St George's School, Harpenden

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St George's School
Motto Levavi Oculos (Aim Higher)
Established 1907
Type Academy
Day and boarding school
Religion Christian
Headteacher Raymond McGovern[1]
Reverend Stephen Warner
Founder Cecil Grant
Location Sun Lane
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DfE number 919/4614
DfE URN 138356 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 1,314
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Goddard     
Colours Red, Green,
Former pupils Old Georgians

St George's School, Harpenden (also known as St George's) is a day and boarding school in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, England, educating students of both genders between the ages of eleven and eighteen, with an emphasis on its Christian ethos. It was founded in 1907 as one of Britain's first mixed-sex boarding schools.

As with the other two local secondary schools in Harpenden (Sir John Lawes School and Roundwood Park School), the students of St George's receive some of the best GCSE and A-Level results, significantly higher than the national average.[2]

In late 2015 the school started a consultation about changing its admission policy, due to increased pressure on the number of places. The yearly intake was increased from 150 to 180 in 2005 but this still not sufficient to meet predicted needs.[3]


File:St George's School.jpg
Aim higher entrance with clock tower above. Old Library and the chapel on the right. Girls boarding house to the left of clock tower
File:St George's School, Harpenden.jpg
Original school building from 1907. View of clock tower in the middle, Old Library to the right and girls boarding house on the left. Sixth Form block furthest on right

The school was founded in 1907 by Reverend Cecil Grant, having relocated his school southwards from Keswick, Cumbria in the Lake District.[4] It was originally a private school until it became a comprehensive voluntary aided school. On 1 July 2012 St George's became an academy, funded by the new St George's School Harpenden Academy Trust. It continues to be supported by the Cecil Grant Founder's Trust, a charity set up after Grant's death in 1946.

St George's was one of the first state schools in Britain to provide mixed-sex boarding education.[5] This progressive tradition was renewed in September 2010 when a mixed-sex boarding house was opened. The school recently gained International School Status contributing to competitive admission to the boarding houses.

Keswick School's motto Levavi Oculos — Schola Georgiana appears on the uniform badges. It derives from the their School Hymn,[6] Assurgit, which is sung in Latin. Levavi Oculos means "I have lifted up mine eyes" and alludes to Psalm 121, beginning "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help; my help cometh even from the Lord, who hath made Heaven and Earth." In the sense of "I have raised my sights" this is equivalent to the English motto Aim Higher, which appears over one archway at the front entrance of Keswick House. In 1917 a Montessori unit was opened.[citation needed]

Christian ethos

Admission to the school for day students is based mainly on location of students' homes, with students coming from many of the surrounding towns and villages. Regular attendance at a local church is required; however, the school itself is non-denominational and does not receive funding from any religious group or church.

The school maintains what it sees as a Christian basis in most aspects of school life, but the school community contains Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish students as well. The chapel is used daily for worship and assemblies. In addition to weekly chapels, students in the years 7–11 are required to attend three chapels per term on either a Sunday morning or evening. The school offers special carol services at Christmas for both the lower school (years 7-8) and upper school years 9-13) students. As the school has many ex-pupils who fought, died and were wounded in the first and second world wars, there is also a special Remembrance Sunday service. Chapels are generally taken by the current preacher, Rev. Warner but are often taken by guest speakers or the headmaster.

House system

The school is split into four houses: Watts (yellow), Grant (green), Monk (blue) and Goddard (red), named after the Rev. Arthur Watts, a former headmaster, the Rev. Cecil Grant, the founder of the school and Bertram Monk and Lister Goddard, two pupils who were killed in action during the Great War. Each academic year the House cup, called the 'Chapman Cup', is contested between the houses in a variety of events including sports, drama and music.

Each house is made up of approximately 400 pupils from all years, a team of 14 tutors, a head of house and a deputy head of house, two house captains, chosen from the sixth form and a team of sixth form prefects. Every year, a boy and a girl are chosen from the lower sixth to represent their school as School Captains. They continue their posts into year 13.


St George's operates on an 8:40am to 3:40pm schedule, which includes five periods, with a 25-minute break at 10:50am and a one-hour break for lunch at 13:15pm[citation needed]. Students may leave the campus for lunch if they are in the sixth form and have signed out. There are two tutor base sessions per day: 8:40am to 8:50am and 2:10pm to 2:40pm. There is no fifth period on Friday afternoons; students are allowed to leave after 2:55pm.

St George's is reputed to have some of the highest examination results in the country for state schools and rivals some of the private schools. The school performs particularly highly in Mathematics and Art, and is also good in Sports, Technology and Sciences. As well as classroom teaching, the school has a number of extracurricular clubs, teams and educational visits both residential and abroad. It is currently applying for status as a modern languages college.

The school music department offers peripatetic instrumental tuition for many woodwind, string, and brass instruments as well as classical and jazz piano, guitar, drums and voice. Many of the students take private music lessons on site. Regular concerts take place in the chapel and the old library.

Extra-curricular activities

St George's has a longstanding history of sport.[citation needed] The two main sports played are lacrosse for girls and rugby union for boys. The school also has netball, cricket, tennis, gymnastics, Football, rounders, basketball and athletics teams who compete in Hertfordshire and sometimes further afield.

The Girls Lacrosse Team have had a reputation for being one of the best in the UK. They also take part in tours across the United Kingdom.

In 1939 St George's School won the first National Schools Sevens tournament and has continued this Rugby success producing Rugby Sevens and Rugby Union internationals. The Rugby teams continue this legacy today producing many England Under-18 and Under-16 Rugby Players. The school is notable, for having first fielded Owen Farrell the English national player.


The school has a Sports Hall with an extensive fitness area and two new PE teaching classrooms. There are also four hard tennis courts, three netball courts and extensive pitches for rugby and lacrosse in Winter, and cricket, athletics and rounders in Summer.[7]


File:St George's School Aim Higher Entry.jpg
Aim Higher entrance on Carlton Road leading to girls boarding house

Keswick and Crosthwaite House are currently home to boy and girl boarders. Often, children from abroad come to St George's to board and often spend seven years of their education in Hertfordshire before going on to university or careers. Every year a head boy and head girl are elected exclusively for the boarding house. These two students from the upper sixth help to run the boarding house effectively and aid relationships between matrons and students. The school recently gained International School Status[8] contributing to competitive admission to the boarding houses.

Old Georgians

Name Year first attended Year last attended Description
Sacha Bennett 1982 1987 Actor, writer, producer and director for film and television.
Lennox Berkeley 1919 1921 British composer of French influence, moving towards serialism in later life.
Donald Coxeter One of the great geometers of the 20th century.
Hilary Evans British pictorial archivist, author, and researcher into UFOs and other paranormal phenomena.
Owen Farrell Rugby Union player. Promoted to the England 32-man elite squad in January 2012.
Joe Ford Rugby Union player.
Victor Goddard Air Marshall. A senior commander in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Laura Haddock 1996 2003 Actress – played Alison in The Inbetweeners Movie, and played Lucrezia Donati in Da Vinci's Demons.
Patrick Heron English abstract artist with work currently hanging in the Tate Gallery, St Ives.
George Hogg 1927[9] 1934 British journalist who rescued 50 Chinese orphans during the Japanese occupation,[10] as portrayed in the 2008 film The Children of Huang Shi.[11]
Francis Hollis Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak from 1938–1948.
Kenneth Horne Comedian.
Andrew Hunter Former MP.
Wanda Jablonski Leading journalist of the oil industry from 1948–1988.
Frances Lincoln Publisher and founder of Frances Lincoln Publishers.
Kate Mullins One of The Puppini Sisters.[12]
Michael Oakeshott 1912 1920 English philosopher with particular interests in political thought.
Peter Alan Rayner British coin-book author having written English Silver Coinage 1649 to date.


  1. "K Parsons letter" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "State Boarding Schools Directory — St George's School Profile". Retrieved 2010-05-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Consultation on Proposed Admissions Arrangements for Sept 2017/2018". St Georges School. Retrieved 2015-12-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Ofted Report 2011 — St George's School" (PDF). Ofsted. Retrieved 2010-05-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Reeves is offside again
  7. Physical Education: Curriculum, St George's School, Harpenden, UK.
  8. "St George's School Profile" (PDF). Teacher Net. Retrieved 2010-05-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. The long march of a forgotten English hero, The Times.
  11. The Children of Huang Shi (2008) on IMDb .
  12. Harpenden Magazine, July 2006.

Further reading

  • Storrie, Paddy (2004). Here I Am: Send Me. Harpenden, Hertfordshire: St. George's School.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links