Penistone Grammar School

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Penistone Grammar School
Motto "Never Stop Flying"
Established 1392
Type Community school
Headteacher Jo Higgins
Founder John Clarel
Location Huddersfield Road
South Yorkshire
S36 7BX
Coordinates: 53°31′58″N 1°38′10″W / 53.5327°N 1.6361°W / 53.5327; -1.6361
Local authority Barnsley
DfE number 370/4027
DfE URN 106653 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1,579
Gender Co-educational
Ages 11–18
Colours Black, white and red

Penistone Grammar School is a co-educational secondary school and former grammar school in Penistone, in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1392 and its most notable alumnus is Nicholas Saunderson, the probable inventor of Bayes theorem, in the 18th century.[1] The school has undergone many expansions, requiring the erection of several buildings, and now houses nearly 1,600 pupils from age 11 to 18. Its current OFSTED overall rating is grade 2 ('good') following an Ofsted inspection in October 2013.


The school was founded as the Free Grammar School of Penistone in 1392, when it is recorded that a gift of land was made by John Clarel, Lord of the Manor at Penistone, for the purpose of a school. Later, the school was situated in the town centre on a site opposite St. John the Baptist Church and across the road from the old Cloth Hall. In 1443 the Free Grammar School of Penistone received further bequests and in 1547, after the dissolution of the chantries, the school continued as the free school for the children of Penistone. Following further endowments, the school was rebuilt in 1702 and enjoyed a considerable period of academic renown under a series of very able Masters. In 1892 the school withdrew from its town centre site to a position about half a mile north-west of the town centre. Around this time the school took fee-paying boarders, had a strong reputation for mathematics and science, and a tradition of sending students to the University of Cambridge. The school remains on this site.

The school was originally an all-boys grammar school, with girls being admitted for the first time in 1907. In the late 20th century the school ceased to be a grammar school, becoming one of the first neighbourhood comprehensive schools in the country. It became fully comprehensive in 1969, with partial selection (for more distant pupils) for a few years prior to that. The comprehensive school initially retained its Grammar school name and traditions such as the house system and speech night. These traditions were gradually scaled back, with the standard of uniform downgraded from blazers to sweaters in the 1990s. However, as of the academic year beginning 2011, the school has reverted to blazers and restored its traditional house system. Also in 2011, despite a long campaign to preserve them, the old buildings were entirely demolished or sold to as private housing by Barnsley council, and the school moved into a brand-new purpose-built building.

The school motto was traditionally "Disce Aut Discede" ("Learn or leave"), its school colours were traditionally red and black, and it used the coat of arms of the founder, John Clarel, which show six martlets. The school was rebranded in the 21st century, changing the logo to one similar to Seagate's, and the motto to "Learning and Achieving Together" and again to "Never Stop Flying."

The school's history is now encapsulated in a walk way to the new building, with each road named after specific points in the school's history.

Present day[edit]

In September 2003 the school obtained specialist status to become a Business and Enterprise College. It is the only maintained school in the Local Education Authority of Barnsley to have a Sixth Form. The school has also received an Artsmark Silver award.[2] In addition the school has recently been re-certified as an investor in people.

The new £35 million state of the art school building opened on 2 May 2011, with a complete demolition of the old ones except for Fulford and Weirfield blocks. The new building has a range of flexible learning spaces to enable teachers to deliver learning in new, innovative ways. The school introduced a new Vertical Tutoring System where pupils of different ages are spread around to help each other improve test scores and homework. The system has received both positive and negative reviews but continues to go ahead. The outcome of a meeting of the governing body held on Tuesday 28 April 2009 to discuss the name of the Advanced Learning Centre being built in Penistone as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme was to keep the existing name. As well as a complete rebuilding of the school, other changes are also being looked into such as variable times at school within the day, extending learning opportunities within the wider community and increases opportunities of learning away from school and increased use of technology. This fits into the Barnsley LA plan for Advanced Learning Centres (ALCs) to replace their existing secondary schools. The school has now restored some of its traditions, including the full uniform and house system; The houses are named after the old school buildings: Fulford, Netherfield, Bowman, Weirfield, and Saunderson. The new school is said to be much more vibrant and colourful. This is because each block is the colour of a house. For example, the Humanities and Performing Arts block is the colour of Bowman (purple). The colour of the Maths, English and Languages block is the colour of Saunderson (light blue). The colour of the Technology, Science and Art is the colour of Netherfield (green). The colour of the P.E block is the colour of Fulford (orange) and the colour of the 6th Form is the colour of Weirfield (teal).

Penistone Grammar School also incorporates a sixth form centre. The sixth form currently has around 250 students in attendance. Penistone Grammar School is the only maintained school in the Local Education Authority of Barnsley to have a sixth form and so this gives the school an advantage over many of its surrounding rival schools, when it comes to 16 – 18 education.

The school's uniform consists of a black blazer, with the school's logo on the left breast pocket and the date 1392 on the lower right pocket, white shirt, a black clip-on tie with a coloured bird and stripe (colour depends on the wearer's house colour), black trousers/black skirt, and black shoes. As of December 2013, house captains and prefects wear colour inverted ties (house coloured tie with a black coloured bird and stripe).

Old Penistonians[edit]


  1. ^ Stephen M. Stigler (1983), "Who Discovered Bayes' Theorem?" The American Statistician 37(4):290–296.
  2. ^ [1] Archived 14 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ [2] J J O'Connor and E F Robertson, Stefan Banach, MacTutor History of Mathematics (University of St Andrews, Scotland, April 2015)
  4. ^ David Hey (2002). A History of Penistone and District. Wharncliffe books. p. 50. ISBN 1-903425-21-2. 
  5. ^ [3] Jean Bacon, an oral history conducted in 2001 by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, Hoboken, NJ, USA.

External links[edit]