Ferncourt High School 1938 – 2018

Ferncourt High School 1938 – 2018: A Story of Enterprise, Access and Opportunity harks back to my early life in rural Jamaica in a country that had been emancipated from slavery for just over a century. Through the agency of the schools and other institutions,   it  was in the process of reshaping  an inherited colonial  educational system  to meet its own aspirations and needs.    The perspective is from that of a child who experienced in the 1960s a small Jamaica High School in  the final days of its enterprising founder, Iris B Simpson; a teenager who learned a lot about life and school and opportunities under the watchful eyes of Principal O. S Fisher, and an adult who watched and felt the conservation and changes of the school through the eyes  of younger siblings, the words in correspondence, and the cameras of  newspapers. There is much more that can be discovered about educational institutions and education in a changing society,  from that book.


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Telling the Ferncount Story

Ferncourt High School 1938-2018: A Story of Enterprise, Access and Opportunity tells at least five stories which I will only mention, and each is deserving of further research.

  1. First, it is the story of the eight decades of the existence of the schools. It is therefore a history of the school, probably its first. 
  2. Second, the story of these eight decades is told systematically with respect to governance and management, buildings and physical infrastructure, principals and teachers, students, curriculum and extracurricular activities. This provides insights and understanding of conservation and change, since the founding of the school. 
  3. Third, it’s a story told with the inclusion of living voices from most of these decades. Documents, including newspapers, are not its only source. Several of these voices, especially of the earlier decades, speak without being sanitized or scrubbed by nostalgia. They tell of realities that are outside the experiences of most of the youngest generations, but which older generations often do not verbalize. I will not give examples, to allow readers to discover them.
  4.  Fourth, it’s a story of not only a school but the rural communities that it has served and of social, economic and educational changes over the 80 years. In several respects, it is a social history of the school and this area of St Ann. 
  5. Fifth, it provides reference materials that will be invaluable for further and future research on Jamaican high schooling. Moreover, it includes material that are now archived and not readily available. For example, details of the points system by which high schools were classified during the period of Grant-in-aid that are still relevant to contemporary discussions of the financing of high schools since the era of free tuition beginning in 1974. Another example are the names by years of all students who were selected by the Ministry of Education and placed at Ferncourt during the early period of the Common Entrance Examination starting in 1959, as published in the Daily Gleaner. The future usefulness of this information, that is all in one place, should not be underestimated.

Ferncourt High School Book Sample




Unit Price US$30.00, J$4,500

Delivery Cost – Jamaica  Post J$350,  Knutsford Express $650

Delivery Cost USA & Canada  airmail US$4.00

Delivery cost UK airmail US$7.50


Pick Up Options: 

Book Wizard, 15 Hope Rd, Kingston

Knutsford Express Terminal  – identify( Falmouth, Lacovia, Mandeville,

 Mobay, Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Svanna-la-Mar)


  • Ferncourt High School Jamaica

  • Past Students


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The early morning car rides from St Ann’s Bay with the Reynolds workers;

Mrs Simpson’s dogs – Bonzo and Custos Never chew gum in the presence of Mrs Simpson

– Horace Marsh

Mrs Simpson’s inculcation of honesty;

The bible and key episodes, for which students were punished.

– Marjorie Davies –Dale

The cold, timed showers,

the pit latrines –Marjorie Brown

I have only recently got back in touch with Bill Harrison, who was on the staff at the same time as I was. We have been reflecting on our time at the school and the very happy memories we have of it.

–Wyllie Longmore