Exeter School

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Exeter School
Exeter School 2007.jpg
Motto Classical Greek: ΧΡΥΣΟΣ ΑΡΕΤΗΣ ΟΥΚ ΑΝΤΑΞΙΟΣ - Gold is not worth more than virtue.
Established 1633
Type Independent day school
Headmaster Bob Griffin
Chair of Governors Andrew King
Location Victoria Park Road
50°43′10″N 3°30′43″W / 50.719557°N 3.511999°W / 50.719557; -3.511999Coordinates: 50°43′10″N 3°30′43″W / 50.719557°N 3.511999°W / 50.719557; -3.511999
DfE URN 113607 Tables
Students 900
Gender Co-educational
Ages 7–18
Houses 9
Former pupils Old Exonians
Website www.exeterschool.org.uk

Exeter School is a selective independent co-educational day school for pupils between the ages of 7 and 18 in Exeter, Devon, England. In 2015, there were around 200 pupils in the Junior School and 700 in the Senior School. The school maintains close links with its former pupils through the Old Exonian Club which meets annually around the country. There is also an active Alumni Office which opened in September 2013. It was set up to develop and foster lifelong relationships between the School and its past pupils and staff. [1]


St John's Hospital site of the school from 1633 to 1878

The School traces its origins from the opening of the Exeter Free Grammar School on 1 August 1633, attended mainly by the sons of the City freemen. Exeter’s wealthy merchants, notably Thomas Walker, provided the finance, with sufficient bequests to pay the Headmaster £50 a year and to install the school in the medieval buildings of St John’s Hospital, which had stood on the south side of the High Street since the 12th century.

In 1878 the school opened as Exeter Grammar School at a new campus designed by noted architect William Butterfield.[2] The school occupies this 25-acre (100,000 m2) site on Victoria Park Road to this day. The cost at the time was £7,600 with a further £16,750 spent on the erection of buildings. It was decided that St John’s Hospital Trust had to pay to Exeter School the net annual income of all endowments for Exhibitions and Scholarships attached to the School, and it also had to pay a proportion of the residue of its income.

In 1920 the Governors of Exeter School decided that it was no longer possible for them to continue the School without considerable assistance. The Exeter Education Authority agreed to assist but only if the School came under its direct control so, in April 1921, control of the school was handed over to the City. It then became a "maintained" school until 1929 when it became an "aided" school, thus regaining charge of its own finances under a newly appointed Governing Body.[3][4][5]

In March 1945 its status changed again to a direct grant grammar school and remained as such until September 1975 when the scheme was abolished. In September 1976 the first "independent" pupils were admitted into the school.[6]

From 1979, the School participated in the Assisted Places Scheme, taking over 200 pupils at its peak, but this scheme was abolished in 1997 and the last of these pupils left in the summer of 2004.[7] In 1981 the Sixth Form became coeducational. Following the success of the move, girls were admitted to all years in 1997.

Academic standards[edit]

In March 2014, the Independent Schools Inspectorate reported upon eight areas: the quality of the pupils' achievements and learning; the contribution of curricular and extra-curricular provision; the contribution of teaching; the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils; the contribution of arrangements for pastoral care; the contribution of arrangements for welfare, health and safety; the quality of governance; and the quality of leadership and management, including links with parents, carers and guardians.

The report concluded that the 7-18 co-educational day school was at the highest level, excellent, in each of the eight areas.

The team of nine reported that “the quality of the pupils’ achievements is excellent in their academic work and their activities.” Evidence gained during the inspection demonstrated that the pupils make excellent progress throughout the school, including in the junior school and sixth form. The ISI report continues: “Teaching is excellent and promotes high quality learning. The broad curriculum enables pupils to have a wide range of experiences and the extra -curricular provision is extensive. “Pupils achieve individual and team successes in a wide range of activities and national competitions. Pupils have an excellent attitude to their work and this makes a significant contribution to their achievement and progress.” The report also commented on the excellent relationships between staff and pupils where learning is seen as a co-operative venture. “Teachers have high expectations of their pupils and pupils feel well supported by staff who offer much help and encouragement beyond the classroom with drop in sessions, academic clubs, work on the intranet and individual support.” [8]

In summer 2017, Exeter School celebrated another set of very good A Level results. 23% of all grades were A* and 61% of grades were either A* or A. 91% of all grades were A*, A or B and the average number of UCAS (university entry requirement points) per candidate was 409, which is equivalent to over three A grades per candidate. Summer 2017's GCSE results were also excellent; 81% were A* or A grades. 50.4% of all grades were A*. [9]

In December 2017, The Sunday Times named Exeter School ‘South-West Independent Secondary School of the Year 2018’. The 25th edition of its annual Schools Guide, Parent Power, awarded the top place to the co-educational independent school, based on its outstanding academic achievements and overall educational provision. [10]


There are 9 houses:

  • Acland
  • Buller
  • Collins
  • Crossing
  • Daw
  • Drake
  • Goff
  • Raleigh
  • Townsend

Whilst this allocation is primarily for pastoral care within the school it also allows an Inter House sports programme to run throughout the year in a wide range of sports for pupils of all ages.


As of September 2017, the day fees are £3,838 per term for the Junior School (including lunch) and £4,259 per term for the senior school.[11] In September 2016, Exeter School launched eight free places in the Senior School and Sixth Form, as a result of donations and legacies from former pupils, in addition to ongoing grants from a local charity. [12]. The Foundation Bursaries, funded from alumni legacies and gifts, offer free places to three pupils entering the School at 11+ (Year 7). The St John’s Hospital Educational Foundation grant offers three full bursaries for Sixth Form entry. The George Williams Bursaries offers two further free places to study the Sciences at Sixth Form. These bursaries have been made possible by a generous bequest and continuing donations from the estate of a prominent deceased former pupil.

Notable Old Exonians[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.exeterschool.org.uk/alumni
  2. ^ Cherry, Bridget; Nikolaus Pevsner (1991). Devon. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 407. ISBN 0-300-09596-1. 
  3. ^ Bush, R.J.E. Exeter Free Grammar School, 1633-1809. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 94, (1962)
  4. ^ Parry, H. Lloyd. The Founding of Exeter School: A History of the Struggle for freedom of Education within the City of Exeter, Exeter and London, (1913)
  5. ^ "A short history of Princesshay", Exeter Memories
  6. ^ "Study of Occupational Change", Nuffield College, Oxford, 1972
  7. ^ "Exeter Middle School's Cup Final", The New Millennium
  8. ^ Independent Schools Inspectorate report on Exeter School
  9. ^ Exeter School academic results
  10. ^ The Sunday Times South-West Independent Secondary School of the Year 2018
  11. ^ "Exeter School Fees". 
  12. ^ http://www.exeterschool.org.uk/admissions/scholarships-and-awards
  13. ^ "The Bunker Diary: Exeter author Kevin Brooks wins children's book prize". Express & Echo. 23 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Frederic Boase, Modern English Biography, vol. 4 (Netherton and Worth, 1906), p. 2,007
  15. ^ Channel 4, Time Team - Meet the Team - Robin Bush, accessed 7 October 2008
  16. ^ "Collins, David (1754-1810)", Project Gutenburg of Australia
  17. ^ "Obituary - General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley", The Guardian, 15 March 2006
  18. ^ Who's Who 2006
  19. ^ "A wealth of knowledge", The Guardian, 31 October 2001
  20. ^ Ian Norman
  21. ^ "Harry Pennell collection" Archived 17 July 2012 at Archive.is, Archives Hub
  22. ^ Henry Rew
  23. ^ The Guardian, Bob Wigley: A dream come true for the boy inspired by business, 17 November 2006

External links[edit]