Despite, and perhaps because of, its long history, this is a school that finds itself at the forefront of educational innovation. It pursues excellence in all forms and aims to instil in every pupil a sense of worth that inspires them to seek the very best of outcomes. The Chorister School provides the environment for the individual to flourish.
Imagine the learning that can be undertaken in this remarkable setting – the Romanesque architecture of a Cathedral soaring high above the College Green – and within its walls, the treasures of St Cuthbert and the tomb of England’s first great historian – the Venerable Bede.
A great monastic library sits at the heart of this place. Music weaves a path throughout its long history and within that sound, the intellect and the soul can easily meet.
Here, there are centuries of Christian worship; the fundament of all that the school holds to be central to its values.
It is from this tradition that The Chorister School was born, initially with the purpose of providing an education for the boy choristers. At first they would be taught the Psalms and Latin, and then an increasingly broader curriculum as we moved beyond the Middle Ages. But as for so many other choir school models, we are no longer the exclusive domain of the ‘singing boys’. The Cathedral Choir now boasts two independent top lines, the boys’ for 600 years and the newly developed girls’ line. They are part of a vibrant and thriving school where all pupils can experience an energy for learning in which the ‘professional expectation’ of the chorister becomes the norm against which the whole educational experience is set. It is the juxtaposition of the older model within a new framework that allows for great challenge and uncompromised creativity.
But whatever the history, it is today’s children who ultimately define us. Happiness and wholesomeness are the watchwords to which we aspire. We aim to build resilience, a passion for learning, and the pursuit of excellence in all that we do. Our staff is dedicated to the various roles they play, leading learning and enabling children to grow in confidence and develop those skills needed for success in life. There are no short cuts to delivering a great education.
The Chorister School offers a traditional curriculum, which we believe best prepares our pupils for transfer at 13+ to the secondary phase of their education in either the maintained or the independent sectors.
We offer a range of subjects aimed at developing knowledge, creativity, leadership, and social and emotional intelligence, fundamental to developing the whole personality. Children test themselves through a wide range of extra-curricular activities.
The games programme encourages a healthy sense of competition, both within the school and with other schools, and children are also encouraged to participate in music, drama and the fine arts.
Every year they have their mettle tested through outward-bound adventure holidays where they experience the limits to which they can take themselves and explore their own ability to face and overcome challenges.
Our pupils learn the classical arts of rhetoric, through debating and public-speaking, and every child is taught Latin, thus ensuring that the tenets of a classical education remain. Logic is taught through a rigorous approach to mathematics, with many achieving considerable success way earlier than might usually be expected.
One of the key features of this school’s educational philosophy is to produce leaders – children who can develop into the role-models who will shape the future in all walks of life – in politics, in medicine, in scientific research and in the creative arts. Leadership has long been part of the framework which supports the choral tradition, but now plays equal part within the school’s other areas of endeavour, including prefects, captains of sports, and boarding house monitors.
Children are taught to think and act independently; to respect their peers, their elders, their surroundings and themselves; to nurture each other; to be proud of their heritage; and to seek success!
It is right that the best traditions should remain intact, but also right that the best of what these traditions offer should live on in new permutations. So much of what we do now is inextricably bound with a keen knowledge of our past, an understanding of the values which have shaped our philosophy, a deep sense of service and public spirit, and our long association with a place of pilgrimage and learning. Our heritage has afforded to us a certain confidence that in being part of something so much greater than its parts, we have the freedom to explore and challenge, to question and to celebrate that rich journey that encapsulates a choir school education.