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The buildings have been adapted, extended and improved to create a more welcoming space for children and their parents. It’s a very grounded school, not stuffy in any sense. Parents delight in the school’s ‘responsiveness’, answering questions, dealing with any concerns and, importantly, ‘never underestimating children’. Stretch and challenge include sparky discussions on current events in assembly that then continue over supper at home and the ability of staff to ‘see qualities in children that...

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What the school says...

St Olave's is the prep school to St Peters, with small classes, wonderful facilities and a vast array of academic and co-curricular opportunities, St Olaves is a caring school where we encourage each other to show compassion and self respect. We strive to achieve this by being welcoming and inclusive so that we can all feel valued and grow in confidence.

A fantastic team of teachers provide the inspiration to achieve, through creative teaching and a breadth of opportunities outside of the classroom. This does mean that we expect everyone to work hard and participate with whole-hearted commitment and resilience, reflecting on any disappointments and short-comings with honesty. Humility underpins all that we do, praising effort and fair play while celebrating our successes with modesty. Competitive sport allows all our pupils to compete against other schools at an appropriate level. There are over 200 individual music lessons taught each week and the love of music permeates throughout the school. Ultimately, we are preparing children for their future so that they always seek to improve and approach each challenge and opportunity with energy and optimism.

Located in the heart of the city, St Olaves 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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What the parents say...

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Other features

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


Since 2005, Mr Andy Falconer MBA BA (40s). An ISI inspector, recent chair of IAPS as well as a Walter Hines Page Scholar. Previously deputy head at Chafyn Grove School and before that was head of geography at Craigclowan School. Married to Lesley, a nurse, with three young daughters. Enjoys skiing, grew up near a Scottish ski resort and is a qualified instructor, former travel writer and currently into marathon running, otherwise free time is family time. Kind, charming, with a soft Scottish lilt and a delightful manner. Chats very comfortably with pupils, knows who they are and equally they know him - pupils tuck their shirts in when they see him coming. He misses nothing, touring school with a watchful eye, even turning off lights in empty rooms – ‘a Scotsman in Yorkshire,’ he grins. Hugely knowledgeable about and committed to the education of children, up to speed on all the latest developments, cherrypicking the best and applying them with skill and understanding to enhance the learning experience. Parents and children trust him implicitly, never doubting that he has the children’s best interests at heart. A rock solid practitioner.


Automatic from Clifton Pre-Prep (takes ages 3-8), otherwise selective but not massively so, looking for cognitive ability scores of 100+. All entrants are tested in maths, English, reading, spelling, and reasoning. Entrance examinations end of January.


Almost all to St Peter’s School, York. A few to Queen Margaret's, Bootham, Queen Ethelburga's and local state schools.

Our view

Sited in the former Queen Anne’s grammar school buildings – a number of mums are old girls. The buildings have been adapted, extended and improved to create a more welcoming space for children and their parents. It’s a very grounded school, not stuffy in any sense. Footbridge to senior school makes it easy to get from one campus to the other, ‘distinct and separate, yet linked’ (is the official line, and it seems to work).

Good facilities, shares Astroturf and indoor pool with senior school, but has own sports hall with indoor nets; music block; science lab; language rooms; DT; cookery, not as a discrete subject but linked eg to maths, DT, languages (recipes in French); art and ceramic studios; dining hall, Shepherd Hall for assemblies and regular productions, medical room and veg garden.

Parents delight in the school’s ‘responsiveness’, answering questions, dealing with any concerns and, importantly, ‘never underestimating children’. Stretch and challenge include sparky discussions on current events in assembly that then continue over supper at home and the ability of staff to ‘see qualities in children that others might overlook’. PTA members are busy with social and fundraising events twice a term varying from murder mystery nights to wine-tasting and a denim and diamante evening.

Invariably over-subscribed at 11+, year on year; some leakage of girls at year 6 to girls’ schools, but only a handful and they are ‘easily replaced,’ we are told. Roughly equal numbers of boys/girls.

Almost 40 per cent of boarders are from overseas, third armed forces, the rest from across the UK or even local – one boarder (currently six boys and seven girls are full boarders) lives close enough to kick a rugby ball into his own garden. Saturday morning school for everyone ‘allows a broader curriculum and more time spent with your mates’, says school; ‘great fun but requires stamina,’ say parents. Parents of day pupils (that’s most of them) pass the time having coffee or shopping, almost 50 take to school rowing boats on the river, it’s all part of the service. Day pupils travel from as far afield as Scarborough, Harrogate, Selby and Wetherby – short cut to the railway station makes it possible. The train is a good idea because parking is tricky – has to be a quick drop off in the mornings though the playground is opened up so that you can ‘park and pick up’ after school.

No common entrance or national curriculum testing here yet plenty of rigour. For those heading for public schools beyond York school organises own testing/entrance procedures and supports accordingly. Healthy outlook on education, ‘you’ve got to play the long game,’ says the head; ‘it’s more about learning and thinking and less about testing’, quoting that old Chinese proverb about ‘not fattening a pig by weighing it’. Doing something right as the library bucks the trend by being packed with boys at breaktime (clever librarian – great choice of ‘boy’ books) and academic standards, across the board, are high. Average class size 18 with maximum usually 20. Chapel twice a week, traditional C of E service. No issue with bright dyslexics, have strategies to help, specialist tutors, extra lessons and extra time for those who need them.

Staff are encouraged to ‘share the learning journey’ – the head is learning to play the drums (and gives the children regular updates on his progress in assembly); others offer four week courses to their colleagues (teaching and non-teaching) in a range of subjects, skills and challenges. Years 6 to 8 have all their lessons with subject specialists, younger children gradually work towards this. There is setting throughout for maths and for French and Latin in the top two years. Carousel for French/Spanish/German/Latin in years 4 and 5, pupils choose post year 7.

Music is high profile, a school concert sees two-thirds of pupils taking part. Years 4 and 5 have three class lessons of music each week; add to that the usual choirs, brass groups, sax and clarinet groups, recorder, woodwind and cello groups – plus the school rock band Stereo Flair. Some phenomenal art on display; ‘talent is recognised and nurtured,' say parents.

Sport is impressive here, plenty of teams and older pupils competing at national level. Bigger schools such as RGS Newcastle and QEGS Wakefield provide serious challenge; smaller preps may struggle to compete with the first team here. Sporting successes include four times winners of the National Rugby Sevens Tournament; winners of national JET Cup cricket; national finals for hockey, soccer and cricket. Outdoor pursuits, yacht sailing with Ocean Youth Trust and rowing (school has rowing machines as well as river access and own rowing club) plus an Easter ski trip and sports tours (years 5 and 8) keep pupils busy and active all year round.

Lots of extracurricular choice including enterprising young apprentice-type challenges and history model-making club, which essentially means making weapons from wood. Pupils also enjoy charity days and fundraising, pink day for breast cancer, organised by pupils, and green day in support of NSPCC, among recent events. Wide range of after-school clubs and activities, including prep clubs for day children of working parents.

Pupils eat and register in their mixed age houses, helping everyone to ‘know the school vertically and horizontally’. Strong house identity (that children describe as ‘Harry Potter-esque’), linked to pastoral care. A teacher/mentor follows through with groups of children year on year, a type of wraparound care valued hugely by parent body. Homemade lunches prepared by chef, the legendary Dave.

Smart (ish) navy uniform, different from and more appealing than the brown of the senior school; sports kit is linked across the schools.

Special Education Needs

St Olave's is an academically selective school with Entrance Tests in late January. The vast majority of pupils move on to St Peter's School, York. We have close links with Dyslexic Action in York. We provide in-class support and some one-to-one tuition if required.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
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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