Chelmsford County High School for Girls

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Chelmsford County High School for Girls
Broomfield Road

, ,

Coordinates51°44′35″N 0°28′03″E / 51.743°N 0.4675°E / 51.743; 0.4675Coordinates: 51°44′35″N 0°28′03″E / 51.743°N 0.4675°E / 51.743; 0.4675
TypeGrammar Academy
MottoVitai Lampada Ferimus
(We carry the torch of life)
Department for Education URN136412 Tables
HeadmistressMs Nicole Chapman
Age11 to 18
HousesCurie (green), Grey-Thompson (blue), Hepburn (red), Stewart (yellow), Frank (purple)
Chelmsford County High School main building

Chelmsford County High School for Girls or "CCHS", is a selective grammar school for girls aged 11–18 located in Chelmsford, Essex, England. Entrance to the school is by an academic selection test. CCHS is traditionally rated among one of the most consistently high achieving and academically successful secondary schools in the United Kingdom, regularly scoring top marks for both GCSE and A-level results. Latest BBC secondary academic tables rank CCHS 13th in the country for the GCSE results[1] and 9th for the Telegraph results.[2] CCHS has also been voted the best secondary school in Essex.

In addition to these achievements, the school aims to instill "developing the leaders of tomorrow" in the belief that the able girls will be leaders in whichever field of work or academic study or indeed in the personal interests they choose in their future.[3] There are approximately 660 pupils on the school roll with additional 270 in the Sixth Form.


The official history of Chelmsford County High School between 1906 and 1982 is chronicled in "A History of Chelmsford County High School" by Mary Kenyon.

The school was built in 1906, and officially opened in May 1907, with its first Headmistress Mabel Vernon-Harcourt. It had 76 pupils on the school roll, diirls from the age of eight; the department closed in 1947.

The Old Girls’ Society was formed in 1908 by the first girls to leave the School at the end of their education, and the first Magazine was published in December 1909. It had only one male teacher – Art master Alfred Bamford.

In January 1910 the School Hostel opened in rented premises at 39 Broomfield Road under the care of a Mrs Smylie. It allowed pupils with long journeys between home and school to stay in Chelmsford during the week. In January 1911, Miss Edith Bancroft became the second Headmistress, until she retired in 1935. A new school science building, known as Bancroft Wing, was named in her honour when it was finished in 1950.

In June 1916 Winifred Picking became the School’s first University success when she gained a First Class degree in the Natural Science Tripos at Girton College, Cambridge. Her name can still be seen on the School's Rolls of Honour.

The school remained open throughout World War I, with forms being assigned "shelter" in a place away from windows or an outer wall. It also took in refugee students from Belgium and educated them.

The school's motto "Vitai lampada ferimus" or " We carry the torch of life" was chosen in 1923, from a shortlist of 18 suggestions. It can be currently seen as part of the school crest.

In 1925 the School House system was first set up, with each House named after a Governor of the School: Chancellor, Hulton, Pennefather – pronounced “penny feather” and Tancock. This was changed in 1986 to three houses, C, H, and S; in 1996 a fourth house, G, was added. In September 2015, a fifth House, F, was established due to an increase in the intake from 120 to 150.

Miss Bancroft retired as Headmistress in 1935 and was succeeded by the school’s third Headmistress, Miss Geraldine Cadbury until 1961. A science block, the Cadbury Science Building, was named after her when it opened in 1995. Bancroft Wing subsequently became a languages building.

1936 saw the School Hostel shut down due to lack of viability – this was due to improved transport around Chelmsford.

A year later, in 1937, the electric bell system was first installed. It was removed in 1999, as Monica Curtis, the previous Head, believed it reduced punctuality.

The school, as before, remained open during World War II, though this time the school was damaged several times in air raids. Fortunately the worst raid, when nearly every window in the school was broken, occurred during a school holiday. Maintaining examination conditions during air raids was also a problem: eventually exam candidates were given their own separate shelter.

Extensive building work was initiated in the 1950s and continued throughout the 1960s – in that time, the current caretaker's house, swimming pool, hall, canteen, art rooms, and library were built. In the 1970s, three demountable classrooms, known as 23, 24 and 25, were built.

In February 1962 HRH Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother arrived on the School grounds by helicopter to be guest of honour at the Senior Speech Day, which was held at Chelmsford Cathedral.

In 1979, Miss Phyllis Pattison retired, having been headmistress since 1961, and was replaced by Miss Anne Brooks in 1980. 1980 saw the first male teacher since Alfred Bamford, Mr Robert Clark, being employed at the school to teach mathematics. The school's third male teacher, Mr Christie, was employed during 1983.

The introduction of Technology, particularly IT, began in the 1980s and continued until the present day, with three computer rooms, three specialist technology rooms, and the training of all pupils in the use of ICT.

Miss Brooks retired in 1989 and was replaced in 1990 by Bernice McCabe, who served for seven years until 1997.

In 1992, Chelmsford County High School became a Grant Maintained school with control over its own funds, and a School Bursar was employed. Margaret Thatcher, along with the local MP Simon Burns, paid a brief visit to the school on 30 March 1992.

In 1997, Bernice McCabe left to take up the post of Headmistress in the North London Collegiate School for Girls. She was replaced by Monica Curtis, who oversaw the development of the new school Astroturf pitch in 2004, the extension of the sixth form common room to include toilets and showers in 2005, and the planned construction of a new music building in 2007. This new music building began construction in March 2007, with the building site taking up the majority of space on the school field behind the hall. The building has been built in the shape of an orchestra, and there are two large teaching rooms, practice rooms and a fully equipped recording studio inside. The building was opened in January 2008 by Dame Evelyn Glennie. Unfortunately, Mrs Curtis was forced to retire early due to ill health and Glynis Howland, previously a Deputy Head, became Acting Headmistress. The post of headmistress was advertised in the Summer term, but no appointment was made. The post was re-advertised in September 2006 and Nicole Chapman was selected as the school's new headmistress. She took up the post on 1 April 2007.

In 2007 the School celebrated its Centenary, with HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex visiting the School to celebrate with staff and students.

The School introduced the IB Certificate and became an IB World School in 2009. CCHS are the only grammar school in the East of England offering the IB course. Results have put them in the top 6 schools. The IB Programme has since been scrapped by CCHS, due to underwhelming grades and difficulties balancing both A Levels and IB under one roof.

In 2009 the Dining Hall was extended, a Cookery Room and a classroom were built on the site of the demountable classroom 25.

The school converted to academy status on 1 January 2011.

In 2013 the state of the art Languages Centre was completed, which has brought language learning into the 21st century, with the new Languages Lab. The learning environment has been beneficial to all students. CCHS are in the process of raising funds for a new sports hall, followed by a new science centre and Sixth Form centre.

In January 2015 the governors of the School voted unanimously to expand CCHS by 30 from September 2015, this decision was taken in response to the ever-increasing demand for places at the School and a desire to offer the opportunity to be educated in a grammar school to even more girls.


CCHS is noted for its high academic achievements. It is one of the most consistently highly performing schools in the country, and regularly appears in the top 10 of the Times School Supplement for GCSE, A Level and now IB results. The school also has an extremely high rate of attendance in comparison with other schools.[4]



  • CCHS held Beacon School status from 2001 to the award's discontinuation in 2005, as an example of successful practice with a view to sharing the practice with others.
  • An Achievement Award was awarded in all three years (1999/2000 to 2001/2002) that the scheme ran. The Award was made for achieving better results than most schools in similar circumstances.
  • In July 2002, CCHS was awarded with the Sportsmark Gold[6] from Sport England for its out of hours sports provision and a broad and balanced PE curriculum. There are two levels of award: Sportsmark and Sportsmark Gold.
  • In 2015, CCHS was award The Prince's Teaching Institute (PTI) Leadership Award.

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ BBC Secondary league tables 2014: Best GCSE results (29 Jan 2015) Archived 3 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ The Telegrpah GCSE results 2015: state school results (21 Aug 2015) Archived 7 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Chelmsford County High School for Girls : A Grammar School with Academy Status Archived 20 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "BBC News, School league tables 2004, Chelmsford County High School for Girls". BBC News. 2 November 2004. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  5. ^ School search[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Four S / Home Archived 22 December 2004 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Dragon back in her den". The Observer. London. 2005-12-11. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  8. ^ Baker, Anne Pimlott (1 January 2017). "Vercoe, Rosemary Joyce (1917–2013), costume designer". Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/109235.

External links[edit]