King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon
1553 (Refounded by King Edward VI)
|Type||Grammar school, Academy|
|Headmaster||Mr Bennet Carr|
|Founder||King Edward VI|
|Location||Church Street/Chapel lane
|DfE URN||137302 Tables|
|Ofsted||Reports Pre-academy reports|
|Staff||32 full-time teachers, 12 part-time|
(coeducational sixth form)
|Colours||Navy and gold|
King Edward VI School (commonly shortened to K.E.S.) is a boys grammar school and academy in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. However, from September 2013 the school allows up to 25% of the intake for Year 12 to be girls. It is also generally believed that William Shakespeare attended this school, leading to the label of "Shakespeare's School".
There has been an educational facility at the current site of the school since at least the early thirteenth century. A schoolroom, schoolhouse and payment of £20 per annum for a master was one of the provisions of King Edward VI's charter which established Stratford-upon-Avon as a borough in June, 1553. The school was re-founded as one of King Edward's schools nine days before the young king died of tuberculosis and is believed to be the last of the King Edward VI Schools. A history of the early years of the school has been published by the former chairman of the governors Levi Fox
It is likely that the playwright and poet William Shakespeare attended the school between the ages of seven to fourteen. His father, John Shakespeare, a glover and wool dealer in the town, held the office of bailiff of the borough in 1568. As a child, William would have been entitled to a free place at the school, and it was the only school for miles around, however there is no conclusive evidence that he was schooled there. Classmates may have included William Smith, Richard Field, John Sadler, Arthur Cawdrey, John Lane, Robert Dibdale and Thomas Green.
Following a tradition established in 1893, each year pupils and masters lead a procession through the town from the school in Church Street to Holy Trinity Church, where they lay flowers at Shakespeare's grave. In 1982 the five-hundredth anniversary of the endowment of the school by the priest Thomas Jolyffe was celebrated and in 2003 celebrations were held for the 450th anniversary of the school's re-foundation.
The school is currently led by the Headmaster, Mr. Bennet Carr MA FRGS, and the Chair of Governors, Dr David Derbyshire. The Head Boy is elected by the boys of the Lower Sixth and teachers. It is a former voluntary aided school and became an academy on 17 August 2011.
KES is a completely selective school: to enter the school, all students must pass a selective exam, primarily the eleven plus, which is taken in Year 6 (ages 10 and 11) across Warwickshire. KES is a brother school to Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls and in some subjects in the Sixth Form students can attend classes at either school.
In 1921, the headmaster, the Revd. A. Cecil Knight, established six houses to promote healthy competition amongst the boys. This number was reduced to four houses in 1924: Shakespeare, Flower (after Charles Flower, a benefactor of the school in the 1890s), Warneford, and De La Warr (Earl Delawarr was High Steward of Stratford in the 1850s). The house system was altered in 1973 and just two houses established – King’s (blue) and Guild (gold) – in recognition of the historic benefactors of the school.
In 2000 the number of boys at the school meant that more houses were needed to make true competition possible, and so four houses were re-introduced. These were named after men associated with the twentieth-century school who had made significant contributions in their respective fields. The houses are: Dyson (Red colours),Fitzmaurice (Blue), Spender (Purple) and Warneford (Green). Denis Dyson was physics and astronomy master who came to the school in 1926, initially for six-months, and stayed until his retirement at the age of 71 in 1975. He continued to assist the school well into his nineties. Richard Spender was an old boy and poet who was killed assaulting German machine-gun positions in 1943. Reginald Warneford was an old boy who was the first naval airman to receive the Victoria Cross. He was killed in a flying accident in 1915. The houses are headed by four teachers and take part in a competition each year to win the house trophy. This trophy is hotly contested and had been won by Fitzmaurice for six consecutive years (2004-2009). However, from 2010 to 2013, the trophy was held by Dyson before being won by Fitzmaurice again in 2014.
There is a School Council, consisting of elected members from each year group, and a Sixth Form Committee. These provide a voice for the students in many different aspects of the school. There is also an ICT Steering Group to develop ICT use at the school.
Given the age of the school it is not surprising to find a wide variety of architectural styles on the site ranging from the fifteenth-century Guildhall to the Denis Dyson science building opened in 2008. The majority of the historic parts of the school are still used. The ground-floor of the Guildhall, where the town council of Shakespeare's time met and where travelling players performed - the holes for the rods to hold the temporary stage are still visible - was used as a library until February 2013. It is currently undergoing restoration work. On the first floor, known since Victorian times as "Big School", is the room in which William Shakespeare is believed to have been taught and is still used for teaching. The building known as Pedagogue's House across the courtyard currently houses the school office, the offices of the Headmaster and the two deputy headmasters. Pedagogue's House, first built in 1427 and believed to be the oldest half-timbered schoolroom in England, is attached to the Old Vicarage where the Headmaster lives. Adjacent to the school site is the Guild Chapel, founded by the medieval Guild of the Holy Cross and now owned by the Stratford-upon-Avon Town Trust. Today it is used by the school for morning service and various other school events, such as the annual carol service.
The other school buildings predominately date from the 1930s, for example, the SH block (Shakespeare Block). Many have been extended during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and the most recent part of the school, built in 2008, is the Denis Dyson Building, a science block which has two chemistry, two biology and three information technology (ICT) rooms. The Levi Fox Hall, also built recently and named after a Chairman of the Governors, is primarily used for sport, assemblies, school plays, concerts and examinations. The Royal Shakespeare Company has used the space for a production of Julius Caesar.
Students take part in a variety of sporting and other competitions and events. The school has flourishing sporting, music and drama departments in addition to diverse interests such as the Warwickshire Mock Magistrates and Mock Bar court trials, Young Enterprise, Bank of England Target Two Point Zero Challenge, as well as other debating and public speaking competitions.
The school's rugby team is successful and has had success in the Daily Mail Cup (Winners 1991, Semi Finalists in 1996, Quarter Finalists on two occasions and in 2008/09 Vase Semi Finalists) and also goes on annual international tours, most recently to Australia in 2014. Students also take part in fencing, athletics, rowing, hockey, basketball, badminton, table tennis and volleyball. Fencing has recently re-emerged as a popular sport at the school, with wins from pupils at several major fencing tournaments, and at least six current members of the school having experienced international fencing competitions for Great Britain.
Music & Theatre
The non-contemporary music department holds termly concerts and the King Eddie's Revival Big Band are frequently featured. The band has played at the prestigious 100 Club, Oxford Street, London. The school also puts on an annual play for example in 2005 the production was Unman, Wittering and Zigo, in 2006 Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, in 2007 an adaption of Simon Armitage's The Odyssey, and in 2008 The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.
Established and run by deputy head Perry Mills, this theatre group developed out of the school’s involvement with Michael Wood’s documentary series In Search of Shakespeare. They are known as the only committed theatre company exploring the early modern theatrical texts written for the boy companies using actors of an appropriate age. Currently working through the canon of John Lyly, in 2014 they were awarded an inaugural Owle Schreame Award for their production of his Galatea.
Notable former pupils
- John de Stratford (died 1348) was Archbishop of Canterbury and Treasurer and Chancellor of England. Brother of Robert.
- Robert de Stratford (died 9 April 1362) was an English bishop, and was one of Edward III of England's principal ministers. Brother of John.
- Richard Field (or Feild) (1561–1624) was a printer and publisher in Elizabethan London, known for his close association with the poems of William Shakespeare.
- William Shakespeare (1564–1616). English playwright and poet.
- Reginald Alexander John Warneford (1891–1915). "Rex" Warnford was awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy's 1 Squadron, RNAS for an action on 7 June 1915 at Ghent, Belgium. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
- Richard Nelson Gale. General Sir Richard Nelson "Windy" Gale GCB, KBE, DSO, MC (1896–1982) was a soldier in the British Army who served in both world wars. In World War I he was awarded the Military Cross in 1918. In World War II he commanded the 6th Airborne Division during the invasion of Normandy and Operation Tonga in 1944.  He was the great grandfather of Ben and James Gale, pupils who left the school in 1990 and 1992 respectively.
- Alex Henshaw (1912–2007) was an air-racing pilot in the 1930s and set long-distance flight records. During World War II he was chief production test pilot for the Supermarine Spitfire at the Vickers-Armstrongs plant at Castle Bromwich.
- Richard Tracey JP AM, represents Merton and Wandsworth on the London Assembly since 2008, and former Conservative MP for Surbiton from 1983–97 and Environment Minister.
- George Tremlett, former politician and biographer, left in 1957.
- Tim Pigott-Smith. Actor. He acts regularly in performances of Shakespearian and Greek plays. He has also made many appearances on radio, television and in film, including the films Clash of the Titans, Johnny English and the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
- William Wyse, classical scholar.
- James Hayter, Rugby Player - Harlequins, Llanelli Scarlets, Coventry and Esher.
- Robert Dibdale, possibly a pupil at the same time as William Shakespeare. Catholic Priest and martyr, martytred at Tyburn on October 8, 1586. Was declared Blessed by John Paul II on November 22, 1987.
- Neil Codling, Musician - Keyboard Player in Suede.
- James Roe Champion LTAMix4+ rower, Paralympic gold medallist, and repeated gold medallist at the World Rowing Championships
- List of Victoria Crosses by school
- Stratford School, in the London Borough of Newham, also previously known as Stratford Grammar School
- "'Shakespeare's school' enrols girls for first time". Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- King Edward VI School website
- Fox, Levi (1984). The early history of King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon. Stratford upon Avon: The Dugdale Society.
- Stratford-upon-Avon website
- "Elizabethan Education". Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- Eccles, Mark (1961). Shakespeare in Warwickshire, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, pp.58-62
- Ackroyd, Peter (2005). Shakespeare: The Biography, London: Chatto & Windus, p. 64
- The Guild School Association (2003) "Denis Dyson recalls the years he taught at the school, 1926-1975". Shakespeare's School - Stratford-upon-Avon. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
- The Guild School Association (2003) "Denis Dyson remembered, by Tim Raistrick". Shakespeare's School - Stratford-upon-Avon. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
- Pearson, Richard (2010). The boys of Shakespeare's school in the First World War. Stroud: The History Press Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-5510-9.
- "The Science Block". Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- "King Edward VI School history" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2013.]
- "The Levi Fox Hall". Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- "KESST". Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- "Shakespeare's Swords Fencing Club". Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Loxton, Howard The Owle Schreame Awards for Innovation in Classical Theatre: Edward's Boys, "British Theatre Guide", September 19th (2014)
- King Edward VI School - Stratford-upon-Avon
- Shakespeare's School - Stratford-upon-Avon The School's Historical Association.
-  The School's Old Boys Association