Truro School, Truro, Cornwall
Muddy says: An inclusive and forward-thinking co-ed, day/boarding school in beautiful Cornwall, with amazing results and a seriously impressive co-curricular programme.
All schools have their strengths but you’d be hard-pressed to find a school that excels in as many different areas as Truro School does. The co-ed secondary sits on a leafy hill overlooking the city and cathedral — and it’s having a particularly shining moment.
This summer’s A Level and GCSE results are the best they’ve had in five years; the school has recently been listed in the top ten sports schools in the country; the chamber choir made it to the finals of the annual Songs of Praise comp and the latest school production, Boy in a Bottle, scooped rave reviews at Edinburgh Fringe. And that’s just a few headlines. Let me give you the tour…
Truro School was established in the late 1800s and the traditional, original building, set in terraced gardens, is what welcomes you as you first approach the school. There are extensive playing fields and a large multi-pitch Astroturf and lots of new buildings and facilities have been added over time.
The most impressive recent additions to the campus are the theatre and sports centre that are a massive bonus for the kids and are also used by the wider community.
The Burrell Theatre was unveiled in 2002 (by Tim Rice no less) and hosts numerous school and external theatre productions, dance performances and live music events. While the Sir Ben Ainslie Centre, named for a particularly sporty former pupil, is a large, state of the art sports hall, opened in 2012. It is one of the best sports facilities in Cornwall, with indoor pitches (so PE’s never rained off), a fully equipped gym, dance studio and squash courts.
Results are excellent (especially considering the school is not highly selective) but they’re careful to reiterate that an education here is about so much more than exam results.
Having said that, the exam machine must be pretty well oiled – highlights from this year’s A Level haul, include 41% A*-A, 90% A*-B in Art, 83% A*-B in Maths and 82%A*-B Economics. At GCSE, 84% of all grades were A*-B, with stellar performances in the Sciences, Maths and English.
As a mum, the figure that appeals most to me is the ‘value added’ and it’s something staff at Truro are very proud of. Good value added shows that teachers work really hard to motivate and inspire students to do better than expected, whatever their starting point.
Sports & outdoors:
Expect all the usual – rugby, football, hockey and netball but also quite a few less run-of-the-mill sports. Students at Truro make the most of the Cornish coast, taking part in activities including surfing, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding and get active on dry land too, in clubs as diverse as mountain biking and Tai Chi.
There’s also a massive outdoors programme with students taking part in Duke of Edinburgh at every level – training on Bodmin and Dartmoor and completing the gold award in Slovenia and lots of students take part in the Ten Tors challenge each year. There are also a crazy number of trips on offer, from sports tours (including surfing and skiing) to World Challenge expeditions all over the world.
The school has a fantastic creative Arts, Drama and Music offering. Art, Ceramics and Design & Technology students exhibit their massively impressive work at the onsite Heseltine Gallery, which regularly hosts exhibitions for visiting artists too. They also contribute to Truro City of Lights, with giant lantern sculptures, some of which have returned to decorate the school dining room.
On the music front, the school holds up to 60 concerts a year. Many pupils play in county and national ensembles, including the National Youth Orchestra and National Youth Choir and there are regular masterclasses on offer, led by some of Britain’s top performers. Finally, the pro theatre at Truro gives Drama students an insight into the life of a proper working theatre and ample opportunity to take to the stage – whether here or at Edinburgh Fringe.
Feeling slightly intimidated? Excuse me while I slope off to Tai Chi.
If your kids board, Cornwall is a dream ticket. At Truro, you’re in a safe but creative and vibrant city and just 15-20 minutes from some the UK’s best beaches – which the boarders take full advantage of in the warmer months.
Headteacher, Andrew Gordon Brown took the reins in 2013. A latecomer to education, Gordon Brown was a top city media analyst before changing tack and heading to Radley to teach economics (lots of Cornwall-based parents – particularly us Emmets – will be able to relate to the lifestyle U-turn). He’s also a former Olympic rower and loves a good Spinning session with the staff.
As a methodist school, there is a really philanthropic spirit at Truro School. Each tutor group runs a charity week once a year, the final week of the year is dedicated to ‘World Aims’, during which kids explore global issues around a theme and a sustainability committee, supported by the students, looks at ways to improve the school’s green credentials.
Of all the sports the school excels at, fencing enjoys the most consistent success. Truro Fencers kick butt at national championships every year and many have gone on to represent the UK.
Another very specialised area of excellence is Geology – Truro rocks at it (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). Five of the top six GCSE candidates in the country came from Truro School this year and the Geology department was dubbed the best in the country by a visiting BBC professor.
Lastly, if film-making is your thing, in Wednesday afternoon club Truro School Live, students can learn all about video, sound, lighting and stage management and live stream school concerts and events throughout the year, on industry-standard equipment. One Sixth Form leaver in particular has benefitted hugely from the hands-on camera experience, landing a sought-after Videography job at Europe’s largest social influencer and marketing agency, Social Chain, fresh from completing his A-Levels this year.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
With the chance to excel in so many areas, I don’t think there’s a typical Truro School student. And whether you are looking for the right school for a high-flier or fairly modest achiever, you can feel confident the teachers here will do everything to identify your child’s strengths and get the best from them (in between orchestra rehearsals and mountain biking of course).
If you have littlies, Truro also has gorgeous prep and pre-prep schools over at Treliske that were recently judged ‘excellent’ in their ISI inspection. Definitely worth a visit!
The campus is surrounded by beautiful countryside but if you like a school set in acres of parkland, with a long, ostentatious drive, Truro’s city home may not tick that box.
See for yourself:
There’s a sixth form open evening coming up on Wed 27 Sept, 5:00pm and 7:30pm and a Senior School Family Open Day, on Sat 7 Oct, 9.30am – 12.30pm.