The John Fisher School

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The John Fisher School
Established 1929[1]
Type faith school voluntary-aided
Selective school 1991- 1999
Independent School 1929- 1977
Religion Roman Catholic
Headteacher Mr P E McCullagh
Deputy headteacher Mr Laventure, Mr Johnson
Founder Peter Amigo
Location Peaks Hill
England, UK
Coordinates: 51°20′44″N 0°08′02″W / 51.34548°N 0.13386°W / 51.34548; -0.13386
DfE URN 103009 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1031[2]
Gender Males
Ages 11–18

Fisher      Bede     
More      Becket     

Challoner      Newman     

Yrs 1–5 Royal Blue and Gold

Yrs 6–7 Black and Gold
Publication The Kingfisher
The Fishtickler
The Student Voice

The John Fisher School is a Roman Catholic voluntary-aided boys' faith school based at Peaks Hill, Purley, Croydon, Surrey. The school educates boys from across London and South East England. In spite of its Croydon postcode and location, the school is funded by the London Borough of Sutton. The school has operated selective admissions policies twice in its history, from when it was founded in 1929 until 1977, and more recently from 1991-1999.

The school has grown since the end of its 1990's selection policy from 700 pupils to over 1000. In May 2012, it launched its new website, The school occupies the former site of the 19th century Falconbury School.[3]

Admissions at 11+[edit]

Boys are admitted to the school at the ages of 11 or 16. Entry at 11+ is currently non-selective (since September 1999) but is based on supplementary information concerning the boy's religious observance, date of baptism et al., candidates are then ranked and approximately 160 boys are admitted in Year 7. The decision to admit a boy is made by the board of governors.

John Fisher was a small highly selective school from 1991 until September 1999. During the school's 1990s selection policy (when there was no consideration for boys living closest to the school whatsoever) it was taking boys from 20–30 miles away, but, due to its highly selective nature and high academic attainment, it was seen by many parents as an alternative to independent schools. Prior to September 1999, candidates were selected for entry.[4]

The assessment consisted of a candidate and parent interview, a religion test, a written statement by the boy stating why he would like to attend the school and a report from the boy's current school. A smaller number of boys were selected for academic, musical and sports aptitude, in conjunction with an interview. All exhibitions and scholarships were disbanded in 1999.[5]

Admissions at 16+[edit]

The only form of selection at the school today is at 16+, where all candidates are interviewed (including internal applicants). A minimum of 5 places are made available to boys joining from other schools.

1999: End of Selection and the Start of The Points System[edit]

In September 1999 the school banned academic, aptitude and interview selection. Of the decision to become selective and opt out of local authority control, the headmaster at the time stated:

"the strong view, held by myself and the staff, that becoming a grant-maintained institution presented an attractive option." (Terence King)

Today the school takes more boys from London boroughs such as Lambeth and Southwark as well as its traditional heartlands of Reigate and Banstead, Caterham, Croydon, Sutton, Bromley, Epsom, East Grinstead and Crawley. 44% of boys live 4-10+ miles from the school. All scholarships ceased in September 1999. At present around 20% of boys are from ethic minority groups.[citation needed]

5 GCSE's A*-C[edit]

Exam results:[6]

  • 2014-83.11% (76% inc Eng & Mat)
  • 2013-95% (87% inc Eng & Mat)
  • 2012-93.2% (79% inc Eng & Mat)
  • 2011-88% (73% inc Eng & Mat)
  • 2010-84% (72% inc Eng & Mat)
  • 2009-85% (73% inc Eng & Mat)

A Levels A*-B[edit]

  • 2014-50.3%
  • 2013-48.00%
  • 2012-60.85%
  • 2011-54.5%
  • 2010-49.8%
  • 2009-52.8%

The John Fisher Association[edit]

The JFA (founded 1996; Registered Charity Number 1052985), located at 33 Park Hill Carshalton SM5 3SD, was founded for the "advancement of the education of the pupils of The John Fisher School" and undertakes activities which contribute financially and socially to the school. The charity provided a number of scholarships and bursaries during the school's selection policy.[citation needed]

Old Boys Association & Alumni Groups[edit]

The John Fisher Old Boys Association (JFOBA) is a members club for past pupils and teachers of The John Fisher School in Purley, Surrey. Membership is available to all former pupils of school, and those members and former members of the school's staff invited to be Honorary Members.[7]

The dedicated Old Boys website has a 30s section specially for those who have left the school over 30 years ago (now refined to 25 years).

In addition, there is also a dedicated linkedin alumni group for boys who attended during the 1990s selection policy.


The John Fisher School was founded by Peter Emmanuel Amigo, Archbishop of Southwark, in 1929 at Duppas Hill in Croydon, and moved in 1931 to its current premises in Peaks Hill, Purley.[1] It is the only currently-open school named after Saint John Fisher that was founded before his canonization in 1935. This is indicated by the absence of "Saint" from the school name. At the start of the 1970s the John Fisher School was a diocesian grammar school with an intake of fee-paying and non-fee-paying children. It had a small number of boarders until 1970 when a decision was made to end this facility. In 1977 it became an all-ability comprehensive school maintained by the London Borough of Sutton.[citation needed]

In 1991, following much discussion and a vote by parents, John Fisher was incorporated as a Grant Maintained School and operated a selection policy. Selection into the school was via an interview process involving candidates & their parents (to assess whether the boy and his family's ambitions and ethos were in harmony of those of the school) or by examination (for a minority of academic places). Also, a small number of young men were selected on the basis of musical ability or for sporting promise.[citation needed]

Despite the school selecting all of its pupils it was nominally comprehensive because not all boys were selected purely on academic ability. GM Catholic schools[clarification needed] that examined candidates and interviewed potential pupils and their parents were often controversial.[8] In September 1999, the school stopped all forms of selection and became a voluntary-aided comprehensive school once more. In 2003, John Fisher School became a specialist sports college and construction began on a £1.2 million sports hall opened by Sir Bobby Robson.[1]


(NOTE: Prior to Terence King's appointment all Headmasters were Roman Catholic priests)

  • 1981-1993 Mr Terence King
  • 1993-2005 Mr Robin Gregory
  • 2005-2006 Mr Pat Liddiard
  • 2006-2015 Mr Mark Scully (Retiried from teaching in 2015)
  • 2015- Mr P McCullagh

Rugby union[edit]

The 7s team reached 3 consecutive national finals between 1997-1999 winning 2 and losing the 1999 final against Stonyhurst; they lost the 2008 final 19-0 to Sedbergh School.[9] The school's U15s reached the final of The Daily Mail Cup in 2000/2001 season.[10] The school has rugby rivalries with Whitgift School, London Oratory School and Dulwich College.

Finals Down The Years[edit]

  • 1976 Junior Schools Festival Final Dulwich College 6-4 John Fisher
  • 1997 National Schools Sevens Final John Fisher 28-24 Durham School
  • 1998 National Schools Sevens Final John Fisher 24-5 Millfield (John Fisher won the title back to back)
  • 1999 National Schools Sevens Final Stonyhurst 19-12 John Fisher
  • 1999 Junior Schools Festival Final Dwr-y-Felin 17-12 John Fisher
  • 2000/2001 U15 DMC Final Epsom College 17-12 John Fisher
  • 2008 National Schools Sevens Final Sedbergh School 19-0 John Fisher
  • 2009 St Joseph's Festival Final John Fisher 15-8 Bedford School
  • 2012 St Joseph's Festival Final Millfield 8-0 John Fisher
  • 2014 National Schools Sevens Final Millfield 27-12 John Fisher
  • 2015 National Schools Sevens Final Wellington College 12-7 John Fisher


  • National Schools Sevens Junior Festival Finalists '76 and '99
  • National Schools Sevens Open Champions '97 and '98
  • National Schools Sevens Open Finalists '99 and '08 '14 '15
  • U15 Daily Mail Cup Runners-Up 2000/2001
  • World Rugby Magazine's Team of the Month May 2009
  • Evening Standard's Team of the Year 2009
  • De La Salle Cup Winners '09
  • De La Salle Runners-up '12

Senior Rugby Tours[edit]

In 2015 John Fisher toured South Africa for the 5th time; in 2013 John Fisher will tour New Zealand for the first time.

  • 1987 – Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal)
  • 1989 – Italy (Treviso, Padua, Calvisano)
  • 1991 – Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal)
  • 1993 – Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal)
  • 1995 – Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal)
  • 1997 – Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal)
  • 1999 – Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal)
  • 2001 – Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal)
  • 2003 – Canada (Vancouver, Calgary)
  • 2005 – South Africa (Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Durban, Cape Town)
  • 2007 – South Africa (Cape Town, Durban)
  • 2009 – South Africa (Cape Town, Durban)
  • 2011 – South Africa (Cape Town, Durban)
  • 2013 - New Zealand (North Island)
  • 2015 - South Africa(Cape Town, Durban, Swaziland)

Head-to-head 1st XV results against Whitgift School[edit]

John Fisher participates in the Croydon Derby, a match in which their 1st XV compete against their great rivals Whitgift School. Both XV's have won major schoolboy rugby titles over the years; Whitgift hold the recent advantage with 10 consecutive wins, 3 of these being by a single point.

Between 2002-2006 John Fisher were the dominant side with a 4-3 head-to-head record in this period. John Fisher have not beaten Whitgift away since 2006 (8 losses in 8 attempts). On 13 November 2013 John Fisher lost to Whitgift 29-6 in the NatWest Cup, extending their losing streak to Whitgift to 9 games, a record in recent times.

The U15A's compete in their own derby fixture.

Both teams compete annually in the Daily Mail and NatWest competitions.

Overall summary 1st XV[edit]

Details Played Since 2000 Won by John Fisher School Won by Whitgift School Drawn
Overall 23 5 18 0

Overall summary U15A[edit]

Details Played Since 2004 Won by John Fisher School Won by Whitgift School Drawn
Overall 11 3 8 0


  • Since the end of its selective admissions process the school has come under fire for "its controversial points admission system which favours children from families who are the most active in the church." The school was investigated by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) after complaints from a parent. Objections to the OSA included "governors could manipulate what was considered a bona fide parish activity to 'exclude those they do not wish to admit from the school'" and "that governors were using surnames to reject single parents". The OSA did not endorse the latter claim but made "the strongest recommendation" that the current system be scrapped. This is the second time the School's admission policy has been investigated by the OSA following complaints.[11]
  • There was a controversy regarding a former IT technician at the school. The issue was regarding the suspect grooming young teenagers online, although this did not happen while the suspect was working at the school it did cause controversy within the school and wider community about the safety of pupils.[12]
  • The school (according to The Fair Admissions Campaign) is one of the most socio-economically selective state schools in the United Kingdom, placing it inside the top 4-5% of the most socio-economically state schools nationwide.

Notable former pupils[edit]

Arts and media[edit]


  • Dr. Andrew Nash, Former Headmaster of St Edward's School, Cheltenham (a fee-paying Catholic day school in Cheltenham), author and Newman scholar[17]


  • Tony Purnell, businessman (when the school was independent)





See also[edit]

Laleham Lea School

Falconbury School


  1. ^ a b c The John Fisher School - History of the school, accessed 26 April 2009.
  2. ^ Ofsted Inspection Report, December 2008, accessed 26 April 2009.
  3. ^ School History
  4. ^ Catholic Herald article referencing The John Fisher School
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ School website
  8. ^ Lightfoot, Liz (9 September 2006). "Admissions code bans faith school selection by interview". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Truman, Peter (30 July 2008). "School admissions system rapped as far too complex". Croydon Guardian. p. 2. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Old Boys". The John Fisher School. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  14. ^ The Times, "Bill Nighy talks Pirates of the Caribbean", 12 May 2007. Accessed 26 April 2009.
  15. ^, College team ready for cup semi-final test, 12 March 2009. Accessed 26 April 2009.
  16. ^ 'I am a rather unsubtle sort of chap'
  17. ^
  18. ^ 2012 Roll of Honour, The Sun
  19. ^
  20. ^ The John Fisher School Newsletter, Winter 2008, accessed 26 April 2009.
  21. ^ Tim Murtagh player profile at Cricinfo, accessed 26 April 2009.
  22. ^ Chris Murtagh player profile at Cricinfo, accessed 26 April 2009.
  23. ^ Croydon Guardian, Rooney wants British record, 3 November 2008. Accessed 26 April 2009.
  24. ^ Paul Sackey profile at England Rugby, accessed 26 April 2009.
  25. ^ a b "Sackey and Skivington support schoolboys"; 3 February 2009; accessed 26 April 2009.
  26. ^ Kyle Traynor player profile

External links[edit]