Ackworth School

Ackworth School is an independent school located in the village of High Ackworth, near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England. It is one of eight Quaker Schools in England. The school (or more accurately its Head) is a member of the Headmasters' & Headmistresses' Conference[1] and SHMIS[2] The Head is Anton Maree, who took over at the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year.[3] The Deputy Head is Jeffrey Swales.[4]

Ackworth School

, ,

Coordinates53.64875°N 1.33446°W / 53.64875; -1.33446
MottoNon sibi sed omnibus
(Not for oneself but for all)
Religious affiliation(s)Quaker
Department for Education URN108300 Tables
HeadAnton Maree
Age2 to 18
Enrolmentapprox. 500 as of 2016

The school has a nursery that takes children aged 2 1/2 to 4, a Junior Department that takes children age 5 to 11, and the Senior School for students aged 11 to 18. The boarding facilities cater for Senior School pupils only.

Originally it was a boarding school for Quaker children. Today most of the school's pupils are day pupils. About half of the boarding pupils are from overseas, and are predominantly Asian, although there are increasing numbers of boarders from other countries, particularly Eastern Europe.

Most of today's pupils are not Quakers, but the school retains a strong Quaker ethos and is able to offer means-tested Bursary awards to children from Quaker and non-Quaker families. There is a very short Quaker-style silence at assembly and before meals. Once a week the School meets for a longer Meeting for Worship.


The school was founded by John Fothergill and others in 1779 as a boarding school for Quaker boys and girls. Prior to the school's foundation, the buildings housed a foundling hospital created by Thomas Coram.[5]

Coat of Arms

On 15 December 1959, the school was granted a coat of arms by the Kings of Arms. Its coat of arms is made of the white rose of Yorkshire ("barbed and seeded"), acorns ("slipped" which means "with a bit of stalk"), and the lamb, which is a device shown on the arms of the Foundling Hospital. It also features the school motto Non sibi sed omnibus ("Not for oneself but for all").

School life


The school has four houses: Woolman, Gurney, Penn and Fothergill. Penn, Gurney and Woolman were all famous Quakers, and John Fothergill was the founder of the school. Every pupil is assigned to one of the four houses at the start of their time at the school for inter-house events, which include sport, music, drama, poetry and art.

Students are also divided for meals according to their houses.


The school uniform consists of grey trousers, grey socks, light blue shirt, navy school tie, and navy-blue jumper for boys, and navy skirt, blue-and-white-striped blouse, and navy jumper for girls. Blazers are also part of the uniform for First-Fifth Year (Secondary School age).

The sixth form boys wear a white shirt and grey trousers with a burgundy jumper or black blazer, while sixth-form girls wear a white blouse and Navy skirt with a burgundy jumper.


The school has a strong musical tradition. In 1995, a purpose-built music facility was built on the site of one of the old boarding houses, comprising a recital hall with seating for 180, 14 practice rooms, 2 classrooms, a music library and a recording studio.[6] Summer schools are sometimes held there during school holidays.


Boarders live in separate boys' and girls' boarding houses. Until 1997, the school timetable included Saturday morning lessons, leaving Wednesday afternoons free, providing a more-balanced week for boarders. The changing demographic of the school has led to this being phased out.

Sixth Form

When students reach the sixth form, they are all allocated a shared or single study in designated areas. There are two study blocks for Lower Sixth (known as the West Wing Studies and the Old Art Block), and two for Upper Sixth (known as the Fothergill Studies and the Old Library). Sixth formers have free periods during which they are encouraged to study. Students must stay within school premises during these free periods.

Charity Week

Each year in the week before October half term is Ackworth's Charity Week. Two charities, one national and one international, are chosen for which the school then raises money through a series of events. Included within these events are cake stalls, auctions, concerts and the sale of doughnuts and hot dogs. One event involves putting sixth formers in stocks and allowing younger students to throw water at them.

One of the most-popular events of Charity Week is the staff/sixth-form entertainment. The sixth form and certain members of staff are encouraged to prepare a series of sketches to entertain younger students. In the middle of the event, a fund-raising activity occurs, where the sixth form raise money from the other students.

On 18 October the school celebrates Founder's Day, the day on which in 1779 the school was founded. The whole school gathers in the Meeting House and sings the Founder's Day Hymn before each year group departs on a day trip, usually a walk.

Union with other Quaker schools

In 2007, the National Quaker Choral Festival was held at the school, where pupils from Quakers schools all over England came to sing in a large choir to Karl Jenkins' "The Armed Man".

On 28 March 2009, the Bridge Film Festival which had been held at Brooklyn Friends School, located in Brooklyn, New York, for the last nine years was held at the school. It is a Quaker film festival in which students make a film which is judged and prizes are awarded. The school entered the 2008 festival, sending several students to Brooklyn Friends School to witness the festival. For the 2009 festival, student Simon Waldock prepared a film about the history of the school; the film involved an interview with a former scholar from the 1950s.[7] The film did not win but was commended by judges.


The school's former pupils are called Ackworth Old Scholars. There is an active Old Scholars Association,[8] with an annual Easter gathering in the school. Notable Old Scholars include:

See also


  1. "HMC Schools A -C" Archived 10 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine; Headmasters' & Headmistresses' Conference. Retrieved 3 June 2012
  2. "SHMIS Member Schools"; Internet Archive, SHMIS. Retrieved 3 June 2012
  3. School press release for the new headteacher Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Senior Management Team | Ackworth School". Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  5. The History of Ackworth School.
  6. "Music". Ackworth School. Archived from the original on 22 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  7. Ackworth School's entry for the 2009 Bridge Film Festival
  8. Old Scholars Association

Further reading

  • Ackworth School Annual Reports.
  • Ackworth School, Then and Now: Ackworth School Bicentenary Exhibition Catalogue. (Pub. 1979).
  • Alphabetical list of scholars 1779-1979. Prepared by Arthur G. Olver, typescript.
  • The Cupola: The Ackworth School Magazine, West Yorkshire Archives, Wakefield.
  • Foulds, V.E. (1991). Ackworth School.
  • Foulds, V.E. (1979). So Numerous a Family: 200 Years of Quaker Education at Ackworth.
  • Thompson, H. (1879). A History of Ackworth School.
  • Vipont, Elfrida (1959). Ackworth School: from its Foundation in 1779 to the Introduction of Co-Education in 1946. Lutterworth Press (London).
  • Linney, Geo. F. (1853). The History of Ackworth School.
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