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St Lawrence College, Ramsgate

Supportive and caring co-educational day and boarding school, situated in the seaside town of Ramsgate. St Lawrence College is the latest to go under the Muddy microscope...

We took a snoop around this supportive and caring co-educational day and boarding school, situated in the seaside town of Ramsgate, where the aim is to make a real difference to your child’s life, and has all the facilities and expertise in order do that! Read on to discover more….

WHAT? WHERE? 

St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate is a one-stop-shop for whatever child you may have lurking at home. They can look after your children from start to finish as it is a non-selective and co-educational school welcoming pupils from the age of 3 in Nursery right through to the 18-year-olds in Year 12, plus there is boarding option too from Year 3 upwards. 

The school is situated in a 40-acre campus, and you have the Coast a short ten-minute walk from the campus. You will find that it is still within easy reach of London, thanks to the fast train, and international families have the benefit of Eurostar close by and major airports not too far away. 

Even though the school possesses the awe factor as you arrive up the sweeping drive, this is still a school with a very caring and community ethos at the heart of its operation and it is apparent how well the staff know its’ pupils and there is a real family-feel throughout the school. Pupils attend school on Saturday (6-day week programme) and as a parent, you would be happy to spend a lot of time here watching matches and admiring the surroundings. 

FACILITIES

At St. Lawrence College, you will find the perfect juxtaposition of old-school grandeur when it comes to the architecture mingled with state-of-the-art facilities amidst extensive grounds. They are looked after by a man who used to design golf courses, so no stone is left unturned here (quite literally) when it comes to a professional approach to all matters relating to the school. 

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The school was founded as South Eastern College on 27 October 1879 with just 5 pupils and it now has over 550 pupils within its midst. There has been plenty of new additions in recent times including a 500-seater theatre which was opened in 2018 and state of the art Science, Art & Design Technology Centre in 2018. You will also find two Forest Schools, an indoor heated Swimming Pool, Sports Centre, Rugby and Cricket pitches and the Boarding Facilities have also had a fresh injection with modern, spacious, and bright dormitories – all are en-suite!

The College is one of the founding schools to be awarded the coveted accolade of World-Class High-Performance Learning School and as a key boarding school in the UK, it comes as no surprise that they have pupils from over 25 different nationalities with a dedicated EAL/ESL Centre for children who need additional English support.

SPORT 

If you have sporty ones in your household, there is a lot of space for them to flourish at St. Lawrence College. Not only do they have 20 acres of sporting fields for your kids to hone their skills, but there is also a former Olympian on stafflist – Alastair Brogdon (former Hockey international) as well as Geraint Jones (ex-England cricketer and Ashes winner) to lend their expertise. 

Alastair Brogdon heads the Sporting Excellence programme which is a development route across a whole host of sports for talented young athletes (aged 14 – 18 years) who have a real chance of excelling in their sport.

Hockey and Cricket are hero sports here and recent success stories include two girl pupils who won hockey scholarships for Universities in the States, plus two boys are currently playing for England and Wales on a junior level. Talented players from the Junior School are also invited to participate in the college’s ‘STRETCH’ Sports programme and are coached by Senior School Sports staff and train above their years which helps them reach their potential.

St Lawrence College have an excellent link with Kent rugby as Director of Sport, Adam Izzard, is the Kent U18 coach which helps provide a strong pathway for their best performers – in 2020 their U15 rugby boys made it to the NatWest semi final and just missed out on the dream Twickenham final.

There is a water-based Astro turf, which has optimal playing conditions, and sporting facilities have had a big push recently with more on the horizon as they are in the process of creating more sporting grounds.

Plus, there is also sailing (make sense when you can see the sea from the school), fencing, squash courts, dance studio, horse riding, and even a climbing wall so lots of choice for everybody. Inclusion is also important here; in the Junior School the Captain of the First Cricket is a girl which was music to our ears.  

MUSIC & DRAMA 

We were big fans of Taylor Hall, the new 500 seat theatre which is not only fully equipped with professional lighting and sound equipment but there are also dressing rooms and costume storeroom for anyone wanting to take centre stage. Drama plays a big part in the Junior School and pupils can choose to do more as they go up the school with LAMDA on offer and we like the sound of Termly Theatre Thursday events in Senior School, a student-led showcase of performance which really builds students’ confidence and ability.

All pupils receive class music lessons until Year 8, and they can choose to specialize for GCSE and A-Level. There is the traditional approach with opportunities to sing in the School’s own Chapel (a stunning and historic setting) as well as a more modern approach with the Battle of the Bands competition being a fiercely contested competition each year! Like sport, there is a STRETCH programme so able pupils can elongate their learning curve alongside older students.

Music groups include an Orchestra, two Choirs, Jazz Band, Rock Band and as you can imagine, many pupils take individual instrumental and singing lessons, and there are regular trips to concerts in London and the local area, giving pupils an opportunity to hear world class musicians in action, plus professional musicians are also invited to the school to give workshops and masterclasses.

The younger lot also have plenty of performance opportunities include Chapel services, Tea-Time Concerts, Sharing Assemblies and the annual Talent Show and have performed at external events such as the Thanet Festival and the Dickens Festival at the Broadstairs bandstand. 

ICT/DT/ART  

We were pretty blown away by the recently opened ‘The Canon Perfect Centre’ which has spacious classrooms and state-of-the-art equipment, with Design Technology workshops housed on the lower ground floor, followed by two floors of science classrooms and labs, and Art and Photography studios on the top floor, with huge sliding doors opening onto outside balconies. One of the perks is the fact that there is plenty of exhibition space to showcase pupils’ work too. 

When we quizzed one student about what he wanted to be when he was older, it is hardly surprising that he said an engineer with this quality of equipment so close to hand. ICT is incorporated into Core subject lessons and the ACE Enrichment Programme and is a popular part of most pupils’ day. 

Art & Photography studio has the additional benefit of being at the top of the Centre with views of the sea as well as the historical buildings within the campus, so it is an inspiring place to with plenty of room to create some diverse work. Plus, we hear it is also a great spot for entertaining parents at functions throughout the year so plenty of ways to get to know the school and the staff. 

ACADEMIA 

There is a lovely transition stage for pupils moving between Junior and Senior school with the Kirby Curriculum which is mostly set within Kirby House – a multi-functional structure that has plenty of down-time space (table tennis/bean bags) alongside the learning pods. 

There are two houses, Cameron and Courtenay with a mixture of Year 7 and 8 pupils, and these students take a curriculum of English, French, Mathematics and Science supported with lessons in Geography, History, Religious Studies, Art, Music, Design Technology, Drama and Home Economics as well as Latin for those who express an interest and have a talent. 

As you can imagine with so many good Grammars in the local area, the school can help students achieve results in the Kent Test which are well above KCC expectations plus there is an option Junior School pupils to gain Senior School scholarships. Average class sizes hover around 16 pupils.

And if it’s stats you are after – for 2020 A Level Results 75% of grades achieved were A*- B. Nine pupils in the cohort achieved straight A*/A grades 79% of GCSE pupils achieved 9-6 grades. Many of the A-Level students head off to Russell Group Universities (60 pupils in last year’s intake) plus many pursue other career directions such as agricultural, music and technical colleges to enhance their learning journey. 

LITTLIES

There is no shortage of space for your children, where they are welcomed from 3 years upwards, and the world is their oyster with Music, Drama, PE and French offered at the early stages! It’s important to note that they don’t do the free hours anymore, but you can expect good wraparound care from 8am to 5pm. Group sizes are 14-15 per class and we loved the party-style sitting for lunch with points awarded for good eating and good behaviour. 

BOARDING

Boarding can start from Year 3, with weekly boarding being an option, and we are informed that the Sunday morning lie-in followed by brunch gets the big thumbs up from the pupils. Exeat weekends are optional for Boarders (they don’t need to leave the school) and you can see why some might prefer to stay with beach days, Canterbury visits, coastal walks, cinema and local theatre excursions as well as footie matches. From Year 9 upwards, 1/3 students board and top of boys boarding, you can see the sea which must be a lovely way to start your day.

SIXTH FORM

There is a special status for Sixth Form pupils with a brand new sixth form centre and their school clothes are more business dress than a uniform, so it is a good preparation for the world ahead. The inspiration is to have a ‘Google headquarters’ where the pupils can socialize and work. The school recognizes that it is a big jump into Sixth Form and a number of staff are trained in Mental Health First Aid for intervention and support, if needed. A lot of time is also invested by the school in making sure that the students are ready for life beyond St. Lawrence College, plus there is also the opportunity to do an EPQ so some pupils can extend their abilities beyond the A Level syllabus, stand out and prepare for University or future career.

THE HEAD 

Barney Durrant is Head of College with Ellen Rowe BA (Hons), PGCE, IAPS as Head of the Junior School.

Ellen (and her beloved school dogs Betsy and Barley) has been at St Lawrence College and led the Junior School for 5 years. Clearly passionate about nurturing happy kids she talks – not only about how lessons should be engaging – but about the importance of recognising even the smallest of achievements and not overlooking any child.

Barney Durrant started at the school in April 2020 from his role as Principal Deputy Head (Pastoral) at Harrow International School in Hong Kong where he was for seven years. Previously, he was at Stowe School in Buckingham for 14 years. 

He is fully immersed in the school with three children at the school and his wife is a Year 2 teacher so it’s no wonder that he has a very hands-on approach, and he has a very personable manner which must go down well with staff and parents alike.

Barney very much sees the school as ‘one college’ even with the vast range of pupils within its campus and stresses that the teaching emphasis is on how to make a difference in each child’s life and identify their individual gifts. The aim is to make the pupils be the best they can be, with all of the facilities and expertise around them, and he wants their education to be a ‘journey of discovery within a friendly and engaging community’.

QUIRKS 

This is an easy one – name me a school which has an underground tunnel which the Junior School has linking it to the Sports Fields which not only solves the safety hazard of escorting lots of children over a road, but it is a unique part of the school. We are big fans for the eye-catching and colourful graffiti on the walls. 

You will also find some pupils chasing Golden Snitch in a game of Quidditch so lots of Harry Potter fans will be able to embrace that magical sporting side too! 

ANYTHING ELSE?

That caring message is an important one at St. Lawrence’s and from year 10, Community service is actively encouraged, and pupils often take part in beach clean-ups, tidying up graveyards and refurbishing furniture within public spaces. At the end of the school day, local clubs can use the school’s facilities and the school is part of the East Kent schools’ community to allow knowledge and facilities sharing with local schools.  From Year 9, pupils can take part in CCF and this year, 35 students went on an army camp so there are lots of active pursuits for everybody. 

FEES 

Nursery – £25.00 per session (4 hour)

Fees Day Pupils Boarding Pupils
Years 12 & 13 £5,675  £12,485 
Years 9 to 11 £5,485 £12,485
Years 7 & 8 £5,355  £10,295
Years 5 & 6
Years 3 & 4
Years 1 & 2
£4,170
£3,365
£2,665
£9,440
£9,440
Not applicable
Reception £2,665  Not applicable

WORD ON THE GROUND 

We dug out some local intelligence from pupils and parents and it was key what a happy place the school is for all levels. The after-school clubs within the Junior School, has a quirky range on offer, are liked and stand-out ones are Junk Modelling, Gardening and Dodgeball! And this is from a list that can vary from scuba diving, cricket, golf, taekwondo, fencing, swimming, tennis, rounders, rugby, football, netball, mixed games, chess, street dance, art and craft, computing, drama, cooking, forest school, fun maths and climbing so lots of novel choices.

The Moving on Morning when you leave the Junior School was also a highlight and we are also told that the Chapel green is a great place for outdoor lessons and water fights…! 

Some of the parents we spoke to said it was the sport that made them select St. Lawrence’s College as the school had helped them flourish in that area. The facilities, small class numbers and a sense of community were also rated as key decision makers as to why they chose the school.

One parent told us, “My children have continued through their school years with respect for others, understanding of different cultures, the ability to hold conversations with different peer groups and with adults.  The teachers are always striving for our children to do their best.”

The on-site Coffee shop tends to be a hub for parents as a great meeting-point to connect with each other and this element of school was missed during Covid-times. 

THE MUDDY VERDICT  

GOOD FOR: All-rounders. They have all the ingredients here to identify your child’s potential and it is done in an encouraging and nurturing fashion. 

NOT FOR: Ramsgate is not as accessible as other towns and cities within Kent (especially if coming from London) but it is well-worth the journey especially having a school so close to the sea!

GO SEE FOR YOURSELF! Junior Open Day on 1 Oct from 9am – 12pm or attend their Senior Open Day is 2 Oct from 10am – 2pm. Book your places here.

St Lawrence College, College Road, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 7AE, Email: info@slcuk.com, Tel: +44 (0)1843 808080

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