Officially opening as a girls Grammar school on October 1st 1908, Barr’s Hill School saw it’s 110th Birthday this week!


Miss Grace Howell was appointed as the first headmistress and the school motto was Viva Nuova (New Life).

Students were made socially aware of things going on in the outside world – in industrial troubles, the First World War, the opening of the Panama Canal and the Women’s Suffrage movement. Two of the teaching staff were even imprisoned for three days for demonstrating in London.

Girls were admitted either by a scholarship examination or were fee paying at £5 per year. School uniform was imposed. Boots and shoes were not allowed indoors and they had to have special pumps to change into. Some traveled quite a distance and they could purchase a lunch of soup and pudding costing four old pence or they could bring their own in a basin to be heated in school ovens.

In 1909 Barr’s Hill Guild for leaving pupils was formed and this still exists with approximately 450 members worldwide.

Barr's Hill School Coventry 4 (Barr's Hill House) Barr's Hill School Coventry The Garden


Wendy Abel is an ex-student from Barr’s Hill when the school was a girls grammar school. Wendy hadn’t visited the school since she left and was excited to see what we had to offer now that we are an academy with mixed pupils, both boys and girls. We sat down with Wendy to ask her a few questions:

How long were you at Barr’s Hill School?
I was at the school from 1963-1969.

How do you feel the school has turned 110 this year?
Old! It’s doubled the age since I’ve started. When I was there, it would have been around 53 years old.

How do you feel walking around the school site now?
I’m so pleased to see the ethos of wanting to learn still so clear around the school. The students also look very smart. I remember when I was here, we had some of the best teachers who went to Oxford and Cambridge University. We were all expected to be doctors and lawyers!

What is your best memory from Barr’s Hill School?
There are so many! I used to enjoy the subjects English and French and I even took part in Science Club where we did physics – I thought one day i’d be able to send a rocket to the moon! We use to get iced buns delivered to us at break, they were great and we played Pirates in P.E where you had to stand on the equipment without touching the floor. I also played a lot of tennis in my break and lunch.

What did you go on to do after school?
I went on to study in the 6th form in the school because back then it was compulsory. I then worked with an insurance company and became an independent financial advisor. I now am the Director of a housing management company.

Do you have any messages for our students?
Yes, stick it out and work hard! Always go for the subjects you really like when picking your choices. When you enjoy your subjects, then you’ll really enjoy it. Make the most of your time in school!