Welcome to Sarah Bonnell School – a wonderful girls school where achievement and well-being are at the centre of everything we do. The school has a great track record for teaching girls in an innovative and engaging way and this has an impressive impact on achievement.
Sarah Bonnell is a happy school because it is based upon the right values. Our values, which were developed by students, give important guidance for all members of the school community to follow: Be Proud. Aim High. Work Hard. Be Kind. No Excuses. As a result, Sarah Bonnell School is buzzing with positive attitudes and behaviour and is a place where staff inspire and support all girls to be the best that they can be.
Our school puts equity, diversity and inclusion at the heart of work. We design our curriculum to support and challenge every student to gain knowledge and understanding of British racism, the present day experience of racism and the actions and attitudes required to promote social justice. Our school is a place where students’ culture, history, identity and experience is celebrated, reflected and represented.
At Sarah Bonnell we focus on making sure your daughter learns and achieves in an environment where she feels safe, valued and encouraged to try new things without a fear of failure. We focus on ensuring your daughter is able to achieve ambitious qualifications and develop skills, attitudes and behaviour that prepare her to make a positive contribution to society.
Ms Rae Potter
Sarah Bonnell School is one of the oldest girls’ schools in England with a proud tradition of educating young women. Our school came into being as a charity school in 1769, after a rich woman called Sarah Bonnell left £3,500 in her will for the express purpose of educating girls.
The first school was housed in a building opposite West Ham Church. It was known as Mrs Bonnell’s School and consisted of one schoolroom, one teacher and 40 girls. All the girls’ uniforms were paid for by the school. The Vicar of West Ham Church chose which girls would be allowed to attend the school; he also appointed the teacher, who had to be a woman “of good character”. The school was run by a Board of Trustees.
By 1834, there were 140 pupils. In 1873 the name of the school was changed to West Ham High School for Girls and moved into a new building in West Ham Lane. It now became an independent, fee-paying school and boys up to the age of 10 years were also admitted. There were still 40 free places for disadvantaged girls, in line with the provisions in Mrs Bonnell’s will. Later in 1905, the school moved to a large, impressive building in The Grove in Stratford.
During the 1920s the school ceased to be an independent school. In 1938 George Lansbury, a former Labour M.P, opened the new school library. During the Second World War the school was evacuated out of London, first to Brentwood and then to Truro in Cornwall, to protect against the aerial bombing of the East London docks.
In 1944 the school once again used our founder’s name to become Sarah Bonnell Grammar School and moved, this time to St. George’s Road, Forest Gate. Girls had to pass the 11-plus examination to gain a place at this Grammar School.
In 1972 comprehensive education was introduced in Newham and the school gained the title Sarah Bonnell Comprehensive School. It moved to its present site in Deanery Road, taking over the buildings that had previously been called Deanery High School for Girls and Stratford Green Secondary School.
The school continues to maintain the links with Sarah Bonnell’s endowment for girl’s education, through the Sarah Bonnell Foundation. We are proud to think that we are still carrying out the spirit of her will as the Foundation benefits our students today by providing additional funding for reading books, special educational events such as International Women’s Day Celebrations and residential trips to Wales and the Lake District.
Throughout the last three centuries, our school has catered for girls’ education and has maintained an excellent standard of behaviour and learning. Every year we allocate a special day to celebrate Sarah Bonnell’s birthday and we also take flowers to her memorial in Walthamstow. We do this to remember a far-sighted woman whose belief that it was important to educate girls in a time when the idea of equal rights for women was seen as revolutionary still shapes our ethos and values to this day.