York Castle High School is located on over 20 acres of land in the cool hills of Brown’s Town. The school provides a number of learning facilities to enhance the learning experience of all students. The York Castle Campus has over 40 buildings that include: three science laboratories for chemistry, physics, biology, as well as technical and vocational labs for visual arts, human ecology, mechanical engineering , technical drawing, building technology and electrical technology. There is also an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Center with four fully equipped computer labs, a music room with a wide range of musical instruments, library facilities, auditorium, health center, cafeteria and `a recreational center for athletic and cultural activities.
Strong Student Support Services
York Castle High School has a strong support base for our students, and this is responsible for our achievements in both the academic and the co-curricular. We believe that a familiar nurturing and supportive learning environment provides us with better opportunities to unleash and showcase the true potential of our students.
Our curriculum and programmes are delivered by some of the region’s most qualified and committed teachers. Strong instructional leadership is also provided to our teachers to ensure compliance to quality standards and academic excellence.
Nil Sine Magno Labore (Nothing is achieved without hard work)
It gives me much pleasure to welcome you to the York Castle High School Sixth Form Programme. Our programme is the newest kid on the block but we will continue to build on our tradition of excellence that has produced many scholars and nation builders since 1876. At both the academic and co-curricular levels, York Castle High is regarded as one of the top performing schools in Jamaica.
We are committed to providing our students with an internationally recognized curriculum, academic success, opportunities for self empowerment, world class teaching-learning facilities and a performance driven learning environment. Excellent teaching and pastoral support is also a prominent feature of the teaching learning experience at York Castle, and every effort is made to bring out the best in our students.
York Castle High has one of the strongest co-curricular programmes in this region that is tailored to: develop student leadership; expose our students to world class scholarship opportunities as well as to engender team building skills.
We are confident that you will benefit from the sixth form experience at York Castle High, and you will be numbered among the world class achievers after two years of comprehensive and rigorous study.
Raymon Treasure, Dip.Ed, B.A., M.A.
The foundations for the present York Castle were laid much earlier by three former schools (the old York Castle, Middlesex High, Henderson High and Northside High). York Castle was first established by the Methodist Church in Jamaica in 1876 in the little district of York Castle close to the town of Claremont, St. Ann. York Castle got its name from the spacious house that was built on the top of a mountain 2,000 feet high, a spur of the central ridge of the island looking northwards toward St. Ann’s Bay, from which the site was about twelve miles distant. To the house an estate of 800 acres was attached, laid out for pimento-growing and cattle-grazing.
The Methodist Missionary Committee in Britain partnered with the Jamaica Methodist District to establish the York Castle Theological College and High School on this site in January , 1876 with thirty students. The Methodists were able to persuade Andrew Kessen, A.B., LL.D., to take over as the institution’s first Principal.
Dr. Kessen was regarded as one of the most accomplished and distinguished Methodist missionary scholar then living. The son of a Minister of the Scottish Kirk and a graduate of Glasgow University, entering the Wesleyan ministry in 1840, he had laboured for fifteen years in Ceylon, for several years taking the direction of the National Normal Institution at Colombo. His abilities were in high esteem with the Ceylon Government, which offered him a permanent place on its Staff. On his return to England, Dr. Kessen was employed by the Missionary Committee, until the establishment of the Richmond Missionary College in 1868, in the tuition of young Missionaries designated for the East. He was master of Cingalese, and had a wide knowledge of languages ; his general scholarship was of a high order, including rare proficiency in mathematics. (Findlay and Holdsworth)
The old York Castle operated as a Secondary High School and a Theological College for boys for over 30 years (1876- 1906) . Some of Jamaica’s and the Caribbean’s most outstanding scholars of the 19th century were educated at this school in Alderton. From 1881-1898, eight of the seventeen Jamaica scholars were York Castle students. Ebbett Lockett in 1887, and Ernest Murray in 1888 were among the highest achievers in the London Matriculation Examination for the entire British Empire. Lockett went on to serve as the first Principal of Cornwall College. Sir Henry Brown, another Jamaica Scholar was the first Jamaican to serve as a Supreme Court Judge, and Hector Josephs was the first black Barrister in Jamaica.
York Castle old boys were among the leading contributors to Marcus Garvey’s UNIA, and they played a pivotal role in shaping the philosophy of the Garvey Movement.
York Castle was the first school in Jamaica to introduce school boy football in its curriculum, and was also among the first six schools that launched the Inter School Athletic Championships in 1904. The Championships were organized by two York Castle old boys, Abraham Noel Crosswell and Samuel Wesley “Sam” Brown, (Bertram, 2012). York Castle under the leadership of its Governor, Reverend J.W. Graham also established the Boy’s Scouts Movement in Jamaica.
Despite its phenomenal achievements, financial challenges forced the Methodists to close the old York Castle in 1906. Mr. T. A. Bramwell who operated the Middlesex High School in Brown’s Town from 1903 welcomed some of the displaced students from York Castle. Middlesex High operated for more than 40 years at the Brown’s Town Baptist Church with tremendous support from the Rev. George Henderson, the Pastor of the church at the time.
After the death of Bramwell, his senior teacher, Allan Wilson re-opened the school at the Brown’s Town Baptist Church, and re-named it Henderson High School in honour of the Rev. George Henderson. Like its predecessors, Henderson High closed its doors in 1954 because of financial challenges. However, a group of parents from the closed Henderson High, as well as some concerned citizens came together and established the Northside Secondary School in 1955 under the leadership of Head Mistress Mrs. Elsa R. Porte also at the Brown’s Town Baptist Church with 69 students, 44 of which were old students of Henderson High School. The Northside committee of management later appealed to the Methodist Church to take over the Northside Secondary School. On November 30, 1956 a committee consisting of educators, churchmen and others met to consider the offer from the Northside committee, and on January, 1957, the Northside Secondary School was transferred to the Methodist Church of Jamaica.
The Methodist Church in Jamaica took the decision to re- establish a new secondary school in Brown’s Town named in honour of the old York Castle School. In March, 1957, the Methodist Church broke ground and dedicated a site in Egypt for the construction of the new York Castle High School. The old foundation stone of the original York Castle was brought from Alderton to Brown’s Town and on this historic stone has been built the present York Castle complex, By August, 1957 the school was granted full ministerial recognition as a Secondary grant aided school bearing the name of York Castle High School.
York Castle at its present site in Brown’s Town was established on January 14, 1958 under the leadership of Headmaster the Rev. John W. Poxon, a Methodist minister and an outstanding educator. The school started out with 215 students, 110 of these students came from Northside Secondary School and the other 105 students gained free places or half scholarships through the common entrance examinations which were first held in 1957. A Boarding Department was also established with 40 boys.
Like its `19th century predecessor in Alderton, post independence York Castle in Brown’s Town continued to produce some of Jamaica’s most outstanding nation builders. York Castle students were certainly among the most accomplished in sports and academics in the 1970s. The records will show that York Castle students provided strong leadership during Jamaica’s struggle for independence, and they also helped to shape our national identity during the early years after independence. York Castle was one of the first traditional high schools in Jamaica to accept Rastafarian students in the 1970s. In fact, York Castle students were among the first in the 1970s to embrace Pan Africanism.
York Castle in 1971 won the National School’s Challenge Quiz Competition, the first rural and co-educational school to do so. 21st century York Castle continues to excel and it is still one of the highest achieving schools in Jamaica with our students excelling at the local and regional levels.