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Halstead Grammar School – A brief history

Halstead Grammar School for Girls opened as a fee paying school in 1909.

A small grammar school for boys had existed in the High Street in Halstead but this was replaced in 1897 by the Earls Colne Grammar School.

Local educationalists had recognised and supported the need for a girls’ grammar school which eventually opened in 1909 at the Colchester Road site.

The new girls’ grammar school was built by a company from Cambridge for an estimated cost of £698. It was funded by Halstead Educational Charities that had formed a special trust to finance the school.

The school was intended to accommodate 100 pupils; an examination was held to award the 5 free places.

By 1924 the fees were £10.00 per annum.

The school remained as a fee paying school until the 1944 Education Act was passed when the school became free to girls who had passed the 11+ examination.

During WWII the school hosted evacuees; local pupils were taught in the morning and the evacuees in the afternoon.

The early 1960s saw expansion of the school to include the Science Block, dedicated dining room, kitchen, art and domestic science rooms being added at the end of that decade.

The girls’ grammar school, one of the smallest in the UK, existed for approximately 66 years. In 1975 it was amalgamated with the Earls Colne Grammar School and Halstead Secondary Modern School to form the Ramsey School based in new premises in Colne Road in Halstead.

The main Halstead Grammar School building was used as a 6th Form Centre for the Ramsey School and later became known as Priory Hall.

With the expansion of the facilities at the Ramsey School the Colchester Road site became redundant and after several feasibility studies by Essex County Council who owned the site it was eventually declared surplus to requirements and sold for development.

The above historical information has been taken from a publication entitled ‘The Halstead Grammar School for Girls’ written and edited by Anne Goodall

and Cleone Branwhite. We are indebted to them for their extensive research into all aspects of the history of the school, its founder and teaching staff.


Halstead Grammar School  - The Badge and Motto

                          The Badge


                          To understand the badge fully we need to go back to the 16th century when the original Halstead                         Grammar School was founded by Dame Mary Ramsey. The elements which make up the design are                          taken from the coats of arms of Dame Mary and her husband, Sir Thomas Ramsey.

The three silver rams’ heads represent Thomas Ramsey and it may be that the five black and white ermine tails in the chevron were related to his status within the City of London but there is no hard evidence to support that belief.

Dame Mary was the daughter of William Dale a Bristol Merchant. The Dale family is represented by three white storks and three rounds of bread (torteaux) in the chevron. Research has so far failed to discover the reason for the storks and loaves of bread.

The School Colours and house names

The colours and house names were presumably chosen to reflect the colours in the badge, blue, white and gold.

The School Motto “Get Wisdom Forget It Not”

The origins of the school motto are not clear but it may have come from the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 4 Verse 5

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them”

Our thanks to Majorie Watts for providing this information.

The Headmistresses

Miss Isabel Alexander

Mrs Rachel Hales

1945 - 1972

1972 - 1975

In its 66 year history the school had only four headmistresses:

Miss Amy Brooks:

Miss Brooks was the first Headmistress and the success of the school seems to have resulted from her influence.

Miss Florence Jackson:

Miss Jackson became Headmistress in 1922 being the best of 106 candidates for the post. She had held several senior posts in schools as diverse as Luton Modern School, Redland High School, Bristol and the English High School in Montevideo.

During her period at the school greater emphasis was placed on academic achievement. Pupils were encouraged to take the School Certificate and to stay on after sixteen to take the Higher Certificate.

Miss Jackson also steered the school through the difficult war years when evacuees were also taught at the school.

Miss Isabel Alexander:

Under Miss Alexander’s influence the school gradually began to change although there was still a great emphasis on academic achievement with more pupils going on to university.

Courtesy and manners were important and discipline was enforced.

Although the uniform rules were very strict there were some minor changes which allowed a measure of freedom for the older girls.

Mrs Rachel Hales:

Mrs Hales, the last Headmistress, had the unenviable task of overseeing the amalgamation of the school with Earls Colne Grammar and the Secondary Modern School

Miss Amy Brooks

Miss Florence L Jackson

Miss Isabel Alexander

Mrs Rachel Hales

1909 - 1922

1922 - 1945

1945 - 1972

1972 - 1975

    The Badge and Motto     The Headmistresses

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