Ackworth School

Coordinates: 53°38′56″N 1°20′04″W / 53.64875°N 1.33446°W / 53.64875; -1.33446
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Ackworth School

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Coordinates53°38′56″N 1°20′04″W / 53.64875°N 1.33446°W / 53.64875; -1.33446
MottoNon sibi sed omnibus
(Not for oneself but for all)
Religious affiliation(s)Religious Society of Friends
Established1779; 245 years ago (1779)
Department for Education URN108300 Tables
HeadMartyn Beer
Age2 to 18
Enrolmentapprox. 500 as of 2016
The School

Ackworth School is an independent day and boarding school located in the village of High Ackworth, near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England. It is one of seven Quaker schools in England. The school (or more accurately its Head) is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference[1] and SHMIS.[2] The Head is Martyn Beer, who took over in April 2024. The Senior Deputy Head is Nancy Newlands-Melvin.[3]

The school has a nursery that takes children aged 2 1/2 to 4, a Junior School (known as Coram House) that takes children age 5 to 11, and the Senior School for students aged 11 to 18. The boarding facilities cater for pupils from 11 years of age.

Originally it was a boarding school for Quaker children. Today most of the school's pupils are day pupils. There are more than 25 different nationalities in the boarding houses.

Most of today's pupils are not Quakers, but the school retains a strong Quaker ethos and is able to offer means-tested Bursary awards to children from Quaker and non-Quaker families. There is a very short Quaker-style silence at assembly and before meals. Once a week the School meets for a longer Meeting for Worship.


The school was founded by John Fothergill and others in 1779 as a boarding school for Quaker boys and girls. Prior to the school's foundation, the buildings housed a foundling hospital created by Thomas Coram.[4]

School life[edit]


The school has four houses: Woolman, Gurney, Penn and Fothergill. Penn, Gurney and Woolman were all famous Quakers, and John Fothergill was the founder of the school. Every pupil is assigned to one of the four houses at the start of their time at the school for inter-house events, which include sport, music, drama, poetry and art.

Students are also divided for meals according to their houses.


The school uniform consists of grey trousers, grey socks, light blue shirt, navy school tie, and navy-blue blazer for boys, and navy skirt, blue-and-white-striped blouse, and navy blazer for girls.

The sixth form students wear their own suitable 'business style' clothing.


The school has a strong musical tradition. In 1995, a purpose-built music facility was built on the site of one of the old boarding houses, comprising a recital hall with seating for 180, 14 practice rooms, 2 classrooms, a music library and a recording studio.[5] Summer schools are sometimes held there during school holidays.

In January 2019, Ackworth School became the 15th member of the All-Steinway Group of Schools.


Boarders live together in an amalgamated boarding house. Until 1997, the school timetable included Saturday morning lessons, leaving Wednesday afternoons free, providing a more-balanced week for boarders. The changing demographic of the school has led to this being phased out.

Sixth Form[edit]

Sixth formers have free periods during which they are encouraged to study.

Charity Week[edit]

Each year in the week before October half term is Ackworth's Charity Week. Two charities, one national and one international, are chosen for which the school then raises money through a series of events. Included within these events are cake stalls, auctions, concerts and the sale of doughnuts and hot dogs. One event involves putting sixth formers in stocks and allowing younger students to throw water at them.

One of the most-popular events of Charity Week is the staff/sixth-form entertainment.[citation needed] The sixth form and certain members of staff are encouraged to prepare a series of sketches to entertain younger students. In the middle of the event, a fund-raising activity occurs, where the sixth form raise money from the other students.

On 18 October the school celebrates Founder's Day, the day on which in 1779 the school was founded. The whole school gathers in the Meeting House and sings the Founder's Day Hymn before each year group departs on a day trip, usually a walk.

Union with other Quaker schools[edit]

In 2007, the National Quaker Choral Festival was held at the school, where pupils from Quakers schools all over England came to sing in a large choir to Karl Jenkins' "The Armed Man".

On 28 March 2009, the Bridge Film Festival — which had been held at Brooklyn Friends School, located in Brooklyn, New York, for the last nine years — was held at the school. It is a Quaker film festival in which students make a film which is judged and prizes are awarded. The school entered the 2008 festival, sending several students to Brooklyn Friends School to witness the festival. For the 2009 festival, student Simon Waldock prepared a film about the history of the school; the film involved an interview with a former scholar from the 1950s.[6] The film did not win but was commended by judges.

Notable alumni[edit]

The school's former pupils are called Ackworth Old Scholars. There is an active Old Scholars Association,[7] with an annual Easter gathering in the school. Notable Old Scholars include:


Coat of arms of Ackworth School
Granted 15 December 1959
Issuant from a coronet composed of four roses Argent barbed and seeded Proper set upon a rim Or a mount Vert thereon a lamb statant in the mouth a sprig of thyme leaved and flowered also Proper.
Azure on a chevron Argent between three acorns slipped also Argent a chevron Sable thereon as many roses likewise Argent barbed and seeded Proper.
Non Sibi Sed Omnibus [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "HMC Schools A -C" Archived 10 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine; Headmasters' & Headmistresses' Conference. Retrieved 3 June 2012
  2. ^ "SHMIS Member Schools"; Internet Archive, SHMIS. Retrieved 3 June 2012
  3. ^ "Senior Management Team | Ackworth School". Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  4. ^ The History of Ackworth School.
  5. ^ "Music". Ackworth School. Archived from the original on 22 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  6. ^ Ackworth School's entry for the 2009 Bridge Film Festival
  7. ^ Old Scholars Association
  8. ^ "Robson [née Stephenson], Elizabeth (1771–1843), Quaker minister". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/47058. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Ackworth School". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ackworth School Annual Reports.
  • Ackworth School, Then and Now: Ackworth School Bicentenary Exhibition Catalogue. (Pub. 1979).
  • Alphabetical list of scholars 1779–1979. Prepared by Arthur G. Olver, typescript.
  • The Cupola: The Ackworth School Magazine, West Yorkshire Archives, Wakefield.
  • Foulds, V.E. (1991). Ackworth School.
  • Foulds, V.E. (1979). So Numerous a Family: 200 Years of Quaker Education at Ackworth.
  • Thompson, H. (1879). A History of Ackworth School.
  • Vipont, Elfrida (1959). Ackworth School: from its Foundation in 1779 to the Introduction of Co-Education in 1946. Lutterworth Press (London).
  • Linney, Geo. F. (1853). The History of Ackworth School.

External links[edit]