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St Olaves Orpington Admissions Essay


The closing date for on-line applications for 2018 Entry has now passed. We are unable to accept late submissions.

We welcome applications from boys and girls in Year 11 whose sixteenth birthday falls between 1st September and 31st August (inclusive) of the academic year in which the Sixth Form Entrance Test is sat. If their fifteenth birthday falls within this period boys or girls may apply provided they are in year 11 at secondary school and a letter of recommendation is received from their Head Teacher. Entry for these students would be at the discretion of the Governors. Boys and girls may sit the Test once only.  Students in any age range other than those mentioned above will not be allowed to sit the Test. All applicants must have the legal right to be resident in the United Kingdom at the start of and for the duration of their A-Level programme.

Applications must be submitted online no later than the School’s published deadline and must be accompanied by the requested documentation in Sections 1 and 2 (and Section 3 if applicable). Please see Application Pack.

Applicants whose predicted grades meet our minimum GCSE requirements (set out in our Admissions Policy for appropriate year of entry) are invited to sit the Entrance Test at the School. The Test consists of papers in the four subjects applicants wish to study at A-Level and is academically demanding. 497 applications were received for entry in 2017.

Offers will be made during March and will be conditional upon meeting the criteria for entry as set out in our Admissions Policy.




St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School ( or ) is a selectivesecondary school in Orpington, Greater London, England. The school is also known as St Olave's, St Olave's Grammar School, STOGS or simply Olave's. It is boys-only from year 7, but has admitted girls to its sixth form (years 12 and 13) since 1998.

The school in its current state was formed from an agreement in 1896 between two schools, St Olave's Grammar School (Charter 1571), and St Saviour's Grammar School (Charter 1562). A sister school, St Saviour's and St Olave's Church of England School,[3] was established in 1903. St Olave's Grammar School was founded for the parish of St Olave in Southwark (1096-1926) which was named after Saint Olaf. They also have strong links with other schools through the Woodard Foundation.

The school occupied several sites in Southwark, finally establishing a more permanent location on Tooley Street in 1893. The school moved to suburban Orpington in 1968. The Tooley Street building is now a hotel (The LaLiT).

The school is consistently one of the top achieving state schools in the UK. It was the Sunday Times State School of the Year in 2008[4][5] and in 2011 was ranked as the fourth best performing state school in the country at A-level by the Financial Times.[6]

The school is highly selective at both initial entry and for entry to the sixth form.

General information[edit]

The school is a beneficiary of the St Olave's and St Saviour's Schools Foundation.[7] Its historic sister school is St Saviour's and St Olave's Church of England School in New Kent Road. Established in 1903, as a girls grammar school, this is now a non-selective girls' school. St Olave's now also has a strong relationship with Newstead Wood School, a selective girls' school situated about 1.5 miles away.

Until the scheme was discontinued in 2010, St Olave's was designated as a science, mathematics and computing specialist school. The school later applied for academy status; in 2015 this was reported to be 'on hold' pending resolution of governance issues between the Diocese of Rochester, the school and the Department for Education.[8]

Members of the school are known as Olavians, and alumni as Old Olavians. There are four houses: Bingham, Cure, Harvard and Leeke. These exist for the purposes of the classes and house competitions in the Lower School (Year 7 to 9) and for games competition in Year 10.

Chess players from the school have represented the UK in international tournaments, and have twice won the Millfield International Chess Tournament.

In 2017, the school's headmaster was Aydin Önaç, appointed in September 2010, and the sixth headmaster of the school since 1896. From 19 October 2017, he was suspended.[1][9] On 17 November 2017, it was announced that Önaç would "for personal reasons, be departing from St Olave's Grammar School at Christmas."[10]


Year 7 entry[edit]

The school is heavily oversubscribed (more than 10 applicants per place in 2008). Entry had for some years solely been determined by a pair of competitive papers in English and Mathematics; however, due to the demand for entry to the school, a two-stage entrance process now exists. Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning (which had formed the 3rd entrance paper until the Autumn 2007 exams, for entry September 2008) now forms part of Stage 1, a single multiple-choice paper which will also include English and Maths. Those who pass this first paper will then take Stage 2, the traditional pair of English and Maths papers. Marks for the two stages are then standardised and aggregated; the candidates with the top 124 aggregate marks are offered places in Year 7.[11]

Sixth form[edit]

Competition for sixth form places is also high. Pupils are selected for the sixth form on the basis of their excellent GCSE results, and expelled if they don't achieve consistently. In 2017 parents claimed this practice was illegal, and petitioned for judicial review. It has been suggested that this is a common practice across the country for schools attempting top placement in exam league tables.[12]


St Olave's exclusively provides Choristers for the Choir of the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, London, which is the Chapel of the Royal Victorian Order and of the Duchy of Lancaster. Until the school relocated to Orpington, it used to provide the choir for Southwark Cathedral from its connection to the St Saviour's foundation. However, the Charity Commissioners required that activities and intended beneficiaries related to Southwark had to be continued to be provided for by the Foundation, which supports the Cathedral choir today.


St Saviour's Grammar School[edit]

Main article: St Saviour's Grammar School

A new lease for the parish church of St Saviour’s dated 16 June 1559 included a pledge to start a school within two years. Within a few weeks a school for boys was functioning in temporary accommodation. On 24 November 1560 the four first wardens of the school were elected, and on 4 March 1561 a lease was handed over to the wardens for a new schoolhouse: a building in the Green Dragon, formerly Cobham’s Inn. A licence/charter for St Saviour’s Grammar School was obtained in 1562.

In 1676 the building in the Green Dragon was destroyed in the Great Fire of Southwark—the City of London fire was in 1666—and a new building was built on the same site.

In 1839 the school site was required for the enlargement of the Borough Market and a third building was built in Sumner Street in 1839. It was smaller than the previous one due to a decline in numbers.

St Saviour’s Grammar School agreed to amalgamation with St Olave’s in 1896. At the same time the creation of a new school for girls was envisaged, and this came into being in 1903 and was named St Saviour’s and St Olave’s Grammar School for Girls.

St Olave’s Grammar School[edit]

Henry Leeke, a Southwark brewer, left a will (13 April 1560) which gave £8 a year towards the founding and maintenance of a new free school. If the parish of St Olave’s failed to create such a school within two years, St Saviour’s parish was to have the money.

In November 1560, notice to quit was given to tenants of the rooms which were to be used for the school, and in July 1561 the church wardens of St Olave’s were ordered to receive Leeke’s legacy, and “prepare” a schoolmaster by Michaelmas Day. Assuming that everything went to schedule, the school began teaching on Michaelmas Day 1561.

On 25 July 1571 letters patent were obtained which established the school as a grammar school. The charter stipulated that the school be called: The Free Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth of the Parishioners of the Parish of Saint Olave in the County of Surrey.

Initially the school was housed in the old Vestry Hall of the church and its adjoining premises (on the west side of Churchyard Alley, a narrow lane off the south side of Tooley Street, running parallel with Borough High Street).

In the seventeenth century St Olave's Headmaster Robert Browne was imprisoned for non-conformism.

Although the school was untouched by the Great Fire of Southwark, major renovation and extension was undertaken in 1676 after the fire.

In 1829 the school had to move because its site was needed for the approach to the new London Bridge, which was built about 60 yd (55 m) west of the old bridge. A new building was built in Bermondsey Street, with the first stone being laid on 17 November 1834. However this building did not last long due to the rapid expansion of the railways, which wanted the land, and another building at Green Bank, in Back Street (later renamed Queen Elizabeth Street) was built in 1855.

This new building was soon deemed to be unsuitable due to the fact that it was designed for a system of teaching which fell out of favour, and had almost no provision for classrooms.

Another building was put up in stages on the same site, while the old building was dismantled. Work was begun in 1892 and completed in 1894. The new building was designed by Edward William Mountford, the architect of the Old Bailey, and it is this building which still stands in Queen Elizabeth Street near the approach to Tower Bridge (also completed in 1894).

The Queen Elizabeth Street building was abandoned by the school in 1968, when it moved to Orpington.

During World War II the former St Saviour's building in Sumner Street was damaged by bombing. Consequently, in 1952 the historic foundation stone was moved from Sumner Street to the Queen Elizabeth Street site. When the school was relocated to Orpington in 1968, the stone was taken to the new site.[13]


The school was at the centre of controversy in 1996 when Labour Party Shadow Cabinet ministerHarriet Harman sent her son to the school, despite her party's opposition to grammar schools and the fact that the school was located at some considerable distance from where she lived.[5][14]

On 11 May 2016 a petition was set up by students objecting to new, harder sixth form entry requirements; it gained over 1,000 signatures in two days.[15][16]

In August 2017, parents were informed that sixteen children were no longer welcome to continue into year 13, as their year 12 results were too poor. This caused a group of parents to take the school to court for excluding the pupils unlawfully.[17][18] On 1 September, the school made a statement that the excluded pupils would be allowed to return to school for Year 13.[19] The chair of the governors resigned due to lack of time.[20]

It emerged that headteacher Aydin Önaç and bursar Alan Wooley had set up a business earlier in the year, with the knowledge of the governors, where they were registered as the sole shareholders. The company filed three applications to hold trademarks related to St Olave’s school. The governors decided the format of the business did not follow good practice.[21]

On 19 October 2017 the new chair of governors, Dr Paul Wright, announced that the headteacher had been suspended "without prejudice" while an inquiry ("in respect of concerns that have been raised over recent weeks") by the London Borough of Bromley took place.[1][9] Some parents used the annual general meeting of the school's parents' association in early November to campaign for Önaç's reinstatement,[22] but the following week, on 17 November, the school announced Önaç would be leaving the school in December 2017, "for personal reasons".[10][23] Freedom of Information requests revealed that 72 students had been forced out of the school during their A-level studies since Önaç became head in the 2010-2011 academic year.[22]

Notable Old Olavians[edit]

See also: Category:People educated at St Olave's Grammar School

There is a masonic lodge for Old Olavians and others associated with the school.[24]

This is a partial list. For a more comprehensive one see: List of notable Old Olavians

  • H. B. Acton, philosopher
  • David Akinluyi, rugby player for Nigeria and Northampton Saints
  • Sir William Ashley, economic historian
  • Samuel Laman Blanchard, author and journalist
  • Godfrey Bloom, UKIPMEP
  • William Cole, composer, organist and conductor, and Master of the Music at the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy
  • Matthew Crosby, comedian
  • Lawrence Durrell, novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer
  • Abba Eban, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations; Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs; Israeli Deputy Prime Minister
  • Mark Ellis, known as "Flood", record producer (U2, Depeche Mode, The Killers)
  • Henry Hartley Fowler, 1st Viscount Wolverhampton, (1830–1911), politician ‡
  • Andy Green, RAF fast jet pilot; current holder of the world land speed record
  • Edmund Gwenn, Academy Award-winning actor
  • John Harvard, first benefactor of Harvard University ‡
  • William Heberden, physician, coined the term "Angina pectoris" ‡
  • Charles Hill, Baron Hill of Luton, Chairman of the BBC and ITA
  • Billy Mehmet, footballer
  • Nick Osipczak, UFC fighter
  • Sir Desmond Arthur Pond, professor; civil servant with the Department of Health and Social Security
  • Chris Philp, Member of Parliament for Croydon South
  • William Sherlock, English church leader ‡
  • George Tomlinson, Bishop of Gibraltar, founder of the Cambridge Apostles ‡
  • Thomas Frederick Tout, historian
  • William Van Mildert, Bishop of Durham; founder of the University of Durham ‡
  • Sir Sydney Waterlow, 1st Baronet, Lord Mayor of London, MP ‡

‡ Alumni of St Saviour's Grammar School prior to the merger


Further reading[edit]

  • Carrington, R. C. Two Schools: A History of the St. Olave's and St. Saviour's Grammar School Foundation (London: The Governors of the St. Olave's and St. Saviour's Grammar School Foundation, 1971).

External links[edit]

Clock tower of the former school building on Queen Elizabeth Street
  1. ^ abcWeale, Sally (19 October 2017). "Head of grammar school that excluded 'underachieving' students suspended". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  2. ^"St. Olave's Grammar School". 
  3. ^Carrington, R. C. Two Schools: A History of the St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School Foundation (London, 1971).
  4. ^"The Times - UK News, World News and Opinion". 
  5. ^ ab"St Olave's Grammar School named State Secondary School of the Year in Sunday Times Parent Power". News Shopper. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 
  6. ^"School rankings - Secondary Schools 2011". Rankings.ft.com. The Financial Times Ltd. 2011. Archived from the original on 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  7. ^Charity Commission. St Olave's and St Saviour's Schools Foundation, registered charity no. 312987. 
  8. ^"Briefing for Education Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee Tuesday 27th January 2015"(PDF). London Borough of Bromley. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 
  9. ^ abCoughlan, Sean (19 October 2017). "Grammar school A-level row head suspended". BBC. Retrieved 30 October 2017. 
  10. ^ abAdams, Richard (17 November 2017). "Head of grammar school that forced out A-level students resigns". Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  11. ^"ST OLAVE'S ARRANGEMENTS FOR ADMISSION TO YEAR 7 IN SEPTEMBER 2016"(PDF). St Olave's Grammar School. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  12. ^Weale, Sally; Fishwick, Carmen (30 August 2017). "Schools around England ejecting 'underperforming' sixth-formers". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  13. ^The history section draws its information mostly from Two Schools by Dr Roger Clifford Carrington, a former headmaster.
  14. ^Rentoul, John (2001). Tony Blair: Prime Minister (2013 ed.). Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571299874. 
  15. ^May, Luke (23 May 2016). "Petition against changes to St Olave's sixth form entry nears 1,500 signatures". Bromley Times. Retrieved 7 November 2017. 
  16. ^Clark, Jess (16 May 2016). "'Already enough pressure on us': Students fight 'shocking' rise in St Olave's Grammar School, Orpington sixth form entry requirements". News Shopper. Retrieved 7 November 2017. 
  17. ^Weale, Sally (29 August 2017). "Grammar school 'unlawfully threw out' students who failed to get top grades". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  18. ^Weale, Sally (29 August 2017). "St Olave's teacher: 'Weak students are treated as collateral damage'". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  19. ^Weale, Sally; et al. (1 September 2017). "St Olave's allows rejected sixth-formers to return to school". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  20. ^Weale, Sally (12 September 2017). "St Olave's chair of governors resigns after exclusion controversy". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  21. ^Pegg, David (5 September 2017). "St Olave's head caught up in school trademark ownership row". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  22. ^ abBennett, Rosemary (11 November 2017). "Parents at St Olave's fight to reinstate suspended head who expelled weak A-level pupils". Times. Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  23. ^Burns, Judith (17 November 2017). "St Olave's Grammar School row head resigns". BBC News. Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  24. ^According to the Lodge's web site, "Preference is given to those associated with St.Olave's Grammar School: old boys, staff, Governors, and their male relatives (including those of present/former students)." (See http://oldolavianslodge.org.uk/

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