St Edward's College

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St. Edward's College
North Drive

, ,
Coordinates53°25′26″N 2°54′31″W / 53.423763°N 2.908654°W / 53.423763; -2.908654Coordinates: 53°25′26″N 2°54′31″W / 53.423763°N 2.908654°W / 53.423763; -2.908654
MottoesCourage Through Faith
Preparing the Catholic Leaders of Tomorrow
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
FounderMonsignor James Nugent[1]
Local authorityLiverpool City Council
SpecialistsLanguages, Arts
Department for Education URN136735 Tables
ChairmanDr Phil Doyle
Head teacherMr Stephen Morris
Age11 to 18
DioceseArchdiocese of Liverpool

St. Edward's College is a coeducational Catholic school with academy status in the UK located in the Liverpool suburb of West Derby. Founded in 1853 as the Catholic Institute, the college was formerly a boys grammar school run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers, known widely as the Irish Christian Brothers. St Edward's College is heavily oversubscribed every year - being the most oversubscribed school in Liverpool. The College has a reputation as being one of the best schools in North West England.[2]


The school pupils are identifiable by the bright purple blazer that is part of the uniform for pupils in years 7 to 9. Years 10 and 11 both wear black blazers. For the sixth form, the college has recently adopted a 'work outfit' non-uniform code, where the students are able to choose their own clothes, as long as these are acceptable in a work environment.

The school currently enrols 150 pupils each year, with 15 of these places being taken by choristers for the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral school choir. The admissions policy is a 'lottery' entry system. The school is heavily over-subscribed each year with 2015 being the year with the most applications. In 2015 there were over 900 applications for 150 places, making it the hardest secondary school in north west England to gain entry to, with only 16% of applicants being successful.

The school is situated on the south side of Queen's Drive (A5058), a half-mile east of the A57. The North Liverpool Extension Line railway once passed to the rear of the school, next to the playing fields. This line is now part of the Trans Pennine Trail and NCN Route 62. Liverpool Community College have a site on the opposite side of Queen's Drive in Tuebrook, the former Millbank College of Commerce.


In 1853 the school was founded as the Catholic Institute by Father James Nugent. This was only three years since the re-establishment in 1850 of the Catholic Church in England and Wales as a public body following the abolition of the last of the penal laws against Catholics in the United Kingdom. It was also a time when barely 5% of Catholic children received any education at all.

The Institute was situated in premises in Hope Street, near the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, and was formally opened by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, who had been appointed Archbishop of Westminster in 1850.

The Catholic Institute continued, but by the beginning of the twentieth century was in decline. In 1909 the superiors of the Irish Congregation of Christian Brothers were approached by Bishop Thomas Whiteside, Bishop of Liverpool since 1894, and later to be Archbishop of Liverpool, with a view to taking over the running.

Some years prior to the Catholic Institute, in 1848, another school had been established in the city under the name of St Edward's College. This was a boarding school, housed in a large mansion called St Domingo House. The building was named after the city of Santo Domingo, founded in the Caribbeanby Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, later capital of the Dominican Republic, which was where George Campbell, a privateer who in 1763-64 was Mayor of Liverpool, had made his fortune.

The reinstituted school changed its name from the Catholic Institute to St. Edward's College, a change that was fairly unpopular, especially among former pupils who had lost friends during the First World War. To this day, the association of former pupils is called the CIEA (Catholic Institute Edwardian Association).

Grammar school[edit]

In its new form St. Edward's College was a boys' grammar school and later became a direct grant grammar school in the English educational system. In the late 1970s, direct grant grammar schools were discontinued, and many became fully-fledged independent schools, as did St Edward's.

Co-educational school[edit]

The school was boys only until 1982, when girls were admitted into the 6th form. In 1991 girls were admitted into year 7, and by September 1995 the school was completely co-educational. Many of its places were funded by the assisted places scheme - it was operating as a private day school right into the late 1990s.

Comprehensive school[edit]

It became a grant maintained school in September 1997, then a voluntary aided school in 1999. No longer was a test required to gain admission to the school. Its junior section, Runnymede St Edward's, did not join the state sector and instead became an independent school but still maintains links with the College and continues to occupy the campus next door.


On 1 May 2011, St. Edward's College formally gained academy status and became officially known as St Edward's College Edmund Rice Academy Trust. This includes a reference to [Beatification|Blessed]] Edmund Rice (1762-1844), the Irish Catholic educationalist and founder of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, formerly associated with the school, and also of the Presentation Brothers.

Sandfield Park and new buildings[edit]

The school relocated from St. Domingo Road, Everton to Sandfield Park, West Derby on 19 September 1938, an event which was marked by every pupil walking the 3 miles from Everton to West Derby.

The site at Sandfield Park consisted of two Victorian mansions, Runnymede and St. Clare's, each of which had substantial grounds. Runnymede became a preparatory school, while St. Clare's became the home of the Irish Christian Brothers teaching at the school. A new school building, consisting of four wings around a large quadrangle, was erected, along with a gymnasium. Laboratories were built in the 1950s and a swimming pool and running track in the 1960s. A Sixth Form Centre and Sports Hall were added in the 1970s. A Design Centre was built in the 1980s. The John Morgan Sports Complex and Dining Hall and Performing Arts facilities were added in the 1990s. The turn of the century saw the complete refurbishment of one of the original properties, St Clare, into the new Upper School Centre.

Cathedral choir[edit]

St Edward's has been Choir School to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral since the early 1970s, and there are usually about 18 Cathedral Senior Choristers among the pupils of the College. It therefore has the honour of being the only voluntarily aided Roman Catholic Cathedral School in the country. Its affiliated prep school Runnymede St Edward's educates younger choristers.

Masters of the Music/Directors of Music[edit]

  • Christopher McElroy January 2012 – Present (Director of Music)
  • Philip Arkwright : September 2011 - December 2011 (Acting Director of Music)
  • Timothy Noon : August 2007–August 2011 (Director of Music)
  • Terence Duffy : March 2005 - July 2007 (Director of Music)
  • Richard Lea & Terence Duffy : November 2004 - March 2005 (Joint Acting Directors of Music)
  • Keith Orrell : January 2004 - October 2004 (Director of Music)
  • Richard Lea: September 2003 - January 2004 (Acting Director of Music)
  • Mervyn Cousins : 1997 - 2003 (Director of Music)
  • Katherine Dienes : 1996 - 1997 (Acting Master of the Music)
  • Philip Duffy : 1966 - 1996 (Master of the Music)
  • Christopher Symons : 1960 - 1966 (Master of the Music)

Philip Duffy and Terence Duffy are brothers. During Philip Duffy's tenure as Master Of The Music, Terence Duffy was the organist. Richard Lea is the current organist of the cathedral and was asked to act as choir director during September 2003 - January 2004 while a permanent replacement for Mervyn Cousins was found.

Keith Orrell was the most recent appointment as Director of Music from open competition; however, his tenure was short lived - just 10 months. Following his departure, Terence Duffy was asked to return from retirement to be the Director of Music. He retired definitively in July 2007. Christopher McElroy (previously at Leeds Cathedral) is the new Director of Music.


The school's traditional motto was 'Viriliter Age', or 'Act Manfully/Courageously'. However, since the admission of girls into the college, this has been changed to 'Courage Through Faith', based on the spirit, rather than the letter of Psalm 27.


The uniform of St. Edward's College consists of standard school uniform (shirt, trousers, skirt, etc.) with purple blazers in yrs. 7-9 and black blazers in yrs. 10-13. Changes to the sixth form uniform came into effect starting September 2017, the dress code for students reflecting their status as young adults within the learning community; so students wear business dress of their choice, dressing for the professional workplace.

Rugby tradition[edit]

During the Second World War the pupils were evacuated to Llanelli, Wales. The game of rugby was already played before the war but when the pupils returned from Llanelli the tradition of playing rugby began in earnest. In particular, this period established the tradition of St. Edward's playing Union, rather than League, rugby. Since then, the school has produced rugby stars such as England internationals Mike Slemen,Ted Rudd and Kyran Bracken.

It is common for rugby players and students to go to the Catholic Institute (the C.I) after a game and this has become a strong tradition. The C.I. has earned affectionate nicknames over the years, such as "The Cizzler" and "Cee-zies", and is the starting venue for the annual rugby night out.

The team had its finest hours during the mid-1960s, when the 1st XV side went unbeaten for 3 years and won many sevens competitions.[3]

The under 16 team of 2004-5 won the Liverpool St Helens U16 Floodlit Cup and recently embarked on a tour of New Zealand where it became the first team to score against Auckland Grammar School in almost two years.

The under 18 7s squad of 2011 reached the last sixteen of the National Schools Sevens held at Rossyln Park beating opposition such as Ellesmere College[4] and also secured wins at Birkenhead and Ampleforth sevens.

Annual Celebrations[edit]

The whole college meets twice a year in the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. In October it is to celebrate the feast of Edward the Confessor, the saint the college is named after. A mass is held within the cathedral and attendance is compulsory for all pupils and staff members.

In March, the college meets once again at the cathedral for Founder's Day. This is the annual prize giving day where awards are given for students who have excelled in subjects, along with the distribution of AS and A-Level results. Again attendance is compulsory for pupils and staff and the guest speaker is normally an Old Edwardian who has been successful at their work (e.g., Chairman of an international company).


In 2009, the College achieved the second best GCSE results for comprehensive schools in Liverpool, and the best for co-educational comprehensive schools - the league table for Liverpool is dominated by faith schools. At A level, results are still good, but fifth in Liverpool. The A-Level results of 2018 showed that 99.7% of all results where at a pass-rate.


Former pupils are referred to as Old Edwardians. Noted Old Edwardians include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "School History - St Edward's College".
  2. ^ "University access: why some schools are so much more 'successful' than others". The Guardian. Guardian UK. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Rossyln Park Seven's History". Rossyln Park RUFC. June 7, 2006. Archived from the original on December 15, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-07.
  4. ^ "Filton Take National Schools 7s Open". Archived from the original on April 8, 2011.
  5. ^ "Kyran Bracken". Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  6. ^ "About Amy". Archived from the original on November 11, 2010. Retrieved August 21, 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  7. ^ "Liverpool swimming ace Michael Rock dreams of race against Phelps - swimming latest". Liverpool Echo. 17 December 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  8. ^ "Peter Kilfoyle: Electoral history and profile". The Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  9. ^ "Sir Terry Leahy". Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  10. ^ "Visit from Sir Brian Pearse". St. Edward's College. 18 November 2009. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  11. ^ "* Michael Williams: Summary". Retrieved 9 January 2010.

External links[edit]

Media related to St. Edward's College at Wikimedia Commons