School's special history lesson

QUEEN Elizabeth High School will be celebrating a grand 420 years of education next week, with a special set of birthday celebrations.

Staff and students will mark the Gainsborough school's birthday next Tuesday with music, period food and clothing, aerial photography and a birthday cake with a difference. The school turns 420 on Saturday.

Headteacher David Allsop said everyone in the town could be proud of the school and its history.

"Gainsborough should be incredibly proud of its rich heritage, including the excellent education that QEHS provides and has provided throughout the past 420 years," he said.

"The original charter granted in 1589 to provide education for the young people of Gainsborough is still living today and we hope that the school will continue to go from strength to strength for the next 420 years."

"It is not only inspiring, but also humbling for us to feel part of a long and rich history."

To keep the theme of Saturday's celebrations, musicians will be recreating Elizabethan music throughout the day, the canteen will be serving Elizabethan food alongside its standard dishes, and some staff and students will even be sporting historical costumes fashioned on any period between 1589 and 1970.

Meanwhile, students will also get the chance to take part in a quiz which tests how much they know of other historical events that happened on the 21st November.

In what the school has labelled its 'most ambitious' plan for the day, the maths department had been working on plans to form the words 420 QEHS on the ground using assembled students, to be visible from the air, while – weather permitting – a microlight pilot will fly a photographer above to capture the event on camera, for the school to put the photos on sale later on.

It turned out to be too ambitious however, as the department realised they would need to reduce the display to simply the number '420' to avoid running out of students.

Finally, in a display of culinary prowess, a 22ft long cake produced by teachers and students in the Food Technology Department has been lovingly crafted to resemble the front of the school.

The origins of the school date back to the 15th century, when Gainsborough appears to have had a small school provided by the local clergy, where possibly several of the Pilgrim Fathers received their early education.

Lessons were first held in a room in the original All Saints' Church. Many of the school's early records were lost during the reign of Charles I, owing to the prominent Puritan sympathies of many associated with the school who sought to avoid detection, and so had the incriminating records destroyed.

Queen Elizabeth's began life when Sir Robert Somerscale was granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I to found a grammar school in Gainsborough on 21st November 1589.

During its 420 years, the school has moved at least twice, arriving at its present site on Morton Terrace, which had new and purpose-built accommodation, in 1940.

Its most recent historical point was the amalgamation of the boys and girls schools in 1983.