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Colston`s Collegiate
Bell Hill, BS16 1BJ, UK Stapleton
+44 (0)117 965 5207

Meet the Headmaster

Mr Peter Fraser Colston’s School


“Academic success is of course our prime objective,” says Peter Fraser, who has completed his first year as Headmaster at Colston’s School.

“We have high expectations of every boy and girl, and we aim to ensure that they all achieve their full potential.

“But there is something else too – we call it ‘Education for Life’.

“What we mean by that is the development of self-confidence, leadership and teamwork. This, above all else, attracted me to this post, and one of the most distinctive features evident at Colston’s is the broad mix of social backgrounds which our pupils represent.

“This produces a natural and balanced environment, and one which encourages tolerance, understanding and an appreciation of others.”

Peter (46), his wife Sara, daughter Georgie and son Charlie arrived in Bristol just over a year ago after five years as Head of Stamford School and Vice Principal of The Stamford Endowed Schools in Lincolnshire.

Before that he had served for three years as Deputy Headmaster and acting Headmaster at St Paul’s School in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Colston’s is a mixed independent school for pupils aged three to 18 years. At the start of this term there were nearly 820 pupils, including 55 boarders.

What does this mean for parents looking to choose the right school?

Peter’s view is that the school is large enough to sustain a wide range of activities at a high level, and yet small enough for each boy and girl to contribute actively and be known and valued as individuals.

“As a newcomer to Bristol I was amazed at the freedom afforded by our site at Stapleton. With 32 acres available, no-one has to leave the site to play sport, and it’s a wonderful bonus for the Lower School pupils that they share all the Upper School’s space and facilities.

“Most Lower School pupils move on to the Senior School where they are joined at 11+ by successful candidates from a wide range of other schools.

“There is a tried and tested formula for pastoral care which is administered through a traditional house system. In addition, the Sixth Form is overseen by a dedicated member of staff.”

Peter adds: “We are known for the strength of our sport because it creates headlines, but there are many other notable activities too. With a new concert hall and a superbly equipped theatre, music and drama play a very important part in the life of the school."

“I am pleased to say that we do offer scholarships, and there is a modest bursary fund to help meet cases of individual financial need.”

The Headmaster is a member of the Headmasters' Conference (HMC) and the Head of the Lower School belongs to the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS).




Colston's School was founded in 1710 by the Bristol philanthropist, Edward Colston.

The Bishop's Palace
He entrusted his school into the care of the Society of Merchant Venturers, which continues to play an active and caring role in the school's affairs, nominating half the governing body, including the chairman, from its members.

The school moved from the centre of the city to a former palace of the Bishop of Bristol, at Stapleton, in 1857.

Together with the Lower School, which is situated on what used to be Stapleton Court and the old Rectory, the school estate can boast over 30 acres of beautiful grounds on the northern outskirts of Bristol, bordering the river Frome.

Colston's was exclusively a boys' school until girls were admitted to the sixth form in 1984. It became fully co-educational following its amalgamation in 1991 with the Collegiate School, Winterbourne, a school founded in Redland in 1902. It became Colston's Collegiate, catering for boys and girls aged 3 to 18 years and boarders from 11 years, and the name reverted to Colston’s School in 2004.


The latest rolls at the start of the academic year 2005/6 show 837 pupils on roll, with 222 Bishop's Palacein the Lower School to Year 6 and 615 in the Upper School including 160 in the Sixth Form. The Upper School numbers also include 55 boarders.

It means that Colston’s is well established as the third largest of Bristol’s 11 principal independent schools.


The facilities at Colston’s are upgraded and extended at regular intervals, and the school is fortunate to have all its amenities, including sports grounds, on one site. Recent additions include a classroom block extension, squash courts, sports hall, fully equipped theatre, concert hall, re-furbished science laboratories, a purpose-built Combined Cadet Force headquarters, a floodlit Astroturf pitch and newly-refurbished floodlit tennis and netball courts.

The Society of Merchant Venturers has recently published the history of Colston's. Written by Dr John Wroughton, a Governor of Colston's since 1993, this is the first history of the school.

Charter DayThis is the remarkable story of the hospital school set up in the centre of Bristol in 1710 for 100 poor boys by the philanthropist, Edward Colston. It describes the school's chequered history throughout the 18th and 19th centuries - its harsh conditions, brutal floggings, meagre diet, incompetent masters and brittle finances - before charting its move to Stapleton in 1861 and its subsequent transformation into one of the west country's leading independent schools.

The life of the pupils is vividly portrayed - brought into focus by the series of personal reminiscences - as is the vital contribution made by individual Headmasters and the Society of Old Colstonians. Central to the book, however, is the crucial role of the Society of Merchant Venturers which, as trustee of Colston's endowment, has faithfully managed and supported the school for almost 300 years.

Copies of the book are available from The Bursary, Colston's Collegiate School, Stapleton, Bristol BS16 1BJ at the special introductory price of £14.95 plus UK postage and packing charge of £4.80 (cheques payable to Colston's Collegiate School).

Parents` Society

Colston's Parents' Society aims to:

  • Foster close links between the school, parents and staff
  • Raise and donate funds to the school to benefit its facilites

The Committee organises a varied programme of events and activities which are intended:

  • to provide opportunities for parents, children and members of staff to meet socially
  • to be enjoyable
  • to be value for money

Events include:

  • Discos
  • Quiz Nights
  • Bazaars and Firework Parties
  • Children's Parties and Discos
  • Daytrips

The Committee also run the Second Hand Clothes Shop which stocks an extensive range of Colston's uniform.

Keep in touch

If you wish to speak to a member of the Committee please

Jo Kinsey (Parents' Society Chairman)
Rose Cane (Parents' Scociety Vice Chairman)

Zoe Schwartz (Parents' Society Secretary)

Celia Pullin (Lower School)

If you would like to be kept informed of future events organised by the Parents' Society, please send your e-mail address to


Helpers Register:

If you would like to help the Parents' Society but can't spare the time to become a full time committee member why not add your name to the Helpers Register to help at forthcoming events.  Please email your contact details to and a member will contact you to see if you are available to help prior to an event.


Best possible start

Lower School from church spire


In the Lower School we give children the best possible start to their education, with small classes and a generous staffing ratio ensuring that Nurserywork is carefully planned to meet the needs of each child.  Every child is a valued member of our school community.

Lower School pupils enjoy the full range of academic subjects including French, Design Technology, ICT, Art and Music.  Creative subjects flourish, with choirs, an orchestra, concerts, plays and a performing arts competition.  Children take full advantage of our impressive range of sporting activities.

Lower School girl

We have our own Science and Design Technology Labs, an ICT suite, specialist Music and Art rooms, well stocked libraries and our own Assembly Hall, as well as having access to excellent Upper School facilities.


Outings, clubs and extra curricular activities enhance a rich, varied and stimulating curriculum giving each child the opportunity to develop individual talents and skills.

You can keep up to date with all that’s happening at Colston’s Lower through the weekly newsletter which is published on this website, and for looking out for coverage in the Latest News section.

Lower School class


Children may join the Nursery as they reach the age of three.  In both Nursery and Reception places are allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, while entry into Year 1 and Year 2 is confirmed after tLower School Prixe Givinghe child has spent an assessment morning with his or her peer group.

Scholarship and Entrance Assessments for the Junior Department (Years 3 to 6) are held on a Saturday morning during the Spring Term.  These assessments consist of an English paper, a Mathematics paper and, for Year 4 to Year 6 entry, a verbal reasoning test.  Any children who miss the Entrance Assessments are assessed in these areas during a visit to the school, although only those who attend for the Entrance Assessment morning are considered for scholarships.

TwinsRegistration forms to apply for a place are available from the Lower School Office and are sent out with the school prospectus.

Children are admitted to the school following an examination, interview or assessment, depending upon the age of the child, together with a reference from the child’s current school.

Scholarships and Bursaries

The school offers some small scholarships to boys and girls who will begin their first or third year of Junior education (Year 3 or Year 5) the following September. Girl at desk These are open to children already in the school as well as external candidates.  The award of a scholarship is dependent upon a good performance in the Scholarship Examinations.

The school has a small bursary fund and in cases of need children may be eligible for a means tested bursary award.  A Bursary Application form should be submitted for consideration prior to the Entrance Assessments or prior to an assessment visit.

School Hours

The normal school day begins for all children at 8.30 a.m. and ends at 3.30 p.m., 3.50 p.m. or 4.00 p.m. depending on the age of the child.  Teachers are available to supervise children from 8.15 a.m. each morning and supervised After Care or supervised Prep is available for all children until 5.25 p.m. or 5.30 p.m.

More Information

If you would like to know more about the Lower School please complete the prospectus request form on the website.  Alternatively please telephone Mrs Pullin, the Lower School Secretary, on 0117 965 5297 and she will be happy to help you.


Clubs and Activities


There are numerous clubs and activities available in school for children in Year 1 and above.  Some of these are held during the lunch hour and others take place after school.

Club TTennis

The programme of clubs and activities changes each term and, apart from those which involve the services of a tutor from outside school, there is no charge for these.


Music & Drama


Individual tuition is available for a wide range of musical instruments and children enjoy taking part in choirs and the orchestra.  There are formal and informal concerts throughout the year and children of all ages can take part.

 Piano lesson

Drama is also important, with children having regular opportunities to show off their skills in both assemblies and school productions.

Music and Drama flourish in the Lower School, with choirs and an orchestra, regular concerts, school plays and a performing arts competition.


PE and Games lessons are a very important part of the Lower School curriculum and we encourage our children to develop an active and healthy lifestyle.


In addition to P.E. lessons there are three afternoons of Junior sport each week, with each child in the Juniors taking part in two. They take part in team games such as rugby, hockey, and cricket for the boys; and netball hockey and rounders for the girls. The children also have the opportunity to participate in sports such as swimming, athletics, tennis and badminton.


The Upper School section of Colston's Website is for information about the school for pupils in the age range 11 to 18. For more specific information about the Lower School or Sixth Form please click on the relevant tabs on the Colston's Home Page.

View of school
Piece by Chesney Windsor

At Colston's we aim to assist pupils make informed and realistic decisions about their future, whether in choosing subjects within school, deciding between Universities and University courses or making career decisions. To choose wisely they need to be aware of the options available and, through a sound self-knowledge, determine what would best suit their individual needs.

By a programme of careers guidance delivered through PSE (Personal & Social Education) and individual guidance interviews with Mrs Gill Dann, the school's full time Careers Adviser, we hope, with the involvement and help of parents, to achieve this.

In Year 9 Mrs Dann introduces pupils to the Careers Library and to a computerised interest program to start them thinking about careers and help in their choice of GCSE subjects.

Year 9 pupils using the careers library

Year 10 sees the start of a formal programme of careers within PSE, exploring topics such as Who am I? What skills and qualities are required in different professions and do I have them (!) as well as making telephone calls, writing letters of application and producing a CV.

A week's work experience in the summer term forms a vital part of the programme - introducing pupils to the world of work and enabling them to "test out" a career idea - and have fun!

Work experience at a Design Consultancy

Year 11 pupils continue a programme of careers guidance which includes exploring post-16 options. Everyone in Year 11 will complete interest and aptitude tests administered by Cambridge Occupational Analysts and parents will receive a comprehensive report showing areas of career interests and which detail aptitudes. This raises their self awareness and, together with individual career interviews with Mrs. Dann, helps pupils make an informed choice about their next step. We obviously hope that, if appropriate, Colston's Sixth Form will be their preferred choice: however, Mrs Dann will give impartial advice about all options.

In the Sixth Form a considerable amount of effort is directed at helping students make sound decisions about their post 18 options, both through the General Studies programme and by individual interviews available from Mrs Dann. We feel it is at this point that students need a great deal of individual guidance and this is available from their tutors, from Mr Boyce, Head of Sixth as well as from Mrs Dann, the Careers Adviser.

A Higher Education Conference is organised in conjunction with Cardiff University for Year 12 students to gain an insight into university life and learn about the application process. Students also attend the Higher Education Fair at Bath University where they have the opportunity to talk to representatives of the majority of UK universities.

All Year 12 students have the opportunity to complete Centigrade, a programme which produces an individual profile of HE courses suitable to the interests of each student.

Throughout the Sixth Form the General Studies programme is used to prepare students for the transition from school life to university or employment.

Recent speakers have covered topics such as interview and presentation skills, gap year opportunities, university life and a variety of careers.

It is in Years 11,12 and 13 that individual guidance is freely available from Mrs Dann who also organises visiting speakers to talk to either individuals, small groups or whole years, as appropriate.

The Admissions Officer from Bristol University talking about entry to medical school

Mrs Dann interviewing a Sixth former

We at Colston's feel that the partnership of parents, tutors and Careers Adviser, working together, help our young people to develop the necessary skills to enable them to make life-long decisions about their careers and to approach these decisions with confidence.



Why join the Sixth Form at Colston's?

Our Sixth Form has doubled in size over the last decade to its current total of 150 students. Not only are more and more of our own Year 11 students deciding to apply for entry but large numbers of students from other schools in Bristol, the rest of the UK and even from abroad are applying to join us. This increase in interest is due to many factors: our rapidly improving academic success; our modern curriculum; the ever-improving provision of facilities for music, sport, drama; the many other extra-curricular activities we offer. We have every intention of building on these successes and expanding both the numbers in the Sixth Form and the breadth and quality of the whole curriculum.

What subjects are on offer?

We began our programme of modernising the curriculum by introducing Theatre Studies, to take advantage of the opening of the Harry Crook Theatre. It is now perhaps the most popular subject on the curriculum and achieves outstanding results at A level.

Then came Sports Studies, a natural progression given our prowess in many sporting areas. This is also heavily subscribed and, unsurprisingly, many of its students excel at the practical aspects of the course.   Next we added Business Studies, soon became highly popular and runs two classes.

The subsequent introduction of Psychology was an immediate success and it now runs two sets at both AS and A2 levels next year.

Our latest addition is Philosophy, which is already proving to be a significant addition to the curriculum.

We believe that, together with the more traditional subjects on offer, the curriculum at Colston’s is an attractive and modern one, well suited to the needs and skills of our pupils.

As well as the academic curriculum we offer a growing number of enrichment activities: a lecture programme of visiting speakers; regular academic and cultural outings; field study courses; theatre visits and musical events; and a wide choice of extra-curricular sporting activities.

We now have a full-time Careers Advisor, Mrs Gill Dann, who is always happy to help students decide about the many opportunities they have after the Sixth Form – whether choice of course, University, gap year or career. Individual interviews are always available and Mrs Dann will help arrange work experience and visits, as well as inviting in a range of guest speakers.

All of these courses, extra-curricular opportunities and facilities are constantly under review and no doubt further additions will be made. Watch this space!

What other opportunities are there?

We give our sixth-formers many opportunities to learn how to work independently and to take personal responsibility for their progress. Each student will have a personal tutor who will see tutees twice a day, when he/ she will offer support and guidance as well as set clear academic targets and make regular assessments of a student’s progress and achievements.

Every member of the Lower Sixth is also a member of one of the Houses and is immediately appointed a house prefect: as such, students are expected to share in the pastoral care of younger pupils and organise teams for competitions etc. Lower Sixth students also mentor Year 11 students through their GCSE year, passing on the benefits of their wisdom- and mistakes! Depending on how well these tasks are carried out, Lower Sixth formers may well be selected, towards the end of their first year, to be School Prefects and help in the administration of the daily routines of the whole school. We firmly believe that these responsibilities enable our students to gain the maturity and self-confidence which future employers will value just as highly as any academic abilities.

What else?

It’s not all work of course.

We begin the Lower Sixth by inviting (actually sending- it’s compulsory) all students on a two-day induction course, where students carry out a variety of activities and tasks which, as well as breaking the ice, stress the importance of teamwork and mutual support. All participants receive impressive certificates and, what probably impresses them even more, an invitation to the Induction Dinner.

Sixth Formers have many other opportunities to display and develop extra-curricular skills: they run the Chatterton Society, which arranges entertaining and stimulating events involving students and staff; and they can become members of the Sixth Form Council, discussing burning issues of the day.

Finally, when all the exams are over, comes the Sixth Form Ball, an opportunity to get out that best frock or DJ and dance the night away.

Great. How do I apply?

First of all, an applicant has to meet the entrance requirements set out in the “Guide to Courses 2007-8”: essentially this entails achieving a grade B at GCSE in the target subject, as the jump from GCSE standard to AS is a very considerable one.

Once accepted, the vast majority of our Lower Sixth students will follow four AS courses. A few may follow five and it may be appropriate for some to follow only three, especially if their GCSE results suggest that is as many as they could manage successfully.

An application form is available on the website and one is also included with the prospectus and “Guide for Courses 2007-8”, all available from the school. For further information, and a taste of some of the features of life in the Sixth Form at Colston’s, open the Sixth Form Handbook on this site.

We look forward to you joining us at Colston’s.

Gerard Boyce

Head of Sixth Form
Colston’s School





Mr Mark Eyles

“I have been teaching at Colston’s for seven happy years, having made the move from King Edward’s School in Bath. During my time here I have been a Sixth Form tutor for Aldington House and enjoyed guiding some eighty students through the ordeals of A level study.

As well as this important pastoral role I hold the position of Head of Geography and lead a successful department with thriving GCSE and A level numbers. The running of geography field trips allows me to see students in a different light as they get to grips with ‘hands on’ learning. During residential trips, it is also interesting and valuable to associate with the students on a more social level.

Being a Sixth Form tutor is a great privilege, and I have made many good friends during my time at Colston’s. Helping with UCAS applications and providing that vital learning environment for individuals can sometimes be difficult, but it is almost always rewarding.”


Mr Nigel Aspden

“I joined Colston’s in September 2005, teaching Maths to pupils ranging from Year 7 to the Upper Sixth. Originally, I was a Year 8 tutor but soon became a Sixth Form tutor.

I have almost 30 years experience teaching Maths and in that time I have tutored mainly Sixth Form groups (are there any other staff who can remember PCAS forms?).

 I am also in charge of the Sixth Form Centre, a role that enables me to observe the many different aspects of sixth form interaction!”



Mr Tom Arrand

“Since joining Colston’s in 2004 I have really enjoyed teaching Sixth Form groups and believe that the Sixth Form at Colston’s is a vibrant and lively place to study.  Two years as Housemaster of Upper Mortlake was enough to give me a meaningful insight into the ways of the ‘Lake and I enjoy watching the boys going into battle on the rugby pitch; it’s just when it continues in the TV room that my normal calm and composed self implodes.


I taught before at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford and then at the King’s School, Ely.  Both were pretty different from Colston’s and indeed from each other, but Colston’s is a very friendly and happy place and you really can’t complain about the food here, trust me.


I teach philosophy, a subject which I introduced in 2005 and which has enjoyed a healthy uptake.  From September I will tutor the Upper Sixth in Dolphin House, most of whom I teach already. I‘m really looking forward to the experience of Sixth Form tutoring and the rewards that such a role will bring.”


Mr Keith Dawson

“I have been teaching at Colston's School since 1996. Teaching geography is my main focus but over the years I have been in the school I have been greatly involved in the CCF and outdoor education, as I believe that this is an area in which pupils can really show their true mettle.


This will be my first year as a Sixth Form tutor; I have always been involved with KS3 tutor groups as well as being Head of Year 7. At present I am Head of KS3 and am looking forward to the new challenge of the Sixth Form.


 I am hopeful that looking for lost bags will now become a thing of the past.”


Mr Stephen Pritchard

“I have worked with the Sixth Form in various roles for the majority of my time at Colston’s: I will have been at the school for twenty years in September 2007!


Before my capture I gained an MA in English at Oxford, did research on William Blake, helped to start a record label and a magazine as a music journalist, founded the WOMAD world music festival with Peter Gabriel, worked with a national Afro-Caribbean dance troupe, and wrote, directed and acted with a touring theatre company based in the St Paul’s community.


I hope that this breadth of experience has helped me to be more useful to Sixth Form students; it has certainly helped me to dance in a funny way.”



Dr Andrew Martin

“I have a PhD in Plant Physiology, everyone’s favourite topic area, and a research background in mycology – that’s looking at fungi for anyone in Year 10 reading this.  I have taught from Year 7 to degree level and have been Head of Sixth Form at City of Bristol College, before arriving at Colston’s eight years ago. How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!

I have been a King’s House tutor from Year 9 to Year 11, before moving on to become a Sixth Form tutor some years ago.  This is where I believe I have most to offer, as much of my experiences as a teacher seem to have been at Sixth Form level. I have a large input into Sixth Form life, not only as a tutor but also as head of the General Studies programme, where I have worked to enrich and develop Sixth Formers before they leave us for the real world.” 


Mrs Joanne Poppy

“I joined Colston’s in the autumn of 1997, after completing a BA Hons degree in English at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and a PGCE at the University of Bath. I teach English to students in Years 7 to 13 and I am also involved in teaching Public Speaking, preparing candidates for internal and external competitions.


Previously, I was a tutor to Year 10 and 11 students, but I was delighted to be made a Sixth Form tutor in 2003. I thoroughly enjoy the role and receive a great amount of satisfaction helping young people prepare for university and the big wide world.”



Mr Nick Drew

“This is my sixteenth year at Colston’s, and I have been a Sixth Form tutor for nine of them.  In that time I’ve run the Sixth Form Balls, Model United Nations and a Sixth Form newspaper.  I have also been involved with (but not gone on) a World Challenge expedition to Mongolia, and was in charge of General Studies for 4 years.

The Chatterton Society is my major remit.  We try to organise fun and stimulating events for General Studies, ranging from ‘Any Questions’ to ‘A Question of Sport’.  My real love is the First XI cricket, which means the Summer Term is a fraught one and I begin to lose my hair…

I love the role of Sixth Form tutor, and the rewards are great when students get into universities which they have worked really hard for. It is certainly an easier job than my previous one: tutoring Major Generals in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.”


Mrs Alison Chisnall

“Having obtained a degree in English and Drama, I went on to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and thereafter toured with several theatre companies to gain valuable experience.


I then chose to follow a career in teaching and have been teaching drama at Colston’s since 1996. I was Head of Dolphin House for five very successful and enjoyable years, and now look forward to enjoying my new role as a sixth form tutor just as much.”

Colston’s Sixth Form: entry procedure

Sixth Form numbers have steadily increased over the last 10 years to the current total of around 150. There are two sources of students: our own Year 11 pupils and entrants from other schools.

The Sixth Form Open Evening, held in early October a few days after the whole school Open Morning, is our major recruiting set-piece and is aimed at both constituencies.

Our own Year 11 pupils

All Year 11 students at Colston’s receive a copy of "A Guide to Courses in the Sixth Form”, which details the subjects offered at A level and a brief synopsis of each syllabus etc. Later on in the year, I write again to the parents of our Year 11s pointing out the GCSE grades necessary to be accepted onto a course. At the end of the academic year, those Year 11 students who are returning into the Sixth Form receive a copy of the "Sixth Form Handbook"and are allocated to tutor groups.

Entrants from other schools

When the school receives an enquiry from parents of a student not already attending Colston's, I contact the parents by phone. They are then sent copies of the school prospectus and the "Guide to Courses in the Sixth Form", and are invited to visit the school, where they are shown around by a Year 12 student, and then meet the Headmaster. If an application for a place is then made, we write to the student’s current school for a reference.

A recent development is for potential entrants to have a day of lessons in the school, often involving an overnight stay in the boarding house, Mortlake. This is for many a first taste of boarding and has proved to be a very positive experience.

If the student subsequently joins the school, I send the parents information about the school's uniform requirements and a form asking for notification of GCSE results and final AS subject choices.

Over recent years such recruiting has been very successful, and students have joined Colston's from a wide range of schools and areas.

Entry procedure
Guide to 2007-8 courses
Induction exercise
Prospectus request form

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