History of CCSS


History of Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies

Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies (CCSS) is a non-selective, independent sixth-form college for British and International students aged 15+.

CCSS was originally founded in 1981 by three educational visionaries – Alan Dawson, Hilary Kirby and Paul Redhead – in order to provide highly personal tuition to students preparing for their O and A Levels. There were two models common in Cambridge at the time: traditional large group teaching in classes of 25-30, and intensive, and solitary, individual tuition. Alan, Paul and Hilary were convinced of the merits of teaching in very small groups, to retain the intensive learning found in individual tuition whilst adding the benefits of interactions that occur in a small and focused group. The highly professional quality of teacher-student relationships characterised their model from the start.

CCSS first offices were at 69a Lensfield Road, with 25 local Cambridge students enrolling in the first year. Students were originally taught in tutors’ homes until a suitable teaching site could be located.

In 1984, CCSS moved into its first permanent teaching site at 1 Salisbury Villas, Station Road. The building was previously occupied by the Jarrett School of English, but had also hosted a group of 29 Basque children in 1938-39 who were refugees from the Spanish Civil War.

Salisbury Villas is now our dedicated site for the teaching of Sciences, Modern Languages and Art & Design. Salisbury Villas was built in 1874 by local architect Richard Rowe (who also designed the Corn Exchange and the Red Cow public house on Exchange Street).

In 2011, CCSS acquired 4-5 Bene’t Place, Lensfield Road (directly opposite our first offices on Lensfield Road). Bene’t Place was home to the University of Cambridge’s Department of Education, where one of our founders – Paul Redhead – completed his postgraduate teacher training. Teaching today in Bene’t Place focuses on Social Sciences and Humanities.

In 2001, Paul and Hilary transferred CCSS from their ownership into an educational charitable trust so the college now operates as a not-for-profit organisation, with all surpluses used to further the College’s educational provision. With over 30 nationalities represented in college, CCSS is proud that the welcoming heritage of 1 Salisbury Villas is still very much alive – and that the educational traditions of Bene’t Place remain firmly in place.

Every year, over 160 students take GCSE and A Level courses at CCSS. Thanks to Paul and Hilary’s generosity in gifting the college to the charity, we are able to maintain the small group teaching which averages 6 students per class and we continue to promote the benefits identified at the College’s foundation. This enables constant interaction between our teachers and students, helping our students achieve the depth of knowledge required for examination success and helps prepare them for life at university.

For further information, please contact the school office on +44 (0) 1223 716890 or email office@ccss.co.uk