The King's (The Cathedral) School

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The King's (The Cathedral) School
The King's (The Cathedral) School Peterborough Shield.png
Motto A Family Achieving Excellence[1][2]
Established 1541
Type Academy
(partially selective)
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Mr Darren Ayling
Founder Henry VIII
Location Park Road
England Coordinates: 52°34′54″N 0°14′19″W / 52.58167°N 0.23872°W / 52.58167; -0.23872
DfE number 874/5404
DfE URN 136398 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 1000+
Gender Mixed
Ages 8–18
Publication The Petriburgian Magazine

The King's (The Cathedral) School is a Church of England secondary school with academy status in Peterborough, England. The school is one of seven established, re-endowed or renamed, by King Henry VIII in 1541 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries for the education of "twenty poor boys". The King's School was recognised in June 1999 with the award of Beacon status. On 1 January 2011, the School became an academy and changed its name from 'The King's School, Peterborough'.



The King's School is a state-funded secondary school, with a large sixth form. It was founded as the Cathedral School to educate 'twenty poor boys' and this close link with the Cathedral is still valued and maintained today. Until 1976 the school was a Church of England grammar school for around 450 boys, also known as Peterborough Cathedral Grammar School. 1976 saw the school become both comprehensive and coeducational. Until 1997, however, there remained provision for boys to board. It is one of only two Anglican cathedral schools in the UK to be funded through the state system.[3] The other two Anglican state-funded cathedral schools are Bristol Cathedral Choir School and The Minster School [4]( the choir school of the Cathedral Church of Southwell Diocese: Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire.) There are also two state-funded Roman Catholic choir schools: St Edward's College in Liverpool and the London Oratory.[5]

Main building

State School[edit]

Since 1976 The king's School has been a co-educational state school with around 650 boys and girls. On entry to King's in Year 7 students are placed in one of 6 tutor groups. As a state-funded academy the school is allowed a degree of selection. Each year some twelve places are allocated according to an entry examination and three are allocated according to ability in music; so 12.5% of the school's annual intake is by selection alongside the Cathedral choristers, both boys and girls. As with all state schools King's gives first priority to ensuring that all 'looked after children'[6] wanting a place at the school receive one. The remaining places are allocated to students according to a list of entry criteria, including religion, siblings already attending the school, and geographical distance from the school.[7]

Sixth Form[edit]

Over 1000 pupils attend The King's School, of whom approximately 400 are in the Sixth Form, for which there is a minimum examination qualification for entry of seven A*-C grades at GCSE level, of which three must be at grade B or above.[8] Given the school's high GCSE pass rate,[9] the majority of pupils proceed into the sixth form. External applicants to the sixth form must meet a set of criteria.[10] The school currently offers no vocational qualifications. The subjects available for study, at AS and A2 level, are:

  • Art
  • Business Studies
  • Classical Civilisations
  • Critical Thinking
  • Design and Technology (3d Design & Textiles Design)
  • Economics
  • English Language and Literature (single award)
  • English Literature
  • Geography
  • History
  • Languages (French and German)
  • Mathematics (and Further Maths)
  • Music
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics; plus Astronomy GCSE for Sixth Form students)
  • Sports Studies

A compulsory single lesson each week named 'Learning for Life' is designed to prepare the student for the A Level examinations and for the UCAS application system to universities.

The school has a hierarchical prefect system, comprising (in order of seniority): the Head Boy and Girl, House Captains, Senior Prefects, and Prefects.


The school has four houses: St. Chad's House (house colour: red), St. Oswald's House (house colour yellow), St. Peter's House (house colour blue) and School House (house colour green) . Two others, Tudor House and Thomson's House, were abolished in 1976. Pupil allocation to houses is random, but siblings generally follow through the same House; and when there was a boarding house, all boarders were members of School House. Each house has two House Captains and four House Vice Captains, as well as a House Master and/or House Mistress. Permanent teachers are also allocated to houses as "House Staff", although PE teachers, Music Teachers, Deputy Headmaster and the Headmaster are not allotted houses for fear of bias in inter-house sporting and music competitions.

King's was unusual in once being a grammar school that took boarders, all in School House. Many boarders had parents in the Forces and or the Colonial Services; the very low fees being more affordable than at public schools. The accommodation at 201/203 Park Road (which is now the Music School) was affectionately known as "The Pig", as the building was alleged to have once been a pub called the "Pig & Whistle". The building is now known by those at the school as Madeley House.

In the early sixties (under the headship of Dr C.M.Harrison),due to the construction of the new assembly hall/gym the entire school would traipse up Park Road for morning service at All Saint's C-of-E church. School Inspectors declared this practice illegal as it contravened the requirement of the Education Act 1948 to hold a daily assembly on-site. In the 1960s, teaching included Saturday morning classes; and boarders were obliged to attend Sunday Matins and/or Evensong at the Cathedral.

House Music[edit]

"House Music" is an annual competitive event in which each houses presents four pieces of modern or traditional music, as follows:[11]

  • A Lower School Choir piece (Years 7–9)
  • An Orchestral piece (for which there is a separate trophy)
  • A Band piece (for which there is a separate trophy)
  • A Senior Choir piece (Years 10–13 and for which there is a separate trophy)
  • Finale (in which the entire house takes part)

The winning house receives a trophy. Also, a 'Senior Choir Cup' is awarded to the best senior choir of the night; and there is a best orchestra prize. House Music was originally held in the school hall but growing numbers caused the event to held at The Broadway Theatre.[12] Owing to growing numbers, in 2007 it moved again to KingsGate Community Church's building in Parnwell.

Histories of the School[edit]

An early history of The King's School was published in 1905 by A.F. Leach, a noted historian This history ends in 1904 when E.S.T Badger was Headmaster.

In 1966, W.D. Larrett, a former deputy-headmaster, published 'A History of The King's School Peterborough'. The account tells of the pre-reformation school, the foundation of King's by Henry VIII, and of the times when the school was close to bankruptcy and when some Headmasters felt obliged to resign. In 2005, the 1966 edition was restored and updated.

Academic performance[edit]

From 2006 to the present, The King's School has been the top-performing state school in the Peterborough local authority area for GCSE and A-Level results, with 91%+ of students achieving 5 or more passes at GCSE grades A*-C.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]

Former pupils are known as Old Petriburgians.

°Alice Richardson, Author, and member of pop group Maintaining Pumpkins

° Jennifer Small, Founder and member of pop group Maintaining Pumpkins


There has been a historic rivalry between King's students and the nearby Thomas Deacon Academy (formerly Deacon's School), the other old-established Peterborough school.

Peter Walker who became the Bishop of Ely in later life started his career as a teacher of classics at King′s in 1947.

A plaque commemorating the King's School students who died in action during World War I was placed in Flanders during an annual GCSE class trip to the Flanders battlefields in 2005.

The school retains an archive of documents charting the school's history and the lives of former King's School pupils who served in the World Wars. Also, there is a rare first-edition copy of Alice in Wonderland held in the school archives.

In 2003, Timothy Coldwell, a one-time Head of Physics, was convicted of making indecent images of children.[14]

In 2005, Gavin Lister, a P.E. teacher, was convicted of engaging in sexual activity with a girl between the ages of 13 and 15.[15]

In 2013, headmaster, Gary Longman, announced at the annual Speech Day service held in Peterborough Cathedral, that he would be retiring at the end of the academic year 2013/2014, after 20 years in the position. In February 2014, his successor was announced as Darren Ayling: the current Senior Deputy Head (Academic) at the Ipswich School in Suffolk.

Also leaving at the end of the 2013/2014 academic year is Director of Music Nick Kerrison, who is to become organist at the Anglican Shrine in Walsingham. After 26 years in the role, Nick's successor will be qualified tennis coach Dr Martin Ratcliffe.


  1. ^ "The King's (The Cathedral) School Headteacher - Information for candidates." (PDF). Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ State Funded Choir Schools.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  4. ^ The Minster School Homepage
  5. ^ UK Choir Schools.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  6. ^ "Who are looked after children?". 
  7. ^ "The King's School Admissions Criteria". 
  8. ^ Sixth Form Prospectus, The King's School.
  9. ^ a b "League Tables: Secondary schools in Peterborough". BBC NEWS. 2007-01-11. 
  10. ^ "Sixth Form Entry Requirements". 
  11. ^ "PERFORMANCE: Pupils are Kings of the stage". The Evening Telegraph (Peterborough Today). 2004-10-15. 
  12. ^ Peterborough Today
  13. ^ Mike Sendall and the World Wide Web
  14. ^ David Sapsted (2003-01-07). "'Vendetta' saves porn teacher from jail". The Telegraph. 
  15. ^ "COURT: 'I never thought it was a schoolgirl'". The Evening Telegraph (Peterborough Today). 2005-02-26. 

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