That Was Jersey
Local history for everyone
The earliest records of formal education in Jersey relate to two ancient grammar schools. St Mannelier was founded in 1477 in the parish of St Saviour. Just a few years later in 1496 came St Anastase in St Peter. These schools focussed on the classics, with much instruction given in Latin. Intensive teaching gave little time out for games or holidays. There was also a trust to send poor boys to Oxford and Cambridge universities, with the agreement that they would then devote themselves to the good of the Island.
An ecclesiastical law (Canon) of 1623 decreed that there should be a schoolmaster in each parish, chosen by the church authorities and licensed by them. Classes were probably taught within the parish church building. These schools provided an elementary education, but as time went on, it proved inadequate preparation for the changing economy of the island.
In 1787 the official schoolmaster in Trinity brought a lawsuit against a local teacher who was running a school without a licence. This developed into something of a controversy, with the final outcome that the church’s monopoly on education was broken. Subsequently many private schools were opened throughout the island.
During the 1860s two new schools were opened to provide a more practical grounding in industrial, shipbuilding and sailing skills. The Jersey Industrial School for Boys (1867) was located at the newly built Haut de la Garenne in Gorey, not far from the Royal Naval Training School (1860), which was housed partly in what is now The Old Cadet House near Victoria Tower. The aim of these schools was to produce boys with experience and skills for the jobs available at the time.
In 1833 the UK set up a national scheme to promote elementary education. Grants were made, and Jersey schools were able to benefit from both the financial input and also the advice and help of Inspectors.
The 1870 Education Act in England led to the 1871 law in Jersey, acknowledging the responsibility of the States. The States made an offer to the parishes in 1887 to fund half the cost of construction for new schools. St Saviour and St Martin were the only parishes to take up this offer. Reports from the UK school inspectors showed that Jersey standards of schooling were below standard.
In 1894 elementary education became compulsory for every child from 5 to 12 years of age. However, in many parishes the necessary schools were lacking. Eventually a further law was passed in 1899 making each parish responsible for providing local schools, again with half of the cost met by the States. Many parish schools date from this period.
A few years later (in 1912) further legislation placed all schools (including church schools) under the ultimate authority of the States. This was the end of small private schools, of which there had been as many as seventy at one time.
Parents were responsible for ensuring that children between 5 and 13 were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Children over the age of eight were allowed time off for agricultural work up to six weeks in a year. Many of the school log books record these absences, particularly in the planting or harvesting seasons.
There are illustrations of the parish schools on each parish page. Choose your parish from the bar on the right.
Halkett Place School was located in St Helier on the site now occupied by the Jersey Library. It started out as Jersey National School in 1813 in Grove Place and a note in the local paper records the "Establishment and support of a Public School for the Education of the Infant Poor" (Gazette, 25 September 1813). It was funded by subscriptions and donations from those who were better off.
The school premises were extended and enlarged as more children joined. The name changed to Halkett Place School and continued to provide education for those who needed it in that part of town for 169 years, before the school closed in1982.
In 1982 there were just 145 boys and girls, aged five to eleven. They and their headteacher with some other staff moved to Rouge Bouillon along with students from Vauxhall / Val Plaisant to form the new school created in the buildings in Brighton Road.
Most of the States secondary schools have been founded in the last half-century. For many years school was only compulsory up to the age of 14 (this age was set in the law of 1913). However as the population grew, and farming became less of a barrier to education (no more empty classes due to potato planting!), new secondary schools were set up by the States.
Hautlieu, which was created to provide preparation for GCE O and A levels, was opened in 1952. It was originally built on the site of a farm and several German bunkers had to be removed before the building work could begin. Hautlieu started life as a boys secondary school, with Rouge Bouillon providing similar education for girls from its opening in 1954. In April 2004 the school moved into new buildings located on their former playing field.
In the early 1960s plans for secondary schooling in the west of the Island led to the founding of Les Quennevais School in 1966. A feature of this school is its joint library facility for the local community and for the pupils. In 1996 a large-scale refurbishment programme was completed.
Le Rocquier School was founded to serve the east of the Island in 1975, and in February 2006 the school moved into a new building, built on the former playing field.
In St Helier, d'Hautrée was located between Highlands College and Government House. The school closed in July 1998, and a new school was built to the north-west of town. The new school is Haute Vallée.
On the other side of town beyond St Saviour's Hill, Grainville lies in a hollow beside the road, and one can now only imagine how the earlier Grainville Manor sat so well in its secluded position.
Victoria College was founded in 1852. There had been plans at various times from 1596 onwards to establish a college of comparable standing with the public schools of England. Queen Victoria had visited the Island in 1846, and the Islanders were looking for ways to commemorate the occasion. The foundation stone was laid on the Queen’s birthday in 1850. The impressive buildings were planned with care, although the college has long outgrown them, and further accommodation has been needed.
The Jersey Ladies College received its first pupils in September 1880 in a house in Roussel Street. The foundation stone for the new building at Mont Cantel was laid in 1887 and the façade of the school was most impressive. The original Trust under which the school operated gave way to the Church of England School Trust in the 1920s, and control then passed largely to the States. The buildings served the school well for over 100 years, until the girls moved to new buildings near to Victoria College in September 1999.
Victoria College and Jersey College for Girls each has a related prep school for younger children.
St Michael’s School in St Saviour’s parish was founded in the late 1940s and is an independent preparatory school, preparing children for the Common Entrance exam for access into good independent schools either in the Island or in the UK.
St George’s Preparatory School was founded in 1930 in Trinity. It moved in 1980 to La Hague Manor in St Peter, where there is plenty of space and outbuildings for a wide range of activities.
Other private schools in St Helier are Helvetia House and St Christopher’s. Both schools aim to provide a wide education in a small school atmosphere. Helvetia House dates back to about 1889, while St Christopher’s is a newer school, dating from 1964.
There are three Catholic schools still operating in the Island. De la Salle (mostly for boys) was established in 1917 and in 1918 they moved to a house named The Beeches (hence the continuing use of this name). Beaulieu (mostly for girls) dates from 1951. Its origins lie in the convent established at Coin Varin in the parish of St Peter, where the nuns started to teach young children. The present school was transferred to a charitable trust in 2000, an act described by the Bailiff as "one of the most generous examples of public benefaction in the history of the Bailiwick". The FCJ Primary School has been situated at Grainville since 1969.
There have been numerous other small schools, mostly privately run, and now no longer in existence.
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