Five centuries of education
Manchester Grammar School celebrates its quincentary in 2015, having educated boys in Manchester for 500 years
THIS year, one of Manchester’s great institutions celebrates its 500th anniversary. The Manchester Grammar School (MGS), which was originally located in the centre of Manchester, close to the Cathedral, is now in Rusholme, at the heart of Manchester’s ‘Learning and Knowledge Corridor’, which includes Manchester University, MMU and the Central Manchester hospitals.
The School has long been recognised as one of the country’s leading schools, with a formidable reputation for academic excellence. Its alumni include leading lawyers, surgeons, businessmen, politicians, actors, writers, engineers, sportsmen, journalists and academics, including a Nobel Prize and a Fields Medal winner.
MGS is most proud of its long-standing commitment to social mobility. Its founder, Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, set up the School ‘to educate the poor boys of Manchester in godliness and good learning’, and it remains true to these aims today. State funding enabled many boys to attend MGS until the end of the 20th Century. In 1997, MGS began a remarkable journey to raise money for meanstested bursaries, to ensure that its doors would remain open to all those who would benefit, irrespective of their background.
The MGS Trust, whose patron is the Prince of Wales, has raised £25million to date. This money has been donated primarily by old boys who themselves benefitted from an education at the School. Today, the bursary fund pays the fees of around 220 pupils, with the average bursary paying 93 per cent of the fees.
The diversity of the MGS community is one of its most distinctive features and greatest strengths, with boys travelling from across the North-West, and coming from every cultural, economic, religious and ethnic background.
MGS has a long history of working with Manchester’s other great institutions; most recently, it teamed up with Manchester City Council and Urban Splash to set up a new primary school, New Islington Free School, in the heart of the city.
Founding schools is nothing new to MGS: in the 17th century old boy Humphrey Chetham founded Chetham’s Hospital (now Chetham’s School of Music), and William Hulme founded Hulme Grammar School in Oldham and William Hulme’s Grammar School in Manchester.
The commitment these old boys had to serving their own community remains a key part of what MGS seeks to instil in its pupils: this is realised through involvement of pupils in numerous projects and activities across Manchester and Salford, and an expectation that all pupils engage in service at all stages of their journey through MGS.
In all that it does, the School hopes that future generations of Old Mancunians will have as great an impact on this great city as their predecessors. Old boys of MGS have had a major impact on Manchester, and achieved national and international recognition in all walks of life.
In science and mathematics, the 1986 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was won by John Polanyi. Ibuprofen was developed by John Nicholson at Boots, and Sir Michael Atiyah is a recipient of the Fields Medal (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Mathematics).
Simon Marks and Israel Sieff masterminded the growth of the Marks and Spencer empire for over half a century. Pets at Home and B&M have become retail giants under the leadership of Anthony Preston and Simon Arora respectively. Sir Howard Davies has been Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and Director of the CBI and LSE.
Michael Atherton has been England cricket captain and is an awardwinning journalist and commentator. John Crawley played cricket for England and Lancashire, and Mark Chilton captained Lancashire. Maurice Watkins, currently Chairman of Governors, is not only one of the city’s leading lawyers, but also Chairman of British Swimming, Chairman of the European Rugby Super League and Chairman of Barnsley FC. He was on Manchester United’s board for over 28 years.
Sir Nicholas Hytner directed The History Boys and the BAFTA award-winning The Madness of King George, and ran the National Theatre for 12 years. Stage and film actor Sir Ben Kingsley won an Oscar for Gandhi in 1982, and Robert Powell played the lead role in Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth. Playwright Robert Bolt won Oscars for the screenplays of Dr Zhivago and A Man For All Seasons; he also wrote the screenplay for Lawrence of Arabia. John Ogden was one of the greatest classical pianists of the 20th century.
Award-winning journalists Michael Crick and Faisal Islam are familiar faces as political commentators on television, and Mark Chapman is a MOTD presenter. English historian and broadcaster Michael Wood has brought his subject alive through his acclaimed BBC documentaries. Martin Sixsmith was the BBC’s Russian correspondent during the Cold War, and went on to write the award-winning book upon which the film Philomena was based. Alan Garner is one of the most original and highly regarded children’s writers, with his work firmly rooted in the traditions and landscape of northern England.
Chris Addison was a star of The Thick of It, and appears regularly on Mock the Week. Parklife Festival and the Warehouse Project were founded by Sacha LordMarchionne. Fashion designer, author and theatre director, William Baker, is Kylie Minogue’s personal stylist, and credited with her famous ‘hotpants’ look!