Pratt Memorial School

Pratt Memorial School, situated at 168, Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Road, Kolkata – 700 014, was founded in 1876 in the memory of Archdeacon John Henry Pratt as an English Medium School primarily for the education of Anglo Indian and Christian Children.

The school is under the Diocese of Kolkata, Church of North India; the Bishop of Kolkata being the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the school.  The school is recognised by the Director of Public Instruction, Government of West Bengal and is inspected by the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (Anglo Indian Schools) West Bengal.

The school aims at providing an all-round education and trains girls intellectually, morally, spiritually and physically so as to inculcate in them the right principles of conduct and the right attitude in life, thereby enabling to be, and become, loyal and useful citizens of our country.

The students are prepared for the ICSE (class X) and ISC (class XII) Examinations.  The medium of instruction is English.  Other languages taught are Hindi and Bengali.  Instruction is provided in the Humanities, Science and Commerce Streams as well as on Vocational Courses such as Home Science and Fine Arts.  Co-curricular activities are encouraged such as Girl Guides, Interact Club, Nature Club, Sports and Games, Art, Craft, Music, Dance, Elocution, Debates and DramaticsInter school and Inter House activities are stressed at Pratt Memorial.

The students are divided into four houses, each named after a famous woman whose contribution and service to humanity is written in the realms of history.  Green House – Cavell; Blue House – Joan of Arc; Red House – Nightingale; Gold House – Teresa

The captains are selected from class XII, who have excelled in various fields and have shown leadership qualities over the years.  The Prefects are chosen from Class XI.  In total there are four captains – House Captain; House Vice Captain; Games Captain; Games Vice Captain; two senior prefects in each house.

The school is open on weekdays from Monday to Friday.  The timings are:

Start – 7:50 a.m.

Assembly – 7:50

Periods 1 to 4 – 8:10 to 10:35

Break – 10:40 to 11:00

Periods 5 to 8 – 11:00 to 1:30 p.m.

Dismissal – 1:30 p.m.

A Brief History

An extremely intelligent man, Archdeacon John Henry Pratt was keen on educating the girl child.  Legend has it that while walking towards St. James’ Church one morning, he came upon a few girls playing on the road.  When asked why they were not in school, to which they replied they did not go to any.  Investigating their case he found them to be orphans from the nearby orphanage, which was called the European Asylum Orphanage (Sishu Bhavan is built on a part of this land).  Arrangements were made for the children to attend St. James’ School. 

The church community under the leadership of Archdeacon Pratt realised the need for a girl’s school and soon arrangements were made to purchase an old building lying vacant near St. James’ Church.  Unfortunately Archdeacon Pratt did not live to see his dream come true as he succumbed to the dreaded disease Cholera on 28th December 1871 in Ghazipur, India.

In 1881, the Clewer sisters arrived in Calcutta to take charge of the hospitals.  The Bishop of Calcutta was so impressed with their dedication that he invited them to run Pratt Memorial School.  A note in the Thackers Annual Bengal Directories reads as follows – “In connection with the Diocesan Board of Education and is under the charge of the sisters of St. John the Baptist, Clewer, assisted by nine teachers.”

A girl’s school was the vision of a great man but the true builders of the school were the Clewer Sisters.  The old building was far from adequate for the growing numbers of students attending the school.  An old orphanage building lying vacant in the same area was purchased for the school. 

The news of the Sisters’ dedication, hard work and perseverance had reached not only the influential people of the community in India but to the shores of England as well, and soon financial assistance from generous people began to pour in and the nuns and students raised money by sewing clothes and binding books.  Part of the old building was broken down so that new extensions could be built.  By 1813, the renovated school building now housed 60 boarders.  The front compound was bought in 1889 to extend the school and further renovations were done in 1913 to the main building of the school, which now looked L-shaped.

An article in the Clewer Associates newsletter on October 1940 reads as follows “We expect to retire from Pratt Memorial School at the end of the year.  It is time we left the work to those we have trained.  Many old pupils are competent, well equipped, enthusiastic teachers and it is for them to rise up and carry on those principles and traditions which have been established.” 

Ms.  E. Lawrence was the geography teacher in the school and in 1940 became the first Anglo Indian Principal and did much to maintain the schools traditions and standards set by the Clewer Sisters.

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