Retford Oaks Academy

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Retford Oaks Academy

, ,
DN22 7NJ

Coordinates53°19′15″N 0°57′26″W / 53.32090°N 0.95722°W / 53.32090; -0.95722Coordinates: 53°19′15″N 0°57′26″W / 53.32090°N 0.95722°W / 53.32090; -0.95722
MottoDedicated to excellence
Department for Education URN137117 Tables
Head of Academychaz d mush
Executive principalDavid Cotton
Age11 to 18
HousesClumber Rufford Sherwood Thorseby
Colour(s)Green Black Gold White
Former namesKing Edward VI School, Ordsall Hall School, Sir Frederick Milner Secondary Modern, Retford Oaks High School

Retford Oaks Academy is a secondary school with academy status in the market town of Retford, Nottinghamshire, England, situated in the (mainly former) coal-mining district of Bassetlaw.


The school admission policy follows that of the LEA and there are a number of available places in all years at the school. Anyone wishing to join the school should contact the school office for an appointment.


The school has modern facilities and moved into new buildings in March 2007.The school computer rooms consist of 3 dedicated rooms and 1 library

Academic performance[edit]

The school has improved from a poor starting point since opening in 2003. The number of students achieving 5 or more A* to C grades at GCSE has risen from 20% in 2006 to 49% in 2011. The opening of the separate sixth form centre with The Elizabethan Academy, effectively operating as a sixth form college, has produced A level results above the England average.

Neighbouring Lincolnshire (Gainsborough – fourteen minutes on the train) still has the grammar school system, and attracts a few applicants from east Nottinghamshire, potentially distorting Retford's schools' results.


Retford Oaks has maintained a grading of "satisfactory" in its recent inspections although with several areas classed as good.[1]


The school was established in 2003 with the amalgamation of two of the schools in Retford. His HRH Duke of Kent formally opened the school in October 2008. In September 2009 the school was designated as a specialist sports college with its second subject being Mathematics. In September 2011 the school officially became academy as part of the Diverse Academies Learning Partnership - a collaboration of three academies, Tuxford Academy, National C of E academy and Retford Oaks.

The collaboration with the other schools is enabling Retford Oaks to move rapidly towards its target of "outstanding" by 2014.

Older schools: King Edward VI Grammar School and the Girls' High School[edit]

The King Edward VI School was on London Road. It was previously known as the King Edward VI Grammar School and the oldest part of the school buildings (opened in August 1857) was designed by Decimus Burton. The Grammar School magazine was called The Retfordian. The school motto was Ex Pulvere Palma. In later years the school’s senior houses were Edward, Foljambe, Gough, and Overend. The junior houses were Bescoby, Darrell, Laycock, and Mason (all named after school benefactors).

The school usually traced its original foundation back to Thomas Gunthorpe of Babworth in 1519 although there are references to a still earlier school in the town. It was refounded around 1551 during the reign of King Edward VI. It subsequently had a chequered history, twice coming close to collapse during the 19th century. The school accepted boarders from at least the 17th century onwards, but the last boarders left in 1938. During the Second World War a number of boys from the Great Yarmouth Grammar School were evacuated to Retford (from 1940–44), and were taught in classrooms at King Edward VI Grammar School.[2]

Headmasters of King Edward VI Grammar School[3]

?1551 Rev. Christopher Say, LL.B., Jesus College, Cambridge

1588 Rev. George Turvyn, MA, MA, Trinity College, Cambridge [or George Turvin]

?1605 Rev Thomas Cooper, MA, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

1628 Rev. Nicholas Dickons, MA, Pembroke College, Cambridge [or Nicholas Dickens]

1638 Thomas Stacey, MA, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

1642 Rev. Thomas Dand, MA, Trinity College, Cambridge

1669 Robert Pinchbeck.[4]

1670 Henry Boawre, MA, St John’s College, Cambridge [or Henry Boare/Henry Bower]

1702 Rev. Thomas Moore, St John’s College, Cambridge

1708 Rev. Henry Stevenson

1748 Rev. Seth Ellis Stevenson, MA, Peterhouse, Cambridge

A diary kept by Seth Ellis Stevenson between 1752-55 survives in Wigan Archives. Another diary from 1760-77 is in Nottingham University Library.

1793 Rev. William Tyre, MA, Pembroke College, Oxford

1801 Rev. William Mould, MA, Peterhouse, Cambridge

1838 Rev. William Henry Trentham, MA, St John’s College, Cambridge

Trentham resigned and died in 1842. From 1842-47 no headmaster was appointed, although the usher, James Holderness, continued to teach a few pupils

1847 Rev. John Henry Brown, MA, Trinity College, Cambridge (later headmaster of Brewood Grammar School, Staffordshire)

Following Brown's departure, no headmaster was appointed between 1850-57. Henry Clarke Mitchinson, the usher and sole remaining teacher, was acting headmaster, but his alleged harshness in corporal punishment led to various complaints and to an eventual court case.

1857 Rev. Jonathan Page Clayton, MA, Caius College, Cambridge

1866 Rev. Edward Swinden Sanderson, MA, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

1870 Rev. Frederick Richard Pentreath, MA, DD, Worcester College, Oxford

1873 Rev. Alfred John Church, MA, Lincoln College, Oxford

1880 Rev. Oliver Carter Cockrem, MA, LLD, Trinity College, Dublin

1886 Rev. Thomas Gough, BSc, FGS, London University

Gough was formerly headmaster of Elmfield College, York. Historian A D Grounds commented that "he may with justice be called the school's second founder".

1919 Charles Roland Skrimshire, MA, Merton College, Oxford

1926 Charles William Pilkington-Rogers, MA, BSc., Queens’ College, Cambridge

1950 John Charles Havelock Gover, MA, Emmanuel College, Cambridge

c1972 Tom Savage

c1978 Michael Allen

After amalgamating with the Sir Frederick Milner Secondary School in 1979, the new establishment was known simply as the King Edward VI School until the eventual second merger into the Oaks School.

Earlier there was also Retford High School for Girls on Pelham Road – a Girls' grammar school.

Previous schools up to 2003[edit]

Before 1979, the former Sir Frederick Milner Secondary School (an all-male secondary modern school) was on Pennington Walk,[5] with around 500 boys, in the east of the town. This became part of the King Edward VI School, a voluntary controlled school, and was used as the sixth form site prior to the new Post-16 centre being opened in 2007. The former site will become residential properties. Sir Frederick Milner was the Conservative MP from 1890–1906 for Bassetlaw.

The former Retford Oaks School was on a site towards Ordsall near the former leisure centre, which was the former Ordsall Hall School on Ordsall Road (now the Post-16 Centre). This merged with the King Edward VI School in 2003 forming the current school.


Construction of new school in December 2005 by Balfour Beatty

Similar to five other schools in Bassetlaw (two in Worksop and one in Tuxford, Bircotes and The Elizabethan High School in Retford), the school underwent an extensive rebuilding programme under PFI funding. It was not possible to develop the King Edward VI School site as a Post-16 Centre (even though the county council wanted to), because the county council did not own the property so an entirely new site was built on Babworth Road. This site is for ages 11–16. On the former Ordsall Hall site, a new leisure centre was built (nextdoor) in January 2008 and a separate Post-16 (sixth form) Centre was built in September 2007, when the 11–16 site opened as well. Worksop has also had a new sixth form (and leisure centre) built under the same PFI contract.

Notable former pupils[edit]

King Edward VI School[edit]

King Edward VI Grammar School[edit]

Former King Edward VI Grammar School pupil
Jim McCairns (left of picture) at Tangmere in 1943 with 161 Squadron

Sir Frederick Milner Secondary Modern (to 1979)[edit]

  • Derek Randall, England cricketer.
  • Tim Stockdale, Olympic showjumper, represented the UK at the individual and team events at show jumping at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; had a twin brother
  • John Lumby Bishop, see above entry under King Edward VI Grammar School; John Bishop was two years at "Sir Fred's" [11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ofsted Reports for Retford Oaks. Retrieved on 2011-09-30.
  2. ^ Jann Parry. Different Drummer: The Life of Kenneth MacMillan. London: Faber and Faber, 2009, pp. 26, 28.
  3. ^ Largely based on the lists and commentary in A D Grounds, A History of King Edward VI Grammar School, Retford, 1970
  4. ^ [1] A A Kidson in A History of East Retford Church (1905) suggests that Robert Pinchbeck, master of the Grammar School, maintained the parish registers during the 1656-1660 period. So it seems probable that he actually arrived earlier than the suggested 1669 date
  5. ^ Pennington Walk. (2011-01-05). Retrieved on 2011-09-30.
  6. ^ Oboe. Retrieved on 2011-09-30.
  7. ^ London Gazette 28 December 1973 pages 31 & 32
  8. ^ London Gazette 15 June 1979 page 15
  9. ^ An Illustrated History of the Royal Aircraft Establishment Bedford ISBN 1853103608
  10. ^ Canton Bern Switzerland Commercial Register Number CH-–0 founding owner and director 12 Oct 1993
  11. ^ RGS Admissions List 1950–60. (2010-03-04). Retrieved on 2011-09-30.

External links[edit]

News items[edit]