St Ambrose College

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St Ambrose College
St ambrose college.png
Hale Road

Coordinates53°22′14″N 2°19′11″W / 53.370533°N 2.319741°W / 53.370533; -2.319741Coordinates: 53°22′14″N 2°19′11″W / 53.370533°N 2.319741°W / 53.370533; -2.319741
TypeChristian Brothers' grammar school;
MottoVitam impendere vero
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
Department for Education URN138134 Tables
Head teacherDermot Rainey
Age11 to 19
EnrolmentApproximately 950
HousesIgnatius, Augustine, Aquinas, Newman
Colour(s)Red, Green, Blue, Yellow

St Ambrose College is a Christian Brothers' Roman Catholic boys' grammar school in Hale Barns, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, England. It was founded in 1946 by Dr Joseph Robertson. In 2012 the school became an academy, and was completely re-built. Upon leaving the College, boys are referred to as ‘Old Ambrosians’ and many go on to join the Old Boy’s Association.

St Ambrose College is an additional member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.[1]


St Ambrose College, was founded during the Second World War by a group of evacuees. Arriving in Hale in 1940 from Les Vauxbelets College in Guernsey, the Brothers, and a small group of students soon found suitable accommodation and re-established their school.

Towards the end of June 1940, when the Channel Islands were about to be occupied by the German army, the parents of boys attending Les Vauxbelets College, were asked to decide whether they should allow their sons to be evacuated to Great Britain or keep them at home with all the attendant risks (hunger, forced labour, etc.).

The college was in the charge of the French Province of the Brothers of De La Salle and they had promised that an appropriate number of the community would accompany the evacuees to care for them and to ensure that, as far as possible, their education did not suffer.

Having started with just the boys from Guernsey, in shared accommodation in Hale and keeping the Guernsey name, Les Vauxbelets College, the Brothers acquired a large house in Bowdon as college premises and permission was obtained for the college to accept local boys. The college adopted the name St Ambrose College after Ambrose Moriarty, then the Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury.

During the war the College began to grow in popularity, especially as there was no Catholic school for boys in the South Manchester area.

At the end of the war, in the late summer of 1945, the De La Salle Brothers returned to Guernsey, and left a thriving school in the hands of the Irish Christian Brothers. The college moved to fresh premises, a large house with extensive grounds in Hale Barns. The college retains its original badge, motto, and colours to this day.

In 2005, St Ambrose College were national champions in the FIRST Lego League.[2]

Sixth Form tie

In 2010, house groups were reintroduced into the school, following much planning by senior management. Aquinas (blue), Ignatius (red), Augustine (green), and Newman (yellow) houses are now prominent within the school, especially on uniform, which now entails a coloured badge representing the pupil's house. The Sixth Form has been given a more visible role, giving presentations and talks during assemblies and during a Thursday morning tutor period. Prefects, Senior Prefects, Vice House Captains, House Captains, the Deputy Head Boys, and Head Boy(s), all have new ties, as well as badges which relate to their house.

St Ambrose College has strong relationships with the history and ethos of Saint Ambrose, for instance the insignia upon sixth form ties are bee hives as, legend has it a swarm of bees settled on St Ambrose's face whilst he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed-tongue. For this reason, bees and beehives often appear in the saint's symbology.[3]

In April 2004, after the school's second bid for specialist status in six months failed, the headmaster Michael Thompson accused the Department of Education of bias. He claimed that when he asked officials why the bid was unsuccessful, he was told that it was "too Catholic".[4] Member of Parliament for Altrincham and Sale West, Graham Brady called for an inquiry to be held.[4] In 2005, St Ambrose College gained specialist status in mathematics and computing,[5] allowing it to give precedence to the named subjects and bringing a capital grant of £150,000 as well as an annual allowance of £120,000. The money has been spent on computers, projectors and generally modernising the classrooms.

The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) carried out an inspection in November 2005. The report noted that the school's buildings were "old and cramped and at times this makes learning difficult".[6] St Ambrose College, which was considered the school in Trafford "most in need of a new building",[7] was awarded £17 million in July 2006 to completely rebuild.[8] Construction company Balfour Beatty was awarded the contract in January 2010 after a bidding process.[7]

There was originally a miniature Celtic cross buried in the foundations of the school.

In September 2012 the school was opened, and had an official opening ceremony and Mass on 8 October 2012.

The design of the school is a Celtic cross.

It has a six-lane swimming pool, after the old one was decommissioned in 2005. It has a large sports hall above it, and a fitness suite. These facilities are open most lunch times, as well as before and after school for students to use. The sports section has its own reception, and can be separated from the main building using a roller shutter. This is so it can be opened to the public, with the rest of the school being shut off. The school also has a lecture theatre, as well as an all day cafe for students and staff.


In 2010,[needs update] the Trafford Local Education Authority was ranked seventh out of 150 in the country – and first out of Greater Manchester's 10 LEAs – based on the percentage of pupils attaining at least 5 A*–C grades at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) including maths and English (100% compared with the national average of 50.7%).[9] St Ambrose College was the sixth out of 19 secondary schools in the borough in terms of proportion of pupils achieving at least five GCSEs A*–C (92%).[10] For A-level results, the school was ranked fifth out of nine schools in Trafford, with pupils averaging 955.7 points compared to the national average of 739.1.[11]

Child abuse[edit]

In December 2012, the college was implicated in a child sex abuse case involving teaching staff carrying out alleged acts of abuse both on and off school grounds. More than fifty former pupils contacted police, either as victims of, or witnesses to, sexual abuse. The alleged sexual abuse, including molestation of children while corporal punishment was administered, stemmed from 1962 onward and continued over four decades.[12]

On 15 July 2013, Mr Alan Morris, a former teacher was charged with 41 counts of indecent assault following an investigation into historical sexual abuse at the school. He is accused of committing the offences between 1972 and 1991 and the allegations involve 29 former pupils of the boys-only school, who were between 11 and 17 at the time. He was also charged with one count of outraging public decency and five of inciting gross indecency.[13][14] He was found guilty, and sentenced to nine years jail in August 2014.[15][16] An overall total of 47 indictments were issued, with at least 27 made public since Morris was convicted.[16]

Although no current staff were said to be involved in the abuse, in November 2014, two long-serving senior teachers at the school were suspended following allegations that they had knowledge of the crimes concerning Alan Morris at the time.[17][18] They were both later cleared, and returned to teach at the school in June 2015. In 2018, the school issued a "full and unreserved" apology to victims of Morris.[19]

A book named Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil by David Nolan tells the inside story of the biggest historic sex abuse case ever mounted by Greater Manchester Police, was published in July 2015.[20]

Notable Old Ambrosians[edit]

St Ambrose College has many notable alumni, including:



  • Patrick Barnard, Former rugby union footballer and Creator of Pocket Square Fashion brand Digby Charles.
  • Mike Worsley, former rugby union footballer for England and Harlequins.

Arts and entertainment[edit]




  • Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth and Vicar General of Shrewsbury


  1. ^ Schools of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, External link in |publisher= (help) Retrieved on 24 June 2013.
  2. ^ Lego triumph for team with wings, Manchester Evening News, December 2006, retrieved 2 September 2008
  3. ^ Catholic Culture
  4. ^ a b Scheerhout, John (30 April 2004), School 'too Catholic', Manchester Evening News, retrieved 28 December 2009
  5. ^ Iwaskow, Leszek (2005), St Ambrose College: Inspection Report (PDF), Ofsted, p. 1
  6. ^ Iwaskow, Leszek (2005), St Ambrose College: Inspection Report (PDF), Ofsted, p. 10
  7. ^ a b Executive decision St Ambrose Voluntary Aided College, Trafford Borough Council, 4 January 2010, archived from the original on 5 April 2012, retrieved 17 October 2011
  8. ^ Dean Kirby (17 July 2006), "School in £17m funding victory", Manchester Evening News, retrieved 2 September 2008
  9. ^ How different areas performed, BBC News, 13 January 2009, retrieved 16 November 2010
  10. ^ Secondary schools in Trafford, BBC News, 13 January 2010, retrieved 16 November 2010
  11. ^ Secondary schools in Trafford, BBC News, 13 January 2009, retrieved 16 November 2010
  12. ^ Scheerhout, John (28 January 2013). "50 'old boys' speak out in abuse probe". Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Stan Miller (26 July 2013). "Ex-teacher in court accused of abusing Trafford school pupils". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Deacon Alan Morris jailed for school sex abuse". BBC News. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^ Banks, Kate (5 December 2012). "Top Hale Barns school St Ambrose RC College embroiled in historic sex abuse probe". Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil details,; accessed 1 December 2015.
  21. ^ "2002 Dinner". St Ambrose Old Boys' Association. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  22. ^ Headmaster's newsletter (PDF), St Ambrose College, 2007, retrieved 15 July 2009[dead link]
  23. ^ a b St. Ambrose College Old Boys Association Newsletter, 16 December 2009, retrieved 25 December 2009
  24. ^ Lonnie used to live here,, 10 April 1999, archived from the original on 5 May 2013, retrieved 14 January 2009
  25. ^ Rebel leader (PDF),, 2007, p. 8, archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2010 Retrieved on 3 September 2008.
  26. ^ Damian Hinds, The Telegraph, archived from the original on 6 March 2012, retrieved 16 November 2010
  27. ^ Paul Maynard, The Telegraph, retrieved 16 November 2010[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ Greg Mulholland, The Telegraph, archived from the original on 6 March 2012, retrieved 16 November 2010

External links[edit]