Aims and Ethos
The King’s School, Canterbury is an ancient school with a twenty-first century outlook.
Often said to be the oldest school in the country, the King’s School takes pride in its association with education in Canterbury since the early days of English Christianity. For over 450 years it has been governed under a Royal Charter. In 1541 Henry VIII established a Headmaster, Lower Master and fifty scholars; in 1946 a new Charter was presented by George VI and this was modified by a Supplemental Charter in 1992.
The School is set in two World Heritage Sites in the Precincts and at St Augustine’s. The buildings are a mixture of old and new: from the thirteenth century Meister Omers to the twenty-first century Grange. The School draws inspiration from its setting but aims to be forward-looking. The best modern facilities are constantly being added to and improved without harming the character of this unique historical environment.
The close association with Canterbury Cathedral – the Dean is Chairman of Governors and the main school services are held in the Cathedral – emphasises the importance of the Christian tradition to the nature of the School. Pupils and staff may come from different religious and cultural backgrounds, but a strong sense of moral values, of toleration and respect for others, is common to all.
The School has a strongly academic curriculum that is continually adapting to the changing demands of modern education. With almost all pupils going on to university, there is an emphasis on scholarly excellence, but through regular monitoring of academic progress and educational support for those experiencing particular difficulties with their learning, the aim is to enable every individual to make the most of their abilities and to fulfil their potential.
The School believes that much of what is most valuable in education takes place outside the classroom. The aim of the wide-ranging co-curricular programme is to provide opportunities for all pupils to discover and develop their talents. Art, Drama, Music and Sport play a major part in school life, alongside the Combined Cadet Force, the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and numerous other Activities. King’s Week, the School’s own festival of arts at the end of the summer term, involves hundreds of pupils in a showcase of creativity.
There is a strong sense of community in what is a mainly boarding school. All pupils are members of one of the fifteen houses (there are twelve boarding and three day houses) and housemasters and housemistresses have a particular responsibility for the well-being of the members of their house. The tutorial system helps foster the good relations between staff and pupils, based on mutual respect, that are central to the School’s character.
Good discipline, involving the reward of good behaviour as well as the prevention of what is unacceptable, is essential if individuals are to flourish and the school rules are intended to impose only such restrictions as are necessary for the general well-being of the School as a whole. There are occasions when formality – most obvious in the distinctive school uniform (‘Canterbury Dress’) – is regarded as appropriate, but a courteous informality is characteristic of much of daily life.
Regular communication with parents, especially through housemasters and housemistresses, helps keep them involved in their children’s education. The King’s Society, a cultural, social and educational society for parents and friends of the school, is a recent development. Parents are also welcome at School and house events. The Old King’s Scholars Association is also an important part of the wider school community.
As one of the oldest charities the King’s School knows that it has to earn and to justify its charitable status. Scholarships and bursaries support pupils who might otherwise not be able to benefit from an education at King’s. The School makes its facilities available to the Canterbury community and is a sponsor of the Folkestone Academy. It also encourages pupils to develop an awareness of and concern for the wider world, not just by raising money through regular charity events, but by direct involvement in activities such as the School’s social service programme.
The King’s School is a very special place where opportunities abound and individuals matter. Our community is lively, creative, caring and awash with positive thoughts, where everyone can grow up safely and securely and where individuals enjoy the success of others as much as they enjoy their own triumphs. King’s is a happy and vibrant school, in which the energy and spirit of the pupils match the exceptional environment.