Illustration of St Piers campus by little girl who lived there in teh early 190s

Transforming lives for 125 years

Our story

St Piers today

Learning is much more than the classroom. It is a nurturing journey of discovery in which students grow, find their independence, and thrive, now and in the future. St Piers is an innovative and creative school and college for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. We believe nothing should stand in the way of a full education, personal development or physical and emotional wellbeing.

To start our story, we need to take you back to 1896

That’s when the Rev. J.F.B. Tinling hears about a community in Germany helping people with epilepsy leading fulfilling, working lives. Inspired, he forms the Christian Union for Social Service (CUSS) – initially to support people with a physical or mental disability to find work.

Black and white image of children in outdoor school lesson

Early years

1897 St Piers opens. The Union buys St Piers Farm (on the edge of Lingfield, Surrey), which opens in March 1897. Six months later, 25 trainees arrive – the first in a long line of people whose lives will be changed forever at St Piers.

1902 A change of direction

A monumental year. St Piers shifts its focus to specialise in supporting children with epilepsy.

1905 Innovation in education

Our school is founded – with 55 children and the country’s first teacher for children with epilepsy, Miss Kate Caston. A truly pioneering place, swapping a strict
curriculum for lots of outdoor learning.

1912-15 Laying foundations

Seriously ill patients need better care. Step forward St Piers. Our groundbreaking medical centre will have 26 beds, an outpatient department, operating theatre and research lab.

black and white aerial shot of St Piers campus

War years

1914 to 1920 The war effort St Piers works with the Red Cross to care for soldiers returning from WWI with epilepsy and shell shock.

1919 to 1939 Research, research and more research

With round-the-clock patient observation, the school is a perfect base for research and pioneering trials.

1935 Peer respect

Treatment and education at St Piers receives international recognition – including a visit by the International Neurological Congress.

1945 Changing attitudes

Paintings by St Piers pupils are seen around the world, changing attitudes towards epilepsy (and putting Lingfield on the map). In Paris, Picasso even attends a private viewing.

A black and white image of Princess Alexandra meeting one of our doctors

Building momentum

1946 Advocacy wins. A St Piers doctor successfully lobbies for epilepsy to be included in the Disabled Persons Act.

1963 to 1989 A fountain of knowledge

St Piers explores home therapy and invests in advanced, electroencephalogram (EEG) enabling 24 hour monitoring. We host a ‘Childhood Epilepsy Management and Treatment’ symposium in 1978 and added to our existing therapies with a new Occupational Therapy department.

1967 Grand opening

Our busy medical centre needs an upgrade. HRH Princess Alexandra drops
in to open the new, purpose-built facility.

1970s Widening admissions

In 1972, St Piers welcomes its first children without epilepsy. Six years later, inclusivity reaches new heights. Not only do students get involved with
local Scouts, Guides and Boys & Girls Brigades, many complete the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, and three boys even meet the Duke himself.

HRH Princess of Wales shakes hand with a young girl at St Piers

Innovation and awareness

1987 An unforgettable visit. HRH The Princess of Wales visits. The tour gives staff a motivational lift, but it’s the helicopter that steals the show for the children.

1979 to 1982 Broadening the syllabus

From football and horse riding to drama, St Piers gains an impressive reputation for sport and the arts. Students also learn about horticulture, and our new Extended Education Unit (EEU) teaches them life skills, like managing money.

1990 to 1997 Lingfield links up

We’re stronger together. Our medical centre joins forces with other renowned medical institutions. By 1996, Great Ormond Street Hospital patients visit St Piers for EEG and medical monitoring before further treatment.

1993 to 2006 Research base

St Piers epilepsy research initially includes trials on Lamotrigine, Gabapentin and Felbamate, then Buccal Midazolam and the ketogenic diet.

1999 Brick by brick

HRH The Prince of Wales opens Hanley residential house at St Piers.

2000 Meeting demand

Our popular new Telemetry Suite opens.

NCYPE logo


2001 One voice We launch The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy (NCYPE) – uniting our research, healthcare, education, awareness and advocacy work. Ten years later, we become Young Epilepsy. Three cheers for St Piers A new name! We officially become St Piers School & College.

2007 Hello, Sixth Form!

The new Sixth Form year group offers vocational access with literacy, numeracy and communication.

2009 The one and only

Our Neville Childhood Epilepsy Centre (NCEC) is the first UK medical facility that can assess young people with epilepsy and rehabilitate children post
brain surgery – it becomes a hub for international research.

2011 to 2016 Tailored teaching

Our new purpose build school includes special features to support students, such as curved corridors and sensory integration. The farm and
outdoor spaces also open.

2011 to 2020 Meeting demand

Our campus adapts to meet the growing needs of students – adding a media suite, outdoor gym, multi-use games facility, Aqua Centre, vocational area for the
farm and tearoom, and a fully accessible Outdoor Woodland Learning and Forest School area.

2021 Proud moment

The Young Epilepsy research team co-creates the world’s first wearable MEG brain scanning system (Magnetoencephalography or OPM-MEG), specifically
for children. OPM-MEG lives on the St Piers campus!