Bootham School is an independent Quaker boarding school in the city of York in North Yorkshire, England. It was founded by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1823. It is close to York Minster. Jonathan Taylor is the current headmaster who replaced Ian Small in 2004. The school's motto: 'membra sumus corporis magni', means 'we are all members of one great body'. The school tries to treat every pupil equally which helps to create a friendly atmosphere. Students are allowed to call teachers by their first names if they wish.
William Tuke (1732-1822) first raised the idea in 1818 of establishing a boys’ school in York for the sons of Friends (Quakers) who were not eligible for Ackworth School, near Pontefract. In 1822 premises on Lawrence Street were leased from the Retreat, (the Hospital run by the Quaker committee), and the school opened in early 1823. It was run as a private concern until January 1829, when John Ford took over as ‘Superintendent of the Establishment’ and a Quarterly Meeting committee was appointed to run the school. It then became known as Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting Boys’ School, and this was its official name until 1915 despite the move to new premises at 20 Bootham in 1846. Further buildings and land were gradually acquired in the following years. Boys whose parents were not members of the Society of Friends were admitted for the first time in 1891. In 1899 the school suffered a serious fire and rebuilding of the premises used for teaching was necessary; the official reopening took place in 1902, and one of the new buildings was the Library named after John Bright, who had been one of the first scholars at Lawrence Street.
Bootham did not set out to cultivate a progressive image but offered a ‘whole school’ approach distinctly in advance of the education offered by more prestigious nineteenth century public schools, where there had been a transition from ‘godliness and classical learning’ to ‘manliness and games’. Quaker teachers were often trained at the Flounders Institute at Ackworth and sometimes took a London external degree while teaching. Many had a keen interest in Natural History which was enthusiastically shared by the pupils and led to a serious interest in science at the school which went on to produce a number of distinguished scientists in many areas.
This scientific interest was in keeping with the intellectual developments in the city of York which in 1822 had formed the Yorkshire Philosophical Society (YPS). Instrument making (Thomas Cooke and glass manufacturing were also important in the city.
In 1850 Bootham became one of the first schools to have its own observatory. Quakers stressed the importance of a constructive use of leisure time. Many boys produced impressive essays and classified collections. Some, such as Silvanus P. Thompson (Bootham 1858-67) became eminent in their field – he was a professor of science and worked with Michael Faraday on electromagnetism. In the late nineteenth century many of the Rowntree family sons were educated at Bootham, one of them, Arthur Rowntree, becoming Headmaster (1899-1927).
- Bootham School Register. Compiled under the direction of a committee of O.Y.S.A., 1914, with revised eds. 1935, 1971.
- JS Rowntree, Friends’ Boys’ School, York a Sketch of its History 1829-1878 (1879)
- FE Pollard Bootham School 1823-1923 (JM Dent and Sons, 1926)
- SK Brown Bootham School York 1823-1973 (author, 1973)
Well known old scholars include the 19th century parliamentary leader John Bright, mathematician Lewis Fry Richardson ('father of fractals'), the Nobel peace prize winner of 1959 Philip John Noel-Baker and Stuart Rose, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer
The school is particularly well known for its strength in the natural and physical sciences, but not for its sporting achievements (although recently the basketball teams have provided the school with trophies). The school also boasts the oldest school Natural History society in the country. Many pupils achieve successful exam results, and in keeping with its Quaker ethos, the school is also well known for maintaining a very friendly and informal environment. According to UK League Tables, Bootham is among the top 10 independent and grammar schools in England ranked for A-level results, and the top public school.
The school welcomes you into it's network of Friends Password for Bootham Guest network: 'Seek to know an inner stillness'
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