Aylesbury Grammar School

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Aylesbury Grammar School
Aylesbury Grammar School New Logo.png
Walton Road

, ,
HP21 7RP

Coordinates51°48′50″N 0°48′05″W / 51.8139°N 0.8014°W / 51.8139; -0.8014Coordinates: 51°48′50″N 0°48′05″W / 51.8139°N 0.8014°W / 51.8139; -0.8014
TypeAcademy Grammar School
MottoLatin: Schola Ailesburia, Floreat Ailesburia
Educate Aylesbury, let Aylesbury flourish
FounderSir Henry Lee
SpecialistsScience (Primary)
Languages (Secondary)
Maths & Computing
Department for Education URN136884 Tables
HeadmasterMr Mark Sturgeon[1]
Age11 to 18
HousesDenson     , Hampden     , Lee     , Paterson     , Phillips     , Ridley     
Colour(s)Maroon, Black and White             
PublicationThe Aylesburian
Former pupilsOld Aylesburians

Aylesbury Grammar School is a grammar school in Aylesbury situated in the English county of Buckinghamshire, which educates approximately 1,250 pupils.[2]

Founded, 1598 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire by Sir Henry Lee, Champion of Queen Elizabeth I., Aylesbury Grammar School celebrated 100 years on the current site in Walton Road in 2007. It is commonly referred to by its students, staff and others in the local area by the abbreviation AGS.[3] It developed as a Grammar School in the centre of Aylesbury Old Town adjacent to St. Mary's Church until 1907, when it moved to its present site. For many years the school was independent and its intake was co-educational. In 1952 it became voluntary controlled and in 1959 the girls moved to a separate site to become Aylesbury High School. Links with the girls’ school are retained through joint activities such as school plays, orchestral concerts, dances and theatre visits. The school now has some 1260 boys, of whom 380 are in the Sixth Form.[2]


As a selective state school, its entry requirements are dictated by the 11-plus. The school also takes pupils from outside the catchment area and even out of county locations such as Thame and Milton Keynes, based on eleven plus performances.

The school educates boys from the age of 11, in Year 7, through to the age of 18, in Year 13 (Upper VI). The school has its largest intakes at Year 7 followed by Year 12 (Lower VI). On completing GCSEs, most pupils stay on to complete their A-levels at the school's sixth-form.[4]

It is situated east of the town centre on the southern side of the A41, between Walton (to the west) and Victoria Park (to the east). This site was built and opened in 1907, replacing an earlier building at St. Mary's in the town centre, which now forms part of the Buckinghamshire Museum.[5]

Specialist status[edit]

In September 1997 the school was awarded specialist school status in Technology, which it kept until Summer 2007, when it was decided that a more academic specialist subject would be more appropriate for AGS and the school successfully gained Science College status as its primary specialism. In April 2006 AGS gained a second college status as a Language College and then gained a second secondary college status in Mathematics and Computing College|Maths and Computing in January 2008.[6]

Academy status[edit]

In July 2011 the school became an Academy.[7]


Aylesbury Grammar School main building on the former site

[8] Aylesbury Grammar School was founded in 1598 following a bequest from Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, the Champion of Queen Elizabeth I and its first home was in the church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aylesbury. It later moved to the buildings which now house the County Museum until 1907, when it moved to its present site. For many years the school was independent and its intake was co-educational. In 1952 it became voluntary controlled and in 1959 the girls moved to a separate site to become Aylesbury High School. Links with the girls’ school are retained through joint activities such as school concerts, plays, dances and theatre visits. We now have some 1310 boys in the school, of whom 395 are in the Sixth Form…..

In 1714 Henry Phillips left a further sum of £5,000. By the terms of the will the sum upon trust was to be applied “for the purchase of lands of inheritance in fee simple in the county of Bucks…….for the enlargement and further provision for the Free School in Aylesbury”. “There were to be 120 boys admitted, to be taught gratis and to be furnished with books, pens, ink and paper, gratis”. Some £4,000 of the bequest was invested in farm property in the Manor of Broughton. Ten trustees were appointed by the High Court in 1717. They were the first trustees of what is now the Aylesbury Grammar School Foundation.

By the mid-1880s the inadequacies of the school site were becoming apparent; particularly the lack of games facilities. The old buildings were deteriorating and there were suggestions that fees of £4 to £6 might be charged with provision of scholarships for poorer boys on grounds of merit from public elementary schools of the district. The search for a new site began. A committee was established in the name of Aylesbury Grammar School and support from local charities was sought for the provision of a new site for the school. The charities were also approached with a view to making some provision for girls. In 1902 the Balfour Education Act was passed which laid the foundations for the country’s secondary education. The County Council was permitted to raise money for secondary education from local rates and on 2 July 1903 a new scheme under the name of Aylesbury Grammar School came into existence.

In 1904 Lord Rothschild of Tring agreed to sell about eight acres of land adjoining Turnfurlong Lane at £170 an acre to the Foundation Trustees. The purchase price was £1,406/10/00 and in Easter 1907 the school transferred from the old buildings in St Mary’s Square, where it had been since 1611, to its present site. The old buildings were sold in two lots. Lot One was bought by the Architectural and Archaeological Society for the purpose of housing a museum and Lot Two was acquired by St Mary’s Church. The school’s modest investments were sold by the Trustees and Bucks County Council offered a grant of £2000. The cost of the school was to be £6000 and the Headmaster’s House £1,500 with an additional £250 for laying out the frontage and fencing. Lord Rothschild donated shrubs for the front of the school. Some 400 people attended the opening ceremony at which Lord Rothschild was presented with a silver key mounted with the Aylesbury Arms. The new school would accommodate 75 boys and 75 girls.

Foundation Hall, photograph taken from the Headmasters Quad

The Aylesbury Grammar School Foundation Trustees owned all the property which was held in trust for the benefit of the School and there was a separate governing body which managed the School. A position which continues to this day. In October 1914 the school premises were requisitioned by the War Office for a military hospital and the school moved to temporary accommodation in and around Kingsbury and St Mary’s Squares. A flock of sheep grazed the cricket pitch. Staffing problems became acute and boys were withdrawn to compensate for the loss of farm labour because of conscription. In September 1919, 220 pupils were re-admitted to the School. Twenty-one former pupils had died in the war and their names are inscribed on the memorial stone which was unveiled two years later. In 1922 there was a Sixth Form of 20 pupils. The next twenty years could be described as a period of consolidation of the co-educational grammar school and by 1939 numbers had grown to 346.

During the Second World War, Ealing County Boys’ School was evacuated and Aylesbury pupils attended classes here in the morning and Ealing pupils in the afternoon. A bomb fell on Walton Grange in September 1942 and though the effect of the blast was considerable the school was soon repaired. In 1956 the County Council decided to create two single sex schools with the Foundation being attached to the boys’ school which would benefit from the Foundation’s income. The new girls’ school was built and major capital work including the Tower block in 1963, six laboratories in 1964 and an extension to the hall in 1965 were built at AGS. In 1965 the Foundation Trustees sold two fields in Stocklake and provided the school with its swimming pool and since then the Foundation has also contributed substantially to the cost of the Sports Hall, the new Science block and the Foundation Hall along with other smaller donations. The agricultural land in Broughton, which was acquired in 1715 with Henry Phillips’ bequest, will be sold and the income from the capital sum will be invested to provide further funds with which the Foundation will be able to support the School in years to come.

The School has therefore come full circle. It is no longer under the aegis of the County Council, having become an Academy with a strong governing body which manages the School on which parents, staff, Foundation Trustees and others are represented and a Foundation Trust whose Trustees’ main purpose is to support the School.

Single sex school[edit]

The school was previously a mixed sex school but then parted in 1959 after a fire (in 1953[9]) which destroyed part of the old school buildings. The girls' school became Aylesbury High School and is across the road from Aylesbury Grammar School.

The current headmaster is Mark Sturgeon who took over from Stephen Lehec at the start of the 2014–15 academic year.[10]


The Geography (left) and Maths (centre) blocks by the school field

The table below shows the current timetable of Aylesbury Grammar School. The timetable has been like this since the 2009/10 school year, before which the timetable was split into eight rather than five periods, each alternating 35 or 40 minutes long, with breaks after periods four and six.

Aylesbury Grammar School Timetable
Period From To Length (minutes)
Registration 8.40am 8.50am 10
Assembly/ Form Period 8.50am 9.10am 20
1 9.10am 10.10am 60
2 10.10am 11.10am 60
BREAK 11.10am 11.35am 25
3 11.35am 12.35pm 60
4 12.35pm 1.35pm 60
LUNCH 1.35pm 2.35pm 60
5 2.35pm 3.35pm 60

Current Senior Teaching Staff[edit]

There are currently five members of the school's Senior Leadership Team:[11]

  • Headmaster- Mr Mark Sturgeon
  • Deputy Headmistress – Mrs Pernilla Venning – Head of 6th Form
  • Assistant Head – Dr Kevin Smith – Head of Upper School - Head of Section for Year 10 & 11
  • Assistant Head – Mr Glen Dallas- Head of Middle School - Head of Section for Year 8 & 9
  • Assistant Head – Mr Gurdeep Singh – Head of Lower School - Head of Section for Year 7

There are currently seven Heads of Year at the school, one for each Year Group:[11]

  • Year 7 – Miss Sarah Hill
  • Year 8 – Mrs Laura Wilson
  • Year 9 – Mr Richard O'Driscoll
  • Year 10 – Mr Robert Rooney
  • Year 11 – Miss Louise Pollard
  • Year 12 – Miss Eleanor Treherne
  • Year 13 – Mr Gary Ramsbottom


Each pupil is placed into one of six houses upon starting at the school. The six houses are:[12]

House Colour Current Head of House[13] Significance
Denson      Sky Blue Mr A Streat Named after the first President of the Old Boys’ Association, Thomas Denson. He was also the first to leave a bequest to the school.
Hampden      Green Mr Colin McGill Named after John Hampden, leader of the victorious Parliamentarian forces in the Battle of Aylesbury in 1642
Lee      Yellow Mr Paul Dean Named after the founder of the school, Sir Henry Lee, Bart of Ditchley
Paterson      Purple Ms Kelly Eileen Chalk Named after Mrs. Paterson, a long serving member of the Governing body, it is the newest house, founded in 1981. House colour originally maroon, however changed to purple in 2013.
Phillips      Red Mr Matthew Goodchild Named after Henry Phillips of London, influential in the founding of the school
Ridley      Dark Blue Mr Joel Barrie Named after the Reverend Christopher Ridley, the last Headmaster of the Old School before it became a mixed school in 1903. Reverend Ridley arrived at AGS in 1893 when there were just 130 boys in the school and his annual salary was just over £100[citation needed]

House trophy competitions[edit]

Each year, the school houses compete for the Brodie Trophy for sports and the Watson Trophy for all other activities (including art, music and public speaking). The awards are named after former pupils who have made a great contribution to the school's life. The competitions have been taking place for over 300 years, when the 'houses' were groups of boarders living in one building.[14] There is also a defunct trophy called 'Merit Marks', which was abolished due to imbalances in the willingness of various teachers to distribute them.

Boys are encouraged throughout the year to take part in house events, as well as some individual events. Most of the encouragement comes from their heads of house, who are in charge of 210 pupils on average (or 7 tutor groups, each consisting of 30-32 pupils).[15]

At the end of each event the houses gain points for their placements in these events; and at the end of the year, these points are totaled up and a winner is declared for each trophy.[citation needed]


There are various levels of prefects at AGS.[citation needed]

  • A Junior Prefect badge
    In Year 10, boys can apply to become a junior prefect. Appointment to this role is generally based on contribution to school activities and behaviour. The position acts as a level of recognition rather than extra responsibility. They can be recognised by a gilt-edged red effect badge with the words, printed in gold, 'JUNIOR PREFECT' on the front. Junior Prefects do duties such as managing the lunch queue, managing lost property and conducting tours of the school.
  • In year 12, boys get their first chance to apply to become a school prefect. This is the first level of prefects where successful applicants are assigned extra responsibility within school. For example, school prefects can work in the school refectory, library, etc. They can also be assigned a tutor group to look after lower down the school prior to morning registration and during break times. School prefects are identified by a yellow stripe above each of their blazer pockets.
  • At the end of year 12, school prefects can apply to become senior prefects. This role is an advanced version of the school prefect role where students will be required to take on extra responsibilities. They are also relied on more by staff members to do tasks around school. They can be identified by maroon stripes above each of their blazer pockets.
  • Each house also assigns three senior prefects in the upper sixth to become head and deputy head boys of house. They have the same responsibility as senior prefects but also are involved in organising house activities and house assemblies. They aid the staff head of house in the running of the house. They can be identified by "Head/Deputy Head Boy of House" badges.

Head Boys[edit]

The school appoints three members of the Upper Sixth to the positions of Head Boy and two Deputy Head Boys. The boys are picked for these roles by staff and members of the senior leadership team based on maturity, behaviour, attitude, academic achievements and contribution to school and house events. They are identified by maroon stripes around the cuffs of the blazer.[citation needed]

Teaching system[edit]

In the first two years of the school, pupils are almost exclusively taught in their houses (with the exceptions of Maths and Physical Education, in which pupils are streamed by ability in year 8–9, and by their second Foreign Language choice in year 8–9; until the 2008/9 academic year, where year 7s are now assigned two languages – French and either German or Spanish according to the house (Denson, Hampden and Lee do German; Paterson, Phillips and Ridley do Spanish) and then start learning Latin in year 8). Tutor groups are also split up into groups of 20 for Design Technology lessons, as well as Latin in year 9 where they are also streamed by ability.[citation needed]

In Year 10 and above, the year group is reshuffled into different classes for each subject depending on their GCSE options these different GCSE choices mean they may not see others from either tutor group or form. From this point onwards, the houses play a lesser role in the day-to-day life of students but continue to organise teams for the Watson or Brodie trophies as well as taking house assemblies and supporting a particular house charity. Additionally heads of house prepare their sixth formers for university and write all UCAS references.

The teaching staff at Aylesbury Grammar School includes Dr. Carol Blyth, who has received a 'Teacher of the Decade' award[16] as well as Dr Kevin Bond, author and Chairman of Examiners for Computing. Dr Bond retired from AGS in December 2009, followed by Dr Blyth in December 2011.[17]

Academic performance[edit]

In 2009, the school received the best A-level results in Buckinghamshire LEA, and some distance better than the girls' school, which also receives good results. Buckinghamshire LEA (the county council) is based in Aylesbury.


On 9 May 2014, boys at the school dressed up as the Jamaican bobsleigh team for their school-leaving celebrations and 'blacked up' as part of their costume. This came to public attention when an image of the schoolboys was tweeted by the then headmaster Stephen Lehec, and was criticised for being racist. Lehec issued a formal apology, though in his analysis 'at no time was there an undertone of any act being of a derogatory or racist nature'. The matter was widely reported in local and national media.[18]

Notable people associated with Aylesbury Grammar School[edit]

Notable former pupils[edit]

Notable former staff[edit]

  • Dr. Carol Blyth – recipient of teacher of the decade
  • Dr Kevin Bond – recipient of teacher of the decade

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aylesbury Grammar School Website
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Website is called AGS
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Open academies map and schools submitting applications". Department for Education. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  8. ^ Written by Mrs Gillian Miscampbell OBE, Aylesbury Grammar School Foundation Governor With thanks to: ‘Aylesbury Grammar School 1598–1998 : A Commemorative Volume’ by Professor W. R. Mead http://www.ags.bucks.sch.uk/history/
  9. ^ "Devastating fires that are still remembered". Bucks Herald. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  10. ^ The High School can be seen on the map, just to the southwest of AGS, on this website: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ a b http://www.ags.bucks.sch.uk/sites/default/files/Staff%20list%202012-2013.pdf[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ C Meader
  14. ^ Mead, W.R. (1997). Aylesbury Grammar School 1598–1998: a Commemorative Volume. The Peterhouse Press. ISBN 978-0-946312-06-1.
  15. ^ 7 times 30 equals 210, 1 tutor group per year
  16. ^ "Ten years of Researchers in Residence". SEB Bulletin March 2005. Society for Experimental Biology.
  17. ^ One of Dr. Kevin Bond's Books
  18. ^ Claire Carter, 'Grammar school headteacher apologises for 'blacked up' picture of pupils', The Telegraph, 15 May 2014, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10833705/Grammar-school-headteacher-apologises-for-blacked-up-picture-of-pupils.html; Lizzie Edmonds, 'Top grammar school forced to apologise after headteacher posts Twitter picture of his pupils "blacked up" as Jamaican bobsleigh team at fancy dress party', Mail Online, 15 May 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2629504/Grammar-school-headmaster-apologises-tweeting-picture-pupils-blackface-dressed-Jamaican-bobsleigh-team-fancy-dress-party.html; "Headteacher apologises for ‘blacked up’ pupils", The Bucks Herald, 15 May 2014, http://www.bucksherald.co.uk/news/more-news/headteacher-apologises-for-blacked-up-pupils-1-6060046.
  19. ^ Adams, Tim (22 April 2001). "Guardian.co.uk". The Guardian. London.
  20. ^ "LSE staff biographies".
  21. ^ "Parliamentary record". Archived from the original on 2013-01-31.
  22. ^ "Rutland Broughton".
  23. ^ a b "Andy Riley blog".
  24. ^ Sale, Jonathan (2006-08-03). "Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Tim Harford, writer and economist". The Independent. London: The Independent. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 April 2014. Retrieved 2013-01-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  26. ^ Who's Who 2007. A & C Black. ISBN 978-0-7136-7527-6.
  27. ^ Theo James
  28. ^ Huw Price
  29. ^ "IMDB".
  30. ^ "Books on Amazon". 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-05.
  31. ^ "Acting Work". 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-05.

External links[edit]

News items[edit]