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There are big hitters in the area and Stamford is well able to hold its own. Stamford is determined to keep the school as accessible to as many as possible while not compromising the things that really matter within education. All year 7s and 8s take performing arts subjects and there is a very healthy take-up of drama and theatre studies at A level and GCSE. LAMDA popular, with the school remaining one of the largest independent examination centres. Masses of sport goes on, with the aim to encourage a lifelong commitment to physicality. The sheer number of teams are evidence of the opportunity to have a go whatever your level…

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What the school says...

The Stamford Endowed Schools have been educating students since 1532. Our Schools have a long and prestigious heritage, but everything we do at Stamford is focused on preparing young people to lead happy and fulfilling lives in the 21st century. At the start of the academic year 2023-2024 Stamford Schools opened its doors for the first time to teach students co-educationally at all stages as Stamford High School and Stamford School merged. ...Read more

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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.


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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2016, Will Phelan, previously head teacher at Stamford School (formerly the boys ’school) for five years prior to that. Before joining Stamford he was deputy head at Warwick School and head of sixth form at Abingdon School. A history teacher, he also has a strong background in sports coaching and his energetic and warm approach are said to be ‘infectious’. He still teaches lessons from year 2 to year 13.


The big news is that Stamford Endowed Schools (SES) are now fully co-ed from the age of 2 to 18. On the senior school front, this has meant a merger of Stamford School (boys) and Stamford High School (girls). Since September 2023, years 7-10 are based on the previous Stamford School site and years 12 and 13 will be based on the previous Stamford High School site. Year 11 students, who are midway through their GCSEs, will remain in single-sex classes on their previous sites to minimise any disruption. From September 2024, every year group will be fully co-ed.

Automatic entry from the junior school into year 7. Entrance exam for outsiders (who come from a mix of state and independent local schools) and those after a scholarship, with papers including English, maths, VR, NVR and creative writing. Although the school is oversubscribed (and increasingly so), raw score is not the only criterion – which is good news for pupils who don’t perform at their best in exams but would flourish in the Stamford environment. Some admissions into year 9 – exams plus interview at this stage.

Sixth form entrants (internal and external) need at least five GCSEs at grade 6, including in the subjects to be studied at A level (sciences and maths require 7s). Or, to study the business or sport BTEC, students need at least 5s in a suitable portfolio of GCSE subjects.


Time will tell what percentage of pupils leave after GCSEs under the new co-ed set up. Historically, 20 per cent of boys and 10 per cent of girls left at this stage. Nearly all sixth formers into higher education, many to Russell Group universities. Newcastle the most popular, followed by Northumbria, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leeds Beckett and Nottingham Trent. Occasional few to Oxbridge – two in 2023, plus four medics/dentists/vets. Increasing interest is being shown in apprenticeship schemes and other high-quality technical training options. A few head abroad – including to universities in Greece, the Netherlands and the US.

Latest results

In 2023, Stamford School and Stamford High School combined results: 36 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 30 per cent A*/A at A level (61 per cent A*-B). Boys’ school results in 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), 39 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 24 per cent A*/A at A level (52 per cent A*-B). Girls’ school results in 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), 56 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 24 per cent A*/A at A level (52 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

Given a fairly broad academic ability range on entry, results are good. EPQ results strong, as are BTEC sport level 3, though numbers here are small at the moment. They have also introduced a BTEC in business studies. There is considerable flexibility around finding the right exam course for a particular cohort – ‘just because we have always done that one’ won't wash here. French, German, Spanish and Russian are all available, as well as Latin, and get excellent results.

It is certainly no academic pressure cooker but there is a serious focus on the intellectual hinterland around the curriculum. Developing intellectual curiosity as well as aspiration is important. Pupils have set up a school blog to voice ideas on a range of academic matters. In the sixth form, an enrichment module extends the core three A level curriculum to include, for example, options of EPQ work, Microsoft accredited courses, sports leadership, an extra AS or even survival cooking. The 1532 Club offers serious academic enrichment outside the classroom. There are debates, talks by staff, pupils, old pupils and visitors aimed at introducing topics not necessarily in the curriculum. It can be used as another way of sharing the fascinating EPQ projects and adding to the preparation for university.

Every other Thursday afternoon, the whole school is off timetable. We happened to visit on a Thursday and enjoyed the amazing buzz. Year 7 boys (at that time, they were taught separately from girls) were building a mechanical car and programming it for the climax of the afternoon, a race. Years 10 and 11 were asking questions in the middle school debating finals and year 9 were completely absorbed in a complicated trade game. It was a complete delight to observe these learning opportunities way outside of any exam curriculum.

There is a real thirst to draw on the intellectual world beyond school too. A group of sixth formers had just arrived back from a cutting-edge science conference in Texas that had generated huge enthusiasm.

Everyone told us maths and sciences are strong and popular. There is a telescope and astronomy area. Some classrooms have walls are all covered in whiteboards and the tables to be written on.

Pupils, particularly those who have experience of other schools, comment on how excellent the teaching is and how teachers are ‘always there for you’. One told us, ‘Our teachers are so passionate about their subjects and that rubs off on us so that we become passionate too.’ One pupil went as far as saying: ‘They inspire me. I thought I wanted to become a lawyer but I’m now thinking of becoming a teacher.’ Pupils also praise the mutual respect and you get the impression that although expectations are high the school has a friendly, caring environment where pupils can ask for help and support if they need it. Average class size is 17, dropping to 10 in sixth form.

Plans afoot to introduce a one-year pre-A level course (subject to interest) for 15-16-year-old international students – intended for those who may be too young to join year 12 and/or have a lower level of English.

Learning support and SEN

Learning support is taken very seriously. Most learning support assistants work within classes and this has had a very positive impact on progress. The school is constantly reviewing data to determine when to set and who will succeed best where. There is some one-to-one learning support available, normally focusing on study skills. A parent with two mildly dyslexic children spoke appreciatively of how the school kept her very well informed of just what interventions and progress were going on. No EHCPs. EAL support available.

There are occasional Saturday morning sessions as GCSEs loom. Teachers are happy to be emailed with an academic problem and respond very quickly.

The arts and extracurricular

Large numbers of pupils sing in the various choirs and there are lots of ensembles to cater for different levels and tastes, including rock bands. We watched a rehearsal where male and female musicians played side by side with a Royal Marines band to prepare for a concert that evening.

All year 7s and 8s take performing arts subjects and there is a very healthy take-up of drama and theatre studies at A level and GCSE. LAMDA popular, with the school remaining one of the largest independent examination centres. Drama staff are ‘fantastic’, according to parents and pupils. A state-of-the-art performing arts centre is the venue for large-scale productions such as Grease, Les Misérables and Hairspray, and there are also smaller performance spaces. Pupils love taking part in the dance productions and house drama competitions are a hit, ensuring everyone is involved, even if not the next RSC star. Good art, with regular visits to art galleries and exhibitions, plus overseas trips to eg Italy and Paris.

Thriving CCF (one of the oldest and largest in the UK, with three sections). DofE taken very seriously too, along with debating, astronomy club, robotics, dissection club, bush craft, chess – and on the list goes. Pupils say there is no pressure to do any of these things but they are clearly in tune with the school’s message that there is something that everyone can feel passionate about. ‘They can have as quirky interests as they like,’ one parent told us, ‘and the others will just be very interested in them too.’ Pupils are encouraged to volunteer and get involved in the local community through charity work eg helping at a home for the elderly, reading and writing with visually impaired people. The staff believe it is this sort of exposure to the needs of the wider society that informs the pupils’ future careers just as much as their A level results.

Politics in the widest sense is a priority here, with pupils encouraged to learn about and discuss current affairs and they are well informed and interested.


Masses of sport goes on, with the aim to encourage a lifelong commitment to physicality. Rugby, hockey, netball, cross-country, gymnastics, tennis, athletics, badminton, water polo and sailing (at nearby Rutland Water) with success at country, regional and national level. The sheer number of teams are evidence of the opportunity to have a go whatever your level, particularly lower down the school. Pupils in the top teams are expected to commit to several training sessions a week and a match at the weekend, not unusual in the independent sector. As one parent pointed out, ‘If you are sporty, a lot is expected of you.’ Fantastic facilities include a £6.1m SES sports centre (up for redevelopment), complete with all the mod cons including fitness suite and 25-metre indoor pool.


The boarding side of the school is relatively small and this creates, the pupils say, a very close-knit community, though one that is thoroughly integrated with the rest of the school. Resident tutors and housemasters also teach, so there is always help at hand with homework. There are overseas boarders from a range of countries, but flexi boarding – often taken advantage of by London families – is increasingly popular.

Several boarding houses, all with homely feel. Some of the facilities have recently been upgraded. We were particularly impressed by the very attractive large house kitchen where boarders all congregate after prep. There are billiards, snooker, computers, ping-pong, lots of sport on Saturdays and trips to adventure parks, bowling, ice-skating, but also space to just be, for the pupil who wants none of those things.

Pupils seem to enjoy a fair amount of freedom here. They are allowed to walk into town from year 7 at different times provided they are with another pupil.

Ethos and heritage

Stamford, the town, must be one of the most charming urban environments in the country, with its gracious Georgian principal streets and the river flowing through. The main school site is amazingly spacious and open considering that it is in the centre of the town. Other buildings are close by. This aids the sense that Stamford School is at the heart of Stamford itself, and the link is very important to everyone there. Some of the buildings date back to the original foundation in 1532, including a lovely chapel, and there are also modern buildings – some less attractive but serviceable, others pleasing. Meanwhile, sixth formers, based at what was Stamford High School, get to enjoy the beautiful mellow limestone buildings, quirky narrow passages and stunning riverside views.

Once inside, the atmosphere is calm and orderly. Pupils move about the corridors with a sense of purpose. No rushing around or shouting. Pupils are friendly and come across as confident, cheerful and relaxed around their teachers. The ones we spoke to were certainly not snooty.

The school keeps close ties with old pupils, quite a number of whom send their own children here. They visit to share their career experiences and there’s an overseas network that can be tapped into. Midnight mass on Christmas Eve in the school chapel attracts back old pupils as well as staff, present pupils and a choir. Old pupils drop in whenever they are back in Stamford and there were a few helping with the Hairspray production.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

All students have a form teacher who is a main point of contact for both pupils and parents. One pupil said, ‘Everyone is so friendly, and the teachers are so nice. If you have a problem, you can go to anyone.’ And a parent added, ‘Pastoral care is very good. I contacted the school about an eating issue and the school was fantastic.’

The behaviour around school is generally excellent without being regimented. Pupils say that most discipline issues are sorted out at an individual level with teachers spending time in one-to-one meetings. There are the usual grades of detentions, suspension and exit, but not much gets to the serious level. Pupils can lose their scholarships if they don’t pull their weight academically.

Strict rules around the use of mobile phones. Years 7 to 9 must keep them in their lockers during the school day. Boarders have to hand in all devices 15 minutes before they go to bed. Some pupils have tried to get round this by having several devices but the houseparent is one step ahead of them. Main sanction is being gated.

The PSHE programme underpins the pastoral ethos. Pupils felt it was relevant and forward looking, covering topics such as feminism and anorexia, as well as well-trodden internet safety topics.

Pupils and parents

It is usual in these reports to say how smart everyone looked. Well, the pupils we saw didn’t, particularly – what they did look like was normal adolescents, which backs up the school’s view that it is interested in individuals not production lines. Much more important than the odd shirt untucked was the obvious friendliness and openness of the pupils.

Parents comment on the healthy social mix in the school, though a few, who remember when the school could offer a lot of assisted places paid for by the local authority, are conscious that there are more well-heeled families than there used to be. Many parents are from business backgrounds, with quite a few working in London.

An extensive network of school buses brings children in from the surrounding areas – the farming villages but also Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, which widens the social mix. We talked to a number of parents who are both working to pay the fees.

One parent who had two children at the school said it suited both, despite them having different strengths. ‘My oldest is into science while my younger child is more into the arts and drama. But there are opportunities for both. The school is good all round.’ Another acknowledged her children had been very happy and had formed incredibly strong friendships. All said that given their time again they would still choose the school.

Money matters

This is a value-for-money school. Fees are very moderate for the independent sector in this part of the world, particularly on the boarding side. Scholarships and bursaries are available. About a fifth of all families receive some bursary support.

The last word

There are big hitters in the area and Stamford is well able to hold its own. Those much more expensive schools probably win out on the uniformity of excellent buildings and state-of-the-art facilities, but Stamford is determined to keep the school as accessible to as many as possible while not compromising the things that really matter within education. Parents were very aware of the richness of the opportunities and all saw the school as producing grounded individuals who can function in the real world. It is a gem of a school that’s now entering an exciting new co-ed era.

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

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

Who came from where

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