Wilson's School

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Wilson's Academy School
Motto Non sibi sed omnibus
(Not for oneself but for all)
Established 1615
Type Grammar, Academy
Head Nathan Cole
Deputy Head Tim Lissimore
Chairman Steve Wisson
Founder Edward Wilson
Location Mollison Drive
Coordinates: 51°21′31″N 0°07′41″W / 51.3586°N 0.1281°W / 51.3586; -0.1281
DfE number 319/5400
DfE URN 136621 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students c. 1,100 students
Gender Boys
Ages 11–18
Houses Brecon, Camberwell, Datchelor, Greencoat, Hayes, Southwark

Black, White and Gold

Publication Omnibus, Weekly Update and The Wilsonian
Website Wilson's School Website

Wilson's School is a boys' academy school in Wallington in the London Borough of Sutton. The school educates approximately 1,100 pupils, with entry by academic selection based on performance in an entrance examination.

It was founded as Wilson's Grammar School in Camberwell in 1615, making it one of the country's oldest state schools. Wilson's moved to its present location on part of the site of the former Croydon Airport in 1975. The school became voluntary aided in 1997 and an Academy in June 2011.

Academic performance[edit]

GCSE and A level results place Wilson's School among the highest performing schools in the United Kingdom.[1]

The school's last Ofsted report[2] (undertaken before the school converted to an academy) rated the school as Grade 1 (outstanding) in all 38 of the target areas. The report begins:

"Wilson's is an outstanding school that deserves its high reputation. This is how the school sees itself, a view shared by the vast majority of the large number of parents who responded to the inspection questionnaire. One parent summed up the school well by noting of their son, 'Wilson's has helped him realise his potential and given him a lifelong love for learning.'"



The Old Buildings, showing the West House, as it was rebuilt in 1687, viewed from the south

The school was founded by Edward Wilson in 1615 and was located in Camberwell, now part of Greater London but at that time a small village of cottages, homesteads, inns and larger buildings grouped around a village green. Wilson was born around 1550 in Cartmel, Lancashire, which had its own grammar school, from where he passed on to Cambridge University. No record remains of him taking a degree, although it is known that he went into the Church, being appointed Deacon at Ely in Norfolk in 1576. He subsequently became Vicar of the Parish of Camberwell, which was presented to him by the Queen in person. This would indicate that he favoured the settlement of the Church of England which Elizabeth I was resolved to make. His nephew Peter Danson became a governor of the new school at its founding. Danson was also vicar of Carshalton in Surrey, only one mile from the present site of the school. A further member of the Wilson family, a namesake of Edward Wilson, is named in the Charter of the School as the Master.

After his wife died, and having had no children, he decided to set up a school using his available resources to create a legacy- saying in the royal charter that for all time there would be a school in Camberwell named after him. At the time, the establishment of a grammar school in England required the assent of the crown. This was obtained after the first school buildings were constructed. The original Charter bearing this assent has since been lost, although in 1929 the governors of the school obtained a certified extract from the Patent Rolls. This requirement for the agreement of the Crown explains the legend "Founded in 1615 by Royal Charter" that appears in various places beneath the school name. The Charter was granted by King James I, who had succeeded his cousin Elizabeth by this time.

The charter names the school as "The Free Grammar School of Edward Wilson, clerk, in Camberwell, otherwise Camerwell, in the County of Surrey."[3]


Wilson's Grammar School in Camberwell

In 1845 the school was forced to close as a result of a financial scandal. This was the result of Governor James Goulston, who sued the school. Following an Order in Council of Queen Victoria in 1880, which superseded the previous Royal Charter, the school was rebuilt on a different site in Camberwell, opening in 1883. It again catered to the need for schooling of boys in Camberwell, which by this time had grown considerably from its rustic origins. Its working population largely consisted of men working in the professions, clerks, journalists, tradesmen and labourers.[3] Naturally, a grammar school provided an asset to the neighbourhood, with the prospect for boys to go on to University education.

For five and a half years during the Second World War, Wilson's was evacuated to a Camp School at Itchingfield near Horsham, Sussex, and for the only period in its history became a boarding school. The whole compound stood around a broad elliptical area, set in large part to grass and the remainder, an asphalt quadrangle. Radiating from this central area, in spoke-like fashion, was a series of large cedarwood huts. These were the dormitories, ablution blocks and classrooms. Two larger buildings stood adjacent to the asphalted space, one the dining hall and the other the assembly hall which also functioned as the gym, cinema and church. The whole establishment catered for four hundred plus boys forming six houses, all named after past headmasters of the school, Nairn, Macdowell, Wilson, Kelly, Whiteley and Jephson. The Head Master of Christ's Hospital was kind enough to allow Wilson's the use of the school's cricket pitches, swimming bath and other facilities, including the Great Hall for Speech Day.[3]

In 1958, an elementary school in Camberwell known as the Greencoat School was closed after a 250-year history and part of its assets passed to Wilson's Grammar School. The funds were used to provide a new science facility, the Greencoat Building,[4] which was constructed opposite the main school site in Wilson Road. Two carved figures of a boy and a girl which are believed to have stood over the boys' and girls' entrances to the school were installed first in the Greencoat Building, and later in the Greencoat Courtyard in the new school at Wallington.

While information on pupils taught at the school before 1843 has been lost, Wilson's has a long list of noted Old Boys across the fields of entertainment, science, the military and the church. A Short History of Wilson's School,[3] from which much of the information below was taken, was first published in 1951; its most recent edition was in 1987.


In 1975 the school moved to the current site. A three part plan for expansion only saw part one carried out, though subsequent construction has occurred such as the building of additional science blocks, the Sixth Form Centre, the Foundation Building, the Venner Building (for Art and Design), the Mary Datchelor Wing (which houses the Music Department) and a new Lower School (to accommodate Year 7 and 8 teaching).

The school site is very large and includes a dozen Astro football pitches available to pupils at lunchtimes.

School Coat of Arms and Badge[edit]


From 1883 the school was accustomed to use as a coat of arms the version of the Wilson shield used by Edward Wilson, probably without authority. In 1985 the then Chairman of Governors, Lt. Col. W. R. Bowden, obtained a Grant of Arms from the College of Arms. The new officially authorised Arms introduced to the previous form a silver bar between the wolf and the objects above, together with a gold border. Additionally, a crest is added above the helm in the form of a black wolf holding a silver fleur-de-lys in his paws with a black and gold mantle.[3]

The blazon reads: "Sable a Wolf Salient Or and a Barrulet enhanced Argent in chief a Fleur de Lys also Argent between two Bezants all within a Bordure Gold And for the Crest upon a Helm with a Wreath Or and Sable a demi Wolf Salient Sable holding between its paws an Ogress charged with a Fleur de Lys Argent Mantled Sable doubled Or."

The Grant of Arms also gives the rights to a badge, defined as "Within a voided Hexagon Sable charged with three Fleur de Lys Argent and three Bezants a Wolf salient Sable armed and langued Gules."[3] A lapel badge of this design is worn by senior prefects.


Each pupil is allocated to one of the houses upon entry to the school. In 1981, four new houses (Brecon, Camberwell, Greencoat and Hayes) replaced the previous six[3] (Jephson, Kelly, McDowell, Nairne, Whiteley, Wilson). Southwark was added in 2002, when the school became five form entry. In 2014, the six house structure was restored with the advent of Datchelor.[5] Students in the same year in the same house are in the same form, and have registration, form period and lessons in Years 7 and 8 together. House points are awarded for academic, sporting and extracurricular success; all members of the staff are allocated to Houses; all students in years 7 and 8 wear a lapel badge of their house shield, students in years 9-11 wear a tie with an extra band on it in the colour of their house.

There are currently six houses in the school,[6] corresponding to the six forms of entry. The sixth house, called Datchelor, was introduced in September 2014. They are:

BRECON takes its name from the Brecon Beacons, originally the venue for the field-study trips taken by the majority of Year 7 students and Geography students. Colour: red. Motto: Y DDRAIG GOCH DYRY CYCHWYN ("The Red Dragon goes on and on" – the unofficial national motto of Wales).
CAMBERWELL This house is named after the school's original location in south-east London; the phoenix refers to the school's rebirth in 1883 and again in 1975. Colour: blue. Motto: VIVAT REDIVIVA ("Live Again Live Forever")
DATCHELOR Named after Mary Datchelor School, a girls' grammar school in Camberwell which closed in 1982. Some of the school's assets passed to Wilson's, enabling the Mary Datchelor wing to be built. The 19th century painting 'Scholarship Crowning Endeavour' in the Hall is from the Datchelor school hall. Colour: orange. Motto: NON SINE PULVERE PALMA ("No Palm Without Dust")
GREENCOAT named after the Greencoat School. The Greencoat Courtyard houses the sculpted figures of two schoolchildren from Greencoat School. Colour: green. Motto: VIROR VIRES VIRTUS ("Green our strength and courage")
HAYES takes its name from the school's alumni sports club, the Old Wilsonians' Association, located in Hayes, Kent. Colour: yellow. Motto: OMNIBUS QUISQUE CUIQUE OMNES (" All For One And One For All")
SOUTHWARK refers to the Church of England's Diocese of Southwark, with which the school has historical links and which has representatives on the school's Board of Governors. The design is taken from a mediaeval ceiling boss in Southwark Cathedral that shows the Devil eating Judas Iscariot. Colour: purple. Motto: MODO MODO INCEPTUM ("We have only just begun")


Art and Design Technology buildings, with Foundation Building to right

The School Uniform consists of a white shirt, grey or black trousers, and black blazer emblazoned with the school badge on the left chest pocket.[7] The tie is black with alternating thin white and yellow stripes of equal width.

Traditionally, Sixth Form students were differentiated from the lower years by wearing a black tie variant featuring a repeated small version of the school crest. There was also a prefect tie issued which reverted to stripes – in this case a black tie with alternating blocks of silver white flanked by two thin yellow bands. The prefect tie has recently changed, becoming a black tie with small school crests distributed across material.

Currently however, Sixth Form students are permitted to wear lounge suits or dark jackets, collar and tie with the option of jumpers if necessary.

In addition to this, members of the CCF are allowed (and generally expected) to wear their uniform on Tuesdays, in preparation for parade in the evenings, though they may wear slightly different dress during the day. Furthermore, NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) in the CCF may wear a special tie, either a tie in the colours of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment (in the case of members of the Army section), or a tie in the colours of the Royal Air Force (in the case of members of the RAF section).

Music and drama[edit]

The school considers music to play a vital role in the cultural life of the school.[8] In 2013 the school introduced a programme of free vocal tuition or specialist instrumental tuition on a wind instrument for every pupil in Year 7.

Musical ensembles range from those for more advanced players (including Senior Orchestra, Chamber Ensemble, and Wind Band) to a range of smaller ensembles catering for every instrumentalist. There is a Senior Choir and a Junior Choir (which combine for school events to form an ensemble of up to 90 singers) as well as a Chamber Choir. The Music Department has three full-time staff and a team of fifteen peripatetic teachers (many of whom run and support ensembles). There are concerts and performances throughout the year, including events held jointly with Wallington High School for Girls.

There is generally one senior drama production per year,[9] produced under the company name Shock Tactics. This goes back to 1997 when the then Headmaster bowed to pressure from a small number of parents who objected to the play ’Tis Pity She’s A Whore[10] by John Ford being produced in school; the production team responded to the ban by taking the show out to a local theatre and performing not as Wilson’s School but as ‘Shock Tactics’. The following year at the same theatre they presented Ghetto[11] by Joshua Sobol. Since then, productions have returned to the school, but the Shock Tactics moniker has remained.

Collaboration between Music and Drama departments has yielded a range of productions. In recent years this has included a senior musical production of High Society, as well as performances of William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, Twelfth Night, and Macbeth and Alan Bennett's The Madness of King George. Junior Productions have included Fiddler on the Roof and Beauty and the Beast.


The original School statutes state that "The scholars play to be Shooting in long bows; chess; running, wrestling and leaping, &c..."[3]


In more modern times, the school's main sport is Association Football. Wilson's has six teams at Under 19 level and two teams for every age group from Under 12s (the Under 12s also have C,D E and F teams) to Under 16s. Football is compulsory in physical education throughout much of the season during a pupil’s early years at the school. In 2007 the 1st XI won the U19 Surrey Cup but lost to Millfield School in the semi-finals of the National Championship.[3]


There is a team for every year group up until Year 11 when there is a first, second and often a third team. The school competes against local schools on Saturdays and there is first team tour every two years. The school also runs a cricket tour to Barbados, the last of which was from July 14–24, 2013.

Recently, in 2011, Wilson's won the award for being the best state school cricket team in Surrey. This, mainly, is due to the success of the then Under 15 team, which in their time reached 5 semi finals, losing on every occasion, with the exception of one, to Whitgift School. The team, who arrived at the school in September 2007, is widely considered to be the best ever to have represented Wilson's School. In one semi final, having scored 100 off their 20 overs, Whitgift were reduced to 28 for 5 off 7 Overs, but went on to win by 5 wickets. Notable cricketers to have played for the school recently include Sameer Khan, Benjamin Flook and Sam Wright.

The 1st XI also recently embarked on a successful tour to Barbados, where they won 4 out of their 6 fixtures including a notable win over the Dominica Under 19 XI.


Alongside cricket, athletics is also popular. During the summer term, the school partakes in many track and field events; these include 100m to 1500m races, hurdles, javelin, shot put, long jump, high jump, triple jump and discus. [12]


The school was designated an Academy School by Badminton England in February 2006. The six boys considered best in Badminton from years 8 to 12 receive specialist coaching and there is an after-school club for years 7 and 8 on Mondays and for years 9 and above on Fridays. The school is home for the Chadacre Badminton club, one of the top clubs in the county at senior level.[13]

Swimming and Water Polo

Swimming was first brought in as an organised activity in 1883, using private facilities in Peckham and then Kennington, as no public baths were available in Camberwell until 1892. Masters of this early era include Mr M. Holbein, a channel swimmer, and Mr Cavill, credited by many of being the first to bring the front crawl to Britain from Australia.[3]

However, it was not until the establishment of the new premises in Sutton, which included a half-Olympic sized swimming pool, that the school gained a national reputation for watersports. This was largely due to the keen involvement of the coach of a local club, who fed budding Wilson's water polo players through to develop their skills at Sutton and Cheam, a local club.[14] By 1976, the school was competing internationally in swimming and provided half of Sutton's team for a gala in Berlin for that year and the next. Four boys were representing the country and the school came second in the 1977 English School Swimming Association Trials.[3]

During this time, several water polo internationals were produced, including members of Welsh and English teams. More recently, the under 14 side came third in the National Schools Competition at Grantham in 1999. In 2000 the under-15 side won the London League. In 2001 Wilson's took a bronze medal at the under-14 national competition.

Table Tennis

The under-19s are ranked fourth nationally, having won the Surrey Cup, the National Schools Area Tournament and were runners up in the National Regional Tournament.[15]

Rugby Union

Rugby was first introduced to the school in 1886, although it has not been continuously played since then. It was revived in 1921, in the 1960s, 1980s[3] and has continued since a further revival in the mid-1990s. This reflects its status as a secondary game in the school; indeed, the existence of the 1st XV and other teams has not always been well known in the school. In the academic year 2008–2009 Wilson's entered three teams to the Mitcham Bulls League (Yr8, Yr10 and the 1st XV comprising mostly Lower sixth and Yr 11 students). All three leagues were won, and between them only 2 games were lost all season.[16]

Rugby League

Rugby League is not played at the school, but the Rugby Union teams are often entered into Rugby League tournaments, with mixed success. The best result was when the 1st XV (playing League) reached the finals of a competition for the South of England but lost to a last minute drop goal: which was ironic, since a criticism of Union is that kicking and drop-goals are too important.

Combined Cadet Force[edit]

The Foundation Building, with Sixth Form Centre to right

Wilson's School CCF was established in 1910 as an Army Officer Training Corps on the original Camberwell site by a teacher, Captain Edmonds. It continued to flourish after the school's move to Wallington under the leadership of Maj. Chris Burton, and is now a Combined Cadet Force with Army and RAF sections, the latter introduced in 1964. The corps is inspected every two years, goes on annual Army and RAF camps, and is regularly appraised at a standard well above the average for school CCFs.

In 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Wilson's School RAF section of the CCF reached the National Final of the Air Squadron Trophy and in 2014 gained third place overall- the biggest achievement thus far in the school's history. In the 2014 the team came 1st in the regionals being placed in the top 3 for each disciplines. The 2014 team lead by CWO Anandakumar, consists of: F/Sgt Turner, Sgt Kingsnorth, Sgt Smith, Cpl Padhi, Cpl Godwin, Cpl Robertson,L/Cpl Lewis, L/Cpl Jacobs, L/Cpl Gotts, Cdt Carr, Cdt Moore, Cdt Pal and Cdt Hyatt. Former cadets have gained prestigious scholarships from the Army and Royal Air Force which are very tough to obtain. The current Head NCO for each section are RSM Jack Bolt for the Army, and WO Neresh Anandakumar for the RAF section, taking over from CSM. Oliver Rooke and F/Sgt Craig Threadgold respectively.[dubious ]

Current Senior NCO'S:

Army- RSM Jack Bolt, 2I/C CSM Rory McNevin

RAF- CWO Neresh Anandakumar, 2I/C F/Sgt Peter Turner

Scholarships attained thus far:

Jonathan Hicks- RMA Sandhurst Military Scholar. Ex student, School Captain, Ex Head SNCO (Army) of Wilson's School CCF .
Edward Hicks- RMA Sandhurst Military Scholar. ex student, Ex second in charge SNCO (Army) of Wilson's School CCF.
Guy Morgan- Provisional RAF Scholar. Ex Student, Ex Head SNCO(RAF)of Wilson's School CCF.
Neresh Anandakumar- Provisional RAF Scholar. Student, House Captain (Brecon),current Head SNCO (RAF) of Wilson's School CCF.
Rory McNevin- Provisional RMA Sandhurst Military scholar. Student, current second in charge SNCO (Army) of Wilson's School CCF.
Harry Rogers- Provisional RMA Sandhurst Military scholar. Student.
Kyricos Theopolos- Provisional RMA Sandhurst Military scholar. Student.


Chess Club[edit]

Chess Club runs at lunchtimes and supports the school's very successful chess teams, which contain several players who play for England in their age groups. Wilson's runs the largest secondary school chess club in the UK,[18] with over 200 pupils involved.

The school also runs chess tournaments including individual, form (for house) and inter school events. This is not counting County matches which may be played in the school.

James West was crowned Wilson's Chess Champion after five consecutive victories. An achievement that remains historic in the Wilsons records.

Maths activities[edit]

As well as doing GCSE, AS and A level maths, Wilsons runs a Hans Woyda team, enters the Team Maths Challenges as well as the Junior, Intermediate and Senior maths challenges, with several pupils from each year getting through. It also runs maths masterclasses for pupils around the area in Years 6 and 9.

KD Clubs[edit]

Further clubs and activities available to pupils include: WASA, Lower School Debating, Upper School Debating, Book Club, Medical Club, Free-thinkers club, History Club and Biology reading club. A recent addition is 'Top Floor Club,' where Year 13 History, Philosophy and Politics students present a topic of interest on Tuesday lunch times. The biggest audience so far has been a remarkable 34 people where the talk was delivered by an exceptionally notable and talented historian and orator.


Wilson's has achieved Eco-Schools status (bronze).[19] The goal is for the project to grow within the school and involve all students with representatives from every year group which is one of their ongoing projects.

Old Boys[edit]

Class lists from 1615 to 1843 have been lost, making it impossible to record with absolute certainty those who rose to fame in that period. However, A Short History[3] notes that James Tyrrell, grandson of Archbishop Usher and author of A General History of England and other works, is known to have been a pupil in the middle of the seventeenth century.

Noted Old Boys include:

Entertainment and Sport

  • Sir Michael Caine (Maurice Joseph Micklewhite), actor.[20] Caine wrote of his dislike of his time at Wilson's, which was still in Camberwell during that period, in his autobiography "What's It All About?". However, he also states that his English teacher, Eric Watson "took the trouble to guide my rebellious mind into the area of literature."
  • Simon Furman, comic book writer
  • Stephen Jenkins, stage name Stephen Beckett, actor with regular roles in Coronation Street and The Bill[21]
  • Andrew Kazamia, actor with a regular role in London's Burning, playwright and film-maker[22]
  • Tom Abbott, presenter and commentator for US television network The Golf Channel.
  • Chris Cohen, comedy songwriter who works for ESPN and Chelsea FC TV
  • Trevor Keith Charles Aylottt, Footballer. Played for Chelsea, Barnsley, Millwall, Luton Town, Crystal Palace, A.F.C. Bournemouth, Birmingham City, Oxford United and Gillingham.
  • Andy Scott, professional footballer and manager[23]

Arts, Humanities and Politics


  • Capt. Harold Auten, VC, DSC, RD, "Q-Ship" commander in the First World War,[20] author of ""Q" Boat Adventures" and later executive Vice-President of the Rank Organisation[20]
  • Sir Alan Cobham, KBE, AFC, pioneer aviator (first flight from Britain to Australia in 1926 and pioneer of air-to-air refuelling).[20] Curiously, his flight to Australia was from Croydon Airport, the site of which is the present location of the School.


Industry and Government



An exhaustive list is to be found in Appendix A of "A Short History of Wilson's School".[3] The following are particular highlights from this. Dates are of their governorships.


  1. ^ Template:Http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/leaguetables/11035952/A-level-results-2014-results-from-400-state-schools.html
  2. ^ Wilson's OFSTED Report, 2007[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Allport, D.H.; Friskney, N.J. (1987), A Short History of Wilson's School, Wilson's School Charitable Trust 
  4. ^ http://www.wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ http://www.wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Wilson's School – The House System". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Template:Http://wilsonsmusic.wix.com/index
  9. ^ "Wilson's School Drama Productions". Shock Tactics. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "’Tis Pity She's A Whore – 'Tis Pity She's A Whore". Shock Tactics. 2 August 1997. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Ghetto – Ghetto". Shock Tactics. 13 February 1998. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "Wilson's School – Athletics". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  13. ^ "Wilson's School – Badminton". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "Wilson's School – Water Polo". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "Wilson's School – Table Tennis". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  16. ^ "Wilson's School – Rugby". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "Wilson's School – CCF". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Wilson's School – Chess". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  19. ^ "Wilson's School – Eco-Schools". Wilsonsschool.sutton.sch.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i Photographs printed in "A Short History of Wilson's School" pp 227–234.
  21. ^ Stephen Beckett
  22. ^ Andrew Kazamia
  23. ^ Brentford Official Matchday Magazine versus Brighton & Hove Albion 22/08/98. Blackheath: Morganprint. 1998. p. 16. 
  24. ^ "Professor Peter Walcot (1931–2009)". Cardiff.ac.uk. 18 April 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  25. ^ "Is Harry on the Boat?". En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  26. ^ http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0080-4606(195611)2%3C100%3ALLF1%3E2.0.CO%3B2-7
  27. ^ "Person Page 20974". thePeerage.com. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  28. ^ "A Short History of Wilson's School" p 259.


External links[edit]