St. Bees School
|Motto||Latin: Ingredere ut proficias
(Enter so that you may make progress)
|Type||Independent day and boarding|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Chair of Governors||Bill Lowther|
|Founder||Archbishop Edmund Grindal|
|DfE URN||112444 Tables|
|Houses||Bega, Lonsdale, School, Grindal|
|Former Pupils||Old St. Beghians|
St. Bees School is a co-educational independent school in the West Cumbrian village of St Bees. Founded in 1583 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Edmund Grindal as a boys' "free grammar school", today it is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference with around 300 pupils aged 4 to 18, and has been coeducational since 1978. It accommodates both day pupils and boarders, who live in five boarding houses located on the school grounds and in the village, although each day pupil is also a member of a house. The current headmaster is James Davies, the incumbent since September 2012.
The school has a long and varied history, which has been characterised by periods of prosperity interspersed with periods of difficulty. Although the school had a difficult start due to the Queen initially refusing to sign the letters patent establishing the school, it eventually began to grow, partially due to its ownership of the mineral rights to surrounding land. However, despite selling the mining rights for much less than they were worth and taking part in a resulting legal tussle which lasted for the latter half of the 18th century, the school expanded rapidly throughout the 19th century, building much of the campus as seen today. The school did, however, have to be rescued by former members of the school in 1938 due to a financial crisis caused by a sudden drop in pupil numbers.
Today approximately one third of the pupils are boarders, many from China and Eastern Europe. Although many boarders are members of the main school, the school has a dedicated "International Centre", where pupils are intensively tutored to improve their English to a level where they may join the main school, frequently entering the sixth form after having spent one year in the centre and passing an ESOL exam. The school only catered for pupils from ages 11–18 until September 2008, when a Preparatory Department was launched to cater for pupils from 8 upwards. The school again expanded in September 2010 to include pupils from age 4.
The school was founded in 1583 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Grindal, who was born in the village of St Bees. Having fallen out with Queen Elizabeth I, and although ill and blind, he refused to resign his position until the Queen signed the letters patent which would create the Free Grammar School at St Bees. The school was founded in 1583; a few years after Grindal's death. Thanks to his making an agreement with The Queen's College, Oxford and his purchase of local tithes, the school was both financially and academically able to prosper.
Although specifically incorporated for the education of boys from Cumberland and Westmorland, as early as 1604 people from outside Cumbria were being educated at St. Bees in the original schoolroom (now one of the school dining rooms) near the Priory Church. The school slowly expanded, despite one Headmaster who worked his pupils like labourers. The school had enjoyed some financial security for many years, lessened in 1742 when the school sold Sir James Lowther an eight hundred and sixty-seven year mineral lease for much less than market value. In the nineteenth century the school started to look like it is now. Thanks to a resolution of the mineral rights issue being obtained through the Court of Chancery in 1842, the school was able to physically expand, with what is now the "Quadrangle" being built, Grindal House (formerly a hotel) purchased and the Headmaster's Residence being constructed. At the turn of the twentieth century the School Chapel was built, along with what is now the Art Department and the School Library, and the swimming baths. By the outbreak of the First World War the school had reached a peak of three hundred pupils, a figure which would not be seen again for some years.
During the Great War three old boys of the school were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for military gallantry in Britain and many of the British Commonwealth countries (see St. Bees V.C. winners for more details. Old boy Alfred Critchley became one of the youngest Brigadier-Generals in the British Empire at the age of twenty-seven for his heroic conduct (he was older than Roland Boys Bradford, V.C. but younger than Bernard Freyberg, V.C.). One hundred and eighty old boys gave their lives during the war, and a special memorial was built overlooking the sports fields where so many had previously played.
After the war the number of students remained high, but in common with many other schools the numbers decreased and then went into free-fall during the 1930s. The situation became so critical that the Governors of the School attempted to have the school nationalised. In the end, the old boys put together a rescue package and the school remained independent, it being the only one of its kind at the time in Cumberland and Westmorland.
In 1938, during the final stages of recovery from the Great Depression, the school's headmaster of the day, George Mallaby, made an unusual career move by becoming District Commissioner for the special area of west Cumberland, with the task of alleviating the problems of unemployment.
During the Second World War the school had Mill Hill School join it in St. Bees after the latter's buildings in London were occupied by the government. The two schools remained independently run, however, sports teams from each school would frequently play each other. The cadet corps of the two schools combined to help form the St. Bees Home Guard, resulting in the group being better equipped than many other Home Guard groups, given that the cadets already had the necessary equipment.
Seventy-two old boys gave their lives during the conflict, and after the victory a Memorial Hall was erected in their honour. During the 1950s a new science block was built, and in 1970 the school became coeducational. New boarding houses were purchased for both girls and boys, Bega and Abbot's Court respectively, and to celebrate the school's quatercentenary in 1983 an appeal was launched which would give the school a new sports hall, opened in 1988.
The 1990s saw the opening by Prince Charles of the Whitelaw Building, a multi-function business centre and teaching area which was named after the-then Chairman of the Board of Governors, William Whitelaw. In 2000, Barony, the music centre was entirely refurbished and reopened and renamed the Fox Music Centre in memory of old boy Bill Fox. To mark the millennium, a time capsule was buried in the North-East corner of the Quadrangle.
In September 2008, a Preparatory Department was launched, catering for pupils from the age of 8 until they joined the main school. At this time, a nearby independent school with a prep department, Harecroft Hall, had just closed. The school again expanded in September 2010 to include pupils from age 4.
Grounds and buildings
The school grounds occupy some 250 acres (1,000,000 m2) which is a good portion of the village of St Bees, and the oldest buildings date from the late 16th century. The original schoolroom is today used as one of the dining rooms, and it is surrounded by the 'Foundation' block, which was mainly built during the mid part of the 19th century. As one moves North East along the valley, the buildings generally get progressively newer, ending with the Science Block and the Management Centre. Most of the buildings are either built with or faced by the distinctive red sandstone which is characteristic of the buildings at the school. School House is located on the main site, but the other boarding houses are all located across the railway tracks to the South - Grindal in a large former hotel, while the other three houses occupy the whole of Londsdale Terrace, a row of houses owned by the school. The school also owns a building just across the road from the main school, which is occupied by the Music Department. The Priory Church is used by the school for many services throughout the year, as the Vicar of the church is always also the school Chaplain.
The buildings around the main quadrangle in the Foundation block are a grade II listed building, granting them additional protections under English law. This includes the original schoolroom on the lower north side of the quad. Lonsdale Terrace is another grade II listed building owned by the school, also built in the mid 19th century. The school does not own, but has use of the former chancel of the Priory Church, which is a grade I listed building, granting additional protection above grade II. The school uses this room for orchestra and choir practices.
There are four rugby pitches and two hockey pitches, as well as a multi-purpose hardcourt (which can be used for netball, basketball and tennis) and three tennis courts. The "1sts" rugby pitch (so named for where the 1st XV play) is converted into a cricket pitch( named "Crease") during the summer, and is surrounded by a running track during the athletics season. There are also two outdoor cricket nets, a runway and sand-pit for triple jump and long jump as well as a concrete circle for throwing events. The school owns the local 9-hole golf course, though it is managed by the club and its members, and there is a golf studio located behind School House.
For indoor events there is an early Edwardian gym with a swimming pool, as well as covered Eton Fives courts. A large sports hall built in 1988 to celebrate the school's four hundredth anniversary provides changing facilities, as well as containing a climbing wall, numerous basketball hoops, two large indoor cricket nets and markings for many different games. Adjoining it is a converted barn with two squash courts and a weights gym.
The lower half of the school consists of the "1st Form" to the "4th Form", corresponding to years 7-10 in the English state school system and to ages roughly 11-14. The senior half of the school is made up of the 5th Form, the Lower 6th and the Upper 6th - years 11-13 and ages 15–18. However, since the establishment of the Preparatory Department, the school caters for pupils from age 4-11, which corresponds to primary school in the British school system. While a large proportion of pupils enter the school at age 11 (or year 3, age 7), many enter in the 4th form, which marks the start of GCSE study, or the Lower 6th, the start of A-Level study. After GCSE study, when a pupil moves from the lower school to the senior school at the start of 5th Form, they become members of a different house.
The school is run by a Headmaster/Headmistress appointed by the Board of Governors, which is presided over by a chairman elected by the body of governors. Each year, School Prefects are chosen, along with a Head Boy and a Head Girl, all of whom are members of the Upper 6th. Lower 6th Pupils apply for these positions in the summer term, after the Upper 6th( and current prefect team) has left - the Headmaster and senior staff select pupils of good character and academic achievement who will act as an example to younger pupils and enforce discipline.
The school follows an internal curriculum for the first three years, followed by two years of GCSE study, and two years of A-Level study. Some pupils in the International Centre sit IGCSE examinations.
1st to 4th-form pupils each sit two sets of internal exams per year in every subject studied, near the end of the Christmas and Summer Terms. Pupils sitting GCSE exams are subject to a full set of mock exams in the January before the actual examinations, although some GCSE modules in subjects such as science are now being sat as early as the 3rd Form. During the Sixth Form, only A2 modules are taken in January, as the school has a policy of sitting all AS examinations in the summer. The only exception is for students resitting AS modules.
Fees per term for the 2011/12 academic year are:
- £6,108-£8,421 for full-time boarders( £9,476 for International Centre,)
- £4,964-£7,116 for weekly boarders,
- £3,872-£4,998 for day pupils,
- £2,163-£2,378 for pupils in the Prep School. (Pupils in the prep school may only be day pupils)
There are a variety of Bursaries and Scholarships available. Bursaries can be awarded up to 100% of the value of the school fees, and academic scholarships are available subject to outstanding performance in the entrance exam. Awards can also be made if a pupil is an exceptional musician, sportsman or artist.
St. Bees preparatory department opened in September 2008 to meet a demand for private education for 8-11-year-old children in the area. This was partially caused by the closure of the nearby Harecroft Hall school, which had a prep department. The department was extended in September 2010 to cater for pupils from 4-11.
Although the children have access to and use of many of the senior school facilities, the preparatory department runs as a separate unit with its own staff and resources. Class sizes are kept smaller than 15 pupils (the legal limit in England is 30 as of early 2012.)
All the facilities on site are available for use by the preparatory department. These include the science labs, computer suites, art studios and sports facilities. Specialist staff from the senior school also teach some lessons in the preparatory department. The science, languages, history, Latin, P.E, and Food Technology senior departments have all prepared and taught courses for the preparatory department.
A range of assessments are used in the preparatory department. There are ongoing informal teacher assessments to ascertain the standard of a pupil's work in a particular curriculum area. Formal assessments include weekly spelling, tables and mental maths tests in literacy (English), numeracy (maths) and science and end-of-year QCA tests, including Key Stage 2 SATs. Year 6 pupils also sit the 1st-form entrance exam to the senior school in the Easter term of Year 6.
There are two junior and three senior houses at St. Bees School. They serve as institutions for students to take pride in (for all pupils) and each also serves as a boarding house. The houses are shown in the table to the right.
Pupils are grouped in the junior houses from the 1st to 4th forms, and from 5th to Upper 6th are grouped in the senior( there are two senior boys houses to cope with numbers: selection is essentially random.) Each house is run by a resident Housemaster/Housemistress who is also a teacher at the school. The three senior houses each have an Upper 6th pupil who serves as the "Head of House", and is usually also a Prefect. Day pupils can retire to the house during lunchtime and after classes, while after the evening meal (held in the main school dining room) all boarders must report back to their respective houses.
To encourage intra-school competition in sport (until quite recently there had been only four houses) all pupils when they enter the school are designated as either "North" or "South" (colours Blue and Green respectively) and are expected to compete accordingly. The annual "Sports Day" is won by either North or South in the lower part of the school, however for the senior sports day, competition is between each of the three senior years. There is, however, a separate competition between the two senior boys houses for the annual "House Cup", which consists of various sports fixtures throughout the year.
When mentioning a past pupil of the school, it is usual to write their name and then the initial of their senior house and years they were at St Bees; e.g. GH 97-04, indicating someone who entered the school in 1997 and joined Grindal House.
|1st & 2nd Form||
|4th & 5th Form (GCSE)||Pupils choose 3 options
|6th Form (A-Level)||Pupils choose 4 options in the L6th, usually 3 in the U6th.
For the first three years of the main school( Forms 1-3), pupils follow an internally developed and assessed curriculum. They then spend two years studying for GCSE qualifications, and then two years in the Sixth Form studying for A-Levels. Pupils in the International Centre study for some IGCSE examinations, as well as taking the appropriate ESOL qualifications to enable them to transfer into the main school, usually for Sixth Form study. Throughout the school, Religious Studies, PSE ( Personal and Social Education) and Games sessions are compulsory, except in the Sixth Form, where Religious Studies is no longer taught.
During GCSE study, most pupils take 10 or 11 exam subjects, including compulsory lessons in English, English Literature, Maths, separate sciences, French, and non examined classes in PSE and Religious Studies. Each pupil is also given a choice of 3 options from a range of subjects including Geography, History, Art, Music and others.
All pupils learn Latin for at least the first two years, and can study Latin all the way up to A-Level - which was an unusual feature in British schools as a whole before the recent upsurge in teaching of Latin. As well as the more traditional academic subjects, the school uses its position near to the Lake District to run Adventurous Training sessions on a rota system for the 1st and 2nd Forms, as well as during Senior Games.
In the Sixth Form, pupils must still participate in Games and take a General Studies AS or optionally full A-Level, but otherwise have a free choice of subjects - pupils usually pick four AS-Levels in the Lower 6th. Most pupils then drop one of their subjects going into the Upper 6th, to take 3 A-Levels at the end of their time at the school.
Sports and activities
The school is very sports-orientated, with two two-hour compulsory sports sessions a week, known universally as "games". The juniors and the seniors have their games sessions at different times so as to not totally disrupt the teaching schedule. For the first four years a physical education session is also compulsory, with weekly lesson-long sessions.
For boys Rugby Union is the main winter sport and almost every boy plays it at one time or the other until he reaches the sixth form. In 1986 St. Bees won the National Schools Sevens tournament. Participation in rugby matches against other schools is expected. During the summer Cricket takes over, but less emphasis on participation is exacted and pupils are allowed to branch out to other sports activities.
For sixth form boys there is the option of joining one of the senior Rugby teams (1sts or 2nds) or participating in numerous sports-based activities such as jogging, badminton, squash, athletics, archery or weight training. These sessions are known as 'Options' sessions.
For girls the emphasis on teams is similar; active participation in field hockey and in summer tennis. Girls are also allowed to mix with the boys on most sports and activities in the Options programme.
After lessons finish for the day there is a program of 'Activities' pupils can sign up for, which is compulsory for the 1st - 5th forms. Sports training, choir, orchestra and drama practices plus other extra-curricular activities happen at this time. Although there are no lessons, pupils are required to stay in school until the end of Activities, which is at 5pm, except on Fridays, where there are no Activities and the school day ends at 3:55pm. The CCF also trains in the activities slot, on Thursdays.
Extracurricular activities such as meetings of the school council and charity committee, along with additional rehearsals and music groups, also happen at lunchtime. There are a number of 'Field Days' throughout the year, on which the timetable is suspended and extracurricular activities take over for a day. The lower forms frequently go on walks or other Outdoor Pursuits in the Lake District nearby, while the sixth form takes part in various activities at school which do not form part of the regular curriculum. Members of the CCF also train on these days.
Every Thursday afternoon, in the Activities period, the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) musters for its weekly training. There are both an army section (usually the larger) and a Royal Air Force section currently operating. Participation is compulsory in the 3rd and 4th Forms. After this point service is no longer compulsory but many cadets remain, becoming instructors and NCOs themselves. The officers of the CCF are partly teachers who are commissioned into the reserve of officers of their respective service, and partly former service personnel who assist in training. The contingent is large enough to warrant a Lieutenant-Colonel in command, currently Lieutenant-Colonel J.D Evans, with the RAF section under the command of Flight Lieutenant A. Campion, RAFVR. Pupils are taught basic military drill, tactics and weapons handling as well as more non-military skills such as navigation and first aid.
At one time, all cadets must have attended at least one Annual Camp, a week long period at the end of the Summer Term spent at an army base where cadets are involved in many military and adventure-training activities. However, since this is now charged to each individual cadet, it is an optional, yet still popular, choice. The cadets also take part in an annual inspection of the contingent at the school.
The contingent guides cadets through The Duke of Edinburgh's Award at all levels and the BTEC National Diplomas in Uniformed Services and Music (BTEC awards are optional and separate from the main academic curriculum at the school.)
The contingent, together with other local cadet forces, was awarded the freedom of the Borough of Copeland on Armistice Day 2010 to mark the 150th anniversary of the cadet forces. The school also hosts a military skills competition,'Bega Banga', each year for other CCF contingents in the region.
The final event of the school year is the Speech Day, which was traditionally held on the Saturday following the final day of the Summer Term. Traditionally, in the morning there was a church service in the Priory Church of St Bees, followed by luncheon in a marquee. In the afternoon the Prize-giving took place, with the prizes distributed by a notable figure from public life. Of note, prizes have been given by the politician the Lord Lloyd, Oliver Stanley, noted mountaineer, Sir Chris Bonington and Lord Jones, former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, and Lord Inglewood.
Recently, in order to accommodate the pupils from the Far East who had to leave before the end of term in order to fly home, Speech Day was moved from the end of the Summer Term to the middle of the term, therefore allowing many more of the pupils the chance to experience the event. The structure of the day was also changed, moving the prize-giving ceremony to 11am ( directly following the priory service), and having lunch after this. This allowed the day to finish sooner, and those that did not want to have lunch could leave after the prize-giving ceremony.
Old St. Beghians
Former pupils of St. Bees School are styled Old St. Beghians. An "Old St. Beghians' Club" was founded in 1908 by master J.W. Aldous, and today as the Old St. Beghians' Society it provides a link between old boys (and girls) and the school. Amongst other things it organises an "Old St Beghians Day" at the school once a year, publishes a magazine called the Old St. Beghian twice a year( now additionally published online) and holds and participates in many golfing tournaments. There are several regional branches of the society which traditionally hold annual meals and reunions.
Notable Old St. Beghains include men and women in various professions, including three Victoria Cross recipients, military officers, clergymen and politicians and, perhaps the best known old boy, actor Rowan Atkinson
- List of headmasters of St. Bees School
- List of Old St. Beghians
- List of the oldest schools in the United Kingdom
- List of the oldest schools in the world
- List of Victoria Crosses by School
- "St. Bees Village Website - School History". Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "New Head Appointment". The Old St. Beghian No.181. January 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "Carlisle Diocese - Prayer Diary June 2011 - page 13". Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "Independent Schools Inspectorate - St Bees Report". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- "HMC Schools Q-S". Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "Future of St.Bees School". The Glasgow Herald. 7 July 1938. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "St Bees School - International Centre". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- "Juniors to join school". The Whitehaven News. 9 July 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "Archbishop Grindal's Birthplace: Cross Hill, St. Bees Cumbria, By John and Mary Todd. Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society 1999, Vol XCIX.
- "Veterans look to the future". News and Star. 13 January 2006.
- Aldous, M.A., J.W. (1921). St. Bees School Roll of Honour and Record of Service. Edinburgh: University Press.
- Gittings, Robert, 'Mallaby, Sir (Howard) George Charles (1902–1978), public servant and headmaster' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online version (subscription required), accessed 10 August 2008
- "Poignant last reunion". The Whitehaven News. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Mill Hill School at St Bees". Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "18 jobs lost as school to shut". The Whitehaven News. 23 April 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "British Listed Buildings - St Bees School Buildings". Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "British Listed Buildings - 1-11, St. Bees". Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "British Listed Buildings - Music Room in former Chancel to Priory". Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "St.Bees Golf Club - History". Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "St. Bees School Cumbria - Sport". Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- "St. Bees School Cumbria - Fees". Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- "St Bees School - Bursaries and Scholarships". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- "Raise limit on infant class sizes in primary schools, government told". 11 January 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "Latin rides again as schools turn back to classics". The Guardian. 22 May 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "St. Bees School Cumbria - Academic Overview". Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- "Extra Curricular Activities - p8.". St.Bees Agent Handbook. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "St.Bees School - Activities Overview". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- "St. Bees School CCF Report 2010-2011". Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "Cadets set out to impress". The Whitehaven News. 13 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "St. Bees School Cumbria - CCF". Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- "News and Star - Freedom Honour". Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- "Army Cadets fight it out in military skills competition at St. Bees". The Whitehaven News. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "St. Bees School Cumbria - Speech Day 2011". Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- "About the Society (OSB)". Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Whitehaven News - For Valour". Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- "Chortle Profile - Rowan Atkinson". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- Aldous, M.A., J.W. (1921). St. Bees School Roll of Honour and Record of Service. Edinburgh: University Press.
- Special Committee, Old St. Beghians' Club (1939). The Story of St. Bees 1583-1939: a souvenir of the 350th anniversary of the opening of St. Bees School. London: Buck & Wooton. OCLC 223279332
- Strype, John (1710, republished 1974). The history of the life and acts of the Most Reverend Father in God, Edmund Grindal: the first Bishop of London, and the Second Archbishop of York and Canterbury successively, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, to which is added an appendix of original mss.; in two books. New York: Burt Franklin research & source works series. OCLC 313493627