King Edward's School, Birmingham

King Edward's School, Birmingham

Infobox UK school
name = King Edward's School, Birmingham

size = 275px
latitude = 52.4507
longitude = -1.9237
dms =
motto = "Domine Salvum Fac Regem"
("God save the King")
motto_pl =
established = 1552
approx =
closed =
c_approx =
type = Independent School
religion =
president =
head_label = Chief Master
head = John Allen Claughton
r_head_label =
r_head =
chair_label =
chair =
founder = King Edward VI
founder_pl =
specialist =
street =
city = Edgbaston, Birmingham
county = West Midlands
country = ENG
postcode =
ofsted =
staff = 70 (approx.)
enrollment = 800 (approx.)
gender = Boys
lower_age = 11
upper_age = 18
houses = 8
colours = color box|blue color box|navy
publication =
free_label_1 = Former pupils
free_1 = Old Edwardians
free_label_2 = Affiliation
free_2 = Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference
free_label_3 =
free_3 =
website =
website_name =

King Edward's School "(KES)" (gbmapping|SP052836) is an independent secondary school in Birmingham, England, founded by King Edward VI in 1552. It is part of the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham and is widely regarded as one of the most academically successful schools in the country according to various league tables. It was ranked 10th for A-Level results [cite web |url= |title=A-Level results league table |publisher=BBC |accessdate=2007-07-09] and 40th for GCSE results [cite web |url= |title=GCSE results league table |publisher=BBC |accessdate=2007-07-09] out of all schools in England in 2004.

It is a boys' school, although it occupies the same site as, and is twinned with, King Edward VI High School for Girls (KEHS), also one of the most academically successful schools in the UK. Whilst lessons and sports are taught separately, dramatic arts and music are often shared.


The Foundation was created on 2 January 1552 by Royal Charter of King Edward VI together with £20 per annum returned by The Crown for educational purposes. Five years earlier in 1547 the Act of Suppression, part of the wider Dissolution of the Monasteries, provided for the confiscation of all assets of religious guilds except an amount of land with an annual income of £21 (two thirds of the original lands) if the guild supported a school. The Guild of the Holy Cross in Birmingham had no school, but persuaded the Earl of Northumberland (also the lord of the manor of Birmingham) to release the land for the creation of a school. The charter of the "free Grammer Schole" of King Edward VI was issued on 2 January 1552, and the school came into being in the former guild building on New Street. By the 1680s there were "neer 200" boys in the school and a Petty School (a feeder school) had been established by the foundation. [Trott, pictoral history of school, "A brief history (chapter 1)]

The affairs of the school in the early part of the 18th Century were dominated by a quarrel between a governor and the headmaster, but this not withstanding, a new Georgian inspired building was built on the New Street site between 1731 and 1734. In the latter part of the 18th Century four separate elementary schools and a girls' school were set up by the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI. The school remained relatively stagnant after this until a new headmaster was appointed in 1834. He erected a new building, still on the same site, in the Gothic Style of architecture which was designed by Charles Barry (who subsequently designed the Palace of Westminster). From within this new landmark building came several changes to the structure of the school. Sports became an important feature in the school through games afternoons and the dominance of Classics was removed by the introduction of Mathematics and science lessons. [No Place for Fop or Idler p.79-91]

By 1941 though, the old building on New Street had become a fire risk and plans were made by the then headmaster E.T. England to move to a new site in Edgbaston along with the girls school Yet, ironically the temporary buildings erected on the new site in 1936 burnt down. The school was forced to move, if only for a short period, to the University of Birmingham's Great Hall and surrounding buildings for a short period until new temporary buildings could be erected. The move was complicated by the outbreak of the Second World War and the subsequent evacuation of the pupils to Repton School for a short period. By 1940 though, enough of the new buildings designed by Holland W. Hobbiss had been built for the school to begin lessons. In 1945 the schools became Direct Grant schools which meant that the Governors had to relinquish some control over the running of the school. [No Place... Chap 8, p.92-103] The schools were finally completed around 1948 although the 1950s saw a period of expansion under the Chief Master R.G. Lunt including the construction of a swimming pool and the construction of a Chapel from the remains of the Upper Corridor of the New Street building. [No Place... p.109-114] In 1976 the two schools became, once again, independent schools due to the termination of the Direct Grant scheme by the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson. [No Place... p.121] The school remains independent and is still situated on the Edgbaston site as of 2008. [cite web |url= |title=KES website| publisher=King Edwards School |accessdate=2007-07-10] In 2008, the school announced that it will offer the International Baccalaureate to members of the sixth form from September 2010 onwards. [cite web |url= |title=King Edward’s School to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma |publisher=King Edward's School, Birmingham |accessdate=2008-09-13]

chool buildings

The Chapel

The chapel, a Grade II* listed building, was originally the upper corridor of the 1838 Barry New Street school. It was moved to Edgbaston, rebuilt and renovated (1938-1940) by Holland W Hobbis (originally built by Charles Barry).

The Chapel is used for services every Wednesday morning (where Mass occurs)led by the school chaplain Reverend D. Raynor.


The school buildings have been used in several film and television productions. They were used in the 1986 movie "Clockwise" starring John Cleese, supposedly as the University Of East Anglia. The school featured briefly in the 2006 Ray Winstone Channel 4 TV movie "All in the Game." The school has also been used in several episodes of the BBC medical drama "Doctors". The school grounds were also used in 2000 to film a feature on the Mazda MX-5 sports car for Clarkson's Car Years, presented by Jeremy Clarkson, against a background of boys in the Shells playing rugby on a rainy day.

chool structure

Unlike most secondary schools, King Edward's does not use the modern year group names, e.g. Year 11, Year 12, etc.

The table below attempts to clarify the names used for the different classes:

The House System

King Edward's has a house system, instigated in 1902 by the Chief Master, Robert Cary Gilson. Initially there were four houses: Red, Blue, Green and Yellow. In 1951 the number of Houses was extended to eight and it was decided that they should have permanent names. Six were named after former Chief Masters and two after assistant masters (Rawdon Levett and C. H. Heath). The Houses compete against one another every year to win the "Cock House Trophy".

There are many events that boys take part in and get points for. These points are totalled up at the end of the year, and the House with the most points is declared the Cock House Champion. Each house has a distinctive set of 'colours' which are awarded to students for merit and commitment in representing the house in house matches. Each house also possesses its own 'house tie'. This tie's pattern consists of stripes of the house colour on a black background. Some houses award it for subjective merit, while others use a points system to award the tie. Only boys in the Fourths and above may wear a house tie. The most successful house on record, is Gifford, with 10 Cock house trophy wins in 31 years, their most recent being in 2007. Furthermore, the longest ever run of victories is 6 years in a row, achieved by Heath house 1998–2004. In sporting events, the houses are often shortened to one or two letters, as seen above.

Extracurricular activities


There are two main sports at KES; Rugby in the winter and Cricket in the summer. (Hockey is available as an option from third year onwards.)In the first and second years (Shells and Removes), there are up to six fully coached rugby teams, but from third year onwards there are only three. Other boys play Hockey, Basketball, Fencing and Swimming. In rare occasions, where boys are especially talented in several fields, they play those sports they excel in, as well as their chosen sport.

The annual rugby match against KES's main rivals Bromsgrove School is the highlight of the rugby season and is the longest running annual rugby fixture in the world.Fact|date=September 2007 KES are also keen rivals of Solihull School and Warwick School, both fixtures dating back hundreds of years.Fact|date=August 2008 The school runs a rugby tour to a major rugby-playing nation every two years. This tour is only open to the 1st and 2nd teams of that year.

Water Polo is the most successful sport at King Edward's. The team has won the English Schools U19 Water Polo competition in 2002 and 2008, the later being accompanied by the Warwickshire Cup making the most successful season in recent times. Numerous players have been called up to the City of Birmingham Youth Squad and English Schools Water Polo teams.

The House system encourages participation in sport outside the weekly sports lessons. With autumn and winter competitions in rugby, hockey, tennis etc, pupils have the opportunity to participate in team competitions. In the summer, House activities such as the school's athletics competition, cross country races and House Swimming allow further sporting pursuit. The School makes use of its extensive sporting facilities which include a swimming pool, astroturf pitches (shared with KEHS), tennis courts, numerous rugby and cricket pitches (including additional training areas), an athletics track and Eton Fives courts. There are numerous sports in which pupils are able to participate, including: rugby, cricket, athletics, tennis, basketball, hockey, water polo and Eton Fives. The school also competes in national competitions of a more intellectual nature including chess, general challenge and debating.

Although "Association" football is not played as a sport in the school, the astroturf pitches, school parade ground and chapel wall are used by boys at lunchtime for "Parade Ground Football" .

Music and Drama

There is a separate building on site housing the Music Department with facilities including a recital/rehearsal auditorium and a computer lab equipped with keyboard input. In addition, the school supports two full orchestras (in association with King Edward's High School for Girls), conducted by Peter Bridle, MBE; the more advanced of which has performed such advanced works as Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World". There are also two wind/brass ensembles also in association with KEHS, and the senior members of both schools can join the Choral Society, a choir of 80-100 people which has sung such works as Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" and Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. KES also has its own Choir, which sings at the Founder's Day prizegiving, the Christmas Carol service held in St. Philip's Cathedral in the centre of Birmingham, and at the Christmas and Summer concerts. The school holds four concerts every year; two at the Adrian Boult Hall, one at the Town Hall and one at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham. The Drama Society at KES has performed a musical every year since the 1980s. 2006 saw a production of "Little Shop of Horrors" by the senior part of the school, and Vanity Fair by the junior part of the school.

Visits and expeditions

In the Shells boys take part in a three-day camping trip in Staffordshire, cooking their own evening meals. In the Removes each form has a five-day youth hostel visit in the Lake District or Snowdonia. This is alongside individual department field trips such as annual Geography and Biology field trips along with exchanges with foreign students.

The annual expeditions programme includes cycle tours, visits to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe Ardèche adventure weeks in France, ski and snow-shoe trips, and visits to Normandy and the Bay of Naples. The school has operated annual cycle tours since 1995. Past tours have included Sustrans routes such as the Coast to Coast, Hull to Felixstowe and Kingfisher Trail in Ireland. The school has twice toured from Land's End to John O'Groats and a third tour was completed in 17 days on July 30th 2008, having started on the 13th July.

CCF and Duke of Edinburgh's Award

King Edward's School has had a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) since 1906 and it is currently a voluntary organisation. The CCF consists of three sections; The RAF, The Royal Navy section and the Army section. The CCF conduct their training on Friday afternoons and expeditions take place throughout the year. The Royal Naval section is currently affiliated with HMS "Daring" along with several other organisations in the Midlands. [cite web |url=|title=HMS DARING — Affiliations |publisher=Royal Navy |accessdate=2007-11-20]

The contingent is part of 143 West Midlands Brigade and the contingent are represented at the Brigade competitions by members of all three sections. In 2006 the contingent won all the matches at the CCF Skill at Arms competition, the Military Skills competition and various first aid titles. The CCF is closely linked with the The Duke of Edinburgh's Award within the school. In 2006 KES CCF celebrated its centenary Review. The Inspecting Officer for the centenary review was the then Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Adrian Johns.

The school operates the Duke of Edinburgh's Award at Bronze, Silver and Gold level. Expedition training away from school at Bronze level takes place during seven weekends so that as many boys as possible may participate. The Gold expedition in 2008 will visit the French Pyrenees.

Clubs and Societes

There is a range of around 40 school groups, clubs and societies at the school. Including; Greek Reading, Graphic Universe, Warhammer Society, Living History Re-Enactment, Junior and Senior Debating Society, Dramatic Society, Classic Film Society, Book Club and Archery. There are also several school choirs. Mentoring societies, with the aim of helping students in their studies, run weekly in respective subjects with a special group devoted to helping first years.


As an independent selective school, tuition fees are payable for students, unlike the other King Edward VI grammar schools in Birmingham. Fees for pupils during the 2007/2008 academic year are £8,550 per annum. Scholarships and Bursaries are awarded.

chool songs

There are two school songs:

*King Edward's School Song
**Written by Alfred Hayes, O.E. (1857-1936), composed by A. Somervell.
**A rousing, if somewhat clichéd, song, sung mainly at the end of term, usually with high-spirited boys placing particular emphasis on the line "some to failure, SOME TO FAME!".
**A fourth verse was dropped from the song when the School moved from its City location to Edgbaston.

*The Quatercentenary Song
**Written in Latin by Roger Dunt (1900-63), composed by Dr. Willis Grant (1907-81).
**Sung at "Founder's Day", the annual commemoration in October of King Edward's birthday, and at the school's "Speech Day". It is also sung at various other award ceremonies. An extra verse was written for the visit of HM Queen Elizabeth II on November 3, 1955.

Notable Old Edwardians


* Hugh Alexander, chess player and codebreaker
* Harry Boot, physicist, co-developer of the cavity magnetron
* Richard Ewen Borcherds, (Mathematician; winner of the 1998 Fields Medal for the proof of the Monstrous moonshine conjecture)
* Henry Cary (Translator of Dante)
* Alfred Hazel Principal of Jesus College, Oxford
* Tony Miles, First British born chess Grandmaster
* Alfred Radcliffe-Brown - British social anthropologist
* Sir John Vane, (1982 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine)
* Maurice Wilkins, (1962 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine)
* J. R. R. Tolkien, Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and acclaimed author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.


* Jonathan Coe, novelist, (one novel, The Rotters' Club, was based on his time at KES)
* John Carey, Lord of the Dance, 5 time World Irish Dance Champion
* Dave Haslam, (Hacienda DJ during the 'Madchester' years)
* Bill Oddie, OBE Television birdwatcher, former Goodie
* Max Carlish, BAFTA Winner, Documentalist
* Kenneth Tynan, theatre critic and writer
* Lee Child, novelist, author of the popular "Jack Reacher" series


* Sir Alfred Bird MP for Wolverhampton West, custard manufacturer
* Sir Alan Haselhurst Member of Parliament (MP), Deputy Speaker
* John Hemming MP
* Sir Alfred Hickman MP
* Enoch Powell MP, Conservative and later Ulster Unionist, known for the Rivers of Blood speech
* David Willetts, MP


* Vikram Banerjee, First Class Cricket, (Cambridge University, Gloucestershire)
* Anurag Singh, First Class Cricket, Cambridge University Captain (1997 and 1998), Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire
* Alan Smith, England Test Cricket player (England, Warwickshire and Oxford University), first CEO of the Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB) now known as the ECB.
* Mark Wagh, First Class Cricket — Oxford University Captain (1997), Warwickshire
* Ossie Wheatley, First Class Cricket (Cambridge University, Warwickshire and Glamorgan), Former Test Selecter and Chairman of the TCCB.
* Miles Benjamin, Professional rugby player for Worcester Wariorrs.


* Ernest William Barnes British Mathematician; Fellow of the Royal Society, Former Bishop of Birmingham
* Edward White Benson Archbishop of Canterbury from 1882 until his death in 1896
* Sir Edward Burne-Jones Pre-Raphaelite painter
* Herbert Tudor Buckland, Arts and Crafts architect, b.1869, d.1951
* J. A. Chatwin, architect of many churches and buildings in Birmingham
* Sir Colin Figures, former Head of MI6
* Percival Perry, 1st Baron Perry first chairman of Ford of Britain
* Ian Plenderleith - Former Deputy Governor of the South African Federal Reserve, Ex member of Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee.
* Sir Peter Singer, High Court judge
* William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim, World War II Field Marshal, Commander of the successful Burma Campaign against the Japanese
* Brooke Foss Westcott, theologian, Bishop of Durham

Notable masters

*Hugh Wright, Chief Master 1991-1998, Chairman of the Headmasters' Conference, 1995-1996



* cite book
last = Trott
first = Tony
authorlink =
title = Images of England: King Edward's School Birmingham
publisher = Tempus Publishing Ltd
date = 2007
doi =
isbn = 978-0-7524-2448-4

* cite book
last = Waterhouse
first = Rachel
authorlink =
title = King Edward High School Birmingham 1883-1983
publisher =
date = 1983
doi =
isbn =

* cite book
last = Trott
first = Anthony
authorlink =
title = No Place for Fop or Idler; The story of King Edward's School, Birmingham
publisher = James and James (publishing) Ltd
date = 1992
doi =
isbn = 0907383319

External links

* [ King Edward's School, Birmingham]
* [ King Edward's School, Modern Languages Department]
* [ The Foundation of King Edward the Sixth in Birmingham]
*IoEentry|217030|Images of England listing — The Chapel
* [ King Edward's School - Charles Barry's Building (1838-1936), New Street, Birmingham]

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