Colfe's School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Colfe's School
Motto Ad astra per aspera
"Through hardships to the stars"
Established 1568 (restablished 1652)
Type Independent day school
Headmaster (Senior) Richard Russell
Headmaster (Preparatory) Sarah Marsh
Governors Leathersellers' Company
Founder John Glyn in 1568
Reestablished with Abraham Colfe's name in 1652
Location Horn Park Lane
SE12 8AW
Local authority Greenwich
DfE URN 100202 Tables
Staff 100 (approx.)
Students 1,043
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–18
Houses Beardwood, Bramley, Norton, Prendergast

Blue & Gold

Publication The Colfeian
Official Visitor HRH Prince Michael of Kent
Former Pupils Old Colfeians

Colfe's is a co-educational independent day school in Horn Park in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, in south-east London, England. The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. The official Visitor to the school is HRH Prince Michael of Kent.


Colfe's is one of the oldest schools in London. The parish priest of Lewisham taught the local children from the time of Richard Walker's chantry, founded in 1494, until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. Rev. John Glyn re-established the school in 1568 and it was granted a Charter by Elizabeth I in 1574. Abraham Colfe became a Governor in 1613 and the school was re-founded bearing his name in 1652.

Colfe declared that the aim of the school was to provide an education for the boys from "the hundred of Blackheath". He invited the Leathersellers' Company, one of London's livery companies, to be the trustee of his will. Links between the school and the Leathersellers remain strong.

The school was originally built around Colfe's house with an entrance in Lewisham Hill. The site was progressively developed and extended until 1890, when it was completely rebuilt on the same site with its entrance now in Granville Park. During the Second World War the school was first evacuated to Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and then to Frome in Somerset. A period of inactivity on the Western front led about 100 boys to return to London, so the school was spilt for a few years. In 1944 a V2 (Flying bomb) almost totally destroyed the school.

At the end of the War, with no school buildings and the pupil roll having halved, it was uncertain if the school would continue. In London the school was split between two sites - Beacon Road School in Hither Green and Ennersdale Road School, about a quarter of a mile away. "Temporary" buildings (rows of pre-fabricated concrete construction) were erected and the school came together again in 1947 under the headmastership of Herbert Beardwood MSc. The "temporary" buildings were still being used until the move to the new site in 1963.

Herbert Beardwood updated Leland Duncan's "History of Colfe's Grammar School" in 1952, in celebration of the school's tercentenary under Colfe's name. The book was further updated by Beardwood in 1972, to reflect both the move to the present campus at the east end of the playing fields, and the impact on the school of the machinations of early 1970s UK politics.

The school moved to its current site in 1963 and since then there has been much change: improved facilities have been provided, such as an all-weather sports pitch and a new performing arts centre. The Leathersellers' sports ground has been renovated to make it the home of senior sport (rugby football and cricket).

Having been a voluntary aided grammar school, Colfe's became independent again in 1977. Although founded as a school for boys, girls have been admitted to the Sixth Form for over thirty years. In 1997, it was decided to allow girls throughout the school, and today the school is fully co-educational.

The School today[edit]

The School admits pupils at the age of 3 into the Nursery and Pre-prep, from which they progress to the Preparatory school aged 7. From here pupils make the transition to the Senior school at the age of 11.

Senior School (Ages 11-18)[edit]

The Senior School is based at the top of the main school site. The Senior School has very high standards and excellent academic success, performing well at A-Level and GCSE.An all-weather playing field (funded in part by donations from parents and former pupils) was opened in 2006. The school also has a new Performing arts centre, a Sports Complex complete with a 25 m swimming pool, 2 gyms and a Sports Hall, excellent IT and Music facilities and over 30 acres (120,000 m2) of playing fields. Many of the facilities are shared with the Preparatory School.

There is a strong House system at Colfe’s. The Houses are named after four long serving Headmasters; Beardwood, Bramley, Norton and Prendergast. Throughout the school year each pupil takes part in a full and varied programme of activities outside the main curriculum, in which the pupils participate in healthy competition by age groups to help his or her house win at the end of the year. From September 2012, Colfe’s has also introduced tutoring in Houses. Pupils are in mixed age tutor groups with other students from the same House. A team of House tutors is led by a Head of House who has oversight of pastoral and academic progress of the students in their House. The Head of House is supported by an Assistant Head of House who ensures the smooth running of tutor time and weekly House activities.

Colfe's School is also in the minority of schools which boast a Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Boys from year 8 and girls from year 9 learn valuable life skills such as leadership and organisation, and have the chance to earn their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, a highly regarded achievement.

Colfe's organises various events throughout the year in which pupils raise money for a variety of charities through their Houses. In December 2004, Colfe's students and teachers began to build, decorate and stock a library at Kotu Senior Secondary School in the first of a now annual series of visits to The Gambia. Subsequent developments at Kotu have included a sports surface, new and improved toilet blocks, classroom refurbishment, a new Domestic Science room and an assembly hall. Colfe's Senior School (along with the Preparatory School) has recently been added to the 'Good Schools Guide' website [1]

Preparatory School (Ages 3-11)[edit]

The Preparatory School is located at the bottom of the school site, in two self-contained buildings. One of the buildings is for Pre-Prep and Nursery and the other for Preparatory. The preparatory school has the same high standards as the Senior School. The preparatory school also shares many of the facilities with the Senior School including the sports complex, the fields and the Performing Arts Centre.

The Preparatory School also has a house system, with four houses (named after famous constellations) and they collect pluspoints and credits throughout the year. The winning house each term has a house tea party. The four houses are: Aquila, Lynx, Orion and Pegasus. In 2013, Colfe's teacher Peter Donaghue was jailed for three years after sexually assaulting two boys on a school trip. [2]

Notable Colfeians[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Leland L. Duncan The History of Colfe's Grammar School and a life of its founder 1910.


The History of Colfe's Grammar School by Leland L. Duncan (revised and updated by H Beardwood), pub: University of London Press, 1952

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°27′00″N 0°01′16″E / 51.45°N 0.021°E / 51.45; 0.021