The History of Newtown Junior School

Newtown School was founded in the troubled year of 1798 on the Waterford estate which had been the home of Sir Thomas Wyse, himself a key figure in Irish Education.

Its purpose was the education of Quakers from Munster but during its more than 200 year development it has broadened into the distinguished multi-denominational school of today, still based on the Quaker Ethos and respect for the contribution of each individual regardless of ability or aptitude.*

The original Committee, set up for the establishment of the school, began by having the main dwelling house converted into living quarters for 60 pupils, 40 boys and 20 girls.  The house was simplified by removing the stucco work, mirrors and white marble fireplaces and the stable was converted into a classroom for boys and a writing room for girls.

Thirty one boys and seven girls arrived on that auspicious day, August 1st 1798, and by the end of the year the number had risen to to 49.  The school admitted children aged between 8 and 14 years but from time to time quite a few 7 year olds arrived and the general length of stay was 5 years.

Over the next 200 years Newtown School fell victim to the vagaries of economic, social and political forces and almost closed in 1924 when it was taken over by Arnold Marsh who revived it and enabled it to flourish as never before.

The Junior School at Newtown has been in existence since the early days of the twentieth century and from the early nineteen eighties had been called Selborne School.  However in 1988 the school structure was changed and with numbers rapidly increasing, the school was provided with a management committee of its own, subject to the main committee.  The school became Newtown Junior School that year with Ms Sybil Porter as principal.

The decision by the Committee to join the National School System in 2007 has enabled us to open a new chapter in the history of the school.  This momentous decision means that Newtown Junior School is the first Quaker National School in Ireland and we confidently go forward bringing with us the continuity of the school’s illustrious past in the modern educational world.

*”From the book by Maurice Wigham “Newtown School Waterford – A History 1798 – 1998″.