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A surprising amount of outdoor space; you’d never guess it is so close to the city. Nearest to the school is the hallowed ground of the first XV rugby pitch, but there are plenty of others beyond...boasts 20 international rowers in the last eight years. Hockey, rowing and netball are the most popular girls' sports but tennis, athletics, squash, swimming and usual suspects on offer for all. Generally put best coaches with best teams but...

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What the school says...

St Peter's School is one of the oldest in Europe, with a long and distinguished history extending back to 627 AD. St Peter's is a wonderful place for young people to grow and develop. Set on a verdant 47 acre site, with playing fields stretching down to the river, the school is still just a few minutes walk from the lively, historic centre of York. A forward-looking school with an inspiring curriculum.

The city of York has some of the richest history in the UK. Located in the heart of the city, St Peter's is easily accessed by road, rail and air. London and Manchester Airport are just two hours away by train, and the School is ten minutes from York station. We provide transport to Leeds/Bradford International Airport, less than an hour away.
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All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.



What The Good Schools Guide says

Head Master

Since 2019, Jeremy Walker MA, previously head of King’s School Rochester. MA (Oxon) (40s). Educated at Sherborne School and read theology at Oxford before taking an MA in educational leadership and management at the Institute of Education, University of London. Started his career at Bishop Stopford School, a state secondary in Kettering, and became head of department after a year. Then moved to Ardingly, where he was head of religious studies and of theory of knowledge, and housemaster, before becoming head of sixth form and senior manager at Berkhamsted School, Hertfordshire. He is married to Harriet, and their two children have joined the school.


Automatic entry from St Peter's 2-8 to St Peter's 8-13 (St Peter’s junior school) and then from St Peter's 8-13 to St Peter's 13-18. Seventy per cent follow this route, rest by CE and school's own entrance test at any age including 13 or 16 (minimum six GCSE grade 6 passes). Assessment and filtering does take place in prep and pre-prep to weed out those who won't cope with the demands of St Peter's, but it is rare. Generally entry to St Peter's 8-13 requires a child to have a reading age at least a year ahead of chronological age (sympathetic to siblings). Will take pupils who pass exam at any time provided a place is available. Other main feeder schools: Terrington Hall, Cundall Manor and Aysgarth, some state schools also.


Around 10-15 per cent leaves at the end of year 11. At uni, subjects range from economics and fine art to engineering and broadcast journalism. Five to Oxbridge in 2021 (though UCL and Imperial often favoured by high flyers). St Andrews and Exeter both popular. Many take gap years. Five medics in 2021.

Latest results

In 2021, 75 per cent 7-9 at I/GCSE; 71 per cent A*/A at A level/Pre-U (91 per cent A*-B). In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 69 per cent 9-7 at I/GCSE. At A level/Pre-U, 59 per cent A*/A (85 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

Consistent achiever, sets the bar high in a robust local market. Strong work ethos with plenty of stretch and challenge, normal to try hard but fine-tuning from the top is pushing to ‘broaden the pupil experience’ ie accumulation of exam certificates is great but balance is also important.

Takes the academic rigour for granted; bright pupils will always do well, but hard workers also do well here, hence the very positive value-added. Believes good results are down to having really good teachers as well as selective but not highly selective intake; no weak subject areas; staff know what is expected and are multi-talented and self-driven. ‘Learn Something New’ is a St Peter’s initiative that persuades staff to share interests and learn from each other with a range of activities across the school(s) encouraging staff to try out and learn new skills – ‘learning teachers teach better’ is the strapline.

Class size averages 18 in the middle school (maximum 24) and 12 in the sixth form. The occasional D or E grade creeps in at GCSE. IGCSEs in maths, science and languages.

Gifted and talented programme in place but doesn't target top 10 per cent. 'All the children here are bright; it would be wrong to concentrate on a handful.' Olympiads and similar challenges stretch those with real talent. Global Perspectives an additional course for sixth form with Horizons introduced for middle school. Does not allow students to take any GCSE early and moving towards more challenging IGCSEs.

Careers advice and support flagged up by parents as something to be worked on and improved, especially important for boarders whose parents are not around to have those all-important conversations. They are getting pupils into good and great universities, but what next? Both pupils and parents feel they would like more guidance and direction as life beyond university becomes tougher and more competitive. The school has responded swiftly by bringing in a second careers adviser and opening up careers events, visits, conferences plus ‘exploration week’ for the lower sixth – ‘life after St Peter’s' is a drum they will keep on banging.

Learning support and SEN

Some support for the handful with mild dyslexia – must be bright and able to cope. Part-time dyslexia specialist. Approximately 10 per cent have an ed psych report; five per cent qualify for extra time in exams. Third modern language replaced by extra English and study skills for some.

The arts and extracurricular

Very good art facilities, including super gallery. Art department appears in the Guinness Book of Records for a remarkable 100 per cent A*/A grade pass rate achieved four years running, though recent years have seen lower grades creep in – 'we were pleased, it took the pressure off, allowed the pupils to experiment, be more creative rather than formulaic,' said one art master. Many learn a musical instrument or two, 300 individual lessons each week with professional specialist music staff, 160 strong choir and plenty of opportunities to perform; director of music described as ‘inspirational’. Each boarding house has a practice room with piano. The school became the Choir School for York Minster in September 2020. Over 100 pupils involved with Community Action projects and all participate in charity fundraising.

DofE and CCF flourishing. Plenty of trips including expeditions to Morocco, sports tours to New Zealand and South Africa, language holidays and music tours to the USA, Prague, Italy.


A surprising amount of outdoor space; you’d never guess it is so close to the city. Nearest to the school is the hallowed ground of the first XV rugby pitch, but there are plenty of others beyond. Sport is compulsory for all. Facilities include two sports centres, one with super climbing wall, multi-surface pitch, fitness centre, indoor swimming pool, extensive well-kept playing fields, boathouse and tennis and squash courts. Rugby popular and strong, rowing crews regularly pick up national honours and awards, boast 20 international rowers in the last eight years. Hockey, rowing and netball are the most popular girls' sports but tennis, athletics, squash, swimming and usual suspects on offer for all. Generally put best coaches with best teams but playing opportunities for all via B teams and house competitions. Competitiveness and fair play are a prominent feature of the school and success is universally applauded at weekly assembly.


Around a quarter of pupils board, of whom 30 per cent are from overseas. Most are full boarders but a few stay on a flexi/weekly basis. Six day and four boarding houses, the latter well equipped with a selection of common rooms, games rooms and a kitchen for snacks (all eat in school dining hall). Pupils and staff strike a good balance between amity and mutual respect. Houses are headed by husband and wife teams and supported by resident and non-resident assistants. Good pastoral care, ‘just wonderful,’ say parents. They describe houseparents as ‘something out of the ordinary’, creating boarding houses that are ‘home from home’ with all the care and support that may be needed and equally ‘a kick up the jacksy as required’. Staff vigilant – invariably have one or two they're watching for eating problems etc.

Ethos and heritage

The school was founded in 627 AD by Paulinus, first Archbishop of York, and is one of the world’s oldest schools, ‘only two older’, we are told. In 1844 it was established on its present, impressive, green, grade 2 listed site in Clifton, with 47 acres, river access and all within walking distance of York Minster, the city centre and station.

Beyond the imposing main building, others are a mix of ancient and modern. Some classrooms and corridors are a bit tatty round the edges; we get the sense that it’s not a priority - it’s a workhorse, not a show pony. Good range of facilities, with all angles covered, though pupils tell us they are pestering the head for a new sports hall; ‘it could be so much better’. It’s one of the head boy’s pet projects, though not on the agenda (yet) - might have to settle for a new boathouse instead. Pupils rave about the new swimming pool, opened by Olympic diver Tom Daley. Other recent additions include four bright biology labs, a sixth form microbiology lab, chemistry lab and design and technology room with CadCam technology; new maths and languages building under construction. Three computer rooms are complemented by clusters of computers throughout the school and houses - virtual learning environment with wifi throughout the campus.

Old Peterites include Guy Fawkes, Alcuin (eighth century scholar), Greg Wise, John Barry, Laurence Eusden (poet laureate), Harry Gration (journalist, TV presenter), C Northcote Parkinson (inventor of Parkinson's Law) and Clare Wise (previous director of the British Film Commission).

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Advice, help and support may be sought from tutors, house staff, resident health centre staff or the school chaplain. Pupils tell us that the unforgivables are drugs and bullying; if caught smoking it’s three strikes and you’re out.

Pupils are allowed to visit town twice a week (more in older years) and for younger ones a timetable of supervised events is on offer. All eat in the modern dining hall. Menus offer a wide choice with mixture of typical school meal fare, continental options, salad bar, sandwiches, fruit and healthy eating options. Pupils say food is ‘great’, with ‘boy-sized portions’; Sunday brunch is legendary.

Pupil voice has grown and developed through a pupil symposium. Head’s question time is chaired by the head boy or girl – ‘direct government-type stuff’ – raising all kinds of ideas and questions from the downright silly to the well-considered and serious.

Middle school uniform uninspiring, disliked, yet (bizarrely) defended, by pupils – when push comes to shove there’s nothing more conservative or radically opposed to change than your average 15 year old: brown blazer, grey trousers for boys, and brown checked skirt for girls. Apparently the current line is ‘brown is good’. Sixth form (boys and girls) wear dark business suits.

Strong Christian ethos; pupils meet thrice weekly for collective act of worship in school chapel – the chaplain has ‘livened things up a bit,’ pupils tell us with a grin; assemblies at other times.

Pupils and parents

Day pupils mainly from North Yorkshire, Harrogate, Leeds conurbation, York, and surrounding villages. Majority of boarders live within an hour's drive but others from wide area in the UK. Parents in business and the professions, a popular choice for Forces families, minority from overseas – ‘it’s a world view we need to develop'. Mix of Hong Kong, China, Russia, one or two others – about 25 per cent overall.

‘Parents,’ says school, ‘are interested – but not helicopters’, ambitious and driven; quite a few first time buyers here but also dynasties with names all over the honours boards.

Money matters

Not a rich school but has increased bursary funding considerably over the past few years. Means-tested bursaries available at 11, 13 and at sixth form regardless of previous school. Qualification criteria for bursaries on a sliding scale from 10 to 100 per cent based on need, and typically if household income is less than £45,000. Honorary (ie no dosh) subject scholarships are awarded; music awards, including fee remission, available for tuition and instruments.

The last word

Very much the big brother of the 2-18 triumvirate of St Peter’s schools, encompassing St Peter's 2-8 and St Peter's 8-13 (‘continuity, but difference’ is the mantra here) and you get the impression that this is where it all becomes rather serious. If it were a car, we’d probably describe it as a Volvo, albeit a top of the range high performance 4WD version with sporty extras such as a ski rack and maybe a tow bar. It can accommodate the whole family and you can’t doubt the quality, reliability and solidity of the product it delivers, pretty much unfailingly, in all areas.

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

SEN provision is adapted to suit the individual and 3 specialist part-time staff work with individuals as required and may recommend external specialist assessment or support. Ten per cent or so of each year group have an SLD Selection. School has selective entry from the Pre-prep at aged four and upwards. Continuous assessment through the junior school to the senior school is usual. With very few overseas pupils there is no formalised additional English but this can be arranged if required. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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