St Leonards School

St Leonards School, formerly St Leonards and St Katharines School, is an independent school founded by the University of St Andrews in the nineteenth century. It is located in St Andrews, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, today situated on one site in private grounds, adjacent to the town's historic cathedral and within the walls of the medieval Priory. Although originally established in 1877 by University of St Andrews professors and their wives amid the increased demand for women's education, the school is now fully co-educational, taking boys and girls aged 5 to 18, with the option of boarding from age 12. In 2018, The Sunday Times named St Leonards its "Scottish Independent School of the Year 2019".[1]

St Leonards School
St Leonards School
St Leonards School
The Pends

, ,
KY16 9QJ

Coordinates56°20′20″N 2°47′25″W
TypeIndependent day and boarding school
MottoAd vitam
("For life")
FoundersProfessors from the University of St Andrews
Local authorityFife
HeadmasterDr Michael Carslaw
Age5 to 18
HousesBishopshall, Ollerenshaw, St Rule
Colour(s)Red and Navy


St Leonards has over 500 pupils between the ages of 5 and 18.[2] It is the only entirely IB school in Scotland, offering the IB's Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme alongside the Diploma Programme in the Sixth Form. It follows a GCSE or IGCSE focused curriculum in the years leading up to those examinations, and in the Sixth Form the BTEC Diploma is also offered, in lieu of the Diploma Programme.[3]


The school was established in 1877 by the St Andrews School for Girls Company. Madeline Daniell, the educationalist and campaigner for women's right to higher education, was one of two founding secretaries of the Company.[4]

Dame Louisa Lumsden was appointed the School's first Headmistress in 1877. The belief of the School was that "a girl should receive an education that is as good as her brother's, if not better."[5] In 1999 St Leonards Sixth Form and St Katharines Prep School opened their doors to boys for the first time; the school soon became completely co-educational.

St Katharines and St Leonards-New Park

St Katharines School was the original prep school of St Leonards, making full use of the campus and facilities while retaining a degree of autonomy. In March 2002 it was announced that the prep school would be relocated to the main building and renamed St Leonards Junior and Middle Schools. Following a further announcement in March 2005,[6] St Leonards junior and middle schools merged with New Park School, also located in St Andrews, operating as one unit under the name St Leonards-New Park. In June 2011 it was announced that the junior school would be known in future as St Leonards Junior School. At the same time, work commenced on a £2.5m redevelopment of the junior school.


The school is believed to be the first place in the world to have played women's lacrosse.[7]

Headmistresses and headmasters

For the first 124 years, (when the school was an all-girls school) the Head of St Leonards was always a woman. The first Headmaster was appointed in 2003.

  • 1877–1882: Dame Louisa Lumsden
  • 1882–1896: Dame Frances Dove
  • 1896–1907: Julia Mary Grant
  • 1907–1921: Mary Bentinck-Smith
  • 1922–1938: Katharine Howard McCutcheon
  • 1938–1955: Janet A. Macfarlane
  • 1956–1970: Janet S. A. Macaulay
  • 1970–1987: Martha Hamilton (Mrs R Steedman)
  • 1988–2000: Mary James [8]
  • 2001–2003: Wendy Bellars [9]
  • 2003–2008: Robert A. J. Tims
  • 2008–present: Dr Michael Carslaw [10]

St Leonards has largely followed the English, rather than the Scottish education system. Pupils take GCSEs and IGCSEs rather than Scottish Standard Grades. Sixth Form students follow the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. St Leonards is an IB World School, one of only three schools in Scotland to have attained this status.[11]

Notable seniors

Former Pupils of St Leonards are known as St Leonards School Seniors,[12] as is the style at the sister schools Wycombe Abbey [13] and Benenden School.[14]

See also


  1. "St Leonards Named Scottish Independent School of the Year". St Leonards. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  2. "St Leonards School | St Andrews | Fife, Scotland | KY16 9QJ". Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  3. "St Leonards School". International Baccalaureate®. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  4. Begg, Tom (2004). Daniell [née Carter], Madeline Margaret (1832–1906), educationist. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56167.
  5. Tatler Schools Guide 2006 Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. St Andrews schools to merge Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Courier, March 2005
  7. History of Lacrosse at St Leonards Archived 6 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine, official website
  8. Crawford, Stuart. "Stuart Crawford Associates Publications, St Leonards". Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  9. "St Leonards Principal Resigns". Fife Today. 26 May 2003. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  10. School ready to welcome Carslaw family Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. Case study of St Leonards School, United Kingdom Archived 15 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine, International Baccalaureate site
  12. SLSS Archived 31 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine, official website
  13. Wycombe Abbey School Seniors Association
  14. Benenden Seniors
  15. Review: The Suffragette's Daughter: Betty Archdale, API Network
  16. Cunneff, Tom (14 December 1987). "On TV's Friday the 13th, It's Robey Who Makes Little Boys Really Howl". People. Time Inc. 28 (24). ISSN 0093-7673.
  17. Drusilla Beyfus, 'Withers [married names Stewart, Kennett], (Elizabeth) Audrey (1905–2001), magazine editor' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2005)
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