Durham and The Chorister schools to merge

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Two historic private schools in Durham, The Chorister School and Durham School, have announced plans to merge.

The two schools, whose alumni include ex-Prime Minister, Tony Blair, ex-Downing Street advisor, Dominic Cummings and the actor, Rowan Atkinson, plan to merge from September 2021.

The schools will operate under one single foundation, known as the Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation. The pre-prep will be known as “Bow School”, the prep as “The Chorister School” and the senior school as “Durham School”. The current sites of both schools will still be used.

It will allow the schools to grow and develop in size and strength

Rob Ribchester, Durham School Chair of Governors

The current Head of Durham School, Kieran McLaughlin, will be Principal of the Foundation, and the current Headmistress of Bow School – which is the primary school for Durham School – Sally Harrod, will become the Headmistress of the new Prep school.

A new Board of Governors from both Durham and The Chorister School, including members of the Chapter of Durham Cathedral, will be appointed, which will govern the Foundation. The Chair of Governors will be Robert Ribchester, who is currently Chair at Durham School, and the Vice-Chair will be the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham.

Choristers from Durham Cathedral will continue to be educated within the Foundation’s schools.

Announcing the merger, Durham School Chair of Governors, Rob Ribchester, said, “This is a wonderful opportunity to create a merged school which will offer outstanding academic, pastoral and co-curricular opportunities for all pupils and enhance the provision of independent education within the City of Durham.

“It will allow the schools to grow and develop in size and strength whilst continuing to provide a focus on the education of the individual, celebrating the unique talents of every child, nurturing and bringing out the best in them, values both schools have always shared”.

The merger offers a strong and vibrant future for both schools.

Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham

Dean of Durham, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett said “This is an exciting opportunity for the pupils of both schools to benefit from an enhanced educational experience at every level. In particular, the merger offers more varied and extensive opportunities for pupils. There will be more chances to take part in competitive sports teams and greater opportunities to participate in musical and cultural events.

“We will be able to make greater investment in facilities and offer a more vibrant boarding experience. There will also be many social benefits associated with a larger school community. The merger offers a strong and vibrant future for both schools.

“Furthermore, I am delighted that we will be safeguarding the choral tradition in the North East of England for the next generation.”

Since 2015, full time members of staff at Durham University have been entitled to a 10% reduction in school fees for their children educated at The Chorister School, along with the children of former pupils and children of Anglican clergy and members of the armed forces. It is unclear whether this will continue after the merger.

Image: Creative Commons

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