William Ellis School
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|Motto||Rather Use Than Fame|
|Type||Voluntary Aided Trust School|
|Chair of the Governors||Fiona Millar|
|Local authority||London Borough of Camden|
|DfE URN||100056 Tables|
|Staff||95 teaching, 30 support|
|Colours||Blue & Gold (Year 7-9) & Black(Year 10-11)|
|Alumni Society||The Old Elysians Club|
- 1 Admissions
- 2 History
- 3 Headmasters since 1862
- 4 Involvement in La Swap Sixth Form Consortium
- 5 Academic performance
- 6 Notable former pupils
- 7 References
The School's motto is 'Rather Use Than Fame'. The school is over-subscribed, usually an indicator of a popular school. It is situated just west of Parliament Hill and north of Gospel Oak railway station. It is next to Parliament Hill School, a girls' school.
The school's founder, William Ellis (not to be confused with the inventor of rugby football, William Webb Ellis) was a public-spirited businessman. In the mid-19th century, Ellis founded a number of schools and inspired many teachers to promote his educational ideas. Ellis wanted children to be taught "useful" subjects such as science (including "Social Science"), and to develop the faculty of reason; this was in contrast to the learning by rote of religious tracts, ancient languages and history, characterisic of many schools at the time. William Ellis School is the only one of these schools which now remains.
Foundation and development (1862-1937)
The school was established in 1862 at Gospel Oak, and was originally known as the "Gospel Oak Schools". It catered for both girls and boys of a wide age range. In 1889 the Gospel Oak Schools were reconstituted as a boys' secondary school, under the headmastership of E.B. Cumberland.
Move to current site and grammar school years (1937-1978)
In 1937 the School moved to its present site on the borders of Gospel Oak and Highgate, backing on to Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath. This was to lead to its most celebrated period, in the late 1940s to the early 1970s. A combination of its catchment area (drawing upon an intellectual North London demographic) and its status as a voluntary aided grammar school and member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference led to a period of significant educational liberality and achievement, especially under the headmasterships of F.W. Lockwood and Sydney L. Baxter.
At this time, the school displayed characteristics of traditional public schools, such as a house system; a prefect system (with prefects wearing gowns when on duty); a school song; and playing rugby football rather than soccer as the school sport. School uniform was strictly observed, with blazer colours and ties indicating Junior School, Middle School, Sixth Form and prefects; and blazers and ties could only be removed in the summer if the weather was pronounced “Officially Hot”.
It combined these traditional features with liberal educational developments such as School Committees, in which pupils discussed and helped determine aspects of school policy. Classes in each Form were labelled G, L and M (rather than A, B and C) to avoid any suggestion of rank or streaming.
The school ran its lessons on an unusual six-day timetable, so that if a Monday were Day One, the following Monday would be Day Six of the timetable, and Day One’s academic timetable would fall on the Tuesday. This provided a rotation of lessons, so that unpopular items did not always fall upon the same weekday; it also allocated a Day for the sports activities of each Form, from First to Sixth, which again did not always fall upon the same weekday. It was a matter of pride that pupils could master the Six Day timetable, and remember over weekends and vacations the Day upon which the School would recommence.
The shift to comprehensive status (1978 onwards)
Much ingenuity had gone into extending and converting the building to provide the additional classrooms and specialist accommodation required by the post-war grammar school's large sixth form. However, the school's relatively small size meant that it was not capable of becoming either an independent, or a full comprehensive school, at the point when the state withdrew funding from direct grant grammar schools. An option of the school going independent was discussed. In March 1977, a group of parents tried to get a High Court injunction to stop the governors changing its grammar school status, organised by Dudley Stanley Fox.
With the provision of better facilities for the national curriculum and for information technology the School became fully comprehensive in the years after 1978. The Queen visited the school on 7 November 1979. Fiona Millar sent both her sons, and Michael Palin and Patricia Hewitt have sent their sons to the school.
Although the adjacent Parliament Hill Fields and Kenwood were used for cross country runs, Rugby and Cricket activities were held at the School's extensive playing fields in Edgware, some seven miles away. Pupils would be ferried to and from the fields by coach on their appointed games afternoon.
Recent history (1990-present)
From 1990 the School gained greater autonomy under the Local Management of Schools scheme, and spent a devolved budget of over £13 million per year for its 1000 pupils. In 1997 the school earned Language College status under the Specialist School Scheme.
In line with this specialist status, the school requires students to study at least two languages in Key Stage 3, with a requirement for at least one to be taken at GCSE level. Languages on offer include French, German, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Bengali. In addition, the school employs a number of native-speaking language specialists, who work with students throughout the school, but particularly in coaching GCSE and A-Level candidates in advance of oral language exams. The schools Language College was removed in 2011, and cutbacks in the languages department have been made, in terms of staff members and language teaching time.
In January 2008, it was revealed that the school was in financial difficulty, following a dispute between the school and the local authority concerning a new central heating system. Consequently, the incumbent headmaster R.J. Tanton stepped down from his position. J.M. Rose (who had begun his career at the school in the 1970s, and was now Director of the Sixth Form consortium) was appointed Acting Headmaster.
The current Headmaster, Sam White, formerly Deputy Headmaster of the London Oratory School, took up his position in September 2011.
Headmasters since 1862
- Edward Teather 1862-1889
- Edward Boyce Cumberland 1889-1919 (First Headmaster of the reconstituted school)
- F. G. Firth (Acting 1917-1918)
- Major William Hathaway Davis, DSO, MC, MA
- Edgar Paul Jewitt (Acting 1928-1929)
- Dr. Thomas Crockett MA, D.Litt(Edin) 1929-1942
- Albert Edward Ball (Headmaster of North London Emergency Secondary School for Boys 1940-1945)
- Edmund Richard Martin (Acting 1942-1944)
- Francis William Lockwood MA(Cantab.) 1944-1953
- Albert Edward Ball (Acting 1953-1954)
- Sydney Leonard Baxter MA(Cantab.) 1954-1975
- R. L. Perry MA 1975-1983
- R. K. James MA 1984-1988
- Michael W. Wheale MA 1988-2002
- Richard J. Tanton BA 2002-2008
- James Malcolm Rose BA (acting) 2008
- Robert J. Cathcart LRAM 2008-2010
- Jill Hislop (interim) 2010–2011
- Sam White 2011–present
Involvement in La Swap Sixth Form Consortium
William Ellis School has a joint Sixth Form with the adjacent Parliament Hill Girls School, and all classes are coeducational. Together with La Sainte Union Catholic Secondary School and Acland Burghley School they make up the "La Swap" consortium for 16–19 education, educating around 1000 students altogether.
In the summer of 2010, 54% of William Ellis students achieved 5 A*-C grade GCSEs which is approximately equal to the UK average of 53.4%. A total of 30% achieved A*-C grades in English, maths, two science subjects, a language and history or geography. Students attending the sixth-form achieved an average A/AS point score of 605.2 which is far below the UK average of 744.8. In the summer on 2012 80% of students achieved 5 A*-C grades.
Notable former pupils
1978-present (comprehensive school period)
- Mark Bedford, bass guitarist for Madness, Robert Wyatt and Morrissey
- Geraint Bowen, Organist and Director of Music since 2001 at Hereford Cathedral
- Richard Causton, composer
- Nigel Godrich, Grammy Award-winning recording engineer and record producer
- Tim Guest, author
- Alexei de Keyser, scriptwriter
- Nicholas Russell, 6th Earl Russell
- Phil Soussan - musician, songwriter, Governing Board member of the Grammys
- Dagan Wells, biologist, director of PGD company Reprogenetics; Senior Fellow at Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Oxford
- Sean Yazbeck, The Apprentice (US Season 5), winner
- Toby Young, author
1862-1978 (early years and grammar school period)
- Tobias Abse - Lecturer in European History, Goldsmith's, University of London
- David Aaronovitch, Times journalist, and President from 1980-2 of the National Union of Students
- Daniel Battsek,Film producer, former President of Miramax Films
- Tom Bower, journalist, biographer and former BBC documentary producer
- Barry Bucknell, popularised DIY on TV
- Norman Collins, Controller of BBC TV from 1947–50, and whilst at BBC Radio created Woman's Hour in 1946
- Ken Colyer, jazz trumpeter
- Hugh Cornwell, singer-songwriter of The Stranglers
- Dickie Davies, ITV sports presenter from 1964–89
- Len Deighton, author and film maker
- Sir John Dellow CBE, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1987–91
- David Deutsch, physicist at the Clarendon Laboratory, who wrote The Fabric of Reality
- Orlando Figes, historian.
- Rodney Ian Fryer, Ph.D. Director of Medicinal Chemistry, Hoffman La Roche (1960-1985) Professor II of Chemistry, Rutgers University, (1985-2000); Co-Inventor Versed(R); Dalmane(R);
- Adam Gorb, composer, Head of School of Composition at Royal Northern College of Music
- Leonard Goodwin CMG, Director from 1964-80 of the Nuffield Laboratories at the Institute of Zoology, and who claimed to have introduced the idea of keeping hamsters as pets
- Maurice Gran, TV comedy writer for programmes such as Goodnight Sweetheart
- Michael Green (physicist), Lucasian Chair of Mathematics Cambridge University
- Sir Roy Halliday DSC, Vice Admiral and Director-General Intelligence, Defence Intelligence Staff
- Anthony A. Hyman, FRS - Molecular Cell Biologist and Director of Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics: Dresden, Germany
- Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP from 1997-2010 for North Essex and from 1992-7 for Colchester North
- Roland Levinsky, Vice-Chancellor from 2002-7 of the University of Plymouth and Hugh Greenwood Professor of Immunology at the UCL Institute of Child Health from 1985–99
- Mark Mazower, historian
- Michael J McEvoy, musician, film score composer, Soul II Soul member
- Jonathan Miller (businessman), Chief Executive from 2002-6 of AOL (only for one year)
- Eric Neville, Professor of Mathematics from 1919-54 at the University of Reading and known for Neville's algorithm
- Fred Newman (publisher), founder of Publishing News and the British Book Awards
- Andrew Sachs, actor
- Julien Temple, film maker
- Richard Thompson, singer-songwriter and guitarist
- Fred Titmus, England cricketer (53 tests) from 1955–1975, Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1963
- Neil Turok, Professor of Mathematical Physics from 1996-2008 at the University of Cambridge, and Director since 2008 of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
- "Specialist Schools Home". DfES. July 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-02.
- "Camden Journal". 28 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- "Statement from Board of Governors". 8 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-18.[dead link]
- "Secondary schools and colleges in Camden". BBC News. 12 January 2011.
- "Biography". Digital Nations. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/dagan-wells/8/20/a11 Dr. Dagan Wells, Linkdin page - accessed September 29, 2010
- http://www.oxfordfertilityunit.com/pdf/news/OFU_Overview_and_Key_People.pdf OFU Overview and Key People document - accessed September 29, 2010
- "Fred Newman". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-02-25.