Sir John Deane's College
|Sir John Deane's College|
|Type||Mixed Sixth Form College|
|“||For as much as God's glory, his honour, and the wealth public, is advanced and maintained by no means more than by virtuous education and bringing up of Youth under such as be learned and virtuous Schoolmasters, whose good examples may as well instruct them to live well as their doctrine and learning may furnish their minds with knowledge and cunning, [I] have thought it good, not only to erect the said Free Grammar School, and to provide a reasonable and competent Stypend [sic] for the Schoolmaster of the same, and that in respect of the zeal that I have to God's glory, and for the love that I bear to my native country...||”|
—Sir John Deane, Statutes
Sir John Deane was born in Shurlach, between Davenham and the Rudheath district of Northwich, but rose to become Rector of Great St Bartholomew in Smithfield, London, and Prebendary of Lincoln. He worked under both Protestant and Roman Catholic régimes during the English Reformation. He established a grammar school for poor boys in Witton on Michaelmas 1557, "in the name of Jesus". It was to be maintained by feoffees (a kind of charity), who were given land in Chester and the Wirral., the result of Sir John's astuteness during the dissolution of the monasteries. As well as prescribing rules for the Feofees, Schoolmaster and schoolboys, the foundation statues record his interest in an old Cheshire custom whereby schoolboys "a weeke before Christynmas and Easter, barre and keep forth of the Schoole the schoolmaster, in such sort is other schollers doe in greete schooles." Sir John required his Grammar School to enforce the custom and allow the boys to play with bows and arrows, "to the end that the Schollars (sic) have not any evil opinion of the Schoolmaster." It was generally known as Witton Grammar School, or Witton Free Grammar School, in the early centuries. It had a close relationship with St Helen's Witton, and its early buildings were on the same site. The School had a reputation as hotbed of Puritanism in the early 17th century, and this is still perhaps its greatest contribution to public life. However, it fell into decline and became the smallest of the four ancient grammar schools of Cheshire. During the early 19th century, the feoffees and the headmaster began legal action in a dispute over the headmaster's salary, and eventually wider mismanagement. The case went to the Court of Chancery and took decades to resolve, sapping much of the school's strength.
In the early 20th century, three financial decisions radically changed the character of the school, by then generally referred to as Sir John Deane's Grammar School or Northwich Grammar School. Firstly, it received a generous 350th anniversary benefaction from Sir John Brunner, allowing the governors to construct new buildings on its current riverside site. Secondly, the feoffees made poor investment decisions, culminating in the sale of property in Chester, that later became a high-value shopping district. Thirdly, they decided that in view of the school's long-term financial weakness, the original mandate was best fulfilled by entering the state system. The school came under the auspices of Cheshire County Council as the boys' grammar school for the Northwich area. For some time it continued to have boarders in Riversdale (an old house), which also functioned at times as the headmaster's house. This phase ended in 1977, when RoSLA and the County Council's policy of comprehensive education saw Northwich move from selective, single-sex 11–18 schools to comprehensive mixed 11–16 schools with Sir John Deane's becoming the town's sixth form college.
Echoes of the College's history remain today. Sir John Deane is commemorated in an annual Founder's Day service at St Helen's, usually in October. A large portrait of Sir John Brunner hangs in the College Canteen. There are also subtler signs, such as the fine original buildings, the presence of a flourishing boat club in a state school, and the distinctive college arms.
The College today
Sir John Deane's College re-established itself as a voluntary controlled sixth form college in September 1978. It is a single site campus, parallel to the River Weaver; the college is around half a mile away from Northwich town centre, in the unitary authority of Cheshire West and Chester. The college provides various qualifications. The college's main aim is to provide advanced level courses for full-time students aged from between 16 to 18. In 1998, the college introduced its part-time adult courses. This initiative has seen high interest in recent years with over 1,600 adults taking part in courses during the 2002/2003 academic year.
In the last Ofsted inspection, the Inspectors gave the college's quality of provision outstanding in all of the curriculum areas inspected. The inspectors also noted that the colleges overall retention and pass rates are very high and are significantly above the national averages for other sixth form colleges.
The College underwent a £28m demolition and extension programme. The new college was finished in late 2010 and fully opened in early 2011,with each department having its own area in the new building with the original being used for a new canteen and student services.
The college also has leisure facilities, including an outdoor astroturf pitch, football and rugby pitches, tennis courts, a sports hall and a swimming pool.
The college has Partner High schools, namely: Rudheath Community High School, Middlewich High School, Weaverham High School, Hartford High School, County High School Leftwich. These schools do not have their own sixth forms. Students applying from these schools usually receive conditional offers based on their GCSE results. Details of entry requirements will be discussed with Partner High school students when senior staff from the College visit their schools in the Autumn Term of their Year 11.
The college allows applications from students attending other schools in Cheshire and beyond, and each year over three hundred such applications are accepted. Before 2006, the college dealt with applications in the order in which they were received. The college reserves the right to close its lists when numbers reach a certain limit, and that after that time, applications will only be accepted provisionally until final numbers are known in September. This practice is reviewed annually. All students will be advised in the course of their application interview on entry requirements, but as a general guide, should obtain six or more GCSE subjects at grade C and above, with at least two at grade B. Or if from a non-partner high school four B grades and two C grades should be achieved.
The College would normally expect students to achieve Grade Bs in each of the subjects to be study at A Level, or in a related subject.
Old Wittonians and former schoolmasters
Old boys of the Grammar School are referred to as 'Old Wittonians', also the name of the school magazine, and this is used for old members of the College. Notable men linked associated with the school (Old Wittonians unless noted) include:
- Sir John Berkenhead, Cavalier journalist, poet and politician
- Sir George Cory, 19th/20th century chemist and historian, taught at the school sometime between 1884 and 1886.
- Gareth Ellis, comedian, half of double-act Ellis & Rose
- John Greenway MP, 20th/21st century Conservative politician for Ryedale
- Eaton Hodgkinson, a 19th century engineer, had a brief and unhappy time at the school
- Philip Holland, 20th century Conservative politician
- Charles James Hughes JP, pioneer of Association Football, co-founder of Northwich Victoria F.C., FA Cup Finals referee.
- Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Hull North
- Phil Leeson, 20th century development economist and Communist activist
- Dr Terence Melia CBE, Chairman of the Learning and Skills Development Agency from 2000–3
- Nathan Paget, 17th century physician and Puritan activist
- Thomas Pierson, 17th century conformist Puritan presbyter
- John Sharps, 20th century Gaskell scholar
- Sir Brian Smith CBE, Freeman of the City of London
- Richard Steele, 17th century Presbyterian minister and Puritan writer, buried at Great St Bartholomew's)
- Stuart Thompson, 21st century engineer on the Three Gorges Dam
- Robert Westall, 20th century children's author and longstanding Head of Art at the school, wrote a short story entitled Sir John Deane's in 2010. In 2007, the manuscript was displayed at the Weaver Hall Museum, a few minutes' walk from the College.
- Percy Young, 20th century writer and musicologist
- Edwin Haslam, author
- Martin Edwards, crime novelist
- Sir John Deane's Official Website
- Ofsted Report 2003
- Extracts from the Old Wittonian , 1904–07
- Photos of the 1907 building, including the war memorial
- Photos of the campus, with memories of the school in the 1970s
- Northwich Guardian series on the school in the 1940s
References and Bibliography
- Carlisle, Nicholas (1818). A Concise Description of the Endowed Grammar Schools in England and Wales. London: Baldwin, Cradock and Joy. pp. 129–136. ISBN 0-85546-186-1. The bold text in the quotation represents small capitals in the original.
- In the 16th century, the title indicated a presbyter with a university degree, rather than a knight. In today's language, he would be the Rev'd John Deane, MA.
- In 1893, Old Wittonians placed a brass in Sir John's memory in his former parish church. See A.E.Daniell (n.d. ). "St Bartholomew-the-Great [from: London City Churches]". Rahere's Garden: The History & Personalities of St Bartholomew-the-Great. anon [Charles Scribner's Sons]. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
- "Old Cheshire Christmas Customs". Cheshire Magazine. n.d.
- Cox, Marjorie; L. A. Hopkins (supplementary chapter) (1975). A History of Sir John Deane's Grammar School, Northwich, 1557–1908; with a chapter on later developments since 1908. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-1282-1.
- Margaret Crum (1971). "Review". The Review of English Studies. NS 22 (85): 81–83. JSTOR 512036., p.81.
- See the section Old Wittonians, above.
- An early stage of proceedings is described in George Moody (ed.) (1844). "Law Reports: Attorney-General v. Barker". English Journal of Education II: 81–83.
- These properties were noted for their value even in 1818 (see Carlisle, op.cit.).
- "Information about Admissions". Sir John Deane's College website. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- "Is there an Old Wittonian Society?". Northwich Guardian. 7 May 2003.
- See extracts linked above.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, loc.cit.
- "Is there an Old Wittonian Society?". Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- Pat Devine (13 May 2006). "Phil Leeson: Development economist passionate about communicating ideas". The Guardian.
- Alan Shelston (31 January 2006). "John Geoffrey Sharps". The Guardian.
- Peter Kingston (20 June 2006). "Dam and Blast". The Guardian.
- Nigel Fortune (21 May 2003). "Percy M Young". The Guardian.
- Read, John William (1864). Witton: Tales of a Grammar School. London: Stevenson.
- Webb, Edward Alfred (1921). The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and of the Church and Parish of St Bartholomew the Great. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 300–303.
- Weston, ed, John (1885 (1st ed.), 1899 (2nd ed.)). Witton Grammar School, The original statutes of the founder, A.D. 1558, and the schemes and rules of the Endowed Schools Commission for its future management, 1874 and 1895. Northwich: Governors of Witton Grammar School. Check date values in: