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St Faith's Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
St Faith's
555 pupils, ages 4-13

St Faith's

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Our view

We love this forward-looking, progressive school that puts as much emphasis on STEM subjects as it does sports. Academically, St Faith’s is flying and, on our visit, we met engaged, chatty children bubbling with confidence.


The historic university city of Cambridge is rapidly becoming a world-leading FinTech and bio-tech hub. St Faith’s is on the outskirts (which makes traffic more manageable), on Trumpington Road. Founded in 1884 and initially made up of four large Victorian houses, the school now has various purpose-built add-ons across nine acres of land (plus there are a further 20 acres of sports grounds a few minutes’ walk away).

The spectacular new space-age £2m STEM hub – which has a glass-roof observatory, six telescopes and virtual reality headsets for pupils to study astronomy – is used for science, maths, computing, engineering, art and design.


The understated and very likeable Nigel Helliwell has been in charge since 2011 (this is his third headship; previously he was head at Brentwood Prep School). The more we talked, the more impressed we were. He has no hint of ego and is rightly extremely proud of the recognition that St Faith’s has been awarded recently. But – crucially – he also believes that the school has a profound ethos of caring for the children and that it should be a happy place for them. Mr Helliwell is retiring - in September he'll be replaced by Crispin Hyde-Dunn, who arrives from The Dragon in Oxford. 


Unlike many prep schools, there is an almost 50:50 balance of girls and boys. The main entry points are at 4+, 7+ and 11+. Register as early as possible for 4+ entry, because places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. In other year groups, the application deadline is 30 November in the year before entry; the school typically receives three applications for every place available.

Academics and senior school destinations

St Faith’s stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to STEM, which has been embedded in the syllabus for years (we hear that it receives frequent feedback from senior schools on the benefits). The school is leading the way with engineering as a core curriculum subject from Year 3 (taught by those whose first career was in the industry), with the aim that children leave ‘with flexible creative minds’, says Mr Helliwell.

Rather brilliantly, St Faith’s has also pioneered national training courses for teachers that bring together what children have already learnt in maths, science and computing. We like the sound of the annual STEM Fair, where Year 8 pupils are tasked with inventing something that would make the world a better place. The computer teacher has written his own syllabus and boys and girls start to learn programming age five, so they are all fluent by the time they leave.

The school doesn’t prepare children for Common Entrance, which frees up the timetable; staff teach ‘top down excellence’, meaning they plan lessons for the highest ability of the class not the middle as is more usual practice. Pupils have embraced this change and academic standards have risen (staff are very motivated: ‘It is in their DNA to be on the ball,’ says Mr Helliwell).

Rather than an iPad for every child, state-of-the-art classrooms have computers that rise up from the desks when required. The thinking is that this is less distracting for younger ones and they can type using a proper keyboard.

When it comes to the arts, everyone performs in at least one school play every year, and learns at least one musical instrument. Languages are strong: Spanish is taught from age four, French from 10. The top year embark on a 10-week carousel of Mandarin, Arabic and German too.

About 90 per cent of the children get into their next school of choice and, as the Cambridge market is almost as competitive as London, this is impressive. Half of pupils go to The Leys (down the road and part of the same foundation), the rest to other sought-after Cambridge schools (The Perse and St Mary’s) and boarding schools (around 10 to 15 per cent). An average of 28 scholarships are won each year. Tellingly, around 10 per cent of the parent body were once students here themselves.


St Faith’s has invested heavily in sports coaches to ensure that all teams, not just those at the top, are taught by first-rate staff. And it is really paying off: the school reached 20 national finals last year, won both the U11 boys and the U12 girls IAPS national hockey finals and has two Olympian hockey players.

One of the most in-demand clubs on offer (with both pupils and parents) is the Goblins, where boys and girls design, build and race electric go-karts called green goblins as part of a national competition.

Inclusivity is a key tenet of the school, with all Year 8 pupils becoming prefects and given some form of responsibility. Certificates are handed out to children who show acts of kindness (holding a door open, say, or being supportive to others). In Years 3 to 8, everyone is allocated one of four houses, and between the teachers, tutors and heads of house, any issues that arise can be sorted out.

School community

St Faith has 20 different mother-tongue languages and large number of pupils are bilingual (some trilingual), making for a rich, multicultural mix.

The school runs a hugely popular breakfast club where parents and children can come in from 7.20am and eat together before work and lessons. This is generally accessed by around 80 families and is a fantastic social initiative, especially for new parents. Around 25 per cent of pupils cycle to school, which is encouraged.

There are formal ties with six local primary schools (on our visit, St Faith’s was running a STEM day for one school where all pupils from a single year group were sitting down for science, maths and engineering lessons), plus it’s a lead school in the network of computing excellence, working with 20 schools to develop their IT infrastructure.

Over the past 16 years, St Faith’s has also partnered with a township school in South Africa, where it has built up pupil numbers and introduced initiatives such as a hot-food programme to ensure the children are fed before they go home. Year 7 and 8 students visit every other year.

And finally...

St Faith’s is soaring: we really got the impression that because things are going so well within the school, it has the capacity to look outwards and onwards. Of the three Cambridge preps, this is a real contender for the top spot.

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  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    50% to The Leys, The Perse, St Mary’s, Uppingham, Harrow, Eton, King's Ely, Culford, Haileybury, Bedford, Felsted, Rugby, Oakham, Framlingham

  • Scholarships for senior schools

    Scholarships 2020

    Academic7 The Leys, The Perse, St Mary's, Stephen Perse Foundation
    Music7 The Leys, The Perse, St Mary's, Stephen Perse Foundation
    Drama2 The Leys, Stephen Perse Foundation
    Sport15 The Leys, The Perse, St Mary's, Stephen Perse Foundation, Harrow, King's Ely
    Art4 The Leys, St Mary's, King's Ely
    OtherSTEM (1) The Leys

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 1£4,560
    Year 2£4,560
    Year 3£5,600
    Year 4£5,600
    Year 5£5,745
    Year 6£5,745
    Year 7£5,745
    Year 8£5,745

    St Faith’s offers bursarial support to families of children entering between Years 3 and 8, as well as current families whose financial situation has changed. These awards are means-tested, reviewed annually and offer support on a sliding scale against need. Bursaries are granted, in the first instance, to pupils who are felt will gain most from a St Faith’s education, and who will contribute fully to the life of the school.

    Please see the school website for further details:

    Bursary contact:
    Bursar Mr Richard Brent
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    Our Learning Support Department is there to help children make the very best of their education and we are pleased to be able to offer this support to children with a variety of short-term or long-term learning needs from Pre Prep to Year 8.

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    Class based and 1:1 support

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    dedicated listener and a substantial pastoral support system. Pupils can access the 'I need to talk' function remotely or via drop boxes and select an adult they would like to talk to either virtually or in person

    Co-ordinator: Mrs Claire Thurlby
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Cambridge
    Journey time to London by train: 48 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Stansted Airport (26 miles)

School Updates

  • Dr. Crispin Hyde-Dunn appointed as Headmaster of St Faith’s School, Cambridge

  • WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - St Faith's

  • See St Faith's in our Country Preps Focus

    Find your perfect country prep school. Whether you're contemplating a move for your entire family or want to explore the education options within a daily minibus-ride of the capital, we can help.
  • WATCH: Engineering at St Faith's

  • WATCH: Science at St Faith's

  • WATCH: Sport at St Faith's

  • WATCH: St Faith's Pre-Prep

  • WATCH: St Faith's Virtual Tour


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Trumpington Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB2 8AG

01223 352073


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