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Forest School (Walthamstow)
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Forest School (Walthamstow)

Forest School is an independent school on the edge of Epping Forest, in Walthamstow in North East London, in the UK. The School occupies a large campus based around the original Georgian and Victorian buildings.



Forest was initially founded as 'The Forest Proprietary School' in 1834 with only twenty-two pupils on its roll. In 1847, it became 'Forest School'. Forest has expanded and now has about twelve hundred and forty boys and girls in equal numbers across the full age range of 4 - 18. Girls were first accepted in 1981 and, although they share the same campus, boys and girls are taught separately between the ages of 7 and 16; the sixth form is co-educational. The school is the only school to have appeared in the FA Cup, and many of the buildings have been opened by members of the Royal Family.


The head is called the 'Warden'. In keeping with the School's boarding-past, the Warden resides on campus in the Warden's House. The current warden is Mrs Sarah Kerr-Dineen - the first female Warden in the School's 175-year history. Mrs Kerr-Dineen succeeded Mr Andrew Boggis. The Heads of the Boys' and Girls' Schools are also Deputy Wardens. They are Mr M. Cliff Hodges and Mrs P. A. Goodman. Mrs E. Garner is the Head of the Prep School.

Through 175 years of existence Forest will have had eleven Wardens:

  • Rev Dr Thomas Dry (1834 1844)
  • John Fredrick Boyes (1844 1848)
  • Rev John Gilderdale (1848 1857)
  • Dr Fredrick Barlow Guy (1857 1886) - former pupil of Rev Gilderdale
  • Rev Thomas Edward Barlow Guy (1886 1894)
  • Rev Ralph Courtenay Guy (1894 1935)
  • Gerald Cedar Miller MC MA (1936 1960)
  • Dennis Foxall (1960 1983)
  • John C. Gough (1983 1992)
  • Andrew Boggis (1992 2009)
  • Sarah Kerr-Dineen (2009-)


The School is divided into three: Boys' (ages 11 18), Girls' (11 - 18), Preparatory (4 - 11). Each of the senior schools has a Head who is also a Deputy Warden. Pupils are taught in single sex classes between 7 and 16. In the sixth form teaching becomes coeducational.

The Prep School numbers just over two hundred boys and girls. From the ages of 4 to 7 Pre-Prep pupils are taught in mixed classes of sixteen. In the main Prep from 7 to 11 boys and girls are taught in separate classes of between 18 and 25.

At age 11, boys enter year 7 and this is the main point of entry to the Boy's School, with usually 20 boys entering from Forest's Prep School, and being joined by 55 new pupils from a wide range of other schools. Participation in the wider life of the school is expected of all pupils.

The Girls' School, also beginning at age 11, focuses on the development of well qualified, confident young women ready to take up the opportunities of university and careers. The school places great emphasis on the development of each girl as an individual. As in the Boys' School, each girl is a member of a House as well as a form.

Forest's Sixth Form numbers some 250 pupils and is coeducational. Pupils can choose from a very wide range of combinations of AS and A2 courses and these are supplemented by General Studies and a programme of lectures and debates. Sixth Formers remain very much part of their respective schools, continuing to have a Housemaster/mistress as before and having the opportunity to take on responsibility in their Houses.

The School maintains its traditional values of academic excellence, and offers scholarships in both academic areas and the arts and sport to pupils who show an outstanding talent in any particular subject. It prides itself that it offers a first class education, with renowned facilities in music, drama, art and sports. It also offers school bus schemes. Many school trips take place as well, not including individual department trips. These can be purely recreational, such as skiing, or educational such as the Fun and Philosophy trip or arts-based trips.

House system

There are eight Boys' School Houses, each with its own house master. The first houses were created in 1924, and consisted of Doctor's, Poole's and Johnian's. In 1938, Guy's was founded. Copeland's was created in 1956, Miller's in 1975, School, Bishop's and the Girls' School Houses in 1978. Bishop's and School served as boarding houses. In the 1990s Bishop's became a day house, and School served as the only boarding house. Younger boys wear a tie in their House colour. All boys in the third to sixth forms are registered by House, with first and second form boys registered in their forms. With the exception of School House, the Houses are all named after previous Masters or Wardens:

House Colour Named After
|- Bishops' Light Green Bishops Shaw and Bullen
Copeland's Yellow William Copeland, a founder of the school
Doctor's Maroon Dr F. B. Guy
Guy's Black the Guy family
Johnians Dark Green John Smith Gilderdale
Miller's Blue Gerald Cedar Miller
Poole's Purple F.J. Poole (previous Master at school)
School Light Blue the former-boarding house

In the Girls' School six Houses have recently been formed in 2000 to replace the old four Houses named after areas of the school (Field, Glade, Manor, and Park). They each have a House Mistress. The new Houses are named after famous women:

House Colour Named After
|- Astell Turquoise Mary Astell
Baylis Yellow Lilian Baylis
Eliot Green George Eliot
Franklin Red Rosalind Franklin
Hepworth Blue Barbara Hepworth
Kingsley Purple Mary Kingsley

Common pupil appointments include Head of House/House Captain, Deputy Head of House/House Vice-Captain, Music, Drama and Sports Captains. Competitions between the Houses in both schools include House Music, House Drama, House Football, House Hockey, House Netball (girls only), Sports Day (House Athletics), Swimming Galas (House Swimming), House Chess, House Debating etc. These activities are often extremely competitive owing to strong house spirit.

Traditions and terminology


Black gowns are worn by Heads of Schools, their Deputies and the Warden in assemblies.

Royal blue gowns are worn by Monitors and Prefects and are returned at the end of the academic year. These are worn during assembly, chapel services and on special occasions as well as when Monitors/Prefects are on duty. In addition, Prefects have white shield badges with "Prefect" written diagonally across in gold, while Monitors wear special ties striped in silver. The Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl each receive an additional badge to the Prefects.

Members of the Senior Chapel Choir wear crimson gowns at chapel services and formal events. This is a relatively recent change from the traditional crimson cassock and surplice. The Junior Chapel Choirs wears turquoise cassocks with white ruffs.

Prefects and monitors

Twenty Prefects (girls) and twenty Monitors (boys) are decided by teachers, housemasters and mistresses at the end of Lower Sixth year.

Of these, four are chosen to be Head Boy, Head Girl, Deputy Head Boy and Deputy Head Girl who lead the Prefects and Monitors team. Another girl is chosen to be Games Captain. For years 7 and 8, pastoral care works on a form basis. From year 9, pastoral care is through the House system. There are also a set of monitors from Year 8 assigned specifically to the lower school; as it is, when years 11 - 13 are on study leave, a set of year 10 pupils are chosen as temporary monitors.

Their duties include the supervision of queues at lunchtime ("lunch duty") and supervising assembly and chapel services in addition to helping on open days. Their powers are limited to making pupils pick up litter and recommending pupils for detention.

Commendations system

Commendations are awarded for good work. They consist of green slips of paper with carbon transfer to white slips, of which the green is given to the form tutor and the white slip is given to the House master. Certificates are awarded for number of commendations received (bronze 20, silver 40, gold 60, platinum 80,100 you get a special pen). They are very rarely given out in sixth form.

Academic terms

In keeping with the Christian faith of the school, the three academic terms are known as:

Term Period
Michaelmas Term The first term, running from September to Christmas
Lent Term The second term, running from January to March (in the run up to the Christian period of Lent).
Trinity Term The third (and final) term, running from April to July (named after Trinity Sunday, eight weeks after Easter


Term Meaning
Aston Block A section of the School that was built in 1953 with funds from the Aston Charities Trust. This is the main base for the Boys' Senior School (pupils aged 13 16) with both boys and girls going to classes in it.
Classroom Duty At the end of the day, pupils (according to their house) put up chairs and pick up any litter. This is normally allocated by house and rotated.
Commendation A house point awarded to a pupil in recognition of good work with a copy given to their respective House Master/ Mistress.
Gloucesters Pupils who were in the Preparatory School (ages 7 11), which was known as the 'Gloucester Block'. Now known as Prep School pupils.
Monitor A boy in his Upper Sixth year chosen to help keep discipline in school
Park A major off-site sports field through the forest
Playground Duty Pupils go around the playground and pick up any litter at the end of the day. This is normally allocated by house and rotated
Prefect A girl in her Upper Sixth year chosen to help keep discipline in school
Steeplechase A compulsory sporting event during the second half of Lent Term where pupils in the Boys' School compete in a cross country race through the surrounding forest
Warden The overarching Head of School who looks after all three schools with the aid of 'Deputy Wardens'.

Curriculum and results

The academic curriculum in the years leading to GCSE reflects the National Curriculum in its breadth and balance. However, there are one or two distinguishing points of difference: Latin, for example, is compulsory in the 1st and 2nd Forms; and the majority take Physics, Chemistry and Biology as separate GCSE subjects. Computer literacy is a major focus in the early years.

Pupils consistently produce excellent examination results and most proceed to university, many pupils taking up places for highly competitive subjects at top universities. The school achieves excellent exam results, with pupils largely achieving around 9-10 good GCSE grades, as well as 4 AS levels and 3 A levels.

Forest has a record of doing well in the academic sphere. In 2006, 18 A-level students received offers from Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge) Universities.

School motto and song

"In Pectore Robur", meaning Heart of Oak (or more poetically 'Strength in the heart'), initially appeared in the 1850s under John Smith Gilderdale. It is referred to in the School Song (below)

The school song has been set to music and is sung regularly at end-of-term chapel services and other important occasions.

More recently, a previous Master of Music, Stefan Reid, arranged this for orchestra and it premi red at the annual End of Year Concert (now traditionally held in the Sports Hall). It is sung at certain significant assemblies (e.g. end of year) and at Commemoration Day, however current convention is that only the first verse is sung.


The school's traditional faith is Christianity (Church of England) although it accepts pupils from all religious and non-religious backgrounds. All students attend compulsory Chapel services within the School twice a week.

The Chapel was built in 1857 with an extension in 1875. Prior to this, pupils and masters would attend services at St Peter's-in-the-Forest (across Woodford New Road from the school). The Chapel contains numerous stained glass windows including more recent installations designed by the pupils. The stained glass at the altar end depicts a boy at either side of Jesus, one dressed in cricket whites and one dressed in the old school uniform. The reredos in Chapel depicts the Last Supper as envisaged by Leonardo da Vinci. This was dedicated to a pupil who died during an operation at the nearby Whipps Cross Hospital, aged 17.

A memorial cross was erected outside the Chapel in 1920 in memory of those from Forest School who perished in the Great War. Memorial tablets were installed inside the Chapel in memory of those who have laid down their lives in battle then and since. In 1944, a flying-bomb scored a direct hit on the Junior School and impacted upon the east end of the Chapel, destroying stained glass windows by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.

Sports and activities

Forest has a strong sporting heritage across all three schools. The School benefits from a newly created sports and leisure complex, a large sports field, hard tennis and netball courts and two swimming pools. Pupils compete between houses and our school teams compete against others.

Forest has a long-standing national reputation in both (boys') football and cricket and there are fixtures against other powerful footballing and cricketing schools. Forest achieves strong representation at county and national level. Hockey is also played to a high standard. Strong fixture lists have been developed in athletics and cross-country running. Other sports such as golf, badminton, fencing and tae-kwon-do all enjoy strong support.

Twice a week, pupils have an afternoon of 'Activities'. These are double and triple periods devoted to an activity chosen by the pupil once per term. Activities include sporting, artistic, charitable, academic and other cultural pursuits and are intended to allow all pupils to pursue interests outside the school curriculum. Sports teams have practice during activities, while the remainder of the school may choose from many options including CCF, video techniques, community service, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, karate, photography, stage lighting, fencing, swimming, football, golf, taekwondo, Ancient Greek, public speaking and debating, Film Club and MFL Film Club, early music, and chess club.

Notable sporting achievements

  • In 2011, the school's under 15 cricket team were runners up in the South England Schools cricket cup, where they lost the Whitgift school after rain. The side also won the Essex cup, beating Bancrofts.
  • In 2010, the School's under 13 football team were runners up in the ISFA Rensburg Sheppards Cup, losing 2-1 to Bolton School
  • In 2008, the Schools under 18 Basketball team were winners of the London Independent Schools Basketball Association League completing an impressive hat-trick of titles in three years.
  • In 2007, the School's under 16 Basketball team were winners of the London Independent Schools Basketball Association League and runners up in the Waltham Forest School League.
  • Between 2007 and 2009 the School's 'B' team (in the years 7 to 9) were unbeaten for over two and a half seasons, a school record. In 2008 the team won every match, and only drew 1 match in 2007 (the draw coming in the final match of the season.)
  • In 2006 the School's under 15 Basketball team were winners of the London Independent Schools Basketball Association League, runners up in the London Independent Schools Basketball Association Cup and runners up in the Waltham Forest School League.
  • In 2005 the school's U15 team won the Essex Schools Cricket Cup, after beating Saffron Walden in the final by 15 runs
  • In 2004 the U14 football team were runners up in the Essex Schools Cup, losing 1-0 to Highams Park School in the final
  • In 1993 Forest School won the inaugural Independent Schools Football Association Cup, beating Charterhouse School on penalties. The star of the 1993 team was Quinton Fortune
  • In 1876, Forest School played in the FA Cup, beating Rochester 4-2 in the first round before losing 10-0 to Clapham Rovers.[1] To this day, Forest School remains the only school to have participated in the Cup

Old Foresters

Former pupils of School are known as Old Foresters (OFs). The Old Foresters' Club exists to carry on traditions and to promote the interests of the School. Furthermore, the OFC is there to encourage mutual help between alumni and current members of the School, whether it be through financial aid to support development, adding to the archives, or engaging in friendly sporting competitions.

The OF Club is open to all past-members of the School, headed by a Committee led by a President and Chairman. The OFC organises events for former pupils throughout the year, including Annual Dinners at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. The Club also hosts various reunions at the School (where a tour of the school grounds is taken to show new developments) and elsewhere for former pupils to get together and share stories since leaving.

The OF Club also produces various publications including School history books.

OFs are eligible to join the East India Club, The University Women's Club, the Old Foresters' Football Club and an Old Foresters' Masonic Lodge.

Some notable OFs include:

  • Academia
    • Prof. Paul Anand, Chair in Economics Decision Sciences and Philosophy at the Open University, Research Associate at the Health Economics Research Centre, Oxford University and at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics
    • Prof. Bernard Ashmole, descendent of Elias Ashmole
    • David C Dunn, Dr / Professor, Cambridge University Medical School
    • Richard J. Evans FBA FRSL, historian, Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge and fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
    • Alan Harvey, Professor in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia
    • Charles Townshend, historian and Professor of International History at Keele University
    • Roger S. Trafford, former headmaster of Dragon School
  • Arts and media
    • Joatham Annan, actor
    • Nigel Clarke, television presenter and stage performer (Stomp!)
    • Simone Clarke, stage performer (Stomp!)
    • David Cracknell, former political editor of The Sunday Times and PR executive
    • George Dangerfield, journalist, historian and literary editor of Vanity Fair
    • Richard Dunn, Chairman of Thames Television
    • Nickolas Grace, actor
    • Peter Greenaway, director and Professor of Cinema Studies at the European Graduate School
    • Graham Hurley, author
    • Tolga Kashif, musician and composer
    • Jack May, actor
    • Alex McNamara, stage actor (Khashoggi in We Will Rock You)
    • William Mervyn, actor
    • Richard Pinto, writer (Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No. 42)
    • Robert Reynolds, actor
    • Rob Rees MBE, celebrity TV chef
    • Dennis Roxby-Bott, artist, member of Royal Watercolour Society
    • Sharat Sardana, co-writer and star of Goodness Gracious Me
    • Nicola Walker, actress ('Ruth Evershed' in Spooks)
    • Adam Woodyatt, actor ('Ian Beale' in EastEnders)
    • Oliver Wyman-Beaumont, urban music artist
  • Civil and diplomatic service
    • Anthony Armon Jones, District Judge
    • Natalie Ceeney CBE, chief executive of The National Archives
    • Francis Daly, Chief Justice, Soloman Islands
    • Sir Stephen Gomersall KCMG, former ambassador to Japan (1994 2004), Chief Executive of Hitachi Europe
    • Brandon Lewis, Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Great Yarmouth
  • Church
    • Elwin Cockett, Archdeacon of West Ham and chaplain of West Ham United F. C.
  • Medical
    • Prof. Jangu Banatvala CBE, medic, author and AIDS researcher
    • Neil Brener, consultant, psychiatrist and Medical Director (The Priory)
    • David Dandy, pioneer of key-hole surgery, Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
    • Robert Morgan MA FRCS (London), Emeritus Consultant Urologist, Royal Free Hospital
    • Prof. Michael Swash FRCS, author and researcher on neurology and neuromuscular diseases
    • Nicholas Wood, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
    • Prof. Anthony. D. Woolfe, author, researcher and consultant
  • Military and exploration
    • Edward L. Atkinson, Royal Naval surgeon and Antarctic explorer
    • Colin Bentley DFC, RAF Bomber Command
    • Paul Bowen, co-founder of the RIAT (Royal International Air Tattoo)
    • Gerald Lamarque (a.k.a. Zeno), war-hero, author and murderer
    • George W. Hayward, 19th century explorer
    • Major Simon Robinson, Crown Equerry and former Commander of the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery
    • Jackie Smiles, first female Chinook pilot
    • Sqn. Ldr. Geoffrey Wellum DFC, Battle of Britain British fighter pilot and author
  • Sport
    • Jack Dennis cricketer who played for Essex
    • David Felgate, Tennis player coach of Tim Henman
    • Quinton Fortune, international footballer for South Africa and ex-Manchester United player
    • James Foster, Essex and England Cricket Team wicketkeeper
    • Peter Heard President, Colchester FC and former Board Member of The Football Association
    • Nasser Hussain, Former captain of England Cricket Team (1999-2003); currently Sky Sports commentator
    • Mark Petchey, former international tennis player and coach to Andy Murray; currently Sky Sports commentator
    • Max Raison, cricketer who played for Essex
    • Colin Smith, part-owner of Jackdaws Castle stables (with David Nicholson); businessman
    • Hubert Waugh, cricketer who played for Essex and Suffok
  • Miscellaneous
    • Sapna Agrawal, President of the Oxford Union (2005)
    • Eric Brown, criminal
    • William Fraser OBE, Chairman of City Bridge Trust
    • Deborah Lewin, Director, Clinton Cards
    • Graeme Living, former Master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards
    • John Matthews, Chairman of Regus Group Plc
    • Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, Islamic militant
    • Nic Stuchfield, Director of Corporate Development, London Stock Exchange

There is a longer list of noteworthy Old Foresters on the school's website.


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