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Haberdashers' Aske's Boys School: Wikis


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The Haberdashers' Aske's School
Mottoes Serve and Obey

(Original, inherited from The Haberdashers' Livery Company)
Nurturing Excellence (New, created under P B Hamilton)

Established 1690
Type Independent, Day school
Religion Christianity
Headmaster Mr Peter B Hamilton
Chairman Mr M D G Wheldon (Retired 2009)
Founder Robert Aske
Location Butterfly Lane
England England
LEA Hertfordshire
Students 1095[1]
Gender Boys
Ages 4 to 19
Houses Calverts, Hendersons, Joblings, Meadows, Russells, Strouts
Colours Navy and Sky Blue (Formerly Navy and Magenta)


Former pupils Old Haberdashers (
Coordinates: 51°39′23″N 0°18′45″W / 51.6564°N 0.3124°W / 51.6564; -0.3124

The Haberdashers' Aske's School or HABS, as it is commonly known by the public, is a leading British independent school in Elstree, near Borehamwood, in Hertfordshire.

It owes its name to its foundation by the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (one of the livery companies) through the agency of Robert Aske.[2] The school adopted the motto of the company, "Serve and Obey".



The school was established in 1690 at Hoxton, near the City of London. In the 19th century it was divided into two; one part moved to Hatcham in South London, where boys' and girls' schools were set up. Usually referred to as Aske's, they were formerly known as the Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham Schools until 1991, when the two were combined as Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College.[2]

The other part moved to a site in Cricklewood (though always referred to as Hampstead), in north-west London, becoming a direct grant school after the passing of the Education Act 1944. Its formal name was the Haberdashers' Aske's Hampstead School, generally known as Haberdashers'. In 1961, this school moved to its present site at Elstree, initially taking the name Haberdashers' Aske's School Elstree. When the Labour government of 1964-70 withdrew the direct grant arrangements, it became fully fee-paying.[2]

Recently, a number of buildings on the Elstree campus have been opened, including the new Aske Building (2004), a multi-million pound science and geography complex, and the Bourne Building, a series of classics, information technology and history classrooms. The Bourne Building also features at its focus a large assembly hall, inherited from the building that stood there previously. This hall is home to a fine pipe organ, built in 1897 by the famous London firm of Henry Willis & Sons for Hove Town Hall and brought to Elstree in 1962. The instrument retains its original specification of thirty-six stops on four manuals and pedals and is currently maintained by the Willis firm.[3] Another major building in Haberdashers' is the Seldon Hall, where boys may learn to play a musical instrument. A full development scheme has been initiated and over a period of time, and the school will be re-built in order to keep up with the changing world. As part of this, the school will be based around two main quadrangles.

Perhaps because of the association of haberdashery and the Jewish community (as well as its present location to the north-west of London and previous location near Golders Green), the school is popular with Jewish parents, as the list of old boys shows. The school also has a high proportion of Asian pupils.

For a more detailed account of the school's history, see the relevant section in Cockburn et al. (1969), referred to below; or in John Wigley's official history of the school, 'Serve and Obey'.

Present day

Entry to the school is via a competitive examination set by the school (not the Common Entrance Paper) at either 11+ or 13+ (with entry into the Preparatory school at 4+, 5+, or 7+). Oxbridge offer statistics are as follows:

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
37 25 40 30 32 44 37 32 26 38

Older averages (2001-2006) placed the school at nineteenth in the country.[4]

The school has been, to some extent, under-represented in national League Tables however, because students take IGCSE papers which are uncounted in Government League Tables, and because the school usually limits pupils to taking only three A-Level subjects.Haberdashers' Aske's received a glowing Inspection report in the autumn of 2005, praised for its extra-curricular opportunities and Pastoral Care.

The school retains strong links with the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers', members of which sit on the School's governing body. Every year a deputation from this ancient Livery company inspects the school and hands out St. John's bibles to every boy in the first year of the Main School (Year 7). There are also visits from members of the School community to the new Haberdashers' Hall in the City of London.

The school itself contains a vibrant and involved community. Many societies are run within the school by pupils with the support of the teachers. These include school magazines ("Skylark", "Scribe", "Scope", "Timeline" and "The Key") and religious groups ("J-soc" (Jewish Society), "Islamic Society" and "Christian Union") but other non-literary societies also flourish within the school such as an Amnesty International, the Politics, Science and Economics Societies which invite outside speakers, Film Society, Poetry Society, Debating Society, Young Entrepreneurs' Society, Model United Nations Society, Chess Club, Classics Society, Bridge Club, Russian Club, Philosophy Club and Radical Society (A society that invites and debates with speakers with a background in the far-left of politics), a Ukulele Orchestra and many others, although the societies list changes from term to term as boys create new clubs. The school holds an annual MENCAP Funday and an annual Senior Citizens' Tea Party.

The School also nominates a School Charity annually (and multiple House Charities) to which money raised is to be sent.

Music is also a very popular activity within the school (over half of Boys play at least one instrument), with three orchestras, numerous bands and many more smaller groups. Sport is also a major activity at the school, with a plethora of different teams and a wide array of sports, ranging from Cricket to Rugby, Fencing to Squash.

Haberdashers' has been successful in the past few years in both National and International competitions. Sports teams have triumphed in football competitions and proceeded very far into the Daily Mail Rugby Cup.The Cricket 1st XI were one of only four school teams to be undefeated in the 2006 season. HABS teams have won many bridge competitions. HABS is regarded as one of, if not the top Model United Nations school in the UK, with delegations winning top prizes at every conference attended. Debating is a tour de force at HABS with the school having won the School's Mace competition, having coached the England Captain and with the school completed the debating quadruple (Durham,Oxford,Cambridge and Bristol) for the first time in schools history. Habs also came runners up in the Bank of England Base Rate Competition, Target 2.0, both in 2006 and again in 2007. A Habs team has reached the final of the Ogden business competition 2007, and is down to the last eight teams in the country this year. The school offers for students in year 10 and above a choice of either the 'School Community Service' (SCS) or the 'Combined Cadet Force'(CCF). The SCS allows students to take an active role in helping out at the school or indeed external locations, where students volunteer on a weekly basis. The CCF comprises the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force sections, all of which teach leadership skills, as well as an extensive variety of other skills and qualifications, such as a BTEC diploma in Public Services. The corps takes cadets on a field day each term to take part in activities that are specific to their section (e.g. the RAF section typically go flying). The current contingent commander is Major N P Saddington.

HABS were the Hertfordshire K.Emsall shooting winners for 2007/8 and are currently ranked 4th in the BSSRA 0.22 league.

Media references

  • The recent hit Alan Bennett stage-play and film The History Boys mentions Haberdashers' in its script as a school of academic excellence. The production notes were supplied by acclaimed historian Simon Schama, an Old Boy of the School who had a major influence over the play and film.
  • Old Boy novelist William Sutcliffe set his largely autobiographical début novel New Boy (1996) at an unnamed school that is easily identifiable as Haberdashers', for instance by references to the school's location, layout and, most tellingly, motto. The book has since been adapted for the theatre (2009).

Other Haberdashers' Schools

  • The Haberdashers' Company was also involved in the foundation of other schools, for example Monmouth School, but these were not associated with Robert Aske.


The school is divided by Year group with the Prep school consisting of years 1-6, the Lower school 7-8, the Middle school 9-11, and the Sixth Form for years 12-13.

The school is based around a House structure; several shields are awarded by the Headmaster at the end of the academic year for competition between the Houses (Junior Work and Conduct, Senior Work and Conduct, The Crossman Shield, awarded for success in inter-house sporting competitions, and the Dunton Shield, awarded to the house with the highest number of points in all three categories combined). The six houses are named after the original housemasters: Calverts, Hendersons, Joblings, Meadows, Russells and Strouts. In the first two years of schooling, boys are placed in tutor groups according to their House and all lessons are with members of the tutor group; later in the school, the Houses are mixed as classes follow ability streams. The tutor groups, however, are dependent upon House throughout the school.

Throughout the Year there are numerous Inter-House events including both sporting and non-sporting competitions (Such as Inter-House Debating, Chess or Inter-House Bridge). It is hoped that every boy will be able to represent their house in at least one activity.

Recent report

A recent ISI report of Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School praised the school for its teaching, facilities and extra curricular activities. The inspection lasted one school week (five days) and viewed all aspects of school life. The report can be found at ISI Online Report.

League tables

The school was ranked at 24 by The Sunday Times in their 2006 Parent Power feature[1] on the best independent schools, down from 18 in the previous year. According to the Times rankings, Habs came 20th (out of 1150 schools) in GCSE rankings[2] and 72nd (out of 939) at A-level,[3] though this is largely because most boys at Habs only took three A-levels, and so received a lower total score than other comparable schools. In the same year The Telegraph placed Habs in 44th place based on A- and AS-level results,[4] and 24th (out of 2703) in their full list ranked by average score per A-level entry.[5]

Notable Old Haberdashers

Old boys of the school, called Old Haberdashers, include:

Notable teachers


J S Cockburn, H P F King, K G T McDonnell (1969) A History of the County of Middlesex. Volume 1: Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, The Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes to 1870, Private Education from Sixteenth Century. Boydell & Brewer (ISBN 9780197227138)

J W Wigley - 'Serve and Obey, a History of the School'

External links



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