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Hanley Castle High School formerly called Hanley Castle Grammar School, was probably founded in 1326 and is one of the oldest schools in England. Throughout much of the 20th century it was a boys grammar school that grew from about 50 to around 200 day-pupils and boarders. In 1972, the school open its doors to girls. In 1974 it became a mixed gender, voluntary controlled comprehensive and the school started to intake pupils at age 14 on transfer from the Hill School in nearby Upton-upon-Severn. The school reverted to being an 11-18 school in the 1990s and the population of students grew over time to the present number of about 900 students. The school serves a large area including Hanley Castlemarker village itself, and the nearby town of Upton upon Severnmarker, and other local villages including Hanley Swanmarker, Wellandmarker and Castlemortonmarker and is one of the three major state secondary schools for children from the Malvernmarker area. Its catchment area stretches from Castlemortonmarker to Earls Croomemarker and from Kempsey to Eldersfieldmarker.


Inside traditional main building.
Early 20th century.
The school has existed for over 700 years, retaining many of its original features. The oldest parts are listed buildings that date from around 1600, are in use as the sixth form house, and part of the main block. Additions to the campus in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have been carefully designed to harmonise with the historic architecture without disturbing the original character.


[[File:HanleyHigh1326Plaque.JPG|thumb|The sandstone plaque reads:
Founded 1326

Restored 1735

Enlarged 1868 1909 1930 1935]]A sandstone engraving over the main entrance dating from the 1930s cites its foundation as early as 1326, when a chantry school was established to teach local children music, reading and writing, so that they could become part of the choir of St Mary's church. Deeds dating from 1523 and 1544 are the earliest extant documents, and the Church of England episcopal archives record a Philippus Frye as being a master at the school in 1582. In 1733 the school house was rebuilt on funds donated by Sir Nicholas and Mr Edmund Lechmere Worcester News archives Retrieved 8 July 2009

For several centuries, the school functioned under the patronage of the lords and hereditary peers of the Lechmere family who have been settled in Hanley Castle, Worcestershire, since the 11th century. The baronets were traditionally chairmen or members of the board of governors until at least the mid-1970s. The school's emblem is the same pelican that is the central feature of the Lechmere family coat of arms.
In 1868 in order to improve the teaching standards, the school was divided into a grammar school for the sons of the middle classes and an elementary school providing the labouring and agricultural classes with a basic education.

Following further changes in 1893, the primary school was moved to a new site at Cross Hands and named St Mary's Primary School, while the grammar school provided education for boys from the age of 8 to 17.

In 1909 Worcestershire County Council paid for several new classrooms and took control of the appointment of governors and the number of students increased from 55 in 1921, to 172 in 1946 with 4 boys in the sixth form. By the the late 1950s, a first modern extension including new classrooms and a science laboratory had been constructed, and the number of pupils had increased to 217 boys aged 11 to 18 who were generally admitted by selection after passing the Eleven Plus exam. About 50 of the pupils were boarders, and although government owned, the school was still run very much on the traditional lines of a typical English "Public School" of which there were many in the Malvern area. With 42 students in the sixth form in 1962, an urgent request for further extensions to the school became a subject of debate in the House of Commons.

However, the school was still small by county standards, and in 1969 following changes in government education policy, the school was developed more in the style of a comprehensive school to introduce a focus on vocational as well as academic education. The boarding section was closed down, the dormitories were converted to classrooms and teachers' offices. Girls were admitted for the first time in 1972, allowing them to benefit from its high standards of teaching. In 1974 the school became a comprehensive school and was renamed Hanley Castle High School. At this stage, although there were still pupils under the age of 14, the new intake of pupils came each year by transfer of pupils from "The Hill School" (now closed) at Tunnel Hill, Upton upon Severn. Prior to that The Hill had been a state secondary school for children aged 11-18. The Hill was renamed "The Hill Junior High School" in 1974 as part of the same round of changes. It was later, in the 1990s, that Hanley Castle High School returned to being an age 11-18 High School and the Hill Junior High School was closed. By 2009 the student population at Hanley Castle High School had increased to its current number of around 900.


6th form study centre, formerly the headmaster's residence.
A 17th century listed building.
A 21st century building.
With the changes in 1969 many of the old traditions were lost in the course of modernisation along with the demolition of older buildings that have been replaced by extensive expansion. The school nevertheless retains its centuries-old stance as the focal point of the tiny village, and its high standards of academic achievement.. The campus now comprises many new buildings that include six science laboratories, two computer rooms, two music rooms, a drama studio, two art studios and five craft, design and technology work areas. A sports hall accommodating four badminton courts was built in 2002. The school also has a self-contained sixth-form college on site, with around 200 students studying for their A levels. Planning has been granted for work on a new £2 million music block to replace temporary mobile buildings.

The school provides extended services (that will become mandatory for all UK schools from 2010) including:

  • study support
  • play and recreation
  • fitness classes
  • drama, sport, and music
  • arts, crafts and other special interest clubs
  • volunteering and business and enterprise activities
  • speech and language therapy
  • community access to facilities including adult learning, ICT and sports facilities

Academic achievement

The school has several achievement awards, for example, International School and Healthy School awards. In 2006 it achieved specialist status in languages and received its financial management standard in schools in 2007/08.

Ofsted judges Hanley Castle to be a good school with outstanding features, among them: the quality of teaching and learning, support for vulnerable learners, well behaved pupils, a peer system of reporting incidents to senior pupils in confidence, good leadership and management, and a range of extra-curricular activities and clubs. In her report inspector Rashida Sharif describes Hanley Castle as a "vibrant and dynamic school that has not stood still since its last inspection, held in March 2006."

The school's academic performance in GCSE results throughout the years 2005 - 2008 has been consistently and significantly higher than both the county and national averages. Based on the statistics provided by the government, in comprehensive school A-level results for 2005, The Independent lists the school in place 53 out of 161 UK schools , while the Guardian league table also places it as one of the top performing schools in the county for 2007-08 The number of A-level results has increased from 16 points (61%) in 1997 to 769 (adjusted for increased in students) points (76%) in 2007.


The school is part of the Leading Aspect Award with the Hanley Castle Pyramid scheme that combines the school with eight of its major feeder primary schools within the framework of effective implementation of the government’s Modern Languages Entitlement at KS2 through Primary and Secondary Partnership. The school also has International School and Healthy School awards, and is a designated Language College.


Students represent the school in a number of sports including hockey, netball, rugby, football, volleyball, tennis, cricket, badminton, athletics, cross-country and swimming, and the facilities include a sports hall and a fully equipped gymnasium. The school continues an ancient tradition and hosts an annual sporting event known as the "Hanley Run" in which around 900 runners compete in a cross country running race. While the run is compulsory for junior students, everyone from year 10 and above, (including staff) may participate of their own free will.


Many alumni, known as Old Hancastrians, return to visit the school and sign the Old Boy's (and girls) book which is hosted in the medieval village inn.

Hanley Castle High School

  • David Gayler, Politician, Contested (Lib Dem) Cotswold, 1997. Member of Gloucestershire County Council since 1993
  • Paul Titchener, Mayor, Brackley, Northamptonshire in 2001 and again in 2005.

Hanley Castle Grammar School

  • Walter Battison Haynes, (1859-1900), was awarded the Mozart Scholarship at the Leipzig Conservatoriummarker and on leaving the Conservatorium received the highest certificate given to a pupil; professor of harmony and composition at the Royal Academy of Music ; organist and choirmaster, Chapel Royal, Savoy
  • Prof Nigel Coates, architect and Professor of Architectural Design at the Royal College of Artmarker since 1995
  • P. H. Newby CBE, Winner of the first Booker Prize, Managing Director BBC Radio 1975-78
  • Robert Welch MBE, designer and silversmith

Other Malvern area secondary schools


  1. Millenium schools: Hanley Castle High School. Retrieved 16 June 2009
  2. Ofsted report 2009 Retrieved 14 October 2009
  3. Hanley Castle Parish Council Retrieved 13 October 2009
  4. Episcopal register 23 May 1582 Retrieved 8 July 2009
  5. Hansard 22 February 1962 vol 654 cc624-6 Retrieved 8 July 2009
  6. UK government Schoolfinder
  7. Leading Aspect Award: Hanley Castle Pyramid: Effective implementation of the Government’s Modern Languages Entitlement at KS2 through Primary and Secondary Partnership - Case Study 2005
  8. Hanley Castle High School Celebrate Successful Ofsted Malvern Gazette, 2 March 2009 Retrieved 15 June 2009
  9. UK government school performance tables Retrieved 8 July 2009
  10. The Independent (Education) Retrieved 9 July 2009
  11. Guardian League Tables 2007-08 Retrieved 4 August 2009
  12. Retrieved 9 July 2009
  13. Leading Aspect Award Retrieved 9 July 2009
  14. Old Hancastrians Association Retrieved 14 October 2009
  15. BBC Retrieved 8 July 2009
  16. Brackley Town Council Retrieved 9 July 2009
  17. "The music of the Church hymnary and the Psalter in metre : its sources and composers" Retrieved 8 July 2009
  18. Newby web site Retrieved 8 July 2009

External links

A former school website at no longer exists.

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