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Rutlish is a truly comprehensive boys’ school. We ensure that our students are able to realise their full capabilities.
Rutlish School has been successfully educating young men for over a hundred years. We have a Specialist School Status in Mathematics and Computing. This has enabled us to build on our outstanding Maths department, and to enhance our ICT facilities. We offer a broad and balanced curriculum that is designed to meet the needs, the interests and the abilities of each student. We have excellent links with partner primary and secondary schools, as well as with our local community in providing training to colleges across the borough.
We believe in challenging our students. Whilst our expectations are high, we provide sufficient help and guidance to ensure that our students realise their full potential. We aim to create an environment where students behave responsibly and contribute fully as they develop a clear sense of belonging to the school community.
So who was William Rutlish?
William Rutlish lived in the 17th Century and was appointed as the official embroiderer to Charles II in 1661. In that position he became very wealthy and he bought property and land in the parish of Merton, where he lived to get away from the pressures of the City of London and of the King’s Court.
When he died in 1687 William Rutlish left money to be used to help poor children, male and female, in Merton. He declared in his will that his money was to go to “the worthiest and most suitable objects of charity”.
William Rutlish is buried in a tomb in the churchyard of our local St Mary’s Church in Merton Park. Each year our Year 7 and Year 8 students go to the Church for a Commemoration Day Service, and the Head Boy of Rutlish School lays a wreath on the tomb to commemorate the man whose money enabled the school to be built.
A bust of William Rutlish can be seen in the Manor House outside the school office.
The School is established
A Board of Trustees was set up to administer William Rutlish’s money and, 200 years after the death of William Rutlish, members of that Rutlish Charity decided that providing education to the poor and deserving children of Merton was one way in which William Rutlish’s vision of helping young people might be realised. So in June 1895, and led by the Chairman John Innes, the Rutlish Trustees agreed to use the money to set up Rutlish Science School.
Three months after that decision, on Thursday 26th September 1895, Rutlish Science School was officially opened on its first site at Rutlish Road. The gates from that first school are now situated amongst the island of trees in the school quad.
The school was designed to provide a “thorough, modern, practical education for boys aged between 10 and 17 years of age” (you will note that this bit of William Rutlish’s money excluded girls!).
Rutlish Science School
On Monday 30th September 1895, 23 boys began their first lessons. It was a fee paying school, and each student had to pay £6 a year for their education – unless they came from Merton – in which case the William Rutlish charity money helped reduce those fees to £3.
It was also a Science School although it was actually some three years before a science laboratory was built – at a cost of £48. Mr Draper was the first Headteacher – on a starting salary of £100 a year. There was an assistant teacher, and an art teacher whose first job was to design the school cap. Completing the staff team was a part-time school master responsible for teaching shorthand and book-keeping.
In 1901, events in the Boer War led to schools being the butt of criticism. Britain’s soldiers were not doing very well in the War, so Rutlish, like many other schools, appointed a drill sergeant, to lick the Rutlish boys into good physical shape.
And so by 1901 those first Rutlish Science School pupils had a school timetable of:
Religious Instruction, Reading and Writing, English Grammar, Composition and Literature, Geography, English, History, Arithmetic, Euclid, Algebra, Trigonometry, Mechanics, French, German, Latin, Chemistry, Heat, Light Electricity and other Physical Sciences, Vocal Music, Drawing, Shorthand, Book-keeping, Drill and other Physical Exercises, with Rifle shooting, Manual Training and the use of Tools.
Edward Braddock was a schoolboy at Rutlish Science School from 1897-1904 and his memories of what Rutlish was like about 100 years ago have been recorded:
“Pupils entered the school from Kingston Road into a side corridor traversing the width of the building. The corridor stank of Chemistry and wet overcoats (the double doors to Station Road were never opened). The only classroom I can remember was ill-lit, ill-ventilated and cold in the winter. We were provided with slates in wood frames to write on with scratchy slate pencils. These were cleaned with spit and saliva and a dirty finger tip. It’s no wonder that diseases such as diphtheria and measles were rampant.
As I remember, the desks at which pupils sat were specially constructed to be uncomfortable, perhaps this was because I was somewhat overgrown in height for my age.
The lavatories were pretty awful. No roof except over the closets . No wash basin, and generally a place to be avoided if possible. The only place one could obtain water by turning on a tap was in the chemistry or physics laboratories. I was placed in form 1 which was housed in the Bowling Clubs pavilion at the back of the White Hart. Behind this complex was a small grassed paddock usually occupied by the local butcher’s horse. I can remember the Headteacher Mr Disney. He administered strict corporal punishment with a stern warning not to err again!”
The Current School Site
In 1957 the school students were moved to the current school site, along with the gate, which sits in the quad. There used to be a House system at the school, and the pupils competed with each other in sports, and to win the Work Cup. In 1957, all the old house badges are carved into the front of the new school building (which faces Watery Lane) and they now serve as reminders of Rutlish past. The House system was re-introduced in 2010.
The current site is linked to John Innes, the Chairman of the Rutlish Charity, and the man who in 1895 brought together the plans and the money which enabled Rutlish Science School to be created. Our playing fields are part of what was John Innes’ Horticultural Institute where he grew his garden produce and experimented with different soils and plants.
So over a hundred years on there is much around us that is part of the original school, and although the modern Rutlish is very different with changed needs and different challenges, Commemoration Day allows us to celebrate and remember just where it all started and who our students have to thank for the existence of Rutlish School.