Stephen Perse Foundation
|The Stephen Perse Foundation|
England, CB2 1HF
|Motto||Your future starts with a great foundation|
|Principal||Miss Tricia Kelleher|
|National ranking||Top independent school in East Anglia according to The Sunday Times|
Stephen Perse Foundation Junior School library
The Foundation is made up of six schools: the Stephen Perse Pre-Prep Schools in Madingley and in the City, for boys and girls aged 3–7; Dame Bradbury's School in Saffron Walden, for boys and girls aged 3–11; the Stephen Perse Junior School, for boys and girls aged 7–11; the Stephen Perse Senior School, for boys and girls aged 11–16 (boys joined Year 7 for the first time in September 2017); and the Stephen Perse 6th Form College, co-educational for students aged 16–18. The school has a strong reputation for academic excellence and a progressive attitude towards learning and social skills, being named the top Independent school in East Anglia by The Sunday Times on their Parent Power list.
The school was founded in 1881 as The Perse School for Girls.
In 1615, Dr Perse's will included a bequest of land for the establishment of what was then described as a Grammar Free School, in Cambridge. It became The Perse School and was originally reserved for boys but, in 1881, the complementary but unconnected Perse School for Girls opened, as part of the strong 19th century movement to educate women. From the Perse School for Girls, the Foundation evolved to become the Stephen Perse Foundation in 2007 just before opening a co-educational sixth form college in 2008 and now providing a complete educational pathway for boys and girls from age 3 to 18.
The Foundation was part of the inspiration for the St Trinian's School books by Ronald Searle, alongside Cambridgeshire High School for Girls (now Long Road Sixth Form College). Searle donated original manuscripts and diaries to the school, which are held in the school archive. This includes a letter, dated 1993, which confirms the link.
In September 2013, Dame Bradbury's School in Saffron Walden joined the Foundation, as a non-selective school for boys and girls aged 3-11. At the same time, announcements were made of major development plans to admit boys to the Junior and Senior Schools. Boys started at the Junior School in Cambridge in September 2014, and at the Senior School in 2017, with classes from Year 5 through to Year 11 being taught in a diamond formation, which combines the academic benefits of single-sex learning with the social advantages of a co-educational environment.
Awards and accolades
In 2013, the Sunday Times named the Foundation the IB School of the Year for the second time. The paper said: "Students at the Stephen Perse 6th Form College in Cambridge are world-class achievers. Their exceptional academic results this year mean that the school is not only ranked first in Britain but also joint first in the world for the international baccalaureate (IB) diploma."
In November 2014, the school was awarded the title Independent School of the Year 2014 and also Outstanding Strategic Initiative by the Independent School Awards, decided by a panel of independent judges chaired including the Chief Inspector of the Independent Schools Inspectorate, Christine Ryan.
In November 2016, the Foundation was named the Best Independent School in East Anglia by The Sunday Times on its Parent Power list. The list is acknowledged as the 'most authoritative survey' of the county's best schools, according to the newspaper. The Foundation was also ranked at number 18 in a list of 2,000 schools around the United Kingdom. The accolade was based on GCSE and A Level results – 97.6% of A Level students achieved A* to B grades and 86.1% of GCSE students achieved A* and A grades.
Most recently, the Foundation was shortlisted for Digital innovation/ed tech school of the year at the TES Schools Awards 2017.
Site and facilities
The main school site occupies a city "block", three sides bordered by residential streets and the fourth by the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry. This houses the Stephen Perse Senior School (ages 11–16), with the Stephen Perse Junior School (ages 7–11) occupying a site close by. The Stephen Perse Pre-Prep School was established in 2010, after the Foundation purchased the Madingley School Pre-Prep on the retirement of the previous owners. Most of the Stephen Perse Pre-Prep is situated in Madingley (a village outside Cambridge) and the rest is located at the Junior School site.
In 2017, the school completed a major building project on the main site that now offers an indoor sports hall, a rooftop multi-use games area, 10 new classrooms, and flexible learning spaces.
The main site includes a dining room, hall, library, visual arts centre and a sick bay, with renovations in other classrooms. All classrooms contain interactive whiteboards. There is a class 3 listed gymnasium on site too, as well as ICT rooms which are available to use before school, after school and at lunchtimes.
In 2013, the refurbished library and classrooms in the Junior School received attention from The Guardian newspaper in a feature on inspirational teaching spaces.
The school also contains a fenland nature reserve, astroturf playing fields and a pavilion.
There are currently approximately 800 students, with 80 in the Pre-Prep, 140 in the Junior School and 140 in the 6th Form, as well as 450 in the Senior School. Here there are usually four classes in years 7 and 8 but 5 classes in years 9, 10 and 11. In the Junior School there are two classes in years 3,4,5 and 6.
The Student Forum offers students the chance for their views to be heard. Each form elects two representatives to sit on the forum. The Student Forum meets once every half term to discuss issues that are affecting the lives of the students. This enables the school to know what issues the students want addressed. The Junior School has a School Council, with responsibilities similar to those of the Student Form.
Girls are given the chances in their final year to hold responsibilities. These include sitting on one of the school's committees, mentoring the younger years, or creating the school's yearbook. The Year 11's give their responsibilities over to the Year 10's when they start their exam period in the Spring Term. The Head Girl is chosen in Year 10, elected by both her peers and her teachers. The Head Girl's responsibilities include leading the Student Forum and reading at the Carol Service. A Student President is also elected in the same manner for the Sixth Form. The Student President acts as a liaison between staff and sixth formers, as well as monitoring the work of the sixth form student committees and ensuring the link remains between the sixth form and the senior school.
Form groups lead an assembly every year, and also run charity initiatives for that Term's charity. The class that raises the most money is given a certificate in a frame, which they can hang up in the classroom for the rest of the term.
Each student and teacher are part of a house named after one notable contributor to the school, for example head teachers and people who donated money to the school. The houses are:
The plans to introduce iPads for educational use in the Senior School started in September 2012. This was extended to the 6th form from September 2013.
In 2013 it was announced that the school will be accepting boys for the first time in to the junior school in 2014 and then the senior school in 2017, becoming coeducational.
There is a large range of opportunities for learning at the Stephen Perse. Students learn French from Year 3 and Spanish from year 4, and can choose to learn German, Mandarin Chinese or Russian from year 9. For GCSE, there are many options available, with students taking 10 or 11 GCSE's. All students take Maths, English Language and English Literature IGCSEs, and Biology, Chemistry and Physics GCSEs. Students also take an IGCSE in either French and/or Spanish. Students then choose up to four options from History, Geography, Religious Studies and Philosophy, German, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Art, Drama, Design and Technology, Music, Latin, and Greek. Critical Thinking is taught as a non-examined course, as is Physical Education. Students can take a short course Physical Education GCSE as an extra-curricular activity.
Recently, a new lesson was introduced in the Junior School: Thinking Skills. This includes a range of topics from social to political, encouraging sharing points of view through debating, and asking questions about the wider world. It is based around the Philosophy for Children programme (P4C).
The 6th form students choose either the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme or A Levels (Music is taught through the Cambridge Pre-U qualification). All students in the 6th form take the IB course in Theory of Knowledge. From September 2013, A Level students will also have the opportunity to take an Extended Essay (from the IB) for qualification.
In 2013 the school was reported as holding the joint-highest IB results in the world with a student average score of 42.2points
The school makes extensive use of technology in the curriculum and has been featured by BBC News regarding the innovatory use of iTunes U courses
Sport and the Arts
Sport is played throughout the school. In the younger years, students play hockey, netball, rounders and tennis. They also do Gymnastics and Athletics and the school offers a wide range of sports clubs. When students reach Year 9, they are given more choice of sports, and they can be instructed in rowing, volleyball, basketball, squash, badminton, cricket, touch rugby, lacrosse and dance. Many Stephen Perse teams compete regionally in hockey, rounders, netball and tennis and several students compete at National level in their chosen sports. In 2013 there was a Hockey tour to South Africa.
Drama is taught throughout the school. Every year group is given the chance to perform in a play, or help backstage or with lighting. Every other year, Years 10- U6th put on a musical, which is performed at the Mumford Theatre. Each year in the Junior School, Year 5s are the main focus of the Christmas Concert and near the end of the Spring Term the Year 6s put on a play as well. At the end of every year the Year 4s also put on a show accompanied by the other Years in singing.
A range of arts are taught by experienced teachers in the recently built Visual Arts Centre. Students have the chance to try Fine Art, from painting to drawing to sculpting, Textiles, which includes fashion designing and vibrant surreal creations with a wide variety of materials to experiment with, and Digital Media on the Macs.
Music is also an important part of the school. There are many orchestras and choirs that students can join. The Singers, a choir open from Year 10, regularly goes on choir tours in Europe, and sometimes sings Evensong at Ely Cathedral. Students are given the chance to sing or play at the Christmas carol service at Great St Mary's Church, the spring concert at West Road, and Jazz on a Summer's Evening. Individual Music Tuition is readily available in a range of instruments from Saxophone to Oboe to singing.
The Stephen Perse Foundation holds the British Council International School Award in recognition of the work the school undertakes with schools in Finland, Hungary, Portugal, Italy, France, Russia, Spain, Germany and Japan. The Comenius project aims to bring the teaching of Classics into the modern world. The school hosted a week on the topic of Metamorpheses in 2010, in which students from the sister schools came to Cambridge to take part in workshops including dance, drama, art and textiles.
There are many opportunities to take part in Residential trips for both fun and learning. Year 4 students go to Burwell near the end of the year and in the summer term Year 6 students have a three day residential. In previous years the year sixes have been to Paris, Edinburgh, and Normandy. At the beginning of Year 7, students and year staff go to Grafham Water to take part in team building exercises. This helps the year to get to know each other and become closer. In Year 10, all students who can afford it go to Flanders, for a cross-curricular trip. Exchanges take place for all modern languages taught; The French Exchange in Years 8 and 9, and the others in Year 10. The Year 9 Ski trip and USA exchange are also very popular. In 2013 the 6th form went to Costa Rica (science expedition), in 2014 to Ladakh, India and in 2015 to Zanzibar, Tanzania.
The school was connected to The Gambia, and each year money is raised by initiatives such as the Journey to Africa walk, and occasional soup days. Students from the older years took part in a journey to the Gambia yearly to directly meet the people they help. The school also raises money for Barnados with Barnados Day, an event taking place every two years where each class decorates their form room with different themes. This is a much-loved event with much cake, games and bizarre costumes.
All parts of the school support a different charity each year as well.
The school has an extensive speaker programme known as'inspire me'. Participants have included: Doug Richard (Dragon's Den entrepreneur), Bridget Kendall (BBC journalist), Stephanie Cook (Olympic gold medallist) and Wendy Tan White (founder of Moonfruit).
Notable former pupils
- Margery Allingham (1904–1966), writer
- Taqui Altounyan (1917–1992), writer and traveller
- Anne Atkins, novelist, broadcaster and journalist
- Anna Bidder (1903–2001), zoologist and co-founder of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge
- Vicki Butler-Henderson (b. 1972), racing driver and TV presenter
- Prof Christine Carpenter (b. 1946), historian, Cambridge University
- Olive Cook (1912–2002), writer and artist
- Stephanie Cook (b. 1972), modern pentathlete, 2000 Olympic gold medallist
- Anastasia de Waal, head of family and education at Civitas
- Christine Hamill (1923–1956), mathematician
- Jacquetta Hawkes (1910–1996), archaeologist and writer
- Lucy Hawking (b. 1970), journalist and novelist
- Miriam Hodgson (1938–2005), editor of children's books
- Sharon Hunt (b. 1977), equestrian and 2008 Olympic medal-winner
- Bridget Kendall (b. 1956), BBC diplomatic correspondent
- Helen King (police officer) (b. 1965), Principal of St Anne's College, Oxford and senior police officer
- Nicola Lindsay, novelist, broadcaster and actor
- E. Jennifer Monaghan, reading educator and historian of literary education
- Philippa Pearce (1920–2006), children's author
- Jean Rhys (1890–1979), writer
- Angela Rumbold (b. 1932), politician
- Rosalind Runcie, pianist and wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury
- Phyllis Starkey (b. 1947), MP, biomedical researcher
- Meriol Trevor (1919–2000), writer
- Barbara Wootton,(1897–1988) economist, sociologist, Labour politician
- Miss Street 1881–1909
- Miss Kennett 1909–1926
- Miss Cattley 1926–1947
- Miss Scott 1947–1967
- Miss Bedson 1967–1979
- Miss Bateman 1979–1989
- Miss Smith 1989–2001
- Miss Kelleher 2001–
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