The History of Clifton High School
The Archive is the memory of the School. When it began about 19 years ago, it was a very informal affair which started with a few carrier bags and boxes at the back of the history cupboard. It has grown considerably since then!
We now have two rooms in the basement of Ogilvie House where there is a considerable amount of material from 1877 to the present day, including uniform, photographs and reference texts.
If you would like to access the archive department please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Short History of the School
In 1876 Lieutenant Colonel Pears suggested founding a day school for girls in the Clifton area. Discussions with Dr Percival, then Headmaster of Clifton College, and a number of other interested parties resulted in Clifton High School for Girls being formally established in 1877. A headmistress and four assistant mistresses were appointed and on 1st January 1878 the first 67 pupils entered the school, then based at 65 Pembroke Road, Clifton. The size of the house soon proved inadequate and the School moved to its present site the following year.
From its earliest days the School was ahead of its time, basing its ethos on three guiding principles which were then seen as being fairly revolutionary.
- The School should not discriminate on the basis of class but should be open to all girls of good character, without social discrimination.
- It should be non-denominational, according religious freedom to staff and pupils.
- It should be non-competitive admitting neither prizes, marks nor place taking.
The School was also unusual in that it taught an academic curriculum to a demanding level, much to the delight of its pupils who valued "being taught from the heart and the mind" by women who were themselves highly educated. In 1883 the first scholarship to Oxford was gained and in 1905 a chemistry laboratory was built, making the School one of the first to offer chemistry for girls, thereby giving women the opportunity to follow careers in medicine.
The Senior Boarding House was finally closed in July 1997. Boys were admitted to the Preparatory Department in the 19th century and in 1994 to the Junior School as well -at which point we became simply "Clifton High School." In September 2008, the School welcomed its first young men into the Sixth Form and in September 2009 accepted boys into years 7 and 9. Now co-educational throughout we continue with our revolutionary, forward thinking position by using the diamond edge model of teaching for pupils from years 7 to 9.
In 1892 the Old Girls' Society was formed. In 1895 the Society started a scheme of social work in Bedminster which developed into Clifton High School Bedminster club. The Old Girls' and girls at the School carried on this work until 1992, when it became clear that the need for such a club no longer existed. However, the School still has a strong social conscience and annually raises large sums for local and national charities.
In the years since its foundation, the wise and careful leadership of committed members of Council and of its headmistresses have led to the School becoming known and respected as one of the leading independent schools in Bristol.