The School Today
St Albans School is an independent school in St Albans, Hertfordshire. It is one of the most ancient educational foundations in Europe. In this place, for over a thousand years, young people have been achieving academic distinction, learning civilised and humane values and developing their personality and character to allow them to play a leading role in the wider world.
St Albans is an independent academic day school offering a first rate education in an environment rich in opportunities. Boys enter the School at 11, 13 and 16, girls at 16. There are approximately 830 pupils, taught by over 100 staff. This ratio allows each child to be known and valued as an individual and the School works in partnership with parents for the fulfilment of their children’s potential.
The School is sited in the historic centre of St Albans, opposite the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, with which it has had a long association. The School is not a religious foundation, however, and welcomes pupils of all faiths or none. The Abbey and School are built on a hillside which slopes down to Verulamium Park, with its fields, sports pitches, lakes and Roman remains.
The School campus is a compact site, with buildings ranging from the medieval Abbey Gateway, the School Hall which won a Royal Institute of British Architects Award in 1969, to new Science labs built in 1998.
The School is organised into three sections: the Lower School (Years 7-8), the Middle School (Years 9-11) and the Sixth Form (Years 12-13). Below the Sixth Form, boys are organised into forms of about 24 under the guidance of a tutor, who oversees the pupils’ academic and pastoral welfare. Sixth form tutor groups typically number about ten pupils. Advice is given on choices for examination subjects at GCSE, AS and A2 levels. Career and further education guidance is available through the Morrisby Aptitude test, taken by all pupils in Year 11, and extensive help with preparation for university entrance and UCAS for Sixth formers.
The School’s curriculum is under constant review in order to respond to the changes and challenges of education. In the Lower and Middle Schools the aim is to offer a broad education in order to give the pupils the maximum number of options when it comes to choices. The curriculum includes a programme of PHSE and Religious Education.
Apart from the core of English, English Literature, Mathematics, French and Science, pupils choose GCSE options from a range including German, Spanish, Latin, Ancient Greek, Geography, History, Economics, Religious Studies, Drama, Music, Design & Technology and Art.
The timetable in the Sixth Form is designed to provide the greatest possible flexibility, so that boys and girls can study almost any combination of subjects, although advice is naturally offered to ensure sensible choices. Most pupils will embark on four AS courses in the Lower Sixth, taking three of the subjects on to A2 level in the Upper Sixth.
In 1967 the School acquired what was then a derelict hill farm in the Brecon Beacons. The property was fully restored and is now a well-equipped Field Studies Centre, Pen Arthur. It is one of the School’s most valuable assets, a central component of the distinctive education offered by St Albans School. Academic departments use Pen Arthur for field trips and study weekends throughout the year, and it plays a key part as a base for outdoor activities organised by the CCF and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
In 2002, the School’s new sports complex, the Woollam Playing Fields, was opened after ten years’ preparation. It is the largest school playing fields development in the UK and gives the School unrivalled facilities for games. The site is shared with the Old Albanians Club, fostering close links between the School and the Club. The School has 19 winter pitches and 7 cricket pitches, an artificial surface for tennis and hockey as well as netball courts. The magnificent pavilion is also used for a number of School functions, including parents’ consultation evenings.
The summer of 2012 will see the completion of a new Sports Centre on site, with sports hall, swimming pool, climbing wall, fitness suite and dance studio. Work has been progressing on schedule since March 2011 (see the Sports Hall Blog link, left) and when open, the Centre will give tremendous new sporting and fitness opportunities to pupils.
Another exciting development is the acquisition of Aquis Court, office building adjacent to the School. This has doubled the floor space of the School and provided spacious, modern facilities for the Sixth Form, with new Common Room, cafeteria and classrooms, while the Art Department also has new, improved facilities.
This in turn will open up other areas of the School for redevelopment, providing day rooms for pupils and, after the canteen has moved into the old gym, a new Performing Arts Centre in the hall.