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Penang Free School is a secondary school located on Jalan Masjid Negeri (previously Green Lane), George Townmarker, Penangmarker, Malaysiamarker. Although the medium of instruction is now Malay, Penang Free School was the first English-medium school in South East Asia.


The school was founded by Rev. Sparke Hutchings on October 21, 1816, on the island of Penangmarker, Malaysiamarker. Its first headmaster was Mr. James Cox 1816-1821. Its original premises on Farquhar Street first housed the Hutchings School, but is now the Penang State Museum. In 1928, the school moved to its current location on Jalan Masjid Negeri (also known as Green Lane). The School received cluster school status from the Malaysian Ministry of Education in 2007.

Excerpts of the original charter:"That it will be the first object of the Institution to provide for the Education of such children as would be otherwise, brought up in idleness and consequent vice, and without any means of obtaining instruction either in useful learning or in any manual employment, and to implant in them in the early habits of industry, order and a good conduct." -—from "The Original Plan of the Establishment of Prince of Wales Island, Free School, 1816".


School motto

The motto of the school is Fortis Atque Fidelis (pronounced four-tiss at-kway fi-dailiss)) which is Latin for Strong and Faithful .

School Crest

The background colour of the crest is sky blue (azure), which is the school's colour.

Armorial bearings:
  • Middle chief: A white tower: Signifies the qualities of strength and truthfulness.
  • Dexter chief: Numeral 18: The first 2 digits of the year the school was founded (1816).
  • Sinister chief: Numeral 16: Tha last 2 digits of the year the school was founded (1816).
  • Dexter base: Palm tree: Represents the State of Penang, also signifies the fertility of the mind.
  • Sinister base: A gold lion rampant supporting a flag: Signifies the preservation of the tradition and high ideals of the school.

School anthem

ChorusLet us march onto fameLet the aisles proclaimTill our anthem will dare us to doLet us onwards to win and new laurels gainFree School for the brave and for the true

VersesIt matters neither how strait the gateNor how charged with dangers the goalLet the tempest rage and fell odds inflateWe'll do it with heart and soul.

When duty calls be it school or stateWe will do it with God by our sideFor the sons of Free School don't hesitateNor let cool their zeal and pride.

Let's all then join in this JubileeAll with one loud voice to proclaimOur true loyalty and our constancyTo our mater still remain.

The school anthem is played at the end of official assembly and on occasions such as Old Frees gathering. Music and lyrics written by G.S. Reutens, a former teacher, circa 1960s.


Below are the headmasters who have served the school: [73862][73863][73864]

Board Of Prefects

The Board of Prefects was established in 1865. It is the oldest Board of Prefects in South East Asia. Prefectship is the highest position of trust the school bestows upon a student. Prefects are selected based on their contributions to the school, personality, character, leadership qualities and academic consistency. This board supplements the tasks of the School Administration under the leadership of the School Captain. Among the duties bestowed on a prefect are overseeing the smooth running of the School Assembly, catching those who break the school rules, hostel raids.

The board maintains school discipline and acts as a liaison body between the School Administration and the students. About 18 prefects are initiated each year out of a population of 1600 students.

The School Captain accompanies the Principal to the hall. The Deputy School Captain calls the school to attention. Complete silence ensues as the Principal enters the hall. After the assembly, prefects will conduct spot-checks on students.


Every year, the School Captain, Deputy School Captain, Permanent and Temporary Prefects will be installed in front of the entire school population during assembly.

Every year, all the prefects are invited for the annual prefects' dinner. Here, the new temporary prefects get to mingle with their peers and foster their relationship with the senior prefects. This is also the place for them to meet the prefects of yesteryear.

School Captains

The School Captain is the highest position bestowed upon a student. The School Captain generally must serve the Board Of Prefects for two years, before being elected when he returns as a Form 6 Student (A-Levels). His election usually goes through an official meeting between the Principal, the Prefect's Master, the outgoing School Captain and his deputies under the constitution of The Board Of Prefects.

The School Captain handles the Board Of Prefects as an independent body, free from interference from teachers.

Sports Houses

The sports houses in the school are:

  • Hargreaves (Brown)
  • Hamilton(Yellow)
  • Pinhorn (Blue)
  • Wu Lien Teh(Green)
  • Tunku Putra(Orange)
  • Cheeseman (Red)
  • Tunku Syed Sirajuddin(Purple)
  • P. Ramli(Gray)

Noted alumni

A student pursuing his secondary education in the Free School is commonly known as a Free, once the individual leaves the Free School, he is an Old Free.


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