King's Rochester A GSG School
- King's Rochester
- Head: Mr J Walker
- T 01634 888590
- F 01634 888505
- E email@example.com
- W www.kings-rochester.co.uk
- A mainstream independent school for pupils aged from 3 to 18
- Boarding: Yes
- Local authority: Medway
- Pupils: 482
- Religion: Church of England
- Fees: Day £9,570 - £18,210; Boarding £20,580 - £29,580 pa
- Open days: October, March and May with open events for targetted age groups in between.
- Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
- ISI report: View the ISI report
- Linked schools: King’s Rochester Prep and Pre-Prep
What The Good Schools Guide says..
Caters for a wide range of academic ability from ‘Oxbridge to average’ and will run an A level class for as few as three pupils. Impressive music and the chapel is Rochester Cathedral - 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...
What the school says...
Kings has so much to offer. 2014 A Level results saw over 50% A* -B and, at GCSE, the number of A* rose for the third consecutive year. Such results regularly put us ahead of local grammar schools even though we admit a much broader range of pupils. Most pupils go on to Russell Group universities, but we also have pupils at the Royal College of Music and leading Art Schools. We pride ourselves on helping our pupils get onto the right course for them at the right place.
Our size brings many advantages. Pupils are taught in small classes and that means plenty of individual attention and the opportunity for each child to take part in all the school has to offer. Pupils have access to a really broad range of experiences and, thus, the opportunity to find their particular strengths and interests.
Each of the three schools is small enough for each pupil to matter while being part of the wider foundation means access to the bigger and better facilities of a larger school. The sense of being part of 1,400 years of history gives a great sense of heritage and our daily use of the beautiful Rochester Cathedral is a great privilege. Being co-educational all the way through and being on the edge of the town centre enables our pupils to have a blend of safety and preparation for adult life. We have a very strong musical heritage which includes educating the Cathedral choristers and many pupils are heavily involved in the musical life of the school through orchestras, bands and choirs. We are also very strong at languages, offering French, German, Russian, Latin and Greek to A Level.
Predominantly a day school, 10% of our pupils are boarders which means we have a boarding school ethos and can offer appropriate levels of wrap around care both before and after the school day for all age ranges. ...Read more
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What The Good Schools Guide says
Principal of King's Rochester and head of the senior school
Since September 2012, Mr Jeremy Walker MA (Oxon) (40s). Previously head of sixth form and senior manager at Berkhamsted School, Hertfordshire. Educated at Sherborne School and read theology at Oxford before taking an MA in educational leadership and management at the Institute of Education, University of London. Started his career at Bishop Stopford School, a state secondary in Kettering, and became head of department after a year. Then moved to Ardingly, where he was head of religious studies and of theory of knowledge, and housemaster. He does not have time to teach here but is involved with Oxbridge preparation and interview technique and lateral thinking skills. His main objectives have been to improve academic performance, sports and careers and he has already negotiated the acquisition of a local sports centre and had it refurbished, introduced sports scholarships and been involved in setting up an effective careers network.
He says that he has ‘built on the strengths of the school but has not shied away from areas which needed attention’. He is proud of the wide ability intake and believes in a broad curriculum and personalised education and, most importantly, that school should be fun. ‘You get the best of both worlds here – a day school with a boarding school ethos.’ He is ‘sticking with King’s traditions but making them relevant’ and encourages parents to come to services in the cathedral. Parents full of praise: ‘He is very disciplined and hard working, and that is the message he gives to the pupils’; ‘A very efficient, caring man who knows the kids well and drops into lessons and chats to them; ‘Very enthusiastic and has brought new vigour to the school’; ‘Kids love him’. He is tightening up on everything including the uniform and has introduced zero tolerance on alcohol.
Met his wife, Harriet, when they were both at Sherborne; they have two children in the school and she teaches in the nursery and is involved with the Friends’ Committee (parents’ association). The school is their home and family life is very important to them, and they are keen to put down roots in the area. Mr Walker sits on the Cathedral Business Guild and a local cultural partnership to promote Rochester, and has strong links with the local military – the Royal Engineers.
Headmaster of the prep school since 2001, Mr Roger Overend BA FTCL ARCM (60s), a musician, educated at Trinity College of Music and previously head of Westminster Abbey Choir School. Married with three children, one of whom is in the prep school. An experienced headmaster who is very well regarded by parents. ‘He has an air of authority – the kids respect him and know where they stand but are not afraid to ask questions’. ‘Open approachable, understanding and thoughtful’. ‘The kids are happy to ask for help – he makes them feel valued’. ‘He’s always there and knows where everyone is.’ ‘He listens to parents and always replies promptly to emails, even over the weekends’. He teaches music theory to the choristers.
Headmistress of pre-prep and nursery since 2009 Mrs Sarah Skillern MA BA NPQH (late 30s). She works closely with Mr Overend and both heads sit on the school’s executive board with Mr Jeremy Walker, principal of the senior school, although both heads are largely autonomous.
Children streamed from year 6 and setted in some subjects. French introduced in year 5, PSHE taught from year 6 and Latin and DT from year 7. All three sciences taught separately in year 8, and can use the senior school labs. ‘Kids gradually prepared for senior school and are encouraged to take responsibility for themselves’. About a quarter of lessons taught by senior school teachers in the last year, some in the senior school, and top two years can play in the senior school symphony orchestra. German introduced in the nursery via fun-based activities with songs and puppets, and continues into the senior school - taught by a native speaker. Years 7 and 8 do an exchange with a school in Munich every other year. New head of IT ‘very forward thinking’ and IT is integrated into all lessons and taught as a subject throughout the prep school. The library is the centre of the school and younger children are taught how to use it – a bright light space.
Good learning support - one full time and three part time SEN teachers. Offers mostly in-class support, mainly for mild to moderate dyslexia and mild behavioural issues, and has a ‘joined up approach’. Staff often go into English lessons to look for issues. The school no longer has CReSTeD status. Light touch EAL when required.
Caters for a wide range of academic ability from ‘Oxbridge to average’. In 2016, 37 per cent A*/A at GCSE and 28 per cent at A level (58 per cent A*-B). Pretty impressive for an almost non-selective school in grammar school country - in fact they often outperform grammars in exam results. Offers double and triple award science and 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’. Extended Project Qualification 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, and Mr Walker has brought in some new blood since his arrival, including a dynamic new head of ICT. ‘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 has recently taken 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. Duke of Edinburgh 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 gives pupils an opportunity to perform in public. Termly junior concerts in the school hall and a celebration of the performing arts in the summer term. All children in the pre-prep have the chance to perform in a concert. One lavish theatre production each year and plenty of opportunities to perform in public; poetry festival, LAMDA exams and informal concerts as well as visiting theatre groups and drama workshops.
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.
Up to 70 boarders, about half from overseas - 14 different nationalities and school works hard on integration. Boys' boarding house 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. Always something organised at weekends and children are expected to take part.
Background and atmosphere
Part of the Foundation of Rochester Cathedral, the school was founded in 606AD at the same time as the cathedral and re-founded under Henry VIII in 1541 when the monastery at Rochester was dissolved. It is the second oldest school in the UK after King’s Canterbury. 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.
Prep and pre-prep very much part of the whole King’s School. They are all part of the strong Christian community with the cathedral at its centre, but all faiths made to feel welcome. Prep and pre-prep are both self-contained but use the senior school facilities including the swimming pool, art and DT room, games pitches and sports centre. Purpose built pre-prep has bright and colourful classrooms and its own play area. Prep school is a cluster of modern buildings surrounding the paddock (used for rugby and cricket) and shares a large hall with the pre-prep. Light and airy with photographs all over the place. 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. All new prep school children have a buddy who contacts them in the holidays and looks after them when they arrive. 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, and tend to keep in touch. 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.
Most join in the nursery at age 3+ and move on to the pre-prep the following year. Places allocated on a first come first served basis. Entry into the prep is via an interview with both parents and the child and a report from the child’s current school – most join at 8+ and 11+ but will take children at any time if there are spaces. Large intake at 11+, particularly from primary schools and independent schools which finish at this age - testing in English, maths and non-verbal reasoning; this also guarantees them a place in the senior school. Will only not offer a place if a child needs more help than the school can offer - mild to moderate dyslexia no problem. Choristers (boys only) admitted via a series of musical and academic tests and join in year 4, and are offered music scholarships worth 30 per cent of fees which can be topped up with a bursary if necessary and 30 per cent off (compulsory) music lessons.
Broad ability intake to senior school 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 C or above and As or Bs in subjects to be studied at A level.
Most juniors move on to the senior school. About six a year to local grammar schools. Support and help with maths and non-verbal reasoning but do not coach for the Kent Test. Very few leave after GCSEs. None to Oxford in 2016, one to Michigan and one to RADA. Exeter, Royal Holloway and Southampton popular destinations.
Offers sports, academic, all-rounder 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. Choral scholarships offered in the prep school. Discounts for clergy, Forces families and siblings.
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 newish head.
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 Syndrome [archived]|
|Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders||Y|
|Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders [archived]|
|CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia|
|Delicate Medical Problems [archived]|
|English as an additional language (EAL)|
|Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory|
|Has SEN unit or class|
|HI - Hearing Impairment|
|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|