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Our Story

If you could build a school for the students, what would that school look like?

This was the question that our Headteacher, Dr Hugh McCormick, started with. During his years as a teacher in the UK, he constantly wondered what the ideal school might look like, and whether he might be able to build it himself.

Copperfield London

The story begins a stone's throw from the Thames

In March 2020, Dr Hugh McCormick founded a college in London dedicated to helping students affected by the pandemic. 

Copperfield London supported many young people as they battled with the most unpredictable educational conditions. 

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To the Alps

After months of hard work at Copperfield in St James, Hugh was presented with the opportunity by British business leader, John Porter, to open a school in Verbier in the Swiss Alps.

One visit in November 2020 was persuasive enough: the challenge now was to recruit students, staff and find a campus.

 

By January 10 2021, Copperfield's 12-strong team was ready to open its doors to 30 curious students and their families.

10 months later, and our team now comprises former concert cellists, members of the Swiss Armed Forces, experienced leaders from Swiss boarding schools, and our student body continues to grow. We are on course to be at capacity for winter 2021/22.

 

Why a school?

In any school, one can sense what the community focuses upon. This might be league rankings for exam results, university placements, a comfortable lifestyle for the staff, or even profitability for the owners. 

It was central to the founding vision of Copperfield that our focus be community itself. This means creating strong and secure links between students, staff, parents and the broader community within which the school lies. This is because we believe that schools find themselves in a unique position, with a responsibility to support children in the challenging journey to becoming adults. A school must serve its community. 

The centre of that community must be the students. This is essential to Copperfield. In every decision that the school and its team takes, from an issue of pastoral care to the expansion of facilities, the first and fundamental question must be: is this serving the best interests of our children?

Have the courage to be imperfect?

In any school, there are triumphant and challenging moments, often in the same day. Educating young people is the process of drawing out what is already inside them: creativity, compassion and courage. It means guiding without commanding, encouraging without demanding, and showing students the extraordinary things they are capable of doing.

It is foundational to Copperfield that students are reminded that to be human is to be imperfect. That it is acceptable to make mistakes. That to succeed means not to achieve, but to do your very best in all ways and at all times.

What we are teaching students is that it matters not whether you fail or succeed, but how you respond afterwards. That problems are natural and to be expected, and what is crucial is the optimism and focus with which you work to solve them. That the world is a good place, and it can be made better through positive and collaboration human thinking and action. 

Copperfield is alive with the imperfect brilliance of children every day. They are the heartbeat of our school. 

Here are some moments from our first year that made our team smile.

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One of our IGCSE students preparing for exams.

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A student playing tennis on our campus courts.

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A group of younger students during PE.

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One of our talented young musicians playing at the inaugural student concert in June 2021.

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A student during an art lesson beside the campus lake.

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One of our students work with the world's best camera equipment during a Film Theory class.

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One of our younger students building a fort during Forest School.

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One of our students being, well, happy.

Our objectives

Our school is built upon three central pillars: our academic programme, our co-curricular offerings, and our student well-being system. All three are essential and equal parts of school life – it is our belief that students must learn to think, to act and most importantly, to take care of themselves and their community.

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Academics

By providing individualised support to all students based on their skills and interests, we want to help all children fulfil their academic potential. 

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Co-Curricular

We have created a programme where all students have the artistics and sporting opportunities to serve themselves and their community. 

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Pastoral Care

Achieving excellence and mental health need not be a trade off. Taking care of ourselves and each other is an essential skill.

Copperfield is a place where it is okay not always to be okay, and a place where you will acquire the tools to live a happier, healthier and more meaningful life.

Our journey

November 2020

Our first teachers join the team, we find a perfect setting at Le Hameau, and our first students sign up for the winter season. 

January 10, 2021

We open our doors for the first time to 30 students and their families. Our teachers deliver lessons on the structure of Pixar's animated stories, the economic factors contributing to the Renaissance, and the essential principles of trigonometry.

19th February 2021

Three new members of staff join to take the team to 13. 

4th March 2021

We become an Authorised World School Candidate to teach the International Baccalaureate PYP and DP.

24th March 2021

We become an approved center for taking IGCSE examinations.

24th March 2021

Dr Hugh McCormick is appointed as Head of International Engagement at Sevenoaks School, one of the world’s foremost schools. 

June 2021

Students sit Copperfield's first IGCSEs in French, German and Maths, with some as young as 12 taking the exams. They would go on to achieve brilliant results later in the summer, with a 90% A*/A ratio.

30th August 2021

We open our doors for our second academic year, and begin teaching the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.

16th September 2021

Copperfield is visited by the International Baccalaureate to assess our progress in implementing the Primary Years Programme. We are recommended for a full authorisation by June 2022.

1st October 2021

Copperfield hosts its inaugural 'Copperfield Concert', where world-renowned pianist Moritz Winkelmann plays a child-friendly repertoire including a majestic Beethoven epic to a crowd of 100 at Le Hameau.

20th October 2021

Tony Little, former Head Master at Eton College and Governor of several top schools, including Westminster and Sevenoaks, joins the school as an Independent Advisor to the Board.

Where next?

The International Baccalaureate. A boarding school in Verbier. A world-class creative curriculum centering on music, drama and visual arts. A state-of-the-art science and computing facility. New Copperfield campuses around the world.  

Want to find out more?

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Apply now

Download our application form and begin your Copperfield journey