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There is currently a huge drive in teaching and learning - ‘persistent innovation shared across subjects’ is how one senior leader described the growing aspirational culture. The leadership team encourages teachers to engage with other outstanding schools and to model the excitement of the intellectual life. This is a dynamic place to work and it is out to attract the top teachers nationally. Music, as you would expect in a school with close links to a cathedral, is strong. A large number of students learn instruments and there are lots of ensembles, choirs and orchestras. The school has a variety of ...

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What the school says...

Entrance examinations consist of: 11, 12 & 13+: Maths, English & VR. 16: Minimum of 8 grades (6 Bs & 2 Cs) or equivalent at GCSE, entry test and interview.

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Curricula

Cambridge Pre-U - an alternative to A levels, with all exams at the end of the two-year course.

Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

Choir school - substantial scholarships and bursaries usually available for choristers.

Performing arts specialist school

Sports

Polo

Equestrian centre or equestrian team - school has own equestrian centre or an equestrian team.

Rowing

Fencing

Shooting

What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since September 2019, Jon Ricketts (acting headmaster). Joined King’s in 2011, where he was previously senior deputy and director of science. Before that, at Exeter School and he has also taught at Nottingham High School and Sherborne School for Boys. Is a school inspector for the ISI.

King’s is very much a family affair – his wife Niky is a form teacher and their daughter attended the school until 2018, now doing her degree at Bristol. He is a keen walker, cyclist and recreational runner, but it’s scuba diving that really floats his boat, having recently achieved his PADI Advanced Open Water qualification.

Academic matters

The school produces consistently strong exam results year on year. In 2019, 40 per cent A*/A grades at A level (68 per cent A*/B) and 66 per cent A*/A/7-9 at GCSE. Maths, biology, art and DT all popular. Latin and classical civilisation are offered at A level and GCSE as part of a rich choice that also includes three modern languages, politics, computing and drama/theatre studies. Good value-added scores.

There is currently a huge drive in teaching and learning - ‘persistent innovation shared across subjects’ is how one senior leader described the growing aspirational culture. The leadership team encourages teachers to engage with other outstanding schools and to model the excitement of the intellectual life. This is a dynamic place to work and it is out to attract the top teachers nationally.

Reporting has recently changed to reflect effort as much as achievement. Everyone is monitored carefully through regular formal and informal assessments and there is a particular drive to ensure that the scholars are strong academic role models for the rest of the school. House tutors, year group tutors and the pastoral team discuss the effort grades with students and implement swift action plans if they are not exceeding expectations. Reports no longer have target grades – everyone can aspire to top grades. There is an innovative academic enrichment programme before lessons start, aimed at introducing students to new ideas. The scholars must attend but it is also open to all senior pupils.

An experienced learning skills department offers a range of support, in small groups or one-to-one. Some find that half a dozen lessons - typically cover studying and revision skills and exam technique - is all they need. Others may require a longer period of lessons covering language skills and problem-solving. A few may need additional support from external agencies. There is no charge for internal support. One parent with a bright but underachieving boy who had hated his previous school described the learning skills department as ‘amazing’. It had turned her son around completely – he now loves school and is doing very well. Perhaps more importantly, he no longer needs the additional support.

Games, options, the arts

Everyone we spoke to said there is something for everyone. The games facilities are wonderful: a state of the art, national standard sports hall, indoor climbing wall and a gym to die for. The architecturally exciting Michael Baker boathouse (also in demand of small concerts and other events) juts out over the river which edges the school and, across the river next to the Worcestershire County Cricket Ground, there are extensive playing fields. Keen sportspeople represent the county and there have also been national successes. Dance is taken seriously by both boys and girls and is benefiting from a new dance studio with sprung floor.

Music, as you would expect in a school with close links to a cathedral, is strong. A large number of students learn instruments and there are lots of ensembles, choirs and orchestras. The school has a variety of venues for concerts including the wonderful College Hall, the old monastic refectory dating in part from the 12th century.

There is lots of drama – a big annual production and smaller ones, in the 300 seater theatre or the new drama studio, which boasts top quality up-to-the-minute technology. Art is very popular and there are excellent examples around the school. A level artists have their own studio space.

A few of the other highlights, according to some pupils, are the CCF, DofE, Model UN, dance club and an annual Jaguar Landrover activity to build a 4x4. Lots of trips, both domestically – the school has its own outdoor education centre in Wales – and overseas.

Background and atmosphere

A 16th century foundation, originally the choir school, today’s school nestles behind Worcester Cathedral and the heart of the community is College Green. For such a city centre site, it is extraordinarily well hidden from view, and that may partly explain why it feels like a world of its own that cocoons students and adults alike. Buildings range from 12th century to 2016, but it is by no means the hotch-potch that it sounds. Each century has produced its own architectural gems and the overall effect is one of great charm; tradition shoulder to shoulder with the contemporary. The classics and Latin departments are housed in the medieval Edgar Tower, accessed via a romantically precipitous spiral staircase. The ascent is worth it just for the views over Worcester. It is possibly not a site for a permanently physically disabled child.

The sense of a British cathedral tradition is in the air, but there is also the feeling of a school gathering itself for a leap forward from this wonderfully secure and comforting position into a more high-octane stratosphere. Parents repeatedly told us it was the feel of the school that attracted them, and that the close links with the cathedral create more than just a religious heritage but also a deep sense of respect that comes from tradition. A small but increasing number of Muslim families choose the school because they believe it enhances the values they foster at home.

The historic boarding aspect of the school has left its mark both in the strong house system and in the rich extracurricular life. King’s feels more like a seven day a week school than most city day schools. Pupils have always been encouraged to develop a sense of service to the wider community. This is now both global and local; there are links to the Himalayas, providing educational and medical resources, and close connections are fostered with local businesses.

Parents, teachers and students speak of the exceptionally warm relationships that the school generates. ‘There is a place for everyone,’ one parent told us. ‘My children couldn’t be more different but they both feel a close part of the school community and so do I’. ‘This is a school with a heart and soul’, one relatively newly arrived teacher observed. There is a strong sense of community and inclusivity.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

The school has used its past boarding structure to excellent effect. Years 7 and 8 operate as a slightly separate group with a form structure; then, when pupils enter year 9, the full house system kicks in. This means that the school can use the early years to build a sense of belonging and identity amongst all the children, who enter not only from the two junior schools but also from a lot of other feeder primaries. Parents confirm that younger pupils are very happy to share concerns with sixth formers as well as staff and we witnessed the huge excitement and affection generated when our senior guide bumped into a group of year 8s that he mentored. Pupils all spoke about how much they appreciated really getting to know well students in other year groups. While many schools use the house system to stimulate competition, the heart of the system at King’s seems to beat around the importance of relationships – though of course the competitions are there too.

Parents feel that house staff handle any pastoral concerns very discreetly and also promptly. There is also a school counsellor. Discipline is along fairly conventional lines – ‘we are tough when we have to be,’ one member of the senior leadership team told us. Parents feel there are few discipline problems and when there are, parents are fully involved and generally supportive of the school’s line.

Pupils and parents

The school has been co-ed for a number of years. Pupils are unpretentious and charming, very aware of how fortunate they are to be at such a distinctive school. A number of parents told us that it was the demeanour of the senior pupils that had clinched their decision to send their offspring to King’s. There is a very attractive air of relaxed confidence about them – you feel they are comfortable with themselves and the world. Former pupils flock back to the school, sharing all sorts of experiences and expertise with present pupils. Pupils travel considerable distances to attend and there are signs, which the head intends to fuel, of families moving out of the home counties for the school. Family backgrounds are mixed – some old Worcestershire moneyed families, professionals, business people and those who need the bursary support to keep children there. It is not particularly mixed ethnically, reflecting the Worcester population rather than that of the wider West Midlands, but the Muslim families that are there say there is no hint of racial prejudices.

Entrance

About two-thirds join from the two junior schools, King’s St Alban’s and King’s Hawford. Parents say the transition is very easy for them. The school goes out of its way through the pastoral structure to ensure everyone quickly feels part of the community.
Entry is primarily at 11+ but there are places at 13+ and 16+. At 11, entry is by examination in maths, English and verbal reasoning. In the sixth form, it is dependent on GCSE results, a cognitive abilities test and an interview.

Exit

Between 15 to 20 per cent leaves after GCSEs. Nearly all sixth formers go on to university and many get into the top ones. Currently the most popular destinations are Exeter, Birmingham, Bristol and Loughborough and a growing number are getting Oxbridge places – three in 2019, plus three medics. Students off to a range of courses from interior design at Falmouth to design engineering at Imperial to medicine at Nottingham.

Money matters

Academic and music scholarships at 11+ and 13+, with academic scholarships and leadership awards at 16+. Both new entrant and hardship bursaries are available up to 100 per cent of fees, with up to 90 pupils generally getting bursary funding. The head's aim to wider access includes a drive to increase bursaries.

Our view

This is definitely a school on a journey. The aim is to make it the school that people move out of the south east for and we think they will do it. The environment and pupils can’t help but charm, and there is a sense of revving up to take on the national big names in independent education. It is becoming the go-to school for ambitious teachers, which can only make it that much more attractive to parents and their children.

Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

The school takes seriously the importance of catering for pupils who have identified special needs. There is a new Learning Skills department run by a trained expert assisted by another specialist. All pupils are screened on entry. The department works very closely with partoral staff and helps to monitor and interpret academic progress. Pupils are rarely withdrawn from lessons but receive extra help from trained staff in a variety of ways during lunchtimes or after school. The school also has a Special Needs Coordinator who is a member of the English staff and liaises with teaching staff. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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