King's College School, Cambridge

King's College School is a coeducational independent preparatory school in Cambridge, England, situated on West Road off Grange Road, west of the city centre. It was founded to educate the choristers in the King's College Choir during the 15th century. Although no longer located on College grounds, it remains an integral part of the Chapel's musical tradition and is still governed by and receives some funding from the College. The most recent full integrated Independent Schools Inspectorate inspection awarded the grade ‘excellent’ in all 9 categories.[1]

King's College School
West Road


TypeIndependent preparatory day and boarding
Choral foundation school
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
FounderHenry VI of England
Department for Education URN110911 Tables
Chair of GovernorsProf Robert Foley
HeadYvette Day
Age4 to 13
Number of students449 (2016)
Houses    Burrels
Colour(s)    Purple
PublicationThe Fleur De Lys (Annual)
The KCS Express (Termly)


King's College was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI. By 1447 the full complement of 16 choristers had been recruited to sing in the chapel. They were likely educated by a fellow until the appoint of the first Informator Chorustarum (Master over the Choristers) in 1456, Robert Brantham.[2] The existence of dedicated school rooms was recorded during the Counter-Reformation when a visitation of the University in 1557 inspected the "chorusters chamber and schole" and took away a number of books deemed to be unsuitable.[3]

The school has moved location several times since its inception. By 1693 it was located in a building to the south-east of the chapel, next to King's Parade.[3] In this year that building was demolished and replaced with what was known as the New Brick Building which continued to house the school through to the nineteenth century.[4][3][2] In the 1820s during the rebuilding by William Wilkins, the brick building and adjoining Provost's Lodge were demolished, opening up a view of the chapel from the street. The outline of the foundations of the brick building can be seen on the lawn during long periods of hot dry weather.[2]

In 1828 the Wilkins building on the south side of the court opposite the chapel was opened and the school was housed in rooms within it.[2] By the 1870s in response to improving musical standards in other English choirs, it was decided to open a boarding house to accommodate choristers from outside Cambridge in order to widen the field from which selection of choristers could take place. This was opened on the current site in West Road in 1878, and by 1880 all 16 choristers were boarders, and there were also 8 non-chorister day pupils, a number that would gradually increase over the coming decades.[2] From 1976 girls were admitted, and as the school expanded, it opened a pre-preparatory department.[5]


The boarding programme is open only to boys. Choristers are full boarders while other boys return home for the weekend.[6]

The Houses

Like many British Schools, King's uses a house system. This is not a system related to boarding houses, of which there is only one at King's, but one of which pupils are placed into one of four houses, each named after a surrounding road or path. There are many inter-house competitions throughout the year in sports and academics, in the form of merits, awarded for good work, which are totalled and averaged each term, with the house with the highest average merits winning a house party. In recent years, a new competition, called "It's A Knockout" (after the British TV show of the same name), in which many wacky games are played and money is also raised, has been added to the competitions.

The school began a link project[7] with Dikkumbura Sri Siddhartha School in southern Sri Lanka in 2007 initially as a response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, after a visit there by the then headmaster, Nicholas Robisnson, but the link quickly went beyond aid and became more of an academic link, with three yearly teacher exchanges and many more exchanges of work between the schools to learn more about each culture. King's often raises funds to help the school, and has sent musical instruments and sports equipment to the school in Sri Lanka as well.



The following head teachers have served since 1878 when the school relocated to its present site in West Road:[10]

  • Vincent Charles Reynell 1878 - 1887
  • Benjamin Benham 1887–1905
  • Trenham Candy Weatherhead 1905–1912
  • Charles Richard Jelf 1912–1927
  • Cedric Moulton Fiddian 1927–1950
  • Donald George Butters 1950 - 1958
  • Adam Sebastian Arnold-Brown 1958-1959 (interim)
  • John David(son) Briggs 1959–1977
  • Gerald Peacocke 1977–1993
  • Andrew Corbett 1993–1998
  • Nicholas Robinson 1998 – 2017
  • Tom Hales (acting) 2017
  • Yvette Day 2018 -[11]


  1. Independent Schools Inspectorate (2014). "2014 Integrated Inspection Report". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. Henderson, RJ (1981). A History of King's College Choir School Cambridge. ISBN 978-0950752808.
  3. John Gray (1964). "King's College School in 1564" (PDF). Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. LVI-LVII: 88–102.
  4. Robert Willis & John Willis Clark (1886). The architectural history of the University of Cambridge and of the colleges of Cambridge and Eton: Volume 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 541.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. School History Archived 2012-01-18 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-20. Retrieved 2012-04-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Boarding
  8. "Cellist Guy Johnston: "When music works it's magic and speaks to the soul"". Cambridge News. 15 May 2014. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2010-09-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Web accessible article on the school's history by Anne Page, B. mus (b 1920)
  10. "King's School announces new Head". King's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 13 March 2017.

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