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Denmark Road High School

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History of the School


Mrs Goodricke started an “Establishment for board and education” of young ladies at Suffolk House.


Suffolk House was still in use as a school, now run by Mrs Leo.  There had been several other owners.


Mynd House in Barton Street was rented, adapted and refurbished.  Miss Hickey was appointed on 1st May 1883 to the post of Headmistress of the new Girls’ Lower School.

Miss Hickey was the first Headteacher of the newly started Girls’ Endowed School in Mynd House. There were 50 pupils and 3 teachers. Six months after the school opened there were 92 pupils.  By January 1885 there were 150 pupils and 5 teachers. In 1885 a plot of land became available in Denmark Road and this was suggested as a suitable spot for the girls’ school. 


In July, Miss Hickey and staff left.

In March 1895, 12 ladies were interviewed from a selection of 64, who had applied for the post of Headmistress.
Miss Barwell was appointed.  She was Headteacher for 24 years. She started the school library.  She also introduced  medals for punctuality and regular attendance.  She started in August 1895.

Miss Hickey


On 3rd March, the Girls’ Lower School was re-named the Girls’ Endowed School.


As a temporary measure the School moved to  Bearland House, Longsmith Street in April 1904. This was still not large enough to accommodate the staff and pupils but it was better than Mynd House. Anything that could be carried was - maps, pictures, ferns, and books went home for Easter and were brought to Bearland House afterwards.  

The Girls’ Endowed School was re-named Gloucester Girls’ High School.  It became a grant-aided school.


Governors established Gloucester United Schools.  (The Crypt, Sir Thomas Richs’, the Girls’ High School and the Municipal School for Science, Art and Technology)

In 1906 it was decided there was need  for a Public Secondary School for Girls, to be called the Girls’ High School.  A building would be provided for 350 pupils.  The school would be for girls aged 8 to 18/19, entrance to be by examination and interview.  Fees of £2 2s 0d a term for juniors (£165) and £2 16s 0d a term for seniors (£219).  Girls came from as far away as Cam, Dursley, Lydney, Newent, Dymock and Tirley.


On 18th October, a memorial stone was laid at Denmark Road.

Governors established Gloucester United Schools

In December girls took home their special and personal objects and in January, long processions of girls carried chairs, folding desks, easels, microscopes and maps through the streets of Gloucester, to their new school in Denmark Road.


On 14th January,  the new building of the Girls’ High School opened in Denmark Road.

A Union Jack presented by the children of Gloucester, New South Wales, floated high above the roof on Thursday 14th January 1909 when the sparkling new building was opened by Lord Stanley.  The students and parents sat in the hall whilst the dignitaries waited outside the locked door. A gold key was presented to Lord Stanley who used it to unlock the front door. The gold key was inscribed:

“for ever open for the diffusion of sound learning and useful progress”.


In September, a kindergarten opened on site.

The Old Girls’ Association was founded.

The Old Girls’ Association was founded.

In 1910 Miss Barwell started an alternative curriculum for the 13 to 16 year olds in which needlework, dress-making, cookery, a daily French lesson, art and music took the place of Latin and Mathematics.  The girls could also learn book-keeping and shorthand, but typing had to wait until machines could be purchased!

During the First World War, as travelling became difficult, more and more of the country girls became weekly lodgers with a family in town.  A hostel was then started in Horton Road which accommodated both staff and girls. By December 1914 700 garments had been sent to various children’s charities and as comforts for the Belgian troops, and money was sent to the Blue Cross Society for the help of horses on the battlefield.

During the next four years hundreds of mittens, socks and mufflers were sent to soldiers and sailors.  When pupils were preparing to go to Cheltenham to see ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Miss Barwellurged them to take their knitting with them so as to waste no useful moment.  A parcel of food was sent every fortnight from each form to prisoners of war in Germany.

During games lessons and after school part of the playing field was cultivated to grow potatoes and vegetables.  A few chickens were fed on kitchen waste to provide eggs.  For a time a donkey was kept on the school field to keep down the grass.  Girls helped with plum picking, and harvested nuts.  Rare Gloucestershire wild flowers were grown in the front garden.


In August, Miss Barwell retired.

In September, Miss Carless was appointed Headmistress.

Miss Carless started the first School Magazine. “Not for each but for all” became the school motto and was on the first prefects’ badges. Christmas parties began at this time, as did the summer picnics for the Prefects, the first of which included a steamer trip to Wainlodes, with rowing lessons and strawberries for tea.


First issue of Gloucester High School Magazine.

In 1920 Miss Carless introduced the blue and white striped blouse to the uniform.
In 1921 Ribston Hall High School opened in Spa Road to cope with the overcrowding of the High School and the long waiting list.
The name of the school was changed to Denmark Road High School from Gloucester Girls’ High School to prevent the confusion with RibstonHall.  After a few years though, the school was known as The High School, Denmark Road.

House competitions and sports day started in the 1920s; Kyneburga, Mynd, Bearland, Barwell and Hartland were the house names.  


In March, Miss Carless left.

In April, Miss Penson was appointed Headmistress.


Gloucester Girls’ High School Parents’ Association was founded.

Speech Day was held in Shire Hall in 1924. In 1924 the Old Girls’ Association presented a ‘Wireless Receiving Set’ and in January 1926 the girls heard the BBC welcome them to school broadcasts.

The first trip abroad was in 1926 when a party of girls went to Paris.  Soon annual exchange visits were arranged and French and German girls were welcomed to the school in the summer term.  One year three Egyptian girls spent a term at Denmark Road. At this time the school had 450 students. 

In 1930 the new Physics laboratory was built.  It was built with strong walls and a flat roof so that eventually a library could be built on top.


The School’s 50th Jubilee.

To start the Jubilee celebrations there was a Commemoration Service in the Cathedral for past and present members of the school and parents on 24th October 1933. Two performances of ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ on the school hall stage were also held to celebrate the Jubilee on the 25th and 26th.  The girls revelled in the new winches for the curtains and the new extensions to the stage.  The boards, being new, squeaked! On the afternoon of the 26th October the Girl Guides at the school eagerly lined the drive from the gate, to form a Guard of Honour for the Duchess of Beaufort.  After inspecting the Guides the Duchess moved to the Hall.  The leaders of the groups of Old Girls and the Heads of Houses presented purses containing the money they had made or collected for the Jubilee Fund.  Afterwards there were refreshments.  The Guides were given the remains of the tea!

On the Friday morning of ‘Jubilee week’ the May tree was planted, which was to become the School emblem.

The most permanent reminder of the Jubilee is the May tree. A May tree was chosen because the school started in May.  Miss Penson wanted a wild hawthorn with white blossom to symbolise the high and pure character of the pupils at the School.  In the sheltered, sunny garden the school tree has grown to a large symmetrical umbrella. The blossom has a shy moonlit silveriness.  The tree is hoped to live for 200 years, for future generations of Gloucestrians to see and admire.


In August, Miss Penson died.  Miss Green became Acting Headmistress.


In January, Dr White was appointed Headmistress.


In 1940 the bombers began to pass over regularly, disturbing the nights with their heavy throbbing.  In January 1941 the Denmark Road area received a splattering of incendiaries, but the school escaped.  Gloucester was fortunate and shelter practice remained a formality until 26th March 1941. As with WW1 a lot of knitting and sewing was done providing comforts for the troops, including mittens for Russians and clothing for homeless families in this country and Holland.
From the beginning of the War the area where the school restaurant stands now was planted with beans, cabbages, onions, carrots and parsnips.  Another area was cultivated by the Parks Department and then it was possible to provide the kitchens with vegetables throughout the year.  Girls worked in the gardens during their lunch hours, evenings and weekends.  Sometimes they had to arrive early to pick icy sprouts before school and carry them to the kitchens on the top floor.

The Butler Education Act (in force from April 1945).  Secondary education for all.


The school became a maintained grammar school, with three forms of entry.  The Junior school was phased out.


In December, Dr White retired.


In January 1955, Miss Jewsbury was appointed as Headmistress.


Students outside one of the 'temporary buildings' in the 1960s.



In December, Miss Jewsbury retired.


In January, Miss Castle was appointed Headmistress.



Re-organisation of Local Government.

The school came under Gloucestershire County Education Authority and became a Community School.


Miss Castle moved to become Headmistress of Cheltenham Ladies’ College.


Centenary Celebrations – Princess Anne visited the school.

Miss Miles was appointed Headmistress.

In 1987 a folder of photographs of the school was presented to the Minister of Education Mr Baker in objection to Gloucestershire County Council's plans to sell the buildings and land.



Miss Miles retired.

Mrs Bainbridge was appointed Headmistress.

The school moved to four forms of entry.  Modernisation of the curriculum.  Introduction of the Faculty structure.


Threat to closure of grammar schools.


In August, Mrs Bainbridge retired.

Mrs Sawicka was appointed as Headteacher in April 2006, but because of having to give a whole term’s notice in her current job could not take up her headship until January 2007.  Between September – December 2006, Mr Willis was Acting Headteacher (Deputy Head under Mrs Bainbridge).


In January, Mrs Sawicka took up her post.


In September, introduction of the DEAL (Discover, Explore and Learn), the new bespoke Year 7 curriculum.


In January, the School celebrated 100 years on Denmark Road.

A Centenary Concert was held in Gloucester Cathedral.

Centenary Concert was held in Gloucester Cathedral

Centenary Concert was held in Gloucester Cathedral


In April, the School became a Foundation School.


In April, the School became an Academy and a charity.


Refurbishment of Food Technology room.


Students in Year 11, the first cohort through the school of students, who have been through the DEAL curriculum.


£1.8 million received from the EFA for an English and Music Centre. Build delayed because of several archaeological digs.

Capital Fundraising committee established.

Refurbishment of Art studio and creation of bespoke Sixth Form Art Studio.


Former Heads, Parents, Governors and Staff have pledged £430,000 for extension to dining room and new Drama studio over 5 years.

The new Performing Arts Block was completed in October and officially opened on Friday, 20th November 2015.

Redesign of new Art Textiles facilities.

New Psychology, Government and Politics and Sociology rooms, predominantly for Sixth Form teaching.


The first Year 10 Community Tea Party was held at the High School for Girls for residents of local care homes in March 2016.

80 primary students from Kingsholm Primary School were also entertained by Year 10 students at a community afternoon in July.

The Music Department achieved a ISM Gold Certificate for Music in 2016.

The new Dining Hall extension was finished just before Christmas 2016.  Staff, parents and students came into school on a Saturday in November for the “Dig In” for planting around the new dining hall.



In January 2017 trousers become an option for the school uniform at the High School.                 

Funding was received from the Education Funding Agency for safeguarding the site.  New security locks will be fitted on all external doors and new gates will also have security features.  All staff and students will receive a security badge to access the site.

At Easter Mrs Sawicka announced that she would be retiring at the end of December 2017. 

In May former student, Kate Davies completed a book documenting the School’s history, from 1980 to 2007.  Named after the School’s motto ‘In Honour Preferring One Another,’  Kate’s book covers a period of significant uncertainty for the school, including a number of attempts to close it.

In July Miss Giblin, Deputy Headteacher was announced by the Governors as the new Headteacher from January 2018.

In July Mr Hards retired from his post of the head of the Science faculty.  Mr Hards had been at the High School since 1992.

In September the whole school photograph was taken.

On Wednesday 29 November Professor Robert Winston visited the school and gave two interesting talks to students, staff and parents.

Mrs Sawicka said a tearful goodbye to students, staff, parents and governors at the annual Christmas concert at Gloucester Cathedral.  This was followed by the staff Christmas pantomime, Alladin, where Mrs Sawicka played the Genie.



Miss Giblin took up her new role as Headteacher of the High School for Girls in January 2018.

At Easter Mrs Marilyn Burden, the longest serving member of staff retired from her position as Food Technology/Art Techician.


In January 2019 it was announced that the school would be known as Denmark Road High School.


Mr Michael Haynes

Sadly our former colleague Mr Michael Haynes, died peacefully during half-term.  Mr Haynes had been suffering from MND and had spent the last couple of months in Leckhampton Hospice.  Staff and former students celebrated his life at a Memorial Service in Tuffley.

Mr Haynes was Head of Music at Denmark Road from 1995-2000 and returned as Joint Subject Leader for Music in 2006 until 2013.  He left to be Director of Academic Music at Kingswood School in Bath, and last year worked as Director of Academic Music at Malvern College.

Mr Haynes was an inspirational teacher, who helped countless young musicians.  He started the tradition of the Christmas Charity Concert in Gloucester Cathedral, which has raised tens of thousands of pounds over the years for various charities.  He worked with Mrs Bowman and Mrs Day to start the tradition of a summer showcase, highlighting performing arts talents.

The senior choir performed one of his carols ‘Sleep my little Jesus’ written for our Christmas Concert at the Cathedral, at his memorial service.


In May 2019 the school celebrated its 110th birthday on the site at Denmark Road.



On 1st May students took part in a picnic in the school as unfortunately the weather was not suitable for an outside picnic.

Miss Giblin gave a birthday assembly in the gym where she spoke about the history of the school and introduced the new Senior Team.  Students and staff then sang Non Nobis.

Miss Giblin blew out the candles on the birthday cake and every student was presented with a Denmark Road birthday cupcake.

Non Nobis Domine! Not unto us, O Lord, The praise and glory be Of any deed or word. For in thy judgement lies To crown or bring to nought All knowledge and device That man has reached or wrought.

And we confess our blame, How all too high we hold That noise which men call fame, That dross which men call gold. For these we undergo Our hot and godless days, But in our souls we know Not unto us the praise.

O Power by whom we live Creator, Judge and Friend Upholdingly forgive, Nor leave us at the end.

But grant us yet to see, In all our piteous ways, Non Nobis Domine, Not unto us the praise. Non Nobis, Non Nobis, Non Nobis, Domine