Beechen Cliff School

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Beechen Cliff School
Beechen cliff school logo.png
Established 1896
Type Academy
Headmaster Andrew Davies
Chair of Governors C J Oldham
Location Alexandra Park
Coordinates: 51°22′20″N 2°21′36″W / 51.3723°N 2.3600°W / 51.3723; -2.3600
DfE URN 136520 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 1,170 pupils as of 2014[1]
Gender Boys (Coeducational sixth form)
Ages 11–18
Publication The Torch
Former name City of Bath Boys' School

Beechen Cliff School is a boys' secondary school in Bath, Somerset, England. Founded in 1896, at one time it had 1,113 pupils aged 11 to 18.

There are around 840 boys in years 7 to 11 and a co-educational sixth form of 322 pupils.[1] The school is located just south of the city centre near Alexandra Park, up a hill from Bear Flat on the A367, a major route from the south of the city into Bath.


List of headmasters

The school began in 1896 as Bath City Secondary School in the Guildhall.[2][3]

It moved from the Guildhall Technical College[4] to its present site at Beechen Cliff in 1932 when it was renamed the City of Bath Boys' School.

It changed to its present name in 1970 when the City of Bath reorganised secondary education. The grammar school was amalgamated with Oldfield Boys' School, a local secondary modern school originally founded in 1903, to form a comprehensive school.

On 7 August 1988, on a school climbing expedition in the Briançon region of the French Alps, the 57-year-old headmaster Donald Stephens fell 300 feet (91 m) to his death. Fifteen pupils and three members of staff were on the expedition, training for a walk up Mount Kenya, and witnessed the tragic incident. A library has been established in his memory.

View of Bath from Beechen Cliff

A review of Bath secondary provision by Avon County Council in the 1980s proposed that the school be closed and replaced with a sixth form college on the same site serving the whole city. Partisans of the school, however, took advantage of new legislation to obtain grant-maintained status for the school, taking it out of local authority control, which the then Government permitted despite a policy that schools would not be allowed to use grant-maintained (GM) status as a way of avoiding closure.

In February 1990 Avon County Council took the Secretary of State for Education and Science, John MacGregor, to the High Court to prevent the school gaining GM status and thus fatally undermining its Bath schools reorganisation plan; on 24 February Mr Justice Hutchison ruled in favour of the council, obliging the Secretary of State to reconsider his decision. On 30 March the Minister accordingly reconsidered his decision, but came to the same conclusion as before, that the school should be GM funded. In a vote, 55% of parents supported the change of status.[5] At a further judicial review hearing by the High Court on 15 May, Lord Justice Mustill upheld the Minister's decision. The Director of Education at Avon, Dr Christopher Saville, said he was 'very disappointed'.

Former pupil and winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery the mechanism of gene-splicing, Richard J. Roberts, donated a substantial part of his prize money to help the school build a new science centre, called the Richard Roberts Science Centre.[6]

Beechen Cliff School acquired the specialist school status of Technology College in 1997, and with the demise of grant-maintained status became a Foundation school with similar characteristics. In 2011 it became an Academy School, and along with Hayesfield School for girls, Ralph Allen School, Three Ways School (special education) and Wellsway School (in Keynsham) it constitutes the Bath Education Trust, whose governors include representatives of Rotork Ltd, the University of Bath and Bath Spa University.


In 1983 an avenue of elm trees, which ran within an ancient hedge along the road to the south of the lower playing fields, contracted Dutch elm disease and had to be felled; replacement trees of different species were planted by subscription of local residents, though not all survived to maturity. In 2000 the school proposed to sell off the lower part of its playing fields for housing development. Although the latest school inspection report had remarked that the playing fields were small for the school,[7] the required consent was obtained from the DfEE, but there was vigorous opposition from the local community and planning permission was refused.[8]

Centurion Challenge[edit]

The Centurion Challenge is an annual long distance event organised by Beechen Cliff School, Bath. The event is open to pupils of the school and usually takes place on the first weekend of July. The objective of the challenge is to walk/run 100 miles in 48 hours.


The school uniform consists of a blazer, trousers, shirt and a blue, red, purple, green or yellow striped tie.

Beechen Cliff School main building, with sixth form and technology buildings on the right

Notable alumni[edit]

City of Bath Boys' Grammar School[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Beechen Cliff School" (PDF). Ofsted. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Plan for sites adjoining the Guildhall (Technical Schools) 14 March 1891". Central Library Collection. Bath in Time. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Guildhall. General View c.1895". Central Library Collection. Bath in Time. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Technical College. When housed in the Guildhall 1929". Central Library Collection. Bath in Time. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Paul Meredith (1992). Government, schools, and the law. Routledge. pp. 169–177. ISBN 0-415-03658-5. 
  6. ^ Max Davidson (24 November 2008). "Town vs Gown: Royal High School vs Beechen Cliff School in Bath". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Report by P M Nixon, OFSTED 1998, §70
  8. ^ Bath Chronicle, 9 June 2001 page 27
  9. ^ "Beechen teams on winning run". This is Bath. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Bath actor to play Ringo in Beatles remake". This is Bath. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Bath City Football Club". Proud of Twerton. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "My best teacher: Jason Gardener". Times Educational Supplement magazine. 23 July 2004. Retrieved 21 October 2008. 
  13. ^ "News". David Lassman. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "Andrew Lincoln". IMDB. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Fame and fortune for former students at Beechen Cliff". This is Bath. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  16. ^ "Charlie's up to more good". This is Bath. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  17. ^ Evans, Michael (16 June 2009). "Outsider Sir John Sawers appointed new head of MI6". The Times (London). Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  18. ^ "All About Curt Smith – Bio". Tears for Fears. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  19. ^ "Spreadbury takes the whistle for Beechen win". This is Bath. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  20. ^ "Beechen to host dinner". The Bath Chronicle. 17 July 2008. 
  21. ^ "Amy Williams wins historic gold medal at Winter Olympics". Bath Chronicle. 20 February 2010. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  22. ^ "Ascott, Professor Roy". Art and Mind. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "Roger Bannister 4-minute mile edition May 8, 1954". Bath in Time — Bath Central Library Collection Date unknown. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  24. ^ "roger bannister". UNITED KINGDOM ATHLETICS — Date unknown. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  25. ^ Naughton, Philippe; Costello, Miles. "David Fishlock: science journalist". London: The Times. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  26. ^ "Who we are". Sand City Opera Company. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  27. ^ Who's Who 2008: London, A & C Black ISBN 978-0-7136-8555-8
  28. ^ "Robert Orledge". Eric Satie. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  29. ^ Davidson, Max (24 November 2008). "Town vs Gown: Royal High School vs Beechen Cliff School in Bath". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  30. ^ "Richard J. Roberts Autobiography". The Nobel Foundation. 1 January 1993. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2008. 

External links[edit]