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.




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

Welcome from our SSI

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is an integral part of the pupil experience at Mount Kelly and is an organisation of which the officers and cadets are immensely proud.  We are fortunate to be affiliated to 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, 1st Battalion, The Rifles and HMS Argyll. It should be stressed that the CCF is not an organisation which seeks to recruit young people into the forces but rather a youth training group which is supported and funded by the MOD.   Within the CCF we strive to bring out the very best qualities in each pupil; our aim being to encourage resilience, managed risk-taking, pride in the contingent and wider school, service, duty, challenge and leadership skills. Pupils who have found the classroom environment challenging have often discovered dormant skills and abilities through the CCF.  As a consequence their confidence has grown which has had a positive impact on their wider success in the school. Membership of the CCF is compulsory for all pupils in Years 9 and 10.  In Year 9 the focus is very much on fun activities which build confidence and leadership.  In Year 10, cadets make a decision about whether to join the Navy or Army sections and follow the relevant basic syllabus of training.  Cadets can then (and many do) opt to remain with the CCF as senior cadets in Year 11 when promotions become available. Senior cadets complete the CFIT (Cadet Forces Instructional Techniques) course which is rigorously assessed by contingent officers and members of the regular forces.  This instils in the seniors the confidence to instruct younger cadets in the basic syllabus with the support of the officers.  There are many opportunities to attend other leadership courses and a Summer Camp at the end of the year which cadets from any year group can attend.  Activities on Summer Camp include military skills, survival training, coasteering, sports, a contingent exercise and more leisurely pursuits such as a trip to the beach for some surfing instruction.  This is a fantastic opportunity for pupils and staff to share experiences together – the highlight for many pupils is encouraging the Contingent Commander or School Staff Instructor to leap from the highest points during the coasteering activities.  We have normally recovered our nerves by the time of the next Summer Camp. At the end of the school year the senior pupils have the opportunity to attend the prestigious Senior Cadets’ Dinner alongside the Contingent officers, the Head Master and guests from the regular services.  It is a very special evening where cadets are introduced to the pleasures of formal military dining which is punctuated with various traditions, toasts and addresses throughout the evening. I look forward to seeing all of our pupils pass through the ranks of the Mount Kelly Combined Cadet Force. Chris Watts W01

CCF SSI and Health & Safety Officer

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.

Clubs & Activities

Clubs & Activities


Our aim in the Debating and Public Speaking Club is to develop self confidence through the ability to think and speak clearly.   Pupils of all ages meet on a regular basis to practise speaking on a variety of topics in a set amount of time – and to have a lot of fun in the process.  Activities include workshops and preparation for regional and national competitions such as the English Speaking Union’s Churchill Cup for Public Speaking and the ‘Youth Speaks’ Competition organised by the International Rotary Club as well as inter-House competitions and demonstrations in Chapel and Headmaster’s Assembly. Our current group of public speakers achieved significant success last year, reaching the regional finals in all the competitions they entered – fending off the competition from many other schools while welcoming the opportunity to meet their competitors.  The group is always open to new ideas and keen to welcome new members.  Come and join us and share the fun of thinking on your feet! Tackle challenging questions and learn how to organise and present your ideas quickly and clearly. Clarity of thought and good communication skills are important in almost every area of life.  Whether you’re giving a speech to a large audience, organising a presentation for a small group, preparing for a job interview or writing a well structured essay – taking part in debating and public speaking gives you the skills you need to do it well.

Climbing Club

Mount Kelly now have a very established Climbing Squad consisting of all year groups who train regularly on Wednesday evenings and enter occasional competitions across the South West.  Pupils can be invited into the squad by taking part in the climbing offered on Saturday mornings and proving their capabilities through the National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme (NICAS). Pupils in the squad are currently working towards their Level 3 and 4 NICAS awards which include learning to lead climb amongst many other high level skills. The squad have also had the opportunity to climb outside this year in the summer term and have shown they can transfer their indoor skills onto the real rock of Dartmoor. Venues visited include the Dewerstone, Hay tor, Hound tor and Sheepstor.

Interact Rotary

Tavistock Interact is a collaboration between Tavistock College, Mount Kelly and the Rotary Cub. It is a group for pupils aged 12-18, benefiting the local community and helping out internationally. The group meet weekly during term time and work on projects that raise money for causes close to the Rotary cause. So far they have organised a quiz night in the Town Hall, packed boxes of materials to go to Zambia and started a collaboration with another Interact group in Kentucky in the USA to work on a joint fundraising idea for their local fire services as well as a concert that will see members of the public pay for entry with donations to the local food bank.

Example Clubs List

Pupil Magazine

Pupil Magazine

The Spoken Generation Digital Magazine

Mount Kelly’s exciting pupil-led digital magazine is entitled The Spoken Generation  and launched in September 2020. The initiative began during lockdown with several of our pupils writing articles, reviews and short stories covering a wide range of issues. Find articles on topics including Climate Change, Privilege, Racism, Dementia, Feminism, the Future of the Car and more… Visit the website here: The Spoken Generation




Founded by an admiral in 1877 for “the sons of naval officers and other gentlemen”, within striking distance of Plymouth Sound, and with an enviable reputation for excellence in outdoor pursuits, it is entirely appropriate for Mount Kelly to be adding offshore sailing to our extra-curricular programme.  Not only is this a natural extension of our current provision, it is wholly consistent with our stated purpose – the provision of a life-defining educational experience.

We are therefore delighted that, having partnered with the Tectona Trust, a Plymouth-based sail-training charity, Olga is officially the Mount Kelly boat.

Olga is a 56 foot cutter, and one of the most significant boats on the National Historic Ships Register.  Built in Porthleven, Cornwall, in 1909, she was named after the daughter of her first owner, Henry Edmunds.  Olga is fitted out to a very high standard with eight crew berths, a fully-equipped galley, wood-burning stove, skipper’s berth, chartroom and heads.  Olga is licensed with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and is Department of Transport Coded, for sail-training, and her Skipper and First Mate have many years’ experience of working with young people at sea.

Central to our adoption of Olga as the Mount Kelly boat is a commitment to assist with her maintenance and upkeep, and there are a number of opportunities for Mount Kelleians to spend weekends (and longer, during the holiday periods) living aboard and getting involved in low-level maintenance.

There are also opportunities to achieve nationally recognised sailing qualifications whilst crewing Olga, including the RYA Competent Crew, Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper awards. We also enter Olga in the Tall Ships Race, a unique experience which brings together young people from all over the world.

Olga is also available for charter at a reduced rate for parents and Old Mount Kelleians.

To find out more contact our Director of Outdoor Education, Katy Kelly at kellyk@mountkelly.com

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.