St George's School, Harpenden

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St George's School
Motto Levavi Oculos (Aim Higher)
Established 1907
Type Academy
Day and boarding school
Religion Christian
Headteacher Raymond McGovern[1]
Reverend Stephen Warner
Founder Cecil Grant
Location Sun Lane
Coordinates: 51°49′20″N 0°21′13″W / 51.82233°N 0.35367°W / 51.82233; -0.35367
DfE number 919/4614
DfE URN 138356 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 1,314
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Goddard     
Colours Red, Green,
Former pupils Old Georgians

St George's School, Harpenden (also known as St George's) is a day and boarding school in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England, educating students of both sexes between the ages of eleven and eighteen, with an emphasis on its Christian ethos. It was founded in 1907 as one of Britain's first mixed-sex boarding schools.

As with the other two local secondary schools in Harpenden (Sir John Lawes School and Roundwood Park School), the students of St George's receive some of the best GCSE and A-Level results, significantly higher than the national average.[2]

Boarding school students pay fees comparable to regular private schools in the United Kingdom whilst day students do not pay school fees. Admission into the boarding school is based on a competitive interview process as well as academic history of the candidate. The school fees for boarding vary from a minimum of £11,000 per annum.[3]

In late 2015 the school started a consultation about changing its admission policy, due to increased pressure on the number of places. The yearly intake was increased from 150 to 180 in 2005 but this still not sufficient to meet predicted needs.[4]

In recent years St. Georges school has attracted much attention for sport. The female lacrosse teams regular compete in national and international level competitions. Further more St. Georges School is seen as a feeder school for professional level rugby union [5]


Aim higher entrance with clock tower above. Old Library and the chapel on the right. Girls boarding house to the left of clock tower
Original school building from 1907. View of clock tower in the middle, Old Library to the right and girls boarding house on the left. Sixth Form block furthest on right

The school was founded in 1907 by Reverend Cecil Grant, having relocated his school southwards from Keswick, Cumbria in the Lake District.[6] It was originally a private school until it became a comprehensive voluntary aided school. On 1 July 2012 St George's became an academy, funded by the new St George's School Harpenden Academy Trust. It continues to be supported by the Cecil Grant Founder's Trust, a charity set up after Grant's death in 1946.

St George's was one of the first state schools in Britain to provide mixed-sex boarding education.[7] This progressive tradition was renewed in September 2010 when a mixed-sex boarding house was opened. The school recently gained International School Status contributing to competitive admission to the boarding houses.

Keswick School's motto Levavi Oculos — Schola Georgiana appears on the uniform badges. It derives from their School Hymn,[8] Assurgit, which is sung in Latin. Levavi Oculos means "I have lifted up mine eyes" and alludes to Psalm 121, beginning "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help; my help cometh even from the Lord, who hath made Heaven and Earth." In the sense of "I have raised my sights" this is equivalent to the English motto Aim Higher, which appears over one archway at the front entrance of Keswick House. In 1917 a Montessori unit was opened.[citation needed]

Christian ethos[edit]

Admission to the school for day students is based mainly on location of students' homes, with students coming from many of the surrounding towns and villages. Regular attendance at a local church is required; however, the school itself is non-denominational and does not receive funding from any religious group or church.

The school maintains what it sees as a Christian basis in most aspects of school life, but the school community contains Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish students as well. The chapel is used daily for worship and assemblies. In addition to weekly chapels, students in the years 7–11 are required to attend three chapels per term on either a Sunday morning or evening. The school offers special carol services at Christmas for both the lower school (years 7-8) and upper school years 9-13) students. As the school has many ex-pupils who fought, died and were wounded in the first and second world wars, there is also a special Remembrance Sunday service. Chapels are generally taken by the current preacher, Rev. Warner but are often taken by guest speakers or the headmaster.

House system[edit]

The school is split into four houses: Watts (yellow), Grant (green), Monk (blue) and Goddard (red), named after the Rev. Arthur Watts, a former headmaster, the Rev. Cecil Grant, the founder of the school and Bertram Monk and Lister Goddard, two pupils who were killed in action during the Great War. Each academic year the House cup, called the 'Chapman Cup', is contested between the houses in a variety of events including sports, drama, art and music.

Each house is made up of approximately 400 pupils from all years, a team of 13 tutors, a head of house and a deputy head of house. Also, there are two house captains, two deputies and a wide variety of posts, which are chosen from the sixth form. Every year, a boy and a girl are chosen from the lower sixth to represent their school as School Captains. They continue their posts into year 13.


St George's operates on an 8:40am to 3:40pm schedule on Monday to Thursday, and till 2:55pm on Friday. Each school day includes five periods, with a 25-minute break at 10:50am and a 55 minutes break for lunch at 13:15pm[citation needed]. Students may leave the campus for lunch if they are in the sixth form and have signed out. There are two tutor base sessions per day: 8:40am to 8:50am and 2:10pm to 2:40pm. There is no fifth period on Friday afternoons, instead there is a private study and tutorial period for all pupils which also encompasses a variety of other activities which enhance the core curriculum. Students are allowed to leave after 2:55pm.

St George's is reputed to have some of the highest examination results in the country for state schools and rivals some of the private schools. The school performs particularly highly in Mathematics and Art, and is also good in Sports, Technology and Sciences. As well as classroom teaching, the school has a number of extracurricular clubs, teams and educational visits both residential and abroad. It is currently applying for status as a modern languages college.

The school music department offers peripatetic instrumental tuition for many woodwind, string, and brass instruments as well as classical and jazz piano, guitar, drums and voice. Many of the students take private music lessons on site. Regular concerts take place in the chapel and the old library.

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

St George's has a longstanding history of sport.[citation needed] The two main sports played are lacrosse for girls and rugby union for boys. The school also has netball, cricket, tennis, gymnastics, Football, rounders, basketball and athletics teams who compete in Hertfordshire and sometimes further afield.

The Girls Lacrosse Team have had a reputation for being one of the best in the UK. They also take part in tours across the United Kingdom.

In 1939 St George's School won the first National Schools Sevens tournament and has continued this Rugby success producing Rugby Sevens and Rugby Union internationals. The Rugby teams continue this legacy today producing many England Under-18 and Under-16 Rugby Players. The school is notable, for having first fielded Owen Farrell the English national player.


The school has a Sports Hall with an extensive fitness area and two new PE teaching classrooms. There are also four hard tennis courts, three netball courts and extensive pitches for rugby and lacrosse in Winter, and cricket, athletics and rounders in Summer.[9]

School Hymn[edit]

Assurgit Skidda Stabilis (it is traditional to sing the Latin words), by The Revd Cecil Grant[10]

Assurgit Skidda stabilis,
Mons nunquam non durabilis,
Haud ulla vi mutabilis,
- Quod Dominus fundavit –
- Nutrix Cumbriana.
Nec magis est violabilis,
Nec minus immutabilis,
In saeclom saecla stabilis,
- Quod Dominus amavit –
- Schola Georgiana.
Dominum amavimus,
Christum expectavimus,
Ad Deum oculos levavimus
A quo dulcis memoria,
A quo praesens laetitia,
A quo futura omnia,
- Tu nobis quicquid laedat,
- Deus noster, tolle.
Sic pueris colentibus,
Puellis concinentibus,
Cum gaudiis ingentibus
- Laus Tibi semper surgat
- Georgianae Scholae.
Dominum amavimus,
Christum expectavimus,
Ad Deum oculos levavimus.

English translation
Old Skiddaw standeth fast,
He shall for ever last,
No might shall him downcast,
A mountain God hath founded.
Nor more shall be o’ercast,
Nor less the years outlast,
Through ages standing fast,
Our School in God’s love grounded.
We have loved the Lord
We have sought for Christ
We have lifted up our eyes to God.
Thou, Who dost memories send
Of mercies past, to blend
Old joys with new, defend
Us yet from every ill.
So boys shall love Thy Name
So girls shall love Thy fame,
Glad praise with loud acclaim
Rise from Saint George’s still.
We have loved the Lord
We have sought for Christ
We have lifted up our eyes to God


Aim Higher entrance on Carlton Road leading to girls boarding house

Keswick and Crosthwaite House are currently home to boy and girl boarders. Often, children from abroad come to St George's to board and often spend seven years of their education in Hertfordshire before going on to university or careers. Every year a head boy and head girl are elected exclusively for the boarding house. These two students from the upper sixth help to run the boarding house effectively and aid relationships between matrons and students. There is also a recently completed boarding house, Skiddaw, for Year 13 students. The school recently gained International School Status[11] contributing to competitive admission to the boarding houses.

Old Georgians[edit]

Name Year first attended Year last attended Description
Sacha Bennett 1982 1987 Actor, writer, producer and director for film and television.
Lennox Berkeley 1919 1921 British composer of French influence, moving towards serialism in later life.
Donald Coxeter One of the great geometers of the 20th century.
Hilary Evans British pictorial archivist, author, and researcher into UFOs and other paranormal phenomena.
Owen Farrell Rugby Union player For Saracens and England Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup, Six Nations and Grand Slam Winner 2016
Joe Ford Rugby Union Player for Sale Sharks
George Ford Rugby Union player Bath and England Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup, Six Nations and Grand Slam Winner 2016
Victor Goddard Air Marshall. A senior commander in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Laura Haddock 1996 2003 Actress – played Alison in The Inbetweeners Movie, and played Lucrezia Donati in Da Vinci's Demons.
Patrick Heron English abstract artist with work currently hanging in the Tate Gallery, St Ives.
George Hogg 1927[12] 1934 British journalist who rescued 50 Chinese orphans during the Japanese occupation,[13] as portrayed in the 2008 film The Children of Huang Shi.[14]
Francis Hollis Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak from 1938–1948.
Kenneth Horne Comedian.
Andrew Hunter Former MP.
Maro Itoje England and Saracens Rugby Union Player- Debuted for England 14/2/16 6Nations England V Italy. Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup, Six Nations and Grand Slam Winner 2016
Wanda Jablonski Leading journalist of the oil industry from 1948–1988.
Frances Lincoln Publisher and founder of Frances Lincoln Publishers.
Kate Mullins One of The Puppini Sisters.[15]
Philip Mottram Professional Kabaddi player for the Bengaluru Bulls from June 2016.</re>f>
Michael Oakeshott 1912 1920 English philosopher with particular interests in political thought.
Peter Alan Rayner British coin-book author having written English Silver Coinage 1649 to date.


Further reading[edit]

  • Storrie, Paddy (2004). Here I Am: Send Me. Harpenden, Hertfordshire: St. George's School. 

External links[edit]