The Combermere School is located in Waterford, St. Michael, and dates as far back as 1695, when it came into existence as a “Free School” from an endowment from the will of a former plantation owner by the name of Colonel Henry Drax.
Combermere is the oldest secondary school in Barbados and is one of the oldest in the entire Commonwealth. The school was also the first to offer secondary education to lower class blacks on the island.
The ripples made by this institution throughout its long history only continued to move outward and grow exponentially in importance. In 1946, Major Cecil Noot became Headmaster of the school and immediately spearheaded the creation of a sixth form for A Level studies, previously only available at the three first grade schools (Harrison College, The Lodge School and Queen’s College), who catered almost exclusively to the white elite.
This seemingly insignificant change in the then current events proved very significant, as it pretty much ended all of the traditional distinction between first and second grade schools in Barbados. The Combermere School then went on to win its first Barbados Scholarship in 1967.
The school’s original mandate, way back in the 17th century was to provide education to the children of poor white families. This initial goal has evolved, to say the least-over the years, and today, it plays the role of educator, social instructor and part time parent to more than 900 multi-racial, multi-class pupils, and is considered to be. and with good reason, one of the top secondary educational institutions in Barbados.
This claim can be made with reference to both their formidable academic records, as well as the many extra curricular activities which they partake in with very fruitful results.
The school has always been, and continues to be, omni-present in most of the local sporting competitions including the local school football, basketball and volleyball tournaments, as well as the annual inter-school athletic championships to name a few.
The school also offers an excellent music program – one of the best on the island – and the band has won countless awards at the National Independence Festival for the Creative Arts (NIFCA).
Combermere has a total of 54 trained teachers including one guidance counselor, and offers a very, dynamic, balanced and well rounded curriculum, key to the development of many of Barbados’ most productive citizens.
The former Prime Minister the Rt. Honorable David Thompson, cricketing great Wesley Hall, author Sir Frank Collymore, as well as the international pop star Robyn ‘Rihanna’ Fenty all attended this institution during their definitive years.
One of the most unique features of this school is the level of comradery shared by all who attend or attended this institution. Such kinship is apparent even after students have graduated, and even though it may be annoying to most that haven’t passed through those walls, one cannot doubt its existence, or the amazement of it.
Some people have attempted to explain this phenomenon through such amazing stories as ‘the sprinkling of fairy dust on the heads of all new students as they enter the gates’ whatever the case may be, this fierce school pride and bond are admirable traits.
The students who pass through the gates of Waterford University, as it is affectionately referred to, move “Up and On” as the motto instructs.
For more information on the Barbados Combermere School visit
Author: Brett Callaghan