Dame Alice Harpur School
|Motto||'Ardent au devoir quotidien'
Discover your talents.
Be the best you can be.
|Type||Selective Girls' Independent|
|Houses||Harpur, Howard, Bunyan, Russell|
|Colours||Navy and cornflower blue|
Dame Alice Harpur School (also known as DAHS), known from 1882 until 1946 as Bedford Girls' Modern School, was an independent girls school in Bedford, United Kingdom, for girls aged 7–18. In September 2010 the junior department of the school merged with the junior department of Bedford High School. From September 2011 to September 2012 the senior schools also merged, the new school is known as Bedford Girls' School.
Established in 1882 as Bedford Girls’ Modern School, the school was one of the Harpur Trust group of independent schools in Bedford, which also included Bedford School, Bedford Modern School, and latterly the Pilgrims Pre-Preparatory School. At first, it shared its premises with Bedford High School. In 1892 it moved to St Paul's Square, occupying the William Cowper building left vacant by the Grammar School. In 1938 the school moved to a site on the southern bank of the River Great Ouse on Cardington Road, Bedford.
In 1946, the school changed its name to Dame Alice Harpur School, adopting the name of the wife of Sir William Harpur, who had originally endowed his foundation with land in Bedford and Holborn, London.
The school always had a Christian ethos but, upholding traditional values and standards, and was fundamentally ecumenical. Girls were divided into one of four houses representing famous figures from historic Bedford, these were Bunyan (Green), Harpur (Yellow), Howard (Blue) and Russell (Red).
After the move of 1938, the senior school had modern buildings, plus agreeable gardens and playing fields, on a riverside site. It was well equipped for sport, with a floodlit all-weather pitch, tennis courts, netball courts, hockey fields, indoor swimming pool, sports hall, gymnasium, sports pavilion, and a boathouse on the River Great Ouse. There were also facilities for design technology, textiles, art and drama; two listed Georgian houses were adapted to provide a sixth-form centre, Chequers cafe and music centre. In 2006 a new Sixth Form centre was created and was opened by Olympic silver medalist Gail Emms, an old girl of the school.
The school offered a broad general education and examination results were extremely good, with a 100% GCSE pass rate in 2003. Drama was very strong and the music department was especially flourishing (with choirs, orchestras, string quartets, a string orchestra, wind band, and other ensembles). A wide range of sports and games were provided; many teams competed at county and regional level, and some regularly at national level. Extra-curricular activities included the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Combined Cadet Force, debating, Youth Theatre, chess, field courses and a wide range of outdoor activities and visits.
The last school uniform for senior school girls from ages eleven to sixteen consisted of a pleated skirt in navy blue, a navy blue v-neck jumper with a blue eagle representative of the Harpur Trust embroidered on the chest, a pale blue shirt, and a navy blue blazer with an embroidered school shield containing a cornflower, an eagle and a book. For the winter, it was optional for the girls to wear the school's formal long winter coat in place of the school blazer, but it had to be worn to the Christmas carol service. The uniform in years 12 and 13 consisted of a navy blue skirt, white blouse, plain V-neck navy blue jumper combined with black pumps or low heels.
In 2012 the Dame Alice Harpur school was listed by The Independent newspaper in the top ten independent schools in England, and it won numerous awards for both academic and extra-curricular achievement.
Jill Berry, head of Dame Alice Harpur School from 2000 to 2010, was the President of the Girls' Schools Association in 2009.
In July 2009, the Harpur Trust announced its intention to merge Dame Alice Harpur School with Bedford High School. The decision was made as both schools had seen a drop in pupil numbers over the years: In 1990 more than 2,000 girls were on the rolls of both schools, whilst in 2009 there were only 1,500. In November 2009, it was announced that the new merged school would be called Bedford Girls' School, and would be located on the current site of Dame Alice Harpur School. The junior department of the new school opened in September 2010, when the junior schools of Bedford High and Dame Alice Harpur merged on the Cardington Road site. The senior department of Dame Alice Harpur School started to transfer to the new school administration in September 2011, with the full merger, including the sixth form department completed in September 2012.
Bedford Girls’ Modern School
- 1882 - 1897 Miss Mary Eliza Porter (d. 1905)
- 1897 Miss Dolby
- 1925 - 1939 Miss Beatrice Alice Tonkin MA (Cantab.) (b. 1884, d. 1953)
Dame Alice Harpur School
- 1946 - 1955 Miss Irene Forster BSc
- 1955 - 1970 Miss Hilda Lawson-Brown
- 1970 - 1990 Miss Suzanne Morse
- 1990 - 2000 Mrs Rosanne Randle
- 2000 - 2010 Mrs Jill Berry BA MEd
- 2010 - 2011 Miss Jo Mackenzie
Notable former pupils
- Jean Muir CBE FCSD, fashion designer
- Gail Emms, Olympic badminton silver medalist
- Louise Brealey, actress and journalist
- Sue Beardsmore, BBC television presenter
- Lucie Green, astrophysicist
- Louise Stanton OBE, British High Commissioner to Malta
- 1991-2005, Mr Stewart Frater
- 2005 - 2011, Mr Jean-Marc Hodgkin, BSc, FCA, FSI, ACIS, DChA
- "BBC Education League Tables". BBC News. 2006-01-19. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- "UK Schools Guide 2005". Schoolsguidebook.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- "Bedfordshire Local News, Local News Headlines in Bedford | Bedfordshire Newspaper Online | Girls' schools confirm unification proposal". Bedfordshire-news.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- [dead link]
- The Times, July 30, 1953, Issue 52687, p. 8, col. D
- The Times, August 2, 1954, Issue 52999, p. 8, col. B