Ermysted's Grammar School

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Ermysteds Grammar School
Motto Suivez La Raison
Established 1492
Type Voluntary aided grammar
Headmaster Graham Hamilton
Deputy Heads Mr. D G Clough, Mr. I McMechan
Founders Peter Toller, William Ermysted
Location Gargrave Road
North Yorkshire
BD23 1PL
England Coordinates: 53°57′48″N 2°01′22″W / 53.9634°N 2.0227°W / 53.9634; -2.0227
Local authority North Yorkshire
DfE URN 121716 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Staff 50
Students 800
Gender Boys
Ages 11–18
Houses Ermysted     
Colours Black and White         

Ermysteds Grammar School is a LEA-funded selective boys' Grammar School in Skipton, North Yorkshire, England, teaching over 800 pupils. It is the seventh oldest state school in Britain and was founded by Peter Toller in the 15th century. The first official record of the school was seen in Peter Toller's will in 1492; the school records its establishment as the same year.

The motto of the school is 'Suivez La Raison'. Translation from the French is roughly 'follow the truth'. The school operates a house system with inter-house competition in sports, and an annual house quiz held around Christmas. The four houses, Toller, Ermysted, Petyt and Hartley, are named after key figures in the school's history. Whilst it operated a boarding house Ermysted's boarders were members of School House which, in later years, was affiliated with Ermysted House for the purposes of inter-house competition.

The current headmaster is Graham Hamilton; his predecessor, Thomas Ashworth, retired at the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

The A-level results of 2006 officially placed it as the best school in Yorkshire, ranking higher than fee paying schools, and amongst the top 25 nationally.[1][not in citation given] In 2008 it was reported that the school achieved the best Yorkshire state school A-level exam results.[2]

In 2007 the school came 76th in the top 100 UK schools in terms of Oxbridge admissions.[3]

History timeline[edit]

Sylvester Petyt who endowed the school with £30,000. Portrait from the National Portrait Gallery

1492 – Peter Toller's will confirmed that he had already founded a school in his chantry of St Nicholas in the parish church, the school takes this as its founding date.

1548 – Edward VI's government took over all chantry lands. William Ermysted re-founded the school with new lands and moved it to the bottom of Shortbank Road.

1707 and 1719 – Wills of Old Boys William and Sylvester Petyt were responsible for gifts to the school, and foundation of the Petyt Library and Petyt Trust.

1773 – Leeds and Liverpool Canal reached Skipton, partly built on E.G.S. land.

1875 – Gargrave Road building begun for 50 day boys and 50 boarders.

1876–1907 – Mr E. T. Hartley, headmaster at the new school.

1882 – Pool & Old Gym (now I.C.T., music and R.S. rooms) begun.

1895 – Science block built (A.P.L. + staff quiet room).

1924 – First World War, memorial library set up by Old Boys' Society (now Governors' Board Room).

1929 – First award of Cook Cup for champion house (won by Hartley).

1933 – "New buildings" opened (rooms A-H, staff room and science laboratories).

1959 – Memorial Hall (to those lost in the Second World War).

1989 – School House closes its doors to boarders.

1992 – Quincentenary celebrations – visit by H.R.H. The Princess Royal; pageant; new sports hall.

2002 – "The Great Gas Leak of 2002" – one of the school's typically decrepit gas taps causes the entire school to be evacuated onto the bottom fields

2003 – New English/CDT block. Opened by H.R.H. The Duke of Kent.

2006 – Ermysted's gains specialist status in science and mathematics.

2007 – New Refectory replaces the ageing canteen as the school's Dining Room. Built on the site of the 1927 'San'(atorium).

2008 – New gym installed in the sports hall.

2008 – Old gym and sixth form common room converted into two new ICT classrooms and two new religious studies classrooms.

2008 – School library merged with IT1 to extend library into the original 'Big School'.

2009 – Memorial Library refurnished and new Sixth Form Library created replacing old Boarders' Dining Room.

2010 – Construction of a new 'Food Technology' block.2

2014 - Launch of new website for the Old Boys' Society


The school is now situated between Gargrave Road and Grassington Road, although the sixteenth century school house can still be seen on Shortbank Road. The majority of buildings originate from the 19th and early 20th centuries, although many newer buildings now exist. These include the sports hall, opened in 1992 to commemorate the school's 500th anniversary and the £7 million Refectory development to the north of the site, as well as the 'English Block', which houses the school's CDT and English departments in addition to one of its four ICT facilities.

Following recent increases in funding and money, resulting from the school's specialist status, most of the classrooms in the older buildings have been refurbished and brought up to modern standards; such as the introduction of electronic whiteboards to most classrooms and the recent carpeting of all rooms in the School House building. A Local construction company recently completed the construction of a new Food Technology building to the east of the site (between the English Block and the Refectory), which opened in September 2011, coinciding with the first curriculum cookery lessons.

Ofsted inspections[edit]

In the 2000 Ofsted inspection, the school's results were 'very high' against the national average, especially upon entry, where year 7s (age 11/12) work to a level 'expected of pupils aged 14. It has an 'outstanding' 6th form with a wide range of subjects. The school is 'very successful' at allowing pupils to reach high academic standards, and the quality of teaching is 'good.'

In the 2005 Ofsted inspection, the sixth form was described as “outstanding” and achieved Grade 1 Outstanding in every category of assessment.[4]

The 2008 Ofsted inspection was on 22 October and the school was delighted to receive an "Outstanding" verdict overall. Seven out of eight areas were given an outstanding verdict.[5]


The School has two principal annual events. Founders' Day takes place in December, when a service is held in Skipton Parish Church to commemorate the school's founders and benefactors;many Old Boys attend both the service and the Annual Dinner, which follows the Old Boys' Society AGM. Speech Day in July is the annual prize-giving and summation of the school year. The active Parents' Association organises many social and fund-raising events such as a biennial Ball, wine tasting and big band nights


Sport is a major part of Ermysted's life. The school competes in Rugby Union, Cross-Country, Orienteering, Cricket and Football tournaments with teams, and gains considerable success in events entered. The 1st XI Football are currently enjoying a fruitful campaign and won the county shield, and the 1st XV Rugby team won the Daily Mail Vase Final 2007, the national schools competition whilst also winning the Yorkshire Cup in 2014. Meanwhile the cross country team continues to dominate in the North of England perhaps due to the fact that once every year all students are required to participate in a school cross country race, which takes place in Aireville Park during the Autumn Term. In December Ermysted's "Inter Boys team finished runners-up in the National Final of the English Schools' Cross-Country Cup competition, held at St. Albans. This repeated the performance of 2005 Junior Boys team at Leeds. Occurring annually in the Summer term is Sports Day, during which students compete at athletics in front of a huge crowd.[citation needed]

Rugby Kit
Football Kit


The school's Big Band has toured Germany three times, most recently in 2010, under the tutelage of music teacher Simon Gregory and regularly performs in concerts at school as well as at other prestigious local venues. To date they have produced two CDs. Ermysted's also has a developing string group, providing ensemble experience to young pupils and a chance for the virtuosic older pupils in regular solos. The Junior Big Band is a stepping stone to the Senior Big Band and is primarily for pupils in Years 7–9.[citation needed] A significant proportion of boys receive musical tuition at school and there are now three practice rooms in addition to the main music room and the hall available for pupils and their amateur bands to rehearse. Recently, a covers band, fronted by head boy '07–'08 Christopher Greenwood, 'Topher G and The Smoochies' has taken both fundraisers and proms by storm.[citation needed]

The school has a notable record in ensembles at all levels. The two most recent leaders of the highly commended Harrogate Youth Jazz Orchestra have come from Ermysted's. It is always well represented in the other senior ensembles of Harrogate Music Centre and has provided the County ensembles with no fewer than a dozen members over the last few years.[citation needed] Two ex-Ermysted's pupils played for the National Youth Orchestra and National Youth Jazz Orchestra during their time at Ermysted's and have both gone to Chetham's to take their music further.[citation needed]


Although Drama is not taught as a subject in its own right, it forms an integral part of the English curriculum, and a weekly Drama Club meets.

School plays occur once every two years, in conjunction with Skipton Girls' High School. In addition to various pantomimes and subject-related (namely Latin and Modern Foreign Languages) drama activities, house plays by Years 7–9 occur annually in the Autumn term, with an independent adjudicator voting for the best play.

A group of pupils also take part in the annual English Schools' Shakespeare Festival. In 2007, an edited version of Julius Caesar was performed at Bradford's Priestley Theatre, and just before the Autumn half-term 2008 an abridged version of Hamlet was performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

In recent years, film has emerged as an increasingly popular form of drama at the school, leading to the first Ermytainers Film Festival being held on 12 July 2013, showcasing a range of pupil-made films.


The school has a long history of competitive debating, and after a hiatus of some years, a debating club was set up in late 2006. The school puts forward teams in many events, with some success: in 2007, Ermysted's pupils were placed third out of 24 schools in the 'Great Shakespeare Debate' in Stratford-upon-Avon, and reached the regional final of the ESU Schools Debating Mace. In 2009–2010, Ermysted's Sixth-formers went a step further, participating in the European Youth Parliament Debating Forum National Final, having won the "Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Final" and winning the 'Great Shakespeare Debate' outright.

School publication[edit]

The Chronicles of Ermysted's is the official annual school magazine, containing details of school events, student visits, results and school activities, although in recent years its publication has been somewhat hit-and-miss.

Notable former pupils[edit]


External links[edit]