Saint Julian's School

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Saint Julian's School
Carcavelos, Lisbon Metropolitan Area, Portugal
Type Independent
Established 1932
Enrolment 1100

Saint Julian's School is a British international private school, located in Carcavelos, near Lisbon, Portugal.

Introduction, History[edit]

St. Julian's is an international private school in Carcavelos, Lisbon Metropolitan Area, Portugal. It is effectively the British International School of Lisbon, though it takes its name from the Forte de São Julião da Barra (English: Saint Julian's Fort of the Inlet), overlooking nearby Carcavelos beach, originally erected in the mid-16th century to keep the British, among other raiders, out of the Tagus estuary. The school opened on November 25, 1932, on the site and in some of the buildings, including the Palace, of an 18th-century estate created by José Francisco da Cruz, Treasurer to King D. José I.

At the time of the school's foundation, the palace and grounds were property of the British Eastern Telegraph Company, which had installed and maintained a system of submarine cables, transforming global communications systems. Telegraph employees introduced football to Portugal, playing on grounds which are still part of the school, shortly after the company arrived in the 1870s. The need for a school was recognised in the early 1930s, by which time many British employees with children worked for the company.

Today St Julian's is run by a not-for-profit Association, whose members, as trustees, appoint the Board of Governors. This body meets once a month to discuss school business with the head and his leadership colleagues, and has a sole executive function, that of appointing a head teacher when necessary.

Starting as a small school for some 23 British children, St Julian's soon began to attract Portuguese families and, from the time of WWII when neutral Lisbon hosted many refugees, it has always had an international element. Its most distinguished former pupil, the renowned Portuguese artist Paula Rego, entered St Julian's in 1945.

Nowadays (2014) just over half the students are Portuguese, with British the next largest nationality, and more than 40 other countries represented.


St Julian's School is jointly accredited (1998 and 2008) by the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Links with the UK are strengthened by the head's membership of HMC, the school's affiliation with COBIS, (the Council of British International Schools) and the friendly interest in the school taken by most British ambassadors; but St Julian's receives no subsidy from the UK (or any other) government and enjoys complete independence in the choice of its own students, staff and curriculum.

Structure and Curriculum[edit]

St Julian's has more than 1,100 students from age three to age eighteen. The International Section, where the language of instruction is English, runs from Nursery (age 3) to year 13 (age 18). There are three classes of about 20 students, per year cohort. These students follow a version of the National Curriculum (England Wales and Northern Ireland) adapted to its Portuguese location and the needs of the school's international population. This programme finishes in Year 11 (age 16) when students take the British General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations.

Portuguese Section[edit]

There is a small Portuguese section with one class of fifteen per year from Primeiro Ano to Nono Ano (Ninth grade,age 15). Most PS students on finishing Nono Ano move across to the international Section to pursue IB Diploma courses. The Portuguese section is always at or near the top of rankings published in the local press based on public examination results.

IB Diploma[edit]

To prepare for University, students take the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. St Julian's is IB school number 409 and was the first to offer the Diploma in Portugal: over 1,500 alumni hold the Diploma and recent years have seen very successful results: the 70-strong class of 2013 averaged 34.5 points and in the last three years 30 students have reached 40 points with three maximum scores of 45. The range of available IB subjects is among the widest in European IB World Schools. Most students go on to University in the UK, just under one-third choose Portugal for their Higher Education, and others return to Universities in their native countries. The school's careers and Universities counselling service ensures that top students go on to places such as Cambridge, UCL, Imperial, Warwick, Bristol, Bath, York and Nottingham in the UK, and MIT and Johns Hopkins in the US; but all IB candidates are helped to find a course appropriate to their abilities, interests and aspirations.


The school employs suitably qualified teachers from the UK, Portugal and several other countries. Teachers may stay only for a short period, the three-year initial contract, or remain, as several well-loved figures have done, to spend an entire career serving the school. St Julian's also plays an active role in the training of teachers, through its iPGCE programme and its links with the University of Wales.

Student admission[edit]

Up to age 16, St Julian's is a non-selective school. All prospective students are interviewed by the section principals (Primary, Secondary, Portuguese Section) and must show reports/transcripts, where available, from previous schools. St Julian's provides specific support for students with special educational needs and in EAL (English as an Additional Language) For admission to the IB Diploma course, students whether already at St Julian's or arriving from elsewhere must have passed six subjects at (I)GCSE level, or have reached an equivalent standard in other national systems of education.

House system[edit]

The school has a house system which promotes a sense of belonging across age groups and a degree of friendly competition between students. Currently, the house system is active primarily in athletics and in theatre, though there are plans to renew inter-house academic competition. The four houses are named after three key figures in the founding of the school, Mrs. Franklin, Mr. and Mrs. Bucknall and Mr. Etherington-Smith: and also 1930s British ambassador Russell. They are:

  • Franklin - whose members wear Red
  • Bucknall - whose members wear Green
  • Etherington Smith - whose members wear Blue
  • Russell - whose members wear Yellow.

The Arts[edit]

Art, Music and Drama are particularly strong at St Julian's following the holistic belief in co-curricular activities which is an age-old aspect of the British Public (private) School system and also an expected feature in any modern international School. Each year sees several exhibitions of student (and professional) Art in the school's gallery, varied theatre productions in both English and Portuguese, and regular concerts featuring Rock, Jazz, Chamber and Classical music: a majority of students at the school learn a musical instrument. The school is a sponsoring member of ISTA (International Schools' Theatre Association) and regularly hosts ISTA festivals as well as sending students to these events all over Europe. Popular singers Mia Rose and Ana Free, and actress Daniela Ruah, are recent former pupils of the school.


The school prides itself on a Sports programme which combines wide participation with successful competition in sports championships and leagues. St. Julian's School hosts, and travels to, various inter-school sports activities and clubs including Boys' and Girls' Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Athletics and Cross-Country. Its popular Rugby club plays in the Portuguese Rugby Federation and is open to players from other schools and backgrounds: several pupils and former pupils have represented Portugal in this sport, while young professional footballers Kasper Schmeichel, Afonso Taira, Luka Zahovic and Eric Dier both attended the school and played in its teams.


In addition to the news and information published on the school's web site, St Julian's produces a newspaper, 'Update', five times a year as well as an annual school magazine, 'Wings', featuring photographs of each class group on the iconic Palace steps. Graduating classes also assemble their own yearbook, traditionally issued at the graduation ceremony which takes place on the third weekend in May straight after the last IB examination.

Environment and Facilities[edit]

When the cable company moved away the St Julian's School Association bought some 15% of its land in Carcavelos to keep the school going. The school site and the remainder of the estate surrounding it, is still known locally as the 'Quinta dos Ingleses'. The part of the estate not owned by the school has mostly degenerated into waste land. It is now owned by a major property development company, and this empty land, including historical landmarks from the time of the Peninsular War and the Lines of Torres Vedras is now a political hot-spot. For over 30 years, there has been constant dispute between construction firms and ecological conservation groups over the right to build on the land. This has resulted in a ban on new permanent buildings in the area, thereby preventing the school from executing long-planned projects such as a Sports Hall and more modern classrooms. Though beyond the school's control, these political circumstances have led its accrediting agencies to criticise a perceived lack of strategic planning.

The school's grounds are beautiful, including a formal 18th century garden, all-weather and natural grass playing fields, ponds, a herb garden and bamboo grove, venerable palm trees and majestic structures like the Palace and the Queen's Building, where the Primary School is housed. However, most of the classrooms are cleverly improvised rather than scientifically purpose-built spaces; and there is an acute need for better facilities for indoor sport and for Music, Art and Drama at all levels.

A detailed plan for the development of South Carcavelos aimed at reconciling the public interest with the needs of the school and the property developing company, was narrowly approved by Cascais Municipality in May 2014. This will one day enable the school to participate in the urbanization of the surrounding area and to make major improvements to its facilities. While the school's official position is one of support for the plan, individuals among the staff, student and parent bodies freely exercise their right to criticise or oppose the redevelopment of the ancient estate.

School Leaders[edit]

These have been called 'headmasters': although the first head was a Mrs Bucknall, since her time they have always been male and until 2014 always British. Since the revolutionary mid-1970s the school has had three long-serving headmasters: Andrew Bull (d.2009), legendary head from 1975 to 1993; David Styan, 1993 to 2000; and David Smith, 2000 to 2014. In August 2014 Mr Craig Monaghan, from New Zealand, will assume the leadership of St Julian's School.


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