Grammar School at Leeds

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The Grammar School at Leeds
GSAL shield.png
Alwoodley Gates
Harrogate Road

, ,
LS17 8GS

Coordinates53°51′54″N 1°31′07″W / 53.86503°N 1.51851°W / 53.86503; -1.51851Coordinates: 53°51′54″N 1°31′07″W / 53.86503°N 1.51851°W / 53.86503; -1.51851
TypeIndependent school
MottoBe Inspired
Religious affiliation(s)Multi-faith
ChairDavid P A Gravells
Principal and Chief ExecutiveSue Woodroofe[1]
Age3 to 18
PublicationGSAL Life

The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) is an independent fee-paying school in Leeds, England, created on 4 August 2005 by the merger of Leeds Grammar School (founded c. 1552) and Leeds Girls' High School (co-founded in 1876 by Frances Lupton).

The schools merged in September 2008, at which point the school was opened to both sexes. The school is situated on two sites: the senior school (ages 11–18) and junior school (7–11) at Alwoodley, while the former Leeds Girls' High School site in Headingley is used by the infant school and nursery. The school operates as a diamond school, classes for girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 16 are segregated, but extracurricular activities are mixed. Junior school and sixth form classes are coeducational.

House structure[edit]

A key element of the school is the eight school houses, each with two house captains and four deputies. They are:

  • Eddison House – named after Anne Eddison, of the Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education who helped set up Leeds Girls' High School.
  • Ermystead House – named after William Ermystead, a priest who donated properties to Leeds Grammar School in 1552.
  • Ford House – named after John Ford, a founding member of the LGHS Council.
  • Harrison House – named after John Harrison, benefactor, who built Leeds Grammar School's third site on North Street in 1642.
  • Lawson House – named after Godfrey Lawson, Mayor of Leeds, who endowed the Lawson Library, the oldest library in the city.
  • Lupton House – named after Frances Lupton, who helped found LGHS, and her granddaughter Elinor G. Lupton, who funded the eponymous centre at the Headingley site.
  • Powell House – named after Helena Langthorne Powell, the second Headmistress of LGHS, who established its move to Headingley, where it remained until 2008.
  • Sheafield House – named after William Sheafield, who is traditionally thought of as the founder of Leeds Grammar School in 1552.


Main entrance of the Senior School

The Grammar School at Leeds was established by the merger of Leeds Grammar School and Leeds Girls' High School in 2005. The schools operated on two separate sites some distance between each other. Leeds Girls' High School operated from three separate sites in Headingley, whilst Leeds Grammar School had a 138-acre (0.56 km2) modern campus in Alwoodley.[citation needed]

When the schools merged in 2008, four sections were created. The junior and senior schools and sixth form operate from the expanded Alwoodley Gates site (originally Leeds Grammar School). The Alwoodley site was redeveloped from 2007 to 2008, and contains the sixth form and maths departments and the Lawson Library, science department and refectory were extended. Rose Court Nursery & Pre-Prep School operates in Headingley from the refurbished Ford House belonging to Leeds Girls' High School and a nursery extension. The rest of the Leeds Girls' High School site is surplus to requirements awaiting an application for outline planning permission for residential housing. The site currently stands empty.[citation needed]

Senior management[edit]

The current principal and chief executive is Mrs Sue Woodroofe, previously headteacher of British School of Brussels. Woodroofe was brought up in Yorkshire and completed her secondary education at York College for Girls, before training at Durham University as a teacher of English and History.

The previous principal and chief executive was Michael Gibbons, previously headmaster of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield. Gibbons was educated at the City of Leicester Grammar School and gained his degree from King's College London. He is the founder member of the Forum of Independent Day Schools.[citation needed] Gibbons took up the office of principal on 1 April 2010.

The first principal after the merger which created the school was Mark Bailey, who had been headmaster of Leeds Grammar School since 1999.


The Grammar School at Leeds was created on 31 August 2005 when Leeds Grammar School merged with Leeds Girls' High School. The schools physically merged in September 2008.

Plans for the merger were not universally welcomed. In 2003, a campaign group, "No Merger in 2007" stated there was a "hidden agenda", to reduce debts incurred by the LGS building programme, and the proposed merger "makes no educational sense". LGS headmaster, Mark Bailey, said that only a fifth of parents opposed the planned merger, and the LGHS headmistress Sue Fishburn stated that 80% of parents were in favour.[2] A number of parents stated a preference for strictly single-sex establishments despite assurances that classrooms would be single-sex.[3]

In January 2004, Mark Bailey was reported that less than 1% of the 1500 families with children at both schools "wrote to oppose the move".[4] Further controversy was reported in 2005, when plans for the school crest were released. According to the report, "Parents who contacted the Yorkshire Post said many felt dismayed by the merger and the new logo but dared not speak up". One parent felt the existing crest had been "obliterated by a felt-tip doodle".[5]

Plans to redevelop the Alwoodley site met with opposition. Leeds City Council delayed its decision for the planning application until summer 2006, requiring the physical merger to be put back until September 2008. Controversy regarding the expected increase in traffic levels at Alwoodley arose,[6] and a new traffic plan was submitted.[7]

Work began in August 2007 to form a new site access junction. The construction of a pedestrian tunnel and a 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit was enforced to relieve traffic pressure. Controversy persisted into late 2007 over the possible need for an additional vehicle entrance in Alwoodley and arrangements for the disposal of the Headingley LGHS site.[8]


Twinning arrangements[edit]

The school established exchange partnerships with the 'Institution Saint Michel: Collège and Lycée', a Catholic Secondary School with boarding facilities located in Solesmes, France.


  1. ^ "The Grammar School at Leeds". Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  2. ^ Robinson, Andrew: "Debt is driving merger plans for top city schools, claim opponents", Yorkshire Post, 28 November 2003. Retrieved 30 October 2008
  3. ^ "City's top private schools to merge", Yorkshire Post, 3 June 2003. Retrieved 30 October 2008
  4. ^ "Protests fail to prevent merger of top schools"!, Andrew Robinson and James Reed, Yorkshire Post, 29 January 2004. Retrieved 30 October 2007
  5. ^ "School spins up a storm with logo to replace old crest", Yorkshire Post, 11 March 2005. Retrieved 30 October 2007
  6. ^ "Ban The School Run Cars" Yorkshire Evening Post, June 2006
  7. ^ Leeds Grammar School Merger - Section 278 works, Leeds City Council, 4 June 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2007
  8. ^ ""Storm" at school gates" Grant Woodward, Yorkshire Evening Post, 19 September 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2007