Coopers' Company and Coborn School

The Coopers' Company and Coborn School is a secondary school and sixth form with academy status, located in Upminster area of the London Borough of Havering, England.

The Coopers' Company and Coborn School
St Mary's Lane

, ,
RM14 3HS

Coordinates51.5562°N 0.2596°E / 51.5562; 0.2596
MottoLove As Brethren
Religious affiliation(s)Christian
Established1536; 485 years ago (1536)
FounderNicholas Gibson (1536), Prisca Coborn (1701).
United in 1891, moved in 1971-1973
Department for Education URN136600 Tables
Head teacherSue Hay
StaffApprox 94 teaching staff
Age11 to 18
HousesCoborn, Guild, Gibson, Ratcliffe
Colour(s)Red, Blue, Green, Yellow
Former pupilsOld boys/Old girls


The school is (since 2005) a non-selective school described by Ofsted as "an exceptional school of real excellence". The school excels at Performing Arts and Sports. In 2004 as part of the European Year of Education through Sport it won the award of "Europe's most sport minded school".[1]

There have been no tests since 2001 nor interviews since 2004 for admission. Current applications are made via application form completed by the prospective students' parents and, months later, by a second form completed by the students themselves. This is not an examination but is heavily scrutinized. The school is heavily oversubscribed with approximately 5 applicants for each of the 180 places (over 900 applicants per year group). Due to this issue, Coopers' and Coborn School has appeared on an episode of Panorama, filmed by the BBC, to address this issue.

It is situated on St Mary's Lane (B187) about half a mile east of Upminster Station, just over a mile west of the M25, and two miles from junction 29 (A127).

General information

The school is divided into 5 years, similar to other secondary schools in England. It is one of only a few schools in the London borough of Havering to also have a Sixth form. A new Sixth form building opened in 2011. The Sixth form is primarily supplied with students from the years below who have graduated in Year 11. However, it does allow external candidates from primarily local schools to apply, with a growing proportion being accepted due to a year-on-year increase in intake in sixth form students since the 2016/2017 academic year. The school specialises in humanities and sports (geography, history, RE and PE). It has many sporting and academic successes, including national championships in hockey and winning Havering Young Chef of the year.


The Nicholas Gibson Free School was founded in 1536 by a prominent citizen of the City of London who earned his living as a grocer. On his death in 1549 Gibson's wife, Avice, took over the running of the school, which could take up to sixty boys. In 1552 she asked the Coopers' Company to undertake the management of the school for her, and thus the school included the company's title in its name. The school was situated in Ratcliff, on the north side of the River Thames between Shadwell and Limehouse which is now a district of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Schoolhouse Lane is still there and marks the place where the School and the Coopers' Company's Almshouses were located for over three hundred years.

Prisca Coborn (née Forster), the widow of a brewer (Thomas Coborn/Colbourne), established a coeducational school in Bow in 1701 as a result of the terms of her will, registered in the year of her death (1701), investing the school with lands let to tenants in Bow, Stratford and Bocking.[2] She is buried in Bow Church.

The Coborn school was first housed in a site east of Bow Church, quickly moving toward Bow Bridge. In 1814 the school moved to a site which later became part of the Bryant and May match factory. In 1873 a new scheme was prepared under the Endowed Schools Act to reorganize the school to give secondary education to 200 boys and 200 girls and receive more public funding.[3] The main new site, soon extended, assumed the temporary name of Stepney Grammar School, off Tredegar Square in the west of Bow (its closest station was Mile End and high street was Mile End Road). The Coborn name most frequently (as shared officially) referred to the girls school at 86 Bow Road which closed in 1886 until amalgamation with the Coopers' foundation (see below). The Coopers' Boys' School in the transitional period took over the Tredegar Square building. Miss Jessie Winifred Holland, headmistress 1903–10, married Sir William Foster, historian of the Coopers' Company and its schools; she too wrote a history, but of Coborn School.[3]

In 1891 the two foundations were united.[3] Coopers' Girls' School at 86 Bow Road was renamed Coborn School, moving to new buildings at 29-31/31-33 Bow Road in 1898 where it remained until the move to Upminster. M. G. Philpot, headmistress 1929–56, was awarded a C.B.E. for her services to education.[3]

On moving to Upminster the schools were amalgamated to form the then voluntary aided school. The new site was first occupied in Upminster in 1971, and by 1973 the whole school had moved into these new premises. In the 1990s Coopers'-Coborn became a selective Grant-maintained school.

The badge/arms commonly associated with the Coborn School are the arms of the Forster family (her paternal line) as the Coborn family did not have their own.

The school converted to academy status on 1 April 2011.

View from St Mary's Lane

Notable former pupils

The Coopers' Company and Coborn School

Coborn High School for Girls

Coopers' Company's School


  1. Euractiv - European Year of Education through Sport draws to a close. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  2. [bare URL]
  3. 'Schools: Coborn School', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, the Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes To 1870, Private Education From Sixteenth Century, ed. J S Cockburn, H P F King and K G T McDonnell (London, 1969), p. 290. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2018].
  4. [bare URL]
  5. [bare URL]
  6. [bare URL]

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