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. It’s purpose was the education of Quakers from Munster, but during its 200 year development this has broadened into the distinguished multi-denominational school of today, still based on Quaker ethos and respect for the contribution of each individual, regardless of ability or aptitude.
The main house was used for boarding with a stable converted into classrooms. In keeping with Quaker simplicity all ornamental and decorative work was removed from the main house. Self-discipline and simple healthy living with a good diet were encouraged. Always at the forefront of educational ideas, manual and practical subjects were included from the start. Woodwork, Art, Science, Natural History, gardening, bee keeping and sewing all had their place along with the regular curriculum subjects. A library was started in 1813. The extensive parkland encouraged pupil gardens, tree planting and a farm. Students helped with housework and gardening thus developing fundamental life skills. With this broad curriculum they were encouraged to be ‘useful citizens’.
See our Gallery of historical photographs of the School
The academic record is impressive but has never been allowed to limit the school’s aim of developing the whole person, emotionally and physically as well as academically.
Over the years new buildings were added including the Infirmary and Lecture Room. The approaching Centenary in 1898 acted as a stimulus for development, with the first Swimming Pool (1890), Gymnasium (1892) and Science laboratory (1895) – reputedly the first school lab in Ireland.
In 1925 there was a danger that the school might be forced to close. However Headmaster Arnold Marsh started a new phase of change at Newtown School. Numbers increased, recognition was received from the newly formed Department of Education and the school was ready to develop for the future.
Further developments continued to be added including All Weather Hockey Pitches and Athletics track (1967), new Arnold Marsh boys’ dormitory (1968), new outdoor Swimming Pool (c.1970) and the William Glynn Science building (1977), the first building at Newtown School to be grant-aided by the Government.