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The sports excellence programme is not only attracting more local families but pupils from all over the world. Exam results not bad for a non-selective school with quite a few EAL pupils, and good value added. The strong Christian ethos of the school underpins its religious and spiritual life. Chapel services for everyone twice a week, as well a Sunday service for boarders, helping to maintain an ethos of consideration for others and moral values. One of the stated aims of the school is to...

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What the school says...

St Lawrence College welcomes enquiries from parents seeking an outstanding school, where every individual is nurtured to achieve their potential. This is most clearly illustrated in our excellent value-added academic results, attained through a combination of dedicated teachers, a broad and challenging curriculum, a strong work ethic and a focus on core educational skills, to provide a stimulating, inspiring and purposeful learning experience for our pupils. All of this is underpinned by High Performance Learning; an understanding that intelligence is not fixed and that high performance in education is achievable by all - we are proud to be members of the Fellowship of World Class Schools. Whilst we cater for all extra-curricular pursuits, we are particularly renowned for our sporting success – boys’ and girls’ national champions at hockey, in the top 100 cricket schools in the country and played in the U15 National Vase Rugby semi-finals last year. ...Read more

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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since April 2020, Barney Durrant. Previously head of Harrow International School in Hong Kong and before that, geography teacher then housemaster at Stowe for 14 years. Studied geography at UCL and also has PGCE from Cambridge and master’s in educational leadership and management from Nottingham. Has an athletics blue from Cambridge and is still very active, playing and coaching rugby to a high level, as well as competing in triathlon and cycling endurance events. Lived all over the world as a child, boarding from the age of 7, which helped mould his adventurous spirit and cosmopolitan outlook.

He took over the reins during the pandemic and, having already had experience of lockdown in Hong Kong, was able to offer online lessons from day one and help with the boarders, most of whom stayed in school throughout. Says the ethos at St Lawrence fits well with his own philosophy of growth mindset and high performance learning. Also happy to be working in what he believes to be a genuinely international school that prepares pupils for a globalised world and has a true understanding of diversity though adds its potential is not yet fully tapped. ‘He is quite formal,’ said a parent, ‘but has a great sense of humour, is very calm and a good listener and open to new ideas.’ Lives on site with wife Charlie (also a teacher), their three children (all at the school) and Tara, the golden doodle.

Head of junior school since 2016, Ellen Rowe BA PGCE. Previously head of Haddon Dene prep in Broadstairs. Geography degree from Sheffield; worked for her local authority then for Shelter before turning to teaching. Has taught at state secondary and independent prep schools, including as director of sport at Spring Grove prep in Wye. Married to Adam; they have twins who are both at St Lawrence.


Just about non-selective. Entry for all applicants to the senior school via tests in English and maths plus an interview and report from current school. Entry to junior school via meeting with head for parents and child plus taster day and report from child’s current school, and sometimes an assessment if there is concern a child might not be able to cope. Will take children at any stage if there are spaces. International pupils can join in year 11 for a one-year unexamined course before they start their A levels. German pupils sometimes come for a year. About 75 per cent of senior school entrants come up from the junior school, others from a range of state and independent schools like Wellesley House – they have a big primary school engagement programme. Some transfers from local grammars. Around 15-20 join in sixth form – international pupils will be tested in English and all will have to submit a report from their current school.


Automatic transition from junior to senior school and some three-quarters stay on – the rest mainly to grammars and non-selective state schools. Reasoning is part of the curriculum and so children are well prepared for the Kent Test, but some parents still get outside coaching. Around 15 per cent leave after GCSEs, either for financial reasons or to take vocational courses (42 per cent in 2023). Most go on to university, with Loughborough and Kent most popular recently. Others to UCL, Glasgow, Birmingham, Southampton and Bath. One medic in 2023. Overseas universities growing in popularity – students headed to the University of Delaware, University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
Middlesex University Dubai and Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan in 2023.

Latest results

In 2023, 33 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 17 per cent A*/A at A level (40 per cent A*-B). In 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), 33 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 19 per cent A*/A at A level (38 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

Exam results not bad for a non-selective school with quite a few EAL pupils, and good value added. As well as the usual subjects, music, PE, photography and Latin offered at A level – 24 subjects in all, plus sports BTec and EPQ. German A level available for native speakers. Pupils do particularly well in history, maths, economics and psychology. Class sizes are small with an average of 15 often with fewer in A level lessons. Science offered as dual or triple award at GCSE and taught by young and enthusiastic team in stunning new science labs based in the Canon Perfect Centre (opened in 2018). Popular science and engineering week and science lecture in conjunction with the Royal Society of Chemistry. Maths and science clinics for anyone who is struggling. A number of foreign trips including geographers to Iceland, physicists to CERN and classicists to Pompeii. Healthy mix of new young teachers and those have been at the school for many years. Several new members of the senior leadership team as both deputies moved on to be heads of other schools. There is a focus on staff development and teachers look at performance mindset to make sure pupils are aiming where they should be. ‘The school allows different abilities to be nurtured and pushed in equal measure,’ said a parent.

Careers centre open every afternoon; careers programmes for years 9 and 11 and sixth form - seminars, lectures and group sessions and one-to-one advice about higher education.

Saturday morning lessons and afternoon sport from year 9 upwards, with years 7 and 8 doing activities on Saturday mornings. Years 7 and 8 taught separately in Kirby House but by senior school teachers, and can use the other specialist facilities. One lesson a week of thinking and study skills and ICT incorporated into core lessons.

Learning support and SEN

About 10 per cent need learning support. One-to-one coaching and small group teaching is available alongside in-class support, with focus on inclusion to make sure pupils do not feel pigeonholed. Head of department, a former head teacher who was previously head of learning support at UWC Singapore, is assisted by four part-time staff. About 60 pupils receive some EAL support with a determined focus upon integration; now offers intensive EAL course for lower sixth entry. Lots of support tailored to individual needs, most take English GCSE and a few do ESOL. IELTS offered for university entrance.

The arts and extracurricular

Music part of the curriculum for years 7 and 8 and also offered at GCSE and A level. A number of bands and ensembles including rock, jazz, samba and concert band as well as various sixth form bands outside school, and school has its own recording studio. Regular music trips in the UK and abroad and school has invested in instruments for children to borrow.

Has a 500-seat multipurpose theatre with specialist lighting and sound equipment, with seats that can be covered so it doubles as the examination hall. Everyone has a chance to take part in major productions, either on stage or behind the scenes. Drama part of curriculum until year 9 and also offered at GCSE and at A level. Enthusiastic head of drama gets everyone involved.

Beautiful new art rooms at the top of the Canon Perfect Building take advantage of the wonderful light in the area and the school has close links with the Turner Contemporary gallery at Margate and there are regular trips to London art galleries.

Good range of activities including maths and science club, chess, musical theatre, various minor sports and debating society. Extended school day available for juniors, from 8am to 5pm – a boon for working parents. After-school activities for reception to year 2, while years 3-6 can take part in optional (and very popular) Saturday morning activities ranging from scuba diving and computing to play rehearsals.


The sports excellence programme is not only attracting more local families but pupils from all over the world. The school has two Astroturfs, one with an Olympic standard water base, a rarity in schools. It has recently employed an Olympic hockey player as elite performance director who spots potential elite athletes and looks at all aspects including individual training schedules and diet and nutrition.

Wide range of sports available though school's real strength is in mainstream sports, particularly boys’ and girls’ hockey. Cliftonville hockey club has its home at St Lawrence and a number of old Lawrentians are in the team. School brings in additional outside coaches and runs a cricket and netball academy during the winter, and several pupils train with the Kent squad. Some parents say they would like more competitions in minor sports.

Everyone takes part in team sports and the school is keen to encourage an ethos of sporting achievement and a healthy lifestyle beyond school. ‘They like to keep you fit and active,’ said one boy, and many day children stay on to exercise in the evenings – the mirrored dance studio and the climbing wall are both well used. DofE popular and several gain gold each year. CCF compulsory in year 9 and many carry on. Juniors can use the sports centre and theatre, indoor heated pool, Astroturf and games pitches and have plenty of sport and fixtures against other local schools. The recent introduction of girls’ cricket is proving popular.


Around 175 full boarders and a handful of weeklies. Sixty are from abroad, the rest from the UK - and the school stays open for exeats. Four boarding houses all with common room, kitchen and tuck shop and ensuite study bedrooms for senior pupils. House kitchens closed at lunchtimes to make sure pupils eat a proper meal. Years 7 and 8 boarders and day children live and learn in Kirby House, a light, modernist building with a glass atrium and a library which is housed in what looks like a large blue pottery chimney – inspired. All junior school boarders sleep here too. Large bright common room area with sofas, table tennis, a piano and a large television and 10 five-bed dorms with ensuite bathrooms and two flats for resident staff. Pupils allowed into Ramsgate at the weekends and some activities organised although often pupils want to ‘chill and relax’ at school.

Ethos and heritage

Founded in 1879 as a boys’ boarding school with the purpose of combining ‘careful religious training with a sound, liberal education’. The college was incorporated as a public school in 1892 and went fully co-ed in 1983. It is set in 45 acres of walled grounds in the middle of Ramsgate and within walking distance of the sea. The Virginia creeper clad main building, complete with towers and turrets, is a monument to muscular Christianity. Inside it is all panelled corridors and sweeping staircases. The chapel, with its beautiful stained-glass windows and fine organ, was built to commemorate the lives of 140 Old Lawrentians who died in the First World War. Impressive 19th-century dining hall decorated with portraits, shields and silverware. Major investment in building projects in recent years including new science, art and design technology building which is light and bright and modern and contrasts well with the Victorian Gothic of the original buildings.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

The strong Christian ethos of the school underpins its religious and spiritual life. Chapel services for everyone twice a week, as well a Sunday service for boarders, helping to maintain an ethos of consideration for others and moral values. One of the stated aims of the school is to encourage ‘a sense of serving others as a source of personal satisfaction’. The popular chaplain is a whizz with technology and ‘makes the services interesting’, according to the children. He lives on site and plays an important role in the boarding community. All major world faiths are represented within the school; Jewish pupils can attend the synagogue in Ramsgate and Muslims can observe Ramadan and attend the local mosque. The head meets regularly with the chaplain and head of the junior school.

Strong house loyalty and plenty of friendly inter-house rivalry – plays, matches and singing competitions. All houses have live-in house parents and a resident tutor. Head believes in positive justice but takes a hard line on bullying, drugs, alcohol and won't tolerate antisocial behaviour.

Pupils know where they stand and who to turn to. There is a clear pastoral structure of tutors and house staff who all know the pupils well as well as a system of buddies, mentors and prefects. There are two part-time counsellors and school can call on more if needed and several members of staff are trained mental health first aiders. The headmaster has rewritten the mental health and wellbeing policy which includes AS tracking, an emotional wellbeing tracker which looks at personality traits. ‘Positive wellbeing in year 2 improves academic performance in year 6.' The school is on top of the small things, says head.

Good food with plenty of choice at lunchtimes, including a salad bar, and can cater for special diets and allergies. Food committee made up of pupils and staff and meets regularly to make recommendations. Some boarding parents say that the food is less good in the evenings and weekends. Coffee shop open at break time, evenings and weekends – also popular with parents at drop-off time. Lots of interaction with the local community – children from nearby schools invited to watch plays and the Chemical Magic show and take part in the annual science and engineering challenge; pupils pick up litter and visit old people’s homes and the school has close links with the local church.

Pupils and parents

A big range: traditional families from local prep and primary schools, a number of first-time buyers and first-generation immigrants who are aspirational and ambitious for their children. Popular with the arty crowd moving down from London – high-speed railway means it is just over an hour to St Pancras. School prides itself on its internationalism and 30 per cent of pupils are foreign nationals from 30 countries including a sizeable contingent of Nepalis from the Gurkha barracks in Folkestone. Strong Nigerian connection and lots of Germans in sixth form. Children generally integrate well, although some say there could be more interaction between boarders and day pupils - school says it is working on this.

‘Relaxed yet respectful’ relationships between pupils and teachers. ‘I love the way the children are treated like young adults,’ said one parent. ‘Everyone is respectful of everyone else and it is a very caring and supportive school.’ ‘My son joined for the sixth form and felt welcome from the start – sending him there was the best thing we ever did.’ ‘As parents we felt welcomed from day one and have made friends for life,’ said another. A very loyal team of former pupils – successful businesspeople and entrepreneurs who help with work experience. Pupils are 'natural, friendly and unpretentious‘ and very supportive of each other.’ Lots of mixing between year groups, helped by the house system. Parents feel listened to and are encouraged to get involved. High praise for school comms too, particularly the parent portal where they can view their children’s marks, teachers’ notes and homework.

Money matters

All-rounder, academic, sporting and music scholarships offered at 11+ and 13+ - worth up to 25 per cent of fees. Sixth form scholarships for up to 25 per cent of fees for academic, arts, music and sport. Also means-tested bursaries, and special bursaries for Forces families who qualify for the Continuity of Education Allowance. Generous sibling discounts.

The last word

The school is going from strength to strength and the high-performance learning and growth mindset, together with the sports excellence programme and the close attention paid to emotional wellbeing, is a hit with parents. Its international and outward looking approach attracts pupils from all over the world. No wonder word has got out that this school is definitely worth a closer look.

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 given by a specialist SEN co-ordinator who has close links with all subject departments. Children with SEN attend support lessons in the unit, which is located in the main teaching block, at times and frequencies that meet their individual needs. All teaching staff have full details of the children with SEN, together with strategies that help with each individual in the classroom situation. The main aim is to maximise the learning potential of each individual so that they achieve the highest academic standards of which they are capable. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia Y
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
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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