There are two things that surprise first-time visitors to Scarborough College. One is the kindness of the people at the school, both young and old.
The other is about the location of the school. First-time visitors always comment on how close the sea is. They will be standing in Dr Ricci’s economics classroom and gaze at the view. It is, we admit, quite something. Then they say that they did not realise it was that near to the sea. Before you start checking the map; yes, Scarborough College is that close to the sea.
In the founding statement, dating back to 1896, it is clear. The Scarborough College Company was founded as a school for deserving boys from the northeast coast of England.
“Before you start checking the map, yes, Scarborough College is that close to the sea.”
History is unclear about what happened right after. Scarborough College did not open its doors until five years later. A case of not finding any deserving boys maybe? There were plenty that got evacuated thirteen years later, as Scarborough came under fire at the start of the First World War.
The boys were evacuated again in 1940. This time it was courtesy of the RAF, who saw Scarborough College as the ideal training establishment. Plenty of veterans have visited their old barracks since. The college became a co-ed school in 1972, as the first two girls were welcomed. A few mergers followed, along with the school dropping its A-Levels in favour of the International Baccalaureate and adopting the Google Classroom. The subtle ironies of Scarborough College have remained.
“The running gag in the admissions department is that you cannot recruit fish.”
The combined total population of North Yorkshire and East Riding – where Scarborough College is situated – is eight times smaller than London. The running gag in the admissions department is that you cannot recruit fish, referring to 180 degrees of marine recruitment challenges.
But what about sheep? Not counting Scarborough itself, the other 180 degrees is made up of rolling hills, moorland, cattle and forest. North Yorkshire has a population density of 129 people per square kilometre and a declining birth rate since 2008. Compare that to counties such as Surrey or Hertfordshire, which are well above 720 people/km2.
But we love Yorkshire. Our Yorkshire Farm, This Week on the Farm, The Yorkshire Vet, All Creatures Great and Small, Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Downton Abbey, Our Great Yorkshire Life – even Happy Valley. #Yorkshire is trending.
“International visitors have to cross the Atlantic or North Sea; they then have to cross the Pennines.”
International visitors can be difficult to attract. After all, in addition to crossing the Atlantic or North Sea; they then find themselves having to cross the Pennines after. Forget London Heathrow, Scarborough College is almost three hours from Manchester International Airport.
We might love Yorkshire and the pace of life. It is the same pace of life that takes you to Scarborough on the closest thing to a steam train after you’ve just gone from London to York in less than two hours. Once they are here, they cannot stop looking at the views from the classrooms.
For years, it was what stopped Scarborough College from growing. A quaint rural school set on a cliff in Yorkshire is perhaps something to visit with your Year 10 history teacher but is it where international students want to complete their sixth form studies?
Why would a cosmopolitan from Sao Paulo or Milan undertake the trek to an airport they have never heard of, to visit a county they might have seen on TV because it was on in their nan’s house? It’s a question no one can answer until they are here, standing in Dr Ricci’s classroom and meeting that stubborn, resilient and witty Yorkshire lot.
More and more students can answer that question now. Both internationally and domestically and even towards where the rose changes from white into red. In fact, a recent alum from Scarborough College only just recorded his first professional cricket century – in Lancashire.
Sure, it is not just the pretty view and friendly faces that attract students nowadays. In recent years, the college has invested in boarding, the sixth form study centre and its sports facilities and those are the words that have travelled to York, Leeds, even Milan and Sao Paulo. The college is a thriving school and recently put a bid on a significant plot of land that has the potential to propel the school even further.
“This is a splendid time for the college and it has an incredibly exciting future.”
At its peak, the Scarborough Sports Centre functioned as one of the warm-up tournaments before Wimbledon. Scarborough College’s ambition is that Scardeburgians can soon play on the same ground that once saw legends such as Rod Laver and Fred Perry hit tennis balls back and forth. However, while the vision is ambitious and the ambition is clear; Scarborough College will never be anything other than Scarborough College.
“This is a splendid time for the college and it has an incredibly exciting future. We have waiting lists established in many year groups and some families are moving to beautiful North Yorkshire to send their children here,” says headmaster Guy Emmett.
“A recent visitor last year asked me if I had banned phones at the college, as it was the first school where they hadn’t seen one during their many visits to schools. At lunch time they noticed all of our pupils were outside talking to each other or throwing a ball and smiling (even those revising for their exam 20 minutes later). To me it was normal but to the family it was a school where children could be children.”