Badminton School

Our History

I believe in women being able to do everything

Indira Gandhi, Old Badmintonian

Indira Nehru (later Indira Gandhi) was the first female Prime Minister of India. She was also a Badmintonian, and the history of Badminton is about girls learning to do everything. Badminton is one of the oldest schools founded specifically to educate girls. Our values and success are built on the pioneering ideas of extraordinary women.

For now 160 years we have nurtured and inspired girls to succeed in every area of life: from politics to the creative arts; from medicine to motherhood. Educating girls is our history and our future, and we know how to do it.

Our beginnings

Founded in 1858 by Mrs Miriam Badock, Badminton was set up to offer girls the same educational opportunities that their brothers enjoyed. At this time, Christian socialist ideas were often a vehicle for talking about the importance of education (especially for women). It’s this tradition that gives us our school motto – ‘Pro Omnibus Quisque Pro Deo Omnes’ (‘Each for all and all for God’). We are not a religiously denominational school: we have no chapel, and we welcome girls from all faiths and none. But the musketeer-like flavour of our motto does still say a good deal about the boldness of spirit and strength of support that Badminton engenders.

The school’s radical heritage is like that of some the Oxbridge colleges founded for women, and our teachers and leaders often came out of this Oxbridge tradition of proto-feminism. From the start the school was also unusual in its internationalism, welcoming girls whose parents lived abroad; Our first international boarder, a young girl whose parents were in the British colony of Demerara, arrived in 1858. The curriculum was much broader than was usual for girls, and there was a particular emphasis on extra-curricular activities, especially sport (something girls at this time seldom had the chance to try at all).


Badminton grows

Our name comes from Badminton House in Clifton, where Mrs Badock eventually settled the school. She and her successor Miss Bartlett introduced academic subjects which were thought unnecessary for girls, and took the radical step of entering girls for external Cambridge examinations.

In 1924 Badminton moved to its present site, under the headship of Miss Beatrice May Baker, who brought with her progressive ideas about freedom of expression. She encouraged a questioning approach to learning which still makes Badminton stand out today. Under her leadership, Badminton became a Public School with a worldwide reputation and a worldwide reach. Girls and staff often travelled abroad and Badminton attracted pupils from all over the world.

Leading the way

Badminton is a pioneering school in many areas, not least scientific education for girls (the Science Centre was opened in 1958 by Countess Mountbatten of Burma). The creative arts have always been vigorous here, and Badminton has links to some of the most renowned figures of twentieth-century English culture. The novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch was Head Girl at Badminton and took the initiative to invite a famous poet to the school in 1937: one W.H. Auden. As President of the School in the late 1950s, Dame Sybil Thorndike commissioned a new cantata, ‘The Crown of the Year’, from Michael Tippett. Badminton went on to gain a Music School, Gymnasium and Library as well as one of the first purpose-built Sixth Form Centres in a UK independent school. Towards the end of the twentieth century, links were set up with the Model United Nations, and Badminton became the first British school to attend the European Youth Parliament.

We know we are fortunate to be the product of such a powerful history. The pioneering women and men who created Badminton had great foresight, and their values give all of us here a sense of the importance of a Badminton education in a global society.