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St Benedict's School, usually referred to as St Benedict's, is a British co-educational independent Roman Catholic day school situated in Ealing, West London. A Benedictine Roman Catholic school it accepts and educates pupils of all faiths.[4]

St Benedict's School
St Benedict's School logo.png
Eaton Rise

, ,
W5 2ES

Coordinates51°31′16″N 0°18′25″W / 51.521°N 0.307°W / 51.521; -0.307Coordinates: 51°31′16″N 0°18′25″W / 51.521°N 0.307°W / 51.521; -0.307
TypeIndependent day school
MottoLatin: A Minimis Incipe
From The Smallest Beginnings
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
Established1902 (Renamed 1948)
FounderFr. Sebastian Cave, OSB
PatronThe Lord Patten of Barnes[1]
HeadmastersMr Andrew Johnson (Senior School)
Mr Robert Simmons (Junior School)
Age3 to 18
Enrolment~1,040 (Senior School)
~283 (Junior School)[2]
HousesBarlow, Gervase, Pickering, Roberts
Colour(s)Green, Yellow and Black               
PublicationThe Priorian
Former pupilsOld Priorians
Annual tuition£16,100[3]



St Benedict's School Abbey


Senior School

St Benedict’s School, Ealing was established following the arrival of Benedictine monks from Downside Abbey into Ealing in 1897 to found the first Benedictine Abbey in London since the Reformation. Under the leadership of Dom Sebastian Cave, Ealing Priory School, as the School was known, (becoming St Benedict's School in 1948) opened on 2 October 1902, with three boys enrolled. The School was founded upon a £5 donation, which was later published in the first issue of the School's Priorian magazine.


The school has occupied various premises at various times in its history, firstly in Blakesley Avenue, then taking rooms in the priory in 1904 before moving across to Orchard Dene (which currently houses the Junior School) in Montpelier Avenue. In 1906 15 acres (61,000 m2), about a mile from the main school grounds, in Perivale were purchased to provide a sports ground. By the 1920s Orchard Dene was used for boarders and the school was located in two houses on Eaton Rise. A purpose built school building linking these houses was in use by 1936. During the Second World War pupils were evacuated into the now Junior School – boarding ceased – and the Abbey church was badly damaged by a bomb on 7 October 1940.[5]

The Junior SchoolEdit

The Junior School was 'spun off' as a separate entity with its own headmaster, in 1946. The Junior School's first lay headmaster, Dennis McSweeny, was appointed in 2000. The present headmaster, appointed in 2005, is Robert Simmons, himself a former pupil of St Benedict's School. Visits to many places of interest in London, and further afield, extend pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the world around them. In Year 5, pupils visit Normandy and in year 6 they visit the Lake District on a PGL style activity. The school has links with the local and wider community through supporting local and international charities. Concern for the environment is demonstrated, for example by the purchase of a piece of land in Central America which has been planted with trees. Each year on the official feast of St Benedict, a whole school (Junior and Senior) charity day takes place at the end of March to support a charity of the pupils' choosing.

Junior School


A co-educational Nursery was founded in 2002, in the building on Montpelier Avenue which formerly housed the Middle School. The Governors have approved plans for a three-storey development to replace the existing ‘Ark’ in the Junior School. Work on this is scheduled to start in summer 2016 and, when complete, this new building will house the Pre-Preps and also the Nursery, which will be re-located to the main site.

Move to co-educationEdit

Although St Benedict's was founded as a boys' school, girls have been admitted to the Sixth Form of the Senior School since the 1970s and to the nursery since it was founded in 2002. In June 2006 the Monastic Chapter voted to extend co-education across the whole school and since the Michaelmas term of 2007 the Junior School has been fully co-educational. The Senior School became fully co-educational in Michaelmas 2008. As of 2014 girls formed 34% of pupils in the School.

Sex abuse scandalEdit

In October 2009, Dom David Pearce, a monk of Ealing Abbey and former headmaster of the Junior School, was jailed for eight years, subsequently reduced to five years, for sexual abuse offences at the school in the period from 1972–1992 and for one further offence in 2007 after he had ceased to work in the school.[6][7] In March 2011, Dom Laurence Soper, the Abbot of Ealing Abbey during the 1990s, was arrested on child abuse charges relating to the period when he was a teacher at, and the bursar of, St Benedict's School; it was reported in October 2011 that he had failed to answer bail and was being sought by the police.[8] In 2016, he was arrested in Kosovo and extradited to the UK to face trial.[9] In early December 2017, following a 10-week trial at the Old Bailey in central London, Andrew Soper (as he is now known) was found guilty on 19 counts of child sexual abuse including buggery, indecency with a child and indecent assault.[10] He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.[11] It was claimed there was a culture of violence at the school with for example daily queues of boys outside the headmaster's study waiting to be caned. A stated that aged 11 he got into trouble in class. The teacher made him kneel in front of the class and continued the whole of the lesson standing on the boy's hands. Jurors at the trial were told about Soper's victims getting sadistic beatings. One survivor said in court, “I have tried countless times to take my own life as I just cannot cope any more.”[12]

Following these incidents, and other alleged offences, the Abbot commissioned a report to be prepared by Lord Carlile of Berriew with a view to making recommendations on the School's governance.[13] As a result of the changes made the Independent Schools Inspectorate said in its 2013 inspection report that the pastoral care at St Benedict's was excellent.[14]

In October 2011 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered its own enquiry into the same matters, to be conducted by Bishop John Arnold.[15]

In 2016, Peter Allott, deputy head, and former local Conservative Party councillor who had worked at the school since 2004 was jailed for 33 months for possession of child abuse images, as well as possession of a Class A substance.[16][17] However, it was made clear by the CPS that there was no evidence that Allott had abused his position of trust within the school, and no offensive material was found there.[18][19]

In 2018-2019, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) commissioned by the UK Government was investigating any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, and the handling of complaints about Catholic schools and specifically relating to investigations at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s school. The pope’s representative in Britain, Archbishop Edward Adams, refused to co-operate with the enquiry.[20]

School lifeEdit


Since its foundation members of the monastic community at Ealing Abbey have taught at, and provided pastoral, spiritual and educational leadership, within the School. Until the Senior School's first lay headmaster, Dr A.J. Dachs, was appointed in 1987, all headmasters were monks of the Abbey. Since 1951 the Senior School headmaster has been a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Following the recommendations of the Carlile report (see above) the School, which had been under the trusteeship of the monks of Ealing since its foundation in 1902, became an independent charity in the form of a company limited by guarantee, independent of the Abbey Trust. New governance arrangements, with a lay chairman, came into effect from September 2012.[13]

Student Representation and the Student CouncilEdit

Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)[21] recommended the School consider enhancing internal student representation prompting the formation by the School of a School Council with its formal powers outlined in its Constitution.

Students may run in elections throughout the School,[22] from the Third Form to the Upper Fifth with two representatives elected from each year. Sixth form students can run for the offices of Student President and Chair of the Sixth-Form Common-Room.

The structure of the School Council consists of the Student President and the Student President's Chapter. Members are appointed to the Chapter by the newly elected Student President to represent students in matters regarding: Food and Health, Estates and Buildings, Pastoral and Equality, Finance and Investment, Sixth-Form, Upper and Middle Schools and the Vice President's office. The first codified School Council Constitution was signed in January 2016 by the Student Heads of School, Student President, School Chaplain, Headmaster, Chair of the Sixth-Form Common-Room, Leader of the Upper and Middle School Council and the Chair of the School Governing Body.[13]


On entry to the Senior School each pupil is assigned to a House: Barlow (partnered with More House in the Junior School); Gervase (partnered with Gregory); Pickering (partnered with Bede) or Roberts (partnered with Fisher). These houses are named after the Benedictine martyrs St Ambrose Barlow, Blessed George Gervase, Blessed Thomas Pickering and St John Roberts.

From the Upper Fourth onwards House Captains are appointed in each division, while in the Third Form and Lower Fourth there are House representatives. In addition House Colours are awarded from the Upper Fourth for outstanding contribution to the life of the School.

Members of the Upper Sixth may apply to be a prefect, known as "Decans" or "Senior Decans". Their roles include helping at parents' evenings and other School events such as concerts, plays and dinners. The Heads of the Decans and Senior Decans are the Student Heads of the School.

The School uses this name system for each academic year from age 5 to age 18 (with the equivalent shown in brackets):

The School year is divided into three terms, Michaelmas term (from early September to mid December), Lent term (from early January to late March) and Trinity term (from late April to early July).


The School promotes Catholic Benedictine values through its mission of "Teaching a way of living", based on The Rule of St Benedict. Registration sessions are accompanied by prayer, in which pupils participate and sometimes lead. Mass is celebrated weekly in the School chapel or in the Ealing Abbey, for those staff and pupils who wish to attend. Retreats organized for each year group give time for reflection and for spiritual growth. Trips are organized, for instance to Rome on a study pilgrimage and to Lourdes, where pupils develop their understanding or are able to express their commitment to service.[14]

The Independent Schools Inspectorate noted in its 2013 report that, at all ages, pupils' personal development is excellent. In line with the Benedictine mission, pupils show respect for themselves, for others and for the world around them, in 'learning how to live'. They enjoy relationships with peers and adults alike and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding.[14]


The main sports for boys are rugby and cricket and for girls are netball and hockey. The school is notably good at fencing, producing national and international fencers. Fencing is a main sport for both boys and girls. The School also offers other sports including dance, tennis, swimming, basketball, athletics and boys' hockey.[23]

In rugby the School was runner-up in the NatWest Schools Cup at Under 18 level in 2008; at Under 15 level it was winner in 2005 and runner-up in 1993.[24] The School XV was undefeated in 2008 in 21 of 22 league matches, finishing top of the Canterbury Rankings,and was selected by the Rugby Football Union to represent England in the Sanix World Rugby Youth Invitational Tournament, losing only to the eventual winner. The Under 13 side won the 2012 Junior Champions of the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens, the world's largest rugby tournament.[25]

Co-curricular activitiesEdit

In the Senior School there are over 70 clubs and societies. Pupils run a debating society, staff a Combined Cadet Force and participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme,[26] as well as producing art, music and drama.[27] The Junior School runs a daily programme of after-class hobbies including Mandarin, ballet, chess, cross stitch, fencing, computing and swimming. Both Senior and Junior School pupils contribute to the Priorian, the School magazine.



It was announced in June 2015 that Mr Andrew Johnson, the Head of Stonyhurst College, was to become headmaster from September 2016 on the retirement of Mr Cleugh.[29]

Notable alumniEdit

Alumni of the school are known as Old Priorians, derived from its original name of Ealing Priory School. OPs include:

The Lord Patten of Barnes OP is Patron of the School.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Governors – St Benedicts School".
  2. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions – St Benedicts School".
  3. ^ "School Fees for 2016-2017". Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Homepage – St Benedicts School".
  5. ^ From the Smallest Beginnings – The Story of St Benedict's School Ealing, Nigel Watson, OCLC 60398500
  6. ^ 'Devil in a dog collar' priest faces jail for sex abuse Archived 9 December 2012 at London Evening Standard – 12 August 2009
  7. ^ Jailed child pervert priest ruined my life Ealing Gazette, 9 October 2009 Archived October 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Father Laurence Soper of Ealing wanted over sex abuse BBC News 14 October 2011
  9. ^ "Kosovo sends accused ex-priest Lawrence Soper back to UK". BBC News. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  10. ^ Bowcott, Owen (6 December 2017). "London priest who fled to Kosovo found guilty of abusing schoolboys". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  11. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (21 December 2017). "Priest who sexually abused boys at London school jailed for 18 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  12. ^ London Catholic school abuse survivor speaks of 'constant violence'
  13. ^ a b c Carlile Report
  14. ^ a b c St Benedict's School 2013 Inspection Report
  15. ^ Pope orders inquiry into child sex abuse by teachers at London school The Daily Mail 25 October 2011 retrieved 25 October 2011
  16. ^ Lexi Finnigan (5 May 2016). "Deputy head of private school jailed for addiction to child sex images and Class A drugs". Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  17. ^ David Rivers. "Former Ealing deputy head teacher who attended crystal meth sex parties sentenced for child abuse images". Get West London. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  18. ^ Paul Wright (5 May 2016). "Peter Allott: Former deputy headmaster jailed after child porn and ecstasy offences". Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  19. ^ Sam Webb (5 May 2016). "Deputy head at Catholic private school was addicted to child abuse images and 'chemsex' parties - Mirror Online". Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  20. ^ "Inquiry to hold public hearing on Ealing Abbey and St Benedict's School". IICSA.
  21. ^ "Inspection Reports – St Benedicts School".
  22. ^ Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) regulatory compliance inspection report 8-9 December 2015
  23. ^ "Sports – St Benedicts School".
  24. ^ "Rugby – The Old Priorian Association".
  25. ^ Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens website Accessed 20 June 2013
  26. ^ "Co-Curricular – St Benedicts School".
  27. ^ "London: St Benedict's is top school for Drama". 9 March 2015.
  28. ^ "Dom Bernard Orchard". The Telegraph. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2008.
  29. ^ editor, Neighbournet. "'Major Coup' As New Head Announced For St Benedict's".
  30. ^ Roy Greenslade (5 December 2008). "Obituary: Howard French | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  31. ^ "Moral hypocrisy, St. Benedict's and Che Guevara". 18 January 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  32. ^ "Gary Prado Cubadebate". Cubadebate (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  33. ^ "Bolivian General Who Captured Che Put Under House Arrest". Latin American Herald Tribune. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  34. ^ Salmon, Gary (1990). The Defeat of Che Guevara: Military Response to Guerrilla Challenge in Bolivia. Praeger. ISBN 978-0275932114.
  35. ^ "John Sauven: 'I want to claim the arctic region for all of mankind'". The Independent. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.

External linksEdit