The John Roan School is a co-educational secondary school and sixth form[2] located in Greenwich, south-east London, England.

The John Roan School
Maze Hill

, ,

Coordinates51°28′43″N 0°00′24″E / 51.4785°N 0.0068°E / 51.4785; 0.0068
MottoHonore et labore[1]
Established1677; 347 years ago (1677)[1]
FounderJohn Roan
Local authorityGreenwich
TrustUnited Learning
Department for Education URN147439 Tables
HeadteacherCath Smith
Age11 to 18
Former nameJohn Roan Boys' Grammar School



Grammar schools


The current school was originally two grammar schools. The boys' school was founded in 1677 and the girls' school in 1877 through a charitable endowment by John Roan, Yeoman of Harriers to King Charles I, who left a substantial amount in his Will:

"to bring up so many poor town-born children of Greenwich at school, that is to reading, writing, and cyphering, and each of them forty shillings per annum towards their clothing until each of them shall accomplish the age of fifteen years. The said poor children shall wear on their upper garment the cognisance or crest of me, John Roan."

The stag's head badge – derived from John Roan's coat-of-arms – has been worn by Roan schoolchildren ever since. The first chairman of the governors of the school was Dr Thomas Plume, the vicar of Greenwich.

For much of the 18th century, the school was in the charge of the Herringham family who provided four successive headmasters from 1702 to 1785. The first headmaster of the boys' school from 1877, when it opened in Eastney Street, was Mr C.M. Ridger who held the post for 33 years. He was succeeded by Mr T.R.N. Crofts (1911–1919), Mr A.H. Hope (1919–1930), Mr W.J. Potter (1931–1938), Mr H.W. Gilbert (1938–1958), Mr W.L. Garstang (1959–1974) and Dr A J Taylor (1974 to turning comprehensive) all of whom made significant contributions to the grammar school. The Hope Memorial Camp at Braithwaite, near Keswick, Cumbria was established in Mr Hope's memory shortly after he died in 1930. The first headmistress of the Roan Girls' School was Miss M.M. Blackmore (until 1895) followed by Miss M.S. Walker (1895–1919), Miss M.K. Higgs (1919–1944), Miss M.E. Barnsdale (1944–1962), Miss M.S. Chamberlain (1962–1968) and Mrs M.J. Barber (1968–1980).[2]



It became a comprehensive in 1983, when Roan Grammar School for Boys and Roan School for Girls merged with Charlton Boys School.

Potential relocation

John Roan School sign and school, Westcombe Park Road (2015)

During the first decade of the 21st century, the local council proposed to relocate the school to the Greenwich Peninsula, but, facing growing local opposition, it eventually scrapped the plans. Critics among parents and local residents argued that the current sites were good, and that money should instead be invested to refurbish the current sites. The proposed site was also near to an old gasometer, which would need to be dismantled at considerable cost for safety reasons, and alongside the busy A102 Blackwall Tunnel southern approach road.

With relocation ruled out, the Westcombe Park buildings were demolished in the summer of 2012 prior to construction of replacement buildings (completed in 2014), and the Maze Hill site was refurbished and remodelled; both phases used funding originally granted when the school was due to move to the Peninsula.



The John Roan School was inspected by Ofsted in March 2018; the resulting report, published on 8 June 2018, rated the school "Inadequate" and said it had "serious weaknesses".[3] On 12 June 2018, the school was issued with an Academy Order.[4] The following day, parents and staff received a letter from the University Schools Trust[5] stating that the Regional Schools Commissioner had nominated UST to be the preferred sponsor.[6] Some parents organised protests, seeking to get the Ofsted report withdrawn and to halt the academisation process.[7] Teachers also organised a series of strikes (eight up to 7 November 2018) in protest at the academisation process; over 1,000 people signed a petition and 300 families raised concerns about UST finances and suitability with the school's chair of governors; but more than 100 signed a separate letter supporting the improvement plans and criticising the teachers' industrial action.[8] On 14 November, a Greenwich Council decision about academisation of John Roan was deferred to a meeting in December 2018.[9] On 30 August 2019, the academy plan was finally forced through, John Roan, the voluntary controlled school was closed and it was refactored as The John Roan School, a converter academy sponsored by the United Learning Trust.[10]



Since 1928 the school has been located east of Greenwich Park and south-east of Greenwich town centre, having moved there from Victorian purpose-built premises in Eastney Street (now Feathers Place).

The school is currently split over two campuses — Maze Hill, where the 1920s grade II listed neo-Georgian building (architects Percy Boothroyd Dannatt and Sir Banister Fletcher)[11] stands, and Westcombe Park — named after the roads on which they lie (respectively Maze Hill and Westcombe Park Road).

The foundation stone of the Maze Hill buildings was laid by Sir George Hopwood Hume MP, local politician and chairman of London County Council, in 1926. The school had two opening ceremonies: one in 1927, by Herbert Fisher MP, and another following completion in 1928.[11]

The John Roan Playing Fields are located approximately two miles (3 km) to the south, in Kidbrooke Park Road, west of Sutcliffe Park.

Motto and house teams


The school's motto is "With honour and hard work" (Latin: Honore et labore).

The John Roan had four house teams, named after people of historic significance: Seacole, Da Vinci, Darwin and Stopes, named after Mary Seacole, Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Darwin and Marie Stopes. Two tutor groups per year were in the same house team. There were also house leaders and competitions amongst the four houses. The house system was scrapped in September 2017, and the colour ties now correspond to year group.[citation needed]

In the 1950s and 1960s, the houses were named after four British naval or military figures, all connected with Greenwich, viz. Drake (house colour: green), Nelson (red), Rodney (Blue) and Wolfe (yellow). In his ‘History of the Roan School and its Founder’ [1929] Mr J W Kirby lists eight houses: School House, Drake, Collingwood, Grenville, Nelson, Raleigh, Rodney, Wolfe.

Notable former pupils

See also Category:People educated at the John Roan School.

Roan Boys' Grammar School



  1. ^ a b "About the School". Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2007.
  2. ^ a b "The John Roan School, London". Schoolsnet. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  3. ^ "The John Roan School: school inspection report". Ofsted. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  4. ^ Taylor, Jessica (13 June 2018). "John Roan School: Academy order sent to Greenwich Council". News Shopper. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  5. ^ "About Us". University Schools Trust. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  6. ^ "THE JOHN ROAN NEU". THE JOHN ROAN NEU. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  7. ^ Fraser, Calum (26 June 2018). "Parents of children at John Roan school in Greenwich set to take Ofsted to court". South London Press & Mercury. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  8. ^ Weale, Sally (7 November 2018). "Teachers from London school fight against academisation plans". Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  9. ^ Bull, John (15 November 2018). "The John Roan: School's switch to academy pushed back to December". News Shopper. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  10. ^ "The John Roan School - GOV.UK". Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  11. ^ a b "The John Roan School (Upper School), Welling, London".
  12. ^ Secretary Annual General Meeting of the Old Roan Association and the Old Roan Club[permanent dead link]. 25 March 2004. p. 2
  13. ^ "Whittle, Peter Robin, (born 6 Jan. 1961), author, journalist and broadcaster; Member, London Assembly, Greater London Authority, since 2016 (UK Ind, 2016–18; Brexit Alliance, since 2018); Founder and Director, New Culture Forum, since 2006". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u287927.