Chelmsford County High School for Girls

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Chelmsford County High School for Girls
Motto Vitai Lampada Ferimus
(We carry the lamp of life)
Established 1906
Type Grammar Academy
Headmistress Ms Nicole Chapman
Location Broomfield Road
England Coordinates: 51°44′35″N 0°28′03″E / 51.743°N 0.4675°E / 51.743; 0.4675
DfE number 881/5410
DfE URN 136412 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 890
Gender Girls
Ages 11–18
Houses      Curie
Chelmsford County High School main building

Chelmsford County High School for Girls, or "CCHS", is a selective grammar school for girls aged 11–18 located in Chelmsford, Essex, England. Entrance to the school is by an academic selection test and considered to be one of the hardest places to gain admission. CCHS is one of the most academically successful and consistently high achieving secondary schools in the United Kingdom, regularly scoring top marks for both GCSE and A-level results. Latest BBC secondary academic tables rank CCHS 12th in the country for the GCSE results[1] and one of the few schools in the country to attain 100% English Baccalaureate.[2]

In addition to these achievements, the school aims to instill "developing the leaders of tomorrow" in the belief that the able girls will be leaders in whichever field of work or academic study or indeed in the personal interests they choose in their future.[3] There are approximately 880 pupils on the school roll with 280 in the Sixth Form.


The official history of Chelmsford County High School between 1906 and 1982 is chronicled in "A History of Chelmsford County High School" by Mary Kenyon.

The school was built in 1906, and officially opened in May 1907, with its first Headmistress Mabel Vernon-Harcourt. It had 76 pupils on the school roll, divided into three forms: IIIa, IV and V. Although the age range was originally 12-18, in 1915 a Preparatory department was added which took girls from the age of eight; the department closed in 1947.

The Old Girls’ Society was formed in 1908 by the first girls to leave the School at the end of their education, and the first Magazine was published in December 1909. It had only one male teacher - Art master Alfred Bamford.

In January 1910 the School Hostel opened in rented premises at 39 Broomfield Road under the care of a Mrs Smylie. It allowed pupils with long journeys between home and school to stay in Chelmsford during the week. In January 1911, Miss Edith Bancroft became the second Headmistress, until she retired in 1935. A new school science building, known as Bancroft Wing, was named in her honour when it was finished in 1950.

In June 1916 Winifred Picking became the School’s first University success when she gained a First Class degree in the Natural Science Tripos at Girton College, Cambridge. Her name can still be seen on the School's Rolls of Honour.

The school remained open throughout World War I, with forms being assigned "shelter" in a place away from windows or an outer wall. It also took in refugee students from Belgium and educated them.

The school's motto "Vitai lampada ferimus" or " We carry the torch of life" was chosen in 1923, from a shortlist of 18 suggestions. It can be currently seen as part of the school crest.

In 1925 the School House system was first set up, with each House named after a Governor of the School: Chancellor, Hulton, Pennefather - pronounced “penny feather” and Tancock. This was changed in 1986 to three houses, C, H, and S; in 1996 a fourth house, G, was added.

Miss Bancroft retired as Headmistress in 1935 and was succeeded by the school’s third Headmistress, Miss Geraldine Cadbury until 1961. A science block, the Cadbury Science Building, was named after her when it opened in 1995. Bancroft Wing subsequently became a languages building.

1936 saw the School Hostel shut down due to lack of viability - this was due to improved transport around Chelmsford.

A year later, in 1937, the electric bell system was first installed. It was removed in 1999, as Monica Curtis, the previous Head, believed it reduced punctuality.

The school, as before, remained open during World War II, though this time the school was damaged several times in air raids. Fortunately the worst raid, when nearly every window in the school was broken, occurred during a school holiday. Maintaining examination conditions during air raids was also a problem: eventually exam candidates were given their own separate shelter.

Extensive building work was initiated in the 1950s and continued throughout the 1960s - in that time, the current caretaker's house, swimming pool, hall, canteen, art rooms, and library were built. In the 1970s, three demountable classrooms, known as 23, 24 and 25, were built. Only 25 remains today.

In 1979, Miss Phyllis Pattison retired, having been headmistress since 1961, and was replaced by Miss Anne Brooks in 1980. 1980 saw the first male teacher since Alfred Bamford, Mr Robert Clark, being employed at the school to teach mathematics. The school's third male teacher, Mr Christie, was employed during 1983.

The introduction of Technology, particularly IT, began in the 1980s and continued until the present day, with three computer rooms, three specialist technology rooms, and the training of all pupils in the use of ICT.

Miss Brooks retired in 1989 and was replaced in 1990 by Bernice McCabe, who served for seven years until 1997.

In 1992, Chelmsford County High School became a Grant Maintained school with control over its own funds, and a School Bursar was employed. Margaret Thatcher, along with the local MP Simon Burns, paid a brief visit to the school on 30 March 1992.

In 1997, Bernice McCabe left to take up the post of Headmistress in the North London Collegiate School for Girls. She was replaced by Monica Curtis, who oversaw the development of the new school Astroturf pitch in 2004, the extension of the sixth form common room to include toilets and showers in 2005, and the planned construction of a new music building in 2007. This new music building began construction in March 2007, with the building site taking up the majority of space on the school field behind the hall. The building has been built in the shape of an orchestra, and there are two large teaching rooms, practice rooms and a fully equipped recording studio inside. The building was opened in January 2008 by Dame Evelyn Glennie. Unfortunately, Mrs Curtis was forced to retire early due to ill health and Glynis Howland, previously a Deputy Head, became Acting Headmistress. The post of headmistress was advertised in the Summer term, but no appointment was made. The post was re-advertised in September 2006 and Nicole Chapman was selected as the school's new headmistress. She took up the post on 1 April 2007. The school converted to academy status on 1 January 2011.

Daily Life[edit]


As required by English law,[4] CCHS holds an "Act of Collective Worship" every day. On Mondays and some Wednesdays, Assembly is held in individual forms after registration, with pupils in turn having to present their own assembly of a subject of their choice On Tuesdays and Thursdays, H&S and C&G Houses attend a school Assembly respectively, while the other Houses again have Form Assembly. On Fridays, the whole school used to come together in the Hall for a school-wide Assembly, but due to Fire Regulations has now been split into the Year 7-8 Assembly, held in the Gym and a Year 9-11 Assembly, held in the Hall. 6th -form Assembly is held on a Wednesday morning in the Hall. Pupils are also expected to produce their own assemblies to present to their forms, these are pre-planned by Form Tutors and are occasionally used by teachers else where.

The last Ofsted Report for the CCHS considered its provision of the Daily Act of Collective Worship was inadequate Therefore, taking this into consideration, Nicole Chapman has now introduced the singing of hymns every morning in these assemblies to further unify the school and show the collective worship of students.

School Day[edit]

The school day begins at 8:45, though the school is open to students from 8:00. Registration is held at 8:45, and assemblies (on the days they are held) start at 8:55. Lessons begin at 9:10. CCHS has five minutes "travelling time" between lessons to ensure students have adequate time to reach their next classroom. The day is divided into five one-hour-long lessons. There is a short break at 10:10 and an hour for lunch.

Girls are encouraged to work to the best of their abilities in all subjects and all teachers are of the highest standards. As well as being taught normal lessons, the girls have rolling Tutor Period, PSHE, once a week. This period "rolls" from period to period and day to day. If in the previous week RTP was Period 2, Monday, it would be Period 3, Monday.

School Day ends at 3: 40.

School uniform[edit]

A formal uniform is only worn by students in years 7 to 11. This consists of:

  • a lilac blouse
  • tartan dark blue, navy and lilac pleated skirt
  • hip length navy blazer
  • navy v-neck jumper with lilac stripe

Some optional items include:

  • navy slipover with lilac stripe
  • navy trousers
  • navy headscarf

During chemistry lessons, students are required to bring along a plain white lab coat.

The sixth form uniform is currently being changed. It used to be whatever the student chose to wear, as long it is 'suitable for the workplace'. Currently students should wear a black blazer, black skirt or trousers with a blouse of their choice. A black or grey jumper is optional. The uniform being considered for September 2014 consists of:

  • a black blazer with detachable school logo
  • a straight black skirt
  • a plain blouse of the student's choice


The house system is a key part of the school community. It began in 1925, when the four houses were named after school governors; Chancellor, Hulton, Pennefather and Tancock. The four houses became three in 1986; C, H and S, standing for Chelmsford High School. A fourth house, G - standing for Girls' (making it 'Chelmsford Girls' High School') was added when the students on roll increased.

Recently, the houses were given the surnames of famous women and voted for the one they thought was the most inspirational to have representing their house:

House Names[edit]

  • C House - Marie Curie (Green)
  • G House - Tanni Grey-Thompson (Blue)
  • H House - Audrey Hepburn (Red)
  • S House - Miranda Stewart (Yellow)

Competitions form an important part of the house system and points are collected throughout the year in House Events such as House Pancakes, House Show, House Decorated Classroom and House Karaoke. There are also several House Events that include sports, such as House Winter Games and Sports Day. In December the house with the most accumulated points wins the House Shield. For the past few years G House have been winning continuously, although in 2014 S triumphed over G, winning by a single point. All of the forms worked extremely hard for all of the events.


CCHS is noted for its high academic achievements. It is one of the most consistently highly performing schools of the past ten years, and regularly appears in the top 10 of the Times School Supplement for GCSE and A Level results. The school also has an extremely high rate of attendance in comparison with other schools.[5]



  • CCHS held Beacon School status from 2001 to the award's discontinuation in 2005, as an example of successful practice with a view to sharing the practice with others.
  • An Achievement Award was awarded in all three years (1999/2000 to 2001/2002) that the scheme ran. The Award was made for achieving better results than most schools in similar circumstances.
  • In July 2002, CCHS was awarded with the Sportsmark Gold[7] from Sport England for its out of hours sports provision and a broad and balanced PE curriculum. There are two levels of award: Sportsmark and Sportsmark Gold.

Notable former pupils[edit]


External links[edit]