Dame Alice Owen's School
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The school's logo
In God is All Our Trust|
The Owen's Way[a]
|Type||Voluntary aided[better source needed] partially selective academy|
|Trust||Dame Alice Owen's Foundation|
|Deputy Head||Nathaniel Dyer|
|Chair of Trustees||Nathaniel Dyer|
Dugdale Hill Lane|
|Local authority||919 Hertfordshire|
|DfE URN||136554 Tables|
|Staff||190 (as of November 2015[update])[better source needed]|
|Students||1466 (as of January 2017[update])|
|Colours||Red and black|
|Former pupils||Old Owenians|
|Website||Dame Alice Owen's School|
Dame Alice Owen's School (usually known as Dame Alice Owen's or simply as Owen's; referred to by the acronym DAOS[b]) is a partially selective secondary school and sixth form with academy status located in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire in southern England. The school was founded in Islington as a boys' school for 30 students in 1613, which makes the school one of the oldest in the United Kingdom, and is named after its founder, the 17th-century philanthropist Alice Owen. Over time, the boys' school expanded. A girls' school was built in 1886, and the two schools were merged in 1973; the mixed school moved to its current location in stages between 1973 and 1976.
There are 1466 students aged 11 to 18 at the school; the school is entirely co-educational, and therefore contains roughly equal numbers of boys and girls (as of January 2017[update], there are 720 boys and 745 girls at the school). The school's first headmaster was William Leske, who held the position from 1613 to 1614. Its present headteacher is Hannah Nemko, who has held the position since 2016 and is the fifth headteacher of the mixed school in Potters Bar. The trustees of the Dame Alice Owen Foundation are the Worshipful Company of Brewers.
The school is consistently one of the highest performing state schools in England and Wales in terms of General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and GCE Advanced Level (A-Level) results, and is widely considered one of the best schools in the United Kingdom. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) rated it outstanding in all areas in 2009. In 2016, it was named the State Secondary School of the Year by The Sunday Times in the newspaper's rankings for the 2016–17 school year, and Tatler and The Daily Telegraph have also strongly praised it. Dame Alice Owen's School is one of the most oversubscribed schools in the UK, with over 600 more applicants than places (in 2013).
Dame Alice Owen's School offers a wide range of extracurricular activities for the pupils that attend it, such as sport and music. Many pupils take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award and school trips, for example to the Galapagos Islands or CERN. The school has a number of notable alumni, many of whom still retain ties to the school, such as the musician Gary Kemp and the film director Sir Alan Parker. Former pupils are referred to as Old Owenians.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Foundation: pre–1613
- 1.2 Early years and expansion: 1613–1886
- 1.3 Boys' and girls' schools in Islington: 1886–1973
- 1.4 Comprehensive school in Potters Bar: 1976–present
- 1.5 List of headteachers
- 2 Academic performance
- 3 Admissions
- 4 Location and school grounds
- 5 Alumni
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Dame Alice Owen's School was founded in 1613 by the English philanthropist Alice Owen (née Wilkes; 1547 – 26 November 1613).[c] Owen decided to found a school to thank God for saving her when she was a child after she narrowly avoided being struck by an arrow, which passed through her hat, in the fields in Islington.[d]
The death of her third husband (the judge Thomas Owen) in 1598 caused Alice Owen to be free to carry out her plans. On 6 June 1608, she acquired a licence to purchase 11 acres (4.5 hectares) of ground in Islington and Clerkenwell, on which to build a hospital for 10 poor widows, and to confer power over that land (and some other land; in total, it was worth £40 a year) to the Worshipful Company of Brewers (her first husband, Henry Robinson, had been a member of the company). The site had been called the "Hermitage"[e] field. In 1609, Owen officially gave authority over the charity she had founded to the Brewers' Company; by indentures dated in that year, she had given the company an annual payment of £25 to support her almshouses.
After founding the almshouses in 1608 on the site, which was on the east side of St John Street, in 1610 Owen obtained the right to build a school and chapel in the same location. Three iron arrows were fixed into a gable in the building, to commemorate the time when she was almost hit by an arrow; Owen also erected a free chapel there. On 20 September 1613, she made rules for her school (and the almshouses); notably, the school was to take thirty boys – twenty-four from Islington and six from Clerkenwell – and be inspected by the Brewers' Company once a year.
The rules also stated that the school's headmaster was to be paid five pounds every three months and be given a house to live in for free; he was to teach writing, mathematics and bookkeeping. Her will (which was dated 10 June 1613), directed the yearly purchase of land worth £20 in order to pay the headmaster's salary. The first man to hold the position was William Leske, who held the position until 1614 before resigning. Samuel Lewis Jnr writes that according to John Stow's Survey of London, building the school and almshouses, as well as purchasing the land, cost £1776. To provide her charity with an income, the executor of Owen's will, Sir Thomas Rich, bought a 41-acre (17-hectare) farm in Orsett in Essex for £22.
The school has maintained many traditions from the time of its founding, such as the giving of a small amount of "beer money" to every pupil. The gift is now a limited-edition five-pound coin in mint condition, having previously been beer,[not in citation given][better source needed] a reminder of the school's long-standing close association with the brewing industry and the Worshipful Company of Brewers.[not in citation given] Arrows feature prominently on the school's crest, which is in itself largely identical to the crest of the Worshipful Company of Brewers; other motifs on the school's logo include barrels and hops.
Early years and expansion: 1613–1886
In 1818, the Charity Commission found that there were 55 boys at the school – the 30 specified by Owen, and 25 private pupils (several of whom boarded with Alexander Balfour, who served as headmaster from 1791 to 1824). Only the private pupils learned French and Latin (the other children had the opportunity to learn Latin, but none took it). At the time, the headmaster earned £30 a year. The value of the trust estates in Islington and Clerkenwell had grown to £900 a year by 1830. The school and almshouses were rebuilt in 1841[f] on a new site in Owen Street, Islington (near their previous location), at a cost of about £6,000; this was done because the old buildings had fallen into disrepair. The original structures were demolished in 1841 to make space for a playground; the headteacher at this time was John Hoare, who held the post between 1833 and 1879. In 1842, there were 85 boys attending the school – one-fifth (17) of them were from Clerkenwell while four-fifths (68) were from Islington – though the new school was intended to be for 120 boys. That number of pupils had been reached by 1865, when there were 100 boys from Islington and 20 from Clerkenwell at the school (all aged 7–14).
A new project received royal assent on 14 August 1878; this scheme enabled the school to expand into two schools – one for 300 boys, and the other for that many girls. The girls' school was opened in Owen's Row in 1886; its first headmistress was Emily Armstrong. The boys' school was expanded further in 1895 so that 420 boys could go there.
Boys' and girls' schools in Islington: 1886–1973
The schools were evacuated to Bedford during the Second World War, in which the schools' buildings were badly damaged. The girls' school was mostly destroyed by bombing in 1940 and had to be rebuilt; on 15 October 1940, around 150 people were sheltering in the basement of the girls' school when a parachute mine hit the building, causing a pipe to flood the basement and killing most of the occupants. A new building was erected in the early 1960s, replacing temporary buildings. Dame Alice Owen's School achieved voluntary aided status in 1951. There were over 600 boys at the boys' school in 1963, of whom more than 100 were students in the school's sixth form. The main buildings of the boys' and girls' schools facing each other across the boys' school playground, were located in Goswell Road, Islington, and were merged as a single school in 1973. The school moved to its current location in the 1970s, with pupils being transferred in stages between 1973 and 1976 (when the process finished).
Comprehensive school in Potters Bar: 1976–present
In July 1976, the school finished relocating to Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. The former boys' school building has now been demolished, but the girls' school building is now part of the City and Islington College. On 2 November 1990, the Duke of Edinburgh visited the school. On 25 November 1997, the Princess Anne opened a new languages centre. Earlier the same year, Arsenal Football Club tried to place a group of its talented youngsters at the school, with a £250,000 'gift', but the school refused, saying it would not drop its academic standards, even though George Graham's children went to the school. The Arsenal Youth Team eventually went to Highams Park School. The school offers a wide range of sports for students, including football, gymnastics, rugby and athletics.
400th Anniversary (2013)
This section needs to be updated.(June 2017)
School: Neither do we.
To commemorate the school's quartecentenary in 2013, the school's 400th Anniversary Committee, headed by the musician Gary Kemp, an Old Owenian, i.e. former student (his band Spandau Ballet performed their first gig in the dining room of the school in Potters Bar), set up events for the whole school community to take part. A 1-by-2-metre (3.3-by-6.6-foot) cake was made at the school for all the staff, students and parents to share, to mark the beginning of the year's celebrations. The film director and producer Sir Alan Parker (also an Old Owenian) directed a Celebration Concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 23 April 2013, with the school's Concert Band, Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Junior and Senior Soul Bands, and Junior and Senior Choirs (as well as possible performances by members of Spandau Ballet). A Thanksgiving Service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral on 30 April 2013. In November, the train company First Capital Connect named one of its trains "Dame Alice Owens 400 years of learning" to honour the occasion.
The programme of various sporting occasions, a specially written drama production and the 400th Summer Ball (on 13 July 2013) which were to take place during the year ended with a carol service at St Albans Cathedral on 16 December 2013. Old Owenians could keep in touch with what was happening by joining the school’s 400th Anniversary email list, to which over 3 300 alumni signed up (they received quarterly newsletters).
In conjunction with the celebrations, a 400th Anniversary Appeal was set up to raise £1 million towards a new science building for the school. It was launched in February 2011 in an event at Portcullis House, Westminster, with Lord Robert Winston (the keynote speaker) and Dr Alan Davison (who was the school's headteacher at that time) joined Edward Guinness (CVO), James Clappison MP (Member of Parliament) and Emily Thornberry MP in outlining the school’s new project. Patrons included Lord Lingfield, Sir Alan Parker and Sir Terry Leahy; David J. C. MacKay, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change also supported the project and endorsed the school’s commitment to providing outstanding facilities for students studying science. The appeal's chairman was Gary Kemp, who said the school needed "help to continue to support those talented students who will be the scientists of tomorrow". In 2014, Lord Winston unveiled the new block.
List of headteachers
Mixed school in Potters Bar
- Hannah Nemko, 2016–present
- Alan Davison, 2005–2016
- Aldon T Williamson, 1994–2005
- David Bolton, 1982–1994
- Gerald F Jones, 1973–1982 (head of the boys' grammar school in Islington; he became the first head of the partially selective, mixed school in Potters Bar in 1973)
Mixed school in Islington
- Ronald C. Puddhepatt, 1973–1976
Girls' grammar school
- Celia Nest Kisch, 1960–1973
- Eslie P. Ward, 1945–1960
- Agnes Mary Bozman, 1933–1945
- Eleanor Wilson, 1914–1933
- Emily Armstrong, 1886–1914 (the first head of the girls' school)
Second boys' grammar school
- Gerald F. Jones, 1962–1973 (he later became the headteacher of the modern, mixed school; see above)
- E.H. Burrough, 1955–1962
- Walter Garstang, 1948–1954
- Oliver W. Mitchell, 1939–1948
- Rev Harry Asman, 1929–1939
- Edwin England, 1927–1929
- Robert F. Cholmeley CBE, 1909–1927
- James Easterbrook, 1881–1909
- Thomas H. Way, 1879–1881
- John Hoare, 1840–1879
First boys' grammar school
- John Hoare, 1833–1840 (he later became the head of the second boys' school; see above)
- Joseph Summersby, 1825–1833
- Alexander Balfour, 1791–1824
- David Davies, 1750–1791
- Richard Shilton, 1738–1750
- Henry Clarke, 1731–1738
- Thomas Dennett, 1717–1731
- Laurence Brandreth, 1716–17
- George Thomson, 1711–1716
- Roger Rogerson, 1699–1711
- William Vickars, 1692–1699
- John Clutterbuck, 1678–1692
- William Smith, 1666–1678
- Mr Fowle, 1665–66
- John Clarke, 1665
- George Lovejoy, 1654–1665
- Peter Dowell, 1628–1654
- Nathaniel Bate, 1626–1628
- John Jorden, 1624–1626
- John Weston, 1624
- Mr Lymer, 1620–1624
- Mr Jones, 1617–1620
- John Hewes, 1614–1617
- William Leske, 1613–14 (the school's first headmaster)
In terms of exam results, the school has been one of the best state-school schools in the country for some time now,[quantify] with over 95% of students receiving 10 A*–C grades in their GCSE exams. The school has appeared in the 2014 Tatler State Schools Guide, where it was highly praised and described as a "golden ticket for Islington parents". In 2009, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) rated it outstanding.
Around 90 per cent of students enter higher education, with many going to some of the best British universities: in 2016, 14 successfully applied to the University of Oxford or Cambridge (collectively called Oxbridge; the school's record number of successful applications in a single year is 30), and two-thirds of students continue to Russell Group universities. In a 2016 study, Sol Gamsu, a PhD student at King's College London, found that Dame Alice Owen's School acts as a "de facto feeder school" for Oxbridge.
Dame Alice Owen’s School has been a Science Specialist School since 2007 and 43 per cent of students go on to study science at world-class universities. The school holds regular lectures, organised by its science society, for students; worked with Cancer Research last year[when?] on a skin cancer project[vague] and is building relationships with Imperial College London. The school aimed to attract additional government funding, with over £250 000 already raised as of October 2011[update], to support the construction, which finished in 2014.
In 2016, 94% of all Year 11 students secured 5 A*–C grades including English and Maths in their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams, which was significantly higher than the average for the school's local education authority (80.2%); 68.6% of entries were given grades of A* or A. The school's GCE Advanced Level (A-Level) results were described by the school's headteacher, Hannah Nemko as "fantastic"; 94.1% of grades were A*–C, with 82.1% being A*–B and 55% being A*–A.
At GCSE, 94.2% of pupils achieved 5 A*–C grades including English and maths and 96.1% of pupils received 5 A*–C grades without English and maths. 64.5% of entries were graded A*–A (at that time, the school had only performed better than that once), and many pupils only received A* grades. A Level results for that year were also record-breaking.
In 2011, 93% of all Year 11 students secured 5 A*–C grades including English and Maths. 96% of all Year 11 students secured 5 A*–C grades without English and Maths. 68.1% of all entries were graded A or A* and 32% were graded A*. 82.1% of all grades awarded were A*–B. There was an upward trend with the new A* grade, with 21.3% of all entries being awarded an A*, 32% were awarded an A, making the A* and A total 52.3%. 64 of all students secured straight A*s and As. 99.4% of all entries secured a pass grade. 20 students with offers confirmed their Oxbridge places and the majority of students secured places at their first choice of university. AS results showed a new school record with 54.1% being graded A (44.1% in 2010) and 78% A & B grades (68.9% in 2010).
The school is partially selective by means of an entrance examination; roughly a third of pupils are selected based on academic ability, while others are chosen because of musical skills, having a sibling at the school or living in the school's catchment area (which includes Islington, from where 20 pupils are admitted yearly because the school was previously located there). 200 pupils are admitted to Year 7 annually, 65 of whom enter through the entrance examinations (there are two, which take place on different days – the first tests verbal reasoning and English and the second tests mathematics) and 10 through a musical aptitude test. Tatler have described the admissions procedure as "mind-boggling". The school also allows external applications to its sixth form.
Students are drawn from a wide area, and the school is heavily oversubscribed. In 2013, it received 665 more applications than there were places. As of 2016[update], fewer than a quarter of applications succeed; ten people apply for every place offered to external candidates to the sixth form.
In 2006, Alan Davison, the school's headteacher at that time, strongly opposed a plan by the Department for Education and Skills to ban partially selective schools from prioritising applications from the siblings of students attending the school, saying that the proposal threatened the school's "family-friendly atmosphere", and also stated that potentially affected schools were obtaining legal advice (the government never implemented the rule) Davison would later (in 2013) criticise Hertfordshire County Council and the government for their alleged lack of response to fraudulent applications (these were for the 22 places at the school available based on residence, and it was claimed that people were renting or buying houses near the school without living in them in order to qualify). He said "[p]eople will do anything to [obtain a place at the school]".
Location and school grounds
Dame Alice Owen's School is situated in the south of Potters Bar, just north of the M25 motorway, and within earshot of South Mimms services, which are near the school (to the west). The school is also close to Bridgefoot Lane. The school grounds have an area of 34 acres (14 hectares) and include a lake and large playing fields. In 2016, the journalist Sue Leonard, writing in The Times, said that the school "offers...facilities many other secondary schools can only envy".
Students at the school come from a wide area, and the school is served by three Transport for London (TfL) contracted London buses: namely the 626, 692 and 699 (Sullivan Buses operates the routes for TfL). Several other buses, such as the 610 (which is operated by Uno), also stop at the school. More than 200 students also travel to school by train daily, travelling to Potters Bar railway station.
Former pupils notable for careers in the entertainment industry include Dean Robinson, Top Trader at Thomas Exchange; Fiona Wade, an actress in the soap opera Emmerdale; Owen Aaronovitch, an actor who starred in Coronation Street; Chris Foreman, aguitarist in the band Madness; Gary Kemp, the lead guitarist and songwriter for the band Spandau Ballet, and Sir Alan Parker, a film director. Sportsperson alumni include the gymnast Gabrielle Jupp; Jodie Williams, a sprinter; Paul Robinson, a footballer who plays for AFC Wimbledon, and Dame Mary Glen-Haig, a gold-medal-winning fencer at the Commonwealth Games. Old Owenians notable for their achievements in science are Frederick Gugenheim Gregory, a botanist who won the Royal Medal; Leslie Reginald Cox, a palaeontologist, and the chemist Leslie Orgel, who is known for inventing Orgel's rules. Two Labour MPs have also attended the school: Ronald Chamberlain, MP for Norwood, and Millie Miller, leader of Camden Council and MP for Ilford North. The politician Alan Amos, Conservative MP for Hexham, taught at the school between 1976 and 1984.
- This is an acrostic from the word Owen's:
- O – Opoortunity for all
- W – Window to the world
- E – Excellence in everything
- N – Never stop learning
- S – Supportive community.
- Pronuounced // DAY-oss.
- Owen is often referred to as Dame Alice Owen, or Lady Owen, but this is because of her status as the widow of a judge – she was never knighted.
- The exact nature of the event is disputed. Many sources, especially modern ones (including the school's website), say that Owen was milking a cow when this happened; some claim that Owen saw a woman milking a cow and decided to try that herself. However, her entry in the first edition of the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) says that this happened when she was playing with other children, and that the story has "received many embellishments". Higgins, writing in A Historical Dictionary of British Women, calls the whole story of the incident a "legend". The event was first mentioned in the second edition of John Stow's Survey of London, which was written after Owen's death in 1618.
- Also spelt "Ermytage".
- Lupton writes that this took place in 1841 and Lewis says that the new buildings were built in 1840–41;by contrast, Victoria County History's A History of the County of Middlesex states that this happened ten years after a project created in 1830 and the Survey of London says that the new schoolhouse was built in 1840.
- "Our History". Dame Alice Owen's School. 2015. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
- British History Online 1969, para. 7.
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Trustee...The Brewer's Company
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Dame Alice Owen's School...665 more pupils applying than there were places
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Miss Lord takes over 130 students through the Bronze Level each year, with about 30 going on to Gold
- Lupton 1895, pp. 398–399.
- British History Online 2008, para. 5.
- Lewis 1842, p. 418.
- Lupton 1895, p. 399.
- Lupton 1895, p. 398.
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as she rose from the milking stool, she had a narrow escape
- Higgins 2003, p. 341.
- Lewis 1842, p. 419.
- British History Online 2008, para. 6.
- British History Online 1969, para. 1.
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- British History Online 1969, para. 2.
- British History Online 1969, para. 3.
- British History Online 1969, para. 4.
- British History Online 2008, para. 34.
- British History Online 1969, para. 5.
- Lewis 1842, p. 420.
- British History Online 1969, para. 6.
- British History Online 2008, para. 33 & 44.
- British History Online 2008, para. 44.
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The golden ticket for Islington parents, with excellent facilities and a smart campus
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- British History Online 1969, paras. 2–7.
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one of our Deputy Headteachers, Mrs Nemko
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Otis Clarke Dame Alice Owen's School...Oshana Gazara Dame Alice Owen's School
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Dame Alice Owen's School...665 more pupils applying than there were places
- Henry, Julie (12 November 2006). "Heads consider legal action over bar on sibling admissions". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 July 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
Alan Davison...said that schools were seeking legal advice
- Henry, Julie (7 January 2007). "Sibling places are saved in selective intakes". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 17 July 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
The government has dropped a controversial admissions rule which would have barred children from automatically following older brothers and sisters into some of the country's best state schools.
- Christian, Paul (26 March 2013). "Fraudulent application fury over Potters Bar school". Welwyn Hatfield Times. Archived from the original on 15 July 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
Davison...reacted to the claim that rich outsiders have been buying up or renting houses to be in the catchment area for 22 school places set aside for local children
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she was attending Dame Alice Owen’s School in St Albans, Herts
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Head of Economics & Politics Dept, Dame Alice Owen's School 1976–84
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- Higgins, Patricia (2003) . "Owen, Alice (d. 1613)". In Hartley, Cathy. A Historical Dictionary of British Women (2nd ed.). Old Woking, United Kingdom: Europa Publications. p. 341. ISBN 9781857432282.
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- Lupton, Joseph Hirst (1895). "Owen, Alice". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 42. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 398–399.
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