Skip to content ↓
Skip to content ↓

    Our History

    Our Foundations

    A look through the archives will show that there has been a school in Wath-upon-Dearne since the 1600s. The first school was built on the site of the cemetery at Newhill.  A stone with the inscription "Thomas Wombwell, Bachelor in Divinity and late Vicar of Wath did give towards the building of this school house the sum of thirty pounds in the year of our Lord 1663." is currently mounted on the wall in our school reception. It was the only school in Wath until the 1850s, when Wath C of E was built.

    Stone with Thomas Wombwell Inscription.
    Stone with Thomas Wombwell Inscription.

    The Church of England was responsible for most formal education in England until the government established free, compulsory education during the 1870s and 1880s. The Sandon Act imposed a legal duty on parents to ensure that their children were educated rather than being sent to work to earn an income and the Elementary Education Act of 1880 enforced compulsory attendance from 5 to 10 years. Although it was a positive shift away from education for the privileged few, just under half of the children in England still had no access primary school education. During the late 19th and early 20th century many new schools were built to accommodate the increase in number of children going through the education system.

    Wath Secondary School opened its doors on 17th September 1923.  It was opened by Alderman Talbot (Chairman of the West Riding Higher Education Sub-Committee) and was housed temporarily in Park Road Infants School with Rev A T L Greer as Headteacher and 3 assistant teachers. The school started with 77 children, that number had grown to 520 six-years later.

    The Opening of Wath Secondary School. 17 September 1923.
    The Opening of Wath Secondary School. 17 September 1923.

    Wath Secondary School had become the fourth largest of the 49 secondary schools under the control of West Riding County Council with parents choosing to send their children to Wath from as far afield as Barnsley. It was a pioneer period: the school had outgrown its temporary accommodation in Park Road Infant School and lessons were being taught at the Wesleyan Church, the Primitive Methodist Church, St. James' School and the Wath Mechanics Institute. It could take over an hour to walk around the school premises, but from these scattered elements, there was a sense of school spirit emerging.

    The Houses

    The house system did much in the early years to encourage students to progress. New students would have a house master or mistress to guide them through their education from the day they started until the day they left school. It helped spur emulative rivalry in play and work. The houses were named Athens, Carthage, Rome, Sparta and Troy, with Thebes added later as the number of pupils grew.


    House Values: Aspiration. Competitiveness. Loyalty. Responsibility. Wisdom.

    Athens was the largest and most influential of the Greek city-states. It had many fine buildings and was named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom and warfare. The Athenians invented the concept of democracy ('demos' = 'the people', 'kratia' = 'the power of rule') to describe their system of government, where every citizen could vote on important issues, such as whether or not to declare war.

    In the classical period, Athens was a centre for arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academia and Aristotle's Lyceum, Athens was also the birthplace of Socrates, Plato, Pericles, Aristophanes, Sophocles and many other prominent philosophers, writers and politicians of the ancient world. It is widely referred to as the cradle of western civilization.


    House Values: Candidness. Honesty. Kindness. Perseverance. Strength.

    According to legend, colonists from modern-day Lebanon, led Queen Elissa, founded Carthage c. 814 BC. The Carthaginian Empire extended over much of the coast of north west Africa as well as encompassing substantial parts of coastal Iberia and the islands of the western Mediterranean Sea.


    Carthage settlers were a seafaring people known as the Phoenicians. The ancient city of Carthage, located in modern-day Tunis in Tunisia, was a major centre of trade and influence in the western Mediterranean. Carthaginians were a formidable warring nation. They fought a series of wars against Rome, which were known as the Punic Wars. Hannibal Barca was a general and statesman from ancient Carthage who is widely considered one of the greatest military commanders in history.


    House Values: Confidence. Credibility. Faithfulness. Reliability. Trust


    The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world.

    Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, religion, society, technology, law, politics, government, warfare, art, literature, architecture and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called 'Res Publica', the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France. It achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as the construction of large monuments, palaces and public facilities.


    House Values: Consideration. Courage. Endurance. Teamwork. Vision.

    Sparta was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. Around 650 BC it rose to become a dominant military land-power. It was unique for its social system and constitution, which configured its entire society to maximise military proficiency at all costs, focusing all social institutions on military training and physical development. Spartans underwent the rigorous 'agoge' training and education regimen, This started at the age of 7 and lasted for 11 years.

    Spartan women also enjoyed considerably more rights and equality with men than elsewhere in classical society. Spartan phalanx brigades were widely considered to be among the best in battle. The movie ‘300’ is based on the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans held off 100,000 to 150,000 Persians. It is a true story about the victory of a few brave Spartans holding their ground against a larger adversary.


    House Values: Ambition. Determination. Enthusiasm. Focus. Optimism.

    Thebes was a city in Boeotia, central Greece. It played an important role in Greek myths, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus and Heracles. Thebes was the largest city of the ancient region of Boeotia and was the leader of the Boeotian confederacy. It was a major rival of ancient Athens, and sided with the Persians during the 480 BC invasion under Xerxes. Thebes was a major force in Greek history, and was the most dominant city-state at the time of the Macedonian conquest of Greece. During the Byzantine period, the city was famous for its silks. The Sphinx, which features on the house badge, is a mythical creature with the body of a lion, the head of a human and the wings of a bird. It is often associated with Egypt, but the sphinx also plays a part in Greek traditions and is said to have guarded the entrance to the Greek city of Thebes.

    Thebes was, according to legend, the birthplace of the mythological pan-Hellenic hero Hercules. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures.


    House Values: Curiosity. Dedication. Ingenuity. Prudence. Tolerance.

    Troy was a city in the far northwest of the region known in late classical antiquity as Asia Minor, now known as Anatolia in modern Turkey.  It was the setting of the famous Trojan war. During the war, the city of Troy was besieged for ten years. After the deaths of many heroes, including the Achaeans Achilles and Ajax, and the Trojans Hector and Paris, the city fell to the ruse of the Trojan Horse. Legend states that the Greeks pretended to sail away whilst leaving a large wooden horse as a gift. The horse was dragged into the city by the Trojans, but inside were hidden Greek soldiers. These soldiers let the rest of the army into the city and then the city of Troy fell. Contrary to popular belief, Homer’s "Iliad" does not end with the destruction of Troy but with a temporary truce, after which the fighting continued.

    A famous Trojan is Helen of Troy. In Greek legend, she was often described as the most beautiful woman of Greece and the indirect cause of the Trojan War. She was daughter of the god Zeus.

    All games and academic endeavours were celebrated as house, not individual, achievements. Houses would compete for the Alderman Talbot Games Cup, the Sports Cup and the Cup of Work & Conduct (which had been generously donated by the parents).


    Mr J Ritchie
    Mr J Ritchie. September 1948.

    After a few changes in the early years, the school settled on maroon and gold as the school colours with the motto "Meliora Spectare" (look to better things). The school's coat of arms consisted of a escutcheon containing a miner's pick, a book and a series of wavy lines representing the River Dearne. The current flaming torch badge didn't appear until later and may have been part of uniform changes brought in during the early 1950s. Both badges are still used to this day: the torch logo representing the school as a whole and the miner's pick and book logo is used primarily to denote the sixth form.

    The 1930s

    The New School Building
    The New School Building, taken in 1948.

    In May 1930, the school moved into a new school building on Sandygate. The total cost of the building was £33,643. It was built on land donated by the Wade family (who lived in what is now The Glasshouse - formerly the Sandygate Hotel) and which was to be held in perpetuity for educational purposes. The school is blessed with grounds and playing fields that extend over 28 hectares.

    in 1930 there were 20 full-time teachers, 2 part-time instructors and 550 students with 33 in the sixth form. The pupils who passed the 11+ came automatically. Those who sat the Entrance Exam and passed had to pay a termly fee for the privilege of being in the school. For staff, it was a condition of employment that you lived within two miles of the school.

    Wath upon Dearne Grammar School

    New Technology Block. 1950s
    New Technology Block. 1950s.

    The school officially became a grammar school in 1931. Rev Greer left in 1940 to become an Air Force chaplain and was succeeded by Dr J Ritchie, who died in office in 1954. Dr C Saffell took up the headship in 1955.

    During the 1950s Wath-upon-Dearne expanded as local industries flourished and the post-war population grew rapidly. It became clear that the school building wasn't big enough and a number of major expansions were made between 1954 and 1956.

    A new hall was 'bolted on' to the existing building and purpose-built technology and science blocks were constructed.

    Wath Comprehensive School

    In January 1964, the former Park Road Secondary Modern School was amalgamated with Wath Grammar School, with a consequent rise in numbers to 1491 students.

    Staff Group Photo. 1963.
    Staff Group Photo. 1963.

    The school was designated a Comprehensive School in September 1972 with the arrival of Mr A Murphy as Headteacher and under local government re-organisation in 1974 the school became part of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. The school's name was officially changed to Wath Comprehensive School.

    In 1977 Mr J Brothwell took over as Headteacher and student numbers continued to grow. Mr D Kirby served as Headteacher from July 1991 to 1997 and was succeeded by Mr R Godber who retired in August 2002. In September 2002, Mr E Sampson became the headteacher. Mr Sampson died suddenly in May 2003 and Mr J Chisholm became Acting Headteacher until January 2004, when Mrs P Ward took up the post of Headteacher.

    New Building 2004.
    New Building 2004.

    As part of the Government's PFI initiative many schools in the Rotherham Borough were rebuilt. During the Easter break 2005 the school moved into a brand new, purpose built school building. Although the main hall survived, the original buildings and Park Road annexe were demolished.

    Mrs P Ward retired in 2016 and Mr J Taylor, who had previously been Deputy Head and Head of Sixth Form took on the role of Headteacher in September 2016.
    In 2016, the local council proposed an extension of five classrooms, in return for the school taking on 20 additional students a year. After many delays, construction of this extension began in July 2018 and was completed in February 2019.

    Wath Academy

    The school underwent  an Ofsted inspection in March 2017 and despite having an above average academic performance with particularly good EBacc results, the school was graded as Inadequate and issued with a mandatory 'academy order'. The regional schools commissioner proposed Maltby Learning Trust as the academy sponsor and Wath Comprehensive School changed its name to Wath Academy and joined Maltby Learning Trust in April 2019, a trust which comprised of Maltby Academy, Sir Thomas Wharton Academy and four primaries. On joining, Wath Academy became the largest school within Maltby Learning Trust.