King Edward VI Five Ways School

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Five Ways
Scotland Lane

, ,
B32 4BT

Coordinates52°25′50″N 2°00′05″W / 52.43058°N 2.00143°W / 52.43058; -2.00143Coordinates: 52°25′50″N 2°00′05″W / 52.43058°N 2.00143°W / 52.43058; -2.00143
TypeGrammar school;
MottoDieu et mon Droit
Religious affiliation(s)Christian
FounderEdward VI of England
SpecialistHumanities College
Science College
Department for Education URN137046 Tables
Staff100 (approx.)
Age11 to 18
Houses     Barker
Colour(s)Black, White & Grey               

King Edward VI Five Ways (KEFW) is a co-educational state grammar school for ages 11–18 in Bartley Green, near Halesowen, England. One of the seven establishments of the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI, it is a voluntary aided school, with admission by selective examination. The name was retained when it moved from its previous location at Five Ways, at the western edge of Birmingham city centre, in 1958.


It was first in the school league tables in 2007.[1] Currently the school has around 1000 pupils in attendance amongst the lower school (years 7-11) and over 100 staff, some of whom are former pupils, as well as around 300 in the school's sixth form. The school is unique amongst the King Edward VI Foundation, being the only fully co-educational one. The school scored "outstanding" in every category with Ofsted report in November 2008.[2][3] The school is Voluntary Aided. Parents are asked to make a voluntary contribution each year of around £30 per pupil to provide extras and benefits for all school pupils throughout the year.[4] The school uses some unusual terminology, matching that of other Foundation schools, such as naming site managers or caretakers "porters" and homework "private study" or "HIPPO",[5] though not all teachers employ these terms. The school is much over-subscribed, the ninth in the country, according to The Times[citation needed], with 10.6 candidates competing for 1 place.[when?]


A 19th century photograph of the school when it was at Five Ways island.

Established as a boys' school in 1883, part of the King Edward VI Foundation,[6][7] the school's original building was that of the former Edgbaston Proprietary School, on Hagley Road at its junction with Ladywood Road, at Five Ways, approximately 1 mile south-west of Birmingham city centre. The school, designed by J.A. Chatwin was opened on 16 January 1883 by A. J. Mundella with provision for 350 boys[8] the Headmaster being E.H.F. MacCarthy, formerly a master at the main King Edward's School. He remained in the post until retirement in 1916, and now has a building named after him at the Bartley Green site. Originally the school educated only up to age 16, Fifth Form, and to go to Oxbridge a pupil had to transfer to the main King Edward's School, at the time in New Street. However, MacCarthy's successor, Mr Barker, introduced a Sixth Form.

During the Second World War, the Headmaster at the time, Mr Dobinson, decided to evacuate the school to Monmouth, and the boys attended Monmouth School, the two staffs sharing the teaching. This meant that all the staff and pupils were lodged in the town, and could only keep in contact with family via correspondence; Mr Dobinson was able occasionally to visit Birmingham.

After the war the school was becoming overcrowded, but due to development around the school there was no opportunity to expand, so a new site was found. On 23 April 1958 the school opened at its current home in Bartley Green, a suburb on the extreme south-west of Birmingham. The new school was built on the site of the Bartley Farm, which had been purchased by the Foundation, next to Bartley Reservoir. The site was elevated, and in the winter a bleak place.[citation needed]

The relocation was not universally popular. The school Debating Society passed a motion regretting the move. Staff were concerned about the effect the relocation to such a distant suburb would have on the school's intake, which because of the central position had been drawn from the whole city; many boys who had joined the school at Five Ways, easily reached from all parts of the city, suddenly had considerably longer journeys to its new remote location. This undoubtedly affected admissions in later years. Then the school's corridors were considered too narrow, and whilst the playing fields were extensive the school buildings themselves were small and rather basic, with limited common areas.[citation needed]

The time since 1958 has seen the development of much improved facilities, largely due to Arminio, however. Buildings new to the Bartley Green site include the Eyles and Chowen Centres, the former and current home of the school's Sixth Form. A music block and technology block have been added, as well as a Sports Hall and the MacCarthy Block. There has also been the expansion of the Science Wing, and increased seating capacity in the hall with an annex and balcony, as well as the Fitness Suite and extension to the art rooms in the MacCarthy Block. In recent years, a sports pavilion, a new astro turf playing field, a languages centre, and an Observatory have been built. There are plans to build a new school of music, replacing the existing music building, which is quickly becoming too small.

Five Ways was one of the first schools in the West Midlands to introduce computer technology in 1978. This was achieved with a communications link to use computing facilities at Aston University.

Girls have been admitted to Five Ways since 1988, first in the Sixth Form, then in the main school ten years later. Today Five Ways is the largest co-educational grammar school in the West Midlands, and one of the top five co-ed grammar schools nationally.[9]


The school has had 11 Headmasters and 1 Headmistress in its history.

  1. Revd Egerton Francis Mead MacCarthy 1883 - 1916
  2. Arthur Ernest Barker 1916 - 1933
  3. Charles Henry Dobinson 1933 - 1945
  4. Harry Robert Roach 1946 - 1951
  5. Thomas Charles Burgess 1951 - 1963 (Oversaw move to Bartley Green; died in post)
  6. Roland Mathias 1964 - 1969
  7. Peter Rodney Watkins 1969 - 1974
  8. Geoffrey Sanders 1974 - 1991
  9. Revd John G. Knowles 1991 - 1999
  10. Peter Limm 1999 - 2002
  11. David Wheeldon 2002 – 2012
  12. Yvonne Wilkinson 2012–present

Yvonne Wilkinson was Acting Headmistress from September to December 2002, the first Headmistress in the school's history, although as she served in, an acting capacity, for only one term, it was not properly a Headmistressship. She returned as the first actual headmistress from the start of the 2012-2013 school year, after a headship at Gateways School, Leeds.


Pupils must pass an 11-plus entrance exam to get into the school. The King Edward Schools are academic powerhouses and therefore fiercely competitive to get admission. The entrance examination is tough and only 1 in 10 is successful. The King Edward VI Foundation holds its exams at the same time, and generally a candidate will sit one exam for multiple schools within the foundation. Formerly 155 were selected from each year, from more than 1,500 candidates; with a few more accepted every year on appeal. From September 2014 the school increased its intake to 180 pupils in Year 7.[10] A pupil has the opportunity to list the Foundation schools that he or she prefers, and depending on the results, may get allocated into one of the schools.

Students can also enter the school at sixth form level, though they do not have to take a test for this. Instead, places are awarded based on GCSE grades, requiring at least a 7 in any subject you wish to take, 8 in Maths to take Further Maths, and a 6 in English and Maths if they do not already form part of your offer. Again, at this level places are highly competitive with students applying from all over Birmingham and the surrounding areas. There are approximately 50 external candidates in each year. Pupils studying at the school in the lower years must get an additional four 7s (or five 8s if they wish to take four A-levels). The Sixth Form has approximately 210 students in each L6 and U6.

Academic stature[edit]

Subjects offered[edit]

At GCSE, students are obliged to choose at least one humanities subject between History and Geography, at least one foreign language (options include French, German, Latin and Spanish), and other traditional subjects such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics (can be separated into either Combined or Triple/Single Science), Maths, English Language, English Literature and Religious Studies. Other options include: Music, Art, Drama, Food Preparation and Nutrition, Design and Technology, Physical Education, Computer Science and OSLA (Outdoor Skills Leadership and Adventure) which is a school funded option and does not count as a GCSE but does provide awards including the Climbing NICAS Award, the BCU Star Awards, Advanced First Aid Qualifications and the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award.

Previously, four subjects were picked at AS Level. However, from 2017 students are now expected to choose three subjects to complete at A Level and to complete an Extended Project Qualification. Options exclusive to A Level studies are: Economics, Government & Politics, Classical Civilisation, Sport Studies, Psychology and Philosophy as well as courses from down the school. There is also a Further Maths option, which enables a candidate to take two A Levels, one in Mathematics, one in Further Maths, over the two years. From 2013, the school no longer offers IB courses. Candidates taking four A-levels are not allowed to complete an Extended Project Qualification.

The International Baccalaureate took its first cohort of students in 2011. For the first 2-year course a variety of SL and HL subjects have been offered along with TOK (Theory of Knowledge). Subjects World Literature and Mathematics are compulsory but are at SL and HL. One subject from Biology, Chemistry or Physics must be chosen at SL or HL. One subject from History, Geography or Economics must be chosen at SL or HL. One subject from French, Spanish, German (and hopefully in the future Mandarin and Latin) at ab initio [from scratch] level, SL or HL. One more option is fulfilled by a science, humanities or foreign language option or the choice of Visual Arts at SL or HL.[11] In March 2013 prospective students were informed that the International Baccalaureate will no longer be offered due to lack of interest and applications from internal Year 11 students who wished to stay on the next year, and timetable and staffing constraints.[12] The school now offers the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) which is a nationwide GCSE achievement. It is not a certificated award but proves the student is well-educated and provides the student with a basis for A level study and will support an application to university.

Extra-Curricular Activities[edit]

In-School Activities[edit]

The school offers a wide variety of extra-curricular activities that include categories like: Sports, Music, Debating, Outdoor Education and many more. The clubs were designed to help pupils make friends and communicate with each other more often. They also serve as a relaxing time for pupils during or after a tiring school day.


Some of these activities can lead to opportunities to enter competitions. In February 2019, 16 Year 8 students entered the Flying Start Challenge. This is a contest for students to create a glider out of recyclable materials and to learn about the different factors that involve in creating an aircraft. It was an opportunity to enhance the pupils' DT, Physics and Maths skills.

International links[edit]

School City
Tanzania: Babati Day Secondary School [13] Babati
China: The English School [14] Guangzhou
Japan: Okazaki High School [15] Okazaki, Aichi
King Edward Public School [16] Mahilpur
New Zealand: Christchurch Boys' High School [17] Christchurch
South Africa: Afri-Twin Link [18] Cape Town
France: St Just School [19] Lyon
USA: EDGE partnership link with group of schools in Chicago [20] Chicago
Iceland: Brekkuskoli School [21] Akureyri

Five Ways Old Edwardians[edit]

Notable alumni include:

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Five Ways in the Top 10!". King Edward VI Five Ways. 20 August 2004. Archived from the original on 20 March 2005. Retrieved 14 November 2006.
  2. ^ "Ofsted Report Summary". King Edward VI Five Ways. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  3. ^ "Full November 2005 Ofsted Report" (PDF). Ofsted. 25 November 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  4. ^ "School Information" (PDF). King Edward VI Five Ways. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 October 2007. Retrieved 25 December 2007.
  5. ^ "School Values and Ethos". King Edward VI Five Ways. Archived from the original on 3 May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Foundation History". King Edward's Foundation. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  7. ^ Wheeldon, David (December 1982). King Edward VI Five Ways 1883-1983. p. 113.
  8. ^ "The Visit of Mr. Mundella to Birmingham. Opening of the Five Ways Grammar School". Birmingham Daily Post. England. 17 January 1883. Retrieved 1 February 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ "Co-ed status". King Edward VI Five Ways. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  10. ^ "Admissions - KEFW Website". King Edward VI Five Ways School. Archived from the original on 15 January 2015.
  11. ^ "The Curriculum". King Edward VI Five Ways. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  12. ^ "King Edward VI Five Ways E-Newsletter 15th March 2013" (PDF). King Edward VI Five Ways. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Kate Ashfield Biography". Shaun of the Dead Fansite. Retrieved 6 November 2007.
  14. ^ "RFW President visiting Birmingham". RFU. Archived from the original on 21 October 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2007.
  15. ^ Ingle, Sean (13 September 2000). "Knowledge Unlimited". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  16. ^ "Australia Bound for Former Five Ways Athlete!". King Edward VI Five Ways. 12 September 2005. Archived from the original on 30 June 2007. Retrieved 6 November 2007.
  17. ^ "Olympic hopeful Tom Parsons insists on his Villa lucky charms". Birmingham Mail. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  18. ^ "Wolfram Science". Wolfram Science. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  19. ^ "Wolfram Science". Wolfram Science. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007.

External links[edit]