Gad's Hill School

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Gad's Hill School
Logo of Gad's Hill School.png
Motto First to thine own self be true
Established 1924
Type Independent school
Day school
Headmaster Mr David Craggs
Location Higham
Coordinates: 51°24′40″N 0°27′28″E / 51.4112°N 0.4579°E / 51.4112; 0.4579
Local authority Kent
DfE number 886/6007
Students 410
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–16
Houses Haig, Wellington, Beatty

Gad's Hill School in Kent, England, was formerly Gads Hill Place, the country home of Charles Dickens. It became an independent school for day pupils in 1924.


Gad’s Hill School has many traditions. Year 11 pupils sign the lead on the roof which has many names from years past. This tradition began when there were plays and dances in the grounds and the pupils would come and write their names to commemorate the occasion.[1]

The evening before the Christmas holidays, the pupils and their families visit Rochester Cathedral to attend the annual Carol Concert. During this concert chosen pupils read the lesson of the Bible, the choir sings traditional carols and a chosen pupil is honoured to sing the first stanza of Once in Royal David's City.

On the last day of the winter term the whole school has an annual cross country run. The younger students run around the rugby fields a few times. Juniors run a 2.5 km (2 mi) and the seniors run a 3.5 km (2 mi).

In June 2008, the school was shown in the Channel 4 TV docudrama Dickens' Secret Lover,[2] presented by actor Charles Dance, on Dickens' alleged affair with the actress Ellen Ternan during the last 13 years of his life. Charles Dickens died in what is now the school's dining room. Cedric Charles Dickens, the author's great-grandson, was a governor of the school until his death in 2006. Marion Dickens, the author's great great granddaughter, is a former pupil of the school and is a member of the Board of Governors.[3]

In the news[edit]

On August 28, 2002 Lorna Hurrell, a teacher at Gad's Hill School who was fighting a second bout of cancer, was dismissed from the school after she was unable to return to work full-time. In 2003 an employment tribunal found the school had acted unfairly and had discriminated against her on grounds of a disability. She was awarded £17,400 in compensation. The Headmaster, David Craggs, stated in an interview after the hearing that he felt the amount awarded to Mrs Hurrell vindicated the school's actions, because she and her union, the NUT, had claimed £100,000 in damages.[4][5]

David Craggs was reported to the ASA in 2011 by neighbouring private school head teacher, Dr Walker of King's School, Rochester when Craggs dubiously claimed that Gads Hill was the 'top performing independent school in England'. Dr Walker explained that the league tables Craggs quoted were distorted because schools such as his offer International GCSEs (IGCSEs), which are not recognised in the performance league tables, rather than the conventional GCSEs.[6]

In July 2014, the school again made the headlines when the head was accused of misusing school funds. The Charity Commission said it had written to the school and was considering "what action, if any, may be appropriate".[7] John Melville resigned as chairman of the board of governors in April 2014 and said he was now free to speak out about his concern over the school's finances "as opposed to toeing the line". Two other governors left the following month, both also mentioning financial concerns in their letters of resignation. In 2010 it had come to light that Craggs had been awarding himself annual pay rises without approval from the board. In 2011 his salary stood at £168,985. Solicitors advised that this should be reported to the police but the majority of the governors ignored that advice. Craggs agreed to a £70,000 a year pay-cut to regularise the matter. [7]

In February 2013 the then chair of governors of Gads Hill School made a Report of a Serious Incident, which notified The Charity Commission that the salary of the Head teacher had not been properly reviewed for years and that increases to his salary were excessive and not commensurate with the role. In light of this, the board of governors carried out a review and implemented additional financial controls. The Head teacher’s salary was reduced accordingly. At that time the Commission was satisfied with the charity’s response and advised the governors to consider the Commission's guidance on trustee remuneration and conflicts of interest. However, in July 2014, the Commission became aware of local press reports, which included allegations about salary increases and expenses paid to the Head teacher and had suggested that a number of governors had resigned as a result.

The Commission opened an operational compliance case to examine whether the governors had carried out an internal investigation into the alleged misuse of expense claims, and to see if the Head teacher’s salary had been correctly overseen. The Commission published a report of the case, explaining why the Commission got involved with the charity, what regulatory concerns were assessed and what the impact of the case was.[8]



  1. ^ Gad's Hill School News Archive June 2005
  2. ^
  3. ^ Gads Hill School website
  4. ^ "Compensation for cancer teacher". BBC News. 17 June 2003. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "Teacher 'unfairly sacked over cancer fear'". The Guardian. 29 April 2003. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Head of Kent school challenges best school claim". BBC News – Kent. London. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Gad's Hill School head accused of 'misusing funds'". BBC News. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Gads Hill School (803153)" (PDF). Operational Case Report. Charity Commission. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 

External links[edit]