St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School

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St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School
Smrt logo 2.png
St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School (geograph 2565854).jpg
Somerset Square


Coordinates51°26′47″N 2°35′17″W / 51.4464°N 2.5880°W / 51.4464; -2.5880Coordinates: 51°26′47″N 2°35′17″W / 51.4464°N 2.5880°W / 51.4464; -2.5880
TypeVoluntary Aided
MottoA Christian Community Committed To Excellence
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
Established1571; 448 years ago (1571)
FounderQueen Elizabeth I
Local authorityBristol City Council
Department for Education URN109327 Tables
PresidentEdward Cole
ChairQueen Elizabeth II
HeadElisabeth Gilpin
Age11 to 18
HousesJames, Colston, Cartwright, Francombe, Canynges

St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School (informally referred to as 'St Mary Redcliffe', 'Redcliffe' or 'SMRT') is a Church of England voluntary aided school situated in the district of Redcliffe, Bristol, England. The school was formed by a merger of Redcliffe Boys School and Temple Colston school; the former of which was founded in 1571. It provides education for approximately 1,600 students aged 11 to 18. The school's Church is St Mary Redcliffe and it is the only Church of England School for the Diocese of Bristol. The headteacher is Elisabeth Gilpin and the Director of Sixth Form is Richard Wheeler.


St Mary Redcliffe School[edit]

St Mary Redcliffe school was founded as Queen Elizabeth's Free Grammar and Writing School by letters patent on 30 June 1571 when it was granted a Royal charter by Elizabeth I. The charter granted the parishioners of St Mary Redcliffe Church the Chapel of the Holy Ghost for the establishment of the school; the building had previously belonged to the Hospital of St John the Baptist, a religious foundation in Redcliffe but had been confiscated by the Crown during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.[1] The building was located in the Churchyard of St Mary Redcliffe, near the south porch and was sized 56 feet by 26 feet. The charter made the provision for one master and one under-master, supervised by twelve governors and for the 'education, teaching and instruction of boys and youth in grammar and learning'.[2][3] It received an endowment from John Whitson in 1627.[4] In the 1760s the school building was torn down as it was felt it spoilt the view of the church, and with the acceptance of the Bishop of Bristol, Thomas Newton, the school moved into the Lady Chapel in the east end of the church.[5][6] The school was recorded in 1839 as possessing a statue of its founder Elizabeth I.[7]

St Mary Redcliffe Church in the 1890s

The 1828 Charity Commission report inspected the school and found that there had been no free scholars on the schools foundation, and not more than one private scholar, since the appointment of the then current master in 1813; and conclude that the school had been of little benefit to the parish for over thirty years. They recommended that the school should be revived.[8] The 1864 Schools Inquiry Commission, often known as the Taunton Report, inspected the school and reported that the Grammar School had ceased to have any visible existence, and the schools endowments from the Church and John Whitson were accumulating as there was no school or master for them to be given to. The report recommended that the funds allotted to the school instead be given to Bristol Grammar School.[6] In the latter half of the 19th century The Redcliffe Endowed Boys School occupied a site on east side of Redcliffe Hill in a mixture of individual buildings of varying age.

The statue of the school founder, Elizabeth I, in St Mary Redcliffe Church

Temple Colston School[edit]

Colston's Free School in Temple street was founded by Arthur Bedford, the vicar of Temple Church in 1709. In 1711 Edward Colston endowed it with an annual fund of £80 for the education and clothing of forty boys of the parish and erected a schoolhouse. In an 1841 report of the Charity Commission the teaching provided is said to be in reading, writing, ciphering and the Church catechism.[9][10] The school later opened to girls as well.[11]

Merger of the schools[edit]

Redcliffe Boys School merged with Temple Colston School in 1969, creating the co-educational St Mary Redcliffe and Temple school as a comprehensive voluntary aided school, and both moved to a new building at the current Somerset Square site.

In 2008, the school was awarded funding for a substantial rebuild of its main site, under the government's Building schools for the future programme.[12] The construction company Skanska began work on 1 May 2009 and the new school was formally opened to students on 5 November 2010.[13][14] Over the course of the 18 months much of the existing site was demolished, with new facilities being built to house science, mathematics, English, design technology, music, art photography and physical education.[14]

The school's two mottos are "Steadfast in Faith" (historic) and "A Christian Community Committed To Excellence" (modern). Both reflect the partnership with St Mary Redcliffe Church, and also the official faith of the school. The earlier Redcliffe boys School used the motto "Prayer, Practice, Perseverance and Punctuality", known as the 4 P's.

Teaching and learning[edit]

SMRT has over 1,600 students, including approximately 580 in the Sixth Form (Years 12-13).[15]

GCSE and 'A' level examination results are generally above the national average.[16] As well as achieving 'Specialist Humanities College' status,[17] SMRT became a Beacon School in 2000,[18] and has also been part of the 'Excellence in Cities' scheme, incorporating 'Gifted & Talented' programmes.[19]

Academic achievement[edit]

The table below shows the percentage of students achieving the government's target of 5 A*-C including English and Mathematics.[20]

2009 2010 2011 2012
76% 70% 77% 68%

Sixth Form[edit]

Until 2005 SMRT's sixth-form shared the main premises with the rest of the school. The Redcliffe Sixth Form Centre, first opened in 2004, and is based in separate facilities on Redcliffe Hill. However, some sixth-form lessons still take place in the main school, as this is where the main department rooms, such as the science labs, design technology rooms and music computer rooms and recording studio.

School life[edit]

The tomb of William Canynges, an early benefactor of the Church and the namesake of Canynges house


St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School has five houses. On entry to SMRT in Year 7, students join James House (white) (historically located at Boot Lane, in nearby Bedminster), which is composed solely of Year 7 students. From year 8 to year 11, they are placed in one of the main four houses: Colston (red), Cartwright (blue), Canynges (yellow) and Francombe (green). The house names refer to William Canynges, local politician and benefactor of St Mary Redcliffe Church; Edward Colston, merchant, slave trader and founder of Temple Colston School; and J.T. Francombe, a former headmaster of the school and Lord Mayor of Bristol.[21] Recently, after controversy regarding the use of Edward Colston's name throughout the city of Bristol, there have been people requesting that the name of Colston House also be changed. Members of the SLT and the school governors think that it is unfair to change the one name and not any others considering the magnitude of donations received from Edward Colston over time and the lack of discrimination through all of the names. Despite a vote from the pupils resulting in the opinion to keep the names, it seems that the decision has been overruled and the names will be changed in the coming academic year (18/19)[citation needed].

In the Januray 2019 newsletter [22] the school announced the new house names as follows:

  • James House becomes Müller House, Named after George Müller, Christian Evangelist and Director of Ashley Down orphanage
  • Canynges House becomes Liddell House, Named after Eric Liddell, Scottish athlete and missionary
  • Francombe House becomes Equiano House, Named after Olaudah Equiano African abolitionist
  • Cartwright House becomes Franklin House, Named after Rosalind Franklin, British X-ray crystallographer
  • Colston House becomes Johnson House, named after Katherine Johnson, the African-American NASA mathematician whose calculations where critical to the first US manned space flights

The changes are due to be implemented in September 2019.

School uniform[edit]

The school requires school uniform for all pupils except those in the sixth form. The uniform is a black blazer, with the school logo, a "Redcliffe red" jumper (With or without sleeves.), white shirt, black shoes, charcoal grey trousers and socks, and school tie (which displays the SMRT logo); girls are entitled to wear skirts or trousers.[23] In summer, students are not required to wear the blazer or tie, but they must still wear a jumper.


Academic subjects are taught either in the Main school Building or the Temple Colston Building (opened 1987). SMRT's on-site sports facilities include an indoor swimming pool, a new sports hall, a gym, an outdoor astroturf 'arena', now containing floodlights, which can be used by years 8-11 at break and lunch, and a new basketball and tennis court outside, which can be used by year 7s at break and lunch. Double P.E. lessons used to be held at The Old Redcliffians fields in Brislington, where they were used for football, rugby, hockey and athletics. The school now uses the South Bristol Sports Centre, in addition to holding some Double lessons at school, in one of the sports facilities. The school's music facilities are of high standards, including a computer room dedicated for music, classrooms with 'pull out' keyboards and sound proof practice rooms with a working piano/keyboard in each. The music department also have a recording studio, although mainly used by years 11-13, and a recital room, which is a big room with a grand piano, drum kit(s), other percussion, and is used as a rehearsal space by students and ensembles and for small concerts.

Traditional events[edit]

Annual events include House Eucharists, beginning and end of term/year services, an Ascension Day Eucharist, the Redcliffe Community Summer Fete, a Christmas carol service, an Easter service and the annual Colston Day service; in which all students (invited to attend) are given the traditional Colston bun.


St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School is the only Church of England secondary school in the Diocese of Bristol.[24] It is a comprehensive state school and therefore does not select on academic merit, it is unusual however in that entry is not restricted by catchment area; the school serves both the city and the outlying communities of Greater Bristol, for which there are no alternative Church of England schools. It selects students on a range of criteria including Church attendance, distance the student lives from school and if they have siblings who already attend the school. However, the school's administration also includes a small number of places for which no church link is required, which are intended for either those who are members of non-Christian religions, or who live within 500 metres of the school.[25]

Within the student body, 10% of students have a language other than English as their first language, and 8% are eligible for free school meals.[26]

Notable former pupils[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Britton, J. An Historical and Architectural Essay relating to Redcliffe Church, Bristol. 1813: Longman. p. 17. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  2. ^ Tompson, Richard S. (1971). Classics Or Charity?: The Dilemma of the 18th Century Grammar School. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 50. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  3. ^ Chilcott, John (1840). Chilcott's descriptive history of Bristol. Bristol: J Chilcott. p. 211.
  4. ^ Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons. London: Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. 1856. p. 176.
  5. ^ Cranidge, John (1818). A Mirror for the Burgesses and Commonalty of the City of Bristol: In which is Exhibited to Their View, a Part of the Great and Many Interesting Benefactions & Endowments, of which the City Hath to Boast, and for which the Corporation are Responsible, as the Stewards and Trustees Thereof; Correctly Transcribed from Authentic Documents. London: J. Baller & Company. pp. 143–145. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  6. ^ a b Report of the commissioners, Schools inquiry commission. London: Parliament. 1869. p. 30. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  7. ^ The Great western, Cheltenham and Great western, and Bristol and Exeter railway guides. Bristol: Great western railway. 1939. p. 221.
  8. ^ Wade, John (1828). An Account of Public Charities in England and Wales: Abridged from the Reports of His Majesty's Commissioners on Charitable Foundations, with Notes and Comments. London: W. Simpkin and R. Marshall. pp. 128–130. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  9. ^ Cranbridge, John (1818). A Mirror for the Burgesses and Commonalty of the City of Bristol: In which is Exhibited to Their View, a Part of the Great and Many Interesting Benefactions & Endowments, of which the City Hath to Boast, and for which the Corporation are Responsible, as the Stewards and Trustees Thereof; Correctly Transcribed from Authentic Documents. London: J. Baller & Company. p. 137.
  10. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1831). A Topographical Dictionary of England: Comprising the Several Counties, Cities, Boroughs, Corporate and Market Towns, Parishes, Chapelries, and Townships, and the Islands of Guernsey, Jersey, and Man, with Historical and Statistical Descriptions; Illustrated by Maps of the Different Counties and Islands; a Map of England ... and a Plan of London and Its Environs ... : in Four Volumes, Volume 1. London: S. Lewis and Co. p. 243.
  11. ^ "Colston Girls' Day School". Bristol Information. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  12. ^ "£100 million to transform Bristol schools". Bristol Post. This is Bristol. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  13. ^ Evening Post. "Bristol secondary schools start being modernised". The Bristol Post. Northcliffe Media Limited. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  14. ^ a b Evening Post. "New building highlights school's bright future". Bristol Post. Northcliffe Media Limited. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  15. ^ "Vacancies". Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  16. ^ School average compared with LEA and National averages from the BBC
  17. ^ "Ofsted inspection report - specialist humanities" (PDF). Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  18. ^ "Schools net - beacon status". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  19. ^ "St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School Inspection Report". Ofsted. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  20. ^ St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School
  21. ^ "St Mary Redcliffe, Temple Colston and Pile Street Schools, Bristol". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  22. ^ "January 2019 News Letter" (PDF).
  23. ^ "Uniform reference". Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  24. ^ "Bristol educational partnership". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  25. ^ "School Admission policy" (PDF). Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  26. ^ "School Performance data". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  27. ^ "Opera star Paul Potts backs new concert arena for Bristol".
  28. ^ "Beth Rowley Colston Hall 10/10". 23 July 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012.

External links[edit]