ST ALBANS SCHOOL
ABBEY GATEWAY, ST ALBANS,
HERTFORDSHIRE, UK, AL3 4HB
T:01727 855521 F:01727 843447
Pupils & Staff
With just over 900 pupils, St Albans School is not a particularly large senior school, enabling each pupil to be well-known and valued as an individual. Inspirational teaching ensures strong intellectual development whilst outstanding provision and achievements in the wider curriculum enrich each pupil’s experience.
St Albans School is no one-dimensional academic hothouse, but rather a multi-dimensional institution where academic excellence, intellectual development and strong pastoral care lie at the core of an exceptional holistic education, enabling us to identify and nurture each pupil’s potential. Our fundamental and unremitting focus on our pupils’ wellbeing gives them the self-confidence and self-belief to do, and to give of, their best.
In our historic school at the heart of this vibrant city, our pupils develop important values, qualities and skills, as well as learning an awareness and understanding of the wider world as they determine the contribution they intend to make to it in their adult lives.
We look forward to meeting you at one of our Open Mornings or on an individual visit – a very warm welcome awaits you.
The beauty of the School’s historic buildings and its proximity to and association with the Abbey give an immediate indication of its long history. It is believed that the year 948 was the likeliest date of the School’s first foundation, by Abbot Wulsin. The School has experienced growth and evolution into its current status as a world-class independent school, but we are proud of our unique and important history.
By 1100, the School had built such a high educational reputation, that the renowned Norman scholar, Geoffrey de Gorham, applied for the post of Master. In fact, he was later to become Abbot of St Albans and the School then remained under the control of the Abbot until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.
In 1549, by a private Act of Parliament, the last Abbot was granted the right to establish a Grammar School, subsequently maintained by the Mayor and burgesses of the city. In 1570, Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and then living at Gorhambury, put the financing of the School on a firmer footing through a Wine Charter. At this time, the School was located in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey and was to remain there for the next 300 years, until 1871 when it was relocated to the Abbey Gateway. Over the next century, a steady period of expansion was to follow, initially under the Headmastership of E. Montague-Jones, then W.T. Marsh and Frank Kilvington.
St Albans School is renowned for its long and distinguished history. Whilst we celebrate our heritage with pride, we continue to focus on our current and future provision. To this end our ethos, vision and aims – all under our familiar motto – have been refreshed and updated to underpin the School’s commitment to educational excellence, both today and in the future.
Pastoral care is a significant strength of the School and every teacher in the School has a pastoral role. The 2014 ISI Inspection Report cited the School’s pastoral care as ‘excellent’ and noted that each pupil was ‘well-known and valued as an individual’ as the staff knew their pupils ‘extremely well and foster an excellent atmosphere of trust and safety, leading to strong and positive relationships’.
All our pupils, from First to Sixth Form, are members of a tutor group, organised by year. The tutor is the first point of contact for parents and oversees the personal and academic welfare of pupils through a combination of informal contact and tutor periods. Tutors meet with their tutees twice a day and play a key role in the delivery of our PSHE programme and in ensuring their tutees are healthy, both mentally and physically.
Coordinating the work of these tutors are the Heads of Section, who are all members of the Senior Management Team: Lower School (Years 7 & 8), Third Form (Year 9), Middle School (Years 10 & 11) and Sixth Form. A distinctive feature of our pastoral care is the supportive role played by form prefects and sixth formers, chosen by a very careful selection process to assist the tutors.
Furthermore, the School Nurses and Chaplain make an important contribution to our pastoral provision, while the School Counsellor, who is not a member of staff, is available to all pupils each week for confidential consultation.
Parents are encouraged and welcomed to come and meet with their child’s teachers and tutors at Parents’ Consultation Evenings as well as at a number of informal social occasions during the year.
Whilst the School continues to provide education for all its pupils during the lockdown, communication with parents remains a key part of our pastoral care at this time. The School is actively supporting pupils and guiding parents on how to help their child make the most of this situation. Find out more about our pastoral care during the lockdown here.
In the First to third Forms, as well as the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science, pupils all study the humanities, technology and the expressive arts and can select from a range of modern and classical languages.
All pupils take Mathematics, English, English Literature, Biology, Chemistry and Physics and a Modern Language as their core IGCSE subjects. Pupils choose three further option subjects from a further Modern Language (French, German, Spanish), Art, Computer Science, Design and Technology, Drama, Economics, Electronics, Geography, Greek, History, Latin, Music, Physical Education and Religious Studies. Mathematics is taken early, in January of the Fifth Form.
Pupils can choose freely from a wide range of subjects in the Sixth Form, including Art, Biology, Chemistry, Classical Civilisations, Computer Science, Design and Technology, Drama, Economics, Electronics, English Literature, French, Geography, German, Greek, History, Latin, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Physics, Politics, Religious Studies and Spanish. All students embark on an Extended Project, which develops their planning and research skills and enables them to work on an area of personal interest.
All pupils on entry to Forms 1, 3 and Lower Sixth undertake a learning support screening regardless of whether they have an existing diagnosis or not. The Head of Learning Support will advise parents if further in-house investigations or support is appropriate. The gathering of teacher evidence is integral to the learning support assessment process. In line with external regulations, unapproved external assessments cannot be accepted by the School.
St Albans School recognises that pupils who have been selected on academic criteria can sometimes experience a range of challenges. The School has a Learning Support Department, staffed by qualified Specialist and Learning Support teachers. Whilst some pupils may enter the school with previously diagnosed difficulties, every effort is made to identify others whose difficulties may only appear as the requirements of academic work mount. To this end, all pupils are screened on entry, and teachers refer pupils about whom they have substantial and long-term concerns to the Department for further investigation.
The Department provides classroom teachers with advice on supporting individual pupils within their lessons. If further support is required, pupils may attend subject ‘clinics’ at lunch time or after school. For those pupils who require one-to-one support, the Department provides specialist teaching including for English and study skills. A ‘drop in’ service for other pupils seeking additional support is also available.
Homework is set and marked regularly to a published timetable in all years. The School Library is open and supervised until 6pm most evenings to provide an opportunity for pupils to work in a quiet environment with reference books and the internet on hand for research.
The Art studios are located in the Aquis Court building, giving opportunities for the creation of artwork in two and three dimensions. We offer GCSE and AS and A2 courses. One scholarship is available for pupils entering the school in Year 9. We explore a wide area of study in our curriculum: Painting and Drawing, Printmaking (including Screen printing, Linoprints, Etching and Collographs), Sculpture, Graphics and Critical/Historical Studies. We arrange visits to Galleries for all examination classes. These are usually to London, e.g. the Tate and the National Gallery. Foreign visits for Sixth Formers have included Paris and Amsterdam. We offer a Junior Art Club for Years 7 to 9 on one evening after school, a Senior Club for Years 10 & 11 and Sixth Form on another evening.
Classics at St Albans School has much to offer all our pupils.
The study of the Latin and Greek languages expands their vocabularies and gives them a deeper understanding of how English works. The study of the Romans and the Greeks, fascinating in itself, enables pupils to understand their own world much better: our buildings, politics, art, literature and law, among much else.
Latin is studied by all boys in Year 7. Boys choose two from French, Latin and German to take as a second language through Years 8 and 9. Those entering the School at Year 9 may choose Latin as an option and all students who do so will have a brief introduction to Ancient Greek. It is also possible for a boy entering the school in Year 9 who has not studied Latin before to start from scratch provided that they do some preparatory work over the summer holidays. For GCSE, Latin pupils take the language exam and the Verse and Prose Literature options at the end of Year 11. A few pupils also take GCSE Greek. AS and A2 courses are offered in Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation.
There are Classics trips in the October Half Term to Italy and Greece and closer to home to various museums and theatre productions.
Computer Science is the study of how computers and computer systems work, how they are designed and programmed, how to apply computational thinking and how to make best use of information technology. Our curriculum takes a rigorous and academic approach which aims to give all pupils a strong foundation from which they can progress to an IGCSE and A Level in Computer Science, should they choose.
Our curriculum has been designed to be accessible to all pupils, regardless of their previous experience of Computer Science. First Form pupils cover a combination of digital literacy and Computer Science topics including data modelling and programming. In the Second Form, pupils study topics such as security, flowcharting and computer hardware. Pupils who choose to continue their study of Computer Science into the Third Form further develop their understanding with topics such as web development, programming and cybersecurity.
Study units include:
Design and Technology helps enable students to be ready for tomorrow’s rapidly changing technologies. The subject calls for students to become autonomous and creative problem solvers, as individuals and members of teams, who respond to design opportunities or problems, producing a range of ideas and making quality prototypes or systems.
The combination of practical skills and an understanding of aesthetic, social and environmental issues, function and industrial practices allow them to evaluate past and present design and technology, its use and effects. Through design and technology, all students can become innovators as well as discriminating and informed users of products. They acquire transferable skills which are valuable in all aspects of future life.
Design and technology enables students to:
Our Design and Technology department, staffed by five specialist teachers with the support of a technician, is well equipped for the study of both the traditional and modern aspects of the subject. Lessons are taught in a suite of interconnecting rooms over two floors, which include two large multipurpose workshops with access to ICT facilities and CAD/CAM equipment, a systems and control/electronics lab and a graphics studio with model making workshop. Our well-resourced equipment ranges from traditional hand tools to modern computer aided design and manufacturing facilities (CAD/CAM) such as laser cutters, 3D printers and CNC routers. However, we still make much use of our hot metal treatment area along with our wood and metal machining equipment.
Those who have studied D&T in the Third Form may opt to take on the GCSE course in Product Design. They will study for three periods a week covering the theory aspect, along with the completion of coursework which accounts for a substantial percentage of their final grade. At this level, the students’ are expected to take a much more professional approach to their work, linking themselves to a client and taking the target market group into consideration.
As you would expect, much goes on beyond the classroom and students pursue their interests through involvement in various D&T clubs and activities. We also compete in a number of engineering and technological competitions and challenges throughout the year. We are an Arkwright affiliated school and are keen to encourage students to explore the career opportunities within all fields of Design and Engineering.
The Drama Department is based in New Place, a building dedicated to Drama with purpose-designed classrooms, a costume and props store, theatre library, and a black box studio which is a professional and flexible performance space. The studio is well equipped with a full lighting rig and sound capabilities and we have a full-time Drama Technician who oversees all shows and works with technical students. The Drama Department also has the use of an outdoor Amphitheatre.
Members of the Drama Department are all active practitioners and have personal experience regarding professional acting, drama school and theatre at university. We aim to encourage and promote students’ communication and performance skills, confidence and talent, as well as nurture their ability to analyse, evaluate and reflect. At KS3, we facilitate a safe and relaxed environment for students to experience the 5 Cs of Drama: confidence, creativity, communication, concentration and co-operation. Students learn about different styles and genres of theatre as well as gaining a wealth of important, transferable skills such as public speaking and presentation skills.
The Edexcel GCSE Drama course includes devised and scripted work which is publicly performed and the study of live theatre. This is mirrored at A-level, but in addition, students get the opportunity to study theatre practitioners and a wider range of texts. Students who show an interest in the technical side of the subject can study lighting, sound or design at KS4 and 5. We aim to offer all Lower Sixth students the opportunity to perform work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer and there are various trips to the theatre to see live performances for both KS4 and 5. There is also a regular programme of workshops within school, where students are able to work alongside visiting professionals. Most recently we have welcomed The Paper Birds and Punchdrunk.
The co-curricular side of the subject is rich with many opportunities for students of all ages to get involved in Drama outside of lessons. Junior and Senior House Drama competitions take place annually. The Lower School Drama Club meets weekly after school, working towards two main productions a year. The Middle School Drama Club work towards performing in a local festival during a weekly lunch slot and the Main School Show takes place in the Autumn Term. Recent productions include The Tempest, DNA and School of Rock.
The work of the Economics Department, taught by five subject specialists, takes place in a suite of three well-equipped rooms, situated in Aquis Court. We offer Economics at both IGCSE and A Level, following Edexcel specifications. A high proportion of the IGCSE students opt for Economics in the Sixth Form, but the department also caters for an increasing number of students, particularly from outside the School, who have had no previous exposure to these subjects in; there are ‘New Economics’ sets for such pupils in the Lower Sixth.
Classroom-based learning is complemented by a number of co-curricular activities, which help to provide an enriching economics education programme for our pupils. The Economics Society invites prominent speakers from the world of economics, politics and finance to address the School on relevant and topical issues. Pupil-led seminars have become an increasingly important part of the Society in recent years.
The School enters the annual Bank of England Target 2.0 Interest Rate Competition; all of our Lower Sixth economists compete for a place on the School team. Teams of students from the Fourth Form upwards enter the LIBF’s Student Investor challenge, where they take control of an investment portfolio with £100,000 of virtual money to invest in the stock market. The Department also runs an internal business competition, where pupils have the opportunity to set up and run their own company with the proceeds being donated to charity.
A large number of our pupils go on to read Economics and related subjects at high demand universities.
Download the latest Economics Newsletter, written by some of our Economics pupils, from the below link.
The Department was one of the first UK schools to teach IGCSE English Literature (Cambridge Syllabus) and we are now one of the first to enter students for the new 9-1 qualification. All students are also entered for the AQA GCSE in English Language, also a 9-1 qualification.
Typically, 30-40 students study English Literature in the Sixth Form; we follow the Edexcel specification in linear form. The Department benefits from the input of experienced senior examiners and we have consistently enjoyed superb results for students at various levels of ability, including successful Oxbridge candidates each year. Our A level Coursework has formed a model of good practice for other academic schools.
The Department has three purposely designed rooms. One of these is a small seminar room, used mainly for Sixth Form teaching, while the other two are equipped with studio lighting. The English Centre has a stage and balcony, which can also be used for small-scale dramatic production. We benefit too from a suite of adjoining classrooms in the 1928 block, all of which were refurbished in 2016, and feature state-of-the-art teaching walls and interactive white boards. There are many opportunities for Creative Writing, with an annual competition, as well as a Creative Writing Workshop for Year 7 pupils, who spend a whole day working with professional writers. Members of the Department are involved in drama, publications, debating, taking students to the theatre, and encouraging wider reading.
Through exploring the relationship between human beings and their physical environment, Geography helps pupils to understand today’s world. As our society becomes increasingly globalised, it is even more critical that young people have an understanding of its interconnected and interdependent nature.
The Geography Department aims to encourage an understanding of natural landscapes; the processes that form them; the people that inhabit them and the interactions between the physical and human environments. We aim to achieve this by considering a wide range of topics across a number of contrasting places. We encourage pupils to examine critically a wide range of social, political, economic and environmental issues and develop the ability to make justified and well-reasoned decisions. With specialist staff located in specified teaching rooms, we are well placed to try to make sense of our increasingly complex society. Geography is a subject that complements the study of both Art and Science subjects, incorporating analytical, numerical, literacy and ICT skills, and helping to develop a wide range of employable attributes.
Key Stage 3 sees pupils consider a range of exciting topics, including ocean ecosystems and development, as well as traditional areas of study such as map skills. Our GCSE course continues with this investigative approach and involves a series of forward thinking topics, based around the considerable challenges faced by Earth’s inhabitants. This is considered in greater depth at A Level, where an enquiry-based learning system is used to examine interrelationships between people and their environments, resource management issues and the moral, cultural and political dimensions to problem solving and decision making. A residential field study period at the School’s own centre, Pen Arthur, in the Brecon Beacons is an integral part of study at both GCSE and A Level.
Located in special rooms of considerable historical interest in the School’s 14th century Abbey Gateway, we give pupils the opportunity to develop an awareness of how the world we live in today was created and the influence of the past on the present. We want our pupils to think for themselves and so we expose them to a wide range of documents, historical sources and opinions. We are keen to emphasise that historical conclusions are liable to reassessment in the light of new or re-interpreted evidence.
In the First and Second Forms, we explore medieval history and early-modern history, situating England alongside wider European and world events. Content covered in the classroom is underpinned by visits to the Tower of London and the National Civil War Centre. In the Third Form we undertake a thematic study of revolutions, empire and migration, and a depth study of the two World Wars. To complement pupils’ study of the Holocaust, we run a cross-curricular study day in conjunction with the RS and PSHEE Departments. Both teaching and learning in the Third Form upwards are entirely paperless, with all work being set, completed, and marked on OneNote.
At Key Stage Four, a significant number of Fourth Form pupils opt to continue the study of History. We follow the AQA GCSE History syllabus and the pathway we have chosen through this course enables students to embark on a comprehensive study of various topics, including: Conflict & Tension, 1918-1939; Tsardom to Communism, 1894-1945; Elizabethan England, c.1568-1603; and Britain: Health & The People, c.1000-Present.
At A Level, pupils embark on a study of twentieth-century history, focusing on Britain: 1918-1997 for Paper 1, alongside the USA: 1955-1992 for Paper 2. Thereafter pupils are offered a choice for Paper 3, with some choosing to explore the medieval world through the study of the Lancastrians & Yorkists: 1445-1509, while others opt for a study of the European witchcraze, c.1580-1750. Pupils also complete a coursework assignment which is drawn from their Paper 3 choice. The Department aims to encourage independent learning and critical thinking, and pupils are encouraged to read widely around the course.
The History and Politics Society welcomes a number of eminent speakers to the School each year, to consider a variety of historical themes and issues. Recent speakers have included Sir Hew Strachan, and Professors William Whyte and Anne Curry. The Department also has its own award-winning magazine, the Gateway Chronicle; published annually. It is researched, written and edited by a dedicated team of pupils. Download the latest Gateway Chronicle Newsletter from the below link.
St Albans School recognises that pupils who have been selected on academic criteria can sometimes experience a range of challenges. The School has a Learning Support Department, staffed by qualified Specialist and Learning Support teachers. Whilst some pupils will enter the school with previously diagnosed specific learning difficulties (SpLDs), every effort is made to identify others whose difficulties may only appear as the requirements of academic work mount. To this end, all pupils are screened on entry, and teachers refer any pupil who is presenting concerns to the Department for further screening and assessment for access arrangements, if necessary.
The Department provides classroom teachers with advice on supporting individual pupils within their lessons. If further support is required, pupils may attend additional classes or ‘clinics’ at lunch time or after school. For those pupils who require one-to-one support in the short term, the Department provides specialist teaching for core English and study skills of between 3 to 12 sessions, depending on need. A ‘drop in’ service for other pupils seeking additional support is also available.
We are committed to ensuring that all our students reach their maximum potential in this vital subject. Members of the department have a variety of specialities in Mathematics, but we have a common desire to teach good mathematics well and to communicate our enjoyment of the subject to our pupils.
Mathematics is taught in sets throughout the school, allowing teaching at a pace and to a level of sophistication appropriate to the group of pupils concerned. The IGCSE course begins in Year 9, with all sets sitting the exams in January of Year 11. We expect pupils from all sets to attain at least a Grade B at IGCSE, and the vast majority achieve A or A*. The four main areas of study at IGCSE are: Number; Shape, Space & Measures; Algebra and Handling Data. In Year 11 most pupils study Additional Maths, which is an excellent introduction to AS material.
In the Sixth Form, Mathematics and Further Mathematics are offered, as two separate A levels. We teach the MEI Mathematics course, and all A-levels include Pure Mathematics, Mechanics and Statistics.
We regularly enter pupils for national mathematics contests, winning many awards at Gold, Silver and Bronze levels.
To see our state-of-the-art Maths facility, please click the button below.
We think languages are great fun to learn as well as being extremely valuable life skills, both professionally and personally. Languages are taught in a recently renovated suite of classrooms that are all equipped with the latest technology.
At St Albans School, pupils have the opportunity to learn a selection of four modern languages: French, German, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
In the First Form, all pupils have two lessons of French each week. In addition, they are taught Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and German as part of a carousel programme. At the end of the First Form, pupils are asked to choose the languages that they would like study in the Second Form. They can study one, two or three languages. Pupils who join the School in the Third Form can choose up to three of the languages that we offer. In most cases, they will join an existing set but we also offer ab initio classes for new pupils in the Third Form in German, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
All pupils must take at least one modern language at IGCSE level. In French, German and Spanish, pupils follow the Pearson 9-1 IGCSE curriculum. In Mandarin Chinese, pupils follow the Pearson GCSE curriculum.
There are a number of opportunities for pupils to experience the culture first hand on language trips, through talks and in individual conversation lessons with our language assistants.
Music is a prestigious and highly valued aspect of School life and is taught to all pupils in the Lower School (years 7 – 9). The work closely follows the National Curriculum guidelines but is very much tailored to the wide-ranging musical abilities of the pupils.
Class sizes for music lessons in the Lower School are no more than thirteen pupils, and these classes are set according to musical experience, enabling the pupils to maximise their musical ability in classroom time. Many students choose to study music at IGCSE level, and we also have good numbers studying A level and follow the Edexcel syllabus.
There are presently 22 visiting instrumental tutors teaching a wide range of instruments and voice. Many of the visiting tutors are involved in the Department’s busy programme of co-curricular activities which actively supports the academic progress of the pupils. There are 23 ensembles of various kinds operating each week within the Department. The details of these activities, organised by the Music Department can be found within the Co-Curricular section of this website.
The role of the P.E. Department is to nurture the physical and mental development of each pupil. We encourage pupils to reflect the School’s PE aims, so that they can both enjoy physical activity and benefit from the valuable skills it gives them, to help them reach their full potential.
The School’s PE aims are as follows:
The Dutch historian Peter Geyl described history as “argument without end,” but such a description fits the study of Politics just as well. Students of this discipline will argue about conceptual matters (such as the nature of democracy), about political issues (such as electoral reform), about political ideologies (such as conservatism) and about the comparative merits of the political systems of the UK and the United States.
Tony Benn famously suggested five questions to ask of those holding political power:
Many years later, Shami Chakrabarti wrote that “I do not trust the powerful.” Nor do we, but those studying Politics with us will be able to answer those questions about the powerful in today’s world.
There are annual trips for pupils, and pupils attend lectures given by distinguished speakers, who have in recent years included Lord Hennessy and Dr Madsen Pirie.
A number of the School’s students go on to study the subject at undergraduate level.
One of the School’s goals is to fully develop all aspects of an individual’s character and talents. The school’s PSHEE department provides time and resources for the personal and social development of each pupil. Our lessons are delivered by form tutors, who know each child well and who provide opportunities for the examination and discussion of a wide range of issues, from health, sex education and personal relationships to the exploration of moral dilemmas, the development of good study skills and British values.
We also arrange termly talks from external speakers to whole year groups, to address specific issues. The topics we explore are also covered within individual subject areas, in particular, Religious Studies, English, Geography, Biology and through the Sixth Form General Studies programme.
As a result, almost every member of our staff is actively engaged in PSHEE teaching in some way. We have a well-stocked PSHEE resource area, accessible to both pupils and staff and our school counsellor is closely involved with much of the work.
The twenty-first century is an exciting and challenging time in which to live. A greater awareness of different cultures, together with advances in science and technology, raises questions of identity (who we are), theology (what we can believe) and ethics (how we should behave). Religious Studies provides the opportunity to explore these questions from a range of perspectives and encourages students to learn skills of academic rigour: listening attentively to the opinions of others, assessing those arguments critically, and expressing their own ideas confidently.
In the Lower School, students examine six major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism) one faith at a time, and have the opportunity to visit a variety of places of worship. Students in the Third Form are introduced to the study of Philosophy through religion and morality. We cover topics such as arguments for and against God’s existence and seek to answer questions such as: ‘what makes an action right?’ or ‘is killing ever justified?’.
At GCSE, students follow the Edexcel specification B course, which combines both philosophical and theological study (from a Christian and Muslim perspective). The first year consists of studying the ‘Christianity and Ethics’ unit, and the second year, the ‘Islam, Peace and Justice’.
At A Level, students engage with the philosophers and theologians who have shaped our world, from Plato to Dawkins and Augustine to Kant. The issues examined range from ‘What does it mean to say something is good?’ to ‘Is freedom just an illusion?’ Students enjoy the subject immensely, as do those who have the privilege of teaching them. We follow the Edexcel specification, which involves a critical study of Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics and textual analysis.
Key Stage 3 Science (First & Second Form) The Key Stage 3 Science course is taught in two years in the First and Second Form. In both years Biology, Chemistry and Physics topics are taught as a single subject where the emphasis is on practical work and fostering a love of science, building a firm foundation of practical skills and knowledge for the years ahead.
By the end of the second form students will have covered the KS3 curriculum and be at a level at least equivalent to those joining the school through the Common Entrance examination.
Pupils study the three sciences as separate subjects, completing three separate IGCSEs over the course of three years. Practical work is an important part of science and students can expect to spend a large proportion of their time carrying out experiments, making measurements and observing as well as covering theory and solving problems.
The IGCSE is universally recognised as equivalent to GCSE by universities and employers and provides the appropriate level of challenge and stimulation to our students, many of whom continue to study sciences into the 6th form. There are two examination papers for each subject which are sat at the end of the 5th form and there is no coursework element.
Throughout the science course, emphasis is placed on transferable skills such as problem solving and data analysis. The pupils may collect data quickly using a data-logger, copy the data in Microsoft Excel and look for patterns and trends in the data – really beginning to work the way professionals do.
Biology, Chemistry and Physics are all popular A levels; St Albans School bucks the national trend with between 40 and 70 students per year studying each science. Many students then move on to university to study a science-related discipline.
Students’ lessons are supplemented by a variety of opportunities to explore science beyond the classroom.
Every year, the Stephen Hawking Society organises lectures from eminent speakers from universities, industry and the media, giving a wide perspective on science and its applications. Olympiads and other competitions give students an opportunity to extend their learning and test themselves against the best in the country. Science and STEM clubs are aimed at lower and middle school students who want to investigate further and a range of trips and visits, both in the UK and abroad, provide other opportunities to see science at the cutting edge.
I am delighted to share more information with you about the School’s co-curricular activities. At St Albans School, we believe that the provision of a broad, varied co-curricular programme should be an integral part of every pupil’s schooling experience. It, together with striving to achieve academic excellence, comprises what we believe to be an outstanding all-round, holistic education which promotes the intellectual, physical and emotional development of all our pupils.
Participation at all levels is strongly encouraged, with talented and committed staff ensuring that all pupils are given every opportunity to thrive in this aspect of their schooling, regardless of their level of ability.
To view the Activities Booklet and the Activities currently on offer, please click on the link below. Otherwise, to get a genuine feel for the impressive range of activities we offer, please take a look at the School’s many activities highlighted in the ‘Discover more’ section below.
St Albans School is delighted to be working together in mutually-beneficial partnerships with local state schools, sharing expertise, best practice and facilities to the benefit of all the children and schools involved.
The Partnership scheme run by St Albans School along with local Primary and Special Education schools started over fifteen years ago and since then, the scheme has expanded in many ways: eighteen local state schools and the Cathedral Education Centre now participate, thirteen St Albans School staff members are involved and over eighty Lower Sixth pupils assist with Partnership activities on Friday afternoons. This is one of many ways in which the altruism of the School’s motto – non nobis nati (born not for ourselves) – is put into practice.
Every Friday afternoon, enthusiastic Primary school pupils come and get involved in a variety of practical activities at the School They enjoy the opportunity to use facilities such as science labs and computer suites not normally available to them in their own schools and benefit from the guidance of St Albans School staff, who have expertise across a variety of areas. Masterclasses in Science and Computer Science are run at St Albans School and our specialist staff are able to cover topics in the Primary School curriculum, such as programming in Computer Science, and in the process, provide training for the accompanying teachers.
Each Monday and Friday afternoons pupils from four local Primary Schools use our swimming pool for their lessons. The Head of Partnership organises the employment of local qualified coaches to run these sessions, and Sixth Form students and members of staff act as lifeguards. Annually approximately 360 local primary school pupils (Years 3-6) have lessons at our pool. Since the beginning of the program, we have given the opportunity to over 2500 local pupils to learn to swim in our pool and donated over 700 hours of pool time, coaching and lifeguarding.
Every week, staff in the Drama, Music, Art, Maths, STEM and French departments also travel to local schools where they run classes and share their specialist skills with the children and staff. Our Lower Sixth volunteers are vital to the running of the Partnership program; they assist with Masterclasses, offering teachers an extra pair of hands, run sessions themselves and share their passion for the subject with the younger children who look up to them as adults.
We also provide Extension Maths classes for a group of Gifted and Talented pupils from a consortium of 5 local Primary schools; these sessions take place at one of our Partnership schools.
A large number of Sixth Formers also go out into the community to help in local schools, acting as role models and assisting with a variety of tasks in the classroom and on the sports field. Their assistance is highly valued by the staff in the schools where they volunteer and it enables our students to develop some of the soft-skills highlighted as vital by future employers.
This year for the first time we have initiated a Book Club project which is a peer-to-peer mentoring programme where some of our Lower Sixth pupils lead a weekly book club for Year 5 pupils at one of our Partnership schools. This gives our pupils the opportunity to interact with and relate to younger children whist leading and facilitating group discussions about the book they are reading in class.
In addition to these Partnership activities, our Heads of Sixth Form work with several state Secondary Schools, sharing knowledge and good practice, as well as practical support to students with the UCAS application process, particularly to Russell Group universities, including Oxbridge.
Our CCF has a Partnership with Marlborough Science Academy, training both Cadets and Officers, with a view to them setting up their own Contingent in the future. As part of our Community Link programme, a number of Lower Sixth students also work in schools for children with special educational needs.
You can learn more about our Partnerships programme by visiting our page at the Independent School Council’s Schools Together website.
This is an initiative supported and maintained by the ISC in collaboration with the Department for Education and the Independent/State Schools Partnership, which highlights the projects and partnerships between independent schools and maintained schools or community groups.
“I really enjoyed working with the same two classes of children throughout the year, as we were able to make a strong bond with the children and get to know their strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, made it even more rewarding when we saw the children improve over the year and understand things they did not at the beginning. I was also able to return to my old primary school, which was particularly enjoyable as it felt even better to be giving back to and helping at a school where I have fond memories.”
Sixth Form Partnership Classroom Assistant
“For a number of years, our Primary School has enjoyed a Partnership with St Albans School which has provided enrichment to the Key Stage2 curriculum by exploring certain subjects in more depth, normally unavailable to our pupils. The children have benefited from blocks of lessons by specialist teachers in Art, D&T, Drama and French and have developed further interests and skills in these subjects as a result. More recently we have taken full advantage of the new swimming facilities to provide differentiated lessons for Years 3-5 on a termly basis. Sixth Form students from St Albans School have also provided support to our classrooms and PE sessions on a regular basis, not only proving to be particularly helpful but also demonstrating the way excellent role models behave. This Partnership is an extremely valuable asset to our School community.”
Download our Staff and Governors list or click ‘Discover More’ for more information.
The main points of entry into the School are at 11+, 13+ and Sixth Form. Entry into other year groups is dependent on availability. If you would like to discuss applications, registrations, examinations or entrance procedures please contact the Admissions Team:
St Albans School Abbey Gateway St Albans AL3 4HB
The School prospectus is available here:
The Additional Information Booklet which gives further information about Admissions policies and procedures is available here:
Details of policies available to parents and prospective parents can be found here:
Our Autumn Term Open Mornings will be held on Saturday 30 September and Saturday 4 November.
Booking information for all events will open after the May Half Term. Booking takes place electronically via our website and priority is given to those families looking to start in September 2024.
We offer a number of limited daytime tours to prospective families at 11+ and 13+ between September and the beginning of May. For this academic year, these have just concluded as we have moved into the Public Exam Season. Daytime tours will be available to book on our website from September.
We offer daytime tours for prospective Sixth Formers and families; please contact the registrar here to book your place.
In the meantime, you can also click here to browse our Video Library and watch presentations from the Headmaster, Senior Leadership Team and Heads of Department.
We are delighted to welcome prospective families to visit the School at an Open Evening. Our Autumn Term Open Evenings will be held on Wednesday 20 September and Thursday 12 October. Booking information will follow soon.
The termly tuition fee for 2022-2023 is £7,094.
All fees billed must be paid in full by the first day of term.
External costs associated with sitting public examinations are charged as supplemental items and will depend on the fees levied by the relevant examination boards for the exams that each pupil is undertaking. More detail is available on request.
The School offers a sibling discount on school fees of 5%.
The School’s Bursaries broaden access by offering means-tested financial support with the payment of school fees to eligible families. Bursaries provide a discount of up to 100% on tuition fees. We have a useful introduction to our Bursaries on our Bursary Basics website page, here. Parents who believe they might qualify for financial assistance are advised to read our Bursary Policy.
The value of the majority of scholarship awards is in the region of 10% of the fees. Awards in excess of 20% are made only in exceptional circumstances and in no case will a scholarship award exceed 50%. The School offers Music, Academic, Art, and Sport scholarships.
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