Penistone Grammar School

Coordinates: 53°31′58″N 1°38′10″W / 53.5327°N 1.6361°W / 53.5327; -1.6361
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Penistone Grammar School
North side view with the main entrance
Huddersfield Road

, ,
S36 7BX

Coordinates53°31′58″N 1°38′10″W / 53.5327°N 1.6361°W / 53.5327; -1.6361
TypeCommunity school
Motto"Never Stop Flying"
Established1392; 631 years ago (1392)
FounderThomas Clarel
Local authorityBarnsley
Department for Education URN106653 Tables
HeadteacherPaul Crook
Age11 to 18
Sixth form students224
Colour(s)Green, Light Blue, Cyan, Orange, Purple; Black and Red

Penistone Grammar School (PGS[1]) is a co-educational secondary school and sixth form located in Penistone, South Yorkshire, England.[2]

Founded in 1392, it is the 45th oldest extant school in England with its most notable alumnus being Nicholas Saunderson, the probable inventor of Bayes theorem, in the 18th century.[3] The school has undergone many expansions, requiring the erection of several buildings, and now houses over 1,700 pupils from age 11 to 18.[4] PGS' Ofsted overall rating is grade 2 ('Good'), following an inspection in February 2023.[5]


The school was founded as the Free Grammar School of Penistone ('Penistone' often spelt 'Peniston') in 1392, when it is recorded that a gift of land was made by Thomas Clarel, Lord of the Manor at Penistone, to John Del Rodes "and others". The land was situated in the town centre on a site opposite St. John the Baptist Church and across the road from the old Cloth Hall (built much later).[6]

Penistone Grammar School's foundation deed: Thomas Clarel, Dominus (that is Lord) de Peniston in 1392, granted to John del Rodes and others a piece of land in the Kirk-flatt, sicut se extendit et jacet inter quinque lapides per manus predicti Thomas Clarel pro metis positos, with license to grave turf on the Moors of Penistone.[6]

In 1443 the Free Grammar School of Penistone received further bequests and in 1547, after the dissolution of the chantries, the school continued as the free school for the children of Penistone. Following further endowments, the school was rebuilt in 1714. In 1893, the school withdrew from its town centre site to a position about half a mile north-west of the town centre, at Weirfield House.[7] The school remains on this site.

Penistone Grammar School at Kirk Flatt, from Dransfield's History of Penistone. Datestone: 1714.
Penistone Grammar School at Kirk Flatt, from Dransfield's History of Penistone. Datestone: 1714.
Image showing the Fulford building at Penistone Grammar School
Fulford Hall; opened 28 Oct 1911, demolished 2014

The school was originally an all-boys grammar school with a boarding provision. Girls were admitted for the first time in 1907 (though mixed-sex classes were not until 1911). Fulford was the last headmaster to see boarders, with PGS becoming a day school in 1921.[7]

On 28 October 1911, under the tenure of Mr Fulford, the Fulford building opened (though not called that at the time), at a cost of £8,000 (plus £780 for furnishings and equipment).[8] Several other buildings were erected, and in 1974, PGS purchased the former Penistone Union Workhouse, later named 'Netherfields', which became the school's sixth form.[9]

It became fully comprehensive in 1969, with partial selection (for more distant pupils) from 1957. The comprehensive school initially retained its grammar school name and traditions such as the house system and speech night. These traditions were gradually scaled back. In 2011, the school restored its traditional house system and uniform, and entirely demolished all buildings but Weirfield and the adjacent Stables, which was converted into flats. A new building opened that same year.[citation needed]

The school motto was traditionally "Disce Aut Discede" ("Learn or leave"), with the school colours traditionally being red and black. It used the coat of arms of the founding family, the Clarels, which shows six martlets, as its logo. In 2003 the school changed its motto to "Learning and Achieving Together". It rebranded again in 2010 with the motto "Never Stop Flying", a reference to martlets having no legs so always being in flight, changing the logo and school ties to show a single stylised martlet in flight.[citation needed]

Present day[edit]

A £35 million 'state-of-the-art' school building opened on 2 May 2011, with a complete demolition of the old buildings, except for Fulford, the Stables, and Weirfield. Fulford, erected in 1909, was ultimately demolished in early 2014 after much protest from past students and locals.

After taking over from Glynis Gower, headteacher of 5 years, in 2007, Joanne Higgins stood down in November 2017 with Paul Crook taking her place as headteacher. He was formerly a teacher of PE and a deputy head.

The sixth form at Penistone currently has 300 students in attendance.[4] Penistone Grammar School is the only school in the Local Education Authority of Barnsley to have a sixth form alongside its secondary provision.

In 2017, Penistone Grammar School's then headteacher, Jo Higgins, introduced a controversial, zero tolerance style 'Values Driven Expectations' behaviour management scheme, under which a pupil could be reprimanded for forgetting a pen or leaving their shirt untucked.[10]

After internal remodelling in 2018, work started on a £4.3 million two-storey extension in 2019, providing an additional 250 places at the school. The building was opened to students in September 2020, and is linked to the main school by a walkway through the science department.[11] The block is home to the modern foreign languages department and several science classrooms.

As of 2022, Penistone Grammar School is the only secondary school in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley to not have academy status, remaining under the control of the Local Authority.

The school maintains expansive playing fields, with a martlet-covered bridge over Huddersfield Road connecting the building and fields.

Academic results[edit]


Penistone Grammar School's secondary results are the best of any school in the Barnsley local authority, achieving an above average Progress 8 score of 0.46.[12] In 2023, 83% of pupils passed English and maths, with 66% of pupils achieved a grade 5 (strong pass) or higher.[13]

Sixth Form[edit]

The sixth form has been within the top 10% of providers nationally for over five consecutive years. The majority (55%) of grades secured are A* or A, and in 2022, the average result was an A-, with over half of students progressing to elite Russell Group universities.[14]

Penistone Grammar School Foundation[edit]

The Penistone Grammar School Foundation is a charity (number 529458) established in January 1957, but registered in 1965.[15] It owns much of the school's old site and its current estate, and generates income for the school.


The school operates a traditional house system.

Houses at PGS
House Named after
Fulford JW Fulford, Headmaster 1893-1921.
Weirfield Weirfield House, a building of the school's from 1893 until c.2011.
Bowman EF Bowman, Headmaster 1928-58.
Netherfield Netherfield Union Workhouse, former home to the sixth form.
Saunderson Nicholas Saunderson, Old Penistonian and blind mathematician.

List of headmasters[edit]

List of headmasters at Penistone Grammar School since 1392[6][16]
Years Name Education Notes
c.1392–1433 Rev. John Del Rodes Custos of Saint John's Chapel
c.1433–1450 Rev. John Smyth Chaplain
1450–1472 Rev. William Wordsworth Chantry Priest at St Mary's
1472–1477 Rev. William Walker Chantry Priest at St Mary's
1477–1534 Rev. William Addy Snr Chantry Priest at St Mary's
1534–1556 Rev. William Addy Jnr Chantry Priest at St Mary's
1556–1613 John Hyde, MA (Cantab) St John's College, Cambridge
1613–1630 Richard Hey Died 28 May 1630
1630–1644 John Coatehill Died 8 May 1644
1644–1666 Rev. George Didsbury, BA Clare College, Cambridge Died 24 April 1666
1666–1668 Rev. John Revel, BA Christ's College, Cambridge Resigned
1668–1702 Nathan Staniforth, MA (Cantab) Christ's College, Cambridge Died 24 November 1702
1702–1726 John Ramsden Died 12 March 1726
1726–1751 Rev. Jonathan Perkin Christ's College, Cambridge Died 3 May 1751
1751–1776 Rev. Francis Haigh, BA Christ's College, Cambridge Died 15 November 1776
1776–1786 Rev. Joseph Horsfall Resigned
1786–1836 Jonathan Wood Died 22 April 1836
1836–1855 Rev. Samuel Sunderland, BA Vicar of Penistone. Died 18 July 1855
1855–1867 Rev. John Wesley Aldom, MA (Dubl) Trinity College, Dublin Resigned
1867 Rev. Alfred Steane, BA Resigned after three months[7]
1867 George Curtis Price, BA Appointed but declined
1867–1868 Walter Mooney Hatch, BA New College, Oxford Resigned after a few months
1868–1884 Theophilus Jackson Resigned
1884–1885 Othman Blakey Resigned
1885–1888 Harry Hardy Resigned and became assistant 1888
1888–1892 Lionel Ernest Adams, BA Resigned
1893–1921 Joseph Woodward Fulford, MA (Dubl) Trinity College, Dublin
1921–1928 Guy Wilfred Morris, MA (Oxon) St John's College, Oxford Resigned, became Master at Colfe's Grammar School.[17]
1928–1958 Eric Fisher Bowman, CBE, MA (Oxon)
1958–1976 Wilfrid Burgess Simms, MA (Oxon) Merton College, Oxford[18]
1976–1997 Martin Antony (Tony) Bould, BA
1997–1999 Andrew ('Andy') White, BSc, MEd
1999–2002 Pamela Caunt
2002–2007 Glynis Gower, BSc, MSc
2007–2017 Joanne Higgins, BA
2017– Paul Crook, BEd

Notable Old Penistonians[edit]

Old Penistonian Nicholas Saunderson, Mathematician
Old Penistonian Nicholas Saunderson, Mathematician
Old Penistonian John Stones, Footballer
Old Penistonian John Stones, Footballer


  1. ^ "Penistone Grammar School – PGS History". Penistone Pictorial. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  2. ^ "Welcome from the Principal". Penistone Grammar School. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  3. ^ Stephen M. Stigler (1983), "Who Discovered Bayes' Theorem?" The American Statistician 37(4):290–296.
  4. ^ a b Penistone Grammar School "Current Staff and Student Numbers FOI Request 2019", 14 October 2019
  5. ^ "Penistone Grammar School - Rating and Reports". 20 March 2023. Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  6. ^ a b c Dransfield, John N (1906). A History of the Parish of Penistone. James H. Wood (The Don Press).
  7. ^ a b c Addy, John. "Penistone Grammar School in the Nineteenth Century". Yorkshire Archaeological Journal. 40: 116.
  8. ^ "Penistone Almanack" (PDF). Penistone Archive. 1914. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  9. ^ "The Workhouse in Penistone, Yorkshire, W. Riding". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  10. ^ "Pupils 'terrified' of new Penistone school behaviour rules". BBC News. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  11. ^ "School extension underway". Barnsley Chronicle. 15 February 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Compare School Performance - All schools and colleges in Barnsley". Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  13. ^ "Compare School Performance - Penistone Grammar School". Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  14. ^ "Performance 2022_Page_6.jpg | Performance". Penistone Grammar. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  15. ^ "PENISTONE GRAMMAR SCHOOL FOUNDATION – Charity 529458". Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  16. ^ Bould, Martin Antony, ed. (1992). Six hundred glorious years 1392–1992.
  17. ^ BEARDWOOD, H (1910). "The History of Colfe's Grammar School" (PDF).
  18. ^ "Obituary: Eric Simms". The Guardian. 23 March 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  19. ^ David Hey (2002). A History of Penistone and District. Wharncliffe books. p. 50. ISBN 1-903425-21-2.
  20. ^ Tucker, Nicholas (January 2011). "Colwell, Eileen Hilda (1904–2002)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 July 2021. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  21. ^ [1] J J O'Connor and E F Robertson, Stefan Banach, MacTutor History of Mathematics (University of St Andrews, Scotland, April 2015)
  22. ^ "Heather Armitage – Penistone Grammar School's Olympic Medallist". Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  23. ^ Dyer, Christopher (25 February 2016). "David Hey obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  24. ^ Ford, Anna. "Obituary: John Haigh". The University of Sussex. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  25. ^ Dunwoody, Martin (24 March 2021). "John Haigh obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  26. ^ [2] Jean Bacon, an oral history conducted in 2001 by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, Hoboken, NJ, USA.
  27. ^ "England lady cricketer gives tips". Yorkshire Live. 23 March 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  28. ^ "Roberts: 'I've done it the long way round' – Barnsley News from the Barnsley Chronicle". Barnsley Chronicle. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  29. ^ Thomson, Doug (13 May 2014). "Why John Stones' elevation to England's stand-by squad brings pride to Penistone". Huddersfield Examiner. Retrieved 8 April 2018.

External links[edit]