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The William Parker Sports College, formerly known as Hastings Grammar School, and later as William Parker School, is a secondary school in Hastingsmarker, East Sussexmarker in the United Kingdom. It is now the only all-boys' secondary school in East Sussex, and has achieved specialist Sports College status.


There is a separate Sixth form which is shared with Helenswood Schoolmarker, a local girls' school. There are over a thousand boys in years 7–11 and about three hundred boys and girls in the shared sixth form. Helenswood has places for 1100 girls in years 7-11. Other local secondary schools include the co-educational Hillcrest, The Grove and Filsham Valley. Each school takes approximately 200 pupils in a year.

Upper School

  • Business, Economics and Politics
  • Art
  • Science
  • ICT
  • Music
  • PE
  • PSHE (Form tutor related)
  • Food Technology (from Sep 2009)

Lower School

The lower school is a 1/2 storey building with a 'bare-brick' style. The Classrooms here are; MFL (Modern Foreign Languages), Mathematics, Science, DT, Graphics, ICT, Drama, PE and SEN (Special Educational Needs). Also on the Lower School grounds is a Sports Centre, Egineers Garage and Athletics Track.

The lessons taught in the Lower school are:
  • Modern Foreign Languages: French and Spanish
  • Mathematics
  • Design Technology
  • Graphics
  • Drama
  • ICT
  • Science
  • Music
  • PE
  • PSHE (Sex education and Form tutor related)

Other Facilities

William Parker School, Parkstone road building
  • 465 Computers for student use
  • Drama studio
  • Nine science laboratories
  • Three Art and design suites
  • Fully equipped graphics studio capable of working with up to 28 students
  • Open-plan Resource and Library Centre
  • Air-conditioned classrooms
  • 90% of classrooms equipped with interactive whiteboards
  • ABJ indoor cricket school (built in commemoration of Alan Booth Jones)
  • Dance Studio
  • Small theatre
  • Train 2 Learn Centre
  • William Parker Community Athletics Arena

Sports, Clubs, and Traditions

William Parker community athletics arena
Apart from football and cricket, many other sports are played.

The college is divided into eight houses for sporting and pastoral purposes, each of which has its own colour:
  • Becket (dark blue)
  • De Cham (orange)
  • Magdalen (purple)
  • Norman (light blue)
  • Parker (yellow)
  • Saunders (green)
  • Saxon (red)
  • Wykeham (burgundy)


In 1619 The Rev. William Parker, Rector of All Saint's Church, Hastings died, leaving a will which said:
"I give unto the Mayor, Jurates and Comynaltye of Hastings and to their successors for ever towards the maynteynance of a Religious and godlie Schoolemaster in the sayd towne w'ch shall instructe and teach the youthe of the Inhabitants of Hastings in learninge, manners and other vertuous education to gette their livinge. To which sayd use I give all my land in the parishe of Oer."
This is taken as the foundation of the school, although Parker's will also stated that his widow should enjoy the income from all his property until her death, so no money was available to appoint the first master until twenty years later. The will stipulated that the master should be chosen by the jurates (town councillors) living within the parish of All Saints, rather than by the town council as a whole, and by any heir of William Parker still living in Hastings.

Parker's nephew William became Mayor of Hastings, and his nephew's son (also William) later became master of the school. Titus Oates, son of the rector of All Saints, Samuel Oates, and later infamous for fabricating a papish plot against the monarchy, started his career by bringing false charges against both William Parkers in an attempt to create a vacancy for the post of master. Records of early masters are incomplete, but in 1759 John Shorter was appointed master, once again by another William Parker, mayor elect.

In 1708 a Kentishmarker landowner by the name of James Saunders made various charitable legacies in his will, including provisions for a schoolmaster in Ryemarker and a schoolmaster and two school mistresses in Hastings. One of the mistresses was to teach 30 pupils in the parish of All Saints and the other in the parish of St Clements, at a salary of £10 per year. The master was to teach reading, writing, Latin, accounting, mathematics and navigation to any poor child in Hastings "from the Seagate next the Fish Market", at a salary of £40 per year, subject to a maximum of 70 pupils. Saunders stipulated that the corporation of each of the towns concerned should oversee the way the other operated their school, with the penalty for failing to comply with the terms of the bequest that all the funds should go to the other town.

Falling income from the two charities meant that by 1809 one master, Joseph Hannay, was employed to teach forty boys on behalf of the Parker school, and fifteen for the Saunders school. The Saunders fund continued to pay two schoolmistresses ten pounds each per year, while the master received three pounds per child. Local complaints about the low rents being charged by the corporation for the Parker fund lands had led to increases from £49 in 1787 to £134 in 1809, but the council also turned down an offer from one James Halloway to rent the estate for £205. Thomas Breeds, another prominent local man, applied to the High Court of Chancery arguing that the funds were being improperly administered, with the result that he himself rented them for £210, no higher bid being received at a public auction. The expenses of the case were paid by the funds, with the result that the Saunders school had to close for five years, but afterwards two separate masters were appointed.

The two were permanently re-merged in 1878, together with part of the Magdalen trust, to form the Hastings Grammar School Foundation. An imposing Victorian building was constructed in a prominent position overlooking Hastings, at Standen's High Field which became Nelson road, and occupied in July 1883. The school was originally designed as a central tower with wings either side. Owing to lack of funds, the wing intended as accommodation for the headmaster and boarders was never built.

Modern educational reforms

Following the Education Act of 1902, the school began to receive a grant from the British Government. Under the Education Act of 1944, secondary schools in England were reorganised in three categories: grammar schools, technical schools, and secondary modern schools. The school was naturally classed as a grammar school under this scheme, and had voluntary aided status: in other words the income from the Foundation was supplemented by a grant from the Local Education Authority. From now on, admission to the school was solely via the eleven-plus examination, and education was free (previously there had been fees of five guinea a year). Classes were held six days a week, with no lessons on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Saturday morning school was abolished in 1967.

Voluntary controlled status

In 1959 the school governors decided to change the status of the school from voluntary aided to voluntary controlled. The school was now controlled by a board of ten governors appointed by the borough of Hastings and five appointed by the charitable foundation. The charitable funds remained under the control of the foundation governors, but responsibility for providing buildings now fell to the education authority. A new modern building was constructed further from the town centre, on of land which had long been used as the school's playing fields. The new school was designed for 570 boys, including a sixth form of 120, and is now the Parkstone Road half of the school. The foundation stone of the new school was laid on 4 July 1962, and the school occupied in 1964.

Comprehensive school

The incoming Labour government of 1965 introduced a change in national education policy intended to phase out grammar school education and replace it with comprehensive education. This was resisted by the borough of Hastings, but local government reorganisation under the following Conservative administration meant that the autonomous county borough was abolished and replaced by East Sussex County Council as the education authority. A decision was taken to change to a comprehensive school intake, and at the same time to merge the school with Hastings Secondary School. A further new building was constructed on the same site, but reached by a separate road entrance in Park Avenue. The school was renamed "the William Parker School".

Sports College

In 1998, the school achieved specialist Sports College status, following the new opening of an athletics arena.

Towards 2000 the Alan Booth Jones Cricket centre opened, which featured indoor cricket and other sports facilities used both by the school and externally.

In 2006, the school re-instated the roles of Head Boy, Deputy Head Boy and Prefects for the Year 7-11 year group. They are chosen from the current group of year 11s and are distinguished from the rest of the year group by their tie, which is dark blue with the school crest and the person's role.


  • Blazer and badge
  • Plain white or blue shirt
  • House tie with matching colour (see below)
  • Dark grey or black trousers
  • Black shoes
  • Optional-Navy blue v-neck jumper or William Parker "Hoodie"
  • Option of William Parker Polo Shirts instead of shirt and tie
  • Option of William Parker baseball cap

Noted Hastings Grammar School alumni

  • Archibald Belaney (1888-1938), who emigrated to Canada, claimed to be half-Apache, and wrote a number of books under the name of Grey Owlmarker.

Noted William Parker School alumni

Hastings Grammar School

Noted former teachers

  • Tom Cookson (died 1993) husband of Catherine Cookson, popular novelist. [97184]
  • Sion Jenkins, former deputy head, convicted of the murder of his foster-daughter Billie-Jo Jenkins in 1997 released on second appeal after the second retrial failed to reach a verdict. The trial judge ordered that he be formally acquitted on 9 February 2006.
  • John Banks, master of the Parker school from 1848 to 1878, wrote a book in his retirement recounting his youthful activities as a smuggler, learning about hydrostatics while engaged in watering down smuggled over-proof brandy.

Further reading

J. Manwaring Baines, J. R. Conisbee, and N. Bygate, The History of Hastings Grammar School 1619-1966, published by the Governors of the Hastings Grammar School Foundation, 1956, revised 1967.


  1. From a school prospectus. A shorter version with modernised spelling is given in John Manwaring Baines FSA, Historic Hastings. F J Parsons Ltd, Hastings, 1955 and 1963, Page 275.
  2. Reminiscences of Smugglers and Smuggling by John Banks, published by J.C Hotten, 1873

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