Breadth of Opportunity in the Senior School

“I believe the true strength of the College is the breadth, rather than the success of any one part. There is no other school in the area where you are able to succeed at any combination of academic, sport, drama, music and many other interest areas all at the same time, giving you the widest education possible and fulfilling your potential.” Paul, Former Pupil

Breadth of experience is woven into daily life at Bishop’s Stortford College. As a day pupil or boarder your child will be immersed in an environment of wholehearted participation and discovery.  There is time and space to pursue high academic standards whilst enjoying a wide involvement in sport, music, visual arts, drama and many other activities.

"The school's excellent facilities and its overall culture of participation and of striving to do one's best are significant factors contributing to pupils' successes in the academic and wider spheres." ISI Inspection 2017

Art in the Senior School - Beyond the Curriculum

15 Art Centre

The Senior School Art Department is located in a stunningly spacious Art Centre and it plays a central part in the life of the College. Opened in 2009, the purpose built Art Centre has many large studios, including a sculpture studio, a workshop, a gallery space, an IT suite, a dedicated Sixth Form studio and a well resourced departmental library. This allows pupils to become involved in painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, textiles, glass, graphic design, photography, fashion, animation, computer generated imagery and film making.

 Raku fired Pots by Senior School artist May 2019 Senior School raku firing outside Art Department May 2019

There are five members of staff in the department, one of whom is an Artist in Residence. Our teaching gives pupils a thorough knowledge of the basic elements of the Visual Language which are necessary to allow the making of the creative, experimental and innovative work that we openly encourage.


We aim to give our pupils the skill and the confidence to realise their artistic potential. We want our pupils to become excited by the Visual Language, and to understand what Art is and what Art can be.

Art students are expected to participate in the running of the Art Centre and we expect our Art Scholars to lead by example.


Art is very popular as an examination subject, with many pupils taking GCSE and A Level. Excellent results are achieved, with several students being ranked amongst the highest achieving students across the country in recent years.

The Art Centre is open in the evenings and at weekends for pupils to use the extensive facilities that we have to offer.

Trips and Tours

L6th Induction Art Students at Henry Moore Sixth form art trip golden thumb sculpture

Every year we have a major tour to such destinations as Florence, New York, Washington, Rome or Paris. There are also regular visits to London, Cambridge and the Henry Moore Foundation.

Art also features in the Activity Programme. In the Fourth Form (Year 9).

This is only a brief description of what happens in our Art Departments. Please do visit to talk to the pupils, see their work, and see for yourself the wide range of artistic experiences that we have to offer.

Drama in the Senior School - Beyond the Curriculum

 Senior School drama production Not That Different Edinburgh fringe performance ryan land

Every year the Drama Department sits down, scratches its head and decides which plays are going to delight, surprise, intrigue and move audiences on The Leo Price stage over the next three terms.

Autumn Term

This term sees us turn the College's finest student actors into an enthusiastic and highly disciplined cast, who over the last few years have performed plays as varied as Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Wycherley’s The Country Wife, Bond’s The Sea, Edgar’s adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby, Barrie’s Peter Pan, Return of the Forbidden Planet a spoof of Shakespeare's The Tempest and Gogol's The Government Inspector.

We are fortunate in having a full-time technical stage manager, who gathers a team of “techies” who love creating images with light and sound just as much as their thespian peers revel in creating characters under the lights. Our sets are ambitious and although we have a permanent proscenium arch stage, our plays are more likely to be performed in the round, traverse, or even outside!

Although most of our extra-curricular actors are Sixth Formers, talented Upper Fifth Formers may be invited to make a guest appearance.  The plays usually run over three nights and give all those involved a real taste of the demands and joys of theatre, either on or backstage.

Spring Term

L5 Devised Plays January 2016 L5 Devised Plays Girls and Boy Actors

After we have recovered our energy, it is the turn of the Lower Fifth students to invade the stage. Recent productions include premieres of plays performed as part of The National Theatre Connections Festival, such as Ruckus in the Garden by David Farr, Vampire Story by Moira Buffini and The Things She Sees by Ben Power. More recently we performed Animal Farm adapted by Peter Hall, Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters and Ionesco's Rhinoceros. Students work with visiting theatre professionals, giving them an opportunity to sample the life of a 'real' actor over a few weekend rehearsals.

Summer Term

The odyssey 4th form production 2018 The odyssey 4th form summer production 2018

Our Summer term production is open to all Fourth Formers (Year 9s) who are interested in performing on stage or helping with the technical side of theatre. This production forms part of the Summer Term Activities Programme and a team of teachers work alongside upwards of forty students to create something of a summer extravaganza. Most of these productions are plays which can be broken down into sections, with episodes within the play being allocated to different groups of actors. The Canterbury Tales adapted by Michael Edgar, The Coram Boy adapted by Helen Edmundson, Arabian Nights adapted by Dominic Cooke, Greek Myths and Mummers’ Plays, Victorian Melodramas have all at one time or another fired the imaginations of our students – and of course their audiences too! Last year Richard III, West Side Story and The Pardoner's Tale were all in performance.

We have a growing number of students successfully entering Drama School or continuing their Drama studies at Higher Education level.

Trips and Events

Duke of Edinburgh's Award

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The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, a registered charity, is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of practical, cultural and adventurous activities, designed to support the personal and social development of young people aged 14+, regardless of gender, background or ability.

The aim of the Award is to provide an enjoyable, challenging and rewarding programme of personal development for young people, which is of the highest quality and the widest reach. Bishop's Stortford College supports participants, potential participants, leaders, helpers and anyone interested in participating in the Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh's award requires commitment, perseverance and determination. The expedition section is usually the favourite part of the award when the participants can explore the countryside of Britain or beyond, learning to become independent as they navigate themselves around some scenic areas of the country. 

The Award offers many challenges and continues to thrive at Bishop's Stortford College. In 2019-20, 152 pupils undertook a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at the College, with an Achievement Rate of 83%.  In 2018-19, 110 pupils at the College achieved Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards.

Fundraising was a popular activity, as was helping the elderly, working with Amnesty International and working in local charity shops. Learning to drive, learning to cook and photography and media were just some of the newly acquired skills of the participants this year while those doing sport encompassed everything from aerobics to rugby and cycling. For the residential section, pupils chose to volunteer at camps for the disabled, to extend their skills at university taster courses or to develop their physical skills by attending specific sports training camps.   You can read about the Upper 5ths' Silver Assessed expedition in August 2019 here.

 Senior School pupils in a group smiling at the camera on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition Senior School pupils on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition

The Awards

There are three levels to be achieved:

Bronze - The most basic of the awards, and the easiest to achieve. Age 14+ years.  Offered to pupils at the beginning of the Lower Fifth.

Silver - The 'intermediate' award, and one of the most rewarding. Age 15+ years.  It is hoped that those enthusiastic enough will complete the Silver Award by the end of the Upper Fifth thus giving them the Sixth Form to achieve the Gold Award.

Gold - The award level presents you with the greatest challenges, and the chance, when completed, to meet Prince Philip or Prince Edward to receive this prestigious award. Age 16+ years

Those taking part have to fulfil the requirements of four DofE sections:


The aim of this section is 'to help other people in the local community'. Under this category, the College often runs the following activities, amongst others:

  • Amnesty International
  • Recycling
  • Life Saving
  • Working with Animal Charities


This involves the training, planning for and completing of a journey on foot or horseback, by boat or cycle. The College runs expeditions on foot at Bronze, Silver and Gold level.

  • Sailing (Gold) is a possible option
  • Canoeing (Gold) can be done with Herts County


These cover almost any hobby, skill or interest, for example: photography, local history.

Physical Recreation

This section is about sport, dance and fitness, examples are: judo, badminton, basketball.

Residential Project

This is for the Gold Award only.  A purposeful 5-day residential event with people not previously known to the participant.

Most activities in the Senior School are linked to The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

House Events & Competitions

Senior School House Music 2016 Hayward Benson Young & Alliott girls in Pearl Cup

Throughout the year, a whole host of competitions, events, games and activities between Houses take place and every pupil is encouraged to get involved as much as possible. There is something for everyone (sports, art, debating, chess, general knowledge, music etc) and they allow pupils to become more involved in their House community, develop their skills, forge new friendships and have fun. These include House Music Competition (Autumn Term), Yeo and Pearl Cups (Autumn Term) and Stars in their Eyes (Spring Term).

Benson House in Junior Debating Final 2017 Collett House in Brains Trust Final 2018

Each House gains points from the various competitions, with the points going towards the House Championships. At the end of every year, the Championship Cup is awarded to the Girls' House and Boys' House that have scored the highest number of points.

Tee House girls perform Literature Live 2019 Literature Live RPH performance 2019

Music in the Senior School - Beyond the Curriculum

Personal Development Programme in the Senior School

College pupils face Felsted in Badminton Match Jan 19 Red Pot after Firing and Cleaning Raku Firing 2017

All Senior School pupils, are involved in our Personal Development Programme at least twice a week.  Most of the activities in the Senior School programme can be linked to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme with many Sixth Formers achieving Gold, although some pupils opt to do extra art, music or drama.

Of course, many other extra-curricular activities exist outside the timetable. Pupils at the College have a full and active timetable, but they still find time to get involved in a range of sports, activities and hobbies in their own time.

Trips and Events in the Senior School

Senior School Ski Trip 2019 Senior School pupils in Central Munich

Horizons are widened through a wealth of trips, expeditions and events, either to enhance learning and understanding, to inspire creative hearts and minds, to contribute to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, or for sheer enjoyment and shared experience.


In recent years, trips across the globe have included Art in New York and Paris; Business and Economics in New York and Brussels; Classics in Rome and Sorrento; Community Action to Kenya; Diving in Egypt; Duke of Edinburgh expeditions around the UK; History in Munich; Hockey in Holland and Germany; Language exchanges in French-speaking Switzerland and Germany; Music in Italy; Physics in Switzerland; Cricket in South Africa; Rugby in Portugal; Skiing in Italy; …and so the list goes on!

Senior School cricketers together in S Africa Sixth Form Students on Art Trip to New York 

Senior School Ski Trip 2017 to Italy Fifth Form pupils enjoying Latin Trip to Pompeii

We also take advantage of being close to both London and Cambridge, cities packed with opportunities.


Spice Girls cover in Stars in their Eyes 2019 Rowe house boarding summer fun

Special events at Bishop’s Stortford College enrich, inspire and enthuse all involved.

  • The annual ‘Stars in their Eyes’ charity extravaganza is a classic example of how ideas are sown, take root and flourish to become one of the highlights in the Senior School calendar.
  • The week-long Bishop’s Stortford College Festival of Literature continues to grow each year with exciting line-ups of novelists, poets and storytellers feeding the passion for words in us all.
  • The International Student Committee organise several events during the year, including the popular Chinese New Year Party.
  • The Ferguson Lectures, a public lecture series launched in 2008, encourages us to face tomorrow’s issues today. Recent lectures have included Nobel Laureate Sir John Gurdon. Once again, the list goes on.

These few examples serve to illustrate the infectious enthusiasm for pushing boundaries and finding new ways to provide breadth of opportunity and experience for our pupils.