A diamond year for our diamond school
Monday 21 September 2020 marked a special occasion as Claires Court celebrated its diamond anniversary and 60years of providing high quality education in Maidenhead.
Founded in 1960 by the present Principals’ parents, Claires Court is an independent, diamond-shaped, all through day school for three to 18, owned and operated by Hugh and James Wilding. From the start, the school has been popular and successful, growing organically and by acquisition to encompass three sites, all within Maidenhead.
Originally conceived as a boys’ day prep school with some boarding and just 20 pupils, Claires Court expanded rapidly and by 1970 over 180 pupils were enrolled. During the 70s boarding was dropped and by 1980, the school roll was 280 pupils; ten years later, following several building projects, the roll stood at 435.
In late 1992 it became clear that Maidenhead College for Girls could no longer continue as an independent school and would have to cease trading in July 1993. Following a successful approach, Claires Court took over the College Avenue site in April 1993, securing its future as a school including the co-educational nursery. In 1994, Claires Court duly opened its co-educational Sixth Form which, in an echo to 1960, started with 19 boys and one girl.
An early decision was to keep the boys and girls on their separate sites while developing coordinated programmes of study based on grammar school precepts but with Junior years feeding into gender separated Senior years and then bringing pupils back together into a co-educational Sixth Form are said to follow 'the diamond model'. Claires Court is the only school in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to offer families a diamond model education and is now the only co-educational school in the Borough to offer an all-through education from three to 18 years.
Since the school started in 1960, some 8,000 pupils have benefitted from a Claires Court education; over 6,000 of these since 1993, the majority coming from homes within the Borough. 400 staff of all types now work at Claires Court making it the 10th largest employer in the Borough according to the Maidenhead and District Chamber of Commerce. Over time, the school has also forged significant collaborative links with local sports clubs and associations encompassing rugby, rowing, sailing, tennis, hockey and chess as well as supporting myriad local charities.
Unfortunately, all formal celebrations of this momentous occasion have been postponed to a future date owing to the Covid-19 crisis but staff and pupils alike marked the day with a cupcake, as Academic Principal James Wilding commented: “Across the school we were able to celebrate the school’s 60th birthday with a suitably scrumptious cupcake for every child, young person and adult. 60 years is of course about a lifetime ago, but as I was one of the 19 boys sat in the inaugural photograph, the photocall event I remember quite clearly, even though I was only six at the time.”