Adcote School

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Adcote School for Girls
Adcote logo.jpg
Motto Latin: Nisi Dominus Frustra
"Without the Lord, everything is in vain"
Established 1907
Type Independent day and boarding school
Religion Church of England
Headmistress Mrs. Diane Browne
Chairman of Governors Mark Fairbrother
Founder Mrs Amy Gough
Location Little Ness
Staff 90
Students 225(90 boarders)
Gender Girls
Ages 5–18
Houses Glenmore
Colours Blue, Green
Chaplain Reverend Lucinda Burns
Former pupils Adcotians

Adcote School is an independent day and boarding school for girls, located in the village of Little Ness, 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. The school was founded in 1907,[1] and is set in a Grade I listed country house built in 1879 for Rebecca Darby, the widow of Alfred Darby I (1807–52) and a great niece of Abraham Darby. The Darbys were the iron-master family who built Ironbridge. The school has a Junior School that takes girls aged 5 to 11, and the Senior School for girls aged 11 to 16 and a Sixth Form takes girls from 16–19.

As of April 2016, the school is owned by IQ Education (IQE), a Chinese backed education company based in Birmingham. The school transferred from a charity to a limited company status, managed by IQE. [2]

The school is a member of the Girls School Association, the Independent Schools Association and the Independent Schools Council. In 2012, the school won the Independent Schools Association 'Award for Excellence', reflecting whole school achievement in independent education. In January 2013, the Department for Education ranked Adcote fourth in England in its A Level performance tables. In 2014, the school was awarded the Gold Award by the Mayor of Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury Town Council, recognising the school’s “outstanding contribution to the community”. In 2015, the school was shortlisted in the national TES Independent School Awards; the school had previously been shortlisted in 2011 and 2014.

The school established an international office in Birmingham to assist with international recruitment. As of September 2016 the School has completed the construction of a new purpose-built boarding houses, new classrooms, a sports hall, administration block as well as a new Science Centre.


Adcote's Founder Mrs. Amy Gough

The school was founded on 18 January 1907 by Mrs Amy Gough, with two-day pupils and five boarders in Glenmore House in the village of Doseley near Wellington, Shropshire. The school grew quickly and the roll was thirty-one after two years. In 1915 the school moved into the larger Innage House in Shifnal. The numbers of boarders doubled and two years later a second boarding house was needed.

In 1919 the school moved again to a Georgian mansion in Shifnal called Haughton Hall,[3] with room for 45 boarders and staff.

In 1926 the Old Girls Association was established. In 1927 a private company was formed for the purchase of Adcote in Little Ness. The school was filled to capacity with 72 boarders. During the depression the school maintained its numbers with never fewer than 50 boarders.

By 1937 the numbers had risen again and the following year plans were drawn up to convert the stables and other outbuildings into classrooms, music rooms and laboratories. The Second World War halted the plans but another building, "The Mount", was taken up in Baschurch to accommodate another 16 children. By 1947 both schools were filled to capacity and waiting lists were in place until 1951. In 1954 the junior school moved to Aston Hall[4] near Oswestry, which then returned to Adcote in 1968. The school continued to grow and the Adcote Educational Trust[5] was established in 1964. From then until 2016 the school was administered by a board of governors.

In 2007 the school celebrated its centenary, and it continues to flourish to the present day.[6] Recent developments include the increased provision of ICT facilities, the refurbishment of the boarding accommodation and a new multi-fuel heating system for the school. The school roll has considerably grown in size in recent years, both in boarding and day pupils.[7] The school was a runner up in the 2011 'Independent School of the Year' award and won the 2012 'Award for Excellence' from the Independent Schools Association. In 2014, the school was awarded the Gold Award by the Mayor of Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury Council, recognising the school’s “outstanding contribution to the community”.

Adcote Hall[edit]

Adcote School. The building was constructed in 1879 and is Grade I listed.

The medieval 'vill' or settlement of Addecote has had a written history since Saxon times. The original name is probably 'Addancot', the cottage of 'Adda'. At the time of the Norman Conquest, the 'vill' formed part of the manor of Little Ness, which was given by William the Conqueror to his kinsman, Roger de Montgomery. In 1603 King James I, by letters patent, granted the manor of Little Ness, including Adcote, to the Protestant branch of the Howard family, Thomas, Earl of Suffolk, who in turn sold it to the Craven family. Adcote was divided up during the early part of the eighteenth century and was reunited by the Shropshire hero – Clive of India. From Clive's will we learn that he had purchased the lands stretching from Baschurch to Little Ness. In 1850 Robert Clive's great grandson, sold his land to Henry Dickenson, of Coalbrookdale, who was married to Deborah Darby. In 1868 the property was conveyed to Rebecca Darby, the widow of Alfred Darby.[6]

Queen Mary. Queen Mary was a regular visitor to Adcote

The house was designed by the famous architect Richard Norman Shaw RA to a Tudor design and stands in 27 acres (110,000 m2) of landscaped gardens. Some local sources of inspiration for Adcote are thought to be Benthall Hall in Broseley and Madeley Court, the former home of the Darby family. It is thought that "Shaw himself regarded Adcote as his best house"[8] It is also considered that the house is "perhaps the best example of the country houses built (by Shaw) between 1870 and 1880".[9] Adcote House "has become famous mainly due to Shaw's autograph drawing[10] A masterpiece of Architectonic drawing, it now adorns the Diploma Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, London."[11] Shaw designed Adcote in Tudor style and used the local building traditions to give the house a sense of continuity with the past[12] The house is built of local sandstone with tall chimneys, pointed gables and mullioned and transomed windows. Its features include a Great hall with a Minstrels' gallery, William De Morgan tiled fireplaces and stained glass windows by Morris & Co., after cartoons by Walter Crane.[13] The house was built for Rebecca Darby, the widow of Alfred Darby I (1807–52). Mrs Darby, who lived in the house until her death in 1909, enjoyed entertaining guests and Queen Mary was known to be a regular visitor.

Alfred Darby II inherited the house from his mother. Alfred (1850–1925) was the final family link to Coalbrookdale: he was chairman of the company from 1886 until his death, and thus the Darby's long and illustrious history in the regional and national industrial revolution ended. His son, Lieutenant Maurice Darby was killed in 1915 during the First World War and is buried in Little Ness.[14] In his memory in 2015, Adcote School opened the Maurice Darby Scholarships for five day girls from Shropshire "able to display exceptional leadership skills", worth up to 100 per cent of fees.[15]

Upon Alfred's death the house was sold to the Adcote School Trust. The Darby family – as primarily Quaker educationalists, were pleased to see the house converted into a school; otherwise it could well have been demolished – as happened to some of Shaw's other mansions. Adcote was converted to a boarding school in 1927. Now the spacious upstairs bedrooms are dormitories for boarders, with views of the gardens and surrounding countryside. The original stable and coach houses have been converted into classrooms, science laboratories and the Junior School.


The landscaped gardens surrounding the school feature a variety of trees including Beeches, Tulip trees, Oaks (American and Evergreen), Atlas Cedars and Wellingtonia. The grounds include a walled garden and borders filled with rhododendrons and azaleas.

School Curriculum[edit]

The Junior School is for Girls aged 7 to 11. In the Juniors, the girls follow a broad curriculum which includes. English, Mathematics, Science, Geography, History, Religious Education, Music, Art, PE, Design Technology (which includes Textiles and Food Technology), French, Information & Communications Technology (ICT). Internal assessments are taken in Year 6.

The Senior School is for Girls aged 11 to 18.

Years 7 to 9 follow a broad curriculum which includes English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, RE, Languages, ICT, Art, Music, Food Technology, Textiles, PE, PSHCE, Latin, Classics and Careers. For girls whose first language is not English a full programme of English as an Acquired Language (EAL) is available. Girls receive help and advice before choosing their GCSE options.

For GCSE and iGCSE Girls usually take (as a minimum) 8 subjects, but generally take more. All girls have timetabled PE and Games. The following are compulsory: English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, ICT, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

In addition girls are encouraged to choose from the following optional subjects : Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Geography, Business Studies, French, ICT, Religious Studies, Art, Textiles, Music, BTEC Performing Arts, BTEC Sport, Food Technology, Economics, Child Development and PE.

A-Levels can be chosen from the following options : English, Religious Education, History, Geography, Psychology, Sociology, Accounting, Business Studies, Economics, French, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, ICT, Art, Music, Food Technology, PE, Textiles, Drama and Theatre Studies. A BTEC Diploma in Performing Arts and Sport is also offered.[16]

Academic results[edit]

In the Independent Schools Inspection of 2011, every area of school life was rated as at least 'good', with several areas rated as 'outstanding'.

In 2012, the school was ranked 13th nationally for the performance of pupils at A Level. Additionally, Adcote was ranked as the highest performing school in Shropshire at A Level, when comparing the average score per pupil[17] [18]

In the academic year 2011–12 at GCSE 100% of pupils achieved the equivalent of at least 5 passes at grades A*-C and 90% of all grades were awarded the equivalent of A*-C

In the academic year 2011–12 at A Level nearly 60% of all grades awarded were the top grades possible A* or A or their equivalent, and over 80% of all grades awarded at were A* – C or their equivalent.[19]

In January 2013, the Department for Education ranked Adcote fourth in England in its A Level performance tables.

In 2014, the school was again ranked the highest performing school in Shropshire at A Level and 32nd nationally, according to the Department of Education, as published by the Daily Telegraph.

In the academic year 2013-2014, overall 64% of all grades awarded at A2 or their equivalent were at the top awards possible, A* or A, with 85% of all grades awarded at A*-C. The average UCAS tariff at A level was 526, which is equivalent to A*A*AA for each pupil.

In the academic year 2013-2014, at GCSE and iGCSE, there was a 100% pass rate, almost 90% of Adcote pupils achieving the equivalent of at least 5 passes at grades A*-C in their GCSE and iGCSE results.

In 2014, the school was again ranked the highest performing school in Shropshire at A Level and 32nd nationally.[20]

In 2015, at A level there was almost a 100% pass rate, 49% of all grades were at A* or A grade equivalent. In addition, nearly a quarter of all grades awarded were A*s. The average UCAS points per pupil was 498.[21]

In 2015, at GCSE, there was a 99.6% pass rate, 88% of all grades were at A*-C and 40% of all grades achieved were at A*/A. In addition nearly 90% of Adcote pupils have achieved the equivalent of at least 5 passes at grades A*-C in their GCSE and iGCSE results.[22]


The school has been shortlisted in the category “Financial/commercial initiative of the year” in the TES Independent School Awards 2015. This is the third time that the school has been shortlisted for an independent school award. Previously, in 2011 the school was the first in the region to be shortlisted in the Independent School Awards. In 2012, the school won the Independent Schools Association ‘Award for Excellence’, reflecting whole school achievement in independent education. In 2014, the school was awarded the Gold Award by the Mayor of Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury Council, recognising the school’s “outstanding contribution to the community” and was once more shortlisted in the Independent School Awards.

Extended Curriculum[edit]

A very wide range of activities are offered by the school. These include: Combined Cadet Force (CCF), Fencing, Share Trading, Film Making, Leith's Cookery Course, Judo, Horse Riding, Latin, Hip Hop/Street Dance, Ballet, Trampolining, Eco-Club, Tennis, Mandarin Chinese, Yoga, Dance Creation, Chess Club, Badminton, Design Technology and Art, Food Technology, Debating, Astronomy, Textiles and the Duke of Edinburgh award.[23] The school also runs a Rotary International Interact Club in conjunction with the Borderlands Rotary Club.

The Gardening Club has been very successful in recent years, winning a gold award and the Best in Show trophy at the Malvern Show working with celebrity gardener Chris Beardshaw. They have also won two gold medals at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.[24][25]

The school organises regular drama productions and a significant number of pupils achieve ESB (English Speaking Board) awards.


Each girl is allocated to one of three houses – Glenmore, Haughton and Innage – which are the basis for competition within the school. Sporting trophies, music events and points gained throughout the year all go towards deciding on the top-performing house each year.


Boarding is available for girls aged 8 to 18. Boarding arrangements are very flexible: occasional, weekly or full boarding is possible. Every girl has a tutor to offer support. In addition to tutors, responsibility for the care, personal development, welfare and general happiness of boarders rests with the resident Pastoral Deputy, who is assisted by three resident matrons and is supported by the school doctor.

Many extra curricular activities are arranged both in the week and on the weekends. There are trips to local venues for shopping, swimming and bowling, visits to concert halls and theatres in the region, and weekend trips to places such as The Eden Project, Bath and Hadrian's Wall.

Social events are arranged on a regular basis for the girls in conjunction with the local independent schools such as Prestfelde and Shrewsbury School.


Sport is regarded as very important by the school and girls have the opportunity to enjoy netball, athletics, archery, golf, badminton, rowing[26] and judo with tuition available for horse riding, tennis and swimming.[27]

The girls at Adcote play a variety of sports, in both PE lessons and through activities. In the Autumn term the girls, usually Years 7, 8 and 9, play Netball and Lacrosse competitively. The Netball squads compete in the Shropshire Schools League and Lacrosse is played against local independent schools.

In the Summer term, Rounders is the main sport that is played competitively in the Shropshire School League, however the school has just recently received a small grant from the Shropshire LTA and is in the process of increasing the profile of tennis.

In PE lessons girls also have the opportunity to play rugby and participate in gymnastics and athletics.

Adcote is now recognised as one of the leading schools for gymnastics in the region.[28][29][30][31] In 2010 the Over 11 gymnast team are the Midlands Independent Schools Champions and the Shropshire School Champions, with the U11 2nd overall. The Under 11 team also came 2nd in the Independent School Nationals at Fenton Manor.

The former England Netball Captain Tracey Neville was the Guest Speaker at the 2010 Speech Day. The England international hockey player Rebecca Herbert was the Guest Speaker at the 2011 Speech Day. The Marathon Runner world record holder, Amy Hughes, was the speaker for the 2015 Speech Day.

A new sports hall was built in 2014.


Previous Headmasters and Headmistresses of Adcote[edit]

Headmasters / Headmistresses
(1907–1946) Amy Gough
(1946–1972) Doris Gough
(1972–1978) Mary Norman
(1978–1997) Susan Cecchet
(1997–2001) Angela Read
(2002–2004) Robin Case
(2004–2007) Deborah Hammond
(2007–2009) Ryan Jervis OBE
(2009 – 2016 ) Gary Wright
(2016 – ) Diane Browne

In April 2016 Gary Wright left the school and the Acting Head for the Summer Term 2016 was Mrs. Naomi Prichard. Mrs. Diane Browne intends to assume her role as headmistress of Adcote School in September, 2016.

Mr. Wright was responsible for extending the school's campus and student body, as well as making it a truly international school. The student roll more than trebled during his tenure. He introduced several practices at Adcote, such as the “Headmaster’s Award” and also is responsible for updating the school uniform from a sweatshirt and polo shirt to its current edition, which includes a V-neck jumper and a blazer. He oversaw the campus extensions, with new accommodation, sports hall, science centre, art and design suites and classrooms.

In 2008 the Headmaster Ryan Jervis was awarded the OBE for his services to Education.[32]

Amy Gough and Doris Gough are related as mother and daughter.

Old Girls' Association[edit]

After less formal arrangements had been made for many years, the Old Girls' Association was formed in 1926. All past students of the school can become members of the Old Girls' Association (OGA), which coordinates reunions, alumni sporting teams and other activities for alumni. The school maintains a database of over 1000 Old Girls.

All members of the Association receive regular bulletins with up to date news of events, etc.

Notable former pupils[edit]

Former students of Adcote are referred to as Old Adcotians.

  • Marit Allen (1941-2007) Fashion editor and film costume designer noted for her work on the film Mrs Doubtfire (in which she reportedly based the mask worn by Robin Williams upon Adcote School's founder, Amy Gough)
  • Polly Stockton Polly is a member of the British World Class event riding performance squad and has represented her country at both young and senior level.[33]
  • Barbara Hicks Stage and screen actress [34]
  • Rosalind Hudson Bletchley Park code breaker [35]
  • Sita Brahmachari Author. Winner of the 2011 Waterstone's Children's Book Prize for her novel Artichoke Hearts[36]
  • Jane Dillon Internationally recognised interior designer[37][38]


  1. ^ "Adcote School for Girls – Reviews, Rankings, Reports, Stats & News 2011/2012". Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ 'A gentry estate over seven centuries, by Sylvia Watts : Haughton, Shifnal'. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society, 73 (1998), p 44-51. ISSN 0143-5175
  4. ^ "Aston Hall Oswestry:: OS grid SJ3227 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland – photograph every grid square!". Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  5. ^< Charity Commission Entry
  6. ^ a b [The history of Adcote School by Rachel Lowe; ISBN 0-9512414-0-0 Published by the Adcote Old Girls' Association, 1987.]
  7. ^
  8. ^ Journal of the Royal Society of Arts. p166. Published for the Society by George Bell and Sons, 1981
  9. ^ "RICHARD NORMAN SHAW (1... – Online Information article about RICHARD NORMAN SHAW (1". Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  10. ^ "Secret Shropshire – Adcote, near Nesscliff". Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  11. ^ The English House By Hermann Muthesius, Dennis Sharp. p128. Translated by Janet Seligman, Stewart Spencer Published by Frances Lincoln ltd, 2007 ISBN 0-7112-2688-1
  12. ^ "Adcote School". Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  13. ^ The Buildings of England Shropshire by John Newman, p97. Published by Yale University Press, 2006 ISBN 0-300-12083-4
  14. ^ [1] CWGC casualty record for Lt Maurice Darby.
  15. ^ "Scholarships offer at Adcote". Shropshire Star. 8 January 2015. p. 25. Education supplement.
  16. ^ "Adcote School Website". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "The Top 100 Independent Schools at A-level". The Independent. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  18. ^ Quilty, Conrad (26 January 2012). "A-level league tables: compare your school's performance". Telegraph. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  19. ^ url=
  20. ^ "Telegraph A Level Results League table". Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  21. ^ "Shropshire Star". Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
  22. ^ "Shropshire Star". Retrieved 21 August 2015. 
  23. ^ "Adcote School Website". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  24. ^ Was wedding show fair to travellers? (11 May 2007). "Pupils dig deep to win award " Shropshire Star". Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Adcote Boat Club". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  27. ^ "Adcote School for Girls, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Independent Schools". Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "ISC Report". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Shropshire Star article". Shropshire Star article. 6 March 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  33. ^ Polly Stockton website
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ Pauli, Michelle (10 February 2011). "Tribute to 'totally funky grandma' wins Waterstone's children's book prize". The Guardian. London. 
  37. ^ "". Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  38. ^ "Jane Dillon & Tom Grieves , Studio Dillon". CHURCHart. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°46′09″N 2°51′48″W / 52.7691°N 2.8632°W / 52.7691; -2.8632