Carmel College, Darlington

Carmel College, A Catholic Academy (formerly Carmel RC College) is a secondary school on The Headlands in Mowden, Darlington, England. It also has a sixth form, Carmel College Sixth Form admitting about 150 students each year, compared to the much larger Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College and Darlington College. Following a recent OFSTED inspection, Carmel was graded as outstanding in all categories.

Carmel College
The Headlands

, ,

Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
PrincipalMike Shorten
Age11 to 18
HousesAidans, Bedes, Cuthberts
Colour(s)Navy blue and yellow

The current principal is Mr Mike Shorten.


It is the town's only Catholic secondary school. It has four main feeder schools at Primary level. These are St Teresa's RC Primary, St Bede's RC Primary, St Augustine's RC Primary and Holy Family RC Primary. There is also another school, Abbey Road Junior School, which feeds Carmel; although this school is not Catholic, it is local with Carmel. Carmel also has a sixth form college, which is attached to the school.

Carmel College: a Catholic Academy has eight forms which consist of C, A, R, M, E, L and J, P (from former Pope John Paul II) with three houses St. Aidans, St. Bedes and St. Cuthberts.


It began life as St Mary's Grammar School, a boys' grammar school, becoming comprehensive and co-educational in September 1974 when it merged with the Immaculate Conception Grammar School, a girls' Catholic grammar school.

The modern-day "St. Mary's" building, also known as Hummersknott House, has long been rumoured to be haunted by the college ghost, Harriet. Many a student and staff member has been told of the story of Harriet, who fell down some stairs when a student there.[1][2]

The John Caden Hall was opened by former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair in 2004, and is named after Father John Caden, who died in 2013.

Carmel recently underwent a multimillion-pound building project, which included three brand new teaching blocks and the refurbishment of many of the old facilities. This was completed in Summer 2008, and were opened for students in September 2008. They were officially opened by Alan Milburn, Member of Parliament for Darlington, whilst the science department was also opened by Tony Blair. Carmel also upgraded its Sixth Form facilities; expanding the common room and providing a learning resource centre in the schools library. This was carried out in Summer 2010, and opened the following school year. The canteen areas were also refurbished at this time.

Tony Blair paid his last school visit as Prime Minister in 2007 at Carmel before he resigned, officially opening the brand-new "Newton" building housing the Physics, Chemistry and Biology Departments, including 8 laboratories.

The campus went through a further transformation in the school year 2012/2013 involving the full reconstruction of the schools "Upper" dining hall with new classrooms placed above which were required due to the schools recent expansion to 8 "form" groups per year-groups. The new dining Hall included new flat-screen televisions and a new glass wall between the dining hall and the lower floor of the schools library. The upgrade also included the replacement of the roof on the school library and reception building and a major refurbishment of the schools Gym located near to the Music Department and the Science "Newton" Block.

On 1 November 2011, Carmel RC College was officially closed, and Carmel College: A Catholic Academy was opened, as the school converted to an academy on this date. The school was named in July 2019 as a computing hub for the National Centre for Computing Education.

Zoe Birkett (runner up for Pop Idol in 2001) attended Carmel during her time on Pop Idol.

Academic performance

The GCSE exam results of 2012 were the best to date, having 100% of students getting at least 5 A*-C GCSE certificates (95% including English and Mathematics). The A-level pass rate was 99% at A2, with 52% achieving the highest grades of A*, A or B. The average point score was of 1030 points per student.[3]


Carmel College is the Lead school in Carmel Teacher Training Partnership an accredited ITT provider. Training teachers for Qualified Teacher Status QTS in both primary and secondary schools through SCITT and [School Direct] Carmel College was recognised in its most recent Ofsted inspection as Outstanding in all categories November 2013 Carmel College was accredited as a 'Teaching School' in April 2012. Carmel College has an alliance of schools across the North East.

Notable former pupils

St Mary's Grammar School

Carmel RC College


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