We have always been ahead of our time, believing in strong ideals, a nurturing approach and high academic standards.


Established in 1877 by John Percival, Clifton High School had the vision of instilling in young people the value of education for life.

Together with a group of fellow male and female educators, their basic intentions for the School was based on two main principles: 

  • The School should not discriminate on the basis of class or social status but should be open to all pupils of good character
  • The School should be non-denominational, according religious freedom for staff and pupils

Clifton High School has always been ahead of its time, believing in strong ideals, a nurturing approach, and high academic standards; an education that remains true to these principles today.  We believe that in aiming to be curious, empathetic and loving, and in being given the support and opportunities to find direction in life, all children will grow to do extraordinary things.  

One of our pupils, when describing the first Head of School, Miss Wood, is quoted as saying:

I don’t think many of us forget those inspiring words…when Miss Wood used to take us into her confidence and tell us what she expected us to be rather than to do. It was always the loftiest of ideal, sometimes over our head but it developed leaders and inspired others with a new outlook on life.

Clifton High School Pupil, describing the first Head of School, Miss Wood


Clifton High School’s historical foundation does not derive from any generous endowment or legacy, but from the simple will of a few passionate educators to provide a first-class education for children. This has enabled Clifton High School, throughout the years, to be responsive to change and dynamic in its approach.  It is a school that has never stood still; it is constantly looking toward the future.  

The fact we stand strong today is testament to the quality of leadership and commitment of prior generations as much as those that lead our School in the current climate.  The Heads of Clifton High School are connected in their direction, all often being described as showing courage and wisdom as these quotes reveal:

Miss Wood carried the School through the first thirteen years of its life with courage, wisdom and devotion, and she left the tradition of her high ideals firmly established.

The School owes to Miss Glenday an incalculable debt for the way in which, under wise guidance, it has been able to maintain, through one of its most critical periods, that steady continuity of progress which has been its characteristic of its 75 years.

Miss Glenda, head of School (during the Second World War)


In 1878, at a time of Clifton’s suburb evolution which saw the construction of the Victoria Rooms, Royal West of England Academy (RWA), Christchurch and Whiteladies Road, Clifton High School opened its doors at 65 Pembroke Road.  Its incipient growth of pupil numbers required the move to a larger house that had been built on College Road.  This building still stands today as the Main School, alongside the beautiful iconic Beech tree and School lawn that are as evocative today as they were in years past.  

Significant expansion of the School has unfolded over its many years of service to education with the original hall being built in 1889, a new wing added to the main house in 1927 and our tunnel (connecting the School to a gymnasium) under Clifton Park Road being constructed in the mid-1930s.  It was during this time that the School purchased and expanded into houses on School Green and into properties situated on Clifton Park so, by 1951 the School site was largely as it is today.  


Clifton High School was originally established and stood predominantally as a girl’s school for 7–17 year-olds. In 1887 boys were admitted into a preparatory class and in 1994, we saw the introduction of boys from the Junior School.  As this cohort progressed through to Senior School and Sixth Form, Clifton High School became fully co-educational in 2008/09.  


During the late nineteenth century, many Clifton High School scholars were awarded the prestige of being offered places at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  

We have since produced a long line of students who have gone on to achieve significant success, not only through academia but in many spheres of society.  For further information on our former pupils, please click here: