The Perse School


Excellent education extends beyond the school gates


Included in our values is a commitment to seeking and sharing inspiration and expertise in the wider community.

Community service at The Perse begins in the classroom but extends far beyond it. Pupils, teachers and other staff at the School are constantly building mutually beneficial relationships in the local community and further afield, whether through our local outreach programme or our membership of the international Strategic Alliance of Global Educators.

Strategic Alliance of Global Educators (SAGE)

With globalisation and advancement in technology, schools need to reach out across the globe to create a 21st century learning environment – one that enables students to work together in teams, acquire knowledge and form global connections through networks and virtual communities.

SAGE was formed in 2012 by Nanyang Girls’ High School in Singapore to unite leading schools from around the world with the aim of bringing educators together to share pedagogical ideas, resources and best practices and to create opportunities for students to make links. Founding members include Menlo School, California; High School Affiliated to Peking University, Beijing; and The Perse School, Cambridge (for a full list of founding members please see the SAGE website).

Regular conferences allow for the sharing of ideas, including an iSummit in Beijing in 2014 where the role of education was explored from a variety of cultural, practical and pedagogical perspectives. The Alliance has hosted a number of pupil exchanges, and Perse pupils work remotely with their counterparts overseas on joint projects.

The Perse will host the biennial SAGE strategic conference in 2016. Find out more about SAGE.

Christel House Schools

Since 2011, The Perse has supported Christel House Schools, a charity that transforms impoverished children’s lives through schools serving some of the most deprived communities of the world.

The charity was set up in 1998 by businesswoman, community leader and philanthropist Christel DeHaan with the support of Ron Haylock (Old Persean), who became its vice chairman. Perse support for the Foundation takes a number of forms, from sending Perse teachers and students to a Christel House school to share expertise and experiences, and raising funds through charitable activities, to participating in joint educational projects. This collaboration is hugely rewarding and inspiring for staff and pupils of both organisations.

Read Director of Teacher Induction Deborah Vernon Purvis’s account of her time at Christel House in Bangalore.

Working with local primary schools

We believe that we have a responsibility to play a full part in the life of the local community, and that such active participation is of equal benefit to us and to our partners. Through these links our pupils learn the importance of selfless service, develop a sense of social responsibility and acquire interpersonal skills.

Each fortnight Perse staff and students can be found working with teachers and pupils in one of 17 local primary schools with which we have a partnership. Each primary school specifies the kind of support they would like – from one-to-one maths sessions to stretch their brightest young mathematicians and coding workshops, to helping children for whom English is a second language, teaching French or running a Latin club.

We run a mentoring programme with Colville and King’s Hedges primary schools, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The aim of the eight-week course is to raise primary pupils’ aspirations, develop skills and enhance their confidence. Created with art history education organisation The Bigger Picture, the programme uses history and art history to spark pupils’ curiosity, with sessions also hosted by King’s College and Gonville and Caius College. Working closely with Education Officers at the museums, Perse students run fun workshops with the Year 5 and 6 pupils, using masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Laocoon to encourage pupils to think and speak analytically. The year’s sessions culminated in the primary school pupils producing a presentation and delivering it to their peers in an assembly at their school, alongside their Perse student mentors.

Stretching secondary school students

Our teachers work on curriculum development with local maintained schools, exam boards and in partnerships with departments at the University of Cambridge.

We support the University of Cambridge Isaac Physics initiative, designed to stretch students beyond the A level curriculum and encourage them to read the subject at university, and have hosted workshops, including one on problem-solving in physics using exponentials for more than 50 students from a wide range of schools. We work with many local organisations, for example hosting the Cambridge and District Classical Association’s Latin play Festival ‘Ludi Scaenici’ and the Cambridge Competitive Music Festival.

Connecting with the older generation

Perse sixth formers run a six week course for older people wanting to learn how to use the latest technology, from Skype to online shopping. One group works with Dementia Compass to run an intergenerational choir including community members with dementia and their families.

Community lecture series

To celebrate the School’s 400th anniversary, we ran a series of free lectures in association with the Cambridge News. Speakers were diverse as the former Archbishop of Canterbury and the youngest British woman to climb Everest, while topics ranged from climate change to the sub-prime crisis, and artificial intelligence to the Battle of Waterloo.

You can read reports on many of the lectures by visiting our 400th anniversary pages.

Advising the teaching community

Many of our teachers work closely with exam boards and sector organisations to provide a practitioner’s perspective. We believe that the benefits go both ways: the organisation we support gains the expertise of those at the cutting edge of education, while we are able to influence the development of the qualifications, curricula and subject initiatives that we will be delivering in school.

Among the roles our teachers have taken are Syndic at Cambridge Assessment (Head Ed Elliott); piloting the RSC’s professional development programme (Head of Chemistry Dr Tanya Khimyak); administrator of the International Psychology Community Discussion Group (Head of Psychology David Clarke); OCR Principal Examiner for A level English literature (Director of English and Drama Christopher Green); member of UEA’s Pre-University skill steering committee (Head of Biology Dr Cheryl Buchanan) and representative on the Cambridgeshire player pathway board for cricket (PE teacher Ravi Mahendra).

Raising money for good causes

We are committed to helping improve others’ lives, both at school and beyond. Each school and its parents’ associations actively fundraise for a number of charities each year – often chosen by pupils through their school council. Recent activity has included:

  • All three schools raised more than £56,000 for our nominated charities in the 400th anniversary year.
  • The Prep raised more than £35,000 to help children undergoing treatment for cancer. £10,000 of the funds raised enabled the purchase of specialist technology for the Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Department at Addenbrooke’s, which is being used to save the hearing of children at risk of chemotherapy-induced hearing damage.
  • Year 11 students raised £10,000 for Cancer Research UK through the Relay for Life. Seven teams worked together to run or walk around the University of Cambridge Wilberforce Road athletics track, to illustrate that ‘cancer never sleeps’.
  • The Pelican went ‘bonkers for conkers’, collecting as many horse chestnuts as possible to raise more than £1,500 for Chestnut House – a local charity which provides accommodation for parents of children in hospital.
  • Upper pupils slept rough for homeless charity Emmaus, raising more than £2,000 for the charity.


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