United Kingdom / East of England / Suffolk / St Joseph’s College

St Joseph’s College Review

St Joseph’s College is an all-through school in Suffolk with a strong sporting pedigree, a Christian ethos and a broad education that offers some traditional and non-traditional pathways.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2022/23
No data
Availability 2023/24
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 15,000
Annual fees
GBP 10,245–18,063
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1937
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mrs Danielle Clarke
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St Joseph’s College
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2022/23
No data
Availability 2023/24
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 15,000
Annual fees
GBP 10,245–18,063
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1937
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mrs Danielle Clarke
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St Joseph’s College is an all-through school in Suffolk with a strong sporting pedigree, a Christian ethos and a broad education that offers some traditional and non-traditional pathways.

St Joseph’s College provides a fantastic education across the board – particularly on the sports field. It offers a wholesome education that is not just about securing the necessary grades to reach university. Students can sit a wide range of traditional, and not so traditional, qualifications., as well as pursue interests in sport, music, drama, art, and engineering.

As the school says:

“Students at St Joseph's College are not on a conveyor belt propelling them towards exams and then university in a predictable, unimaginative way.”

Known affectionately as St Jo’s, this is an all-through campus with a Nursery, Prep and Senior Schools, and Sixth Form all sharing one spacious 60-acre campus in Ipswich. It’s a mid-sized school with around 600 students, including 100 boarders. Founded in 1937 as a boys’ Catholic school, St Jo’s has been co-ed since 1995. There’s a warm, inclusive atmosphere underpinned by the school’s Christian values, introduced to the school by its 17th century founder, John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers. 

This co-ed day and boarding school has a great reputation for sports. It has a team of elite coaches, has academies for netball, rugby, cricket and football, and offers a dedicated sports qualification that sees students go on to Bath, Loughborough and Hartpury universities. It also has an impressive number of students playing at national level.

Principal Danielle Clarke has been in charge since 2014. She is a qualified Modern Foreign Languages teacher and has taught French, German, Spanish and Latin; she was previously Vice Principal at the school and her daughter is currently in the Senior school. Mrs Clarke has overseen in the school’s substantial investment in new buildings and facilities in recent years, as well as 

St Jo’s was rated Excellent by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) in its most recent inspection in 2019, when inspectors praised the excellent progress made by students academically, in sport, and the arts. "The school fulfils its ambitious aim to 'meet the needs of each pupil's mind, body, heart and spirit' very effectively, so that pupils receive a genuinely holistic education which enables them to become successful learners in all they undertake."

Curriculum

St Jo’s offers wraparound care from 8am to 6pm for two to four year-olds in its Nursery, where teaching follows the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and includes specialised teaching in PE and Music.

There’s a purpose-built Prep School for five to 11-year olds (Reception to Year 6) where students follow an outward-looking curriculum. St Jo’s balances the more traditional National Curriculum of England with Singapore Maths, which sees a move away from rote-learning and focuses instead on teaching children how to problem solve – how to be mathematicians.

The school has also invested in specialist teachers and classrooms for STEM subjects - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, as well as sport, art and Spanish. It all contributes to a very broad and enriched curriculum that looks to find the potential in all children.

The curriculum in the Senior school builds on the work that goes on in the Prep school and focuses on preparing students first to make the right choices for GCSE, and then to achieve the best possible grades for them. As you’d expect at a school that promises to help your child “be their best’, there is a broad choice of GCSE subjects, combining the traditional with newer subjects such as photography.

The Sixth Form college has a cohort of 180 local and overseas students. Students have their own dedicated sixth form centre, which offers an excellent setting for independent study. 

There’s a choice of A Levels and BTEC courses, including A Levels in Art (Fine Art), Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Drama & Theatre Studies, Economics, English, French, Geography, History, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, Photography, Psychology, Physics, Product Design, Sociology and Spanish. The school also offers BTECs and vocational qualifications in sport, business studies, engineering, creative media, and the performing arts.

Sport and the arts

Students’ achievement in sport and the arts is excellent owing to the wide range of extra-curricular activities, specialist coaching and support for talented students.

The school has an excellent reputation for sport, particularly competitive sport. Coaching staff include former international players in cricket, rugby and hockey; facilities include artificial turf hockey pitches, tennis and netball courts, and a new cricket facility; and there are many organised international sports tours to countries including South Africa, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

St Jo’s is one of the UK’s best schools for rugby, known for producing several professionals such as England's Lewis Ludlam. The school hosts an annual National Schools Rugby Festival, one of the most prestigious school rugby tournaments in the UK and attended by some of the country’s top rugby-playing schools including Whitgift and Millfield. 

Many students represent the county in sports including hockey, netball, cricket, swimming and tennis. It’s strong for girls’ football too, (eight students have gone on to play in the Senior Ipswich Town Football Club Women’s Squad, and the school recently hosted a Future Lionesses Talent ID event on behalf of the FA.

In the Prep and Senior schools, girls play netball, hockey and cricket, and boys play rugby, football and cricket as part of the curriculum. But the choice of sports offered here does not end there. There’s table tennis, badminton, gymnastics, dance, cross country running, orienteering, athletics, rowing, volleyball, golf, gliding, judo, karate, squash and trampolining.

The school also has a very active arts department – and the resources are there to offer the very best for students. It’s a school that clearly sees the arts as a potential career path, something that has been recognised with Arts Council of England Artsmark status. 

There are specialist fine art and digital design studios, a dance studio, a music technology suite and a performance auditorium. Art is taught by subject specialists throughout the school. Every Year 3 students takes up an instrument for one year – the selection is varied enough that they can experience music they might not have tried otherwise. And, as well as studying for arts qualifications, students can join choirs, ensembles and drama groups to explore the arts on a less formal basis.

Beyond the classroom

Life at St Jo’s is constantly stimulating for students, and as the school says life here is “challenging, enjoyable and very busy.” There is a wide choice of extra-curricular activities to get involved with, including eco-club, netball, tennis, computing, STEM, karate, theatre, hockey, rugby, orchestra, football and athletics.

There are plenty of interesting local and overseas trips (the Year 4 residential barge trip is a popular one), and Year 9 students are fortunate to go on an exchange programme with three schools in Sydney, Australia (Knox Grammar School, St Catherine’s School and Pymble Ladies College).

Students are stretched and challenged in many ways, from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme to the Young Enterprise programme. 

Academic results

GCSE results at the school are consistently well-above UK averages, and A Level results are in line with national performance levels.

GCSE results 2022: 32% of all grades were 9-7; 87% were 9-4; and 83% of students achieved 5+ GCSES 9-4 (or equivalent) including English & mathematics. 

The following departments achieved high numbers (80%) of Grades 9-4: Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, English Literature, Fine Art, French, Geography, History, Music, PE, Physics, Photography, Science & Computer Science which highlights the diversity within the school.

A Level results 2022: 45% of students achieved A*-A.

Students were accepted at universities including Bath, Brunel, Durham, Essex, Exeter, Hartpury, Leeds, Leeds Beckett, Leeds Conservatoire, Liverpool, Loughborough, Nottingham, Queen Mary University of London, Rose Bruford College, Southampton, UEA, and Warwick.

Boarding

St Jo’s accepts boarders from 10 to 18 years. Like many boarding schools in the UK today, St Jo’s offers full, weekly and flexi-boarding options. It’s broadened the appeal to students coming from the UK, as well as Spain, France, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Nigeria, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, China, Malaysia, Ghana, Malawi, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Dubai.

There are two boarding houses, one all-boys’ and one mixed. The school has recently strengthened its boarding provision with the inclusion of academic staff in its boarding teams.

Campus and facilities

The school is located just one mile from the centre of Ipswich, a market town in Suffolk; students have the space and freedom to explore woodland, playing fields and gardens that offer all the benefits of a countryside education.

Students study and live in a campus with all the charm of some elegant Grade II listed buildings. St Jo’s also continues to invest in a campus that can meet the demands of modern education. It has spent over £10 million recent years to upgrade and build new facilities, including a Prep School, floodlit Astroturf, boarding facilities, a new technology centre, and a new Sixth Form Centre. 

Admission and fees

St Jo’s is a selective school and students sit assessment from Year 5. Scholarships and bursaries are available, and there is a fee package for military families.

Annual fees are £10,245 to £18.063 for day students, and £30,072 to £39,982 for boarders.

Our view

Good for: As the leading independent school for sport in East Anglia, if not beyond, St Jo’s is an excellent choice for students who want to pursue a future in elite sport or apply to one of the UK’s top universities for sport. It is well-equipped to offer student-athletes the support and facilities needed to reach their potential in academic studies while achieving success in their sport.

Not for: The school does have a particular strength for sport, and while you don’t have to be sporty or competitive to thrive its emphasis on elite sport may not appeal to every student. It’s also worth considering that this is a faith school with Christian values, has a rural location, and only offers boarding from Year 7 in case you are searching for a prep boarding school.

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