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Village college

Impington Village College

The village college is an institution specific to Cambridgeshire, England (including the Peterborough unitary authority area). It caters for the education of 11 to 16 year olds during the day, and provides educational and leisure facilities to adults out of school hours.

Village colleges were the brainchild of Henry Morris, the then Chief Education Officer for Cambridgeshire, who had a vision of a school that would serve the whole community, stem migration from the countryside to the towns, and provide a decent education to pupils who had previously only been served by the upper years of Elementary schools.

Between the implementation of the Education Act 1944 and Cambridgeshire's adoption of the Comprehensive school system in 1974, village colleges were effectively reduced to secondary modern schools; since 1974 village colleges have returned to their original mission as schools for the whole community. Indeed, many argue that the village college model had a large influence on the design of the Comprehensive system.

Under Morris' influence, many of the colleges have had distinguished architects, notably the one at Impington designed by Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry.

There are village colleges throughout Cambridgeshire, including Bassingbourn, Bottisham, Burwell, Comberton, Cottenham, Gamlingay, Impington, Linton, Melbourn, Sawston, Soham, Swavesey and Witchford. Cambourne Village College opened on 5 September 2013 but in the school year 2013-14 is accepting only year 7 students.

Sawston Village College was the first village college to open, in 1930, followed by Bottisham Village College in 1937.

Gamlingay Village College does not cater for the 11-16 age range; instead it is a middle school catering for the education of students aged 9–13, students then transfer to Stratton Upper School in Bedfordshire at the age of 13.

Burwell Village College is in fact a Primary School.


  • Henry Morris and the Idea of the Village College Today by Harry Rée, 1971
  • Henry Morris, village colleges and community schools
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