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

2019. Infant & Junior School: Big Outdoors Little Explorers Open Morning Sat. 18th May 10am - 12.30pm. Open Afternoon: Mon. 3rd June, 1.45pm - 3.15pm

Senior School: Open Morning Sat. 21st September, 9.30am - 12.30pm.

Sixth Form: Information Evening Wed. 16th October, 6pm - 9pm

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


2018/2019. Senior School: £4280 per term. Infant and Junior Department: £ 2985 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 Pupils Deliver Professional Performances

At the end of November, thirty pupils from Year 7 to U6 at Abbey Gate College were transported to an uninhabited island for three dynamic

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performances of William Golding’s classic novel, Lord of the Flies.

The cast have been rehearsing exceptionally hard since September for the play which sees a group of school children unexpectedly marooned on a desert island following a plane crash. Chaos, savagery and murder quickly become the norm.

The whole stage was covered with over two tonnes of sand to add an extra level of naturalism to the production, allowing both the cast and the audience to be fully immersed in island life.

The piece also used moments of visceral physical theatre to both shock and excite the audience.

Director and Head of Drama, Charlotte House said: “Lord of the Flies is such a challenging story and our pupils really rose to the occasion. There were some truly professional performances and all of the cast really enjoyed their time as ‘savages’. I’m really proud of what we created.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Speech and Drama Teacher at Abbey Gate College is (ESB) Burniston Bell Award Winner

Christine Faithfull, a Speech and Drama Teacher at Abbey Gate College was selected as the 2018 English Speaking Board (ESB) Burniston Bell Award Winner. ESB

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is a national awarding organisation offering qualifications in speech and language.

Named in honour of the Founder, Christabel Burniston and the Honorary President, Jocelyn Bell, this prestigious award is presented to a teacher who has shown outstanding commitment to ESB in their school.

Nominated by a team of assessors, Christine was praised for her supportive nature, excellent knowledge of the syllabus and dedication to ESB assessments.

Christine received her award at the annual ‘Young Speaker of the Year Showcase’ which took place in Liverpool in November. The event also celebrated the highest achieving learners taking ESB speech assessments over the academic year 2017-18.

Christine Faithfull said: “I was thrilled to receive this award and to meet in person the trustees and staff with whom I have contact during our annual exam preparations. As pupils perfect their ESB work I love to see them become confident and articulate with well-projected, expressive voices and it gives me great satisfaction to know that this will help them develop important skills for their future.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir Sparkle at The Spirit of Christmas Concert

Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir joined a host of stars from stage, television and film on Friday 23 November for The NeuroMuscular Centre’s Spirit of

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Christmas concert at Chester Cathedral.

President of The NeuroMuscular Centre, Matthew Kelly was joined by celebrities including Pippa Haywood, Lex Shrapnel, Maggie Ollerenshaw, Daniel Weyman and Gay Soper for the annual concert of festive readings and music.

Conducted by Head of Music, James Andrews, the Chapel Choir sang ‘Lully Lulla Lullay’ by Philip Stopford and ‘Christmas Lullaby’ by John Rutter. Year 8 soloist, Rhys Duffty, performed the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.

Actor, Ian Bartholomew sang ‘Silent Night’ accompanied by Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir, with a descant solo by Nellie-Bea Bartholomew.

James Andrews, Head of Music, said: “It was an honour to be asked again to perform at this prestigious event. I was very pleased with the professionalism of the choristers, both their conduct and musicianship were superb.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Families Plant 70 Trees to Create a Forest Trail

Families from Abbey Gate College Infant and Junior School in the village of Aldford came together last week to plant 70 young trees to create

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a new forest trail for outdoor learning.

Families were invited to sponsor a tree and participate in a tree planting afternoon. Nine different native tree species including sweet cherry, downy and silver birch, field maple and hazel were planted in the beautiful school grounds by pupils, parents, teachers and governors.

Parents arrived with spades at the ready to plant their tree with the help of their children. Trees were tagged with a number and planted randomly so future generations are able to search for their family tree.

The trees were planted to enhance the current outdoor learning facilities which connect pupils to nature by providing rich learning experiences. During the afternoon pupils learnt the Latin name of their tree and will be involved in the maintenance and development of the forest trail over the coming years.

Headmistress, Marie Hickey said: “Pupils and their families will be encouraged to visit their trees and keep in touch with Abbey Gate College as they grow and progress through life. An enjoyable, educational and fulfilling afternoon was had by everyone.”

In October, GCSE and A Level Drama pupils at Abbey Gate College were lucky enough to have a talk from top theatre director,

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Loveday Ingram.

Loveday trained with John Barton at the Royal Shakespeare Company, who she then assisted for 4 years.  She has directed musicals and plays in the West End as well as having worked extensively in the UK and Ireland and was Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre for 3 years.  She worked as an Assistant and Senior Assistant Director at the National Theatre and was Assistant Director on the original production of Mamma Mia. Pupils also saw her dynamic interpretation of Julius Caesar at Storyhouse last year.

The pupils were given an insight into how the industry works and the many processes one goes through when creating a piece of theatre. Loveday also explained the work involved in taking a production from page to stage. They were also given a chance to work on Othello and share their own directorial ideas for one of Iago’s infamous soliloquys.

Head of Drama and Theatre, Charlotte House said: “Loveday’s talk was an absolute inspiration for both the pupils and myself. They will be able to take so much from her wealth of knowledge and put it into their own performances and exam pieces. We would like to thank Loveday for giving her time so generously and look forward to seeing the pupils using her ideas in their performances and the upcoming production of Lord of the Flies.”

Abbey Gate College independent school Cheshire

Abbey Gate College Infant and Junior School welcomed the Duke of Westminster and the Trustees of the Grosvenor Estate to officially open their

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new Foundation and Infant School building.

Set in the village of Aldford, the co-educational school offers pupils an idyllic environment in which to learn and grow to enable them to be the best they can be. The new development is made with welsh blue slate, oak from the Eaton Estate and artisan brick from a local manufacturer, to ensure it is in keeping with the character and heritage of the village.

To mark the special occasion, on Thursday, 11 October, His Grace unveiled a commemorative plaque and placed the first shovels of soil on top of a time capsule containing items such as class photos, books, as well as a DVD and school house badges which will be opened in 2118.

The Duke said: “Thank you for inviting me and the Trustees here today. This has been a fantastic job. The building has lived up to the high standards I hoped it would. I would like to say a huge well done to everybody involved and for doing it so quickly, even though it has been very complex at times. It is a project I’m particularly proud of because it’s the first project I have delivered since my father passed away two years ago. I took a great deal of interest in the design and the build. I hope it provides you with laughter, fun and learning and that you enjoy it for the future.”

Set in magnificent grounds the new energy efficient building provides three spacious classrooms with covered outdoor areas. The development also provides a library area and space for Learning Enrichment and has allowed the expansion of current facilities in the main building to include a dedicated art and design studio, music area, science lab and a more expansive library space.

Marie Hickey, Head of the Infant and Junior School, said: “At Abbey Gate College, we are committed to ensuring that our children are given every opportunity to reach their potential.  Our children now benefit from beautiful purpose built classrooms, all of which connect to the exceptional outdoor space we are privileged to have. This will not only enhance the children’s education but will also significantly contribute to their wellbeing, something that has always been of upmost importance to us.”

Abbey Gate College independent school Cheshire

Sophia Storrar, a PE teacher at Abbey Gate College successfully swam the English Channel in a team relay to raise money for Cancer

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Research UK. Smashing her £2000 target, Sophia raised nearly £4000.

The team of three swimmers completed the crossing in 11 hours and 58 minutes supported by pilot boat, Rowena. The Dover Strait is renowned for having strong tidal flows and the high water Spring tide of 7.1m certainly added to the challenge!

Sophia took on the Channel challenge to raise funds to help improve cancer treatments and in memory of her best friend, Pip and all those who have battled cancer.

In preparation for her cross-Channel swim, Sophia trained across the globe in oceans, seas, rivers, quarries, lakes and pools, both day and night, sometimes in temperatures below 7°C.

Sophia said: “I loved every minute of the preparation and the challenge itself. My teammates Neil Stewart and Dawn Llewellyn were the best teammates I could have asked for and thanks to the support of Bransby MacDonald-Williams on the boat as well as our skippers, Peter Senior and Junior, the crossing was a huge success. Our families and employers have been very patient and supportive. Thank you to all who sponsored the cause, one that is sadly touching all of our lives in some way.”

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.”

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