Adams' Grammar School

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Adams' Grammar School
The Free Grammar School
of William Adams Esq. at Newport
in the County of Salop
Adams' Grammar School CoA.png
Motto Serve and Obey
Established 1656
Type Grammar school
Boarding school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Mr G Hickey
Deputy Headmasters Mr M Warren-Smith
Dr P Pack
Chairman of Governors Anthony Cann
Founder William Adams, Esq
Location High Street
TF10 7BD
Coordinates: 52°46′11″N 2°22′52″W / 52.7697°N 2.381°W / 52.7697; -2.381
DfE URN 137446 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 846
Gender Boys (11–16)
Co-educational (16–18)
Ages 11–18

The Novaportan

The Eighth-hour
Former pupils Old Novaportans
School Hymns Jerusalem

Adams' Grammar School (often abbreviated as 'AGS') is a selective boys' grammar school in Newport, Shropshire, England, offering day and boarding education. Founded in 1656 by William Adams, a wealthy member of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (a senior livery company of the City of London), it is now one of the country's top performing schools and was rated by the Ofsted as a Grade 1 outstanding school.[1]


Oliver Cromwell first consented to the founding of the school in Newport

Adams' was founded in 1656 by William Adams, a wealthy citizen of the City of London and a haberdasher who was born in Newport. Adams had no children and had never married, and therefore decided to leave a bequest for the foundation of the school, which was first opened on 25 March 1656, during the politically unstable and volatile period of the English Interregnum. Having received permission from Oliver Cromwell to found the school, William Adams sought to further ensure the school's continued existence by appointing the master and wardens of the Haberdashers' Company as governors in perpetuity. As one of the few schools opened during the Interregnum period, the school's terms of foundation were again confirmed upon restoration of the monarchy in 1660 by an Act of Parliament; a copy of which is held in the school archives.

Adams endowed the school with a large agricultural 900-acre (3.6 km2) estate at Knighton, in Staffordshire, with which to provide funding for its operation well into the future, as a result of this Knighton was exempt from all land taxes until 1990. This estate was eventually sold off in several portions over the course of the twentieth century, and the proceeds of the final sale were used by the Haberdashers to purchase Longford Hall as a boarding house for the school. The grammar school was initially endowed with 1400 books just after its foundation, this at the time represented one of the largest libraries in England, the average Oxbridge college then having only around 1000 books. Rather unfortunately only seven of these 1400 books are still in the hands of the school, with the rest having been sold at various times when the school has suffered financial hardship.

Adams' developed slowly, and did not expand beyond its original building, now known as Big School, until the turn of the last century when Main School (also known as the 'S-Block') was built in the 1920s. Over the course of the next 90 years Adams' expanded rapidly, acquiring a number of buildings on Lower Bar for use as boarding houses; this in turn greatly expanded the school's town centre site. In the 1960s a new science block, connected to main school was built, whilst a senior boarding master's house was created on land adjacent to Big School. During this period the school also acquired a new gymnasium, which was then subsequently converted into a theatre in the mid-2000s.

The oldest known sketch of Big School by Francis Perry, who died in 1765

After a brief spell as a grant-maintained school in the 1980s, Adams' again faced threat of closure or conversion to co-educational comprehensive status in the early 90s; this was avoided by a successful campaign, organised by parents and governors, against the wishes of Salop County Council. In the late 1990s and 2000s Adams' again began to flourish after having been awarded voluntary aided status; throughout all this the Haberdashers have been key in supporting the school and financially providing for many of its more ambitious construction projects. The 1990s saw the construction of the Wood and Taylor centres for the study of Design Technology and Maths, whilst with the coming of the 2000s the school began to raise funds for he construction of a new state of the art sports hall and fitness suite. Perhaps the most important development in the school's recent history came in 1993 when girls were admitted to the sixth form for the first time, thus ending Adams' long tradition of educating only boys.

In 2002 an authoritative history of the school, authored by former headmaster David Taylor and his wife, was published.

The late 2000s saw the school celebrate its 350th anniversary in 2006, completion of a new science block and conversion of the former gymnasium into a performing arts centre (this, in turn, was converted into a Sixth Form Centre, which opened in 2013). The music department was condemned in 2006; The Coach House, on Salters Lane, which backs onto the school grounds, was acquired by the school and converted into a new music department, which opened in 2013 alongside the new Sixth Form Centre.

During World War I, 362 Old Novaportans served in the armed forces of whom 45 died and 77 survived wounded. After the war a memorial fund was set up to assist the sons of alumni, whose appeal raised £1,000, and a tablet listing those who died was unveiled in the main school building in 1921. In 1948 the Old Boys Club erected another tablet alongside this to those who died in World War II. Both memorials are now in the school library.[2]

Interestingly, the school is famous for, under the headmastership of Reverend Samuel Lea MA, having turned down the services of Dr Samuel Johnson, who was later to be the pre-eminent scholar of the 18th century.

Admissions and performance[edit]

Adams' is a selective state school which admits both boarding and day pupils, thanks to the school's recent academic success it has achieved a relatively high national profile and enjoys at least some recognition on the international stage (with ever increasing numbers of foreign students, notably those from Hong Kong). Adams' is a specialist Technology College as well as a Language College and a Training School. The school, including the sixth form, has approximately 800 pupils, all of whom wear a common uniform, with the exception of sixth formers (both Upper and Lower) who wear a navy blue, as opposed to maroon blazer. It is however, of essentially the same design, with the exception of the addition of gold blazer buttons in the place of plastic maroon ones.

Academic performance[edit]

The school regularly places in the top 50 schools in the country and top 20 state schools in the country based on GCSE and A-level results. Adams' also ranks within the three best schools for A-level results in Shropshire, along with Shrewsbury School and Newport Girls High School. These figures also represent some of the highest in the West Midlands for predominantly rural counties. The school has developed a reputation for consistently having a high number of sixth formers gain access into the Russell Group and 'Golden triangle' universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. A high proportion of students also go on to study highly competitive subjects such as medicine, law, dentistry, and veterinary medicine.

School life[edit]

Big School and the front lawn as seen from the High Street

The current headmaster is Mr G Hickey.

House system[edit]

The school also operates an extra-curricular house system. This system is used as the basis for inter-house sports competitions and has traditionally been a source of pride for the students of its respective houses. Clive House, named after Robert Clive of India sports a bright red.

Darwin house, traditionally sporting Royal blue is named after the famed 19th century naturalist of the same name.

Talbot House, the last of the three original 'Salopian' houses, has traditionally been characterised most by its sporting colours of black and white (arranged in hoops on rugby jerseys), it is named after the Earl Talbot, one of the foremost English military commanders of the wars in France.

Webb house is the youngest of the houses at Adams', founded in 1994 it has since adopted emerald green as its distinguishing colour; the house is named after Dawley-born merchant naval officer and accomplished swimmer Captain Matthew Webb.

Throughout the academic year there are many house events, revolving around the arts, sports or academic subjects. These include the House Music Competition, Dixon Cup (drama), Smedley Cup (rugby), House 7's, House Netball and Public Speaking (which is now incorporated into Dixon Cup). House Geography and Languages also occur.

House Founded Named after Colours
Clive Robert Clive Red
Darwin Charles Darwin Blue
Talbot John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury White on black
Webb 1994 Matthew Webb Green

Boarding houses[edit]

The school's Longford Hall junior boarding house from the 1st XV rugby pitch

The school has a number of dedicated boarding houses, they play a significant role in school life as the physical residence of the school's 150 or so junior and senior boarders. The present junior hall (Longford Hall) is located at the school's playing fields about a mile away whilst the three senior boys' boarding houses (Beaumaris, Roddam and Picken) are to be found situated in large Georgian townhouses facing the High Street just 50 metres away from the main gates on the same side of the road as the main school (often referred to as 'Big School').

Longford Hall was built in 1785 for Colonel Ralph Leeke, who was political agent of the British East India Company; the hall was designed by Joseph Bonomi, who had worked with Robert and James Adam.

AGS' Georgian-era senior boarding houses near Big School on Lower Bar

The hall is located on top of a low rise and overlooks farmland towards the Lilleshall monument. As with many such buildings, the first 100 feet in front of the hall is manicured grass, bordered by a ha-ha which prevented animals from entering; today the ha-ha is best known amongst pupils for forming a part of the school's annual house cross-country course. There is a small series of formal gardens, including a "quad". Behind the hall are a selection of buildings around a central square containing a dovecote, which once formed the farm supporting the estate. These buildings were renovated and sensitively converted into housing between 2001 and 2004. The central dovecote is circular and forms an unusual dwelling.

Upon entry into the school in year 7, boarders are assigned to dormitories; upon moving to senior boarding houses at the schools main, town centre site, boys are often assigned to double or, in some cases, single rooms. In every Upper VI year there is a dedicated boarding captain (in addition to the four house captains and school captain); collectively the school's captains are traditionally referred to as 'the front benchers' as they often sit in a line facing the rest of the student body at full school assemblies.

Combined Cadet Force[edit]

Due to the CCF, the school sends many recruits to Sandhurst, Royal Air Force College Cranwell and the Britannia Royal Naval College. The CCF play a role in the life of the town, parading every year on Remembrance Sunday. Boys can Join the CCF in January of Second form and will pass out in May of the same year.

The corps has its own building, commonly known as "Noah's Ark" where the stores are housed and NCO Meetings and some lessons take place. The corps fequently hold Overnight Exercises where battle drills and fieldcraft are practised. These can be either held at Longford Hall, Nesscliffe Training Area or MOD Swynnerton. After the Sixth form go on study leave, the CCF prepares for the Annual House CCF Competition, known as the Thompstone Trophy, after Lieutenant Colonel Brian Thompstone. This entails a Drill Competition, Shooting, Command Tasks, Memory Games, forces Related Quizzes, Section Attacks, CQB and an Obs lane. The corps is inspected every two years (the Biennual Inspection) by a senior RAF or Army officer.

Both the CCF(Army) and CCF(RAF) sections hold summer camps visiting working bases such as RAF Cranwell and Barry Buddon. Cadets can also attend Adventurous Training Camps held annually at Llanbedr and Windermere, Easter camps at RAF Akrotiri, Summer Camps at Ramstein Air Base and Leadership Courses at RAF Cranwell, Nesscliffe Training Area or the Cadet Training Centre, Frimley Park. The members of the CCF Band can also attend music camps at Britannia Royal Naval College and Altcar. The school also takes a small contingent of cadets to complete the annual Nijmegen March. As well as this, cadets have the opportunity to attend special camps such as the 65th D-Day Landing commemoration and the Cadet 150 Celebrations.[3]

Through the Cadet Vocational Qualifications Organisation (CVQO) the School CCF offers cadets (aged 16–19) and above the opportunity to gain internationally recognised BTEC First Diploma qualifications in Public Services. Each BTEC First Diploma is the equivalent of 4 GCSEs, grade C – A*.


Adams' has traditionally been a rugby school, and as such requires that all boys play rugby through years seven and eight during the autumn and spring terms. Upon entry into year nine, pupils are presented with the option of continuing to play rugby, or switching to hockey. Cricket and athletics are the main activities enjoyed during the shorter summer term. In year 11 and the sixth form, boys are often presented with the opportunity to take part in any sport of their choice, provided they can receive permission for such an activity. With the exception of those activities not provided by the school, all sporting events, and training therefore takes place at the schools Longford Hall playing fields; for this reason, few visiting sports teams ever see the main school site. Adams' operates a system of games afternoons, a system by which each individual year group is assigned a specific day of the week to attend afternoon physical activity sessions at Longford (for this purpose the VI form is combined with year 11).

In recent years football has been reintroduced to the school after a hiatus of almost a century.

As with many private and grammar schools, Adams' organises biannual summer tours abroad for its senior rugby, hockey and girls netball teams. Recent tours have included rugby tours to South Africa, South America, and Australia and Singapore, and a hockey and netball tour to Barbados.

International links[edit]

Liceum No. 1 in Bydgoszcz is one of Adams' partner schools abroad

The school currently runs student exchange visit programs with the following schools in France, Germany and Poland:

School City
Germany Oberschule zum Dom Lübeck
France Collège Roqua Aubenas
Poland I Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Cypriana Kamila Norwida Bydgoszcz

The school is also sister schools with Ringwood Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia.

Notable former pupils[edit]

Coat of arms long used by the school and latterly by the Old Novaportan Club. Date unknown.

The School runs an Old Novaportans' Club which arranges many reunions, meals and sporting events throughout the year in which its members can take part. Upon leaving the school, all students are encouraged to join and stay in touch with the school.

Former pupils are known as "Old Novaportans" (initialised as "ON").

Frank Armstrong ON, Assistant Commissioner of the City of London Police in ceremonial full-dress uniform for the Lord Mayor's Show






Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge ON, first principal of the University of Birmingham


See also[edit]

  • Longford Hall – Junior boarding house and sports fields owned by the school, about one mile (1.6 km) away from the main school site, in the village of Longford.

Former Staff


  1. ^ Ofsted Report[dead link]
  2. ^ Francis, Peter (2013). Shropshire War Memorials, Sites of Remembrance. YouCaxton Publications. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-909644-11-3. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn: the 'unelectable' socialist who might just win". Retrieved 2015-08-12. 
  6. ^ "Blue Peter’s Radzi goes back to school in Newport". Shropshire Star. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 

External links[edit]