12th January, 2024

Peter Roberts tells us 'What's next for Ampleforth College'

The Head with students

Dear Friends, 


“And the Lord addresses these things to a great number of his people, and seeking among them his own workman, he says: Who is there that longs for life and desires to see good days?” 

  • Rule of St Benedict, Prologue 


Marie and I wish you all a very Happy New Year. Thank you to the many Old Amplefordians, Past and Current Parents and friends of the school who have written in with support and enthusiasm following the significant successes of the last term.  

You might be asking “what happens next for Ampleforth?” We are a school in good health, we are firmly free of the challenges of recent years and can now look forward without the constant glance over the shoulder that has plagued us. This is an exciting time, one in which to build this great school once again with our mission and unique offering endorsed by regulators, the Church, the many families in the school and those looking to joining us in coming years. Every one of you is invited to be part of this, to see the spirit of Ampleforth renewed here in the valley and lived out in the world. It begins with the young people in this school now and encouraging more families to come and be part of this. Carefully and incrementally, we will extend our invitation and grow steadily once again, without ever losing sight of the excellent pastoral care, personal development and spiritual formation that was rated outstanding by Ofsted and the Catholic Schools Inspectorate. 

I was recently interviewed by Peter Stanford in The Daily Telegraph – (3 January, Features, “The man who saved Ampleforth”) and I encourage you to read his well-balanced article. I spoke with him honestly about the past but most importantly about what it is that makes Ampleforth stand apart in today’s world. I want to give confidence to all those who come across Ampleforth that this College is a place of excellence that offers something authentic to families, something of real value. 

Many of you know the unique qualities of Ampleforth all too well and for most of you this effect is life-long. Marie and I were drawn here to reinvigorate the school’s mission; it is this mission which sets Ampleforth apart from other schools and we are restating our role as a Catholic School with Benedictine principles of Faith, Community and Scholarship at its heart. We have a strong relationship with Ampleforth Abbey; The Abbot and I share a common desire to build the Church and bear witness to our encounter with Christ. As a whole school we take forward the teaching of the Rule of St Benedict and witness the Gospel to those who come here, whether Catholic or not. The monks bestowed – and continue to uphold – a character and purpose to our Catholic educational mission which is more compelling in today’s transactional and commoditised world than ever before. We want more families to experience this; more Old Amplefordians, parents and friends to come back and be part of it; and more young people to attend this school so they can discover the value and purpose of life through active participation in a Christian Community. 

We have published an outline of our strategy for this year, called “The Way Ahead”. It recommits us to our purpose as a Benedictine School, weaving this into everything we do. We have a much-strengthened Chaplaincy provision, a blend of Monastic and Lay Chaplains, in the centre of the school and within the Houses, supported by the whole staff body. This approach saw our Catholic life being rated Outstanding across the board by the Catholic School’s Inspectorate, the first Catholic Independent School to achieve this under their new framework and the first in the Diocese of Middlesborough.  

We are building stronger links with Prep Schools and schools within our Diocese and local area; we are a school that actively looks out beyond the valley. This is already bearing rich fruit, you will be encouraged to know that, in addition to our normal intake of talented scholars in various fields, we have attracted six outstanding rugby players from the local region to join us in VI Form as Rugby Scholars in September and four outstanding Choristers, two joining aged 13 and two in VI Form, as Choral Scholars. These additional scholars will have a transformative impact on the school in the years to come, leading by example and showing the wider world that Ampleforth is a place of talent and opportunity. These scholarships and fantastic young people are an example which shows that we are attracting excellent students and they form a crucial part of our course for growth in pupil numbers. 

As we look to build momentum and grow our pupil numbers, following the impact on school numbers of the events of recent years, we will need your help. The school’s very spirit is being renewed and it should be shared. It will be much harder to make it happen without your support. Many wonderful families require means tested bursaries to come to the school; it has been this way for many years at Ampleforth and across the sector. Ampleforth has fundraised to support bursaries many times and in the last 25 years one in every five pupils has received financial assistance. Amongst every friendship group it is very likely that a significant number of your friends at Ampleforth were supported to come here in some way by a scholarship or bursary. Like them, many of our new rugby and choral scholars require financial assistance and we need to raise significant funds to continue to attract and support such pupils who will benefit greatly from an Ampleforth education – and all those at Ampleforth will benefit greatly from their part in our school community.  There is no magic wand that will make this happen, so we will be asking you to help us as we take this great school forward.  

We all know that our best experience of Ampleforth is the Abbey Church full to the brim at College Mass every Sunday, with more boys and girls, hundreds of OAs, Parents, Friends and Guests, accompanied by the magnificent organ, hearts and souls elevated by the glorious voices of the Schola Cantorum. With Main Hall filled with a buzz after Mass, following victories the day before across the hockey pitches and rugby fields, or tennis courts and cricket wickets. This is when our community will feel stronger than ever before, and we can all experience this in a way that is authentic and uplifting. This is what we will make possible together as we move ahead, through sharing the excellent experience now with more people and moving forward into a new era in this spectacular and most beautiful of valleys in North Yorkshire.  


With all best wishes

Peter Roberts 


Abbey View