Midhurst Grammar School

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Midhurst Grammar School
Motto Labor Omnia Vincit (Toil conquers all things)
Established 1672
Closed December 2008
Type Voluntary Controlled Comprehensive Secondary
Religion Church of England
Founder Gilbert Hannam
Location North Street
West Sussex
GU29 9DT
50°59′27″N 0°44′14″W / 50.9907°N 0.7371°W / 50.9907; -0.7371Coordinates: 50°59′27″N 0°44′14″W / 50.9907°N 0.7371°W / 50.9907; -0.7371
Local authority West Sussex
DfE URN 126091 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Gender Mixed
Ages 13–18




Colours Navy & Gold          
Former Pupils Old Midhurstians

Midhurst Grammar School was a grammar school and later a comprehensive upper school in Midhurst, West Sussex. The school served pupils aged 13 to 18 who usually joined the school from one of the local intermediate schools. It was replaced in 2009 by Midhurst Rother Academy. Notable students included geologist Charles Lyell and H. G. Wells.[1]


A school was founded in Midhurst for poor boys in 1672 by local businessman Gilbert Hannam.[2] Initially a school for just 12 pupils, it has varied in size over its 300-year history. The buildings were extended in 1821, but fell into disrepair, with the school closing in 1859. It was re-opened in 1880 as a boys' day and boarding grammar school. By 1944 it was classified as a Voluntary Controlled school, run by West Sussex County Council. Later, in 1956 the school became a mixed school, accepting girls for the first time. Falling pupil numbers, and the opening of the new Herbert Shiner secondary school in Petworth meant that in 1966 the school merged with the then Midhurst County Secondary School to form a comprehensive school, while retaining the historic name.[3] Shortly after this in 1970 local re-organisation saw the school change to become an upper school accepting pupils at age 13 (rather than 11). Younger pupils attended either Midhurst Intermediate School or the Herbert Shiner School in Petworth. Proposals were brought forward by the Local Education Authority in 2002 to revert to a two-tier structure in the area, which would have seen the Grammar School become an 11-18 school once again. However, this was opposed by the local community.[4]

In February 2006 the school seriously failed in an Ofsted report and was put into the 'Special Measures' category. Following the first monitoring visit from Ofsted the former head teacher W.T. Benge resigned.

Mr Peter May M.A. (Oxons) - Headteacher at The Weald School, Billingshurst was then appointed by the Local Authority as Executive Headteacher, with an Operational Headteacher, Jonathon Barrott, previously the Deputy Headteacher (who died on the evening of February the 12th 2009 after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer), also in operation at the school.[5]

The special measures required improved quality of teaching and pupil involvement in their own learning; improved behaviour of a minority of pupils; tracking and monitoring of pupil progress at Key Stage 4; and improved quality of leadership and management. An Ofsted report in July 2006 reported: 'Feedback shows that while satisfactory progress has been made in several areas, overall progress so far is not yet sufficiently good.'

In their September 2007 report, Ofsted reported that the school was being efficiently run with their value-added exam results proving to be well above the national average[6]

The school did eventually close in 2008 as part of a move to revert to two-tier provision, with a new academy replacing both the grammar school and the intermediate schools under the name of Midhurst Rother College.

Head Teachers[7][edit]

  • 1799 Rev. John Wooll
  • 1807 Rev. William Bayly
  • 1879 Horace Byatt
  • 1903 Thomas Hay
  • 1909 A.C. Maples
  • 1918 Rev. Bernard Heald
  • 1938 N.B.C. Lucas
  • 1967 D. Fisher
  • 1972 Mrs. V.M.Stempson (acting)
  • 1973 Miss M.P. Evans
  • 1983 E.E. Hickford
  • 2001 W.T. Benge
  • 2006 J.R. Barrott


The school was based on an unusual campus in the north of the town, after several changes in recent years. Various buildings are spread over a disparate site. Lucas House was added to the school's property in 1997, with a new extension added in 1999, and a further Sports Complex developed in 2006. The campus remains in use for the academy.


The school was made a specialist Science College in 2004, due to new laboratories and facilities within the science department. However, its pupils followed the National Curriculum in Years 9, 10 and 11. The school was the only 13-18 comprehensive school in the Local Authority, with pupils taking the Year 9 National Curriculum Tests just 8 months after joining the school from one of the local intermediate schools.

A level and BTEC courses were offered in a variety of fields.

Academy replacement[edit]

The school grounds (and temporarily the buildings) are to be used for a new school with academy status. The local authority brought forward proposals in tandem with a consultation on amending the age of transfer in the area. This led to a new academy school opening in the town, taking pupils from the age of 11.[8]

There was considerable opposition to these plans, and a group of local citizens of the Rother Valley, including many former and current students, formally questioned the plans for many reasons and questioned the fairness of the consultation procedure, citing a "rushed process", particularly considering length of Midhurst Grammar School's history. Their campaign is known as "NAME" - No Academy in Midhurst or Easebourne.[9]

Midhurst Grammar School closed on 19 December 2008, with a ceremony taking place in the former River Site Hall, ex-staff, ex-students as well as many of the current staff and students were present as Scott Ind & Chloe Oram delivered the closing speech as last Head Boy and Girl respectively. Its replacement, Midhurst Rother College, opened in January 2009. The new buildings of Midhurst Rother College will be sited on the river site; work started at the end of 2010 and is due to be completed in autumn 2012.

Old Midhurstians[edit]

Midhurst Grammar School alumni are known as 'Old Midhurstians', including:


  1. ^ "Lyell, Charles (1797-1875)". Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  2. ^ L. F. Salzman (editor) (1953). "Midhurst". A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4: The Rape of Chichester. University of London & History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  3. ^ Report and Recommendations on Reorganisation of Secondary Education. West Sussex County Council. 1966. 
  4. ^ "No Change to Age of Transfer in Storrington, Midhurst and Petworth Areas". WSCC website. West Sussex County Council. 2003. Archived from the original on 2011-09-02. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  5. ^ "Improvements Will Continue At Midhurst School". WSCC Website. West Sussex County Council. 2006. Archived from the original on 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  6. ^ "Midhurst Grammar School: Inspection Report". Ofsted Website. Ofsted. 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-14. [dead link]
  7. ^ Janet Newman; Colin Crouch; Edward Fischer; John Newman, eds. (2010). Midhurst Grammar School Remembered. 
  8. ^ "Rother Valley could benefit from Academy School". West Sussex Grid for Learning Website. West Sussex County Council. 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-12-24. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  9. ^ "No Academy in Midhurst or Easebourne". No Academy in Midhurst or Easebourne Blog. 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  10. ^ "Artists Information". st-ives-ceramics.co.uk. 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  11. ^ R. S. Rait, ‘Haines, Sir Frederick Paul (1819–1909)’, revised by T. R. Moreman, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004); online edition (subscription site), accessed 18 April 2012

External links[edit]