Whitgift School

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Whitgift School
Motto Vincit qui patitur
("He who perseveres, conquers")
Established 1596
Type Independent Boarding school
Religion Church of England
Head Master Dr. Christopher Barnett
School Captain George Oyebode
Founder John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury
Location Haling Park
South Croydon
Greater London
Coordinates: 51°21′36″N 0°06′05″W / 51.36°N 0.101389°W / 51.36; -0.101389
Local authority Croydon
DfE URN 101837 Tables
Staff 200 (approx.)
Students 1,478
Gender Boys
Ages 10–18
Houses      Andrew's
Colours Gold and Navy
Publication Whitgift Life Magazine
Former pupils Old Whitgiftians
Patron HRH Prince Andrew Duke of York
Website www.whitgift.co.uk

Whitgift School is a British independent day and boarding school in South Croydon, London currently educating approximately 1,500 boys aged 10 to 18.

It is operated by the Whitgift Foundation, a charitable trust, and has amongst the highest number of scholarships and bursaries awarded to pupils of any independent school in the country.[1] The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Whitgift School has two sister establishments in Croydon, which are also part of the Whitgift Foundation. These are the Trinity School of John Whitgift, a boys' independent school, and Old Palace School, a girls' independent school.

Whitgift School and Trinity School share the same motto, Vincit qui patitur ("He who perseveres, conquers").


Whitgift School was founded in 1596 by the Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift and opened in 1600.[2] It was founded as part of the Whitgift Foundation which had the aim of building a hospital and school in Croydon for the "poor, needy and impotent people" from the parishes of Croydon and Lambeth.[3] It is Croydon's oldest school.

The school was originally located in North End, Croydon. In 1931 the school moved to its current site, Haling Park, which was once home to Lord Howard of Effingham, the Lord High Admiral of the Fleet sent against the Spanish Armada.[4] Between 1871 and 1946 the school was known as Whitgift Grammar School, after which it relinquished its direct grant and became a fully independent school known as 'Whitgift School'.[5]

The present Headmaster, Dr Christopher Barnett, is the twenty-sixth in the School's history. There are approximately 650 boys in the Lower School and 650 boys in the Upper School. Haling Park retains the appearance of an attractive country estate with a large copse, many fine specimen trees, Prevost's Squirrels, maras, peafowl (peacocks), crowned and demoiselle cranes, flamingos and other exotic birds. The Founder's Garden, Water Gardens and Andrew Quadrangle provide reflective spaces as well as venues for plays, concerts and celebrations. The Whitgift Rose, created to mark the 400th Anniversary of the School, is widely planted throughout the grounds.

The original buildings have been supplemented by many additions and improvements including a Music School and Concert Hall, an integrated facility for science, technology, art and design together with library and resource centres, a separate Lower School building, and a major new Sports and Conference Centre which was opened in February 2005. A new Art Department, Performing Arts Centre and a new Sixth Form Centre were completed during the summer of 2011.

Originally a day school, boarding was introduced for the 2013-14 school year.[6]


Whitgift is located in a 45-acre (18 ha) parkland site. The ship (a model of HMS Ark Royal) that features prominently on the top of "Big School" (the school hall) is a reminder of the history of the site. Additions since the 400th anniversary of the school have been a maze in the founder's garden, an aviary, an enclosure for Prevost's squirrels, ponds and a multimillion-pound sports complex.

Whitgift is renowned locally for its wide variety of animals, most notably the peacocks which have graced the grounds since the 1930s, and the flamingos.[7] In 2005 Sir David Attenborough visited the school to open the ponds, the enclosure of which also houses various waterfowl,[8] including Hawaiian geese, which the zoo successfully bred. The school formerly held two albino wallabies (a gift from the Queen, given in 2002 after the school's ponds re-opened), which unfortunately died after drowning in the ponds on a particularly misty morning.

Cricket ground[edit]

The first recorded match held on the school ground occurred in 1898 when the school played University College School.[9] Since 2000, the school ground has hosted several matches for county club Surrey. The ground hosted its first match for Surrey when they played a List-A match against Warwickshire. From 2000 to 2011, the ground has hosted 12 List-A matches.[10] In 2003, the ground held its first first-class match when Surrey played Nottinghamshire. From 2003 to 2011, the ground held 9 first-class matches.[11] The cricket ground can hold up to 5,000 spectators.


Most boys are admitted to the School at the ages of 10 or 11. A smaller number of boys enter the School at 12, 13, 14 and 16. Entry is based on academic performance in entrance exams and interviews, and an assessment of a boy's ability to contribute to wider school life and benefit from the co-curricular activities offered.[12]

Scholarships are awarded offering a remission of up to 50% of the school fees. Aside from academic scholarships, they may be awarded for particular talent in Music, Art, Design Technology, Sport or as an All-Rounder. A substantial number of bursaries are also awarded up to the value of the full fees.[13]


In year 7, boys must choose three languages to study; one Romance (French/Spanish), one inflected (German/Latin) and one Oriental (Japanese/Mandarin). In year 9, boys can drop a language, but can also take up either Italian or Ancient Greek[14] which is studied off-timetable.

In the Fifth Form, boys undertake a broad curriculum in a mixture of GCSE and IGCSE subjects. Boys are typically examined in at least 11 subjects. A majority of boys take IGCSEs in separate sciences (Biology, Chemistry & Physics), resulting in three qualifications, but the number of boys studying only Dual Award science is increasing in an effort to bolster results after a particularly mediocre year. A pupil must attain at least an A grade at GSCE level, in order to continue that subject in Sixth Form.[15] For to get into Sixth Form, boys have to pass a 'hurdle', designed to allow only the top students to continue. To pass this hurdle, boys are required to achieve at least ten B grades at GCSE and one A.

Since 2005, Whitgift has offered International Baccalaureate[16] to the Sixth Form as an optional alternative to A-Levels, as well as BTEC qualifications in sport and business studies.


When in the Lower School (Lower 1st (Year 6) to Upper 3rd(Year 9)), boys wear the standard school dark blue blazer with the Whitgift crest emblazoned on the chest pocket; blue shirt; charcoal grey trousers; blue shirt with the school crest emblazoned on the breast pocket; dark blue v-neck jumper with the school crest emblazoned on the chest (optional); black/grey socks and, if in the 1st Form (Years 6&7), the 1st Form tie (navy blue body with two yellow stripes running diagonally across the centre, encasing the school crest); or if in the 3rd Form (Years 8&9) and or 5th form (Years 10&11), the standard school tie with house colours. Students in years 10 and 11 wear a white shirt and Sixth formers wear black, blue or grey suits with the sixth form tie.

Co-curricular activities[edit]

While Whitgift School has one of the finest academic results in the country,[17] it also affords substantial importance to co-curricular activities within the school life. This is reflected in the sporting facilities as well as an array of musical activities. The school is, however, moving away from the co-curricular slightly, putting more of a focus and a priority on academic achievement after a less than stellar performance in the summer of 2013. This focus has showed fruition as in 2014 the school achieved its highest ever A*/A percentage rate in GCSE examinations (82.3%). The A*/C percentage rate came to 99.5%.[18] This record was beaten again in the summer of 2015, with an A*/A rate of 86.6% and a A*/C rate of 99.8% [19]

School terms[edit]

There are three academic terms in the year,[20]

  • The Michaelmas Term, from early September to late December.
  • The Lent Term, from early January to late March.
  • The Trinity Term, from late April to early July.

Combined Cadet Force[edit]

Whitgift has traditionally had a strong connection with the British armed forces, and has a well-established combined cadet force. Pupils may choose to serve in one of the three branches of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), the army, air force and navy. All three branches offer pupils the chance to get involved in outdoor activities including shooting, canoeing, sailing, diving and hill walking.[21] The school has partnerships with two local state schools St. Andrews C of E High School and Thomas More School, allowing their students to take part in CCF activities.[21] Each year an annual inspection takes place conducted by a senior figure of the armed forces, often a former student of the school. Although not designed to recruit for the armed forces, some students go on to win service scholarships.


The school has a strong sporting tradition, and fields teams in a wide range of sports. Whitgift boasts a state of the art £9 million sports and conference centre. It served as a training facility for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and regularly hosts national competitions in a wide range of sports.[22] The school also has a Health & Fitness Centre, a 55 station gym and group exercise studio open to students and their families.[22]

Whitgift is the only British school to win national titles in the four major team sports, cricket, hockey, football and rugby.[22] In rugby, Whitgift has twice won the National Daily Mail Cup (1999, 2003) at Under 15 level, and more recently the 1st XV won and retained the Daily Mail RBS Cup (2010, 2011) at under 18 level.[23] In hockey, 2011 saw Whitgift complete an historic double by winning the National Indoor Hockey Championships at Under 15 and Under 18 levels in the same year.[22] The school also become national Under 18 golf champions for the first time in 2014 winning on the historic Scottish links of Carnoustie.

Whitgift has a number of former sporting professionals currently coaching at the school. These include the former Surrey cricketer David Ward, Colin Pates the former Chelsea and Arsenal defender, Neil Kendrick, the former Surrey spin bowler, and Steve Kember, the former Palace and Chelsea midfielder and manager at Selhurst Park. The school has links to the academies of Charlton, Chelsea and Crystal Palace football clubs, to Surrey County Cricket Club, London Wasps rugby club and East Grinstead Hockey Club.[24]

Senior staff[edit]

  • Headmaster: Dr Christopher A. Barnett (retiring August 2017)
  • Second Master: Mr P.J.R. Ellis
  • Deputy Headmaster: Mr Peter J. Yeo
  • Assistant Head (Academic): Mr D. William Munks
  • Assistant Head (Pastoral): Mr Stewart D. Cook
  • Assistant Head (Proctor): Mr David Elvin


  • 1600-1601 Ambrose Brygges[25]
  • 1601-1606 John Ireland[25]
  • 1606-1616 Robert Davies[25]
  • 1616-1629 William Nicolson[25]
  • 1629-1648 John Webb[25]
  • 1651-1662 Thomas Day[25]
  • 1668-1675 William Crowe[25]
  • 1675-1681 John Shepheard[26]
  • 1681-1712 John Caesar[26]
  • 1712-1742 Henry Mills[26]
  • 1742-1751 Samuel Staveley[27]
  • 1751-1774 John Taylor Lamb[27]
  • 1774-1801 James Hodgson[28]
  • 1801-1812 John Rose[28]
  • 1812-1843 John Bisset[28]
  • 1843-1865 George Coles[29]
  • 1865-1871 William Ingrams[30]
  • 1871-1902 Robert Brodie[31]
  • 1903-1927 Samuel Andrew[32]
  • 1928-1939 Stanley Gurner[33]
  • 1939-1946 Gerald Ellis[34]
  • 1946-1961 Edward Marlar[35]
  • 1961-1970 Michael Hugill[36]
  • 1970-1991 David Raeburn[37]
  • 1991-2017 Dr Christopher Barnett[38]
  • 2017- Christopher Ramsey

Notable alumni[edit]

Former pupils are known as 'Old Whitgiftians'. The following are a selection of notable alumni

Academia, medicine and science[edit]


Law, government and politics[edit]

Media, music and the arts[edit]




Notable staff[edit]

Southern Railway Schools Class[edit]

The school lent its name to a locomotive in the Southern Railway V Class. This class was known as the Schools Class because all 40 locomotives were named after prominent English public schools. "Whitgift", SR no. 916 and BR no. 30916, was built in 1934 and withdrawn in 1962. The Whitgift nameplate that was formerly at the front of the locomotive is now on display in the Raeburn Library in the school. Hornby Models created an OO gauge replica of the 916 Whitgift Schools Class locomotive. Whitgift has one on display in the Raeburn Library underneath the Whitgift nameplate from the 4-4-0 train.


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External links[edit]