Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire was founded in 1541 and is a leading independent school with a diamond structure comprising a co-ed Prep, single sex Boys and Girls Schools and a co-ed Sixth.
Berkhamsted is a Day and Boarding school offering both single sex (from age 11 – 16) and co-educational teaching for boys and girls aged 3 – 18. The School is situated in the centre of the historic town of Berkhamsted, surrounded by Chiltern countryside, and within easy reach of London. The School is affiliated to the HMC, GSA and IAPS.
Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group appointed HMC Chair for 2021-22
Berkhamsted Schools Group Principal Richard Backhouse has been named Chair of the HMC (Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference), which represents top independent schools, for 2021-22.
1st April 2020 — Berkhamsted Schools Group Principal Richard Backhouse has been named Chair of the HMC (Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference), which represents top independent schools, for 2021-22.
The HMC (the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference) is a professional Association of heads of the world's leading independent schools. HMC's schools are individual and distinctive offering parents a rich variety of options when choosing the right education for their child. HMC schools include St Albans Boys School, St Albans High School for Girls, Aldenham and more distant schools from Cornwall to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. International schools include the Kellett School in Hong Kong where the Principal is Mark Steed, formerly Principal of the Berkhamsted Schools Group. Members include Eton, Wellington College, Royal Grammar School Guildford, Winchester and Harrow.
Richard Backhouse has been Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group since January 2016. His previous employment includes factory work on a kibbutz in Israel, bar work in a hotel in the French Alps, and running a bar in his hometown, he read Economics at Cambridge, expecting to go on to be a journalist. Experience coaching sport to children in summer holidays for a charity gave him a sense of the value of teaching, and so he went to Oundle School in 1990, expecting to teach only briefly before returning to university to do a PhD, but stayed for six years before moving to Bradfield College. At these schools he variously taught Economics, coached rowing and football, ran a Christian Union, and acquired managerial and leadership experience both running a boarding house and as Director of Pastoral and Extra-curricular activities. In 2005, he was appointed Principal at Monkton Combe School – an all through group of Schools – where he developed the scope and depth of the pupils’ opportunities and achievements.
After his new appointment had been announced, Richard said: “I am honoured to have been chosen to lead this Association during what will be a very important year for the education sector following the unprecedented challenges the sector is currently facing. We will be adapting from what has been a period of change in teaching, with many schools in the independent sector delivering a remote learning environment and finding new stimulating ways to teach from a distance. I hope that the many lessons we have learnt as a sector during these past few weeks can help us drive forward in our educational partnerships to help pupils in a variety of situations.”
Berkhamsted Schools Group has a partnership with Denbigh High School, Luton and the Wren Academy Trust, London and local primary school, Hawridge and Cholesbury. Under Mr Backhouse’s leadership Berkhamsted Schools Group was recently highlighted as an example of best practice in a report to Parliament from the Social Mobility Commission (April 2019) for its state partnerships.
Richard said “100% of HMC Schools have partnerships with the state sector, and the benefit of the HMC to the educational sector as a whole is most obvious through these relationships. We have an opportunity to be at the forefront of the whole sector learning to digitise teaching – for remote learning where appropriate – while still securing the character education for which HMC schools are rightly famous all over the world. I look forward to serving the HMC, as it serves the sector, in 2021/22.”
Berkhamsted School named as one of the best in the country for sport
Berkhamsted School have been named as the third best independent school by School Sport Magazine. The national publication ranked each school based on 20 different sports and 120 national competitions throughout 2019.
12th February 2020 — Berkhamsted School have been named as the third best independent school by School Sport Magazine. The national publication ranked each school based on 20 different sports and 120 national competitions throughout 2019.
It was a memorable year, with Berkhamsted qualifying for the national finals in three age groups for Netball, well as being crowned National 1st XII Lacrosse Champions for 2019. Six other age groups also competed at the National Lacrosse finals with four reaching the semi-finals and beyond.
There was further success on the Rugby and Football pitches with the 1st XV reaching the later stages of the National Champions Trophy and the U11 Football side being crowned IAPS National champions for the first time in the school’s history.
Of all the school’s named by School Sport Magazine, from Sedbergh in Cumbria to Millfield in the South West, Berkhamsted are the only Hertfordshire based school in the top 30.
Berkhamsted fielded in excess of 220 teams in 2019 across 19 different sports ranging from Cricket to Cross Country, Gymnastics to Golf. Every pupil has the opportunity to represent the school at sport and participation rates across all age groups are extremely pleasing.
While studying A Level maths, economics and psychology Maddie Beckworth captains the title winning Lacrosse team and plays Netball for the first XII.
She said “2019 was a fantastic year of sport for Berkhamsted, I believe the main reason for this was the incredible sportsmanship which all pupils showed at all levels of sport throughout the year making school sport incredibly enjoyable as well as rewarding. This allowed all pupils, regardless of their ability, the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sport.
“Netball and Lacrosse has had a great year and I think the reason for this is the staff, who dedicate their passion and expertise throughout the year, providing all pupils with the determination and drive to reach their team and personal goals. Being a part of this motivated culture has meant success is truly apricated and provides everlasting memories.”
Maddie is also one of 124 Sixth Form students to complete Gold Duke of Edinburgh and participated in a programme to learn business consultancy skills. These experiences, together with her academic achievements give her a great chance of success in her university applications to Exeter and Bath.
Director of Sport David Gibson said “We are absolutely delighted to feature in the top three of the rankings following such an amazing year of sport at Berkhamsted. This has been a real team effort and great credit should go to all the dedicated pupils, staff, coaches and ground staff.”
“We aim to provide every pupil with a positive experience of sport and physical activity during their time at Berkhamsted and hope that they enjoy in participating in the sports that they love.”
Record breaking charity marshmallow has unheralded impact on the community
When Joshua Nunn (Year 8) came up with the idea of supporting Children In Need and creating a Pudsey Bear shaped marshmallow, he could only begin to imagine the full impact of the project.
12th December 2019 — When Joshua Nunn (Year 8) came up with the idea of supporting Children In Need and creating a Pudsey Bear shaped marshmallow, he could only begin to imagine the full impact of the project.
Contributing to his mum’s discussion with her client Belinda Clark, Joshua suggested they make their world record attempt as beneficial as possible. The Pudsey marshmallow idea was born.
Fundraising has been a great success. The winning bid for the mammoth marshmallow was £550. The interest in the challenge sparked a further £1,050 Children In Need donations from the Berkhamsted community.
During Children In Need in November Joshua represented the Berkhamsted School record attempt on the 18:30 BBC News. He said “The result was beyond my wildest dream. But what has made it even better is the fact the winning bidder was this year’s MasterChef Winner – Irini Tzortzoglou – who had it all cut up and sold to raise even more money this time for The Jigsaw Children’s Hospice in Carlisle, Cumbria. My mum and I are going to go and visit the children during the Christmas holiday”
The creation of the marshmallow turned into a community event in Berkhamsted and beyond.
Berkhamsted’s school caterers (Aramark) worked with gourmet confectionary specialist Belinda Clark. The team gained the support of Silver Spoon, Waitrose, Jewsons and organisations such as Berkhamsted Chamber of Commerce, British Legion, Berkofest and The Hospice of St Francis.
Belinda, who normally specialises in traditionally shaped gourmet marshmallows was able to transform her design thanks to the Pudsey shaped mould donated by Talbot designs.
Richard Thompson, the school’s lead for external relations said “The Berkhamsted Society ties together Berkhamsted School’s interactions with local groups and charities. Such links with the local community are perhaps, ever increasingly important. The Berkhamsted Society enables the School to participate fully in local life, with good relationships established and strengthened with local groups so that opportunities for the School’s resources and volunteering may be used well for events and activities. We are delighted to support this exciting fundraising event and showcase our school value ‘serving others.’
Verification from the Guinness World Records is shortly expected to confirm Berkhamsted School as the holders of the World’s Largest Marshmallow title.
Community gardening project with Sunnyside Rural Trust is the start of a blossom
Berkhamsted School has benefited from a horticultural makeover with help from young people and adults supported by a local charity.
2nd October 2019 — By offering training and work experience opportunities, Berkhamsted have teamed-up with Sunnyside Rural Trust –a local charity who empower people with learning disabilities.
Sunnyside already grow an impressive 90,000 bedding plants for Dacorum Council every year. Similarly, this project with Berkhamsted School’s Estates Department will bring more success that everyone is rooting for.
With the support from Berkhamsted’s industry professionals, the team of six trainees from Sunnyside have already transformed an area of the Prep School seen by everyone who enters from the main gate on Doctors Common Road. They have successfully replanted the raised beds, and the next stage is to plant garlic, onions and broad beans – which could eventually end up as the ingredients in the Prep school lunches!
Russell Hatt, the Maintenance Supervisor within the School’s Estates Department has led the project with Estates team member Steve Hammond.
Steve said “My relationship with Sunnyside Rural Trust began in 2012 through my son, Henry, who was 16 at the time. Henry was born with major heart problems and suffered a stroke after corrective surgery leading to him having learning difficulties.
“Sunnyside helps young adults like Henry to gain confidence and self-esteem while introducing them to a working environment. It was the start of a new chapter in Henry’s life when he began at Sunnyside.
“It was a proud day for me to see Henry as a part of the first team from Sunnyside to work on the school grounds, the joy in their faces as they began the task and their pride upon completion was a delight to see. This looks like being a mutually beneficial partnership which can only blossom along with all the wonderful plants they will be planting around the school.”
“Since the moment they arrived, the Sunnyside trainees were enthusiastic, full of fun and laughter and couldn’t wait to get started. Armed with their own school badges and trowels they set straight to work.
“Knowing that our school works hard in the community, a joint project with Sunnyside seemed like a good idea. The school Senior Management team and my own department have been unanimously supportive. They understand the great benefit to all, and how it reflects Berkhamsted School’s values.”
GCSE Results: New results, more remarkable stories.
Berkhamsted’s successful GSCE pupils have been combining their academic studies with a very broad range of extra-curricular activities helping them to learn core values and life skills which will benefit them at Sixth Form and beyond.
22nd August 2019 — In the first year in which all GCSE results at Berkhamsted School have been on the new numbered scale, our pupils have been celebrating their academic achievements as in previous years. Stories from the national media have suggested that fewer than 1,000 students across the country will gain a clean sweep of top grades, and we are happy to have one pupil, Grace Bennett, who has attained this remarkable achievement with ten 9s.
Berkhamsted’s successful GSCE pupils have been combining their academic studies with a very broad range of extra-curricular activities helping them to learn core values and life skills which will benefit them at Sixth Form and beyond. Our two lead actors in this year’s school musical ‘We Will Rock You’: Tegan McBride and Ollie Brown, have each obtained two 9s, three 8s, four 7s & six 6s and five 9s, five 8s and one 7 respectively. Ollie has also won a Rank Foundation Leadership Award, given to a very small number of UK students who have outstanding leadership potential to support his entry to Berkhamsted Sixth.
Thomas Fuller joined Berkhamsted Boys during the autumn term of Year 9, with a starting date mid-term this meant he had some catching up to do. He has gone on to achieve more than he expected and was really pleased with his results today thanking his teachers, tutors and friends for all their support in enabling him to reach his full potential with ten 9s and one 6. In addition, Thomas also managed to gain the top grade (A) in his FSMQ additional mathematics exam - something that he was incredibly proud of.
In all, just under 20% of grades at Berkhamsted were the new ‘9’ grade and just under 99% of grades were at grades 9-4 (A*-C in old terms).
Richard Backhouse, Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group explains more about our approach to education: “A rounded education is one in which students learn to apply the determination they can find in themselves in the last 15 minutes of a team game to a complex French translation or applying the perseverance that twenty simultaneous equations require to their daily oboe practice. It is the transferability of these skills, habits and dispositions between different areas of school activity which our pupils have displayed in their academic attainments today.”
Open Events 2019
Berkhamsted School will hold an Open Event at Berkhamsted Sixth on Thursday 26 September from 17:00 – 19:00, and an Open Event at Berkhamsted Boys and Berkhamsted Girls on Friday 27 September from 15:00 - 18:30. Please call Admissions for more details on 01442 358001 or visit https://www.berkhamsted.com/contact/
If you would like more information, please contact:
A Level Results: Berkhamsted students celebrate all-round remarkable achievement
Twelve students achieved straight A*’s in their chosen subjects, whilst 46 of this year’s cohort have succeeded in receiving three A grades or better.
15th August 2019 — The 2019 cohort of Sixth Formers collecting their results today can be proud. Not only have they been crowned National Lacrosse champions, reached the National Netball finals, been ranked the 10th best Rugby team by the SOCS Daily Mail Trophy Merit Table, collected 61 DofE Gold Awards (so far) and helped to raise £61,000 for charity in their final year, they discovered today that they have also achieved higher grades in greater numbers than in recent years.
Exam results represent only one aspect of this leaving year group’s remarkable achievements: they brought great enthusiasm and commitment to school life whether inside or outside the classroom. Throughout their time in Sixth Form this group of students endeavoured to experience it all.
Mr Martin Walker, Headteacher of Berkhamsted Sixth commented that “Developing remarkable life skills as part of each student’s personal development beyond academic attainment is key to School life at Berkhamsted; this year’s leavers have certainly achieved above and beyond with record breaking results in addition to their other significant successes.”
This year’s Head Boy, Joe Beadle, completed his LTCL (Licentiate of Trinity College London) diploma in Piano Performance – recognised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) as the equivalent to an honours degree.
His fellow student, Emily Noithip achieved her Diploma award, which the Royal Schools of Music place two levels above Grade 8 and is normally attempted by students of at least university age and experience.
Many students also took time from their studies to help in the Berkhamsted Community and fulfil the School’s value of ‘Serving Others’. Students dedicated time over the year to support local and national charitable causes including St Francis Hospice, Light Up A Life, Save The Children, Sunnyside Rural Trust and working in the Open Door Community Café. This altruistic service carried out by the students in collaboration with their Senior School classmates raised a staggering £61,000 for charity.
Mr Richard Backhouse, Principal of the Berkhamsted Schools Group stated “I am happy to be able to share today not only our results but a full picture of the achievements of our students. We believe that today’s academic results show only one element of the educational development of our pupils and whilst it is important to celebrate the academic achievements, these should be in addition to the results of hard work and effort in other areas of our pupils’ lives already achieved throughout the year. A pupil’s character is developed through exposure to a broad range of experiences, and importantly learning from success or failure on their journey to developing into a truly remarkable person.”
He continued “With many accomplishments under each of their belts and a record-breaking set of results, this year’s Sixth Formers look set for a bright future, whether they follow previous alumni to university in the UK or the US; into a gap year experience or onto an apprenticeship scheme. Berkhamsted is very proud today of its new generation of Old Berkhamstedians.“
Finding out more
133 High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 2DJ