What it's like
Re-founded in 1541 by Henry VIII, it comprises an enclave of very fine buildings grouped round College Green on the south side of the cathedral and on the banks of the Severn. The oldest structure is the 14th-century College Hall. There are many 17th, 18th and 19th-century buildings and a large number of modern ones, all in fine grounds and gardens. There are two junior schools; one, King's St Alban's, in its own grounds next to the main school, the other, King's Hawford, is to the north of the city. Fully co-educational, girls have been admitted throughout the school since 1991, after 20 years experience of a mixed sixth form. Academic standards are high and examination results are very good. Basic Christian ethics and doctrine are taught and the cathedral plays an important part in the school's life. A very strong music department which gains much from its association with the cathedral. Strong, too, in art and drama (10 or more productions each year). Excellent sport and games and an enormous range of activities; it has been awarded a Sportsmark gold award. The CCF is vigorous and Young Enterprise is a special strength. A commitment to local community schemes and a flourishing Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and Himalayan Club.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 2½-18; 1450 day pupils (800 boys, 650 girls). Junior schools 2½-11, 516 pupils (292 boys, 224 girls). Senior department 11-18, 934 pupils (508 boys, 426 girls). Entrance: Main entry ages 2½-11, 13 and 16. Own entrance exam used. For sixth-form entry, entrance test, reference and 5 GCSEs at least grade B. No special skills or religious requirements. State school entry, 33% at 11. Significant senior intake from own juniors schools, King's St Alban's (tel 01905 354906) and King's Hawford (tel 01905 451292).
Scholarships & bursaries
Academic and music scholarships, up to 33% of fees, awarded to entrants aged 11, 13 and 16. Means-tested bursaries available, up to 100% of fees (may be combined with a scholarship); all-rounder bursaries at age 11 and 16, for pupils with a broad personal profile and particular strength in sport, music, art or drama. Parents not expected to buy textbooks.
Head & staff
Headmaster: Tim H Keyes, in post from 1998. Educated at Christ's Hospital and Oxford University (classics). Previously Second Master at Royal Grammar, Guildford, Head of Classics at The Perse and Assistant Master at Whitgift and at Tiffin School. Teaching staff: 166 full time, 121 part time. Annual turnover 5%.
GCSE: 139 pupils in fifth form: 98% gained at least grade C in 5+ subjects. A-levels: 129 in upper sixth, all of whom passed in 3+ subjects, gaining an average final point score of 315.
98% of sixth-form leavers go on to a degree course (10% after a gap year), 10% to Oxbridge. 6% take courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 19% in science and engineering, 5% in law, 55% in humanities and social sciences, 3% in art and design, 12% in other subjects eg physiotherapy, occupational therapy. A few typically go on to art or music colleges or straight into careers.
GCSE, AS and A-levels. 20 GCSE subjects offered; 25 at AS/A-level. Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level; general studies taught but not examined. 40% take science A-levels; 10% arts/humanities; 50% both. Key skills integrated into courses. Vocational: Work experience for all. Special provision: Mildly visually handicapped pupils accepted. Some special provision for mild dyslexia. Languages: French, German and Spanish offered to GCSE and AS and A-level. Regular exchanges (France, Germany and Spain); field-work trips to Switzerland. ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject and across the curriculum. 180+ computers for pupil use (9+ hours a day), all networked and with email and internet access.
Music: Over 30% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams can be taken. Some 8 musical groups including orchestras, wind band, choirs. Cathedral choristers educated in school. Regular European music tours; cathedral choir gives many concerts, broadcasts and tours (eg South Africa, USA, Three Choirs Festival). Drama: Drama offered; GCSE drama and AS and A-level theatre studies may be taken. Some pupils are involved in school productions and majority in house/other productions. Art and design: On average, 50 take GCSE, 30 A-level. Design and technology also offered.
Sports & activities
Sports and physical activities: rugby, football, netball, hockey, rowing, cricket, tennis, athletics, cross-country, badminton, rounders, fencing, squash, golf, swimming, sailing, canoeing. Activities: Many pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award. CCF, Young Enterprise, community service optional. Up to 30 clubs, eg sports, shooting, drama, computing, literary, history, debating, science, art, robotics.
Uniform: School uniform worn except in the sixth form. Houses and prefects: Pastoral rather than competitive houses. Prefects, head boy/girl, head of house and house prefects, appointed by the Headmaster. Religion: Church of England. Worship is encouraged. Social: Regular events organised by development committee; annual school ball. Language exchanges, skiing trips, geography field trips, music tours (eg Florence, Barcelona, Lisbon), other trips to Italy, France, Tunisia, Spain and Nepal. Pupils allowed to bring own car/bike/motorbike to school. Meals self-service.
Discipline is the responsibility of the whole school – pupils and staff – in preserving the values of an orderly and caring community. Grave or repeated offences or disobedience will render the offender liable to suspension or expulsion by the Headmaster, who also may require the removal of a pupil if the welfare of the School demands it.
Association of former pupils
the Old Virgornian Club, run by former pupils; contact via the Development Office at the school.
Rik Mayall (actor); Chris Tarrant (TV presenter); Derek Bell (racing driver); Sir Richard Tilt (Director General of Prison Service); Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy (Chief Executive Kingfisher Group), Stephen Cleobury (Director of Music, King's College Cambridge); Sir David Jones (Chief Executive of Next and JJB Sports); Stephen Rimmer (Director General of the Home Office); Jonathan Darlington (Music Director, Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Vancouver Opera).