Durham School: Wikis


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Durham School
Motto Floreat Dunelmia
(May Durham Flourish)
Established 1414
Type Private school

Independent school

Religion Anglican
Head Master E.M.George
Chairman Alasdair MacConachie
Founder Thomas Langley[1]
Location Quarryheads Lane
County Durham
England England
Students 642 (476 senior school, 166 Bow, Durham School) (September 2009)
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3 to 18
Houses 5
Colours green and white          
Former pupils Old Dunelmians (ODs)
Website Durham School
Coordinates: 54°46′18″N 1°34′59″W / 54.771576°N 1.583024°W / 54.771576; -1.583024
A picture of Durham School in the snow taken from outside the chapel
Durham School seen from outside the chapel

Durham School, headmaster Martin George (April 2009)[2], is an independent British day and boarding school for girls and boys (age 3-18) in Durham. Founded nearly six hundred years ago, today the school has nearly 650 boys and girls from age 3 to 18.

As is common with most schools, Durham School offers a broad ranging academic curriculum supported by a varied programme of extra-curricular activities and opportunities. Unlike most schools, however, Durham School operates a house system; all students are members of a single house. Alumni, referred to as Old Dunelmians, can be, and have been, found across the spectrum of public life, the armed services, the arts, the church and in sport.



Durham School was founded by Thomas Langley[1] by at least 1414 (the foundation date accepted by the Clarendon Commission into public schools in 1861), and refounded by Henry VIII of England during the Protestant Reformation in 1541. Although the school is the 18th oldest in Britain, it may actually have origins in the Priory at Lindisfarne, being moved to Durham City to escape marauding Viking invaders around the time that St. Cuthbert's body was brought to what is now the site of Durham Cathedral.

A picture of Durham Cathedral taken from outside the chapel to illustrate the view
Durham Cathedral seen from outside the chapel

Ths school has been co-educational since 1985[3].

There was some zeal for education in Durham during the 18th century. Durham School, rebuilt in 1661, on the Palace Green, soon became, instead of a local grammar school, a north-country public school of repute and wide influence. We can trace from the Restoration onwards not only the familiar city names such as Salvin, Wilkinson, Hutchinson, Blakiston, Fawcett, Bowes, Calverley, Cole. One of the chief distinctions of the school is the succession of local historians and antiquaries who drew their inspiration from the venerable association of the old school on the Green. Most famous of these is James Mickleton (1638–93), without whom no history of mediaeval or 17th-century Durham would be possible. (fn. 144) Local history owes very much to Elias Smith, a notable head master (1640–66) who did his best to preserve the cathedral library through the Protectorate troubles, and to Thomas Rudd, head master (1691–9 and 1709–11), who indexed the Cathedral manuscripts. Later than these comes Thomas Randall (head master 1761–8), who made a large collection of manuscript material for local history books.
William Page, The city of Durham - Introduction (3 of 3) 1928.[4]

Academic results and subjects




Whilst full results for 2009 are not available to the public yet, 55% of Durham School students were awarded a grade A or B at A-Level[5] and 41% of the students who sat GCSE were awarded an A* or A.[6]


In the 2008 results, Durham School scored the following at GCSE and A/AS level[7]:

GCSE: 76%

The key GCSE-LEVEL indicator is the proportion of pupils attaining the Level 2 threshold - equivalent to five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C - including English and maths GCSEs.[8]

A/AS-Level Average points: 807.1

The key A/AS-LEVEL indicator is the average point score per student, calculated using the points system devised by England's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority for a range of qualifications. This assigns 270 points to an A grade A-level, for example, 540 to a double distinction in a BTec national and 1,050 to a score of 35 in an IB Diploma.[8]

Level 3 CVA: 999.1

The results incorporate two complex contextual value added (CVA) scores designed to show the progress children have made.

This is done by comparing their achievements with those of other pupils nationally who had the same or similar prior attainment.

This predicts what a given child's attainment should be based on the actual attainment of other children with similar prior attainment and similar backgrounds. ... Level 3 CVA

New in the 2008 tables, this differs from the Level 2 version in that it does not take account of socio-economic factors, such as ethnicity or deprivation. This is because the socio-economic data on the students are not available.

Instead it includes other factors shown to have an impact on students' attainment, such as the type of qualification studied and size of learning programme they attempted. So there are Level 3 CVA scores for independent schools.[8]


A/AS Level

Durham School students are able to choose from a range of subjects for their AS-Levels in Year 12 and their A2s in Year 13:

Year 12 pupils are able to choose up to five Advanced Subsidiary level subjects (AS), although most of our pupils choose four.

In Year 13 pupils normally choose three of their AS subjects to continue to A2 level. They also have the opportunity to take General Studies at AS level in January and A2 in June. Alternatively, those applying to the best universities and/or for the most popular courses can take an AS in Critical Thinking (which is much more demanding than General Studies).

Durham School, Durham School Academic Curriculum[9]

The subjects avalailable are:[9]


Durham School, in common with most other schools, offers a varied curriculum at GCSE:

All pupils take English Language, English Literature, French, Mathematics and Dual Award Science, in which the three components (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) are studied and examined separately, leading to two GCSEs in Science. All pupils Study IT and follow the GCSE Short Course in Religious Studies.

Pupils then choose three from a list of optional subjects. These are arranged into three groups and one subject is chosen from each group. Some subjects appear in more than one group and the groups are so constructed as to enable most common combinations of subjects to be studied. The optional subjects currently available are: Art and Design, Design and Technology (Graphic Products), Classical Civilisation, Drama, Geography, German, History, IT, Latin, Music, PE and Spanish.

Durham School, Durham School Academic Curriculum[9]

Key Stage 3 (Years 7 to 9)

Durham School offers a range of subjects to students in Years 7 to 9 that lead into the GCSE programme starting, generally, in Year 10:

The principal aim is to lay the foundations for further study and to keep open as many doors as possible. Pupils study Mathematics, English, History, Geography, Religious Studies, Music, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Studies, Art, Design and Technology and Physical Education. In the modern world the study of languages is of vital importance. Therefore all pupils study French and in Year 9 the better linguists have the opportunity to start German or Spanish too. Some pupils study Latin in Years 7 - 9, while those who do not spend more time on their other subjects. In short we aim to deliver to our youngest pupils a curriculum with opportunities to develop creative, imaginative, aesthetic and scientific learning.
Durham School, Durham School Academic Curriculum[9]

Pastoral care

Patoral care at Durham School is based around the house system:

House system


For pastoral and sporting purposes, the school is divided into five different houses[10]:

House Occupants Founded House colour
The Caffinites boys, day     
MacLeod girls, day 2005[11]     
Pimlico girls, boarding and day 1985[12]     
Poole boys, boarding and day 1924[13]     
The School House boys, boarding and day 1844[14]     


At various times in the school's history there has also been Langley House, named after the school's founder, Cardinal Langley. This was initially sited in what is now the Grove, which contains the school's administration and staff-room, but after this was closed, it was re-opened several years later in the old Sanitorium as a day house. In 1998, this house closed its doors for pupils for the last time and the building was converted into a classroom block. Another former house was Ferens House, that was specifically for lower-school boys in years 7 and 8. This house was removed in 2005 and replaced with pupils being allocated to one of the 3 boys houses.



Durham School has a wide ranging sports programme that includes athletics, badmington, cricket, cross country, fencing, football, gym, hockey, netball, rounders, rowing, rugby, squash, swimming, tennis and water polo.[15]

A picture of Durham School's all weather sports pitch
The all weather pitch

Durham School Boat Club

Durham School Boat Club
Clubhouse of Durham School Boat Club
Blade Colours of Durham School Boat Club
Motto Mileage Makes Champions
Location Durham
Coordinates 54°46′19.39″N 1°34′48.29″W / 54.7720528°N 1.5800806°W / 54.7720528; -1.5800806
Founded 1847
Home Water River Wear
Website dsbc.synthasite.com/
Affiliations ARA

Northern Rowing Council

Durham School Boat Club (DSBC), founded at least as early as 1838,[16] is one of the oldest clubs on the River Wear in Durham. The Club is a co-founder of Durham Regatta, held in June each year, winning its first Challenge Cup in 1865.[16] The first Club rower to win a blue for Oxford or Cambridge rowing in The Boat Race was W. King who rowed for Oxford in 1854.[16] Durham School boats use the three letter boat code DUS.[17]

The Club is not selective, that is it is open to all students: "All year groups at the school have the opportunity to row at the appropriate level for their physiological and physical development".[18] The Club has been successful at national and international level, the athletes having represented their home countries and Great Britain at olympic, world, university and junior level, most recently being GB representation at the World Rowing Junior Championships[19] in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France in August 2009, the Coupe de la Jeunesse[20] in Cork, Ireland in 2008 and England representation at the Home International Regatta in 2006.

The Club enters a number of local, national and international events. In addition to wide ranging representation at the various north eastern heads and regattas oarsmen and women of different ages are regularly entered in events further afield. For example the 1st Eight rowed in the Henley Royal Regatta in 2008[21] for the first time in over 40 years and it also visited the USA in October 2008 to row in the Head of the Charles Regatta,[22] achieving an excellent result for their first visit. Having pre-qualified again, the 1st Eight was in action at Henley in 2009, achieving a win over Reading Blue Coat School in their first race before being knocked out by Abingdon School (one of the country's premier rowing schools who went through to the final) on the second day.[23] There are also frequent trips to the various events held on the Tideway in London, the Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre, Dorney Lake and the annual trip to the Gent Spring Regatta in Belgium.


Durham School is the fourth or fifth oldest football club of any kind in the world[24] and has produced many international rugby union players as well as introducing the game to Scotland (please see below). Durham School Football Club was founded in 1850[25] and was from 1890-1930 one of the rugby nurseries in England - this was first recognised by the Barbarians who honoured the school by playing a full side against the Old Dunelmians in 1897 (Barbarians won 18-5). Just before the First World War the school supplied four England players as well as a number of England trialists. Between 1920 and 1930 the school produced seven full internationals as well as several trialists (England, Scotland and British Lions). The headmaster during this great period was Richard Thomas Dutton Budworth who was himself a former England international and Barbarian.[26]

Newcastle Falcons (originally Gosforth) rugby union club were founded as the old boys side and played in the school's colours until recently (green and white hoops).[27]

Combined Cadet Force

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is a military organisation within schools in Great Britain. Durham School CCF has been running since before World War One. Many of the cadets of that time joined the army and many of them fought and died.

Currently the CCF is a voluntary activity that students may opt in to from the Easter of Year 9 onwards.

There are three sections in the school's CCF[28]:


Music is an important aspect of life at Durham School:

Music at Durham School enjoys a high profile within the School and in the wider community. We try to ensure that practical music making is made as inclusive as possible for all pupils, throughout the School whilst striving for the highest possible musical standards at all levels. Academic music is given a high priority and the School’s pupil musicians are encouraged to study music at GCSE and A level. We endeavour to motivate and enthuse all musicians and potential musicians within an environment which promotes high values, a sense of community and, above all, a sense of achievement and enjoyment.
Durham School, Music at Durham School[29]


Drama at Durham School has a long and distinguished tradition. It is centred at the Luce Theatre, a versatile space that has housed many different types of production and is now the base for curriculum drama lessons. Musicals, comedies, farces, costume drama, sketch shows and tragedy all have their place here. The Luce Theatre was totally re-furbished and its technical provision upgraded in the Summer of 2006.
Durham School, Drama at Durham School[30]

Chapel and war memorial

The school chapel, built in the 1920s, sits on top of a hill overlooking the main school site.

A picture of the school chapel seen from below in the area of the main schol buildings
The chapel from the main school buildings

The building is used for services several times a week that the majority of pupils attend. The School is within the Anglican tradition.

A picture of the chapel shown close by
The chapel

The chapel is also the war memorial, its walls are engraved with the names of those who died in World War I and the further 79[31] who died in World War II. There are 97 steps to the chapel, one for each of the Old Dunelmians who died in WWI.[32] (Note that the UKNIWM reference and Durham School's disagree on the number of WWI dead - 97 or 98.)

A picture showing the chapel steps which form a key part of the war memorial, one step for every old boy who died in World War I
The chapel steps

Notable alumni: Old Dunelmians

The alumni of Durham School are referred to as 'Old Dunelmians'. Their number include Granville Sharp[33], founder of Sierra Leone; Field Marshal Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge[34], commander in chief of the British Army after The Duke of Wellington; Anthony Salvin[35], the architect of national fame and Alexander Armstrong[36], the actor and comedian.

Bow, Durham School

Bow, Durham School
Established 1885[37]
Type Private school

Independent school Preparatory School

Religion Anglican
Head Master N. Baird
Location South Road
County Durham
England England
Students 166 (September 2009)
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3 to 11
Website http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/prep-school.asp

The school has a prep-school for girls and boys aged 3–11, situated about 1/2 mile to the east.[38]

Previously known as Bow School, this school has existed as a boys school for over one hundred years[38] and is now co-educational. Students remain at Bow School until the end of Year 6:

Bow was founded in 1885 as an independent day school for boys aged 3 to 13 and moved to its present site in 1888. In 1976 the school was incorporated into the Durham School Foundation and formally became the Preparatory School for Durham School. In September 2006 we welcomed girls for the first time and our Years 7 and 8 moved up to the senior school.
Bow, Durham School, About The Prep School.[37]


  1. ^ a b Fraser, C. M.. "Langley, Thomas (c.1360–1437)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004). http://www.oxforddnb.com./view/article/16027?docPos=11. Retrieved 9 September 2009. "...he also founded a chantry in the Galilee chapel of Durham Cathedral, his designated burial place, whose two chaplains were to teach grammar and song to poor children freely—the forerunner of Durham School.". 
  2. ^ "Dream job for Durham School headteacher". Northern Echo. 29 March 2009. http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/search/4241515._Dream_job__for_Durham_School_headteacher/. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Wilson, Karen (10 January 2008). "Independent schools offer the very best start". The Journal. http://www.nebusiness.co.uk/business-commercial-reviews/advertising-features/2008/01/10/independent-schools-offer-the-very-best-start-51140-20331945/. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  4. ^ William Page (ed.) (1928). "City of Durham". A History of the County of Durham: volume 3. Victoria County History. pp. 29–53. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=42604. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  5. ^ "Higher numbers of A grades than ever". Northern Echo. 21 August 2009. http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/4558143.Students_celebrating_results_across_region/. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  6. ^ "City school pupils celebrate outstanding GCSE results". Durham Times. 28 August 2009. http://www.durhamtimes.co.uk/news/4570845.City_schoolpupils_celebrate_outstanding_GCSE_results/. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "Secondary schools in Durham". BBC. 15 January 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/education/08/school_tables/secondary_schools/html/840.stm. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c "Guide to 2008 secondary tables". BBC. 20 January 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7826777.stm. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Durham School Academic Curriculum". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senioracademiccurriculum.asp. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "Houses at Durham School". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/seniorpastoralhouses.asp. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  11. ^ "MacLeod". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senior-house-macleod.asp. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  12. ^ "Pimlico". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senior-house-pimlico.asp. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  13. ^ "Poole". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senior-house-poole.asp. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  14. ^ Alderson, M.P. (2009). [http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/downloads/SCHOOL%20HOUSE%20HANDBOOK.pdf THE SCHOOL HOUSE PUPIL’S HANDBOOK 2009-10]. Durham: Durham School. p. 6. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/downloads/SCHOOL%20HOUSE%20HANDBOOK.pdf. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  15. ^ "Sport at Durham School". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senioractivitiessport.asp. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  16. ^ a b c "Rowing North East Rowing - A History Time-line". North East Rowing On-line. http://www.nerowing.com/rowhist/. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  17. ^ "Durham School BC (DUS)". Amateur Rowing Association. http://www.ara-rowing.org/clubs/durham-school-bc. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  18. ^ "Rowing at Durham School". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senior-rowing.asp. Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  19. ^ "2009 World Rowing Junior Championships, Brive-le-Gaillarde, France". Amateur Rowing Association. http://www.ara-rowing.org/content/2009-world-rowing-junior-championships-brive-le-gaillarde-france. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  20. ^ "2008 Coupe de la Jeunesse, Cork, Ireland". Amateur Rowing Association. http://www.ara-rowing.org/content/2008-coupe-de-la-jeunesse-cork-ireland. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  21. ^ "Henley Royal Regatta - Princess Elizabeth Cup Results 2008". Henley Royal Regatta. http://www.hrr.co.uk/pdisp.php?pid=85. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  22. ^ Powers, John (October 20, 2008). "Some of these race lengths were almost gone with wind". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/sports/outdoors/articles/2008/10/20/some_of_these_race_lengths_were_almost_gone_with_wind/. Retrieved 28 August 2009. "The Durham School Boat Club (back) and Cleveland Scholastic Rowing Association compete in youth men's eights." 
  23. ^ "Henley Royal Regatta - Princess Elizabeth Cup Results 2009". Henley Royal Regatta. http://www.hrr.co.uk/pdisp.php?pid=246. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  24. ^ "The History of Rugby". http://www.buzzle.com/articles/the-history-of-rugby.html. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  25. ^ "History". DURHAM COUNTY RUGBY FOOTBALL UNION. http://www.durhamrugby.com/History/History.html. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  26. ^ "Richard Thomas Dutton Budworth". Clifton Rugby Football Club. http://www.cliftonrfchistory.co.uk/internationals/england/budworth/budworth.htm. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  27. ^ "Profile of Newcastle Falcons". ITV. http://www.itv.com/Sport/RugbyUnion/Teamprofiles/Newcastle/default.html. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  28. ^ "Combined Cadet Force CCF at Durham School". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senioractivitiesccf.asp. Retrieved 29 November 2009. "Our CCF is made up of three sections: Navy, Army and RAF. It is currently a voluntary activity which all pupils have the option of starting in Year 9 at the end of the Easter term." 
  29. ^ "Music at Durham School". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senioractivitiesmusic.asp. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  30. ^ "Drama at Durham School". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/senioractivitiesdrama.asp. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  31. ^ "Chapel". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/seniorpastoralchapel.asp. Retrieved 29 November 2009. "The Chapel was built in the 1920s as a memorial to the 98 Old Dunelmians who died in the First World War. During the Second World War a further 79 Old Dunelmians were killed, and the names from both wars are inscribed on the pillars inside the Chapel." 
  32. ^ "UK National Inventory of War Memorials entry". UKNIWM. http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/server/show/conMemorial.41916/fromUkniwmSearch/1. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  33. ^ Ditchfield, G. M.. "Sharp, Granville (1735–1813)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008). http://www.oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 9 September 2009. "According to Prince Hoare, his first biographer, Granville: was at a very early age withdrawn from the public grammar-school at Durham, before he had gained more than the first rudiments of the learned languages, and was sent to a smaller school, to be instructed more particularly in writing and arithmetic.". 
  34. ^ Howlett, David J.. "Hardinge, Henry, first Viscount Hardinge of Lahore (1785–1856)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008). http://www.oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 9 September 2009. "Hardinge passed much of his childhood at The Grove near Sevenoaks amid a deeply religious tradition and in the care of two maiden aunts, and went to school at Durham.". 
  35. ^ Holder, Richard. "Salvin, Anthony (1799–1881)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004). http://www.oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 22 September 2009. "After education at Durham School Salvin was placed as a pupil with John Paterson of Edinburgh during the latter's restoration work on Brancepeth Castle.". 
  36. ^ "Durham School". Guide to Independent Schools. http://www.schoolsguidebook.co.uk/schools/view/134/Durham/HMC/Durham-School-Durham-City-DH1-4SZ. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  37. ^ a b "About The Prep School". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/bowabout.asp. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  38. ^ a b "Prep School". Durham School. http://www.durhamschool.co.uk/prep-school.asp. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 

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