Traditional but forward-thinking, Norwich School offers bright, motivated and ambitious students an enriched British education in an incredible cathedral setting.
Norwich School is widely regarded by families in the area as one of the best private schools in Norfolk, not just for its excellent GCSE and A Levels results (the school sits comfortably at the top of the league tables year on year) but also for its well-rounded curriculum, facilities and pastoral care.
Norwich School consists of a Lower (four- to 11-year-olds, Reception-Year 6), and a Senior School (11-18 years, Years 7-13). It is a large school with 250 students in the Lower school and 920 in the Senior and Sixth Form. Founded in the 11th Century as part of the Benedictine priory which was part of Norwich Cathedral, the school has a Christian ethos and values including love, care and compassion underpin its approach to education
There’s a dramatic contrast between the old and the new here – and Norwich is very much a school that champions modern ways of teaching and offers a curriculum that extends far beyond traditional academics. Unsurprisingly, singing is central to school life and there are scholarships worth approximately 50% of fees for the school’s most talented choristers.
Look through the school’s website and you’ll find pages of video testimonials from students and teachers, as well as an interactive tour of the campus. Norwich is proud of what it can offer, comes across as unstuffy and friendly, and offers an interesting window into the school.
Headteacher Steffan Griffiths, previously Deputy Head at Magdalen College School, joined the School in September 2011. He’s a popular and forward-thinking head who has introduced various dynamic initiatives to elevate the arts and sports offering at the school, including the Young Norfolk Arts Festival and Young Norfolk Sports Academy. A keen sportsman and performer himself, Mr Griffiths is carefully balancing the old and new.
The junior and senior school were both rated Excellent in their most recent ISI inspection, which was in 2019.
While the school performs above national average at both GCSE and A Level, it is not a school that falls “into the trap of simply teaching to the test.” While you can expect a rigorous academic curriculum, a Norwich education is also very much focused on preparing students for life well-beyond university – and on preparing students to “think independently, to be reflective and analytical”.
How does it achieve this? Well, the school offers an enriched timetable that combines the National Curriculum for England with its own extension programme called Meno for Years 7-11, designed to encourage “a thoughtful approach” to learning. Sixth Formers follow an independent study programme focused on research and presentation skills, which offers some excellent preparation for university.
There’s specialist teaching in Modern Foreign Languages, sport, swimming, computing, art and design, dance and games in the Lower School; students start to learn Spanish, French and German as a foundation for the language options offered in the Senior School. From Year 7, students learn two languages from a choice of two French, Spanish, German or Mandarin.
Options at GCSE cover the academic and the creative, and include Art, Classical Civilisation, Computer Science, 2D Design, 3D Design, Drama, Geography, Greek, History, Latin, Music, Physical Education, Religious Studies, German and Spanish.
There’s then an impressive choice of 27 subjects at A Level: Art, Art History, Biology, Business Enterprise, Chemistry, Classical Civilisation, Computer Science, 2D Design, 3D Design, Economics, English Literature, French, Geography, German, Greek, History, Latin, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, PRE (Philosophy, Religion & Ethics), Physics, Politics, Psychology, Spanish, Sports Science and Drama and Theatre.
The school is very active when it comes to music and the arts. All students have the opportunity to learn an instrument with peripatetic teachers, and there’s a very high 75% of students that do. School productions are hugely popular here, and then there are all the opportunities to play concerts, perform in bands and of course join the school’s prestigious choir which performs everything from Mozart to Coldplay,
The school is not restricted by its city centre location when it comes to sport either, and it has the facilities to support a broad programme of PE lessons and extra-curricular sport; there are tennis courts, a sports hall and playing fields on campus – as well as off-site sports facilities at the nearby Redmayne Playing Fields. Key sports here are cricket, football, hockey, athletics, netball and rugby. And one of several reasons why Norwich is so much more than an academic hothouse, is the school-led Young Norfolk Sports Academy; this offers extra coaching and support to its most promising athletes aged 15-18 years.
Students have a busy school calendar, with activities and school trips throughout the year.
The list of before and after-school clubs is also huge – and there’s everything from Lego, Minecraft, dance, theatre, gardening, eco, badminton, fencing, languages, orienteering and baseball to football, desktop publishing, music groups, cycling awareness, choir, computing, juggling, senior strings, chess, steel pans, recorders and guitar circle.
Results are strong across the board, and the school consistently achieves outstanding GCSE and A Level results.
The school has not published results for 2020 and 2021, when exams are internally assessed.
A Level: In 2019, A*: 23%, A*- A: 60%, A*-B: 87%
GCSE: In 2019, A*: 45%; A*- A: 72%; A*- C: 99%
There are higher numbers of students taking politics, history, economics and Chinese, and fewer numbers taking theatre studies and music. A large number of leavers head off to Russell Group universities, Oxbridge and medical schools.
Norwich is an urban school, located at the heart of this Norfolk city. It has the charm of heritage buildings combined with some very well-equipped modern facilities that support the latest approaches to teaching subjects including art, design and technology.
The majority of students in the Lower School progress to the Senior School aged 11 years; there are also places available for students coming from other schools.
The school has a generous bursary programme, offering £900,000 annually in financial aid and supporting 1 in 12 Senior students with some level of fee assistance; all means tested awards are worth 5-100% of fees.
Good for: This is a great choice for those looking for a leading all-rounder school that offers many opportunities in the arts and sport without compromising on academic achievement. Students can really feel part of a traditional British school, one that has a great city centre location complete with some impressive facilities (and even the use of a magnificent cathedral).
Not for: Norwich School is not for families who require full or flexible boarding, a countryside location, or a small campus. It's very much a British curriculum school too, so look elsewhere for an IB education. It's quite a large all-through school, so if you have a very shy child (particularly in the younger years), you may prefer a smaller, more close-knit school.
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