Penang Free School

Penang Free School is a secondary school located on Jalan Masjid Negeri (previously Green Lane), George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Although the medium of instruction is currently Malay, Penang Free School was the first English-medium secondary school in South East Asia.


The school was founded by Rev. Sparke Hutchings on October 21st, 1816, on the island of Penang, Malaysia. Its first headmaster was Mr. James Cox 1816-1821. Its original premises on Farquhar Street first housed the Hutchings School, but is now the Penang State Museum. In 1928, the school moved to its current location on Jalan Masjid Negeri (also known as Green Lane). The School received cluster school status from the Malaysian Ministry of Education in 2007.

Excerpts of the original charter: "That it will be the first object of the Institution to provide for the Education of such children as would be otherwise, brought up in idleness and consequent vice, and without any means of obtaining instruction either in useful learning or in any manual employment, and to implant in them in the early habits of industry, order and a good conduct." -—from "The Original Plan of the Establishment of Prince of Wales Island, Free School, 1816".


School Motto

The Motto of the school is Fortis Atque Fidelis (pronounced for 'tiz ud' kway fi' deliz) which is a Latin phrase for Strong and Faithful .

School Crest

The background colour of the crest is sky blue (azure), which is the school's colour.

Armorial bearings:

  • Middle chief: A white tower: Signifies the qualities of strength and truthfulness.
  • Dexter chief: Numeral 18: The first 2 digits of the year the school was founded (1816).
  • Sinister chief: Numeral 16: Tha last 2 digits of the year the school was founded (1816).
  • Dexter base: Palm tree: Represents the State of Penang, also signifies the fertility of the mind.
  • Sinister base: A gold lion rampant supporting a flag: Signifies the preservation of the tradition and high ideals of the school.


Below are the headmasters who have served the school:

Board Of Prefects

The Board of Prefects of Penang Free School was established in 1865.It is the oldest Board of Prefects in Malaysia and also South East Asia. Prefectship is the highest position of trust the school bestows upon a student. Prefects are selected based on their contributions to the school, personality, character,liablity, leadership qualities and academic unconsistency. This board supplements the tasks of the School Administration under the leadership of the School Captain.

The board takes upon itself the difficult task of maintaining school discipline and acts as a liaison body between the School Administration and the students. This board is rich in tradition and emphasizes on quality. Only about 18 prefects are initiated each year out of a population of 1600 students.

Generally, the Board of Prefects helps in all aspects concerning the school discipline, school's welfare and the school's development. This board has helped a bit in maintaining the students' discipline to ensure that it is always at the highest level, as its objective is to uphold the name of Penang Free School. Prefects are also in-charge of the smooth flowing of the school assemblies. It is a tradition where the School Captain accompanies the Principal to the hall. The Deputy School Captain calls the school to attention. Complete silence ensues as the Principal enters the hall. After the assembly, prefects will conduct spot-checks on students.


Since its establishment, the Board of Prefects has remained a board rich in traditions. The prefects play a very important part in the school's organization. Every year, the new School Captain, Deputy School Captain, Permanent and Temporary Prefects will be installed in front of the entire school population during assembly. The Board of Prefects helps the School Administration to maintain the school's discipline and also to reprimand offenders. Among the duties bestowed on a prefect include overseeing the smooth running of the School Assembly and catching those who break the school rules, especially during break times. Prefects also have the right to conduct spot-checks and hostel raids.

Every year, all the prefects are invited for the annual prefects' dinner. Here, the new temporary prefects get to mingle with their peers and foster their relationship with the senior prefects. This is also the place for them to meet the prefects of yesteryear.

School Captains

The School Captain is the highest position bestowed upon a student in Penang Free School. The School Captain generally must serve the Board Of Prefects for 2 years, before being elected when he returns as a Form 6 Student (A-Levels). His election usually goes through an official meeting between the Principal, the Prefect's Master, The outgoing School Captain and his deputies under the constitution of The Board Of Prefects. The School Captain handles the Board Of Prefects as an independent body, free from interference from teachers.

Below are the School Captains who have served the school:

Noted alumni

The Free School is the Alma Mater of many established, well known and successful Malaysians. An individual pursuing his secondary education in the Free School is commonly known as a Free, once the individual leaves the Free School, he is automatically an Old Free.

Amongst its most notable alumni are:

Sports Houses

The sports houses in the school are:

  • Hargreaves (Brown)
  • Hamilton(Yellow)
  • Pinhorn (Blue)
  • Wu Lien Teh(Green)
  • Tunku Putra(Orange)
  • Cheeseman (Red)


External links

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