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Wilson's School is a boys' grammar school with academy status in Wallington in the London Borough of Sutton, England. The school educates approximately 1,100 pupils, with entry by academic selection based on performance in an entrance examination. 180 boys are expected to be admitted per year. GCSE and A-Level results consistently place it within the top ten schools in the country.

Wilson's School
School From Front.jpg
Main entrance
Mollison Drive

, ,

Coordinates51°21′31″N 0°07′41″W / 51.3586°N 0.1281°W / 51.3586; -0.1281Coordinates: 51°21′31″N 0°07′41″W / 51.3586°N 0.1281°W / 51.3586; -0.1281
TypeGrammar, academy[1]
MottoNon sibi sed omnibus
(Not for oneself but for all)
Established1615; 404 years ago (1615)
FounderEdward Wilson
Department for Education URN136621 Tables
ChairmanSteve Wisson
Head[1]Nathan Cole[1]
Age11 to 18[1]
HousesBrecon, Camberwell, Datchelor, Greencoat, Hayes, Southwark
Colour(s)Black, white and gold             
PublicationOmnibus, Wilson's Update, "The Sixth Form Mercury" and The Wilsonian

It was founded as Wilson's Grammar School in Camberwell in 1615, making it one of the country's oldest state schools. Wilson's moved to its present location on part of the site of the former Croydon Airport in 1975. It became voluntary aided in 1997 and an Academy in June 2011.

In 2015 the school celebrated its 400th anniversary with a visit from Prince Edward.

Academic performanceEdit

GCSE and A level results place Wilson's School among the highest performing schools in the United Kingdom.[2]

In November 2018 The Times' School Guide declared Wilson's the "State Secondary School of the Year". In 2017, The Times listed Wilson's School as the highest performing 11-18 state school in the country for A-Level, as well as being the number 1 all boys' (state or private) school - the best set of results in the school's history.[citation needed]

The school's last Ofsted report[3] (undertaken before the school converted to an academy) rated the school as Grade 1 (outstanding) in all 38 of the target areas. The report begins:

"Wilson's is an outstanding school that deserves its high reputation. This is how the school sees itself, a view shared by the vast majority of the large number of parents who responded to the inspection questionnaire. One parent summed up the school well by noting of their son, 'Wilson's has helped him realise his potential and given him a lifelong love for learning.'"



The Old Buildings, showing the West House, as it was rebuilt in 1687, viewed from the south

The school was founded by Edward Wilson in 1615 and was located in Camberwell, now part of Greater London but at that time a small village of cottages, homesteads, inns and larger buildings grouped around a village green. Wilson was born around 1550 in Cartmel, Lancashire, which had its own grammar school, from where he passed on to Cambridge University. No record remains of him taking a degree, although it is known that he went into the Church, being appointed Deacon at Ely in Norfolk in 1576. He subsequently became Vicar of the Parish of Camberwell, which was presented to him by the Queen in person. This would indicate that he favoured the settlement of the Church of England which Elizabeth I was resolved to make. His nephew Peter Danson became a governor of the new school at its founding. Danson was also vicar of Carshalton in Surrey, only one mile from the present site of the school. A further member of the Wilson family, a namesake of Edward Wilson, is named in the charter of the school as the Master.

After his wife died, and having had no children, he decided to set up a school using his available resources to create a legacy- saying in the royal charter that for all time there would be a school in Camberwell named after him. At the time, the establishment of a grammar school in England required the assent of the crown. This was obtained after the first school buildings were constructed. The original charter bearing this assent has since been lost, although in 1929 the governors of the school obtained a certified extract from the Patent Rolls. This requirement for the agreement of the Crown explains the legend "Founded in 1615 by Royal Charter" that appears in various places beneath the school name. The charter was granted by King James I, who had succeeded his cousin Elizabeth by this time.

The charter names the school as "The Free Grammar School of Edward Wilson, clerk, in Camberwell, otherwise Camerwell, in the County of Surrey."[4]


In 1845 the school was forced to close as a result of a financial scandal. This was the result of Governor James Goulston, who sued the school. Following an Order in Council of Queen Victoria in 1880, which superseded the previous Royal Charter, the school was rebuilt on a different site in Camberwell, opening in 1883. It again catered to the need for schooling of boys in Camberwell, which by this time had grown considerably from its rustic origins. Its working population largely consisted of men working in the professions, clerks, journalists, tradesmen and labourers.[4] Naturally, a grammar school provided an asset to the neighbourhood, with the prospect for boys to go on to University education. For five and a half years during the Second World War, Wilson's was evacuated to a Camp School at Itchingfield near Horsham, Sussex, and for the only period in its history became a boarding school. The whole compound stood around a broad elliptical area, set in large part to grass and the remainder, an asphalt quadrangle. Radiating from this central area, in spoke-like fashion, was a series of large cedarwood huts. These were the dormitories, ablution blocks and classrooms. Two larger buildings stood adjacent to the asphalted space, one the dining hall and the other the assembly hall which also functioned as the gym, cinema and church. The whole establishment catered for four hundred plus boys forming six houses, all named after past headmasters of the school, Nairn, Macdowell, Wilson, Kelly, Whiteley and Jephson. The Head Master of Christ's Hospital was kind enough to allow Wilson's the use of the school's cricket pitches, swimming bath and other facilities, including the Great Hall for Speech Day.[4]

In 1958, an elementary school in Camberwell known as the Greencoat School was closed after a 250-year history and part of its assets passed to Wilson's Grammar School. The funds were used to provide a new science facility, the Greencoat Building, which was constructed opposite the main school site in Wilson Road. Two carved figures of a boy and a girl which are believed to have stood over the boys' and girls' entrances to the school were installed first in the Greencoat Building, and later in the Greencoat Courtyard in the new school at Wallington.

While information on pupils taught at the school before 1843 has been lost, Wilson's has a long list of noted Old Boys across the fields of entertainment, science, the military and the church. A Short History of Wilson's School,[4] from which much of the information below was taken, was first published in 1951; its most recent edition was in 1987.


In 1975 the school moved to the current site. A three part plan for expansion only saw part one carried out, though subsequent construction has occurred such as the building of additional science blocks, the Sixth Form Centre, the Foundation Building, the Venner Building (for Art and Design), the Mary Datchelor Wing (which houses the Music Department) and a new Lower School (to accommodate Year 7 and 8 teaching).

School Coat of Arms and BadgeEdit

From 1883 the school was accustomed to use as a coat of arms the version of the Wilson shield used by Edward Wilson, probably without authority. In 1985 the then Chairman of Governors, Lt. Col. W. R. Bowden, obtained a Grant of Arms from the College of Arms. The new officially authorised Arms introduced to the previous form a silver bar between the wolf and the objects above, together with a gold border. Additionally, a crest is added above the helm in the form of a black wolf holding a silver fleur-de-lys in his paws with a black and gold mantle.[4]

The blazon reads: "Sable a Wolf Salient Or and a Barrulet enhanced Argent in chief a Fleur de Lys also Argent between two Bezants all within a Bordure Gold And for the Crest upon a Helm with a Wreath Or and Sable a demi Wolf Salient Sable holding between its paws an Ogress charged with a Fleur de Lys Argent Mantled Sable doubled Or."

The Grant of Arms also gives the rights to a badge, defined as "Within a voided Hexagon Sable charged with three Fleur de Lys Argent and three Bezants a Wolf salient Sable armed and langued Gules."[4] A lapel badge of this design is worn by senior prefects.


Each pupil is allocated to one of the houses upon entry to the school. In 1981, four new houses (Brecon, Camberwell, Greencoat and Hayes) replaced the previous six[4] (Jephson, Kelly, McDowell, Nairne, Whiteley, Wilson). Southwark was added in 2002, when the school became five form entry. In 2014, the six house structure was restored with the advent of Datchelor. Students in the same year in the same house are in the same form, and have registration, form period and lessons in Years 7 and 8 together. Between Year 9 and 11, forms are split in two each with their own form tutors. Also, in Year 9, students no longer have lessons exclusively with members of their forms. House points are awarded for academic, sporting and extracurricular success; all members of the staff are allocated to Houses; all students in years 7 and 8 wear a lapel badge of their house crest, students in years 9-11 wear a tie with an extra band on it in the colour of their house. Three of the houses (Brecon, Camberwell and Datchelor) learn German, while the other three houses (Greencoat, Hayes and Southwark) learn French.

There are currently six houses in the school,[5] corresponding to the six forms of entry. The sixth house, called Datchelor, was introduced in September 2014. They are:

  • BRECON takes its name from the Brecon Beacons, originally the venue for the field-study trips taken by the majority of Year 7 students and Geography students. Colour: red. Motto: Y DDRAIG GOCH DDYRY CYCHWYN ("The Red Dragon goes on and on" – the unofficial national motto of Wales).
  • CAMBERWELL This house is named after the school's original location in south-east London; the phoenix refers to the school's rebirth in 1883 and again in 1975. Colour: blue. Motto: VIVAT REDIVIVA ("Live Again Live Forever")
  • DATCHELOR Named after Mary Datchelor School, a girls' grammar school in Camberwell which closed in 1982. Some of the school's assets passed to Wilson's, enabling the Mary Datchelor wing to be built. The 19th-century painting 'Scholarship Crowning Endeavour' in the Hall is from the Datchelor school hall. Colour: orange. Motto: NON SINE PULVERE PALMA ("No Palm Without Dust")
  • GREENCOAT named after the Greencoat School. The Greencoat Courtyard houses the sculpted figures of two schoolchildren from Greencoat School. Colour: green. Motto: VIROR VIRES VIRTUS ("Green our strength and courage")
  • HAYES takes its name from the school's alumni sports club, the Old Wilsonians' Association, located in Hayes, Kent. Colour: yellow. Motto: OMNIBUS QUISQUE CUIQUE OMNES (" All For One And One For All")
  • SOUTHWARK refers to the Church of England's Diocese of Southwark, with which the school has historical links and which has representatives on the school's Board of Governors. The design is taken from a mediaeval ceiling boss in Southwark Cathedral that shows the Devil eating Judas Iscariot. Colour: purple. Motto: MODO MODO INCEPTUM ("We have only just begun")


The school uniform consists of a white shirt, grey or black trousers, and black blazer emblazoned with the school badge on the left chest pocket.[6] The tie is black with alternating thin white and yellow stripes of equal width. Boys in the lower school wear a house badge to distinguish their house, whereas students in the middle school upwards wear a coloured tie.

Traditionally, Sixth Form students were differentiated from the lower years by wearing a black tie variant featuring a repeated small version of the school crest. There was also a prefect tie issued which reverted to stripes – in this case a black tie with alternating blocks of silver white flanked by two thin yellow bands. The prefect tie has recently changed, becoming a black tie with small school crests distributed across material.

Currently however, Sixth Form students are permitted to wear lounge suits or dark jackets, collar and tie with the option of jumpers if necessary.

In addition to this, members of the CCF are allowed (and generally expected) to wear their uniform on Tuesdays, in preparation for parade in the evenings, though they may wear slightly different dress during the day. Furthermore, NCOs (non-commissioned officers) in the CCF may wear a special tie, either a tie in the colours of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment (in the case of members of the Army section), or a tie in the colours of the Royal Air Force (in the case of members of the RAF section).

Music and dramaEdit

The school considers music to play a vital role in the cultural life of the school.[7] The school has an established programme of free vocal tuition or specialist instrumental tuition on a different instrument for every pupil in Year 7. They can choose from percussion, oboe, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, French horn and bassoon. Extra fee-paying tuition is also offered, for those seeking greater enrichment in their course of music.

Musical ensembles range from those for more advanced players (including Senior Orchestra, Chamber Ensemble, and Wind Band) to a range of smaller ensembles catering for every instrumentalist. There is a Senior Choir and a Junior Choir (which combine for school events to form an ensemble of up to 90 singers) as well as a Chamber Choir. The Music Department has three full-time staff and a team of fifteen peripatetic teachers (many of whom run and support ensembles). There are concerts and performances throughout the year, including events held jointly with Wallington High School for Girls.

Collaboration between the Music and Drama departments has yielded a range of productions. In recent years this has included a senior musical production of High Society, as well as performances of William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, Twelfth Night, and King Lear, and Alan Bennett's The Madness of King George. Junior productions have included Fiddler on the Roof and Beauty and the Beast.


The original school statutes state: "The scholars play to be Shooting in long bows; chess; running, wrestling and leaping, &c..."[4]

In more modern times, the school's main sport is association football. Wilson's has six teams at Under 19 level and at least two teams for every age group from Under 12s (the Under 12s also have C, D, E and F teams) to Under 16s. In 2007 the 1st XI won the U19 Surrey Cup but lost to Millfield School in the semi-finals of the National Championship.[4] Part of the school site is shared with Powerleague, giving pupils access to 12 Astro courts each lunchtime in addition to the large playground.

Rugby union was first introduced to the school in 1886, although it has not been continuously played since then. It was revived in 1921, in the 1960s and 1980s,[4] and has continued since a further revival in the mid-1990s. Rugby teams in all year groups compete against a range of local schools, including Trinity, Whitgift, Boxhill and Graveney. The teams often participate in sevens tournaments. Wilson’s has produced a number of Surrey players in the last few years,[when?] and has close contact with local clubs such as Sutton & Epsom and Warlingham.[8]

With cricket there is a team for every year group up until Year 11 when there is a first, second and often a third team. The school competes against local schools on Saturdays and there is first team tour every two years.

Alongside cricket, athletics is also popular. During the summer term, the school partakes in many track and field events; these include 100 m to 1500 m races, hurdles, javelin, shot put, long jump, high jump, triple jump and discus.[9]

The school was designated an Academy School by Badminton England in February 2006. The six boys considered best in badminton from years 8 to 12 receive specialist coaching and there is an after-school club for years 7 and 8 on Mondays and for years 9 and above on Fridays. The school is home for the Chadacre Badminton club, one of the top clubs in the county at senior level.[10]

The under-19s table tennis team are ranked fourth nationally, having won the Surrey Cup and the National Schools Area Tournament, and being runners up in the National Regional Tournament.[11]

Combined Cadet ForceEdit

Wilson's School CCF was established in 1910 as an Army Officer Training Corps on the original Camberwell site by a teacher, Captain Edmonds. It continued to flourish after the school's move to Wallington, particularly under the leadership of Maj. Chris Burton, and is now a Combined Cadet Force with Army and RAF sections, the latter introduced in 1964. The corps is inspected every two years and is regularly appraised at a standard well above the average for school CCFs.

In each year since 2011, members of the RAF Section have reached the National Final of the Royal Air Squadron Trophy Competition and in 2016 gained second place overall followed by a victory in 2017. The team won the National Final for a second time in 2019.[12][circular reference]

Old BoysEdit

Class lists from 1615 to 1843 have been lost, making it impossible to record with absolute certainty those who rose to fame in that period. However, A Short History[4] notes that James Tyrrell, grandson of Archbishop Usher and author of A General History of England and other works, is known to have been a pupil in the middle of the seventeenth century.

Entertainment and sportEdit

• Jay Breen, 7 times borough champion and old boys top goal scorer 2016/17. Also described as the most naturally talented mathematician he had ever come across by Mr Pearson. Still lives at home with his parents.

Arts, humanities and politicsEdit


  • Capt. Harold Auten, VC, DSC, RD, "Q-Ship" commander in the First World War,[13] author of ""Q" Boat Adventures" and later executive Vice-President of the Rank Organisation[13]
  • Sir Alan Cobham, KBE, AFC, pioneer aviator (first flight from Britain to Australia in 1926 and pioneer of air-to-air refuelling).[13] Curiously, his flight to Australia was from Croydon Airport, the site of which is the present location of the school.


Industry and governmentEdit



An exhaustive list is to be found in Appendix A of "A Short History of Wilson's School".[4] The following are particular highlights from this. Dates are of their governorships.


  1. ^ a b c d e "URN 136621 Wilson's School". Edubase. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  2. ^ 2015 A level results
  3. ^ Wilson's OFSTED Report, 2007
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Allport, D.H.; Friskney, N.J. (1987), A Short History of Wilson's School, Wilson's School Charitable Trust
  5. ^ "Wilson's School – The House System". 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "Rugby". Wilson's School.
  9. ^ "Athletics". Wilson's School.
  10. ^ "Badminton". Wilson's School.
  11. ^ "Wilson's School – Table Tennis". 15 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  12. ^ Ground Training Competition
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Photographs printed in "A Short History of Wilson's School" pp 227–234.
  14. ^ George, Matthew De. "From men's league to MLS: The unlikely rise of the..." The Athletic. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  15. ^ Stephen Beckett
  16. ^ Andrew Kazamia
  17. ^ Brentford Official Matchday Magazine versus Brighton & Hove Albion 22/08/98. Blackheath: Morganprint. 1998. p. 16.
  18. ^ JSTOR 769478
  19. ^ "Person Page 20974". Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  20. ^ "A Short History of Wilson's School" p 259.

External linksEdit