LRGS pupils sign petition against year name changes

Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

More than 1,000 Lancaster Royal Grammar School pupils have signed a petition against plans to change the school’s traditional year names.

The school plans to move in line with others and rename their year groups as Years 7 to 1l, instead of their current First to Fifth Years.

Students upset at the plans set up a petition, which has been signed by more than 1,000 youngsters at the school.

One pupil, who did not wish to be named, said: “This may seem a small thing to many, but many students, Old Lancastrians and staff members feel that it is one of the many small things which keeps our school unique, both locally and nationally (there are only eight Royal Grammar Schools left after all).

“As a pupil at the school I can speak for both young and old in saying that most pupils were extremely disappointed when the decision was made to ignore the 1,000 plus strong petition to stop the change.

“The petition was not considered, merely acknowledged. A reason given by the school for not taking the petition into account, was that some people had defiled it with comedy signing.

“In my opinion ignoring the many serious and considered signings, on the basis of a minority of defilers, is akin to ignoring a majority election result on the fact that some people spoilt their ballot papers.

“Unfortunately this is not the only occasion the pupils’ opinions have been ignored, as the pupil body which debates issues regarding changes to the school was also overwhelmingly against the change.

“If the petition and the committee have both been ignored how can we be sure our traditions are safe and if our opinions are being ignored then why ask us in the first place?”

LRGS head Dr Chris Pyle said: “Lancaster Royal Grammar School is one of the oldest schools in England. Our origins date back to around 1235, and our location from 1472 to 1851 is marked by a plaque in the shadow of Lancaster Castle.

“The school has many important traditions. The school motto expresses one of these: “Lead in order to serve” (Praesis ut Prosis).

“Educating confident individuals to speak with their own voice is another. I am pleased to hear that voice loud and clear.

“The current year group names (“First Year” etc) are not very traditional, but they do speak loudly of the 1980s.

“Until the 1970s, year groups enjoyed more interesting names such as Shell, Alpha and the Middle Sixth.

“Interestingly, all the other Royal Grammar Schools changed to Years 7 to 11 nomenclature some years ago – as have most of the high-powered state and independent schools with which we compete nationally in the exam room and on the sports fields.

“The main reason for the change, though, is because we want LRGS to be the school of first choice for boys from every street in Lancaster, Morecambe and beyond.

“In talking to some families considering LRGS for their sons I have found that our current year group names appear outdated or are even perceived as a signal that this is “not a school for people like me.” It is!

“I have doubts that a school with only 1,000 pupils can produce more than 1,000 genuine signatures, however, and suspect some other forces at work!

“Pupils at LRGS know that I am open and accessible; I am pleased to debate both this issue and more serious questions of the school with them.”