Prior Park College

Post 16

School Guide Rating

This school has 3 parent reviews

Ralph Allen Drive
Combe Down
01225 835353
10 - 19
Other independent school
View Report
Independent inspection report
5+ GCSEs grade 9-4 (standard pass or above) including English and maths

Secondary Data
Explained for parents
3 A levels at AAB or higher inc. two facilitating subjects
A level average point score
Average A level result
A level progress score
GCSE to A level
Day, Weekly and Full boarding
Boarding Type
Scholarship Status
Day Fees Per Term

School Open Events

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School Description

A co-educational, Catholic Christian boarding school for 11-18 (day), 13-18 (boarding), with a friendly, vibrant and talented community. Academic achievement is a vital foundation, although 'success' is defined in the broadest and most inclusive way. Situated in 57 acres of grounds overlooking the World Heritage City of Bath. Full and weekly boarding available.

Prior Park College Reviews

Average Rating:


“A great, all round experience”
Our daughter joined Prior Park Prep school in year three from the state sector and it made a world of difference to her. In year 9 she continued to the College as a weekly boarder and we have been delighted with the development, opportunities and education she has received. The fees and all the associated costs are a big struggle for us, and it is apparent that we are simply 'not in the same league' as her friends but she has never been made to feel inferior about this by any of them. The academics are a very important aspect for us as she is highly gifted, but far more important is the culture of success being admired rather than mocked. The breadth of activities and opportunities also means there are chances for her to try things where they don't come naturally and she is not the best and to learn to persevere and deal with failure too. Staff are available and informal in guiding parents and the boarders are very supportive of each other. The location is beautiful. Some aspects of the school fabric is rather worn but feels homely. Overall we consider the financial strain very very worthwhile.
My son, now aged 24 went the whole way through Prior, first Cricklade and then the College. Excellent school, very happy with his education. Prior Park Prep in Cricklade was outstanding, easing him into a new way of life as a boarder. He chose to continue to the main school as he loved it so much!!!
Our son started at Prior in September and we have been thoroughly impressed by all aspects of the school.
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Meet the Head: James Murphy-O'Connor

James Murphy-O'Connor has been Headmaster of Prior Park College and Principal, Prior Park Schools, since 2009. 

Who/what inspired you to become a teacher?

I went to school in London (St Benedict’s, Ealing) and I was inspired to become a teacher by a combination of the pastoral care offered to me by the monks and the Benedictan community and inspirational teaching. Some of this was thanks to the skill of the forward-looking teaching and some of it was in the inspirational message I heard about the joy of learning and the essence of what education truly means.

I come from a family which has seen generations of priests and doctors and I see teaching in a similar light; it is a vocational calling. I have been in education for 25 years next year and I have always loved the art of teaching – I am a History teacher.


What achievement are you most proud of as Head?

I am in my seventh year as Headmaster of Prior Park and I was handed a very precious gift from my predecessor; the College has outstanding pastoral care which is based on a Catholic, Christian Ethos where service to others and care, consideration and compassion are highly valued. I like to think that this legacy has been preserved and that the College is still known for these qualities.

Of course a school has to develop and we have been making some excellent additions; a new Art School, a new Sixth Form Centre, a new Girls’ House (because of growing numbers) and a new multi-million pound Sports Centre.

In 2016, we open a new Prior Park school which will overlook the Mediterranean! So lots of things to be proud of!


What does a successful school look like to you?

A school needs to know what it stands for and at Prior Park we are very clear about our values and our pastoral care and these are at the centre of our vision for the future. Prior Park is also known for excellence in many different areas of school life and we celebrate that diversity and breadth as an indicator of what education truly means; we are proud of our all-round nature as it means that students can pursue their passions in Music, Drama, Outdoor Education, Art, Sport etc to the highest levels of achievement.

We believe that the confidence gained from these support the student in their studies and we see excellent exam results, year-on-year as a consequence.


What is the most important quality you want every child to have when they leave your school? And why?

I want children to have a number of qualities because I sense that society will benefit from these. In particular we want our students to have a profound sense of service towards others so that they can bring their gifts and talents to their friends, family and to society in general.

We also want our students to have a sense of perspective in their lives. As a Catholic, Christian College, our students find this in their Faith. Many of our students are not Catholic but I believe that they all leave the College with an openness to Faith and all of our students have total respect for all the World Religions.

We want them to go from here with a clear sense of humility matched by their love of life! We want our students to be contributors; good social skills are just as important as excellent exam results.


Please give 5 words to describe the ethos of your school.

Service, Contribution, Care, Rounded, Ambitious.

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