College News

Princethorpe Says Farewell To Mr Darkes

We said our farewells to, Foundation Assistant Head, Alex Darkes, on Tuesday 30 April, who was retiring after 45 years of working at the school. Alex joined Princethorpe College back in September 1979 when Father Bill Clarkson MSC was Headmaster and he has seen many changes and developments over the years, serving under no fewer than eight Headmasters. His association with the College goes back even further though, as he was also a pupil here for seven years (1968-1975) and, in his leaving year, the winner of the coveted Princethorpe Shield. Throughout his time at Princethorpe he has embodied the school’s ethos, and his love of the College has always shone through.

Over the course of his career, Alex has delighted in passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm for so many things, not least his main subject, Physics. Generations of Princethorpians have benefited from his excellent teaching, pastoral care and immeasurable kindness.

His contribution to the College, however, has been far greater than just in the classroom, he has been involved in so many aspects of College life. In addition to teaching and being a form tutor, he led marketing, admissions, operations and IT, and even managed the bus services. He was at the very heart of co-curricular activities such as Photography Club, equestrian events, school trips far and wide, the Arts Society, the Old Princethorpians’ Association and the popular annual Motoring Festival, which he organised for 26 years. In more recent times, he played a key role in mergers, environmental sustainability planning, the introduction of the Development team and the project management of all the Foundation’s major building projects, including the new Science Centre. He even co-wrote a history book about the first fifty years of the College for its Golden Jubilee in 2016-17.

All this he has done with good humour, kindness, tenacity and determination and as, Foundation Principal, Ed Hester, said in Alex’s leaving presentation, “Alex embodies our 'Spirit of Family' ethos. He is one of the finest colleagues I have ever had the pleasure to work with. When I arrived, he was my right-hand man who having done so much, in so many areas, knew pretty much everything about everyone.”

Indeed, Alex is renowned for his encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Princethorpe, his amazing memory for names and faces, his skilful masterminding of projects and meticulous attention to detail and his wonderful wit, cheerfulness and sense of fun. Alex is our very own ‘Mr Princethorpe’ and therefore, on his retirement it is most appropriate that there will be a corner of Princethorpe, and particularly a Physics laboratory in The Science Centre, his final and most ambitious project, named after him in perpetuity.

At midnight on Tuesday 30 April he officially became an Old Princethorpian, although he will be maintaining his relationship with the Foundation, as Alex has kindly agreed to take on the role of Archivist Emeritus, so he can continue to play a part in the College’s rich history. It’s a role that has commenced already with Alex recently recording a retirement interview where he answered questions posed by Princethorpians old and new. If you would like to listen to the interview you can find it here.

Unassuming as ever, at his leaving presentation, Alex Darkes said, “Thanks to my many wonderful colleagues and pupils, I have had a blast of a time. Thank you everyone for your friendship and kindness.”

Alex leaves us with our very best wishes. He was presented with cards and gifts, including a new cabin suitcase, the perfect present for Alex who loves to travel. We are delighted that he now finally has the chance to fulfil his and every teacher’s dream – to take a holiday in term time!

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Inauguration Ceremony Welcomes New Princethorpe Prefect Body

The new Princethorpe College Prefect Body for 2024-2025 was formally inaugurated into office at an end of term ceremony on Friday 22 March. Parents of the new prefects were invited to College to watch the afternoon’s formal ceremony.

Head of Sixth Form, Ben Collie, introduced the incoming prefects who were presented with their prefect badges by Grove du Toit, Headmaster. Outgoing Heads of School, Natalya Elden and Izzy Wright, formally handed over the keys of office to the incoming Heads of School, Seb Bainbridge and Megan Shipton.

Mr du Toit took inspiration from the gospel as he shared his thoughts on the importance of leadership and the qualities of a good leader.

The College extends warm thanks to the outgoing prefect body and subject ambassadors for all their hard work and unstinting service this last year.

We wish the new prefects well as they take up their duties.


Princethorpe Partners With Team Super Sports To Offer Summer Holiday Camps

Princethorpe College is delighted to be partnering with Team Super Sports to offer Holiday Camps to children aged 5 to 16 years for six weeks this July and August.

The initiative is part of the Foundation’s new Commercial Enterprise activity aimed at generating additional sources of income and is in response to feedback and demand from parents.

The Summer Holiday Camps will run from 8.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday from 15 July to 23 August and are open to all. They will offer a wide variety of sporting activities, taking advantage of the College’s extensive grounds and sporting facilities. Youngsters aged 7 to 16 can take their pick of rugby, cricket, football, gymnastics, netball, hockey and tennis and create their very own sports camp. In addition to sports, dance and games there will also be optional arts and crafts activities for younger children aged 5 to 7.

Comments, Gemma Cullinane, Princethorpe Commercial Enterprise Manager, “Team Super Sports are an experienced provider of sport and multi-activity holiday camps with a fantastic reputation for top-level coaching for children of all abilities. We are very excited to be joining forces with them for the first of many holiday camps to come.

Dan Super, Founder of Team Super Sports, added, “Princethorpe’s beautiful campus is the perfect setting for a holiday camp. We are expecting it to be a very popular choice for many families in the local area.”

For more information and to book your child’s place simply visit the Team Super Sports website here. The camps are priced at £37 a day. Bookings before the early bird deadline of Sunday 9 June attract an extra 10% discount and there are further discounts available for siblings and four and five-day bookings. Childcare vouchers are also accepted.

Team Super Sports will be on hand at the College’s Open Evening on Wednesday 5 June and at Induction Day on Wednesday 26 June to answer any questions families may have or you can contact them at or call 01675 448494.

Crackley Hall’s popular Holiday Club will continue to run as normal.

OPs interested in a holiday job should visit the Team Super Sports vacancies page on their website to apply.

New Foundation Advertising Campaign Plays On Unique Strengths

The Foundation's new advertising campaign launched in March across a variety of media. It takes a joined-up approach to communicate the values and ethos of a Princethorpe Foundation education to prospective parents and pupils.

The new Foundation for Life campaign has been developed to highlight that our schools provide more than just an education, preparing pupils with the skills, learning and experiences which will put them on the road to happy and fulfilled lives. The concept underscores the unique strength of the Foundation and that there is a Princethorpe Foundation setting for every stage of a child’s educational journey. It also incorporates a gentle play on words.

Using a distinctive new graphic style emphasising the Tower icon, alongside eye-catching photography, the individual school logos and palette of Foundation brand colours, plus a new gold Foundation colour, the campaign is designed to be both visually impactful and incorporate strong messaging. Text panels emphasise that every individual is valued and that our family of schools aim to nurture, inspire and challenge our pupils to achieve great things.

Comments Melanie Butler, Foundation Assistant Head for Marketing, Admissions and Communications, "We have long wanted an overarching Foundation advertising campaign that encapsulates what the Foundation offers as a whole, as well as being adaptable to the personalities and nature of the individual school or nursery settings.

"Foundation Marketing and Communications Executive, Jo Flowers, and I have really enjoyed developing the campaign with the help of Marketing Consultant and OP, Nigel Bromley and our designer, Debbie McLaughlin. We hope the campaign will resonate not only with prospectives in terms of what they are looking for from a school or Foundation for their child, but with the whole Princethorpe community - staff, parents, pupils and Old Princethorpians alike."

Timed to coincide with the launch of Princethorpe’s 2025 admissions cycle, the Marketing Team have been hard at work rolling the campaign out across digital, outdoor and traditional media for all the Foundation schools.

Check out the first of our advert concepts in the gallery!

Foundation Bursar Announces His Plan To Retire

After 16 years of outstanding service, our Foundation Bursar, Eddie Tolcher, will be stepping down from his full-time role at the end of the calendar year.

Eddie, a former Crescent pupil and an Old Princethorpian, has been a tremendous servant, playing a leading role in the development and success of the Foundation. Eddie arrived shortly before Ed Hester and together they led on the mergers of Crackley Hall and Abbotsford in 2010 and Crescent School into the Foundation in 2016, both of which significantly strengthened all our schools. He has also overseen a major programme of campus development across all three schools, most recently with the new Science Centre at the College. Eddie has been tireless in supporting the Heads to deliver the very best possible schools and we would like to publicly thank him for all he has done.

In light of Eddie’s forthcoming retirement, the Foundation has reconfigured its organisational design in line with our commitment to continue to deliver our key strategic pillar of “Operational and Financial Efficiency and Excellence” and are in the process of appointing a new Head of Business Services by the end of the year. We have already started the recruitment process for the pivotal role. 

Eddie will be continuing his role as Clerk to the Trustees, and on special projects so we are delighted that we will be retaining his knowledge and wisdom in the years ahead.

Season 3 Of Sister Boniface Showing Soon On UKTV Drama Channel

We have just heard that Season 3 of The Sister Boniface Mysteries, the spin-off of the popular Father Brown series, will be aired on UKTV’s Drama channel from Friday 7 June.

The show follows the adventures of Sister Boniface, a Vespa-driving, crime solving, Cotswold-dwelling nun and scenes from the murder mystery were filmed at Princethorpe last summer holidays. According to UKTV this latest series includes the story of a famous organist murdered mid tune in the Chapel (we wonder where that might be) as well as story lines of mysterious kidnappings and stolen precious jewels.

UKTV Drama’s channel can be found on Sky on channel 143, Virgin on channel 130, Freeview on channel 20 and Freesat on channel 158.

We can’t wait to see Princethorpe transported back in time.

Bluebells Put On A Super Show

Springtime is the season for wildflowers and here at Princethorpe that always means bluebells. The bright violet-blue native perennials carpet the woodlands around the College site every year from April to May. After the mild winter, this year the bluebells flowered early and were glorious once again.

Almost half the world’s bluebells are found in the UK – they are relatively rare elsewhere. Bluebell colonies take a long time to establish so we are especially proud of the display in the woods along the Mile Walk.

For all Princethorpians old and new, the bluebells are synonymous with Princethorpe. We popped out to take some photos to share and we hope you enjoy looking through them and seeing this year’s display.

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New Solar/Wind Powered Defib Installed On Sports Fields

Princethorpe College has led the way in pupil and community medical emergency safety as well as sustainable thinking, by installing a wind and solar powered defib and bleed control cabinet out on the College’s sports fields.

The College has partnered with the OurJay Foundation – which fundraises and campaigns for publicly accessible defibrillators and trains and educates on CPR and the use of defibs, local company Share Haulage Ltd and the school’s Princethorpe PTA, who have each funded one-third of the costs. The emergency medical equipment will serve the local community and the school and has been provided by Turtle Engineering Ltd.

Grove du Toit, Headmaster at Princethorpe College, said: “It’s a real honour to be leading the way on the installation of this new defib technology. We understand that the first seven minutes are crucial when dealing with a cardiac arrest, so having the equipment close to hand and easily accessible to both our pupils and the public will be a major factor in potentially saving lives.”

You can read the full story on our website here.

Pinnacle Showcases Pupils' Outstanding Work

The latest issue of the Pinnacle was published back in February, showcasing yet more of our pupils' excellent work. The magazine's new editorial team, Julia Lindsay, Jo Evans and Sarah Duran, have given the Pinnacle a bit of a revamp and they hope you like its restyle.

The Pinnacle has always celebrated our pupils at their best and this edition includes plenty more examples of their outstanding efforts. History features, with project work from Year 7, 8 and 9, on the Romans, Richard III and World War Two. As does MFL, with excellent examples of descriptive writing from Year 7 and Year 8 in Spanish and in French.

There is a special Photography Club article exploring evening photography and a cross foundation spread showing the different initiatives that take place across all the Foundation schools.

A double-sided Minnacle is included too, with equally impressive work by Crackley Hall and Crescent pupils. It's wonderful to celebrate their talents.

You can read a copy of The Pinnacle on our school website here.

Dance Added To Performing Arts Pathways From September 2024

Princethorpe College is introducing a new BTEC Level 2 Performing Arts Dance programme from September 2024, strengthening our performing arts pathways and providing an exciting new creative subject for pupils to study.

Leading the subject will be Rachel Fox, an experienced dance teacher, performer and choreographer, who will be joining us from Birmingham’s renowned specialist Performing Arts Academy BOA. With a first-class degree in Dance, postgraduate teaching qualifications and plenty of experience of teaching BTEC Dance at Level 2 and beyond, Mrs Fox will deliver a highly creative course that enables pupils to refine their performance skills, explore diverse styles and choreograph their own work.

The new BTEC Level 2 qualification is open to all pupils who are currently in Year 9 for a September 2024 start. Find out more on our website here.

The addition of Dance to the curriculum will be reflected in our PE, Games and co-curricular offering of clubs and activities and Mrs Fox will also be available to other pupils, where possible, to assist with dance work related to out of school commitments.

Princethorpe Marks The Bi-Centenary Of Jules Chevalier's Birth

In March, Princethorpe College marked the bi-centenary of the birth of Jules Chevalier MSC, founder of the religious order that established Princethorpe College. Across the school, pupils and staff took part in special assemblies, activities and themed lessons to remember and celebrate his legacy.

Foundation Principal, Ed Hester and Fr Alan Whelan MSC led assemblies sharing the history of the formation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) and Chevalier’s enduring message of ‘Love One Another’ (John 13:34). At the end of the assembly Fr Alan introduced pupils to a new prayer, that will be a focus for our Eucharist in the Trinity Term.

Across their lessons, pupils have explored the legacy of the MSCs and Jules Chevalier’s message of love in many different ways: writing letters to pen pals at fellow MSC schools in English, planning journeys to and exploring the site of Issoudon (where the MSCs were first founded) in Geography, creating ‘This Is Your Life’ posters and booklets on Jules Chevalier in History, exploring and celebrating the number 200 in Maths, designing and making hearts and crosses or producing French food in DT, producing fact files and completing comprehension tasks on Jules Chevalier in MFL, reflecting on the work of the MSCs in RS and adding Jules Chevalier’s birth date to timelines of the universe in Science.

Pupils in Years 7 and 8 have also completed a ‘What will you put your heart into’ activity with the Chaplaincy team and their ideas are now on display outside the Chapel. Along the Cloister Corridor there is an exhibition of archive material, showing the history of the College and its longstanding connections to the MSCs.

Then to officially mark the bi-centenary, on Friday 15 March, Jules Chevalier’s birth date, the whole school community enjoyed a slice of cake.

Jules Chevalier’s message of love continues to inspire our community’s ethos and values and remains at the heart of all we do.

More House Win The House Cup

More House celebrated once again after winning the most hotly contested competition in school, the House Cup. Their victory was announced by House Activities Leader, Meg O’Gorman, in the Prefect Inauguration ceremony on the last day of the Lent Term. The House Cup was presented to the outgoing More House Captains, Eloise Keil and Finn Osborn, as jubilant More pupils cheered across the school.

More had started their campaign well winning Sports Day, but the race was on when Fisher claimed victory on House Activities Day. Across the year, pupils participated enthusiastically enjoying all the events, including exciting new ones such as House O’Games and Pancake Tossing.

It was a steady and consistent performance that helped More pupils amass their huge total of points and finish first for the second year running. The final placings were: 1st More, 2nd Fisher, 3rd Austin and 4th Benet.

Huge thanks to all the House team, including the House Activities Co-ordinators (Mrs Galano, Miss Howell, Miss Callan and Mrs Wilford) and the House Captains for all they do to organise and run House events.

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Cambridge Offer For High-Flying Princethorpe Sixth Former

Back in February, Princethorpe College Upper Sixth Former and Academic Prefect, Joseph Newborough, was thrilled to received an offer to read Maths and Physics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

Head of Sixth Form, Ben Collie, commented, “Joseph had earned his success. Applying to Oxbridge is a character-testing experience. The process is very competitive, with students facing pre-tests, intensive scrutiny of their academic and personal achievements and rigorous interviews.”

There was good news for the Upper Sixth across the board too, with the College pleased to support 115 applications through UCAS this year. Our Sixth Formers are all now in the midst of their public examinations and we wish them every success.

Ben Collie, continues, “Our Upper Sixth have exciting plans for the future, whether that be studying at university, undertaking internships or apprenticeships, working or taking gap years and we are delighted to support them all towards their next steps.”

Train To Teach At Princethorpe

Thinking of becoming a teacher? Then why not consider training at Princethorpe College.
Whether you are a new graduate or contemplating a career change, we have opportunities available across the subjects but particularly for those with a degree relating to STEAM.

Through our association with the Lion Alliance, we offer a year’s training as part of the School Led Route, leading to Qualified Teacher Status. Placements would be at Princethorpe and also at other schools within the Lion Alliance. Our training via the Lion Alliance is supported by Warwick University. In addition, Princethorpe College also has strong links with Birmingham City University and Coventry University through offering placements to their trainees.

Teacher training at Princethorpe is a successful part of the school and we are now in our fifth year. Bursaries from the government of between £7,000 and £28,000 are available to support those training in Chemistry, Computing, Mathematics, Languages, Geography, Biology and Design Technology.

Our Assistant Head for Teaching and Learning, Dr Liz Pyne is happy to offer advice about the different routes into teaching and what Princethorpe can offer you. Please email her at

Further information about the Lion Alliance can be found here:

Information about Getting into Teaching and possible bursaries can be found here: