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Palmer's College

Palmer's Sixth Form College
Motto Monumentum Aere Perennius ("A memorial more enduring than bronze")
Established 1706
Type Sixth form college
Principal Mr Mark Vinall
Founder William Palmer
Location Chadwell Road
RM17 5TD
Local authority Thurrock
DfE number 883/8602
DfE URN 130682 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Gender Co-educational
Ages 16–19
Former name Palmer's Grammar School

Palmer's College is a sixth form college for 16 – 19-year olds in Thurrock, Essex, England. With an 'outstanding' Ofsted inspection in 2007, the College was awarded Beacon status in 2008. It offers a wide range of courses including the International Baccalaureate (IB), over 40 A level subjects, and a variety of BTEC, Business Technology and GCSE courses.


  • Location 1
  • History 2
  • The College Today 3
  • Academic performance 4
    • Ofsted reports 4.1
  • The Mission Statement 5
  • Old Palmerians' Association 6
  • Alumni 7
    • Palmer's Grammar School for Boys 7.1
    • Palmer's College 7.2
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The college is situated on Chadwell Road (B149) on the opposite (southern) side of the road to South Essex College, next to the A1089 just north of the A126 junction (Marshfoot Interchange). It is close to the boundary between Little Thurrock (to the west) and Chadwell St Mary. It is administratively in Thurrock and although its postal address is Grays, it is located in the religious parish of St Mary the Virgin, Little Thurrock.


Palmer's was first opened in 1706 when the merchant William Palmer founded a charity school for 'ten poore children' of the parish of Grays Thurrock, endowing it with valuable property in the town and Lombard Street, in the heart of the City of London. Initially located in a small building inside the churchyard, the school evolved into a boys' school of modest merit. However, in response to the changing educational landscape initiated by the 1870 Education Act, the trustees of Palmer's charity re-launched the school on a new site on the hill above the town in 1874. To this a girls' school was added in 1876.[1] As grammar schools both boys' and girls' establishments flourished during the twentieth century, variously referred to as William Palmers' School and the Palmer's Endowed School. William Strang, 1st Baron Strang, perhaps Palmer's most distinguished alumnus, recalled it in 1905 as 'a modest establishment, modest that is in size and in material equipment, but not at all modest in the opinion which it held of itself'.[2] However, the boys school, which admitted both day pupils and boarders until 1970, achieved the status of a public school, 1931–46, and went on to become a notable centre of sporting and musical activity in south Essex.

In 1972, as part of the reorganisation of education in Essex, the boys' and girls' schools amalgamated, together with Aveley Technical High School, to constitute a sixth form college. During the mid-1970s, the boys' and Aveley schools relocated to the College's present site (until then occupied by the Girls' School alone). The College is still supported by the William Palmer College Education Trust, the direct successor of the trustees William Palmer appointed to administer his charity. Artefacts from the schools' past can be seen in the College library.

The College Today

College entrance

2008 saw a record number of students applying to the College with over 2000 students enrolling. The College is equipped with modern teaching facilities set in beautiful grounds. Both students and the general public have access to a newly refurbished sports and fitness centre (including gym), and Palmer's hosts a variety of events for children from local schools on its playing fields.

The Student Executive are the "voice of the students" within the college; they are responsible for organising many college events. The Student Executive of 2007–2008 raised £4,000 for Little Havens Children's Hospice while The Student Executive of 2008/9 raised £3,000 for Cancer research UK as well as hosting various social events and fundraising days over the course of the year.

The school has a good record of students attaining places on the prestigious Prime Minister's Global Fellowship programme. The school achieved its first two students in the inaugural year of the programme, 2008. In 2009 it had another successful applicant.[3]

In 2006 Palmer's College celebrated its 300th anniversary and is proud to be able to trace its roots back over 300 years.

Academic performance

The abolition of the Boys and Girls' Grammar schools had a dramatic and deleterious effect upon educational achievements there and in Thurrock generally. In the 1950s and 1960s, an average of twenty pupils secured admission each year to Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Five years after the Sixth Form College was created, the number had fallen to between four and six each year on average. The two schools had been sacrificed by Essex County Council because they were in an area then dominated by the Labour Party: elsewhere in Essex, in Chelmsford and Colchester, grammar schools survived and are still amongst the leading schools in the county and the country. The Sixth Form College now gets A level results slightly under the England average, which is the best in Thurrock LEA. However, there are only two places in the LEA that sit A levels. Most sixth form colleges in England typically do much better, though this is without taking into account variations in the character of their catchment areas.

Ofsted reports

A 2007 inspection by Ofsted concluded 'Palmer's is an outstanding college'. Student achievement and the standard of work were good and success rates overall 'well above national averages for learners from all backgrounds'. The College was also praised for its retention rates and value-added scores.[4]

In 2013 a subsequent report rated the college as "Requires improvement" because few students studying academic courses were achieving high grades, there were no consistent standards of teaching, learning and assessment, and the college's leadership had failed to maintain the high standards reached in 2007, with many of the implemented measures, particularly regarding the performance management of teachers, being ineffective.[5]

The Palmer's College Student Exec Logo.
The Student Exec logo from 2008 until early-2012.

The Student Executive's logo from 2012 until present.

The Mission Statement

Palmer's College is committed to serve its community through excellent teaching and support for all students. The College aims to ensure that, in their pursuit of learning, students are enthusiastically engaged and successful in the achievement of their goals. It aims to widen their aspirations to take full advantage of a more globalised inter-dependent world.

Old Palmerians' Association

Past members of the college may join the Old Palmerians' Association which holds a variety of events and allows past pupils to keep in touch with the College.[6] In 2007, the Association published 300 Years of Palmer's – a miscellany of record and reminiscence.


Palmer's Grammar School for Boys

Palmer's College

  • Daniel Clements, Southend Premier League winning captain of Kingswood FC 2009–10,


  1. ^ Herbert Brooks, William Palmer and his School. Being an account of the founder of Palmer's Charity at Grays Thurrock, Essex (Colchester, 1928).
  2. ^ Lord Strang, 'Fifty Years Ago', in J. R. Hayston (ed.), 250 Years on. To commemorate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the trust deed by which William Palmer endowed in 1706 a school in Grays Thurrock (1956), p. 59. See also Strang's autobiography, Home and abroad (1956)
  3. ^ British Council website "Fellows" accessed 10 November 2009.Archived 12 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Ofsted Report, 2007 Palmers College Report: more details of the report can be found here [2]
  5. ^ "Further Education and Skills inspection report: Palmer's College" (PDF).  
  6. ^ "Old Palmerians' Association covering Palmers Girls school and Palmbers Boys School Grays Essex". Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  7. ^ Independent 30 July 2013

External links

  • Palmer's College
  • Old Palmerians' Association
  • Contact site for pupils who joined Palmer's Boys School in 1965
  • Edubase
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