Prince Henry's Grammar School, Otley

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Prince Henry's Grammar School
Established 1607
Type Voluntary Controlled Academy
Headteacher Janet Sheriff
Location Farnley Lane
West Yorkshire
LS21 2BB
Coordinates: 53°54′45″N 1°41′37″W / 53.9124°N 1.6937°W / 53.9124; -1.6937
Local authority City of Leeds
DfE URN 137704 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1430
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Colours Blue and White

Prince Henry's Grammar School (Specialist Language College), also known as Prince Henry's, is a secondary school and sixth form established in 1607 in the market town of Otley, West Yorkshire, England. The school teaches boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 18 and has around 1,400 pupils and 84 teachers. It retains a high position within regional league tables.[1] Leading departments include Art, English, History and Science. Despite the name, Prince Henry's is now a state-funded academy school.


Prince Henry's was founded under Royal Charter from King James I in 1607 and is named after his son Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales. As the Charter stipulates the name of the school to be Prince Henry's Grammar School, this name was perforce retained despite it becoming an anachronism when the school became a comprehensive. The school celebrated its 400th birthday in 2007. Also in 2007 the school completed the integration of a sixth form rugby academy.[2]

Specialist statuses[edit]

In October 2005 Prince Henry's Grammar School became the first school in the City of Leeds to be presented with the prestigious International School Award from the British Council, as a result of staff and student-led initiatives. Prince Henry's is actively engaged in the EU's Comenius programme and has links to partner schools around the world (including China and South Africa). This is in addition to its specialism in modern foreign languages (acquired in 1999). This status brings significant additional funding into the school to enable it to broaden the language-learning opportunities of its students and the local community. Students study at least one language (French or Spanish) with German available as a second language at GCSE level and Chinese, Italian and Polish are available as options for AS and A Level study. GCSE students also have Mandarin language tasters and several participate in exchange programs with China.[3]


The School has changed location throughout the town over the school's history, an old site of the school is now host to an art gallery.[4] The school's current location is to the north of the River Wharfe the front of the building is an old Edwardian school house complete with clock tower. The building has received frequent additions, the most recent of which was a new science block added in May 2008. On 10 July 2008 HRH Duke of Kent visited the school to officially open the new science building. As well as unveiling a plaque to commemorate the opening, His Royal Highness spoke to students in Prince Henry's sciences, physical education and modern languages lessons. The building has been named after Walter Hargreaves Hindle, a former Otley resident who bequeathed a large sum of money to the school for the advancement of the study of science.


The School's sports facilities include a swimming pool, gym, several tennis courts and rugby pitches as well as two fully equipped sports halls.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

The school's media and music departments produce an annual musical; recent years have seen Les Misérables, Back to the Eighties, Grease, South Pacific and Return to the Forbidden Planet performed. The music department ensembles run throughout the year and include: PHOJO (Jazz Orchestra); Concert Band; Orchestra; Senior Choir; Strings; Junior Band and 'Sing Up!' (A year 7/8 vocal group). These groups often perform at local churches in Otley and Ilkley as well as at art exhibition openings and in various locations abroad (France, Italy and Belgium most recently).[citation needed]

Sporting achievements include rugby, which is a popular sport at PHGS as is netball. In the 2003–04 season the school rugby union team won the Daily Mail Under-18 Vase. Other sporting activities include swimming, athletics, badminton and annual ski trips to France and the United States. The PE department also organises a biennial rugby tour to Dubai.[citation needed]

PHGS runs foreign exchanges, as the school has strong international links in Europe, Durban, South Africa and China. The history department runs biennial trips to Russia, Italy and to the battlefields of the First World War. The school is a long-term participant in the EU's Comenius exchange programme, and is currently working with schools in Spain, Denmark and the Czech Republic.[citation needed]

The school has links with regional institutions including the Royal Armouries and Leeds Metropolitan University, with whom it signed a sports facilities accord in 2008. The politics department hosts seminars run by staff from the University of Nottingham while the history department organises similar events with staff and students from the University of Leeds and University of Durham.[citation needed]

Politics students visit Parliament every year and run a biennial regional conference on issues of popular interest. The 2010 conference focused on the general election in the form of student-orientated hustings attended by leading regional politicians. Students from the school take part in the Citizenship Foundation's national bar mock trials and a number of sixth formers are members of the debating society.[citation needed]

Iraq War walkout controversy[edit]

On 5 March 2003 prior to the Iraq War, the school suspended two Sixth formers, Sachin Sharma and Carey Davies, for trying to organise a demonstration against the war at Prince Henry's Grammar School and giving anti-war speeches in the school cafeteria. Their suspension gained national news coverage. Sachin said he had simply spoken up in favour of protesting against the potential war: "The majority of our school does not have democratic rights." Headmaster John Steel said: "We value the conviction of the two students concerned, and respect the views of all members of our school community, but we cannot sanction protests during the school day when students should be in lessons."[5]

Organised by BBC's Asianet Radio Station, John Steel was challenged to a live debate with Sachin Sharma. However, with the Local Education Authority declaring that it was up to schools to make its own policies regarding the period of walk outs John Steel did not take up the offer leaving Sachin an open-mic to ridicule his suspension and agitate against the war unopposed. Afterwards both students went from being indefinitely suspended to being reinstated without conditions. The sixth formers of the school were henceforth allowed to participate in antiwar activity outside of the school unrestricted. The younger students, however, were prevented from doing so.[citation needed]

Academy controversy[edit]

During 2011 school governors examined the possibility of the school becoming an Academy. There was "almost unanimous opposition" from two public meetings to the school becoming an Academy. Despite this the governors voted 10 to 9 in favour of conversion. NUT and NASUWT teachers, through fear of changes in pay and conditions, decided to strike on six days during November, with unions giving notice that 64 teachers would take part. The Unions demanded that the conversion must be halted for further consultation.[6]

The strike reached national news coverage, as well as a large amount of coverage in local news channels, newspapers and radio. Across the six days of strike action by the unions a number of teachers, students and parents protested at the school gates. On 26 November there was a protest march throughout Otley which was made up of nearly 400 members of the community. Protests continued up until the day of the conversion, and finally on 1 December the school converted to an academy. The conversion was also opposed by the local vicar, the local MP, Greg Mulholland and Otley Town Council.[7]



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