Abbey Gate College


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  • Category: Pre-Preparatory / Preparatory / Senior / Sixth Form
  • Pupils: Co-Education
  • Type: Day
  • Religious Affiliation: Non-Denominational
  • Roll: 280 (Boys) 205 (Girls)
  • Age Range: 4 - 18 years
  • Founded: 1977

General Information

Abbey Gate College is the longest running, independent, co-educational school for pupils aged 4 to 18 based in the Chester area.

At Abbey Gate College, our children are at the heart of everything we do.  We believe education is about inspiring a love of learning and building self-esteem to ensure they fulfil their academic and personal potential. Our teachers nurture their personalities, curiosities, skills and imagination to guarantee our children leave Abbey Gate College as confident, articulate and happy high achievers with an enthusiasm for whatever career path they chose.

At the Senior School, strong A level and GCSE results set our students on the road to success however, education is far greater than simply achieving super examination results; at Abbey Gate College the journey itself is of equal importance, providing a stimulating experience, widening opportunities and providing an education for life.  Extra-curricular activities enable all pupils to fully develop their talents outside of the classroom and the thriving Music, Drama and Sports Departments combine with Science clubs, The Young Engineers’ club and Young Enterprise groups, to name but a few, in providing the children with an all-round education.

In summary, Abbey Gate College is a successful and happy school, committed to maintaining traditional standards and high educational ideals. To fully understand what makes Abbey Gate College such a special place to be educated, please make an appointment to speak with the Headmistress, Mrs Tracy Pollard, the pupils and staff.  We look forward to welcoming you soon and providing you with a personalised tour of the stunning buildings, grounds and our excellent facilities – both at the Senior School at Saighton Grange and at the Infant and Junior School in the picturesque village of Aldford, which is the home of the Infant and Junior Schools.


The College emphasises the importance of building self-esteem and a love of learning in a friendly and caring environment and the extra-curricular program provides opportunities for pupils to experience challenge and the pursuit of excellence. The music department is renowned for the quality of its choral singing, with strong links to Chester Cathedral. Drama, sport and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme are thriving and outdoor adventures and leadership courses help children to build confidence and teamwork. Science Clubs, Young Engineers Club and Young Enterprise groups also add to the diversity of activities on offer. Pupils at the College undertake numerous educational visits and recent foreign trips include: Year 6 to France, Hockey and Football trips to Barcelona, Geography Department to Switzerland and Iceland and the History Department to Krakow, Auschwitz and the 1st World War Battlefields of Northern Europe.  Gifted and Talented pupils have their own program called ‘Invictus’ and the Debating Club continue to get to grips with the ‘topics of the day’


Purpose built facilities house all the subject departments and recent investment has been considerable at both Senior and Junior sites. There have been positive developments in teaching and learning with increased ICT provision and individualised monitoring of each pupil’s progress. These improvements, along with the dedication of the staff, have had a positive impact on academic performance, as shown by the strong results at GCSE and A level.

Investment has also been made in sports facilities with a new Sports & Teaching Pavilion completed in 2016 and an all-weather pitch opened in 2018. The idyllic village location of the Junior School at Aldford boasts extensive playing fields, purpose-built shaded area and an ecology park. The Infants and Juniors also share use of the extensive facilities at the Senior School.

Entrance Requirements

Entrance examination or informal assessment according to age.


Academic, Sports and Music. Some bursaries are available. Details are available from Mrs S Boyd, Registrar on 01244 564 170

Open Days

Please contact our Registrar on 01244 564170 or to arrange a visit or to attend one of our events below.

2018. Infant & Junior School: Sat. 29th September, 9.30am-12pm.

Sixth Form - Please contact us if you are interested in joining our Sixth Form in September 2018.


2017/2018. Senior School: £4136 per term. Infant and Junior Department: £ 2884 per term.


ISI Inspection 2018

School Contact Details

Headteacher: Mrs Tracy Pollard

Contact for enquiries: Mrs S Boyd, Admissions Officer,

Abbey Gate College
Saighton Grange

[t]: 01244 332077
[f]: 01244 335510

Location Description

Situated in a beautiful village location on the south eastern outskirts of the cathedral city of Chester. Between A55 and A41 and within easy reach of M6 and M56.

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School News

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Speech Day

This year’s Speech Day took place at Chester Racecourse on Thursday 13 September and was attended by pupils past and present, parents, staff and governors.


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annual event provided an opportunity to celebrate and join together as a community. It began with an address from Governor, Jo Lucy who spoke of a brilliant past and an awesome future for the College, followed by the Headmistress, Tracy Pollard in which she reflected on how the 40th anniversary year had been magical.

The guest speaker was former pupil, David Walker-Smith, Chief Product and Trading Officer at House of Fraser. After awarding prizes in recognition of hard work, effort and commitment, he inspired pupils with an engaging speech in which he spoke about the importance of the College community and having the confidence to be who you are and who you want to be.

The Chapel Choir provided a musical interlude performing ‘Bogorodytse Dyevo’ by Rachmaninov.

Heads of School, Heather Churchill-Evans and Harry Tomlins and Deputy Heads of School, Laura Cameron and Edward Harris talked through the highlights of the past year. After which a cheque for £8,500, achieved through fund-raising by pupils, was presented to the College’s house charity, acet UK.

Congratulations to our prize winners and good luck to all Abbey Gate College leavers.

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Singers Attend Eton Choral Course, Cambridge

Abbey Gate College pupils have been attending the Eton Choral Course for over 20 years, but this summer was the first time that a total

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of four Senior School pupils, Thomas Fesmer, Matthew Fesmer, Oliver Smith and Harry Tomlins attended the eight-day course.

Both Thomas and Matthew Fesmer sang solos, with Thomas singing on the BBC recording at the end of the week and Harry Tomlins read a lesson in King’s College Chapel.

The 74 strong choir, aged 16 to 18 had members from not only the UK but as far away as Sydney, Australia. The course was directed by the founder of the Eton Choral Course, Ralph Allwood. Each member of the course received two singing lessons, underwent rigorous rehearsals and performed in a variety of small ensembles and with an orchestra.

A large number of parents and tourists attended the four choir performances towards the end of the course. Ralph Allwood conducted a Choral Concert at St John’s College, which was followed the next day by a Choral Evensong at King’s College Chapel, directed by Stephen Cleobury. The choir then returned to St John’s College for an Evensong, directed by Andrew Nethsingha.

The final performance, also at St John’s College was a BBC recording of Evensong to be broadcast on Wednesday 31 October on Radio 3 at 3.30pm.

Abbey Gate College’s former Director of Music, Stewart Smith said: “I was very proud of our pupils and the whole choir for the superb singing in such beautiful settings. They are all very privileged to have had this unique opportunity which they will remember for many years to come.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Celebrates Excellent GCSE Results

Abbey Gate College welcomed a rise in the College’s pass rate at GCSE despite national concerns about the increase in difficulty in these new style

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examinations. Once again the students exceeded expectations which allows them to move easily on to the next stage of their education.

There was an air of excitement from pupils this morning as subject choices for A Level were discussed in light of their strong GCSE results.

93% of results were A* to C/Grades 9-4.

48% of students gained Grades 9-7 in GCSE science subjects.

Amongst the very highest achievers were Francesca Conyers, Oliver Hall, Alexandra Haslam, Alfie Macdonald-Brown and Sam Mason who gained A* or 9 in one or more subjects.

Headmistress, Tracy Pollard said: “These results are a fantastic finale to our 40th birthday celebrations. The pupils have worked hard and have shown determination and resilience in the face of some very challenging new courses. I am delighted that our focus on bringing out the best in each individual pupil has been rewarded with these fantastic grades. The support and dedication of the staff is second to none which has allowed our pupils to fulfil their academic and personal potential.”

Anyone interested to know more about Abbey Gate College should attend the Senior School Open Day on Saturday 22 September or contact 01244 564170 or

Photo: Alexandra Haslam and Zoe Harriman

Abbey Gate College independent day school Cheshire

A group of 14 students from Abbey Gate College in Chester, have just returned from a three-week expedition to Swaziland to build a

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new kitchen at Mbita Primary School.

The project had been identified and requested by the local community, was jointly funded and undertaken, and will be of great benefit to the whole community. As well as building the kitchen, the group also contributed to local conservation projects.

In 2014, Abbey Gate College embarked upon a partnership with Mlindzini High School and its feeder primaries which led to students travelling to Swaziland to help improve facilities and amenities in the remote rural schools, including the construction of an access road which aided travel to and from Nhlangano.

The expedition this summer, supported the College’s on-going partnership with Mlindzini High School and also gave students a huge range of opportunities to explore new landscapes, understand different cultures and develop a wealth of personal skills and experiences. The students played a significant role in the planning and preparation of the expedition, in particular in the organising of fundraising events.

English Teacher, Karen Jackson said: “The expedition provided students with a fantastic opportunity to visit one of the safest and most diverse areas of Africa, which gave them experiences and skills which they will value for the rest of their lives.”

Abbey Gate College independent day school Cheshire

Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir were invited this summer to perform Evensong at Ely Cathedral. It was not just the temperature but also

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the standards required that were very high.

Pieces performed included Purcell’s ‘Evening Service in G Minor’, with verse sections sung by Rhys Duffty, Sam Tomlins, Joe Martin, and Oliver Smith and ‘Greater Love Hath No Man’ by John Ireland with solos from Anna Kinnear and Oliver Smith.

The Choir also received an invitation to sing at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. Whilst at the College members of the choir who are considering applying to Cambridge University took the opportunity to take a guided tour of Queens College.

During the week pupils were able to fit in some local sightseeing, including a river cruise on the Great Ouse, a tour of Ely Cathedral’s Octagon Tower and even had a go at punting!

Head of Music, James Andrews said: “The students sang brilliantly. They were professional in their conduct and a credit to themselves and the College at all times. I thank them for all their hard work and an excellent tour.”

Abbey Gate College independent day school Cheshire

The annual Sports Awards Presentation evening in July celebrated pupils’ sporting achievements. Abbey Gate College welcomed back former Head Girl and International Netball

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Captain, Evie Brereton as guest speaker. In the afternoon, Evie spent time with the award winners sharing her sporting experiences, talking about the demands of elite netball and offering valuable advice.

The evening was a celebration of the pupils who continually strive to be the best they can be and who wear the Abbey Gate colours with pride. It also recognised the enormous benefit and extra sporting opportunities the new all-weather pitch has provided. Opened in January, the floodlit pitch has enabled after school football and rugby practice to take place during the winter months and has provided a home base for hockey practice and matches.

‘Overall Contribution to College Sport’ was awarded to Ellie Pearson and Ben Nicholas in Year 7, Maisie Watkins and Kitt Baker in Year 8, Callum Potter and Issy Asbury in Year 9 and Luca Villano and Annabel Smith in Year 10.

‘Team of the Year’ was awarded to Year 7 Rugby Team and ‘Coach of the Year’ to Year 10 pupil, Annabel Smith.

Also presented on the evening were awards for ‘Player or Athlete of the Year’ and ‘Most Improved Player’ across various sports, ‘Excellence’ awards recognising pupils who have excelled in sports outside of regular school sports and ‘Elite Excellence’ awards for pupils in Year 11 and L6 who are competing in their chosen sport at an elite level.

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Top Ranking School - Abbey Gate College - Celebrates A Level Success

The top ranking school for pupil progress at A Level in Cheshire West and Chester, Abbey Gate College has once again achieved outstanding A Level

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results with 90% of students gaining a place at their first choice University.

Indeed, over 40% of students had already received unconditional offers from the Universities of their choice due to the high quality of their personal statements, school references and A Level predicted grades.

Dan Meadows excelled in his chosen subjects, achieving A* in Maths, Further Maths and Physics and will go on to read Maths at University College London from October.

Students celebrating achieving three As include Head Boy Tom Fairclough who will study Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University, Ben Parslow who will study Biochemistry at the University of Exeter and James Thompson who will study Zoology at the University of St Andrews.

Ben Hall, who gained A*, A, B has been offered a place by Loughborough University to study Automotive Engineering.

Other notable successes were achieved by Head Girl Holly Gray, Elinor Jones, Chloe MacKay, Lucia Martin, Ben Edwardson and Roshan Shukla all of whom are going on to study at the University of their choice, and Toby Stanford who after a gap year has achieved a place at the University of Oxford.

Students also achieved considerable success in their Extended Project Qualification, undertaking dissertations on subjects as varied as Research into Leukaemia Treatments, Gender Psychology and Energy Recovery Systems in Formula One.

There was also cause to celebrate Lower Sixth AS Level results, with Luke Burnett and Harry Tomlins each achieving four As and Harry Hook gaining three As.

Headmistress, Tracy Pollard said: “I am thrilled and delighted that once again the pupils have achieved above and beyond their personal best via their own hard work and the support and dedication of all the staff at the College.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Time Capsule Burial Marks 40th Anniversary

On Friday 29 June, pupils and invited guests gathered to bury a time capsule in the gardens of Abbey Gate College to commemorate the College’s

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40th Anniversary.

The time capsule, made from a rigid polymer tube with aluminium caps will not be opened for 25 years. It was buried in the new Ruby Rose Garden which has been planted with a collection of roses, including 10 ruby red standard roses.

It contains items that were chosen by pupils from the College Forum. The contents of the capsule represent life at Abbey Gate College in 2018. Items included: a school tie, school badges, a whole school photo, the school magazine, reflections written by pupils about their time at the College, coins, a local newspaper (Royal Visit Souvenir Special), an i-phone and a plastic straw.

Following speeches, head boy, Harry Tomlins and head girl, Heather Churchill-Evans placed the first shovels of soil on top of the buried capsule.

Luke Burnett, Head of House for Hastings and member of the College Forum, said: “We took great pride in organising and acquiring the items for the time capsule and are looking forward to comparing the objects to their future counterparts! We felt it was important that it was the pupils who chose and decided on the final items, as it helped to personalise the capsule to current school life and pupils.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Pupils Attend 'Oscar Night' Ball

On Friday 20 April, Year 11 and Sixth Form students from Abbey Gate College enjoyed a night at their Upper School Ball.

The event, held at

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Carden Park Hotel set within 1,000 acres of stunning Cheshire countryside, had an ‘Oscar Night’ theme. The evening was well-organised by members of the Sixth Form with an awards ceremony, film-themed photo booth and DJ.

Upper Sixth students who have applied to University had good reason to celebrate with many receiving impressive offers to study courses of their choice. All 29 students who have made University applications have received one or more offers and 20 students received offers from four or more Universities.

12 students have accepted unconditional University offers and another 7 students also received unconditional offers.

Head of Sixth Form, Mr Cavallini said: “Our students work exceptionally hard on their University applications with support from our experienced staff. These offers are the culmination of months of discussion and hard work, both on the applications themselves and on their A Level subjects.”

He added: “Abbey Gate College students’ UCAS applications continue to be very successful as they celebrate well-rounded and skilled individuals who are highly sought after by the best Universities. We look forward to them achieving their offer grades in the summer, before launching into the next stage of their academic journey.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Pupils Support DiAthlete on his Challenge to Run 25 Marathons in 30 Days!

On 6 May, Ben Mason and Daisy Lawson from Abbey Gate College, accompanied DiAthlete, Gavin Griffiths on the Chester leg of his challenge

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to run 25 marathons in 30 days.

The challenge, which took place across various locations in the UK, aimed to inspire the type 1 diabetes community, raise funds for educational awareness and to help people with type 1 across the world living in places with inadequate healthcare.

Year 9 pupil, Ben ran an incredible half marathon alongside Gavin, from the gates of Abbey Gate College to the finish. While Daisy, Year 5, ran an amazing 3 miles with Gavin, then cycled 8 miles alongside him from Chester Racecourse to Eccleston, before crossing the finish line with him carrying his Olympic torch. Both Ben and Daisy have type 1 diabetes.

Gavin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 8. He now spends a huge amount of time travelling across the UK raising awareness and inspiring young people living with type 1, spreading the message that having the condition does not have to hold you back, you can still do anything!

The course began at the Countess of Chester Hospital before joining the City Walls, continuing through the Duke of Westminster’s Estate, the villages of Eccleston, Aldford and past Abbey Gate College in Saighton. The run continued into Chester via Christleton and Waverton, before finishing back at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Ben and Daisy are both great advocates of Gavin’s message, neither of them let diabetes hold them back from achieving their goals.

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir Perform Evensong at St Paul's Cathedral

For the 29th consecutive year, Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir were honoured to sing Evensong, one of the most-loved services, at St Paul’s Cathedral in

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Surrounded by St Paul’s awe-inspiring interior and incredible acoustics, the 55 members of the choir performed to a congregation of over 600. Many of whom are regular attendees at Evensong and many tourists visit especially to take part in the service.

Under the direction of Head of Music, James Andrews the choir sang the Preces and Responses, the Psalm for the Feast of the Annunciation, the Canticles written by H Brewer and the anthem ‘Bogorodytse Devo’ by Rachmaninoff.

Mr Andrews said: “It was a very prestigious occasion and a hugely valuable experience for all of our pupils. The children’s performance was of an excellent standard and as always they were well behaved and great ambassadors of the College.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Students Win Awards at ISA Drama Festival 2018

A powerful performance of Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible by A-Level drama students from Abbey Gate College saw them receive not one, but two awards at

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the ISA Drama Festival 2018. The talented cast received ‘The Hurst Lodge Award’ for best senior production and ‘The Hollygirt Prize’ for the Best Moment of Theatre in a Senior Production.

The annual festival sees ISA Members’ schools from across the country perform in competition. Each performance is assessed by an independent judge against set criteria. Winners are awarded over a variety of categories.

The Hollygirt Prize, the Adjudicator’s Discretionary Award, was given for the students’ effective creation of heightened tension during the section from when Abigail and the girls see the bird on the rafter.

Adjudicator, David Farmer said: “This was a simple yet powerful performance of a seminal scene from a classic play. The minimal staging employed wooden blocks and grey costumes. The tension built slowly from the start. The young cast gave sophisticated and credible performances, especially the leading characters and particularly Thomas Fesmer as Danforth.”

He added: “The abuse of power and misogynistic attitudes were deftly portrayed. The tension built and then dramatically erupted at moments with the powerful use of choral movement and voice. Music was used to heighten tension during the piece. This was a riveting ensemble performance.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate Musician Accepted to Study at Junior Royal Northern College of Music

Year 10 pupil, Henry Smith from Abbey Gate College has been accepted at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

This follows a successful

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audition performed on tuba and piano, both of which he will study at the Junior RNCM in September.

The Junior RNCM operates on Saturdays during term time, providing expert tuition and specialist training for children with exceptional musical ability, many of whom go on to study music at conservatoire or University.

Henry follows in the footsteps of his piano teacher, Toby Stanford an ex-pupil of Abbey Gate College and a member of the Junior RNCM. In September Toby is going to read Music at Oxford University.

Henry’s father, Stewart Smith, former Director of Music at Abbey Gate College said: “I am delighted with Henry’s success which is all down to his dedication to both instruments and to the excellent teaching he has received from Mr Bowen-Lewis (tuba) and Toby Stanford (piano)”.

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Celebrates 40th Anniversary at Chester Cathedral

In April, pupils past and present came together for a service of thanksgiving held at Chester Cathedral to celebrate 40 years of Abbey Gate College.


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pupils and parents in the congregation were the founding governors, past heads and former teachers.

The service marked 40 years since a group of friends and parents came together to form a co-educational independent day college with the aim of bringing out the best in each child according to individual potential.

The service led by Cathedral Precentor and College Governor, Canon Jeremy Dussek included readings, poems, reflections and performances by pupils from Foundation to Sixth Form. Along with former pupil from the first intake and governor, Emma Bunting who shared her memories of her time at the College.

Amongst other music, the Infant and Junior School choir performed ‘Sing’ by Gary Barlow, and the Senior School choir sang ‘O Thou the Central Orb’ by Charles Wood and ‘In my Father’s House’ by Philip Stopford. The choirs were accompanied by Cathedral Director of Music and ex-pupil, Philip Rushforth. During the service the Concert Band played ‘Back to the Future’ by Alan Silvestri.

Headmistress, Tracy Pollard said: “The service was joyous, celebratory and moving and highlighted the feeling of community which Abbey Gate College embodies. It was a wonderful evening which brought parents, pupils and teachers, past and present back together to celebrate its founding 40 years ago.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Pupils Embrace Wellbeing Day

At the end of February, pupils across the school from Infants to Sixth Form took part in Abbey Gate College’s first Wellbeing Day.

The pace of

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life, concerns about school work, friendships, parents and the impact of social media on children’s lives means that it is more important than ever for pupils to learn how to manage stress and take care of their own wellbeing.

The whole school were off timetable for the day so that pupils could participate in a variety of talks and activities themed around positive mental health and wellbeing. The sessions focused on enabling students to understand their feelings and emotions and develop strategies to look after their own wellbeing, as well as that of their friends.

Younger pupils enjoyed a mixture of activities, including singing for fun, dance yoga and British Red Cross first aid, and participated in workshops such as personal safety with PC Sally Malone.

At the Senior School, the morning sessions involved talks on key wellbeing topics, such as mental health first aid, alcohol awareness and time management.

The afternoon saw pupils learning new skills, getting active, getting outside in the fresh air, working together, getting hands-on, learning strategies around resilience and managing anxiety, taking time out from the usual routine and getting creative. Pupils chose two activities from 21 possible choices, ranging from yoga to gardening, mindfulness to money skills and camp craft to chess.

Feedback from pupils was overwhelmingly positive, with children saying how much they had enjoyed the day and felt inspired.

Head of Pastoral, Nerys Moses said: “When you hear a Sixth Form pupil leaving a session of yoga and loudly announcing, ‘That was one of the best things I have ever done!’ you realise how worthwhile it is to devote time to wellbeing. It has been a privilege today to watch pupils taking advantage of the opportunities available to them to try something new. There has been a real buzz in the air.”

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