School History

From the foundation of the original Henry Fanshawe School in 1579 by Thomas Fanshawe, education in Dronfield has seen many changes, many successes and some setbacks.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School can look back over many years with pride, and look to the future with confidence.

The Dronfield School

The Dronfield School was formed when Henry Fanshawe School, Gosforth School and Gladys Buxton School merged to become one school in September 1990. With 1950 pupils and 127 staff, it became the largest school in Derbyshire. The School was officially opened by Harry Barnes, M.P. on the 28th January 1991. Before the merger, Gosforth School and Gladys Buxton School were separate feeder schools, housing pupils in years 7, 8 and 9.

The Gosforth School

The Gosforth School first opened in 1955 and was officially opened in June 1956 by Lady Simon of Wythenshawe. The Gosforth School was built in two stages. The first stage provided up to 300 places for students. After the second stage was built in 1956, there were a further 450 pupil places for pupils aged 11 and over. The site was demolished in 2005 and the extensive fields are now used for sports development.

Gladys Buxton School

The Gladys Buxton School opened for business in 1960 and on the 7th March 1961, Mrs. Gladys Buxton, the Chair of Derbyshire Education Committee, officially opened the school. The School was closed in 1990 and the buildings were then used for community education. The site was demolished in 2019.

The Henry Fanshawe Site

By far the oldest part of the school is at the present Henry Fanshawe site, where in 1866 the Rev. Charles Fanshawe laid the foundation stone on the present site overlooking Chesterfield Road. The school moved into this neo-Elizabethan building from its original site overlooking Fanshawe Bank, near Church Street.

Extensions to the original building in 1914, 1938 and 1972 formed a quadrangle which encases the Memorial Garden (1950) and houses I.T., Maths, R.E. and Business and a fully equipped careers centre.

Further permanent buildings were added in the 1970s to house humanities, languages, biology, drama and the library. A sports hall and some temporary classrooms were added in 1979 to house the increasing school population.


The Henry Fanshawe site has suffered two fires in its relatively recent past. The first of these destroyed the old sports hall which was replaced in 1986 with a state of the art sports centre. The fire in 1993 destroyed 60 percent of the Henry Fanshawe site, but fortunately was brought under control before it reached the the new sports hall and the original buildings. As a result of the second fire, a new £2,000,000 building was constructed. State of the art facilities were installed in the building and the Science labs, Technology and The Phoenix Business Centre boast some of the best facilities in the county.

Despite having a fire on the Fanshawe site, the school has managed to retain its reputation for good grades and has proved itself by improving grades in GCSE and ‘A’ Level examinations since the merger.

Upgrade of the school’s facilities is an ongoing process, with improvements including the complete refurbishment of two Biology laboratories in D Block and the construction of a Humanities Department computer suite in upper C Block during the summer of 2001.

Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School

With the closure of the Gosforth site in July 2004, the Henry Fanshawe site underwent a major refurbishment program and F Block was constructed in order to accommodate the secondary school pupils in Dronfield. The new Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School was officially opened in the Autumn of 2004.

Learn more about school Houses and past Headteachers

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