Our History

Our School’s history spans more than 300 years. Despite the many changes our School has undergone, including moving from its original site in Birmingham city centre to Harborne, the fundamental aims of the School remain unchanged. We educate children and provide them with the foundation to grow in grace.

Today, the BCS community is vast. Made up of pupils, parents, staff, Governors, Old Scholars and friends from across the generations.


Click on the buttons below to explore our history from the beginning, our move to Edgbaston and the present day.

In 1722:

Members of St. Phillips Church united to build a Charity School to educate Birmingham’s poorest children. On 29 September, a small piece of the St. Philip’s Churchyard was leased and the School’s construction began. 

An etching of the original site of the Blue Coat School in 1910
An etching of the original site of the Blue Coat School in 1910

On 9 August 1724:

32 boys and 20 girls became the first Blue Coat pupils, funded by subscription. These children were clothed, fed and educated in the School, taking them off the streets and educating them in Christianity and in academic studies.

Rows of girls sitting for a photo with two teachers along the side in 1855

On 29 March 1728:

The first group of 12 Governors were chosen. This sparked a tradition that spans 301 years as today we continue to appoint 12 Governors to ensure the School remains close to our values. 

In September 1769:

The Blue Coat Boy and Girl were erected above the entrance to the School. During our relocation to Harborne, replicas of the statues were made, but the originals stand in our Reception. Both statues have Biblical inscriptions underneath them, reminding us of our unwavering commitment to the education of Birmingham’s children.

The Blue Coat Boy and Girl above the original School entrance in Colmore Row

Over the Years:

The School was enlarged several times and largely rebuilt between 1792 and 1794. By 1824, the School had clothed, fed and educated no less than 1,700 children. But further increases in pupil numbers meant that new premises had to be found. 

In 1860:

Cloaks were introduced into the uniform, mainly used for special occasions and were introduced as Best Blues. The tradition of Best Blues is one we continue to use, most frequently during Founders Day and special occasions.

On 29 October 1930:

After years of negotiations, the School relocated to Edgbaston. The Viney building replicates that of the original School in central Birmingham.

A picture of the Blue Coat School after its relocation to Harborne in 1930
A picture of the Blue Coat School after its relocation to Harborne in 1930

In 1932:

The Chapel was completed and consecrated by Lord Bishop of Birmingham, Ernest William Barnes. The Chapel remains an integral part of our pupils’ education. 

The School Choir dressed in robes walking away from the Chapel in 1959

In 1939:

Following the declaration of the Second World War, many of the School’s boarding houses transformed into accommodation for nurses and medical students from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

In 1946:

The Blue Coat School became a voluntary aided primary school under the local authority for children from the age of 7-11+; but decisions regarding boarding remained in the hands of the Governors. 

10 Years Later:

BCS regains its independence under the Headship of Mr B. C Fauldo with only 21 students.

In 1962:

The School badge and motto were chosen by Archdeacon Harvie Clark, Chair of Governors. The gold and red background is taken from the arms of the City of Birmingham, and the band across the badge represents Bishop Edward Chandler, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield in 1722. The upper white cross represents the Church but can also be found on the arms of Lichfield whereas the lower cross symbolises St. Philip. The blue border contains the School’s title and its date of foundation and the motto is from the second Epistle of St Peter, chapter 3, verse 18: Grow In Grace.

The Blue Coat School crest.

In 1965:

The Pre-Prep department was opened in St. Margaret’s House where children aged 4 to 7 could be educated under the Head of Pre-Prep, Miss Ison.

In 1970:

The first meeting of The Friends of the Blue Coat School. Today The Friends remain to be an integral part of our School and represent the harmonious relationship between BCS staff, pupils and parents.

To celebrate our 250th Anniversary:

The Blue Coat School celebrated with a visit from Prince William of Gloucester before his untimely death.

In 1982:

After 90 years, the Chapel was renovated. As part of the renovation, two-manual pipe organs were installed which previously stood in the Church of St. Wulstan, in Bournbrook.

In 1986:

The decision was made to offer foundation places to day students.

The Creation of Our Centenary Building:

To celebrate Birmingham’s 100th year as a city, our Centenary Building was erected, housing state-of-the-art facilities for science and art along with a library and resource centre.

In 1997:

The Sports Centre was opened by the President of Foundation, Mr J. D. Saville JP DL. Meanwhile, the School celebrated its 275th anniversary with a Gala Concert at Symphony Hall conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

In 2005:

The School made the change from boarding school to day school for children aged 2-11, followed by the expansion of the Pre-Prep and Prep departments.

In 2007:

The Saville Music Centre was opened. 

In 2011:

A new Nursery was opened by Bishop of Birmingham, Right Reverend David Urquhart which saw a new purpose space built just for Nursery. 

In 2017:

The AstroTurf pitch and cricket nets were completed heralding an exciting future for BCS Sport.

In 2022:

We celebrated our 300th anniversary. We renovated the Chapel which now features a stain-glass window that represents BCS History, we hosted a Tercentenary Dinner with special guest Denise Lewis DBE, and celebrated in style with our own Concert and Firework Display.      

Fireworks exploding above the Blue Coat School entrance as people watch below in honour of the School's 300th anniversary