The Skinners' School

The Skinners' School

Infobox UK school
name = The Skinners' School

size = 200px
latitude = 51.1425
longitude = 0.261
dms =
motto = "To God Only Be All Glory" and "In Christo Fratres"
motto_pl =
established = 1887
approx =
closed =
c_approx =
type = Voluntary aided grammar school
religion =
president =
head_label =
head = Simon Everson
r_head_label =
r_head =
chair_label =
chair = Major-General J Moore-Bick CBE DL
founder =
founder_pl =
specialist =
street = St. John's Road
city = Tunbridge Wells
county = Kent
country = England
postcode = TN4 9PG
LEA = Kent
ofsted = 118890
staff =
enrollment = 768
gender = Boys
lower_age = 11
upper_age = 18
houses = Sebastian, Atwell, Hunt, and Knott
colours = Red and black
publication = The Leopard
free_label_1 =
free_1 =
free_label_2 =
free_2 =
free_label_3 =
free_3 =
website =
website_name =

The Skinners' School (formally The Skinners' Company's School for Boys) is a grammar school and was opened in Royal Tunbridge Wells in 1887. It was founded by the Worshipful Company of Skinners, a London Livery Company, in response to the demand for education in the region. The School today remains an all-boys Grammar School, recently awarded specialist status in Science in recognition of its excellent science teaching. The current roll is 768 pupils, of whom around 210 are in the Sixth Form.


The Skinners' School in Tunbridge Wells was the second school to be founded by The Worshipful Company of Skinners. The first Skinners' Company school, founded in Tonbridge, was called the "Sir Andrew Judd's free school" (now called Tonbridge School) which, by the late Victorian era, started to accept a greater majority of fee paying borders, leaving the locals of Tonbridge without an education (a situation made worse by the 1870 Forester Education Act). As a result the Skinners' Company decided to found another school - Skinners', and after a prolonged row between towns, Tunbridge Wells was picked as the location. The school opened in 1887 to 53 boys, many of which had to walk long distances (in excess of six miles) to reach class. The citizens of Tonbridge, again angry at the neglect of their sons, encouraged the Company to found a third school - "Sir Andrew Judd's Commercial School" in 1888, which is now The Judd School. Finally, in the 1890s, the Company opened a girls school in Hackney London, called The Skinners' Company's School for Girls.

The School has expanded and evolved over the years. On 1 April 1992, the school (formerly a Voluntary-Aided Grammar School for Boys) became a Grant-Maintained School, reverting to Voluntary-Aided status again in 1998, following the Education Act of that year. Recently, additional accommodation has been provided for purpose-designed Design and Technology facilities and classrooms; a Modern Languages Centre was completed in 2002 and a new Music and Performing Arts Centre opened in 2003. Ongoing development of the latter will provide further valuable provision for both curricular and extracurricular activities. Recent refurbishments have included new facilities for the Sixth Form. Specialist Science Status was awarded in 2005, which resulted in refurbishment of the Science block. A full programme of team games is maintained throughout the year with notable successes, particularly in rugby, cricket and athletics. The school enjoys a deep rivalry with Judd and to a lesser extent, with The Tunbridge Wells Grammar School For Boys (TECH).

School uniform

The Skinners' School has uniform requirements that apply to all boys at the school, including those in the sixth form. These requirements have changed over the decades.

Variations throughout each school year, although some traditions have been repealed:

*Year 7 ("First year") Black shoes. Gray socks. Black shorts. White collared shirt. School tie (black, red, and house colour, diagonal stripes). Gray, long sleeved, V-necked, woollen jumper (optional in summer). Blazer trimmed with two lines: burgundy and house colour, with school emblem on the breast pocket. Cap.
*Year 8 ("Second year") Long trousers, instead of shorts.
*Year 10 ("Fourth Year") No cap.
*Sixth formers could wear a boater (straw hat).

There is also the "honours" school tie for pupils who made an achievement for the school name, such as winning a local inter-school race. This tie is red, black, and white, diagonally striped.

The more traditional teachers wear black university gowns.


*Years 7-10: Black shoes, black trousers or shorts (though these are rarely worn being highly unfashionable amongst the pupils), white shirt and school tie (as above). Black V-necked jumpers are optional. Blazer as above. Caps no longer form part of the uniform.
*Years 11-13: Most boys wear either a black or grey suit. This is optional, and the original blazer may still be worn, although is an unpopular choice. Boys in the 6th form may wear a white, blue or black shirt. Boys in year 11 should only wear white shirts, however blue shirts are common. Any jumper, round-neck or V-neck can be worn as long as it is a suitably subdued colour with no logos. Those in the sixth form wear the sixth form tie (black and decorated with leopards).
*Teachers wear smart-casual clothing, with university gowns only worn on Skinners' Day during the ceremony.

Buildings and Property

The school consists of a range of buildings built at various stages of the school history. While each building services specific departments, these have changed as new building/facilities became available,

*The Main Building and School House are the oldest buildings on site and were the only buildings of the school when it opened in 1888 (built 1887). These buildings contain administrative offices including School reception, Head and Deputy Head offices and the Staff Room. It also houses the school library and the armoury containing CCF weapons but not the ammunition which is stored in a bunker near the stores.

:Until recently it was home to the music department and biology department, but these moved to other buildings with better facilities. The large rooms left behind have become home to some English lessons providing room for drama and acting.

*The New Wing was built in 1960. Due to the stark architecture, the concrete building is the most out of place within the school. The wing contains the Physics and Chemistry laboratories and more recently now serves the Biology laboratories. The laboratories were completely renovated on the school being awarded Special Science Status in 2005 which prompted the biology department's move. The New Wing also contains the sixth form facilities and the Main Hall, which contains the canteen and is where whole school assembly is held every Monday.

*The Knox Wing (built in 1980) contains 8 class rooms each of very similar appearance. These rooms serve as form rooms and also class rooms for Geography, History and Religious Studies.

*The Leopard building (built 1994) contains dedicated rooms for Art and Design/Technology. Recently it has become home to IT rooms and the other class rooms serve as form rooms and rooms for Mathematics instruction.

*The Beeby Building is the newest building on the school grounds built in 2002. This provides dedicated resources for Language and also provides form rooms. It was built on the site of two old cabins where German used to be taught.

*The sports hall is contains a large hall used during PE lessons and a multi-gym available for use by all boys and staff.

Byng Hall

In 2003 the school acquired Byng Hall. Originally the St John's Church Institute [ Old Skinners' Society Byng Hall Appeal] ] and later part of St John's Primary School, the governors of Skinners' had been hoping to purchase it for many years. It is stylistically very similar to the Main Building and School House and is viable from the front of the school plot.

Skinners' received grants from Central Government and ran an appeal in school and through the Old Boys network to raise the funds for the buildings purchase and renovation. The final building received a conservation award from the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society for the sensitive restoration [ The Skinners' School History] ] which now enables Byng Hall to be used by the Music and Drama department. The building contains two stage areas.

Other Buildings

*The school site contains other outbuildings used mainly by CCF. There is the CCF Stores, a cabin containing CCF uniforms and the offices of the CCF commanders.

*Several other CCF buildings are located in a trench dug out along the north side of the building. Located here are further stores containing CCF kit, and the shooting range still used today in CCF practices.

*At the rear of the school site there is a large area of grass used for various sports. There is an area of grass used by the students during breaks, a tarmacked area used by the CCF for marching practice and for Tennis, and an all-weather Hockey pitch.

*In the far south-east corner the original cricket house still stands, though is no longer used, and the school swimming pool has recently been demolished to make way for the planned sports hall.

*The School is rumoured to still contain a bomb shelter, which was shared with TWGGS, however, it is now believed to be blocked in.


Skinners' owns a large set of playing fields just along the main road that runs outside the school on the border of Tunbridge Wells and Southborough. Called Southfields it was originally intended to be the site for the new school when plans were drafted in the 1930s. World War II prevented the move from occurring, but the foundations for the buildings are still present in one corner.

The fields are home to 6 rugby pitches (though not all full sized), various athletics facilities and the pavilion, where all the houses have to share three changing rooms. In the wooded area near the south entrance there is an eco-pond, which was established by the Biology department with the aim of creating a self-sustained ecology for study by pupils.

Form System

Each year group at the school is divided into forms.In years 7 and 8 there are four forms, organised into Blue, Green, Red and Yellow. In years 9-11 the forms are reorganised by house as assigned to the pupils on entering the school. In years 10 and 11 there are separate teaching groups from the forms. In the sixth form there are five forms in each year.


All students are assigned a House on entering the school. The four houses of Skinners' are named after notable contributors to the school, each designated a colour which determines the colour of the trim on the school blazers worn by the pupils. While the house only initially determines which form the student is in, it forms the basis of sport teams throughout each pupil's career at the school. As such, friendly rivalries exist between each house especially amongst cricket hockey and rugby teams. Matches occasionally become heated, particularly during house rugby, sometime resulting in players removal from the game.

These houses are:
*Atwell (green) - donated money to help fund the school
*Hunt (yellow) - donated money to help fund the school
*Knott (blue) - the first Headmaster of the school
*Sebastian (white) - the first Chairman of the school Governors

ixth Form

The sixth form are provided with their own common room and study centre. The head of Sixth Form is Mr .C. Fleming. There is also a common room for prefects. The current head boy is Thomas Hooper.

Academic Performance

The Skinners' School performs consistently above average and was awarded a "1 or outstanding", from OFSTED inspectors, on 6th June 2007. [ [\\school\\118\\rti2_118890_20070622.pdf Ofsted Report June 2007] ]

=In 2006 [ Skinners' School Academic Success] ] =

*71% of students achieved A and B grades (excluding General Studies).

*The vast majority of candidates achieved excellent grades, with 52.6% of grades being at A* or A.
*The overall GCSE pass rate (5 A*-C) was 100%.

;Notable Successes
*Alex Robinson achieved 12 A* grades at GCSE in 2005
*Harry Mayhew achieved 10 A* grades at GCSE in 2006
*Jack Miller achieved 9 A* grades at GCSE in 2006
*Edward Richardson achieved 9 A* grades at GCSE in 2006
*Alistair Reed achieved 11 A*s at GCSE in 2007
*Seven students from Year 11 also achieved the top five grades in GCSE RE nationally for the second year running.


The current Headmaster is Simon Everson.

Notable past headmasters have included:
*The Reverend Frederick Knott, after whom the school house Knott is named
*Cecil Beeby, after whom the Modern Languages school block is named
*Gerald Taylor
*Peter Braggins

tudent Leadership

In the summer term of Year 12 school prefects are selected. Leadership roles amongst the prefects now include the Head Boy, two Deputy Head Boys, three Senior Prefects and four House Captains. Other school prefects are divided between the roles of Duty Prefect and Form Prefect. The previous Head Boy (2006/07) was Hugh Wooster and the two Deputy Head Boys were Jonathan Gamble and Sean Baker. The Head Boy for 2005/2006 was Paul Tourle and Deputy Head Boys were Tom Kemp and Martin Phillips.The current Head Boy (2007/2008) is Thomas Hooper with Ben Fuller and Harry Mayhew as deputies.There are usually approximately sixteen form prefects, who take responsibility for a year eight or year seven form, two to a form.


Famous former pupils include:
*TV personality Nick Knowles,
*Archaeologist Neil Faulkner
*Actor Alec McCowen
*The late international cricketer and coach Bob Woolmer
*England Cricketer Phil Edmonds
*Golfer Jamie Spence
*England Rugby Prop Forward Colin Smart
*Notoriously Sweaty Bollywood Star Jonny Angel

Other Skinners’ boys have achieved many distinctions over the years – in classical music, on the West End stage, even in warship design – the flight decks of modern aircraft carriers follow the plans of an Old Skinner. Recently there has been a member of the National Youth Ballet, two members of the National Youth Orchestra, a member of the National Youth Theatre, the England Under 18 Rugby Captain, an Oxford Rugby Blue, and a Commonwealth Games athlete.

The Leopard song

multi-listen item
filename=SkinnersSchool.ogg|title="The Leopard Song"
description=Composed by Cuthbert H. Cronk.

The Skinners' School, like many schools started by London livery companies, has a school song. The Skinners' School song is much loved by the pupils and staff of The Skinners' School. The lyrics are by P Shaw-Jeffrey and appeared in the school magazine December 1894, and are as follows:

;1:Now hands about, good Leopards all,:And sing a rousing chorus,:In praise of all our comrades here:And those who went before us;:For to this lay all hearts beat true,:The gallant hearts that love us,:So fortune 'fend each absent friend :While there's a sun above us.

;Chorus:Sing Leopards Sing (Breathe):"Floreat Sodalitas." :Little matter, well or ill,:Sentiment is more than skill, :Sing together with a will:"Floreat Sodalitas, :"'dalitas Pardorum."

;2:The ivy climbs by brick and stone:About the buttressed Hall;:So memory weaves a charm to keep:Her servitors in thrall.:And whiskered leopards think with awe:Of Bab-el-Mandeb's Straits:Where in the days of long ago:They wrestled with the fates.


;3:Then here's a toast before we part,:"The School House By The Lew":And may its friends be stout of heart,:Its enemies be few:So we will pledge our noble selves :To use our best endeavour,:That while the merry world goes round :The School may stand forever!



The song contains two lines in Latin: "Floreat Sodalitas" and "'dalitas Pardorum".
*"Floreat" can be translated as "let [it] flourish"
*"Sodalitas" as "fellowship" or "companionship", the second " 'dalitas" is a contraction of the same word (in the same way as "fortune 'fend" is a contraction of "fortune defend").
*"Pardorum" is the genitive plural of "Pardus", meaning "Leopard" (the school emblem).

"Floreat Sodalitas" is therefore "Let fellowship flourish" and "'dalitas Pardorum" is "the fellowship of the leopards".

" Bab-el-Mandeb's Straits" is the name former students used to call the passageway to the old Headmaster's office (originally in Main Building). The apostrophe and the s may be anachronistic (a grocer's apostrophe) or may refer to the nickname of the first headmaster (Mr Knott) being Bab-el-mandeb. The name comes from the Arabic for the "Gates of Grief". [Stephen Oppenheimer. [ "The Gates of Grief"] .] The office is now used by the librarian.

Around 1972 Mr Beeby, the headmaster, suggested that the school song be reduced to a single verse and chorus. However, in the face of a vociferous campaign from the pupils to "Save Our Song" he relented and the song was retained in its entirety.


A long standing tradition at the school is to elongate the "s" sound in the word "whiskered" to create a hissing sound. Over time, enthusiastic boys, partially spurred on by the semi-disapproval of the staff, extended the tradition to all words within the second verse. While the students are never encouraged or told of this tradition, it is passed down through the years by the older boys to those starting at the school, during renditions of the song.

In recent years (starting in the late 1990s) it became customary (at least at Skinners' Day rehearsals) to loudly and deeply shout the word 'breathe' after the first line of each chorus, as a tribute to a much-loved retired music teacher, Mr Tony Starr, who shouted the word during rehearsals to remind the student body to breathe at that point.

kinners' Day

Once a year the entire school gathers in the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall theatre, to celebrate the school and the achievements of the year. The event is attended by the mayor of Tunbridge Wells, the school governors and representatives from the Worshipful Company of Skinners, along with parents of the boys.

Prizes are awarded to individuals who have performed well in their year, along with specific subject and sport prizes. Traditionally, pupils supplement applause by stamping their feet when the recipient accepts their award.

The annual report is read by the Headmaster and a short speech is given by a representative from Worshipful Company of Skinners.

Combined Cadet Force

The Skinners' School Combined Cadet Force (CCF) was founded in 1901 and is one of the oldest contingents in the country, and the largest at a state school.Fact|date=July 2007 All boys in Year 10 upwards are eligible to join, with the entire company meeting on Friday afternoons for training and practice.

There are many field days and weekend exercises, culminating in an annual camp for the whole CCF. Every year during the Easter holidays, all JNCOs in year 12 go on an adventurous training exercise to Dartmoor.

Until recently, the CCF also had a brass band which, led by Mr Fitzwater, would march across the upper car parking area on Friday lunchtimes rehearsing. In 2007 the band was restarted, but has yet to practise in front of the school.

Old Skinners' Society

Founded in 1890 by the Old Boys of the time, the Old Skinners' Society has four main aims:

# To promote, preserve and strengthen the ties of sentiment which exist between Old Boys and the School and to encourage the closest liaison between the Society and the School.
# To provide opportunities for Old Boys to keep in touch with their former school friends and with the School.
# To encourage the formation and activities of branches of the Society.
# To provide and promote financial and/or material assistance to the School.

On leaving the school the majority of leavers sign up to the society for life, making them eligible to attend the many social events the society organizes.

The current president of the society is Roger Fitzwater who taught at the school between 1970 and 2005.


ee also

*The Judd School
*Tonbridge School
*Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School

External links

* [ The Skinners' School official website]
* [ Old Skinners Society]
* [ The Skinners' School Science Department website]
* [ The Skinners' School Biology Department website]
* [ The Skinners' Company website]

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