This city centre all-through school offers academic excellence, an outstanding music programme, a dual pathway at sixth form, and a deeply embedded culture of kindness.
Yes, your child will need the academic ability to pass the entrance exams, and they will be certainly need to share the school’s love for learning. But, while they will be challenged and encouraged to be competitive, they will be learning within a harmonious and friendly environment that is underpinned by the theme of 'Kindness at King's'.
Kindness and community spirit are certainly part of the school’s DNA. Walk onto the campus every Friday afternoon, for example, and you’ll see students hosting Friendship Hour for local elderly people to share tea, sandwiches and conversation. Senior pupils take on mentoring roles every Friday afternoon, working with pupils in state primary, secondary and SEN schools. And headmaster Andrew Halls is frequently seen chatting with students during lunchtimes and on the touchline at sports matches.
Commonly referred to as KCS, King's or KCS Wimbledon, the school enrols around 1,000 students. From the uniform through to the house system, King’s has many traditions that have made it such a highly respected public school. It has also carved out its own identity with several pioneering and innovative programmes, particularly in recent years under the headship of Halls. While it is predominantly a boys’ school, it does accept girls into the sixth form, and it hit the headlines in 2014 for Halls’ decision to take girls after nearly 200 years as an all-boys school.
King’s follows a self-developed curriculum which, it says, allows it to be “free from the constraints imposed by the national curriculum”. In Rushmere, (Years 3-4), boys are taught by their form teacher for the majority of their subjects, but they have specialist teachers for Art, Music, and Sport. In Priory (Years 5-8), teaching moves to a broader curriculum with more specialist teachers, this includes Latin and design and engineering from Year 7.
In the words of one student, “King’s teaches you how to think, not what to think.”
In secondary, there’s an even broader curriculum including the opportunity to study German, Spanish and Chinese, Greek and Mandarin. Students work towards GCSEs and, in sixth form, either A Levels or the IB Diploma Programme; about 60% of King’s students take A Levels and have a choice of 18 traditional and classical subjects, including philosophy, classical Greek and physics. Having offered the IBDP since 2000, the school has a proven track record in the IB and consistently has a large IB cohort of around 40%.
Rather than being a choice of UK vs International, this dual pathway in sixth form is about offering a choice of curricula that plays to the strengths of a child. The IBDP continues a broad and balanced learning approach to subjects; students need to successfully complete six subjects (three at higher level and three at standard level), which must include a language and a science. A Levels are more specialised and focus on three or four subject areas that normally reflect the direction students are likely to take at university level; A Levels allow students to focus on their strengths and, perhaps more importantly, opt out of those subjects that would bring their grades down. Both qualifications are widely accepted for entry into universities worldwide.
Technology is brought to the fore at King’s – and from a young age (Year 3), students are learning computer aided design with laser cutting and 3D printing in the purpose-built studios at the secondary school. There are strong links between the art and design departments, and students showcase work from both in a joint exhibition at the end of every junior year.
King’s also has a very sporty side – whether that’s on the rugby pitch or tennis court, or playing more niche sports such as fencing, fives or rowing. The school’s love for tackling and scoring is brought to life in its weekly sports podcast hosted by students and teachers, which shines a light on the many sporting clubs, tournaments and victories at King’s. Secondary students have the freedom to play a sport of their choice during weekly timetabled games afternoons, and when girls join in the sixth form it is compulsory to play sport. As well as having impressive on-campus sports facilities, the school owns a boathouse and 24 acres of playing fields off-site.
Music has always been a passion at the school, but it has recently been taken to a new level with the completion of a new music school. This has brought state of the art facilities to the school, including rehearsal and teaching rooms, a fully-equipped recording studio and a 200-seater concert hall which houses a two-manual chamber organ and a model D Steinway grand piano. Junior students are encouraged to learn an instrument with reduced tuition fees for orchestral lessons, and the school has set up many ensembles including chamber groups, string quartets and quintets to offer students the widest choice of music education. There is also a strong tradition of choral music at King’s, and the school’s chamber choir performs at major venues such as Westminster Abbey and even Windsor Castle.
There are also many other opportunities for students to take to the stage, whether in annual productions or in a debating competition; there’s even the chance to perform in French at the soirée française and petit déjeuner!
King’s not only has the facilities to broaden students’ horizons with extra-curricular activities, it has the time. Every Friday afternoon is dedicated to co-curricular activities in the drama, sport, and music departments; there are extended lunch breaks on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which are filled with clubs and societies; and secondary students can become CCA Leaders and hold a variety of clubs in the lower school.
King’s has a charming, relaxed and green campus with a blend of heritage and modern architecture overlooking part of Wimbledon Common. A Victorian red-brick building and beautiful old Great Hall with traditional organ stand alongside a state-of-the-art music school with a 200-seat concert hall, a new sports complex with a six-lane swimming pool, and a wonderful sixth form centre with its own reading room and fair trade café.
King’s excels in A Levels and GCSE. In 2020, 99% of students were graded 9/7 at GCSE; 90% were A*/A at A Level; in 2019 (the last year when exams were taken), 95% were 9/7 at GCSE and 79% were A*/A at A Level.
King’s is also one of the UK’s top performing IB schools, and in 2019 was ranked second after Godolphin & Latymer School - Hammersmith with an average score of 40.7. In 2020, although exams were not sat, the school maintained a high average score of 41.
An education at King’s is not cheap, but it does offer up to 100% bursary assistance at 11+, 13+ and 16+, and scholarships for academic achievement, music and sport. Term fees range from £6,250 in junior school to £7,445 in Year 9 and above.
• Choice of IB or A Levels
• High academic achievers with willingness to learn
• City-based, London education
• Girls seeking pre-sixth form education
• Outdoor education
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