To promote excellence in all areas and to develop each pupil’s abilities and character to the full.
To provide academic teaching which adds value, in comparison with other independent schools, and foster learning and scholarship of the highest quality together with a wide range of cultural, sporting and extra-curricular activities.
To nurture an awareness of spiritual and moral values amongst its pupils.
To maintain a population of children from varied backgrounds and to admit pupils not solely for their academic ability, but also on the basis of other abilities and qualities that can contribute to the life of the school.
To promote a purposeful and disciplined atmosphere in which boys and girls are encouraged to achieve their full potential, staff can find vocational fulfilment in their careers and all can use their talents for the greater good of the community and society as a whole.
Colfe’s is one of London’s oldest schools. It can be traced back to the 15th century but took its name from Abraham Colfe, Vicar of Lewisham, who re-founded the school in 1652. In his will, he entrusted the care of the school to the Leathersellers’ livery company, which governs the school to this day.
In 1977 the school returned to independent status after 25 years as a voluntary aided boys’ grammar school. For some twenty years now, Colfe’s has been fully co-educational, with roughly equal numbers of boys and girls: over 1130 pupils in all, from age three to 18. There is a five-form entry to Year 7. The Leathersellers’ Scholarship programme enables us to select up to 12 scholars each year on fully-funded bursaries for direct entry to the Sixth Form. In so doing we draw on strong working relationships with a number of local comprehensive schools in two of London’s most deprived boroughs: 10% of pupils in a typical sixth form year group qualify for free school meals.
Colfe’s old site in Lewisham was destroyed in the Second World War. In 1963 it moved to its present campus, which is a remarkably green and open space for outer London, with two additional large sports grounds nearby. All parts of the school from Nursery to Sixth Form share the site. The facilities are excellent: in recent years the school has doubled the size of the Pre-Prep and Nursery and added a whole new building to house the Sixth Form Centre, Mathematics and Religion & Philosophy depts, and Roebucks, a vibrant café.
Entrance is selective and academic standards are high, with more than 80% of A levels graded A*-B in the last three years. More than 60% of GCSE grades are awarded A* or A. Pupils regularly gain places on the most competitive courses at university, with as many as six securing places to read Medicine in a single year. Sport, music and drama are strong and all staff are expected to engage with the thriving Outdoor Pursuits programme.
Colfe’s is proud of its 360-year history but not burdened or defined by it. It is very much a school of the present day. The teachers are relaxed (without being casual) and professional (without being stuffy about it). The pupils are a more diverse mix than in some competitor schools, and they settle into Colfe’s because it is full of ‘people like them’. Colfe’s doesn’t try to force them into a single mould – there is no recognisable ‘Colfe’s type of pupil’. They are lively and willing to have a go.
Locally and nationally the school enjoys a strong and growing reputation for all-round quality and innovation. In the last five years academic results have gone from good to excellent, and Colfe’s Tougher Minds programme, which teaches pupils to concentrate and plan, won the TES Education Initiative of the Year award in 2014.