Leeds Grammar School was an independent school in Leeds established in 1552. In August 2005 it merged with Leeds Girls' High School to form The Grammar School at Leeds. The two schools will be physically united by September 2008.
The school was founded in 1552 by William Sheafield to provide free, subsidised or fee-paying education to the children of the City of Leeds. Despite 1552 being the traditional date for the foundation of the school, there is some evidence to suggest that the school existed as early as 1341. In 1805, the school was the subject of a ruling by Lord Eldon that set a precedent affecting grammar schools throughout England.
In contemporary times, LGS is a selective, independent fee-paying school, (in the UK known as a Public School), and was a member of the Governing Bodies Association and of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. The School currently occupies £18.5 million modern premises in Alwoodley, which were formally opened in June 1998 by Lord Harewood.
In 1624 John Harrison, a great Leeds benefactor, removed the school "to a pleasant Field of his own which he surrounded with a substantial Wall and in the midst of the Quadrangle built the present Fabrick of the school". Harrison's school was located on North Lane, on the site of the current Grand Theatre, and opposite St John's Church. Through the years, the school grew steadily in numbers and in reputation. Harrison's building was added onto in the 1640s by a new library, thanks to the endowment of Godfrey Lawson (Mayor of Leeds, 1669-70). The Lawson Library remains with the school to this day, making it the oldest library in Leeds. It was refurbished in 2007.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century, demand for Latin and Greek was falling, while Leeds was growing as a centre of commerce and industry. In 1791 the trustees proposed to appoint a third master, to teach writing and accounts, and a fourth to teach French and other modern languages. The plan was opposed by the Master and Usher. With the two sides unable to agree, a suit in the Court of Chancery began in 1795. In 1805, Lord Eldon, then Lord Chancellor, in a ruling that set a precedent for grammar schools across the country, proclaimed, "There is no authority for thus changing the nature of the Charity, and filling a School intended for the purpose of teaching Greek and Latin with Scholars learning the German and French languages, mathematics, and anything except Greek and Latin." He did however offer as a compromise that other subjects might be taught, as long as all boys also learnt the classical languages. On the death of the master in 1815, the trustees appointed one of their number as acting master, and were able to effect the desired changes.
By 1857, the city of Leeds was growing prodigiously due to the Industrial Revolution. The city conditions were dirty and Harrison's buildings inadequate for a Victorian education. Therefore in 1857 the decision was made by Rev. Alfred Barry (Headmaster) to move the school to new premises on Woodhouse Moor. The building, ecclesiastical in design, was opened in June 1859. The building was designed by Edward Middleton Barry, brother of the then headmaster, Rev. Alfred Barry, after whom one of the eight houses was named. At that time the school roll numbered fewer than 100 boys and the buildings were planned for just 200. Serious consideration was given in the 1920s to moving the school to Lawnswood - the current site of Leeds University's playing fields.
The school was in the Direct Grant scheme in the 1950s to 1970s, and in the Assisted Places scheme in the 1970s to 1990s. Throughout the 20th century the school continued to expand, with the building of a new Swimming Pool, Sports Hall, Theatre, a Design and Technology department, Assembly Hall and Classroom block. By the 1990s, the roll had risen to over 1,100 boys, with the school operating on three separate sites. Despite continuous improvements to accommodate both increased numbers and the requirements of a contemporary curriculum, no further development of the facilities was economically viable without great detriment to the education of the pupils. On top of this, by 1997 the premises had been surrounded by the University of Leeds and the area of Leeds surrounding the school - Headingley - was in apparent decline; therefore the decision was taken by the Governors and the University to swap the Woodhouse Moor, Junior School and Lawnswood premises for a site in Alwoodley to the north of Leeds. In September 1997, following £18.5 million and three years of construction, Leeds Grammar School opened at its new home in Alwoodley Gates. In 1999 the school passed into the 21st century with the appointment of a new Headmaster - Dr. Mark Bailey. Following the continued shrinking of Leeds' child population, staff shortages and the need of Leeds Girls' High School for more adequate modern buildings the decision was taken to merge with Leeds Girls' High School in 2003. The school physically passed out of existence on the 4th July 2008, although it had been legally dissolved since August 2005.
There are many competitions throughout the school year, the most notable of these being Sports day and House music. Any house activity, be it a win or a draw, results in the acquiring of House Points. All eight houses compete throughout the year for the coveted Bailey Cup - awarded at the end of the year for the house with the most House Points.
Following the merger with Leeds Girls High School four of these houses (Thoresby, Neville, Clarell and Barry) were removed. Four houses have been created from alumnae important to Leeds Girls High School (Eddison, Ford, Lupton and Powell) thereby maintaining the current eight-house system at GSAL.
The school administration merged with Leeds Girls' High School in August 2005, with the schools physically merging in September 2008. At that time the Senior School (ages 11-18) and Junior School (ages 7-11) will remain at their present Alwoodley Site. The Infant School will move to the former LGHS site at Headingley alongside a new Nursery School. The merged school will be called The Grammar School at Leeds. The main Senior School site of Leeds Girls' High School will be sold to a private developer. Classes for girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 16 will remain segregated, but all extracurricular activities will be mixed.
The merger of the two schools has caused some controversy due to the expected increase in traffic levels at the Alwoodley site.