What it’s like
Founded in 627 and thus one of the oldest schools in Europe. Alcuin was a pupil
and headmaster; its first head was a saint (Paulinus) and Guy Fawkes was an old
boy. It is urban, single-site by the Ouse and is exceptionally well equipped in
fine buildings dating from the 1830s to the present day. The junior and prep
schools are on the same site. Academic standards are high and examination
results very good. It is strong in drama and art and particularly in music. High
standards are attained in a variety of sports and games. A wide range of
extra-curricular activities is offered. There is a vigorous CCF contingent,
considerable commitment to local community schemes and a creditable record in
the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Age range 13–18; 500 pupils, 340 day (223 boys, 117 girls), 160
boarding (95 boys, 65 girls).
Entrance: Main entry ages 13 and 16. Own entrance exam used. No special
skills or religious requirements but all attend chapel (C of E). Small state
school entry; many pupils from own prep school, St Olave’s School (tel 01904
Scholarships & bursaries Academic and music scholarships available
Head & staff
Head Master: Richard Smyth, in post 2004. Educated at Sedbergh and
Cambridge University (law & modern history). Previously Headmaster at King's
School, Bruton, Housemaster at Wellington College, and taught at Christ's
Hospital and Gresham's. Also spent 5 years in business, 1 year as lay assistant
to Anglican Church in Berne; cricket blue and rugby half blue.
Teaching staff: 53 full time. Annual turnover 4%. Average age 35.
GCSE: In 2003, 87 pupils in fifth, 97% gained at least grade C in 8+
subjects. Average GCSE score 71 (68 over 5 years).
A-levels: 100 in upper sixth: 99% passed in 4+ subjects. Average
final point score achieved by upper sixth formers 353 (359 over 2 years).
University & college entrance 98% of 2003 sixth-form leavers went on
to a degree course (23% after a gap year), 7% to Oxbridge. 6% took courses in
medicine, dentistry & veterinary science, 32% in science & engineering, 52% in
humanities & social sciences, 3% in art & design, 7% in vocational subjects eg
architecture, product design, computer sciences, education.
Curriculum GCSE and A-levels. 17 GCSE subjects, 22 AS/A-level.
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level;
general studies is not taken. 16% take science A-levels; 34% arts/humanities;
Vocational: Work experience available.
Special provision: Extra English provision for the few pupils that need
Languages: French, German and Spanish to GCSE, AS and A-level. Regular
exchanges to France and Germany.
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject (1 lesson/week in Year 9–10) and
across the curriculum. 35+ computers for pupil use (9 hours a day), most
networked and all with e-mail and internet access. Most pupils take Clait.
Music: Over 45% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams
can be taken. Some 10+ musical groups including orchestra, string orchestra,
bands, choirs, choral society, swing band, string ensemble, barbershop quartet.
Regular productions eg Guys & Dolls, Pirates of Penzance.
Drama: There are regular school and middle school productions, including
recently The Threepenny Opera.
Art & design: On average, 40 take GCSE, 16 A-level. Pottery, textiles
Sport & activities
Sport: PE part of curriculum up to the sixth form. Options programme
includes: netball, rugby, cricket, hockey, rowing, squash, fencing, swimming,
cross-country, aerobics, fitness, badminton, tennis, athletics, trampolining,
golf. Regular national and county representatives.
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award. CCF and community service optional. Range of extra-curricular activities.
Uniform: School uniform worn except in sixth form.
Houses & prefects: Monitors, head boy, head girl and heads of house –
appointed by the Head Master and staff.
Religion: Compulsory attendance at (C of E) services during the week.
Social: Many holiday expeditions including Northern France battlefields;
rugby tour Australia (2004), hockey and netball, skiing, music to USA (2005).
Pupils allowed to bring own car to school. Meals self-service. School shop.
Discipline Founded on self-discipline and respect for others.
Boarding Sixth form in own study bedrooms or share with up to 2.
Single-sex houses of up to 50. Resident SRN. Central dining room. Regulated
visits to York.
Alumni association Old Peterite Club is run by Hon Secretary, P J
Netherwood, c/o the school.
Former pupils 3 Archbishops of York; C Northcote Parkinson (of
Parkinson’s Law); Norman Yardley (cricket); Guy Fawkes; Laurence Eusden (Poet
Laureate); Sir Thomas Herbert (author); Jeremy J Beadle (music critic);
Christopher Hill (historian); Sir Clifford Allbutt (inventor of clinical
thermometer; the original Dr Lydgate in George Eliot’s Middlemarch); John Barry
(composer); Basil Radford (actor); Greg Wise (actor).