year 2 etc... they have:

  • PP1- Reception
  • PP2-Year 1
  • PP3-Year 2
  • Lower Prep-Year 3
  • Upper Prep-Year 4
  • Form 1-Year 5
  • Form 2-Year 6
  • Form 3-Year 7
  • Lower Four-Year 8
  • Upper Four-Year 9
  • Lower Fifth-Year 10
  • Upper Fifth-Year 11
  • Lower Six-Year 12
  • Upper Six-Year 13


The Rule of St Benedict is considered to contribute to a sense of shared purpose in growing towards ‘discernment’ within the community.[4] Qualities such as tolerance, forgiveness, mutual support and hospitality are considered important within the school community. Pupils’ spiritual development is fostered by the sense of stability generated by the daily practice of adherence to the Benedictine way. In appreciating the worth of others, pupils are said to learn respect for themselves and how to live out the gospel values that they have learned. Collective acts of worship in assemblies or in the Abbey Church tend to evoke a high level of pupil participation.[4]

The Abbey Church provides the backdrop for worship.[4] Registration sessions are accompanied by prayer, in which pupils participate and which they sometimes lead. Mass is celebrated weekly in the school chapel for those staff and pupils who wish to attend. Retreats organized for each year group give time for reflection and for spiritual growth. Trips are organized, for instance to Rome on a study pilgrimage and to Lourdes, where pupils develop their understanding or are able to express their commitment to service. Most all of the pupils assimilate this pattern throughout their whole lifes, as part of which the school encourages former pupils to feel that they remain part of the Benedictine community which has shaped them.[4]

The Independent Schools Inspectorate notes that pupils develop a strong personal morality at St Benedict's. The qualities of character from which moral and responsible behaviour proceed are acquired cumulatively through the good quality relationships which pupils form. Staff and older pupils act as role models and their example of care, respect and tolerance for others plays a strong part in developing the moral code of younger pupils.[4]

House system[edit]

On entry to the School, each pupil is assigned to a house - Barlow (partnered with More House in the Junior School), Gervase (partnered with Gregory), Pickering (partnered with Bede) or Roberts (partnered with Fisher). These houses are named after the Benedictine martyrs St Ambrose Barlow, Blessed George Gervase, Blessed Thomas Pickering and St John Roberts. From the Upper 4th (Year 9) onwards House Captains are appointed in each division, while in Form 3 and Lower 4th (Years 7 and 8) there are house representatives. In addition House Colours are awarded from the Upper 4th for outstanding overall contribution to the life of the School.


The Senior School has a strong record in rugby union, winning the national Under 15 Daily Mail Cup competition in the 2004/5 season,[11] and reaching the semi-final of the Cup in 2007.[12] As finalist again at Twickenham in the Under 18 Daily Mail Cup in 2008, St Benedict's is one of only two teams in the history of the national competition to have played in both Under 15 and Under 18 Daily Mail Cup finals as one year group (the other being Wellington College). The School XV were undefeated in 2008 in 21 of 22 league matches, finishing top of the Canterbury Rankings ahead of Wellington College, Millfield School and Sedbergh School.[13] The same team was selected by the Rugby Football Union to represent England in the Sanix World Rugby Youth Invitational Tournament, losing only to the eventual winner.[14] The school is the current holder of the Middlesex Cup at both U14 and U16 level [15] and retained the Cronk-Cunis National U21 XVs Rugby Festival title in August 2010.[16] The school play Rugby Sevens with U13s the 2012 Junior Champions of the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens, the world's largest rugby tournament.[17] The main sports for girls are netball, hockey and rounders.[citation needed] The school also offers other sports including cricket, fencing, tennis and swimming, basketball, boy's hockey, and athletics.[citation needed]

Co-curricular activities[edit]

In the Senior School there are over 70 clubs and societies. Pupils run a debating society, staff a Combined Cadet Force and participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme,[18] as well as producing art, music and drama.[19] The Junior School runs a daily programme of after class hobbies including Mandarin, ballet, chess, cross stitch, fencing, computing and swimming. Both Senior and Junior School pupils contribute to the Priorian, the School magazine.

Notable alumni[edit]

Alumni of the school are known as "Old Priorians" and include:



  1. ^ David Doyle (2006-12-04). "Tribute to school founders". Ealing Times. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  2. ^ School website
  3. ^ From the Smallest Beginnings - The Story of St Benedict's School Ealing, Nigel Watson, ISBN 0-907383
  4. ^ a b c d e f Inspection Report 2010 Independent Schools Inspectorate
  5. ^ 'Devil in a dog collar' priest faces jail for sex abuse London Evening Standard - 12 August 2009
  6. ^ Jailed child pervert priest ruined my life Ealing Gazette, 9 October 2009[dead link]
  7. ^ Father Laurence Soper of Ealing wanted over sex abuse BBC News 14 October 2011
  8. ^ "Monks to lose abuse school control". Press Association (Google). 9 November 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2011. [dead link]
  9. ^ Lord Carlile of Berriew Q.C. (9 November 2011). Independent Report by Lord Carlile of Berriew Q.C. (Report). St Benedict's School. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  10. ^ Pope orders inquiry into child sex abuse by teachers at London school The Daily Mail 25 October 2011 retrieved 25 October 2011
  11. ^ Daily Mail Cup Results
  12. ^ Rugby Football Union St Benedict's play Barnard Castle School in the semi-final round
  13. ^ Canterbury Rankings
  14. ^ Sanix rugby youth
  15. ^ School website Accessed 6 December 2010
  16. ^ Touchline, Issue 127, September 2010, p3 Accessed 6 December 2010
  17. ^ Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens website Accessed 20 June 2013
  18. ^ School Website - Clubs
  19. ^ School website - Co-curricular drama
  20. ^ Hugo Ellis Profile, England-Rugby, accessed August 2009[dead link]
  21. ^ Howard French, Obituary in The Guardian, 5 December 2008
  22. ^ "John Sauven: 'I want to claim the arctic region for all of mankind'". The Independent. 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  23. ^ RFU England player profiles[dead link]
  24. ^ "Dom Bernard Orchard". The Telegraph. 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 

External links[edit]