The benefits of attending Stonyhurst in the Sixth Form

PUBLISHED: 14:37 16 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:00 15 May 2015

Stonyhurst Sixth Form

Stonyhurst Sixth Form


An excellent boarding school, such as Stonyhurst, can make a world of difference to a sixth former’s outlook and prospects.

Stonyhurst Sixth FormStonyhurst Sixth Form

At Stonyhurst, young people are supported as they grow in independence, encouraged to be “Young Men and Women for others” and to reflect on their studies and their lives as an intrinsic part of their culture of learning. Young people develop patterns of thinking that will sustain them through the difficult choices they face in the wider world. They also benefit from extremely experienced pastoral staff, well used to helping to resolve the doubts and conflicts of the teenage years.

At a school where full, weekly or flexi boarding are available as options, young people can learn to be away from their parents, but not feel abandoned in a new environment. There is an extraordinarily wide choice of clubs and activities to join – but they have a tutor who keeps an eye on their work life balance, and makes sure that, whilst they are encouraged to try new things, they are not stretching themselves too thinly, so that they cannot cope with their academic workload. Most importantly, they are learning to live with others, in a community where diversity is celebrated, tolerance is promoted, and a moral core is at the heart of everything.

With more than 100 activities and clubs to choose from, a school like this has no problem in ensuring that there is a platform on which each pupil can excel. The creative life of the College is rich and varied, offering many opportunities in music, art, drama and dance. Standards are high, with prestigious choral and organ scholarships awarded to Stonyhurst pupils, as well as places on National Youth Theatre courses. Sport also plays an important part in the life of Stonyhurst; the school is represented in local and national fixtures, and international tours take pupils all over the world. Last year, four of the Stonyhurst 1st IV Rugby team played rugby for England. The main team games are rugby, hockey, cricket, netball, athletics and football. Additional sports include cross country, running, squash, tennis, gymnastics, basketball, fencing and swimming. Facilities include a swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, all weather pitch, squash and tennis courts.

Stonyhurst Sixth FormStonyhurst Sixth Form

Headmaster, Mr Andrew Johnson, sums it up:

“Stonyhurst is a 400-year-old school but it’s a school that’s really focused on giving a high quality education. We’ve got lots of tradition and a fascinating history but actually we’re about what’s best for the young people of this generation, and how we can develop them as individuals.

There’s an enormous focus upon preparing young people to go off to university. The academic is essential, of course; it’s so important, but it’s not the whole story. In fact we are interested in an individual pupil’s all-round development as a preparation for life, through sport, music or drama, and our vast range of activities and opportunities for personal growth and leadership.”

Stonyhurst has an outstanding academic record and academic results are excellent, with almost half of pupils in this non-selective school achieving A-A* grade at GCSE, compared with a national pass rate of just 21.3%. Results are equally as impressive at A-Level, with 99% of pupils passing all their chosen subjects and last year 91% achieving A-C grades. In addition, Stonyhurst now offers the International Baccalaureate. And as the IB Organisation Authorisation Report for Stonyhurst stated, “[Stonyhurst has] excellent standards of teaching and learning. Students are clearly engaged as inquirers and thinkers […] The emphasis placed on education of the whole person, alongside academic rigour, accord well with the IB mission statement.” Most students head off for top universities including Oxford, Cambridge and even Harvard, but young people starting out in the world of work will also benefit from the support of an extensive and successful network of former pupils who are able to give work experience and advise with careers.

Stonyhurst Sixth FormStonyhurst Sixth Form

Such connections are not to be underestimated. As the oldest Jesuit school in the world, there are many inspirational and well-known alumni from bygone years, including Arthur Conan Doyle and the actor Charles Laughton. JRR Tolkien’s sons were educated at Stonyhurst, and part of ‘Lord of the Rings’ was written during his extensive stay in the school gatehouse. Seven former students were awarded the Victoria Cross, including the holder of the first WW1 VC, Maurice Dease. In more recent years they have included former BBC Director General Mark Thompson, Premier League chairman Anthony Fry, the ‘Joseph Joseph’ kitchen design twin brothers Richard and Antony and National Theatre director Chris Morris. Many former students have a great affection for the school and always seem willing to come in and help inspire the new generations. Recently John Watson OS, now the Deputy-Chief Medical Officer for the UK, came in to open a new science laboratory and speak to aspiring medics; and only last week Martin Wenner from the National Theatre led a workshop with Stonyhurst Drama students.

The cost of a private education obviously plays a large part in parents’ decisions, but Stonyhurst does not wish purely financial considerations to deter any parent from applying for a place. The Headmaster is always pleased to discuss any individual cases deserving of bursaries, and generous Scholarships are available for exceptional students.

Parents of youngsters who have boarded or even just shared in the extraordinary life of a boarding school with an international dimension, can justifiably have less anxiety about their children facing university life. They know that their child has already become a resilient, independent, organised and confident young adult who can get on with others from all backgrounds and deal positively with new situations. For centuries, caring parents have sent their teenagers away to boarding school because of the expertise these schools have developed in forming students to become independent, confident and responsible adults. In a society with an increasingly risk averse approach to raising young people, there is a danger that they may be less able to look after themselves, and make sensible decisions without an adult standing over them, once they do leave home. A child who has been picked up from school, dropped off at school, closely supervised with their homework preparation, cleaned up after and cooked for may not be so well equipped to look after him or herself alone. What a difference it could make to spend a couple of years in a community where opportunity abounds and where care for others and integrity are at the heart of everything.

Stonyhurst Sixth FormStonyhurst Sixth Form

For parents and children wishing to look toward Stonyhurst for their education, the school is opening its doors on Thursday 25th September (6th Form Open Evening) Saturday 11th October (3 – 13 year old Open Day) and Saturday 8th November (13 – 18 year old Open Day). This will provide an opportunity for parents and children to look around this impressive school and meet with staff and teachers to discuss their child’s future. For further information, and to book an Open Day place, please visit email or call Admissions on 01254 827073

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