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What says..

A stone's throw from the centre of town and most pupils move on to one or other of the excellent Cambridge independent schools, Muddy shoes of many pupils are testament to the school's unfussy approach. Formal setting in year 5 but pupils are in learning groups within their class from early on. We saw a class preparing to to fire matchstick rockets in demonstration of Newton's laws of motion. School very forward looking and aware that pupils need flexible minds. Strong local feel, 'One of the reasons we chose it. We all cycle in together in the morning and we have...'

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What the school says...

At St Faiths our philosophy is to value every child as a unique individual, who enjoys learning and thinking for him or herself. We provide a supportive and secure environment in which children can flourish and learn at their own pace and in their own individual way. Our role is to stimulate and encourage their development and enjoyment of learning through a variety of different activities in secure indoor and outdoor situations, through play and through structured and creative activities. We encourage the growth of social skills and empathy amongst the children. The relationships which the children develop with each other and with our staff are central to their happiness and lay the best possible foundations for their future.

St Faiths was founded in 1884 and offers children a thoroughly contemporary education as well as all the benefits associated with a first-class independent school. The day at St Faiths does not start and end when a bell goes children and parents are welcomed for breakfast and our dining hall is often a buzz as many parents enjoy our breakfast offering. There is a popular late stay programme, as well as an impressively long list of activities after school.

Ms Anna Cornell, Registrar, will extend a warm welcome should you decide to visit us, and will be delighted to show you round our school, she will be pleased to answer any of your questions. We look forward to welcoming you to St Faiths.
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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2021, Dr Crispin Hyde-Dunn MA (Oxon) PGCE MA (Ed) NPQH PhD. He came to St Faith’s after four years as head of the Dragon School, Oxford, and was previously head of Abingdon Prep and before that, deputy academic head of King’s College School, Cambridge. His degree in history at St Catherine’s, Oxford was followed by doctoral research (subject: Henry V11) and a PGCE. Also has an MA in educational leadership and management. A clergyman’s son, he attended Midhurst Grammar School in West Sussex and was drawn to teaching, ‘To share subject interests and to help inspire others.' Decided on the preparatory stage for, ‘the greater opportunities to lead whilst remaining in constant contact with pupils.’ This is evidently the case as parents comment, ‘He is around at the start and ends of the day and is really interested in the children. I like the way he treats them – without any condescension.’ ‘He is a contrast with the previous head but he is coming into his own, especially now Covid restrictions are over.’ One parent, referring to an occasion when her child was, ‘making a bit of a scene' at drop-off. 'He (the head) noticed and knew it was best to keep a distance at the time, but later the same day obviously remembered and spoke to me to check all was well.’ ‘I would trust him with anything to do with the children’s happiness; he really cares about them.’ ‘He comes to breakfast and talks to us.’ During our visit we noticed he spoke to every pupil we passed, by name – and picked up litter into the bargain.

After a year as head, parents are happy, ‘He’s got the point about the school,’ and ‘He is fitting in with the way things are here. You wouldn’t expect immediate changes in a school that is doing well.’ He has timetabled ‘Learning Walks’ each week when he goes into different classes, spends time discussing work with pupils and generally, ‘keeps a finger on the pulse.’ He believes in tailoring education to individual needs and articulating values clearly and simply, ‘Our pupils, by and large, are fortunate and we want to help them be their best selves.’ History, needless to say, is an abiding interest, as is motor racing, football (he is a Spurs supporter) and running. His wife, Lucy, is a veterinary academic.


Oversubscribed, so early application is advised. Places in the foundation year (4+) start being offered 15 months prior to entry. At this stage children attend play sessions at the school for informal assessment of ability, attitude and behaviour. Priority is given to siblings, staff offspring and children of Old Fidelians but there are no favours and they must fulfil the criteria expected of all pupils. At 7+ the school admits another 15 pupils (mostly from the maintained sector) and a few more at 11+. Places in other years may occasionally come up.

For entry to year 3 and above, pupils do a morning of tests in maths and English together with informal assessment by staff and the head of pre-prep. A satisfactory report from the current school is required before any tests are taken. There is a waiting list for pupils who are up to the standard required but just pipped at the post for a place. Pupils come from within a 25 mile radius of Cambridge, many the offspring of old Fidelians. Parents mostly working at the universities, hospitals and the science/engineering/computer industries of greater Cambridge. Pupil intake reflects the cosmopolitan, international nature of the city.


The vast majority move on to one or other of the excellent Cambridge independent schools. In year 8, half move on to the Leys, with whom there have been constitutional links since the 1930s and a certain number of places are guaranteed for St Faith’s pupils. Others to Perse Upper, Stephen Perse and nearby King’s Ely. Some opt for boarding – Felsted, Uppingham, Oakham and Oundle most popular. Around 10 to 15 leave at 11+, usually because of parental anxiety about securing a senior place. This is not encouraged by the school or by the senior schools concerned who all recognise the benefits of years 7 and 8 in the prep. Sixteen scholarships in 2023.

Our view

Founded in 1884, St Faith’s is the largest prep school in Cambridge. The site, on leafy Trumpington Road, a stone’s throw from the centre of town, includes two of the original mansions plus a series of imaginatively designed new buildings including the Ashburton Hall, large enough for the whole school to meet in, the excellent science, engineering, computing and maths (STEM) departments and the mostly single-storeyed pre-prep building. Surrounded by twelve acres of lawns, trees and various sports pitches, pupils are encouraged to rush off and enjoy themselves on the apparatus or climbing trees (certain ones marked for safety’s sake) at playtimes. The muddy shoes of many pupils are testament to school’s unfussy approach but as pre-prep pupils (sensibly) wear wellingtons at playtimes we rather wondered why older ones didn’t too. A further 20 acres at The Leys, just across the road, is also available for games lessons.

Small classes (16-18) and highly qualified staff enable pupils to develop and learn astonishingly well – at their own pace. Parents praise the un-pushy atmosphere, ‘Unlike some schools, it’s not a pressure cooker but they find the children’s strengths and interests pretty quickly.’ ‘The children are loved and happy and success builds from that.’ (School was rated ‘excellent’ in its 2021 ISI in both academic and pastoral categories.) Formal setting begins for most subjects in year 5 but pupils are in learning groups within their class from early on, ‘ though they do it very skilfully,’ we were told by parents, ‘My daughter seems not to be aware whether she is in a top group or receiving extra support.’ Another told us, ‘The school really understands that children do grasp some things quickly but need longer for others. Labels are resisted.’ Pupils’ progress is tracked via baseline scores, summer tests and the daily observation of staff with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) in place for everyone. Special educational support, mostly for mild dyslexia, dyscalculia or ADHD, takes place within the class setting or in the Discovery Zone where pupils receive targeted one to one help.

Languages are a priority: Spanish from the foundation year, French and Latin higher up the school and a carousel of ‘taster,’ languages including Mandarin, Greek and Arabic in year 8. There is an excellent library and an emphasis on reading for pleasure – pupils are encouraged to keep their current book with them through the day for odd moments and all year groups have library reading lessons. We saw an inspired lesson for older pupils on the value and importance of language in speech making– famous examples such as Churchill, Martin Luther-King and Elizabeth 1 cited. Science, in the spectacular STEM building is taught three times a week and engineering once a week (school won the Times Educational Supplement Strategic Education Initiative prize in 2018 and the TES UK Prep School of the Year in 2019). We saw a class preparing to fire match stick rockets in demonstration of Newton’s three laws of motion. It is worth mentioning that both the head of science and of engineering, are women. The Green Goblin model racing cars (powered by electricity) are displayed in the atrium. Impressive displays on climate change, Cop 26 and the environment throughout department. Computing is taught from year 3; school recently won the Cambridge University Team Coding Challenge and reached the finals of a national Raspberry Pi competition and the Oxford University Computing Challenge. School very forward looking and aware that pupils need an education that encourages flexible minds in preparation for the changes and chances of the future. The learning pace goes up a gear up in years 7 and 8 – some will have taken preliminary tests for The Leys already in year 6 but many will be prepared for entrance to other schools or for scholarships at 13+.

Music and art praised by parents. One remarked, ‘It’s meant to be fun - the school don’t just concentrate on the scholarship stars.’ We saw an array of clay pumpkins and African masks on display in the studio which is in part of the brilliantly designed STEM building. All have class music lessons and at least half have individual instrumental lessons with a vast array of ensembles, choirs bands and trios to join and perform with. The drama studio is used for lessons, ‘You learn lots about people that you didn’t know before,’ was an interesting comment by one pupil. Plays and musicals regularly staged using the different year groups – recently year 6 did Matilda and year 8 Sister Act.

Sport is taught by highly qualified staff including one or two Olympians. In addition to rowing and swimming all the team games (cricket for both sexes) are played to a high standard with trophies to prove it. The school are currently the national under 12 hockey champions. Emphasis is on, ‘every child being active and doing something they enjoy.’ Shared use of The Leys playing fields and swimming pool is a boon and Wednesday afternoon games are, ‘a highlight for most. My son has thrown himself into sport. He is not one of the superstars but the staff know him really well and he gets chances in the teams.’

Parents speak highly of pastoral care, ‘Teachers are always ready to chat after school or you can email. They care that the children are happy.’ Few discipline problems, ‘They are on it straight away, things are sorted out quickly and no grudges.’ Communication with parents is good, ‘though it would help if staff photos were posted on the portal so we know who’s who when we are new.’ All year 8 pupils are prefects and look forward to helping with pre-prep. It’s a school with a strong family ‘feel’ - part of its Christian ethos. ‘We have an inclusive approach. We use the bible and have hymns and prayers but we also include the other faiths.’ One parent spoke of her pleasure when her child was praised in their report for 'being a kind friend. I was so pleased that they cared about her as a person and had noticed.’ School has a strong local feel, ‘One of the reasons we chose it. We all cycle in together in the morning and we have got to know lots of other families that way.’ (It goes without saying that cycling is encouraged and school provides covered lock up space for bikes). A recent change to the house system unsettled a few though a parent said, ‘We see the sense in having children in a house for everything, not just sport.’ Heads of houses all take a first aid course in mental health and are very aware of children’s anxieties , especially post-pandemic and the return to full-time school days. A trained, ‘school listener' visits twice a week - pupils can book a half hour slot. Food is considered excellent. Lunch menus are on a three week cycle and include street food, a theatre bar (taster menu that chef cooks in front of the children), world cuisines and Friday fish. We can testify to the good, regular choices available at the salad bar. Parents' and pupils' breakfast is highly popular – and great value, ‘We get around 70 every day – two year groups at a time or we would be inundated.’

Money matters

Academic scholarships (five per cent of fees), are awarded in year 3. Those who perform well at entrance or are assessed during year 2 are invited to take an exam. Scholarships are occasionally available for outstanding candidates entering higher up the school. A limited number of means tested bursaries also available on entry to the school and hardship funds may be provided to existing families.

The last word

An impressive, really well run, happy school. Excellent staff, an academically rigorous curriculum taught without undue pressure and plenty of glorious space for children to enjoy. St Faith's is one of the gems in Cambridge's academic crown.

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

Although we have a Learning Support team, our provision is aimed at children whose need becomes apparent as they mature and move through the school. We do not have enough provision to accept new children into the school with SEN. Nov 09.

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