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James Allen's Girls' School

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Subject: Dulwich College, Alleyn's School, List of schools in Southwark, JAGS, Catherine Shepherd
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James Allen's Girls' School

James Allen's Girls' (JAGS) School
Established 1741
Type Independent day school
Religion Church of England
Headmistress Mrs Sally-Anne Huang
Chairman of the Governing Board Sir Hugh Taylor
Founder James Allen Warden and later Master of The College of God's Gift in Dulwich
Location 144 East Dulwich Grove,
DfE URN 100863 Tables
Students 1000 (approx.)
Gender Girls (4 - 18)
Ages 4–18

Red and blue

Affiliation Alleyn's College of God's Gift

James Allen's Girls' School, or JAGS, is an independent day school situated in Dulwich, South London, England. It has a senior school for 11- to 18-year-old girls, a prep school for 7- to 11-year-old girls (James Allen's Preparatory School — JAPS), and a pre-preparatory school — JAPPS — for 4- to 7-year-old girls. It is the sister school of Dulwich College and Alleyn's.


  • History 1
  • Houses 2
  • School magazine 3
  • Notable former pupils 4
  • School partnerships 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The school is part of The Dulwich Estate the foundation established by Edward Alleyn, which also includes Dulwich College and Alleyn's. It was founded by a Master of Dulwich College, James Allen, in 1741, as a free reading school for the local poor. James Allen was born on 4 May 1683 in Hornsey (a village which was later absorbed into north London) but later moved to Sussex. His father, also James Allen, drowned in an accident in 1690, after which his mother, Elizabeth, moved the family to Westminster and remarried.

By 1701, James Allen was a clerk in the Cursitors' Hall, the clerical branch of the Court of Chancery. In 1712, he became the Warden and later Master of the College of God's Gift at Dulwich. Allen believed that there ought to be a school where poor boys could learn to read and write, and girls to read and sew. He purchased the freehold of six houses in what is now Kensington Church Street, the annual rental of which provided income for the school. The Reading Schools opened on 25 June 1741 in Dulwich Village, with two mixed classes of children between six and ten years of age. Tuition was free. Entry was restricted to the children of poor families living within a one-mile radius of Dulwich.

James Allen died on 28 October 1746, leaving a bequest to his school to secure its future down the centuries. The final part of his legacy was used to establish the Scholars' Fund in 1997.

By 1814, the school was expanding rapidly. It had been renamed the Dulwich Free School. In 1842, the boys were removed to become the nucleus of Alleyn's School nearby. The remaining girls were the first pupils of JAGS as a single sex school, as it is now.

The school moved to its present building in September 1895, and has undergone continued development since. Recently, the old swimming pool has been converted into a dining hall and four new classrooms and some Drama rooms have been built. JAGS usually has a four class entry at 11+ (sometimes 5), with some 750 girls in the senior school and over 1,000 in the three schools combined. Staff is mixed male and female.

The school prides itself on its high academic standard and the quality of its artistic, sporting and cultural provision. It ranks high in national school league tables, normally inside the country's top 20 schools scheme, most recently number 9.[1] The Southwark Schools' Learning Partnership is a collaboration of eleven schools, eight state and three independent, a sharing of ideas for teachers and pupils.

The Dulwich Decorative and Fine Arts Society[2] meets in JAGS' sixth form lecture theatre.


JAGS currently has four houses:

  • Bettany, named after Caroline Bettany, one of the early headmistresses of JAGS
  • Clarke, named after famous botanist Lilian Clarke who taught at the school and planted their botanical gardens in 1896
  • Desenfans, named after Margaret Desenfans, the wife of Noël Desenfans, who founded the nearby Dulwich Picture Gallery
  • Holst, named after the composer Gustav Holst, who was music master at the school for sixteen years, and after whom the school's main hall is also named.

Prior to 1990 the four houses were J, A, G, and S, and prior to that there were six houses, named after prominent eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Dulwich figures: Bourgeois, Cartwright, Carver, Desenfans, Linley and Whitfield. Francis Bourgeois was the business partner of Noël Desenfans and co-founder of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and William Linley, a musician, bequeathed paintings to the gallery.

The houses compete annually for the Quarmby Shield, donated by chair of governors David Quarmby in 1989.

Most of the charity events in the school are organised on a House basis, and there are various competitions during the year from which points towards the house shield can be earned. Houses compete termly in Inter House sports such as swimming, hockey, tennis, rounders and netball. All girls from years 7–13 participate in these games. There is also an annual House Music competition in which forms in years 7–9 perform a dance and the music to a song of their choice. Recently, the school have introduced House Drama, House Art and House Dance with the initial idea of giving everyone a chance to perform in different ways.

School magazine

Originally started in 1926, the school magazine committee involves up to forty of the senior pupils in year 12 in writing, and there are three or four student editors who take responsibility for working with a designer on its production. The magazine is published in the autumn term.

Notable former pupils

Dates given are the years of birth and death, if known:

School partnerships

Country School Name Partner since Comments


  1. ^ "The Sunday Times The top 925 State and Independent Schools". Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  2. ^ Dulwich Decorative and Fine Arts Society, UK.
  3. ^ "National Apple Register of the United Kingdom Published by The Langford Press". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  4. ^ "National Apple Register of the United Kingdom Published by The Langford Press". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  5. ^ "Lisa St. Aubin de Terán". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  6. ^ British Olympic Association > Athletes > Shani Anderson
  7. ^ Catherine Shepherd at the Internet Movie Database

External links

  • JAGS website
  • Southwark Schools' Learning Partnership
  • The school's learning platform
  • James Allen's Girls' School, Registered Charity no. 312750 at the Charity Commission
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