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English Martyrs School

The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College is located on Catcote Road in Hartlepool. The school has about 1,450 students aged 11 to 18.[1] English Martyrs School opened in 1973, when 5 Catholic secondary schools in Hartlepool were merged. The predecessor schools were St Anne's girls' school (est 1963), St Bede's boys' school (est 1963), St Francis' RC Grammar School (est 1956), St Joseph's Convent School (est. 1885) and St Peter's Secondary Modern (est 1960, replacing St Bega's), each of which is represented by a star on the new school badge.[2]

The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College is a secondary school and sixth form college located in Hartlepool, County Durham with academy status. English Martyrs (referred to locally as "EMS" and "Martyrs") is the only Catholic secondary school in Hartlepool. The school and college are both located on the same site on Catcote Road, however, a newly built specialist sixth form block provides the majority of A-Level classes, as well as some 11–16 school lessons.

In the summer 2013 examinations the school achieved record results - 83% of students achieved 5 or more GCSE grades at C or higher, including English and Maths.


St Joseph's Convent School was founded in 1885, and became a direct grant grammar school following the Education Act of 1944.

St Francis RC Grammar School was opened in 1956, and two new secondary schools, St Bede's for boys and St Anne's for girls, were opened in 1963.

St Peter's secondary modern school opened in King Oswy Drive in 1960 replacing St Bega's school. The school had approximately 200 students and the headmasters were Mr Timothy McCarthy, followed by Mr Robert Garraghan.

In 1973, the national policy of Comprehensive education led to all the Catholic secondary schools in the town being merged as the English Martyrs' Comprehensive School. These were St Anne's, St Bede's, St Francis', St Joseph's and St Peter's schools, each of which is represented by a star on the school badge. The new site was the buildings of St Bede's and St Anne's and the St Francis site which was closed down in 1985.

List of previous headmasters

Previous headmasters include:

  • Canon John "Dickie" Bell (1973-1980) Bell was the first headmaster of English Martyrs, having previously been headmaster of the subsumed St Francis Grammar School. Prior to that, Father Bell had been Latin teacher at St Francis. After his retirement as headmaster, Canon Bell became parish priest of St Joseph's RC parish church, Hartlepool, until his death, aged 74, in 1991.
  • David Relton (1980-1995)
  • Joseph Hughes (1995-2010) Hughes joined English Martyrs as headteacher in 1995 after working in schools in Oldham, Stoke-on-Trent, Norwich and Gateshead. During his time at the helm the school went through a string of highs with rising results, strong Ofsted reports and successes in art, sport and theatre. In September 2010 he left English Martyrs to start a new role with the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, overseeing more than 160 Catholic schools.
  • Michael Lee BA (Hons) (2010–2015) Lee began his career at English Martyrs teaching history in 1977. His first classroom was on the Normanhurst site, a building which is now the White House Pub. Before being appointed head in September 2010, he had been head of sixth form and deputy headteacher.
  • Stephen Hammond (2015–present)



Aims of the school

The school exists to educate students in the Catholic faith in the widest sense and is committed to represent Christian family values. Its primary aim recognises that it is a faith community, believing that each individual in it is on a pilgrimage of growth. As a Christian community the school tries to embody Gospel values of love, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. Decisions concerning the curriculum and relationships will be based on these values. The Governors will expect applicants to contribute to the development and maintenance of this ethos. 

The basic aim of the school is to serve the children of the community educationally, pastorally and spiritually, and to develop in each individual student a full range of academic, sporting and cultural talents; to develop within the school a true sense of community spirit which will form a foundation for the students’ future lives in the wider community, and to do these things in a Christian environment, enriched by our Catholic tradition.


Main School

The majority of secondary school students come from 6 feeder primary schools, which are:

  • Sacred Heart School
  • St. Bega's School
  • St. Cuthbert's school
  • St. John Vianney's School
  • St. Joseph's School
  • St. Teresa's School

Sixth Form


There are five houses within the school: St John Boste, St Margaret Clitherow, Blessed John Ingram, St Anne Line and St Thomas More. In the same way as the earlier St Francis RC Grammar School had named its houses after the English Martyrs, in 2009 the houses of the English Martyrs School were introduced and named after the following. Prior to this introduction, Saints John Boste, Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line and Thomas More all existed as houses in the school's PE department for use during sports days and athletics tournaments, however they were unconnected to the pastoral or academic care of pupils.

  • St John Boste
  • St Margaret Clitherow
  • Blessed John Ingram
  • St Anne Line
  • St Thomas More

Annual School Events

Annual Awards Evening Principal Guests 1981-2012

A tradition of the school since 1981 where awards are given to students of both the school and sixth form college for reasons including: "excellent attendance, reliability, hard work, social and academic progress, caring for others, academic excellence and artistic, cultural and sporting achievements. Recognition is given to achievement at GCSE, 'A' level and GNVQ levels."

There are prizes donated by local individuals and groups as well as Huntsman Tioxide, Teesside University and The Daily Telegraph.

Each year attracts over 1000 guests and a Principal Guest of Honour "who themselves represent achievement in a range of fields". The evening also features music by the school orchestra and individual student musicians with refreshments to end the night.

Annual School Show

Another tradition of the school is an annual school musical, usually held around the end of November. This features pupils from all years, although older students and sixth formers generally get the leading roles. The music department, orchestra and drama department work together on its production. Tickets are made available to parents throughout the school to buy.

Annual John Bell Lecture

This now traditional once a year lecture is usually given around March in the school's St Anne's hall. The lecture is in honour of Canon John Bell, the last headmaster of St Francis and the first headmaster of the new English Martyrs school, and lasts around 40 minutes followed by audience questions. Complimentary tickets to attend are made available free of charge.

Notable alumni

  • Paul Arnison Professional footballer
  • Pete Donaldson Radio Presenter
  • Kieran Bew Actor. Played Beowulf in the 2016 TV series
  • Paul Brennan Actor
  • Daniel Cook Master of the Choristers and Organist at Durham Cathedral, former Sub-Organist at Westminster Abbey
  • Anthony Day Broadcast Journalist for the BBC
  • Matthew Dolan Professional footballer - Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Bradford City, Yoevil
  • Janick Gers Guitarist in Iron Maiden
  • Chris Gorman OBE Entrepreneur, founder of MusicQubed
  • Michael Gough Retired cricketer and cricket umpire (umpire of the year 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015)
  • Corporal Owen Paul Green MBE (acting sergeant), Corps of Royal Engineers
  • Peter Hartley Professional footballer
  • Steven Hetherington Professional footballer
  • Dr Jim Hodgson FRCGP GP
  • Michael Hunter British, European and Commonwealth Bantamweight Boxing Champion
  • Chris Joseph Sufferer of bipolar disorder and author of "Manicdotes: There's Madness in His Method"
  • Andy Linighan Professional footballer (scorer of the winning goal in the 1993 FA Cup Final)
  • Brian Linighan Professional footballer
  • David Linighan Professional footballer (captain of Ipswich Town)
  • Jemma Lowe Olympic swimmer
  • Jez Lowe Successful musician, specialising in folk music with at least 15 albums to his name (St Francis)
  • Steven Magee Principal Contrabassoon in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, formerly Hallé Orchestra
  • Savannah Marshall Olympic boxer and boxing world champion
  • Philip Middlemiss Actor (Des Barnes in Coronation Street)
  • Professor Gerard Parkin FRSC Professor of Chemistry, Columbia University
  • Dr Elizabeth Pender Senior Lecturer in ancient philosophy, University of Leeds, author of "Images of Persons Unseen: Plato’s Metaphors for the Gods and the Soul"
  • Professor David Thwaites Professor of Epithelial Physiology, Newcastle University
  • Kevin Walsh Paralympic swimming bronze medallist
Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 03/02/2019).
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School URN: 140867
Wikipedia: English Martyrs Sch…
Grid ref: NZ4932731424
Post code: TS25 4HA


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