Borden Grammar School

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Borden Grammar School
Avenue of Remembrance

, ,
ME10 4DB

Coordinates51°20′15″N 0°44′05″E / 51.3374°N 0.7348°E / 51.3374; 0.7348Coordinates: 51°20′15″N 0°44′05″E / 51.3374°N 0.7348°E / 51.3374; 0.7348
TypeGrammar school, Academy
MottoNitere Porro
(To strive forward)
Local authorityKent
SpecialistSports and Modern Foreign Languages
Department for Education URN118837 Tables
Head teacherJonathan Hopkins
Age11 to 18
HousesTwickenham, Wembley, Wimbledon and Lords
Colour(s)Navy blue and gold          
PublicationThe Bordenian (1925 - ca. 1997); The Word (2000s), The Borden Informer (2017)

Borden Grammar School is a selective boys grammar school with academy status situated in the centre of Sittingbourne, Kent, England, which educates students aged 11–18. Whilst the school mainly admits boys, a small number girls have been educated at the school within the Sixth Form. The School holds specialist status in Sports.


The old Borden Grammar School now Sittingbourne Adult Education College

Plans for a boys' school in Borden began in 1875, as a new way of using some of the accumulated funds from the Barrow Trust, established from the estate of William Barrow (d. 1707), a local farmer, for the benefit of the poorer members of the village. The trustees of the Barrow Trust became the new school's governors, and they began organising a suitable sum of money to allow the project to go ahead. Within a few years, they had amassed £9,500 and the building of the school began on a seven acre site in Riddles Road, which belonged to the trust. The Barrow Boy's School, Borden, was to be an independent day and boarding school, designed to have some fifty boarders and some 150 day pupils. The School formally opened in October 1878, with just twenty-three pupils (nine of them from the village of Borden) and one full-time member of staff (the headmaster, Rev. William Henry Bond). A full-time assistant master was recruited in 1880, followed by a second full-time assistant master in 1883.[1]

In 1893, Rev. Bond left to become headmaster of Churcher's College, and was replaced by James Williamson Thurnham, who was keen to increase the number of boarders at the School, which by now was known as Barrow School, Borden. Boarders came from all parts of the country and, indeed, the world, with some hailing from France, Spain, India and Jamaica. Thurnham left to establish New College, Herne Bay in 1906, and took most of the 120 boarders and the majority of the School's staff with him, leaving the next headmaster, William Murdock, with the difficult task of building up numbers once more. Soon after Murdock's appointment, the School began to be referred to as Borden Barrow's Boys' School and was taken into the state education system in 1906. The School now became known as Borden School, a name that had appeared as part of the School badge since at least 1885, but, by 1910, there were six annual scholarships to "Borden Grammar School", the name by which the School has been known ever since. Up until the 1914, there had still been a few boarders at the School but, after the First World War, it became a day grammar school.[2]

In the early summer of 1929, the School moved to its present site on the Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne, not only because of the rising maintenance costs of the original premises and the fact that it was no longer possible to attract suitable numbers of boys with the school being so far from the centre of Sittingbourne. The new building was formally opened by George, Lord Harris in October 1929, but the School retained its original name despite no longer being located in Borden. The old school building was used for a time as an agricultural college, and is now an Adult Education Centre.[3]

In January 1931, work began on the construction of a cricket pavilion as a memorial to all those Old Bordenians who were killed in the First World War, most of the money being provided by the Old Bordenian Association. The original pavilion was replaced by a modern structure in 2007, which continues to serve as a memorial to all those old boys who were killed in the First World War.[4]

In May 1940, the Government announced that a number of towns on the Southeast Coast were to have their children evacuated: Sheerness was one such town, and some sixty-five pupils from Borden, accompanied by three masters, were evacuated to Pengam, South Wales, where the boys were to attend the Lewis School. Meanwhile, air raid shelters were built on the east side of the school site in Sittingbourne and, later, to the north of the cricket pavilion. In May 1949, a clock tower was unveiled as a memorial to all those Old Bordenians who lost their lives in the Second World War, the funds once again being provided by the Old Bordenian Association.[5]

The word "Grammar" was removed from the School's name in 1972, in accordance with a change in the local education system, and there were fears that Borden might be turned into a Sixth Form college. These fears were, however, not realised, and Borden remained a selective school, admitting pupils at thirteen rather than after the 11+ Examination. In 1982, the word "Grammar" was restored to the School's name, and entry at eleven resumed in 1994.[6]

In 1979, a new teaching block, the Hardy Block (named for the School's fifth headmaster, George Hardy), was opened; the first phase of another new teaching block, the Short Block (named for the School's sixth headmaster, Bryan Short), was opened in 1995 and completed in 1998.[7] One of the science laboratories, the Hooker Advanced Physics Laboratory, was named for and opened by Sir Stanley Hooker, an Old Bordenian and aeronautical engineer.

Modern School[edit]

On 1 September 2006 the School was awarded Specialist status for Sports and Modern Foreign Languages. With this status and an associated increase in funding, the school has built many new facilities including a multi use games area (MUGA), a new library and a new private study area. In 2011 the school also received a sports bursary, with which it used to construct a climbing wall in the gym.[8]

Borden became an academy in 2012, which changed the flexibility of the curriculum able to be taught at the school as well as increased funding.[9]

The School, along with other Sittingbourne-based Secondary schools, Fulston Manor School and Highsted Grammar School for Girls, maintain a close community and share teaching responsibilities of specialised subjects at A-Level, with Borden teaching Economics, Sociology and Psychology.

Old Bordenian Association[edit]

The Old Bordenian Association (OBA) was established in 1912, re-established in 1925, and membership is open to all former pupils and staff of Borden Grammar School. The OBA's annual journal, The Maroon, was first published in 1937, but was replaced by a website in 2007. The OBA holds an annual reunion dinner, formerly held inside the Old Hall but now in the nearby premises of UK Paper Leisure Club. The OBA also organises a Remembrance Service on the Saturday closest to Remembrance Sunday, honouring all those old boys who have lost their lives in the armed conflicts of the Twentieth Century. Apart from these annual events, the OBA's activities include the Old Bordenian Hockey Club and Old Bordenian Football Club. The OBA also strives to support the present activities of the school, and in recent years has provided a minibus and contributed toward the costs of refurbishing the School Library, in addition to offering career mentoring to current pupils and recent leavers.

School badge and motto[edit]

The School's badge, which in heraldic terms is blazoned as "azure, a chevron between three crescents or", is believed to have been derived from the coat of arms of William Barrow; however, no proof of this connection has been uncovered, despite extensive efforts in the 1930s. Some sources fancifully state that the three crescents represent successive generations of pupils at the School, but the badge was in use as early as 1885, when the School was still in its infancy. The gold border that surrounds the shield is believed to have been added when a navy blazer became part of the school uniform, so that the blue field of the shield would stand out.

The School has a Latin motto, nitere porro, which translates as "to strive forward". Adopted during the headmastership of William Claydon, it was taken from a speech by Julius Caesar quoted in Horace's Epistles.


In common with many secondary schools in England, Borden has long had a house system. At the time of the First World War, the houses were 'Blue', 'Buff' and 'Red'. These were later replaced with 'Barrow', 'Borden' and 'School', to which 'Swale' was added in the 1930s. Aside from the references to the School's location and benefactor, the etymology of 'Swale' can be explained by reference to the local stretch of water, The Swale, which runs between Sittingbourne and the Isle of Sheppey and also lends its name to the local Borough Council. This house system was brought to an end by headmaster Stephen Wright in 2002.

A house system was reinstated at the start of the school year beginning September 2007. The new house names are Lords, Wimbledon, Wembley and Twickenham, named after the homes of cricket, tennis, football and rugby in England; ironically, the School predates the namesakes of two of its houses, Wembley and Twickenham. With the loss of Barrow House, there is no longer any reference to the school's benefactor, William Barrow.[10]


No formal uniform existed for the first few decades of the School's existence. Prior to the First World War, some pupils wore a cap that carried a metal badge depicting the School shield; this badge later became embroidered. In the 1920s, pupils wore a tie with horizontal stripes in navy blue and gold, the School's colours. Members of the School's Cadet Corps wore khaki military uniform.

By the end of the Second World War, a uniform was in place that continues to be worn, with minor modifications, to the present day: navy blazer with the School shield on the breast pocket; grey trousers; white shirt; and tie with diagonal stripes in navy blue and gold. This tie was formerly worn by all pupils in Lower and Middle School; members of the Sixth Form wore a navy blue tie with small representations of the School shield arranged diagonally, while prefects wore a plain red tie. However, following the introduction of lounge suits for the Sixth Form in 2002, the former Sixth Form tie was adopted by Middle School and the former Lower and Middle School tie adopted by Lower School only.

Cadet Corps[edit]

The School's first cadet corps was formed in 1903, affiliated to 4th Volunteer Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) and commanded by one of the masters. The Cadet Corps was removed from the Army List in 1906, following the transfer of the headmaster, James Thurnham, and most of the School's staff and boarders, to New College, Herne Bay. It was then revived in 1917, this time affiliated to 4th The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) and commanded by the then headmaster, William Murdock. It appears to have been finally wound up by the time the School moved to the Avenue of Remembrance in 1928.[11]


  • 1878–1893: Rev. William Henry Bond, MA (Cantab.) – Left to become headmaster of Churcher's College.
  • 1893–1906: James Williamson Thurnham, MA (Cantab.) – Left to become headmaster of New College, Herne Bay.
  • 1906–1936: William Murdock, MA (Oxon.), BSc (London) – Retired.
  • 1936–1941: William Arthur Claydon, MA (Oxon.) Left to become headmaster of Maidstone Grammar School. Appointed CBE, 1956.
  • 1941–1968: George Ernest Hardy, BSc (Hons.) (Birmingham) – Retired. Appointed OBE, 1969.
  • 1968–1998: Bryan Richard Short, MA (Oxon.) – Retired.
  • 1998–2004: Stephen Neill Wright, MA (Cantab.) – Left to become headmaster of Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood.
  • 2004–2013: Harold Sofronios Vafeas, MA (Cantab.) – Retired.
  • 2013 to date: Jonathan R. Hopkins, BA (Hons.) (unknown university), NPQH

Notable former pupils[edit]

Notable former staff[edit]


  1. ^ K. Hughes, Borden Grammar School: A History in Photographs (Sittingbourne 1998)
  2. ^ K. Hughes, Borden Grammar School: A History in Photographs (Sittingbourne 1998), pp. 3-4
  3. ^ Short, Bryan. "Borden Grammar School – the early years part 1". The Old Bordenian Association. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  4. ^ K. Hughes, Borden Grammar School: A History in Photographs (Sittingbourne 1998), p.5
  5. ^ K. Hughes, Borden Grammar School: A History in Photographs (Sittingbourne 1998), p. 6
  6. ^ K. Hughes, Borden Grammar School: A History in Photographs (Sittingbourne 1998), p. 7
  7. ^ K. Hughes, Borden Grammar School: A History in Photographs (Sittingbourne 1998)
  8. ^ "About Us". Borden Grammar School. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Borden Grammar School, Sittingbourne". Kent-Teach. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  10. ^ "House Information". Borden Grammar School. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2015. Lords, Twickenham, Wembley and Wimbledon
  11. ^ Westlake, Ray (January 2010). Tracing the Rifle Volunteers: A Guide for Military and Family Historians. ISBN 9781848842113.
  12. ^ School Archive

External links[edit]