Kingham Hill School is a small school with a large offering; students here can gain American credits while studying a British curriculum – as well as choose between academic and vocational options on their pathway to university.
Kingham Hill is a hybrid school that claims to offer the best of two worlds in education – British and American. Known affectionately as "The Hill", this school is surrounded by the beautiful hills of the Cotswolds, making it feel quintessentially English and rather charming. It has the boarding house system of a British public school, as well as GCSEs, A Levels and BTECs on the curriculum. Proudly supporting education from across the pond, Kingham Hill also offers a US programme alongside its British curriculum to students of all nationalities.
Founded in 1886 by the Christian philanthropist Charles Edward Baring Young, the school remains true to its roots with its strong Christian ethos; it does, however, welcome students from all faith backgrounds and none.
With just over 360 pupils, the school will appeal to families looking for a close-knit community, and its small class sizes of around 15 mean that your child will get plenty of attention here.
Most students here are boarders (55% live on campus), and there are only 20-35 students in each of the seven houses, which is smaller than many boarding schools in the country. Each boarding house has two house parents and three tutors which is a very reassuring amount of adult support on offer to your child while away from home.While the majority of students are British, the school does have a sizeable community of students from the US.
Long-serving headteacher Nick Seward joined the school in 2008; he was previously Chaplain and Housemaster at Magdalen College School in Oxford. There have been plenty of changes and growth under his leadership, including the opening of a school farm, introducing more vocational qualifications, and investing in some truly impressive sport and STEM facilities.
He's also brought his love of motorsports into the school, with the creation of a racing team and the school's very own garage of karts.
All students follow the National Curriculum for England and work towards their GCSEs. Students have a varied but not vast list of options in the sciences, the arts, languages (French, Latin and Spanish), and PE.
In the Sixth Form, students have a choice of A Levels or a BTEC in Animal Management, Business,Computing, Engineering, Music Tech, Performing Arts and Sport. Whether your child is focused on STEM, sport, the arts or languages, Kingham Hill certainly offers a broad enough choice of academic and vocational pathways.
Kingham Hill also offers students the option of enrolling in a unique US programme that lets them complete a British education while meeting all the requirements of an American high school. As well as gaining American school credits and end of year grades, they complete coursework in US History and American Government and receive American transcripts. Students can also graduate with a US high school diploma.
For any student moving to and from the US, these are key credentials which are recognised by schools and universities in the US.
This programme is unique to Kingham Hill and was developed in conjunction with the US State Department; it is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS). This accreditation is an important recognition of the quality of education provided and of the High School Diploma being issued.
Students in the US programme also benefit from counselling and advice for enrolling into a US university, SAT prep classes, and feedback on college personal statements. As well as celebrating American events and holidays including Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl, students end their college years with a traditional American graduation ceremony.
The school offers specialist support to a limited number of students with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia; it is a CReSTeD DU (Dyslexia Unit) registered school.
There are certainly no limitations on sport at Kingham Hill in terms of facilities and spaces; the only issue to consider is, can a school with less than 400 students field enough teams in enough sports for your child?
The main sports taught in PE are hockey, netball, rounders, tennis and athletics for the girls, and rugby, football, cricket and athletics for the boys.
The arts are celebrated at Kingham Hill; in music, every student in Year 7 and 8 is given an instrument to learn. There's also a high level of student participation beyond the curriculum. That could be singing in the chapel choir, playing in one of several orchestras and ensembles, or performing on stage in the annual school musical or in the popular Pupil Showcase, which is directed by senior students. The school runs its own Academy on a Monday night for all those who are interested in production and performance.
There is plenty going on at Kingham Hill, both after school and on weekends; Saturday school was scrapped years ago when Mr Seward joined the school, and has been replaced with a more popular activity programme.
Combined Cadet Force is compulsory for all Year 9 students, who learn basic training such as drill, command tasks, weapon training and map reading. Students can also choose to complete the different stages of the Dukes of Edinburgh's Award.
There's a farm club, which takes students out onto the campus farm, home to alpacas, horses, sheep, goats, rabbits, cats and a dog. And there are over 50 clubs covering interests as varied as gardening, sailing, horse riding, quiz club and art.
Kingham Hill has developed an interesting programme of sporting activities that include the non-traditional and several rural sports – golf, mountain-biking, cross-country running, clay-pigeon shooting, and fencing to name a few.
There's also the opportunity to experience the thrill of motorsport (as well as picking up some basic engineering skills too). Sign up for the Kingham Hill Racing team and you could be competing in the National Schools Karting Association series (NatSKA).
Kingham Hill is a non-selective school but, credit to the standards of teaching here, results in GCSE and A Level are very good. In 2021, 80% of grades at A Level were A*-A, with 46% at A*. In GSCEs, 61% of grades were 9-7 (A*-A).
The school is set in over 100 acres of rural Oxfordshire but has the advantage of being 80 minutes away from London Paddington by direct train. There's no shortage of space here (or beautiful views) and staff are known to move around campus by golf buggy! There's also no complaints here about the facilities, which are modern, plentiful and have plenty of 'wow' factor.
Sporting facilities include a cricket pitch, pavilion and nets, tennis courts, floodlit Astroturf pitches, assault course, 25m indoor swimming pool, fitness suite, and stables too. In 2020, the school cemented its commitment to sport with four full size courts, a climbing wall, fitness suites and more.
In the past five years it has also invested in a new library as well as a new Maths and Science building. More recently the old sports hall has been converted into a dedicated performing arts centre.
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