The Clitheroe Royal Grammar School was founded in 1554 by Mary Tudor, for the free education of boys. It continued only admitting boys until the 1970s, keeping both sexes firmly apart until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it finally went fully co-ed. It is one of the largest State Grammar Schools in England.
Currently, the school occupies two sites. The main school, housing secondary school pupils (from the ages of 11 to 16 years) is housed on Chatburn Road, just outside the town centre. This was originally the girls' school, and still bears the list of Head Girls up until the schools merged. Pupils of the lower school must pass the 11-plus exam to gain entry (CRGS is not a fee-paying school), which has helped to uphold the school's reputation for academic excellence. This, coupled with an unusual royal blue blazer as part of the uniform, has made CRGS pupils stand out from other schools in the area.
CRGS has the largest all A-level sixth form in the country, housing over 500 pupils in an overcrowded building on York Street. The building was erected in the 19th Century, and has a few unique features. One is the bell tower, which strangely enough houses no bell. The other interesting feature of the sixth form building is the library, which was formerly the main assembly hall. In here are the lists of Old Boys who died in every war since the Battle of Trafalgar, and the Honoratorum Nomina, which covers the entire back wall in gold writing, which is a mystery to pupils. The list of names of boys dates from the middle of the 18th century until 1983, with entries for every year1. The uniform worn by sixth formers is somewhat more understated than that of the lower school, to the relief of the upper school students.
The Staff and Students
Many of the teachers of CRGS have been there for 20 or more years, and so there is a real sense of tradition and community. However, there are disagreements between staff and students over issues such as uniform (for example, why should 17-year-olds be made to wear a uniform? Many students feel that a dress code would be far less patronising) and conduct. The school has many idiosyncratic traditions in the manner of many older schools, such as Commemoration Day, when the whole school assembles in the parish church to hear the school prayer and a service on the school charter (the founding of the school and what William and Mary intended it should do). Magdalen College School, in Oxford, has a similar tradition in the form of 'Commemoration', which is a similar form of ceremony. At CRGS, the staff wear academic robes for the service and the pupils line the streets in single file for a procession back to the school. All of this takes place once a year.
The staff are incredibly dedicated, and the pupils are intelligent and hard-working. The intake is very much middle class children, whose parents own two cars and a dog, with a sister or brother who will follow them to CRGS. This has the tendency to dissuade people from applying to the school, but it really is a welcoming place.