Alleyn's School

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Alleyn's School
Alleyn's School, Dulwich.jpg
The school in 2007
Alleyn's School
Townley Road, Dulwich

SE22 8SU

Coordinates 51°27′17″N0°04′55″W / 51.45472°N 0.08194°W / 51.45472; -0.08194 Coordinates: 51°27′17″N0°04′55″W / 51.45472°N 0.08194°W / 51.45472; -0.08194
Type Private day school
Public School
MottoGod's Gift
Religious affiliation(s) Church of England
Established1619 (1619)as part of Edward Alleyn's College of God's Gift, although separated from Dulwich College in 1882 [1]
Founder Edward Alleyn
Local authority Southwark London Borough Council
Department for Education URN 100864 Tables
Head teacher Jane Lunnon
Gender Co-educational
Age range4–18
Enrolment1,252 (2019) [2]
Capacity1,340 [2]
Colour(s)White and black   
Affiliation College of God's Gift
Alumni Alleyn's Old Boys and Girls
"Alleyn's School, registered charity no. 1057971". Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Alleyn's School is a 4–18 co-educational, private, Church of England, day school and sixth form in Dulwich, London, England. It is a registered charity and was originally part of Edward Alleyn's College of God's Gift charitable foundation, which also included James Allen's Girls' School (JAGS) and Dulwich College. [3]


It has been a member school of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference since 1919.


Edward Alleyn

Edward Alleyn, founder of the School Edward alleyn.jpg
Edward Alleyn, founder of the School

In 1619, Edward Alleyn established his 'College of God's Gift' (the gift of love) with twelve poor scholars. [4] [5]

Alleyn's School is a direct descendant of Edward Alleyn's original foundation and was established as a boys' school in 1882. It still exists as part of a foundation alongside Dulwich College and JAGS; For the original College of God's Gift, 24 students had to be chosen from the four parishes with which Edward Alleyn had been connected. Saint Giles, Camberwell (in which Dulwich was situated), Saint Saviour, Southwark (where the Bear Pit stood on Bankside), Saint Botolph, Bishopsgate (where Alleyn was born), and Saint Giles, Cripplegate (home to the Fortune Theatre). [4] Alleyn's became a public school with the election of the Headmaster to the Headmasters' Conference (HMC) in 1919.

The Lower School

The 1857 Act for confirming a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners for the College of God's Gift in Dulwich in the County of Surrey, also known as the Dulwich College Act, [6] mandated that the College of God's Gift be separated into an "Upper School", which became Dulwich College, and a "Lower School" which became Alleyn's. It was redone in 2018 to provide extra classrooms, an assembly room and a play area. [7]

Separation from the College of God's Gift

Reverend J. Henry Smith became the first Headmaster of Alleyn's School, having previously been the Master of the Lower School of the College of God's Gift White, Sydney W. - The Reverend J. Henry Smith - Google Art Project.jpg
Reverend J. Henry Smith became the first Headmaster of Alleyn's School, having previously been the Master of the Lower School of the College of God's Gift

In 1882, the upper school moved to a new site further south and the lower school stayed put, becoming an independent boys' school.

In 1887 it moved to its own site, where the school currently stands. The original school is now the foundation chapel and the offices for the Dulwich Estate, which belongs to the foundation schools. [4]

Independence and co-education

It was one of 179 direct grant grammar schools from 1958 until the abolition of that status in 1976; at which point the school was still boys-only. The Governors then opted for outright independence and co-education; Chairman Lord Wolfenden explained the decision in the House of Lords on 12 November 1975: [8]

As a responsible body of Governors, we were confronted with an extremely difficult decision. The dilemma is this. Should we, as the phrase goes, "take our place within the pattern of the local education authority", or should we, on the other hand, go independent? In relation to the former of those alternatives, there are two relevant considerations. The first is whether the past history and present nature of a school fits in with the overall structure of the pattern of the local education authority for children in the Dulwich area. The answer is that it clearly does not. A long-established grammar school, annually recruited to carry out what has for long been recognised by a substantial number of LEAs as its specific academic purpose, does not easily transform itself overnight into a comprehensive school to serve a limited catchment area. Even if it could do that, with extraordinary metamorphoses of staff and objectives, there is no evidence whatever that any local education authority would be prepared to absorb it. So the dilemma is resolved, your Lordships may say. Yes, but at what cost? Alleyn's School has no option, whatever its wishes might have been, but to go independent.
Doctrines and ideologies apart, what does this mean in real life? It means that there will now be in Dulwich two independent day grammar schools, one of 1,300 boys and the other of 800 boys, within a couple of miles of each other. It also means that in order to maintain Alleyn's as an independent school its fees, with the removal of direct grant, will have to be put up to something like those of its consistently independent neighbour, Dulwich College. What sense does it make to have over 2,000 places in independent boys' grammar schools, at independent school fees, in one district of South London? We, the Governors of Alleyn's 1847 School think it makes no sense at all, so we are intending to make Alleyn's into a co-educational school. Then, in the Dulwich area, there will be an independent boys' school, Dulwich College, an independent girls' school, James Allen's School, and an independent coeducational school, Alleyn's.


The main building in 1922 Alleyn's School in 1922 01.jpg
The main building in 1922

Alleyn's started developing a new theatre complex, named the Edward Alleyn Building, on 10 February 2007. The £8.5million building was completed in 2008 and had a Grand Gala Opening in 2009. [9]

Extra-curricular activities

The school has one of the largest Combined Cadet Forces in the country, where students can choose between joining the Navy Section, Army Section or RAF Section. [10] Also, the Alleyn's CCF offers JNCO CADRE, a leadership training programme, as well as visits to European Battlefields, military bases in England and Wales, and a recent arctic survival course in Northern Sweden. As well as the CCF, DofE is also offered, with students taking part in volunteering, skills based activities and a final expedition at the end of the year. Music and Drama also form a large part of life at Alleyn's with the Michael Croft Theatre (MCT) being a point of pride for the school's Drama department who put on shows there. The music at Alleyn's is equally distinguished, with performances at the Royal Festival Hall and at St John's, Smith Square, as well as music tours to Italy, France and Poland.

Heads of the school

Alleyn's Old Boys and Girls

School alumni are known as Alleyn Old Boys and Girls, or Alleyn's Old Boys and Girls. This should not be confused with Old Alleynians, the name of Dulwich College alumni.

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