Prior Park College


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  • Category: Senior / Sixth Form
  • Pupils: Co-Education
  • Type: Day & Boarding
  • Religious Affiliation: Roman Catholic
  • Roll: 334 (Boys) 265 (Girls)
  • Age Range: 11 - 18 years
  • Founded: 1830

General Information

Prior Park College is a Day and Boarding school and one of the largest, co-educational, independent senior schools in the UK. Set in a breath-taking location, overlooking the World Heritage city of Bath, the college offers its students wonderful opportunities to develop their strengths through inspirational teaching and excellent facilities. Our approach is simple; we value each individual and focus our attention on developing their unique talents.

Students here work hard. We encourage them to think for themselves, form opinions and communicate well. They respect other points of view but debate vigorously. Academic rigour is combined with outstanding creativity and cultural opportunities. Whilst we are justly proud of our students who achieve excellent exam results we are just as proud of our less academic students who, encouraged by our teachers to believe in themselves, work well to reach their full potential. We encourage our students to embrace all the opportunities on offer at the College – acting and singing in first class performances; competing for their team; producing impressive works in art and design; leading our Charities work.

Many parents enjoy the structure and stability that our boarding houses offers and our 180 full, weekly and flexi boarders enjoy the home-from-home environment provided by our dedicated staff.


Sports Centre, Theatre, Indoor heated swimming pool, ICT centre, Music studio, Dance studio, Astroturf pitches, Chapel, 6th Form Centre, Creative Centre. Family atmosphere in Boarding Houses.

Entrance Requirements

11+ & 13+: Examinations. 16+: Interview. Sixth Form: Minimum of 6 A*-C grades at GCSE


Academic, Art, Music, Sport, Drama/Dance, Sport, All-Rounder.

Open Days

2020. Open Door: Fri. 1st May, 9:30-11:30am.


2019/2020. Fees per term

Years 7/8: Day £5,085; Junior Full Boarding £8,250; Junior Weekly Boarding £7,320

Years 9-11: Day £5,650; Full Boarding £10,500; Weekly Boarding £8,665

Years 12/13: Day £5,750; Full Boarding £10,500 ; Weekly Boarding £8,665

International Boarding £9,500 - £11,165

The College fee includes full lunch and supervised prep for day pupils. Every effort is made to keep 'extras' to a minimum. The International boarding fee is applicable to all students that are not UK residents.


Good Schools Guide review

School Contact Details

Headteacher: Mr J Murphy-O'Connor

Contact for enquiries: Mrs Vicki Quinn, Registrar

Prior Park College
Ralph Allen Drive

[t]: 01225 831000

Location Description

Prior Park College is situated overlooking the beautiful World Heritage City of Bath in the South West of England.

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School News

Prior Park College Somerset

To view current news from Prior Park College please click HERE

Prior park College independent day and boarding school Somerset

The Governors of Prior Park College are delighted to announce the appointment of Ben Horan as its new Headmaster. Selected from an impressive field of

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candidates, Mr Horan succeeds James Murphy-O’Connor and will take up his post on 1 September 2019.

Mr Horan is currently the Senior Deputy Head Academic at Merchant Taylors’ School in London, a post he has held since September 2014. Educated at The John Fisher School in Croydon, Mr Horan read History (Ancient & Modern) at Magdalen College, Oxford. He began his teaching career at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, before moving to Eton College in 2004. At Eton, Mr Horan had a number of roles, including Head of History and History of Art, 1st XV Rugby Coach and Deputy Housemaster. He has spent the past five years at Merchant Taylors’ overseeing the academic development of the school and continuing to be involved in the wider life of the community as a rugby and cricket coach and a pastoral tutor.

Chair of Governors, Mr Michael King, stated “I am very happy that in Ben Horan as Headmaster we have appointed an excellent leader for the College and a worthy successor to James Murphy O’Connor. Ben brings with him a wealth of experience and the Prior Park community looks forward to working with him to continue to develop our long term vision for the College.”

Mr Horan said, “I am honoured to have been appointed as the next Head of Prior Park College. My visits over recent weeks have convinced me that the College is a community which is dedicated to helping its young people grow into happy and successful adults. I look forward to getting to know the staff, parents, alumni and, most of all, Prior Park’s wonderful students.”

Prior Park College Independent Somerset Peter Brown Exhibition and Auction at Prior Park College

Last night, Prior Park College hosted an exhibition of paintings by its outgoing Artist in Residence, Peter Brown.

Peter, aka ‘Pete the Street’, has been Artist

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in Residence at Prior Park College since December and during his tenure has painted a selection of scenes from around the College, including key events within the College Chapel, and has been available to students for informal advice on ‘plein air’ painting.

Twenty-eight of Peter’s paintings were exhibited including two key pieces, which were superbly auctioned on the night by Prior parent and Bath Auction House director, Mr Jamie South.

This event was held to raise funds for Prior Park’s Chapel Appeal. The school Chapel, Our Lady of the Snows, will soon celebrate 140 years since its consecration and is in desperate need of restoration and refurbishment. 50% of all sales will go towards the Appeal. Fifteen paintings have been sold thus far and, with additional revenue from the two auction pieces, the total raised for the Appeal to date is just over £36k.

Speaking about his time as Artist in Residence, Peter Brown commented, “This unique experience has been an absolute joy for me. The view from the bank at Prior Park College, with the Mansion, the Chapel and the gardens against the backdrop of the city, is surely one of the most stunning views in Bath. I could paint that view a million times. I’m delighted to have raised some decent funds for the Chapel Appeal and hope people enjoy the paintings.”

Paintings and limited edition prints are available to view purchase from For more information on Peter Brown, please visit

Photo: Peter Brown with PPC Head James Murphy-O’Connor and auctioneer Jamie South

Prior Park College Independent Somerset Prior Park Schools Appoint Two New Directors

Prior Park Schools is delighted to announce two key new appointments, Mr Declan Rainey as Director of Development and Mrs Sinead Russell as Director of

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Marketing and Communications. Both positions will be responsible for activity across all Prior Park Schools, which include Prior Park College, The Paragon School and Prior Park School Gibraltar.

Mr Declan Rainey joins Prior Park Schools from Eton College, where he held the position of Deputy Director of Development for three years. In his new role as Director of Development at Prior Park Schools, he is responsible for the Development and Alumni Offices, with the aim of widening access and enhancing the learning environment for our students. Prior to working for Eton College, Mr Rainey spent nine years working in fundraising for higher education, including at the University of Lincoln, University College, Oxford and the University of Sussex. Mr Rainey holds a Degree in Politics from the University of Lincoln.

Mrs Sinead Russell joins Prior Park Schools, having previously held the position of Communications Director at Bath Rugby and prior to that the position of Marketing and Communications Manager for Bath Rugby Foundation. In her role as Director of Marketing and Communications at Prior Park Schools, Mrs Russell will be responsible for developing and driving forward the marketing and communications strategy for all Prior Park Schools. Prior to working for Bath Rugby, Mrs Russell worked for the Virgin Group, both in the UK and Australia, including as PR Manager for Virgin Atlantic Australia and Country Manager for Virgin Unite Australia. Mrs Russell holds a Degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Aberdeen and Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism Studies (Media & Marketing) from the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University.

Mr James Murphy O’Connor, Principal of Prior Park Schools and Headmaster Prior Park College, said, “We are delighted to have Declan and Sinead join the team here at Prior Park Schools. These two key positions will help the Schools to deliver our Vision for 2025, which is to offer the highest standards of pastoral care, based on Catholic Christian values, and the highest quality of education which is both exciting and full of opportunities for the pupils. They will help ensure that all three of our Schools continue to be the modern Christian / Catholic Schools of choice in their respective markets”.

Photo: (L-R) Mr Declan Rainey, Mr James Murphy-O’Connor, Mrs Sinead Russell

Prior Park College Independent Somerset Prior Park Scores Top Marks for Pupil Progress

The Department for Education has published new league tables which now place a special emphasis on the relative progress pupils make whilst at the school.


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figures reveal how much progress Sixth Form students make between the end of Key Stage 4 and the end of their A Levels. A score of ‘above zero’ means that students made more progress, on average, than students across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 4.

Prior Park College was graded a score of 0.45 (well above average) based on the 92 pupils who sat at least one A Level in 2017. Approximately 5% of schools or colleges in England are in this top band which highlights the excellent progress pupils make at the College. In terms of this ‘value added indicator,’ Prior Park College is the leading independent school in Bath.

Prior Park College independent day and boarding school Somerset

Prior Park College and The Paragon have again been rated ‘Excellent’ following ISI inspections in September 2017. The new Educational Quality Inspections (EQI) report focuses

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on two main areas: the quality of pupils’ academic and other achievements and the quality of pupils’ personal development. The two Prior Park Schools are among the first schools judged according to the ISI’s revised framework for inspection – to be awarded the highest category ‘excellent’ in both areas is an outstanding achievement.
Key findings from the report for Prior Park College highlight the rapid progress pupils make in their learning “and as a consequence they have outstanding achievements within and beyond the classroom.” It also notes the “great enthusiasm” demonstrated by the pupils, how “exceptionally well” students work together with their teachers and “Pupils enjoy a great deal of success in academic exams.” The inspectors recognised many areas of excellence across the College, stating the “success in a wide range of pursuits such as art and design, music and sports reflects the extensive range of talents possessed by pupils.”
The Paragon report stated that “pupils’ attitudes to learning are exemplary” and “from their earliest days in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), pupils of all ages and abilities make excellent progress overall”. The inspectors also found that The Paragon “fully meets its aim to cultivate a love of learning” and that pupils are “confident communicators. They speak eloquently, listen attentively, and write creative and factual reports expressively.”
It is not only in the areas of academic and co-curricular activities that the two Prior Park Schools score highly. The inspectors were equally impressed at their level of pastoral care. For the College, inspectors stated, “Pupils understand what is needed to keep themselves healthy both physically and mentally and have a strong sense of well-being” and that, “Pupils are excellent citizens within their own community and have developed the capabilities to make wider contributions to the wider world.”
The inspection at The Paragon determined that “pupils’ self-confidence is fostered through the very positive atmosphere of mutual respect between themselves and the adults in the school” and that their “social development is excellent. They work together extremely well and display considerable social maturity.”
Prior Park Schools’ Principal, James Murphy-O’Connor, is pleased with both reports findings, “I am delighted with the judgements made as they genuinely reflect the aims and values of Prior Park Schools. The reports were hugely complimentary about our schools and I look forward to working with colleagues and Governors to build on this success as we enter the next phase of our schools’ development.”

Prior Park College Independent Somerset

Maintenance teams at Prior Park College uncovered an array of historic and nostalgic items whilst taking up some floorboards in the boys’ boarding house last

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week. An area of St Paul’s boarding house is being developed to reintroduce Junior boarding (age 11-13) to the College this September, currently boarding starts at age 13+. Amongst the items discovered are empty cigarette packets (smoking used to be permitted if a student had a letter from their parent), tins of ale and grapefruit, Pepsodent toothpaste packaging, match boxes and even a risqué for the time cover of the 1937 Film Fun magazine, complete with an advertisement for the ‘latest’ Greta Garbo film on the reverse.

Two items of particular interest are a newspaper from 6 May 1945 announcing the imminent German surrender and a letter written from a mother to her son the day after the shooting of President John F Kennedy. Carole Laverick, head of Prior Park alumni, tracked down the recipient of the letter who is now 66 and living in London. “It was an emotional phone call. Richard wept when I read the letter aloud as his mother is no longer with us. He remembered the occasion with great clarity – the shock felt at the President’s sudden death and the prayers said by staff and students in the College Chapel.”

The items are now on display in Mansion House and prospective families will be able to see them at Prior Park’s Boarding Open Morning on Saturday 6 May, 9:30-11:00am.

Prior Park College independent school Somerset

Prior Park College is thrilled to be celebrating another year of outstanding GCSE success hot on the heels of impressive A Level results. Prior Park

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students achieved a remarkable 26% of grades at coveted A*, bucking the national trend, testament to the industry and dedication of pupils at the College as they strive achieve and indeed exceed their goals and ambitions.

100% of Prior Park students pupils met the standard of five plus GCSE grades at C or above, including English and Maths, and around 70% of grades awarded to our students were at the highest A*/A grade: outstanding results by any comparative measure.

Most notably, we warmly congratulate our six students who achieved at least ten A* grades. These top performers were Edmund Mortimer, Grace Fry and Rhiannon Harris who each secured no less than 11 passes or better at A* grade. Twins Henry and Rupert Carr each recorded 10 passes at A* grade, matched also grade for grade by Felix Robertson.

Headmaster, Mr James Murphy-O’Connor comments “With almost 25% of pupils securing at least 5 passes at A*, Prior Park is once again celebrating an outstanding year. Our entire school community is immensely proud to see our boys and girls do so well and, even more importantly, achieve the potential that we see in each of them. As the educational climate continues to shift beneath our feet, GCSE grades will take on even greater significance in years to come. It is reassuring that our students have put themselves in prime position for future academic success and recognition. Well done indeed to all of them”.


Another outstanding results day for Prior Park A level Students

Prior Park College, the UK’s largest Catholic, co-educational, independent senior school, is thrilled to be celebrating

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another outstanding performance from A Level students. With over 90% of all grades awarded at A* – C grade including 42% of grades awarded at the highest grade A or better, it is no surprise that the vast majority of our leavers have gained entry to top universities.

No fewer than 13 departments including Mathematics, Science, Theology, French and Geography are delighted with at least 1 in every 2 grades at A or better. Other subjects to shine include Further Mathematics with over 67% of pupils attaining the top A* grade, and English being amongst other core departments inspiring over one third of their candidates to achieve A* in this subject.

High achievers include Alexander Tometzki, who secured a full house of four A* grades earning his place to read Physics at Oxford University, while Joseph Zhong secured no less than five A levels including three at A* gaining a place at Exeter University to read to Material Sciences. Special congratulation is also extended to Georgia Fulton and Emma Lyons who achieved five passes at A and AS level at A grade or better, including A* grades in their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

The Headmaster, Mr James Murphy-O’Connor comments that “this year’s excellent A-Level results have once again reflected our school’s passion, commitment and dedication to providing a truly outstanding education, giving our young people the very best start in life. We would like to congratulate each and every student in our A Level community and wish them well as they embark on the next exciting chapter of their lives”.


Prior Park College Independent Somerset

Parents of Prior, the Parent Committee at Prior Park College, presented a cheque for Two thousand pounds today to Julie Dyer, Head Teacher at Three

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Ways School in Bath. The money was raised at the recent Parents of Prior May Ball, held at the College and attended by parents and friends.

The money will go towards the Teacup Appeal, a bold new project at special needs school Three Ways. The project involves the building and running of a fully accessible café, shop and meeting space right next to Three Ways School, to be used by staff, parents and the community. It will offer work experience to the students and employment to the local community and adults with disabilities. The Café should hopefully be open by Autumn 2016.

Mr James Murphy O’Connor, Headmaster at Prior Park College said:  “The May Ball was a great celebration for the warm community of parents at Prior Park College and we are delighted that we were able to raise money at the same time, for such a worthwhile cause”

Julie Dyer commented: “We are overwhelmed by the support that Prior Park College has given to support our fundraising and would like to thank them in raising so much money”

If you would like to make a donation please visit or Text CUPT80 to 70070 with up to £10.

Prior Park College co-ed independent day and boarding school Somerset

The Prior Park College 1st XI Hockey team won the Bristol and Bath U18 Schools League for the second year in a row, with a

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3-0 victory over Beechen Cliff.
The season started well with a 2-1 away win at Clifton College, but a 2-3 defeat to Kingswood and a 4-4 draw with KES created a temporary set-back. However, the team went on to achieve 5 successive wins over Wells Cathedral (8-1), Monkton Combe (4-0), Colstons (10-1), Bristol Grammar (3-0) and Beechen Cliff (3-0).
Although never out of the top three since the league’s inception, this is only the second time that Prior Park College has won this league and the second consecutive year that the school have won it. The team scored 36 goals and conceded only 10 in the 8 games played within the league.
The team will continue to train through the Easter break, as although the season is over, the Prior Park 1st XI have the National Finals firmly in their focus, which take place on 20th-21st April at the Olympic Park. Director of Sport, Rhys Gwilliam commented: “This is a team who work well together and play hard. As the season has progressed, they have impressed me more and more and they are very deserving of their victory.”

Prior Park College’s Duke of Edinburgh’s Award students were delighted to welcome HRH The Earl of Wessex today as they demonstrated pitching tents and first

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aid in the woods immediately adjacent to the College. As a Trustee and a Gold Award holder, HRH The Earl of Wessex has championed the DofE for many years. As part of the Charity’s Diamond Anniversary, he is travelling around the UK to help celebrate the hard work of DofE Volunteers and the successes of DofE participants.

The DofE Award has helped to transform the lives of millions of young people in the UK and across the globe since it was founded in 1956. Undertaking either a Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE Award gives 14 to 24 year olds a unique opportunity to grow as young adults, gaining valuable life experience while developing essential employability skills. Setting their own challenges and learning practical skills helps to prepare each individual for the world of work.
Prior Park College had 24 pupils from Years 10 and 12 participating in the event, with the College’s DofE staff in support including Mr Sean Dorey, Ms Vicki McConaghie, Mrs Fran Sillars and Mrs Maria Huntley.
Head of DofE, Mr Sean Dorey, said: ‘The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is extremely popular at Prior Park College with approximately 100 pupils involved at any time. The Award helps our young people to develop their confidence and self-reliance as well as the ability to work as part of a team. The expedition section remains one of the highlights, with trips to the Marlborough Downs, the Brecon Beacons and Cumbria taking place this year.’

Bath College student, Samuel Maggs, spoke at Prior Park College’s Sixth Form Assembly, highlighting the dangers of walking alone at night and encouraging teenagers to

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walk with friends. Sam is the manager of a campaign called Got Ya Back which was founded by Bath College students in the wake of the untimely, accidental death of fellow student, Sam Amin, who drowned in the River Avon in 2014.

Samuel was quick to point out to Prior students that the campaign was not intended to act as a killjoy – students should go out and have fun, but they should do it safely, with a plan in place. This means PLAN – your way home; TELL – a friend or family your plans; CHECK – if your friends are okay; REMEMBER – to have an ICE (in case of emergency) contact.

The Got Ya Back campaign’s tips for a safe night out also include making sure you plan your travel home; if driving back, then have a designated driver; have your phone fully charged when going out; make use of public transport and taxis.

Prior Park College Headmaster, James Murphy-O’Connor comments; “There is no more powerful way to get an important message like this across to our senior students than by having one of their older peers, with firsthand experience, speak to them. As a Headmaster, and as a parent, I am grateful to Samuel and the other members of the Got Ya Back campaign, for using their time and experience in this way. They are giving back to their community in a compassionate, proactive way, and we will all be the better off for it.”

More information can be found on the campaign’s website –

Prior Park College Headmaster, James Murphy-O’Connor could not be more proud of the large group of Prior students who have just been offered places at

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Oxford and Cambridge and/or scored the highest grade in the Extended Project Qualification, a free-standing A2 qualification that is designed to stretch the more ambitious scholar.

With four Oxbridge offers just received to study subjects as diverse as Physics, Music and English, along with A* grades awarded for EPQ projects ranging from Replacing Chemical Rockets in Space Propulsion to The Fallen Woman in Victorian Literature, Mr Murphy-O’Connor sees these results as more measurable of the school’s academic ambition than the League Tables.

He comments; “We don’t need League Tables, based on dubious statistics, to tell us that academic excellence abounds at Prior. While we are known for an all-round education, it is at times like these when our most able academic students are rewarded for their rigour and dedication that we reflect with enormous pride on the quality of our teaching and learning programme.”

Indeed, Prior Park College has joined a growing number of quality independent schools around the country who are turning their backs on League Tables as an accurate measure of their academic achievement. This week Wellington College announced its intention to remove itself from the Tables, joining Eton College, St Paul’s and Winchester College who have already made the move.

Mr Murphy-O’Connor is adamant that the value of League Tables is questionable when so often statistics are not fully inclusive of all data, such as IGCSE; “We are currently in a state of flux in the United Kingdom with many new qualifications and grading measures being introduced. Some of these are not fully understood or represented; over the past few years the nationally and locally published League Tables have shown Prior Park College, along with other similar independent schools, with a 0% pass rate – this is because the government does not recognise IGCSEs, which our students sit and, in fact, the real figure is 97%.”
“Our Oxbridge offers and EPQ results provide a real measure of our students’ academic excellence – and I heartily congratulate them.”

Jason Gardener MBE, Olympic Gold Medallist (2004) and President Elect of UK Athletics was welcomed by Prior Park College’s Headmaster, James Murphy-O’Connor on Friday afternoon,

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as the Bury Sports Centre was officially opened before a large group of students, staff, parents and friends.

The Headmaster thanked all those many people who had contributed to make the Sports Centre a reality including the Governors, staff, parents and donors. Governor and major donor Mr Tony Bury came in for special mention for his generosity, with the Sports Centre bearing his name as a result. Both the Headmaster and Jason spoke of the central role that sport had played in their lives, their passion for it and the benefits they gained from it.

Lord Sebastian Coe, who had intended to join the celebration, sent his apologies and best wishes, and will visit the College at a later date.

The multi-million pound complex includes a gymnasium the size of four badminton courts, a dedicated fitness centre with thirty state-of-the-art stations, a large classroom with direct viewing into the Sports Centre, four changing rooms, a medical room, an office and function space leading onto a large viewing gallery overlooking the cricket pitches and the all-weather pitches.

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