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Red Kite Learning Trust

Our school

History of HGS


The school began in 1903 when the Municipal Secondary Day School opened in Haywra Crescent with 44 pupils. In 1933 the school, now Harrogate Grammar School but still led by its first Headmaster Mr Thoseby, moved to the present Arthurs Avenue site.

Harrogate Grammar School continued to grow under the leadership of Mr Carr, who took over in 1934 and remained in post until 1961. His successor was Mr Ernest Hill, who played a major role in developing the academic standards for which the school is still known. Harrogate Grammar became a comprehensive school in 1973, and Mr Hill ensured that existing traditions were carried forward. In 1982 Mrs Mary Dance succeeded Mr Hill. Under her leadership the school continued to develop, growing in size whilst retaining its commitment to academic achievement and excellence. Mrs Dance retired in 1991 and Mr Kevin McAleese CBE was appointed as only the fifth Head in almost a century. Mr McAleese retired at Easter 2002 and his place was taken by Dr Philip Limbert. He was in turn succeeded by Mr Richard Sheriff in January 2007.

After 11 years of exceptional service as a Headteacher, Mr Richard Sheriff became CEO of the Red Kite Learning Trust in 2018 and in September 2019 the ninth headship was awarded to Mr Neil Renton, then Associate Headteacher and Director of the Sixth Form at Harrogate Grammar School. Mr Neil Renton steered the school through unprecedented times during the Covid-19 pandemic to keep students, staff and parents as safe as possible and continues to promote the values of ‘Excellence for All’.

Harrogate Grammar School became an Academy Trust and a Teaching school in 2011 and is now an integral part of the multi-academy Red Kite Learning Trust. Being an Academy Trust allows for greater independence in being able to realise our aim of providing excellence for all and being a Teaching School Hub ensures our focus is upon excellence in teaching and learning by providing first class training for our staff and staff from other institutions.

The school is committed to sharing this excellence through our partnership work with other Secondary and Primary Schools, Higher Education providers and other Public Service institutions.

In 2014, Harrogate Grammar School was successful in becoming one of only thirty-two Maths hubs in the country, providing links with several hundred schools across the country and working on national innovation projects, including an exchange programme with China, bringing together expertise to maximise student potential and outcomes.

In 2019, Harrogate Grammar School was one of the first schools in England to be awarded official Computer Hub status by the National Centre of Computing Education (NCCE), becoming a focal point for computing training for schools in the North Yorkshire, Leeds and Wakefield area, with links with industries and universities.

Since 2002, the school has been extensively renovated and redecorated. A £1,000,000 building programme to provide four more classrooms and a magnificent new library was completed in July 2006 followed by a new dining area in 2009. In September 2010 a £2 million state-of-the-art Sixth Form extension opened, further enhancing the already exceptional facilities, in addition a classroom block was added to the sixth form due to increased Teaching School responsibilities.

In 2020, work commenced on extending the school in order to meet the exceptional demand for places. The McHugh building was opened during the pandemic and officially celebrated in June 2022. It connects the 1930s and 1960s parts of the school, creating an attractive atrium, easing congestion, providing an exciting student entrance and adding a further three state of the art classrooms.

The school’s PTA has a long history of outstanding work, contributing funds that support resources in school including sports equipment, school uniform, minibuses and, more recently, the Student Garden and the hydration hub in the McHugh building.

The Ofsted inspection in March 2022 judged Harrogate Grammar School to be ‘outstanding’ in all five areas of the framework: the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management and Sixth Form provision.

Harrogate Grammar School continues to innovate, develop and grow in order to best service the local community and support learning across the country.


Harrogate Grammar School is part of Red Kite Learning Trust, a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with company number 7523507, registered office address: Red Kite Office, Pannal Ash Road, Harrogate, HG2 9PH

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