What it’s like
Founded in 1830 and one of the first lay Roman Catholic schools in the country
to become co-educational; girls were accepted in 1983. The school enjoys a
splendid position overlooking the city of Bath. Its particularly beautiful and
well-appointed 18th-century Georgian buildings are set in 57 acres of fine
grounds and playing fields. There have been many recent additions, including
recently a library, theatre, music school and a new ICT centre; an indoor
swimming pool, dance studio and activity hall are planned. Examination results
are good. It provides a Christian environment in which children are secure and
happy. A priest serves as full-time resident chaplain. Considerable importance
is attached to religious education (all pupils study this to GCSE) and practice.
The school is ecumenical in spirit and provision is made for Anglican
confirmation; pupils of all denominations are welcome. Music is very strong and
the choirs have been successful in local festivals, national events and on
tours. Drama, dance, public speaking and creative writing also feature
prominently. It has a notable sporting tradition: hockey, cricket, netball and
rugby in particular are strong. Good use is made of the facilities at Bath
University. A wide range of extra-curricular societies and clubs. A flourishing
CCF, with army and navy sections. There is keen participation in the Duke of
Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and a number of community service projects. Personal
development and career programmes run through all age levels.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Age range 11–18; 545 pupils, 424 day (221 boys, 203
girls), 121 boarding (80 boys, 41 girls).
Entrance: Main entry age 11, 13 and 16. Common Entrance and own exam
used; for sixth-form entry, interview, school report and 6 GCSEs at least grade
C (grade B in sixth-form subjects). No religious requirements, (though school is
Catholic). Own prep school provides large intake at 13 (enquiries to the
Registrar, Prior Park Preparatory School, tel 01793 750275).
Scholarships & bursaries Approx 30 pa scholarships, value £300–£6000:
academic, all-rounder, art, music, drama, sport. Bursaries in response to
parental need and for HM Forces.
Head & staff
Headmaster: Dr Giles Mercer, appointed 1996. Educated at Austin Friars
and at universities of Cambridge (history) and Oxford (doctorate). Previously
Headmaster at Stonyhurst, Director of Studies at Sherborne and Head of History
Teaching staff: 52 full time, 13 part time. Annual turnover 5%. Average
GCSE: In 2003, 80 pupils in upper fifth: 91% gain at least grade C in 8+
subjects; 6% in 5–7 subjects. Average GCSE score 63 (over 5 years).
A-levels: 78 in upper sixth. Average final point score achieved by upper
sixth formers 310.
University & college entrance 97% of 2003 sixth-form leavers went on
to a degree course (60% after a gap year), 9% to Oxbridge. 5% took courses in
medicine, dentistry & veterinary science, 11% in science & engineering, 51% in
humanities & social sciences, 9% in art & design, 20% in other vocational
subjects. Others go on to art foundation courses or directly into employment.
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 23 AS/A-level subjects (including
philosophy, theatre studies, sports studies, classical civilisation, business
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level.
General studies not taught but all sixth form take an enrichment programme. 8%
take maths and science A-levels; 36% arts/humanities; 55% both.
Vocational: Work experience opportunities.
Special provision: Language support centre; EFL for foreign pupils.
Languages: French, German and Spanish offered at GCSE and A-level; French
compulsory from 11–14. Regular exchanges (France, Germany and Spain).
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject in lower school, and across the
curriculum (eg geography field-course analysis). 58 computers for pupil use (10
hours a day), all networked and with email and internet access; new ICT suite.
Music: 40% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams can
be taken. Many musical groups including choirs, madrigals, jazz band, rock,
orchestras etc. Local and national success in competitions, tours and CD
recording; strong chapel music.
Drama & dance: Both flourish. Many pupils are involved in school
productions and some in house/other productions. Recent productions include West
Side Story and King Lear.
Art & design: On average, 25 take GCSE, 12 A-level. Painting, drawing,
sculpture, ceramics, design also offered.
Sport & activities
Sport: Rugby, hockey, cricket compulsory for boys; hockey, netball,
tennis for girls. Optional: cross-country, swimming, basketball. Coaching links
with local rugby and hockey clubs and the university (swimming). School teams
county hockey champions (boys and girls).
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award. CCF and community service both optional for 2 years at age 14+. Support
for local charities eg fun runs, musical events, help for the homeless. Many
extra-curricular activities eg music, chess, movie-making, science, drama,
debating, choral, bridge, scuba diving, electronics.
Uniform: School uniform worn by all during the working day.
Houses & prefects: Competitive houses. Heads of school, their deputies
and head of house appointed by Head & staff. Range of sixth-form committees
provides organisational structure and responsibility for smooth running of
Religion: Daily prayers and regular attendance at religious worship
compulsory including Sunday Mass for boarders.
Social: Annual participation in Bath Schools Model United Nations; local
residents join in concert choir. Annual language exchanges. Meals self-service.
School clothes shop and tuck shop in each house. No tobacco or alcohol allowed.
Discipline Pupils failing to produce homework once might expect
detention; those caught smoking cannabis might expect immediate expulsion.
Boarding 35% have own study bedroom; 65% share. Single-sex houses, of
45. Resident qualified nurse. Pupils can provide and cook extra food. 1–2 exeats
in Michaelmas term (family wishes always respected); weekly and flexi boarding
possible. Weekend activity programme.
Former pupils Sir Cameron Mackintosh; Damian Cronin; Peter Levi; Hugh
Scully; 3 Catholic bishops, including Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of