At Mount Kelly we believe that a broad range of extra-curricular opportunities is a fundamental part of school life.

We actively encourage children to partake in a good selection of activities to ensure a range of skills are being developed. Pupils are encouraged to pursue their interests and follow their passions by taking up the many extra-curricular activities on offer. Our extra-curricular programme is fundamental to life at Mount Kelly as we firmly believe this enriches and broadens the educational opportunities open to our boys and girls and take place before, during and after School.

Our experience shows that extra-curricular activities can often reach and engage children in ways that other aspects of school life might not, and help to complete a child’s educational experiences at school.

The activities at Mount Kelly are carefully chosen to complement the core academic curriculum, but also to make the most of the spectacular local environment. The extra-curricular and enrichment opportunities at Mount Kelly include drama, music, art, sports, Combined Cadet Force, Duke of Edinburgh, journalism, debating and public speaking. In addition to these we also  participate in a number of excellent local opportunities including the Ten Tors Challenge and the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race.

Academic Enrichment

Academic Enrichment

Years 9 and 10

Sixth Form




Choral singing is at the heart of the school with congregational participation in chapel and in the annual house song competition where every pupil takes part. The College Choir sings at every Chapel service and the special events such as the Carol Service and Founder’s Day. This group is open to all pupils without audition. The College Chamber Choir is the flagship ensemble of the School, made up of twenty two of the most accomplished singers.  The group perform a wide range of challenging music from all periods and in a huge variety of styles, but mostly a cappella. They won the Barnardo’s School Choir of the Year Competition held at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 2020, Silver Award winners at the Grado International Choral Competition in Italy, Gold and Silver Award winners at the Canta al Mar competition in Barcelona and were the Devon Schools Choir of the Year in 2018.  They perform at the school, as well as nationally and internationally including a community Concert of Remembrance in Tavistock, Evensong at Bristol Cathedral, a charity event for CLIC-Sargent in Exeter Cathedral (as Devon School Choir of the Year) and sang for Mass at the Basilica of St Mark in Venice.  The group usually tours once a year, competing and giving a number of concert performances as well as making a number of recordings for future release.

Choral Academy

News | Winners Barnardo’s Senior Choir of the Year 2020

Chamber Choir Videos

Mount Kelly Chamber Choir EP 2019

Listen to the EP on these music streaming apps:


Apple Music

Amazon Music




Pupils present numerous concerts throughout the year both at school and in the local area. Music plays an integral part of our Chapel services and assemblies as well the special occasions that punctuate the year; Harvest Festival, Remembrance Sunday, Easter and the Carol Service. We also take a full part in the Tavistock Music and Arts Festival, sponsoring and leading the concert for combined school choirs ‘Tavistock Sings!’ Every year the Concert Society presents a season of high quality professional concerts by leading musicians. The concerts are open to the general public but entry for pupils at the school is completely free.


Group music making is one of the most beneficial aspects of learning an instrument and the department runs a number of ensembles which are regularly reviewed in order to provide the most appropriate experience for our current pupils.  These would include the Concert Band for all wind and percussion players, a string ensemble, as well as rock bands and other contemporary groups.  The music department is also fully involved in the regular musical productions, both in playing and singing as well as providing instrumental music for drama productions.

Instrumental Lessons

Every pupil at Mount Kelly has the opportunity to play a musical instrument which is an essential part of a broad and balanced education. There are many studies which show the considerable benefits to the pupil including increased fine motor coordination, visual processing and social confidence especially when taking part in a musical ensemble. Later in their school careers, pupils find the experience of playing music provides a refreshing diversion from academic studies especially during exam periods. When applying to university, pupils are finding that admissions tutors are particularly impressed by those candidates who have had the dedication and determination to pursue music alongside their other studies.  It is also worth noting that every Head Boy and Head Girl for the last three years have been active musicians! Lessons in the full range of instruments, including singing, are available within the school from a team of dedicated and experienced teachers, with a track record of outstanding tuition and results.  Taster lessons are available before committing to a full term and these are charged pro rata.

Drama & LAMDA

Drama & LAMDA

Every member of a group is seen as a potential Producer (of Drama), a potential artist.

– J.Neelands


Drama plays an important part in the life of the College and one of the consequences of choosing a small school means that everyone has a role to play whether behind the scenes as a technician or centre stage in a starring role.

There are two school productions every year. In the Michaelmas Term there is a full-scale production, which, in recent years, has been a full-scale musical. Open auditions are held for this and they generally feature pupils from every year group. Previous productions have included Daisy Pulls it Off, A Christmas Carol, Return To The Forbidden Planet, We Will Rock You, The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, Striking 12 and Wyrd Sisters. In the Lent Term we put on a Studio Production where there is more onus on the pupils to work as an ensemble, assistant direct and organise many design aspects. A Human Write and How We Begin were presented to great acclaim, both plays were written by Amy Sutton, a Brighton-based actor and playwright.

Drama also plays a significant part of the Festival of the Arts which is held during the last week of the Summer Term. Over the course of three days, pupils have the opportunity to learn a new skill, to perform a ‘play-in-a-day’ or join various dance, drama and music workshops. They then have the opportunity to showcase their work to friends and family.

There are also regular trips to the theatres in Plymouth, Exeter and further afield and with the Theatre Royal Plymouth on our doorstep, pupils have been lucky enough to see many world premieres of top shows such as The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera.


Speech and drama lessons are available at Mount Kelly with our experienced teacher and LAMDA examiner. Our pupils have had impressive successes in external exams, with many achieving the highest accolade of Distinction.

The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) syllabus is followed, which gives pupils a choice of disciplines to pursue, including Public Speaking, Acting, Mime, Reading for Performance and Speaking of Verse & Prose, and Mount Kelly is one of the largest private LAMDA examination centres in the country.  We hold exam sessions at least three times a year. A pass at Grade 6 or above in any of the LAMDA disciplines as either a solo or duologue attracts UCAS points. As well as LAMDA examinations, in the Michaelmas term pupils are offered the opportunity to compete in the City of Plymouth Festival.  Pupils over the age of fourteen who are interested in acting are encouraged to audition for the National Youth Theatre (NYT) and the Youth Music Theatre (YMT).  We have had superb results with both of these national institutions, and over the last twenty years a high number of pupils who have auditioned have either gained places with the NYT on their summer courses or have performed in YMT productions. Through LAMDA, pupils are encouraged to develop self-confidence whilst gaining further qualifications.  Many of our older pupils have used the lessons as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards, whilst many Year 12 pupils have found that timetabled Speech and Drama lessons have helped with a range of school duties, including reading in public and speech-writing and delivery, as well as preparation for university interviews. Lessons are available from Year 2 upwards and the confidence gained can be seen to be reflected across a child’s life.



Mount Kelly has a much deserved reputation for being a school with a very strong co-curricular offering. Our on-site, fully staffed, adventure centre ‘Simply Outdoors‘ allows a planned and considered integration of these activities within our academic curriculum. Pupils undertake a variety of courses, all of which aim to develop their self confidence and motivation to learn. Every year all pupils from Years 7 to 11 take part in the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOTC) programmes at Mount Kelly. The structure incorporates a number of curricular elements into the outdoor activity programmes already offered. There is a strong focus on development through the years and the programmes encourage all pupils to get fully involved and take on a number of team work and leadership roles throughout the year. Year 7 pupils follow a series of team building activities and challenges such as raft building in which the main focus is for them to get to know one another and learn how they function as a group. In Year 8 the theme is survival and the programme includes real-life biology as they skin rabbits and learn about how we live in our environment. They also have the opportunity to Bivi out under the stars at night! Year 9 then progresses to a coastal programme based in Cornwall where pupils have the chance to go coasteering, climbing and snorkelling, whilst also participating in a drama workshop at the open air Minnack Theatre, completing an Art combined with Biology day on the beach and a Religious Studies led visit to Truro Cathedral. In Year 10 they venture even further afield by heading to North Wales and having the opportunity to study physics at the Electric Mountain Hydro-Electric Power Station and also the chance to climb Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. There is a visit to the Ogwen Mountain Rescue base, home of one of the busiest Mountain Rescue teams in the country. Last year the pupils even got the chance to see HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, fly in with his Sea King to conduct a training exercise in the Ogwen Valley. The academic staff are fully involved in all these adventures and the relationship between staff and pupils benefits enormously from these shared experiences.

Combined Cadet Force

Combined Cadet Force

Given that the School was founded by Admiral Kelly, “for the sons of naval officers and other gentlemen”, it is entirely appropriate that our Naval CCF should be a flourishing part of our broader extra-curricular programme.

Parading as part of our Service Afternoon on Wednesdays, our naval cadets follow the Royal Navy proficiency syllabus, learning a huge range of skills, from navigation and pilotage to boat-handling and dinghy sailing. Central to the training programme, however, are the Royal Navy’s Core Values – Commitment, Courage, Discipline, Respect, Integrity and Loyalty. As cadets progress through the CCF they will also develop their leadership skills and will have a chance to put them into practice as they become senior cadets within the contingent.

We are lucky to benefit from the support of our local Royal Navy Cadet Team, who provide professional instructors, logistical support and access to a range of naval training facilities and installations, whilst being so close not only to the sea but to Devonport, our cadets are able regularly to spend time on warships and Royal Navy establishments.

The Annual Camp generally takes place at HMS Raleigh – the Royal Navy’s recruit training establishment in South-East Cornwall – and consists of significant amounts of time engaged in sail training on a range of dinghies, whilst also experiencing a taste of life on a naval base. In addition to the annual camp there are over a hundred courses to choose from throughout the year, many leading to nationally-recognised qualifications. As well as the afloat activities, cadets can enjoy courses in mountaineering, mountain biking, rock climbing, leadership, first aid, NPLQ, ice climbing, skiing, flying, shooting, and there is even a band course for budding musicians. These courses are sponsored by the Royal Navy and therefore cost a fraction of the civilian equivalent.

Duke of Edinburgh Award

Duke of Edinburgh Award

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is the single most important thing to have on a CV after academic qualifications according to a recent survey of employers.  At Mount Kelly pupils have the opportunity to gain their Bronze, Silver and Gold awards and the journey begins in Year 9. The Duke of Edinburgh Award involves four sections:

  • Volunteering – e.g. National Trust work, Community Service
  • Skill – e.g. Music, Speech and Drama
  • Physical – e.g. Rugby, Netball, Hockey
  • Expedition

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is internationally renowned and provides young people with the opportunity to develop independence, personal life skills, teamwork, and leadership and to demonstrate their commitment. Pupils in Year 9 take part in an independent learning and expedition skills programme and, as part of this, learn the skills required for their expedition section for the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh that takes place in the Lent or Summer term each year. They then progress through the other sections to complete their Bronze award during Year 10. Pupils then have the opportunity to progress to the Silver award in Year 10 and finally the Gold award once they reach the age of 16 years.  Expedition opportunities include Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor and Overseas Expeditions such as to South Africa where pupils have completed their walks in both the Drakensberg Mountains and around the Lakes of Kosi Bay. At Gold level, pupils must also complete a 5 day-4 night residential trip with people they do not know.  This is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and try something new before heading off into the workplace or to University.

Ten Tors | Mount Kelly Expedition

Ten Tors | Mount Kelly Expedition

Every year Mount Kelly enters teams in the Ten Tors event run by the Army and is proud to walk for the RNLI, raising over £20,000 to date.  Pupils can participate in the 35, 45 or 55 mile events over a two day period and must be completely self-sufficient throughout, including an overnight wild camp on the moors. Training starts in September and continues throughout the winter in order to prepare pupils for the mammoth task of competing the distances over some of the toughest terrain in the UK.  As part of the training, pupils complete a full distance practice walk as part of the Mount Kelly Expedition.  The Mount Kelly Expedition is considered even harder than the real event as it always takes place towards the end of March when the weather is at its worst and the days are still quite short.  Every year pupils battle the elements to complete the event and earn their spot in one of the Ten Tors teams to take part in the main event which takes place every year on the second weekend in May. The Ten Tors event is run by 43 Wessex Brigade and every year has over 2,400 pupils participating at the various distances.  It is a huge event in the South West Calendar and everyone who participates gets a lot out of the experience. Mount Kelly also enters pupils into the Jubilee Challenge which is a trekking expedition on northern Dartmoor designed specifically for young people with special needs, both physical and educational. It was incorporated within the Ten Tors Event in 1977 as the Special Event and was then renamed the Jubilee Challenge in 1996.



Conway Sea Training Award

Mount Kelly is proud of its long association with HMS Conway and the Conway Merchant Navy Trust, and the name of Conway House keeps this connection alive in the minds of today’s pupils. The house contains a great deal of Conway memorabilia, and the School is delighted to host events to support the Conway Association. Although HMS Conway itself closed as a training establishment in 1974, the Conway Merchant Navy Trust (CMNT) continues to support young men and women hoping to pursue careers in the merchant navy, and as part of the School’s Guidance Programme, the Association works with the School to raise awareness of and to promote maritime careers. In an act of extraordinary generosity, the CMNT also fully fund between three and five places for Mount Kelly pupils who have signed up for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, on a Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT) voyage. The TSYT exists “to enable young people to fulfil their life potential through genuinely life changing adventures at sea”, and operates a fleet of yachts that cruise European, Mediterranean, and North Atlantic waters throughout the spring and summer and into the autumn. A TSYT voyage not only qualifies as the Residential element of the Gold Award, but – more importantly – is a genuinely life-changing experience. Details of the scheme are published by the School early in the Michaelmas Term to all those signed up for their Gold Award, and applications are considered jointly by the School’s Senior Leadership Team and the CMNT. Those whose applications are successful give presentations both to the College and to the Prep early in the Michaelmas Term, and are required also to write an article on their experiences for publication in The Foundation and in The Cadet – the journal of the Conway Association. Mount Kelly pupils are uniquely privileged to be able to benefit from this support, and the Conway Sea Training Award is a highly valued connection to an important part of the School’s heritage.

Community Action

Community Action

Voluntary Service (VS) is offered to pupils in Year 11 and the Sixth Form one afternoon a week. It can be taken as an afternoon activity or can be integrated into the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

At the start of the year, pupils interested in volunteering apply for a placement. The School has a database of placements in the Tavistock area which have been carefully checked and selected for their suitability. These include care and residential homes, charity shops, primary schools and day centres and activities range from arranging activities for children to sports coaching. Pupils are identified, assessed and sent for interview. If successful they are sent to the placement throughout the year. They are visited regularly and at the end of the year a report is written on their performance. In addition to the afternoon activities, pupils are also involved with other voluntary groups such as Interact Tavi which is a version of a young people’s Rotary Club. Our placement list is constantly reviewed and our relations with the local community have become very strong. At Mount Kelly we believe in our pupils giving something back to the community and learning the value of helping others.

Overseas Trips

Overseas Trips

Overseas trips and expeditions offer fantastic opportunities for pupils to not only experience new cultures and learn, but also to grow in self-confidence and develop independence. At Mount Kelly pupils are offered a wide variety of trips every year. Some examples of these include:

  • Trip to Morocco to learn about the desert and how cultures have developed and survive in such a hostile environment
  • Geography field trip to Iceland
  • A Level Physics trip to CERN in Switzerland to visit the Large Hadron Collider
  • French and Spanish trips for those studying the language
  • Humanities trip to visit Rome and Sorrento
  • CCF expedition to the wildest parts of Scotland to learn how to survive and trek in the snow

All our trips can be followed via our Facebook and Twitter links for up to date news from the pupils.

Sixth Form Only Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race

Sixth Form Only Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race

As one of the oldest ‘adventure races’ in existence, and still the longest non-stop kayak race in the world, The Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon, familiarly known as ‘the DW’, is one of the highlights of Mount Kelly’s outdoor education programme for pupils in the Sixth Form.

The original event dates back to the postal strike of 1927 (where, like many great ideas, it began as a bet in a pub near Devizes!).  The race in its current form began in 1948 and Mount Kelly’s involvement with the race began in 1995, with one Mount Kelly crew crossing the finish line.  Since then the event’s popularity has grown with up to 12 Mount Kelly crews participating each year and, to date, 255 have earned the honour of wearing the DW medal!

Many Mount Kelly crews have distinguished themselves with very fast times and trophies over the years but simply to finish the event is a major achievement in its own right.  Paddling under Westminster Bridge at the end of four days of effort is an achievement which leaves the paddlers with a long-lasting sense of pride, fulfilment and confidence, which many paddlers look back on as a formative experience in life.

Training and preparation for the event begins in September and takes place regularly through the cold and dark winter months, training character and fortitude, determination and persistence as well as developing team skills, strength and stamina, paddling technique and race tactics.

One of the unique features of the DW is the reliance of the crews on a support team, usually parents!  Over the 4 days the support team will ensure the paddlers are fed, watered, supplied with dry clothes and provided with their camping and overnight equipment at the end of each of the four days.  This unique shared experience is often described by parents as a catalyst for a change in their relationships.  To quote one parent whose daughter recently took part:

“Since the event my daughter has matured. We talk. Her grades have improved. I trust her. I believe in her. This is a life changing challenge that given the chance you should take. It is a family event and will bring you closer together. Ironically it may be one of the last journeys you take alongside them. You hold their hands on this one but learn to let them go as well.”

-Sixth Form Parent

Summer Camps 2024