Wells Cathedral School
Somerset BA5 2ST
Tel: 01749 834200 Fax: 01749 834201
• CO-ED, 3–18 Day, 7–18 Boarding
• Pupils 713, Upper sixth 91
• Termly fees £3150–£3730 (Day), £5250–£6230 (Boarding)
• HMC, IAPS, SHA, CSA
• Enquiries/application to the Registrar
WHAT IT’S LIKE
Founded in the 12th century, the school has one of the finest sites in Europe,
on the edge of Wells and a little to the north of the Cathedral. It occupies all
but one of the medieval and 18th-century buildings of The Liberty, in a
conservation area around the Cathedral. There are also lovely walled gardens and
an area of parkland used for playing fields. The school is well equipped with
modern facilities and accommodation, including laboratories, libraries and a big
music school. Academic standards are high and examination results good. It is
fully co-educational, having accepted girls since 1969. An ancient church
school, there are close links with the Cathedral and worship in the Anglican
tradition is encouraged. It is one of the few specialist music schools under the
government’s Music & Dance Scheme and the only one which is part of a
traditional school. Many pupils are involved in choirs, orchestras and bands and
well over 400 learn one or more instruments. The drama department is also
strong. There is a broad range of games and sports available and a large and
varied number of extra-curricular activities. The CCF has an active contingent
and there is a sizeable community service group. There is a good record in the
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and outdoor pursuits form an integral part of
the school curriculum.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 3–18; 713 pupils, 513 day (254 boys, 259
girls), 200 boarders (94 boys, 106 girls). Senior department 11–18; 491 pupils
(251 boys, 240 girls).
Entrance: Main entry ages 11, 13 and 16. Own exam used; for sixth-form
entry, 6 GCSEs at least grade C (grade B in sixth-form subjects). No special
skills or religious requirements. 20% senior intake from state schools (plus 10%
to sixth form); 80% from own junior (enquiries to Wells Cathedral Junior School,
8 New Street, Wells, Somerset BA5 2LQ, tel 10749 834400, fax 01749 834401).
Scholarships & bursaries Academic scholarships awarded at 11, 13 and
16. Music scholarships and aided places (under the government Music & Dance
Scheme); bursaries for cathedral choristers (from Dean & Chapter). Some boarding
and other bursaries may be available.
Head & staff
Head: Elizabeth Cairncross, in post since 2000. Educated at Reigate
County Grammar School and University College London (English). Previously Deputy
Head at Christ’s Hospital, Tutor for Girls at Kingston Grammar and taught at
King Edward’s, Witley.
Teaching staff: 48 full time, 55 visiting music teachers. Annual turnover
5%. Average age 40.
GCSE: In 2003, 90 pupils in Year 11, 95% gained at least grade C in 8+
subjects. Average GCSE score 56 (55 over 5 years).
A-levels: 90 in upper sixth. Average final point score achieved by upper
sixth formers 323.
University & college entrance 99% of sixth-form leavers go on to a
degree course at university or music college (18% after a gap year), 5% to
Oxbridge. 5% take courses in medicine, dentistry & veterinary science, 37% in
science & engineering, 15% in humanities & social sciences, 42% in arts,
including music. Others typically go on to banking, retail management, art or
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 36 GCSE subjects, 26 AS-level, 21
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level (some over 2
years), 3 at A-level (most music specialists only take 2 A-levels); general
studies is not taken. 40% take science/maths A-levels; 41% arts/humanities; 19%
both. Key skills: ICT level 3 taught as a discrete unit.
Vocational: Work experience available.
Special provision: EFL and help for pupils who are dyslexic or mildly
Languages: French, German, Italian and Latin offered to GCSE, AS and
A-level. Regular exchanges.
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject (1 lesson/week Years 7–9) and
across the curriculum. Few sixth form take Clait. 30–40 computers for use by
pupils 10 hours a day, in 5 different clusters (central computer room and 4
faculty based), most with internet and e-mail access.
Music: Over 60% of pupils learn a musical instrument (violin is part of
the curriculum in pre-prep); instrumental exams can be taken. Some 50 musical
groups including chamber ensembles, choirs, orchestras, bands. Pupils have been
recent winners of Audi Young Musician competition, finalists in BBC Young
Musician, several in eg National Youth Orchestra, National Children’s Orchestra;
cups and trophies at Taunton Festival; recent winner professional trumpet
competition, choral scholarship to Cambridge, Wells Cathedral organ scholarship.
Strong links with conservatoires. Regular masterclasses and recitals by
nationally and internationally acclaimed performers.
Drama & dance: Both offered. GCSE and A-level theatre studies, LAMDA,
Associated Guilds exams may be taken. Majority of pupils are involved in school
and house/other productions. 2 pupils to drama school most years. Annual
Shakespeare and musical (The Tempest and Turn of the Screw on Edinburgh Fringe
Art & design: On average, 18 take GCSE, 4 A-level. Pottery also offered.
Recent successes: pupils direct entry to Slade and Ruskin, BP National Portrait
Gallery Competition winner.
Sport & activities
Sport: Rugby, hockey, netball, cricket, tennis, rounders, swimming etc
compulsory. Optional: golf, athletics, badminton, outdoor pursuits, riding.
Sixth form only: squash, soccer, volleyball, basketball. GCSE and A-level may be
taken. Various sporting successes, county representatives each year.
Activities: Pupils take silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Optional CCF
(winners National Artillery Tremlett Trophy) and community service; annual
weekend teaming up able-bodied child with handicapped one. Over 30 clubs, eg
photography, calligraphy, literary, debating, tapestry, Young Enterprise.
Uniform: School uniform worn; smart dress in sixth form.
Houses & prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects, head boy/girl, head of
house and house prefects – appointed and elected by staff and school.
Religion: Daily assemblies; the school worships in Cathedral weekly.
Social: Debates, prefects’ conferences, sport, sixth-form society.
Organised trips abroad and exchange systems. Day pupils allowed to bring own car
or bike to school. Meals self-service. School shop. No tobacco or alcohol
Discipline Aims to be firm and fair. Involvement with illegal drugs
is likely to lead to a pupil being required to leave the school.
Boarding Few single study bedrooms, 70% share (with 1 or 2); 5% are
in dormitories of 6+. Single-sex houses of 27–54, divided by age group (middle
and senior). Resident qualified nurse and school doctor. Central dining room.
Pupils can provide and cook snacks. 2 exeats each term of 1_ days (11–14);
flexible policy in upper school. Visits to local town allowed with permission.
Alumni association (Old Wellensians) is run by Alwyn Gillen, c/o the