Historic Durham schools set to merge

Durham School and The Chorister School, both more than 600 years old, will be known as the Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation from September 2021

Two Durham schools – each among the oldest in the country – are set to merge.

Durham School and The Chorister School, which have a shared heritage of over 600 years, will collectively be known as the Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation from September 2021.

“We will be able to make greater investment in facilities and offer a more vibrant boarding experience,” said the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham, who will be vice-chair of governors.

“There will also be many social benefits associated with a larger school community. The merger offers a strong and vibrant future for both schools.”

Founded by the city’s bishop in 1414, Durham School is the city’s oldest institution of learning. The Chorister School is barely any younger, having been established in 1616 as a place of learning for the cathedral’s choirboys.

Although the schools are merging, much of the past will be carried into the future. Both campuses will remain in use, the cathedral’s choirboys will continue to be educated by the new institution and the historic names will live on too; the foundation’s prep will be known as The Chorister School, while the senior school will be Durham School. The pre-prep will take the name of Durham School’s current prep, Bow School.

There will also be many social benefits associated with a larger school community. The merger offers a strong and vibrant future for both schools –

Kieran McLaughlin, Durham School’s current head, will become the first principal of the new foundation and will continue to lead Durham School. Sally Harrod, current headmistress of Bow School, will lead The Chorister School, as Ian Wicks, current head of The Chorister School, will step down in September.

The foundation will be governed by a new board of governors from both Durham and The Chorister School, including members of the chapter of Durham Cathedral. The chair of governors will be Robert Ribchester, who is currently chair at Durham School.

Tremlett added: “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.

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

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