Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls
|Motto||Serve and Obey|
|DfE URN||117649 Tables|
|Houses||Harold, Sprules, Gillett, Millar, Gilliland, Powell|
White, Green and Red
|Former pupils||Old Girls|
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.
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.
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
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.
Links with the community
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
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
- Gaurika Singh, youngest competitor at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who represented Nepal in swimming. She won her heat in the Women's 100m backstroke event.
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:
- Laura Aikman, actress (Class of 2004)
- Emily Arbuthnott, tennis player (Class of 2016)
- Elizabeth Ashley, first female Medical Officer to qualify to serve on HM submarines (Class of 2004)
- Linda Bennett OBE, fashion designer and entrepreneur (Class of 1981)
- Margaret Bent, musicologist (Class of 1959)
- Luciana Berger, Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree (Class of 1999)
- Bidisha, arts critic, broadcaster and author (Class of 1996)
- Florence Birchenough, member of the first female Olympic team (1894-1973) (Class of 1911)
- Margery Blackie, homeopath to Queen Elizabeth II (1898-1981) (Class of 1916)
- Philippa Boardman MBE, one of the first female ordained priests (Class of 1981)
- Frances Bourne, mezzo-soprano (Class of 1993)
- Hilda Buckmaster, politician and naval officer (1897-1993) (Class of 1916)
- Nica Burns OBE, theatre producer (Class of 1973)
- Mary Coules, one of the first female journalists, Reuters (1985-1957) (Class of 1912)
- Barbara Craig, archaeologist and classicist (1915-2005) (Class of 1933)
- Amanda Davies, CNN Sportscaster (Junior School)
- Muriel Dodwell, one of the first women actuaries (1894-1953) (Class of 1914)
- Vanessa Feltz, TV personality and radio broadcaster (Class of 1979)
- Charlotte Green, radio broadcaster (Class of 1974)
- Mary Hocking, author (1921-2014) (Class of 1939)
- Vera Houghton CBE, campaigner (1914-2013) (Class of 1931)
- Mabel Lister, one of the first female racing drivers (1895-1959) (Class of 1912)
- Mabel Lethbridge, writer and the youngest person to be awarded an O.B.E. for her services in the Great War (Class of 1914)
- Melissa Nathan, journalist and author (1968-2006) (Class of 1986)
- Mary Norwak, cookery writer (1929-2010) (Class of 1941)
- Talulah Riley, actress (Class of 2004)
- Caroline Ryder, writer (Class of 1995)
- Ritula Shah, journalist and radio presenter (Class of 1985)
- Daphne Slater, actress (1928-2012) (Class of 1944)
- Eloise Smith, fencer at 2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney (Class of 1995)
- Jane Wernick CBE, original engineer on the London Eye (Class of 1972)
- 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."
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- HR Dulley, The Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls: The First 125 Years (2000). Published by Gresham Books Limited. ISBN 0-946095-40-X