Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls

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Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls
Motto Serve and Obey
Established 1875
Type Independent school
Day school
Religion Christian
Headmistress Biddie O'Connor
Chairman Simon Cartmell
Founder Robert Aske
Location Aldenham Road
United Kingdom
DfE URN 117649 Tables
Gender Girls
Ages 4–18
Houses Gillett, Gilliland, Harold, Millar, Powell, Sprules

White, Green and Red

Publication The Greenhouse
Former pupils Old Girls
Website www.habsgirls.org.uk

Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls is an independent day school in Elstree, Hertfordshire. It is often referred to as "Habs" (or "Habs Girls" to distinguish it from the neighbouring Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School). The school was founded in 1875 by the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies of the City of London.


The plaque of the previous campus, now the Japanese School of London

In 1690, Robert Aske gave the Haberdashers Company £20,000 to set up a hospital and home for 20 elderly men and a school for 20 boys at Hoxton, just north of the City of London. The school came decidedly second to the home for elderly men. There were no new boys between 1714 and 1739 because the foundation was short of funds. The Hospital was rebuilt during 1824-26 and the foundation was reorganised in 1873 when four schools were established: two at Hoxton, and two at Hatcham, New Cross in south-east London. Boys and girls were taught separately at each site. All four schools opened in 1875, the Hoxton schools offered a basic English education and the Hatcham schools covered a wider syllabus. In 1891, Hatcham girls moved to new premises half a mile away, while Hatcham boys took over the girls’ buildings.

Early in the 20th Century, new sites for the Hoxton schools were purchased in Cricklewood (always referred to as Hampstead) for the Boys and Acton for the Girls. Both these schools became Direct Grant in 1946 and then fully independent, day, fee-paying schools in 1976. The need for expansion saw the Boys’ School move again to Elstree, Hertfordshire in 1961, followed by the Girls in 1974.[1]

The previous site of the girls' school, in Acton, became the Japanese School in London.[2]

The School[edit]

School nomenclature[edit]

In the Junior School there are two classes in each year group with approximately 25 pupils in each class. The reception classes are called Rainbow Buttons and Bobbins . In key stage 1, the classes are known as 1 Red, 1 Green, 2 Blue and 2 Yellow. In key stage 2 the classes are known as 3 A and 3 Alpha up to 6 A and 6 Alpha.

The Senior School is divided into the Middle School and Upper School. In the Middle School, the years are known as Lower 4, Upper 4 and Lower 5 corresponding to years 7, 8 and 9. In the Upper School, years 10 and 11 are known as Middle 5 and Upper 5. There are usually 5 forms in each senior year group. They are identified by variants of the letter A in different alphabets, including A, Aesc, Aleph, Alpha and Aske after Robert Aske.

The sixth form years (years 12 and 13) are known as Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth. There are usually 8 forms in each year of approximately 15 pupils in each form, and are known by the initials of the form tutor.

Admission to the School[edit]

Admission to the school is famously competitive. The school provides financial assistance with fees; the majority of support available from the Haberdashers' Aske's Charity helps those in most need. A number of scholarships are also awarded for academic or musical excellence.

Academic achievement[edit]

97% of girls achieve grades A* to B at A Level,[3] and over 99% achieve A* - B at GCSE.[3]

Links with the community[edit]

The school has links with the local community; in the Junior School girls visit an Age Concern drop-in centre, and a local home for the elderly. They also participate in events with Meadow Wood School for the Disabled. In the Senior School, girls also visit homes for the elderly, and help with horse-riding for the disabled. Each year the Girls’ and Boys’ schools jointly host a Senior Citizens' Christmas Party.

St Catherine Parents’ Guild[edit]

The Guild, of which all parents at the school are automatically members, is a link between parents and school. The Guild was formed in December 1979, by Headmistress, Mrs Sheila Wiltshire. The Guild Committee is made up of parents and staff representatives. Appointments to the Committee are made by the Headmistress. Form representatives liaise between the Guild Committee and the main body of parents.


The current headmistress is Biddie O'Connor, MA who returned to the school in September 2011. O'Connor was a deputy head at the school between 1998 and 2002.

  • 2005 – 2011 Elizabeth Radice, MA
  • 1991 – 2005 Penelope Penney, BA
  • 1974 – 1991 Sheila Wiltshire, BSc, OBE
  • 1969 – 1973 Jessie Gillet, BA
  • 1944 – 1968 Eileen Harold, MA
  • 1920 – 1943 Dorothy Sprules, MA
  • 1904 – 1919 Margaret Gilliland, MA
  • 1888 – 1903 Edith Millar
  • 1874 – 1888 Elizabeth Powell

Current Pupils[edit]

Old Girls[edit]

Former pupils are referred to as Old Girls. Their alumni association is called Haberdashers' Aske's Old Girls' Club (HAOGC) which was created on 6 May 1904 by Headmistress, Miss Margaret Gilliland. In 2014, they celebrated their 110th anniversary at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Notable Old Girls include:


  1. ^ http://www.haberdashers.co.uk/index.php?p=schoolsElstree
  2. ^ Barber, Lynn (2009-06-07). "Educating Lynn: take one". London: The Observer (8 June 2008). Retrieved 23 November 2009.  "Amanda asked if I'd like to watch some of the filming, and said I should come to the Japanese School, Acton, to watch one of the classroom scenes." and "But no - the Japanese school was there and in fact turned out to be the old Haberdashers' Aske's Girls' School which we used to play at lacrosse."
  3. ^ a b http://www.habsgirls.org.uk/433/welcome/results-and-destinations
  4. ^ "Royal Navy News". Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  5. ^ http://rosiesargent.co.uk/id2.html
  6. ^ "Margery Grace Blackie (1898–1981)". ODNB. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "St Paul's Cathedral". Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "Inspirational Woman: Julie Chakraverty | Non-executive director for Aberdeen Asset Management & Co-Founder of rungway - WeAreTheCity | Information, Networking, jobs & events for women". WeAreTheCity.com. 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  9. ^ "WOMAN'S HOUR - Light Programme - 13 July 1951 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  10. ^ "Institute and Faculty of Actuaries". www.actuaries.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  11. ^ "Deeply Missed...." (PDF). Upbeat Magazine, Royal Academy of Music, London. Autumn 2008: 21. 2008. 
  12. ^ "Prolific Lewes writer with the ability to amaze". www.sussexexpress.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  13. ^ "Speedqueens: The Belles of Brooklands". speedqueens.blogspot.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  14. ^ "Extraordinary family story of woman who gave away millions". Darlington and Stockton Times. Retrieved 2016-08-15. 
  15. ^ "Mary Norwak | The Times". Retrieved 2016-08-24. 
  16. ^ "Mary Norwak". Retrieved 2016-08-24. 


  • HR Dulley, The Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls: The First 125 Years (2000). Published by Gresham Books Limited. ISBN 0-946095-40-X

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°39′15″N 000°18′39″W / 51.65417°N 0.31083°W / 51.65417; -0.31083