King's College School
Merton, United Kingdom
About King's College School
King’s College School is an independent day school for boys aged 7-18 and girls aged 16-18. Altogether, there are 975 boys and girls in the senior school between the ages of 11 and 18. There are over 160 staff in the two common rooms and 130 non-teaching staff. Founded in 1829 by Royal Charter, King’s is a school of over 1,400 pupils, including those in the junior school, located in one of the most attractive and peaceful parts of London. The original school buildings date from the 18th century and are surrounded by nearly 20 acres of sports pitches and laid-out gardens. Playing fields occupy a further 20 acres nearby.
The senior school is one of the most successful in the world. In November 2017, King’s was awarded the title of The Sunday Times London Independent Secondary School of the year for 2017/18. Alastair McCall, Editor of The Sunday Times Parent Power, wrote: “King’s is the embodiment of everything you could want in a school.” This comes three years after King’s won the title of The Sunday Times Independent School of the Year in 2014/15, whilst the school has also won ‘IB School of the Year’ and ‘Best for IB’ twice from The Sunday Times and The Week respectively. The school was named “Great for sixth form” by The Week in 2018. The most recent Good Schools Guide Review (2017) states: “Intellectually exhilarating yet principled, this is selective education at its very best… a real golden ticket.”
Academically, King’s is consistently placed within the top five schools in national league tables. Over 300 boys and girls have won places at Oxbridge in the last six years, with over 90% of pupils achieving their first choice university offer. In 2018, 51% of all sixth form grades were A* at A level or 7 at IB Higher Level and 82% of all GCSEs were graded A* or 9/8.
The school plays 18 different sports against other schools: boys’ rugby, hockey, cricket, football and rowing are all major strengths. Girls’ sport in the sixth form has been remarkably successful with King’s girls’ teams beating long-established girls’ schools in hockey and netball.
The junior school, which shares the main campus, is equally sought-after for its combination of superb academic teaching, pastoral care, sport and activities. Drama and music in both the junior and senior schools are among the best in the UK, with the senior school performing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival every other year, and the junior school has an impressive record of top positions in national sporting and academic competitions.
King’s prides itself on its combination of innovation and tradition. The whole school is committed to the values of good discipline, hard work and good manners, but we are also keen to embrace new challenges. In 2010 the sixth form became co-educational and this has been an outstanding success; we admit around 50 girls each year. We prepare sixth formers for both the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) and A Levels. Our approach at all levels encourages pupils to look beyond the academic curriculum, as the vibrant success of our drama, music and games departments indicates. Just as important to us is the commitment we make to the Combined Cadet Force, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, community service and our partnerships with 27 local maintained schools (a scheme that was referenced in the government’s Education Green Paper). To enable so much to occur, Friday afternoons for year 9 and above are made over entirely to these, and other, activities.
Since September 2016, King’s has admitted boys aged eleven directly into the senior school. This has been a particularly successful move and in 2018 we admitted 58 boys into year seven such was the calibre of the cohort. The new entry has already made the structure of King’s more open to a wider range of parental backgrounds, whilst preserving the very successful entry points at earlier ages into the junior school, and at 13 and 16 into the senior school. We note that of the new 11+ cohort, about half come to us from local primary schools. We have raised significant bursary funds to support the new 11+ senior school entry.
The school is heavily oversubscribed throughout with an average of eight applicants for every place in the senior school. Although pupils are admitted to the school without reference to their religious background, the school’s moral teaching is rooted in the Christian ethic.
Alumni of the school include poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, novelist Robert Graves, painter Walter Sickert, composer Robin Holloway, musicians Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) and Dan Smith (Bastille), theatre director Christopher Luscombe, and Hollywood film stars Ben Barnes and Khalid Abdalla.
King’s is now underway with the final project of a £50m master plan that has renewed and replaced major facilities across the campus, including a new music school (incorporating a 200-seat concert hall), a teaching building to accommodate the new 11+ lower school, a refurbished main entrance, a two-storey pavilion at our Kingsway grounds and, for 2019, a new swimming pool and additional six-court sports hall on the main site.
The Corporation of King’s College School also owns a very popular pre-prep school. Wimbledon Common Preparatory School (known locally as “Squirrels”) is an all-boys pre-prep school located on the Ridgway, opposite King’s, in spacious accommodation with generous playing spaces. The school is highly sought-after, and has been extensively refurbished by King’s in recent years. We also own a number of residential properties very near the school or near our off-site playing fields along with a boathouse at Putney.
In association with a leading educational business in China, Dipont, we recently opened two schools in China, one in Wuxi and one in Hangzhou. Our third overseas school, in Thailand, is due to open in September 2020. Our income from these projects is invested in the King’s bursary fund. We are currently exploring exciting opportunities for our staff and students to collaborate with our overseas sister schools.