Skip to main content

What says..

A great sense of history here with the buildings clustered round the cathedral and next to the Norman castle; Charles II spent his first night in England at Restoration House on his return in 1660 and Queen Elizabeth I is rumoured to have stayed at Satis House.  Will run an A level class for as few as three pupils and ‘will go to great lengths to tailor the timetable to suit the children’. On site netball  means the girls now get match teas – has made the 'netball mums’ very happy. Rowing from the school's own boathouse on the Medway near Maidstone...

Read review »

What the school says...

The overwhelming characteristic of King’s Rochester is its warmth and friendliness, nestled in in the beautiful cathedral precinct of historic Rochester. As the Good Schools Guide says: “A tangible sense of community where everyone knows each other well...”

Founded in 604AD, King’s is the second oldest school in the UK and the world’s oldest Cathedral Choir School. It has evolved into an outstanding 21st century day and boarding co-educational School for ages 3 to 18. Located in North Kent, just 38 minutes by train from London, it benefits from high-speed services from St Pancras and direct services from Victoria and Charing Cross.

King’s Rochester has a strong reputation for maximising the potential of pupils. A wide ranging curriculum, and extensive co-curricular programme, allows greater choice for GCSE and A level options. In 2018, pupils achieved outstanding results at GCSE and a fifth of students achieved straight A*/A grades at A Level, securing them places at top universities, and scholarships to prestigious colleges.

King’s prides itself on knowing all students very well: pastoral care and links with parents and guardians have been graded as ‘Excellent’ in all inspections and it is this strength that makes King’s such a distinctive place to be.

We believe that independent thinking and a love of learning are just as important as great grades. To achieve this, we keep our class sizes small so that teachers know their pupils as individuals and can help each of them flourish. We encourage pupils to establish interests that stay with them for life, as well as learning the skills that will make them stand out in a fast-changing world.

Music is a huge strength and we are privileged to use Rochester Cathedral as our chapel. We hold seasonal concerts throughout the year in the Nave and the Cathedral Choristers are educated in our Preparatory School. Music Scholars go on to leading international conservatoires. Recent pupil success includes the BBC Young Chorister of the Year and an Oliver Award, and our brass section was commended by Julian Lloyd Webber.

Under the refurbished Vines Church is our Drama studio, equipped with digital sound and lighting. We are a proud RSC Associate School and our pupils have staged productions of Julius Caesar at the Marlowe Theatre and Macbeth at Dover Castle. King’s has a strong reputation for exceptional drama performances and recent productions of “Into the Woods” and “Les Miserable” have been in comparison with the West End.

Our coaches and many of our pupils play at County, National and International level. The King’s Rochester Sports Centre provides pupils with extensive facilities to train, in addition to playing fields, a heated indoor swimming pool and boat house, while the Paddock is regarded as one of the finest cricket fields in the country. All pupils play for a variety of games team and fixtures are held throughout the year.

The boarding community at King’s reflects the personal approach of the school. Boarding starts from age 11 and we have 65 beds across our two Boarding Houses, “St Margaret’s House” for girls and “School House” for boys. The small boarding community ensures a real family feel to both Houses which are comprised of both British and international students.

King’s Rochester is truly a community which enables individuals to flourish.
...Read more

Do you know this school?

The schools we choose, and what we say about them, are founded on parents’ views. If you know this school, please share your views with us.

Please login to post a comment.


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.





What The Good Schools Guide says

Principal of King's Rochester and head of the senior school

Since April 2019, Ben Charles, previously second master (senior deputy head) at Portsmouth Grammar. Music degree from Exeter and PGCE in music from Durham. He has been director of music at Chigwell and Millfield, and joined Portsmouth as deputy head in 2009. His wife Helen is also a teacher and they have four young children. Ben is an experienced choral conductor and singer, and also a huge sports fan, particularly offering support to teams from his native city of Leicester.

Academic matters

Caters for a wide range of academic ability from ‘Oxbridge to average’. In 2019, 26 per cent 9-8 at GCSE and 31 per cent A*/A at A level (57 per cent A*-B). All do RS and ICT at GCSE. PE, music, classical Greek, Russian and German are among other subjects offered. Business studies, government and politics and history of art amongst 24 A level offerings. Will run an A level class for as few as three pupils and ‘will go to great lengths to tailor the timetable to suit the children’. EPQ also offered alongside A levels – another feather in your cap for university entrance.

An extraordinarily dedicated team of teachers – a good combination of some who have been in the school for many years and bright, young, newly qualified staff. ‘The levels of devotion are extraordinary – they even ran revision classes on Easter Monday,’ said one parent. ‘The teachers really seem to care how we do,’ said a pupil. Dedicated careers department – ‘school has beefed up advice for university and beyond,' said a parent. An old boy has set up Jobs Network to provide advice and work experience to current and former pupils and help with interview practice and technique. Current and former parents encouraged to offer help with work experience or as a mentor. All upper sixth have mock job interviews with feedback and lower sixth have cv writing clinics.

Team of qualified SEN teachers – mainly for mild dyslexia, although school happily accommodates those with greater needs where possible. Pupils assisted in class, through withdrawals and with IEPs.

Games, options, the arts

Sport on the up helped by the introduction of sports scholarships and the new facilities. School took over the Stirling Sports Centre and adjoining Holcombe Hockey Club from Medway Council, now refurbished and renamed the King’s Rochester Sports Centre, a 10 minute walk or short minibus ride from the school. Olympic standard Astroturfs and new outdoor tennis and netball courts plus indoor hockey, badminton and cricket nets and a fitness suite. Free membership for King’s parents and open to the general public too. Some team sports still played on the pitches within the school grounds. On-site netball means the girls now get match teas – has made the 'netball mums’ very happy. Rowing from the school's own boathouse on the Medway near Maidstone – 18 rowing boats and five large canoes. School very supportive of outside achievements eg national level pentathlon plus sailing and skating, and several pupils play cricket, rugby or hockey at county level. Strong tradition of fencing - fencing master was involved with organising Olympic competition. DofE popular and 10-15 do gold each year. CCF offered in all three services - compulsory for the first two years and many keep going. Our guide had learnt how to fly a plane with the RAF division.

Impressive music – the prep is a cathedral school so the choristers (boys only 8-13) are part of the school and the chapel is Rochester Cathedral. Choir trips all over the place and they make recordings for Radio 3. Several choirs, orchestras and ensembles, a wind and jazz group and inspirational and ‘brilliant’ director of music. About 50 per cent learn at least one instrument with several reaching grade 8 each year, and a number go on to study music, often with organ or choral scholarships; pupils recently won scholarships to the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music. On a lighter note, the annual house music competition and popular termly Open Mic night give pupils an opportunity to perform in public.

Busy art department with photography, sculpture and fine art offered – product design particularly popular and pupils often go on to art college. Three major drama productions a year, numerous theatre and opera trips to London, and visiting theatre groups organise drama workshop within the school.

Numerous after-school clubs and societies with ‘something for everyone’ including bell ringing, debating, ICT and chess. Ballet popular throughout the school: some up to grade 8, and a handful keep going into sixth form. Lots of trips and outings – choir to Vatican and China, Physics to CERN, maths to NASA and World Challenge to northern India.


About half of the boarders from overseas - some 14 different nationalities and school works hard on integration. Boys' boarding house ( recently refurbished) for 43 and girls' for 25. Start off in small dorms, and sixth form and most of fifth form have their own room with ensuite bathroom. School sports facilities available in the evenings. Always something organised at weekends eg shopping and cinema trips and children are expected to take part.

Background and atmosphere

Part of the Foundation of Rochester Cathedral, the school was founded in 606 AD at the same time as the cathedral and re-founded under Henry VIII in 1541 when the monastery at Rochester was dissolved. Prefects wear a gown and carry a cane but the school is certainly not old fashioned and inward-looking. A great sense of history here with the buildings clustered round the cathedral and next to the Norman castle; Charles II spent his first night in England at Restoration House on his return in 1660 and Queen Elizabeth I is rumoured to have stayed at Satis House (now the school administration building). A range of buildings from the medieval cathedral to Georgian, Victorian and 21st century, with Watling Street running down the high street. An unexpected and peaceful oasis in the middle of the bustling Medway towns. One of the few co-ed independent schools in Kent which offers a seamless education from 3-18 years.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

Strong Christian ethos; the cathedral is the centre of school life and the service held four mornings a week is a period of quiet reflection before the day begins. All faiths and backgrounds welcomed. All are expected to come to the services in the cathedral but do not have to participate. A tangible sense of community where everyone knows each other well and it is ‘a very family oriented school where there are genuine friendships across year groups and kids look after each other,’ said one happy mother. 'It is a close knit community that produces confident, self-reliant children who are not cocky,’ said another, and ‘It really does try to cater for all, and they are very personal in the way they deal with the kids’. ‘My son has at last found a school where he is happy – it offers the best pastoral care I have come across. Most schools say they treat every child as an individual but King’s Rochester really does,’ said a father. School takes a firm line on drugs and runs a programme of drug awareness through PHSE but has not had any issues.

Pupils and parents

Big range from traditional to first time buyers and some who make genuine sacrifices to send their children here. Some come from the Medway towns and villages, some from 25 miles away and some come down on the train from SE London, Bromley and Blackheath. Extensive minibus service from as far away as Tonbridge and Sevenoaks. Children generally ‘down to earth and engaging – they exude confidence and are compassionate, sociable and great fun to be with’.

Former pupils known as Old Roffensians and are hugely supportive with a great sense of loyalty to the school. They go on to follow a variety of careers and include surgeons, musicians, authors, artists and poets. Alumni include Prof Sir Derek Barton, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, John Gummer, former Conservative cabinet minister, Pete Tong, Radio 1 DJ and Matthew Walker, professional cricketer.

Good communication with parents who say they feel involved. Moodle, a virtual learning environment where children can access classwork, homework and notes is proving popular with parents, who can keep an eye on what is going on.


Broad ability intake but children are expected to be able to take 9/10 GCSEs and 3/4 A levels. Summer exams for those coming up from junior school are used for setting purposes and very few fail; and school will give plenty of warning if this is likely to happen. Entry from other schools at 13+ via common entrance or school’s own tests. Occasionally spaces in year 10. Very few leave after GCSEs. Another 20 per cent join in sixth form and are expected to get at least five GCSEs at grade 5 or above and 6+ in subjects to be studied at A level.


Small fall-out (around 20 per cent) after GCSEs. Two to Oxbridge in 2019, and one vet. Bournemouth, Brighton, Hull, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton and St Mary's Twickenham currently popular.

Money matters

Offers sports, academic and music (including organ) scholarships worth up to 30 per cent of fees which can be topped up with means-tested bursaries up to 75 per cent of fees. Discounts for clergy, Forces families and siblings.

Our view

A warm and caring family school with some of the best pastoral care around where children can grow up in the shadow of the cathedral. A wide ability range but all made to feel valued and the brightest get into the best universities. Going from strength to strength under the dynamic head.

Please note: 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

King's School is co-educational with selective entry and a wide range of ability. It is the School's avowed aim to satisfy the educational needs of all the children on the roll, regardless of ability. As part of this responsibility, we seek to identify children with special needs and to make suitable provision for them. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
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

  Zoopla sale properties   Zoopla rent properties   Hide Zoopla markers

Powered by Zoopla

Who came from where

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
 Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,000 schools
 Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

The Good Schools Guide manifesto for parents