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Wymondham College

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Wymondham College
The logo of Wymondham College
Golf Links Road

, ,
NR18 9SZ

Coordinates52°32′42″N 1°03′26″E / 52.54489°N 1.05736°E / 52.54489; 1.05736Coordinates: 52°32′42″N 1°03′26″E / 52.54489°N 1.05736°E / 52.54489; 1.05736
Day and boarding school
MottoFloreat Sapientia
(Let Wisdom Flourish)
FounderLincoln Ralphs
TrustSapientia Education Trust
Department for Education URN136481 Tables
CEOMr Jonathan Taylor
PrincipalMrs Zoe Fisher
Age11 to 18
HousesY7-Y11: Cavell Hall, Fry Hall, Kett Hall, New Hall, Peel Hall Y12-Y13: Lincoln Hall
PublicationWymondham College Magazine
Revenue£14.97m (2020–21)
Former pupilsOld Wymondhamians
Social Care Unique Number:SC055089
Lincoln Ralphs Sixth Form Centre

Wymondham College is a coeducational day and boarding secondary school in Morley, near Wymondham, Norfolk, England. A former grammar school, it is one of 36 state boarding schools in England and the largest of its type in the country, with up to 650 boarding places.


Former military hospital[edit]

The school is built on the site of the Second World War USAAF 231st Station Hospital, When the school first opened in 1951 the hospital's forty Nissen huts were used as dormitories. It was established by Lincoln Ralphs, the chief education officer of Norfolk County Council. Brick-built accommodation began to appear in the late 1950s, but Nissen huts remained in use,[1] principally for classrooms and storage, through to end of the 1990s. The only Nissen hut now remaining is the College chapel. A memorial garden has been created on the site of the former USAAF mortuary, which for many years was used as the school's technical drawing classroom.[2]

Grammar schools[edit]

In 1951 there were two separate schools, Grammar and Technical, each with separate Heads. They merged in the mid-1950s after an uneasy co-existence. The school was a co-educational boarding grammar school. It was intended for academically-gifted children with no grammar schools in their local area that they could attend, as well as those with parents abroad or who regularly moved around the country. It gave priority, where possible, to children from families where the parents had separated, thus possibly under financial hardship. Admissions were by examination and headmasters' reports. [3]

In the mid-1970s, the school had 700 boarders and 750 day pupils (from the former county grammar school). By 1978 this was 1,000 day pupils as well as the 700 boarders. Margaret Thatcher visited the school in the early 1970s.

The school remained exclusively 'boarding' until the early 1970s, when it was merged with the County Grammar School, which had been hosted at Wymondham on a 'temporary' basis for nearly ten years.

The school in the 1970s had been in a state of disrepair with an out-dated water supply and drainage system, and had an unreliable heating system (built by the USAF in 1944) in the winter and lack of insulation. Despite these problems it was still producing outstanding academic results. It was offered £250,000 in 1978 by the Labour government to address the situation, on condition that the school became a comprehensive school. The money never appeared, partly because soon after Labour lost the 1979 general election.


Grammar school status was lost with the advent of comprehensive education. In the early 1990s it became a grant maintained school.

The facilities are used for external summer schools. In August 1998, seven children from London on a course run by a special needs charity were taken to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital after being stung by a swarm of non-native Median wasps. On 9 March 1990, the Duke of Edinburgh visited the school.


In 2010 the school became an academy as part of the Academies Act 2010. In 2016 the DfE recognised the college as being in the top 100 schools nationally on each of the main three measures, attainment, EBACC pass rate and Value added progress.[citation needed] The college was awarded world class school status in November 2015.[citation needed] In 2016 it was the founding school of a new multi-academy trust, the Sapientia Education Trust. The Trust grew in size to 17 schools by June 2022. The College won the ‘UK secondary school’ of the year award at the national teaching awards in November 2021.

Wymondham College Prep School[edit]

In 2019, the Sapientia Education Trust announced plans to unveil a new, purpose-built building to house a new preparatory school for children from reception to Year 6, led by Mr Simon Underhill, with a vision to fostering 'development for the whole child'.[4] Despite initial plans to purchase adjacent farmland for the Prep School, the College began construction on the former site of the Cavell Hall lawn, by the Morgan Sindall Group.

The Prep School has had a varied reception among parents, students, alumni and the wider boarding school community, with some hailing the innovation and convenience it would provide for working parents, while others have questioned the ethics of sending a child away to boarding school at such a young age, although boarding only starts at Year 5. The new building opened in September 2021, together with Underwood Hall the new boarding house. Like Wymondham College, the school is heavily oversubscribed.


Wymondham College's library

The accommodation blocks (in order of construction) are:

  • Peel Hall: after Alderman Sam Peel – former Chairman of Norfolk Education Committee.
  • Lincoln Hall: after Abraham Lincoln, in honour of the servicemen who were hospitalised there before it became a school. Opened by US Secretary of State Dean Acheson.
  • Fry Hall: after Elizabeth Fry.
  • Some of Wymondham College's 7 boarding houses
    Kett Hall: after Robert Kett.
  • Cavell Hall: after Edith Cavell.
  • New Hall: last of the modern Houses to be built.
  • Lincoln Ralphs Sixth Form Centre; After Sir Lincoln Ralphs, former Chief Education Officer for Norfolk and the founding father of the college.

The grouping of Houses into Halls varied over time.

A recent major development includes a football AstroTurf pitch with floodlights, nine new classrooms, two new science laboratories (linking the old part of the science block with the newer part) and infill to Peel boarding house roof for additional dormitories. A new dining room extension includes the admin block and new staff room. Peel Hall has increased capacity with departure of the staffroom and admin to the new building.

Another recent major development is a new International Centre which was built to replace the old Language Block which was a morgue in World War Two. The old Language block is then due to become the new administration centre. The International Centre houses Modern Foreign Languages Block and the UK office of the Model European Parliament. It was completed in June 2011.

House system[edit]

A House system was first established in 1953, with house names North, South, East and West. As the College expanded and brick-built accommodation came into use in the early 1960s, the system was revised and the Houses were given names of cathedral cities:

When mixed Houses were introduced in the early 1970s, the cathedral House names were scrapped and the Houses adopted the names of the Halls themselves. Lincoln and Peel Halls were converted to Sixth Form boarding houses in 1978, Peel Hall being further converted into a boarding house for Year Sevens in 1995.

The house system was as follows:

  • Year Seven: Peel
  • Years Eight to Eleven: Fry, Cavell, Kett or New
  • Years Twelve to Thirteen: Lincoln

As of the 2010–2011 academic year, Peel started to retain some year 7 students in order to become a 'main school house'. Under the new system, the houses appear so:

  • Years Seven to Eleven: Cavell, Kett, Fry, New or Peel
  • Years Twelve to Thirteen: Lincoln

Boarding school[edit]

Ofsted inspected the residential accommodation in 2019 and confirmed it remains 'outstanding'.[5]


In January 1958, a hoard of 881 Anglo Saxon (Edward the Elder) coins were found at the school when a drain was being dug.[citation needed]

Notable Old Wymondhamians[edit]

Early morning sunlight over fields

Wymondham Grammar School[edit]


  1. ^ photograph
  2. ^ Cope, Lauren. "Former Wymondham College headmaster pens book reflecting on its history to celebrate state boarding schools". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Wymondham College". Morley Village. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  4. ^ "Welcome to Wymondham College Prep School". Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  5. ^ Ofsted Care Report 2019 Retrieved 17 September 2020. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Guardian 7 March 1978, page 13
  • Guardian 27 July 1982, page 11

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