Welcome from Ed Elliott, Head
The Upper is Cambridge’s oldest secondary school and was founded by Dr Stephen Perse, a Fellow of Gonville & Caius College, nearly 400 years ago. Today it is one of Britain’s top co-educational day schools with over 1000 boys and girls aged 11-18. The secret of our success lies in who we are. Put bright young people together and they spark off each other, spur each other on, and form a positive peer group culture in which success is celebrated. In turn, such a concentration of talented, young minds creates a wonderfully vibrant learning environment, allowing us to recruit and retain the best teachers. These teachers combine high level academic expertise with excellent teaching skills, and a real concern for the pastoral well-being of each and every child. A happy child is a successful child, and we work hard to support all of our students.
We want Perse pupils to thrive on academic challenges, but also to relish extra curricular opportunities whether on the sports field, in the concert hall, on stage, or in expeditions.
Our students achieve some of the best I/GCSE, A level, Pre U and Oxbridge entry results in the country, but we also want our students to gain the personal qualities, inter personal skills, character, hobbies and interests needed to make a success of adult life. In recent years, education has become very focused on exam results, and whilst success in public exams is vital we prefer to educate for life. We judge the quality of a Perse education, not just by our academic league table positions, but by what Perseans go on to achieve 10, 20 and 30 years after leaving school.
We are proud of our independent status, and The Perse uses its independence and freedom from direct government control to innovate in the best interests of its pupils.
As such, we have introduced new exam qualifications such as International GCSE and the Pre-U which better meet the needs of our talented pupils. We have also greatly extended our foreign language provision which now includes Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese and Italian alongside French, German and Spanish. It is important that we prepare pupils for life in the globalised twenty first century, and we have developed a wide ranging international exchange programme linking The Perse with schools in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Spain, South Africa and the USA.
We aim to be true to our founder Stephen Perse, who set up The Perse as a ‘free grammar’ school. Whilst the modest size of our endowment does not permit us to offer universal free places, we do have an extensive bursary programme that provides financial support from 10 to 100% for families who could not otherwise afford our full fee. In keeping with our charitable aims, bursaries are awarded to pupils who pass our entrance test on a means-tested basis. This financial assistance allows The Perse to be accessible to pupils from a wide range of backgrounds, and the resulting student diversity is a real strength of the school.
For my part, I try to be accessible as possible to pupils and parents. I have an open door session every day for any pupil to drop in and see me unannounced and monthly surgeries for parents.
I am very proud of The Perse and its pupils. We combine the best of our academic grammar school heritage with an innovative outlook that strives to provide students with the skills needed for a successful life in the twenty-first century.
Please come and see for yourself the difference a Perse education makes.