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Set in the heart of Canterbury, The King’s School offers an educational experience that’s second to none. Julia Millen spoke to Head, Peter Roberts about how the school seamlessly blends its rich history with a contemporary outlook

What’s the educational ethos of The King’s School?

Our main aim at The King’s School, Canterbury is to anchor a 21st Century education within the illustrious history of the oldest school in the country, dating from 597AD.

The late Lord Pilkington, one of our most distinguished Headmasters, described a King’s education as resting on the simultaneous pursuit of academic and co-curricular excellence.

We aim to be encouraging of all pupils and we prioritise their pastoral care and well-being as our priority. Nurturing an ethos where the pupil body share and appreciate each other’s gifts without imposing a hierarchical value on any of them, allows pupils to flourish in their chosen discipline, whether that be academic, musical, sporting or any of the other activities on offer at the school. King’s inculcates a sense of service amongst the pupils so that they will be inspired to give much back from the extraordinary opportunities they enjoy here in Canterbury.

How does the unique history of The King’s School enhance a 21st Century educational experience?

It’s quite something to live as a community as part of the

seven campuses in the historic and beautiful centre of Canterbury as a city. The two main campuses-the Cathedral Precincts (home to eight boarding houses and two day houses) and St Augustine’s Abbey (home to a further five boarding houses) are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Such a setting, by its very nature, creates a close-knit and warm-hearted community that is spiritually aware, historically informed, and appreciative of aesthetic beauty.

What sets the School apart?

The willingness of the pupils to respond so passionately to the range and breadth of subjects and activities on offer at King’s. We recognise that there are many different pathways to becoming a flourishing student and we aim to find pupils’ passions and help them pursue them to the very best of their ability. The process of ‘being educated’ at a school like King’s in today’s world offers so many opportunities that our pupils are in a privileged position. Indeed, it’s because we expect them to take full advantage of their situation that we make strong demands on them. We expect pupils to exhibit a responsible and mature attitude, demonstrating both a love of learning and the character to accept and overcome challenges.

What are the hallmarks of a sound and successful education in today’s society?

A successful education should allow young people to accept and navigate the undoubted and significant changes and uncertainties in our society today. Life can be unpredictable and full of challenges; we hope to enable our pupils to lead a happy and worthwhile existence and work collaboratively with others.

How do you balance academic rigour with co-curricular activities?

We consider it important that EQUAL value is put on the academic and co-curricular life at King’s: to give a healthy balance and to develop a variety of skills. Education takes place anywhere and everywhere, at all times of the day. Academic excellence combined with creative activity and individual expression makes the School a thriving and highly motivated community.

Sport takes place on three afternoons, as well as on Saturdays for school fixtures. Music, Drama, and Art play an important part in the life of the School. Concerts, plays and exhibitions take place regularly and we have King’s Week, a week-long festival celebrating the arts, at the end of the academic year.

To what extent does the school foster an international outlook?

The School is part of the Canterbury Cathedral Foundation: hence, the importance of supporting the international and ecumenical nature of the worldwide Anglican communion is central to our ethos. We have always welcomed pupils from all over the world. At the time of writing the School has pupils from 51 countries. The wide-ranging interests, the intellectual ambition and the development of self-discipline amongst our pupil body are highly prized attributes in our modern global society.

How would you define a well-rounded educational experience?

A well-rounded educational experience should result in having life-long passions, whether that be for astronomy, singing, swimming or ballet- to make a random selection of the plethora of opportunities for young people at King’s. We encourage pupils to try and develop a variety of interests so that they are never defined by just one pursuit or single job. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life.

How do you prepare students for the future?

We nurture pupils to take on both the challenges and the opportunities of 21st Century life. There is no doubt that a wide range of skills, underpinned by good values, will be key to their happiness and success, going forward.


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