Tiffin School

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Tiffin School
Tiffin logo.png
Motto Faire sans dire
(To do without saying)
Established 1880
Type Grammar Academy
Headteacher Mike Gascoigne
Chair Phil Phillips
Founders John and Thomas Tiffin
Location Queen Elizabeth Road
Kingston upon Thames
Greater London
51°24′41″N 0°17′46″W / 51.4115°N 0.296°W / 51.4115; -0.296Coordinates: 51°24′41″N 0°17′46″W / 51.4115°N 0.296°W / 51.4115; -0.296
DfE URN 136910 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Staff 95
Students 1,058
Gender Boys
Ages 11–18
Colours Red, blue
Publication TiffNewsTiffinomics
Former pupils Old Tiffinians
Website Tiffin School

Tiffin School is a selective boys' grammar school in Kingston upon Thames, southwest London, England. It has specialist status in both the performing arts and languages. The school moved from voluntary aided status to become an Academy School on 1 July 2011. In order to maintain existing facilities, the school raises additional income through special events. Founded in 1880, Tiffin School now educates more than 1,000 pupils.


Entry into the school is by academic selection, using both an English and a Mathematics test. 1,644 candidates applied for 11+ entry in 2015 for 180 places.[1]


The school colours - red and blue - date from the time of its original foundation in the 17th century. The school's crest with three salmon is based on that of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The school motto is Faire Sans Dire which, literally translated from French, means "to do without saying".


For Years 7-10, students wear a white shirt, a dark blue blazer with maroon stripes, a similarly coloured tie, and black trousers. Due to the colour of their blazers, students in this cohort are colloquially referred to as "stripeys". In Year 11, pupils switch to a dark blue blazer with a three-fishes crest on the left hand breast pocket.[2] Sixth formers are required to wear a plain business suit of their colour choice, black, blue or grey, with a blue or white shirt.[3] The school tie is blue with red stripes, with eight (originally six) additional house ties and various ties for membership of teams or achievements, and a separate tie for sixth formers.

House system[edit]

There were originally six houses, named after famous British explorers. Churchill and Montgomery's names were added after the Second World War to two houses. In 2016 the school added two new houses; Darwin-Wilberforce and Turing-Nightingale, the names of which were nominated by pupils and were chosen through a vote. Every pupil is a member of a house throughout his time at the school.

Each house has a house master, with house captains selected from the Upper Sixth each September who are responsible for overall control and organization of house activities throughout the year. Houses also have various officers and other captains for extra curricular subjects (i.e. Sports, Senior Literary Quiz, etc.). Houses compete annually for the House Trophy which is awarded to the winning house at the end of the competition, which consists of academic and sporting events. The house with the highest points score is presented the trophy on Sports Day, usually the Wednesday of the last week of the Summer Term. The name of the winning House and year is recorded on the gallery in the School Hall.

House House Colour Tie Colours
Churchill-Gordon Black Black and White
Darwin-Wilberforce Navy Silver and Navy
Drake Red Black and Red
Kingsley-Montgomery Green Black and Green
Livingstone Yellow Blue and Yellow (formerly Brown and Yellow)
Raleigh White Maroon and White
Scott Blue Blue and White
Turing-Nightingale Silver Silver and White

The school also operates a head boy and prefect system. Boys in the upper sixth are appointed prefects. When on duty, the head boy wears a blue gown and the senior prefects and assistant prefects a red gown.


Tiffin School Main building, taken from the Head's Garden.

Two prosperous brewers from Kingston, John and Thomas Tiffin, left money in their wills in 1638 for the education of local people. At first the money was used for scholarships to attend local schools. However, the fund grew through investment returns and additional donations, so by the 1820s nearly 110 children were benefiting from the fund.

By 1869, when the charity schools had closed and the money was no longer needed by the Public Secondary School, the charity's trustees proposed to support Kingston Grammar School. There was a debate until 1872 when it was decided that Kingston Grammar School should receive no more than a quarter of the income from the charity.[citation needed]

Plans were therefore drawn up in 1874 for two new schools; Tiffin Boys' School and Tiffin Girls' School, each taking 150 pupils. A single building by the Fairfield housing both schools was opened in January 1880.[4]

In 1929, the Boys' School moved to its present site, in Queen Elizabeth Road near the centre of Kingston.[4] It became a grammar school under the Education Act 1944. The school changed from being voluntary-controlled to being grant-maintained in 1992. On 1 July 2011 the school achieved Academy status.

New buildings[edit]

In 1937, a new building was opened for the Girls' School for 480 pupils, they had previously been in the same building as the Boys' School.[5]

The school site has expanded and now has a Sports Centre, an Arts block, the South Building and the Judge Lecture Theatre and Learning Resource Centre (named the Dempsey Centre after a former head). In 2011, an all-weather AstroTurf pitch was erected on part of the old grass field, funded by Jim Dixon and a National Lottery grant. The cricket nets were refurbished and named the Neil Desai cricket nets in honour of his passing.[6]

Present day[edit]

The Dempsey Centre

There are between 180 and 190 boys in each year, and about 340 in the Sixth Form, taught by 65 teaching staff.[7] The Dempsey Centre, named after Dr Tony Dempsey, who retired as head in 2004, was opened in September of that year. It contains ICT suites, a lecture theatre, a library and a new careers office.[8][9]

In 2009, Hilda Clarke became the first female head of Tiffin School. She is a former head of Langley Grammar School in Slough and former deputy head of Tiffin Girls' School in Kingston upon Thames. In November 2014 it was announced that Hilda Clarke had stepped down and was replaced by the former Deputy Head and longstanding History teacher, Mike Gascoigne.

Ofsted report[edit]

The Ofsted report in 2002 stated that "the school is very popular; annually, it receives around 1,300 applications for the 140 available places. Very nearly all 16-year-olds continue into the Sixth Form and around 40 more join the Sixth Form each year from other schools. On entry, the pupils’ and Sixth Form students’ attainment is very high compared with the national average." In the 2007 Ofsted Report, Tiffin was rated outstanding (grade 1) in every area.[10]

In the 2013 Ofsted Report, pupils' exam results overall were in the top 40% of similar schools' results, and in the top 20% of all schools.[11]

Academic achievement[edit]

The school is strong academically and sends approximately twenty boys to Oxbridge each year, their names being recorded on wood paneling in the main school hall. The majority of boys go to Russell Group research universities. According to the Sunday Times Parent Power Guide, the school is ranked 10th in the top hundred State Secondary Schools based on 2011 examination results. The 2011 results for the school are:

  • A-level %A*-B: 90.9
  • GCSE %A*-A: 82.8

According to published data from the Department for Education released in 2012, the average score per pupil at Key Stage Five (KS5) in 2011 A-level exams was 1137.7.[citation needed]


The school has a choir and several musical ensembles, including a swing band, and many of its pupils are members of Thames Youth Orchestra.[12] Every year, the school performs an oratorio either held in the Rose Theatre or the Tiffin Sports Hall, which consists of students, parents, staff and friends and is accompanied by the London Mozart Players or the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra or the Sinfonia Britannica.[13]

Tiffin Boys' Choir[edit]

The Tiffin Boys' Choir, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007, performs at venues including the Royal Opera House, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Barbican with London orchestras, and it regularly goes on tour.[14] The choir has recorded CDs, such as Rejoice in the Lamb and Christmas at Tiffin. They have also recorded film music for the Hobbit Movie. It has also appeared on recordings of Mahler with Klaus Tennstedt, Puccini's Tosca with Antonio Pappano and Britten's War Requiem with Kurt Masur. The choir was featured on the last episode of TFI Friday, on the soundtrack of A Christmas Carol, starring Kate Winslet, and on the subsequently released top-ten Kate Winslet Single "What If".[14]

Many members of the choir have gone on to Oxbridge, with choral scholarships on leaving Tiffin. As of 2017, there are Old Tiffinians currently singing in the choirs of King's, St John's, Trinity, Jesus, Emanuel and Queens' Colleges in Cambridge, and Exeter, Magdalen, Queen's, Oriel and St Edmund Hall Colleges in Oxford.[15]


Tiffin School is active in all the main sports, however the school does not operate a competitive football team.[16] It has facilities for rugby, football and cricket at a large area of ground near Hampton Court, known as Grist's (named after a former headmaster).[17] Tiffin School Boat Club is based at the boathouse, which is shared with Kingston Rowing Club along the Thames at Canbury Gardens.[18] The school is particularly strong in rugby, cricket, basketball and rowing. The school has a sports hall, which is open to the public after normal school hours.

Old Tiffinians[edit]

Former pupils are known as Old Tiffinians. The Tiffinian Association arranges reunion events such as dinners and sports fixtures.

Notable former pupils[edit]

Arts and Entertainment

Education and Politics




  1. ^ "Tiffin Year 7 Admissions" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Tiffin Lower School Uniform" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "Tiffin Sixth Form Uniform" (PDF). 
  4. ^ a b "Tiffin School". Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "£42,000 Schhol Opened at Kingston". News in Brief. The Times (47827). London. 28 October 1937. col A, p. 21. 
  6. ^ "tiffinfriends.org" (PDF). 
  7. ^ "Staff List". 
  8. ^ "Learning Resource Centre". 
  9. ^ "Serota Library Furniture". 
  10. ^ Tiffin School, Office for Standards in Education
  11. ^ "School Data Dashboard". Ofsted. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Tiffin School Performing Arts College". Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Tiffin Oratorio". Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Tiffin Boys Choir". Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "About Us - Tiffin Boys' Choir". Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  16. ^ "Tiffin School Sport". Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "Tiffin School Prospectus" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "Tiffin School Boat Club". Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  19. ^ "Obituary: John Bratby", The Independent, 23 July 1992
  20. ^ a b "Tiffinian Association Limited - Honours, Successes, Appointments and other News" (PDF). Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  21. ^ Brian Holden, ed. (September 2007). "People" (pdf). Tiffnews: The Newsletter of the Old Tiffinians Association (233): 6. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  22. ^ "Newsletter of the Old Tiffinians' Association No. 227", March 2006
  23. ^ "Jonny Lee Miller", The New York Times; accessed 28 June 2008.
  24. ^ "Ralph Allwood - Personal Website". Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  25. ^ "UWEawards honorary degree to Tom Bloxham MBE", University of the West of England, 22 November 2007.
  26. ^ "Obituary: James Boyden", Walter Bunn, The Independent, 7 October 1993.
  27. ^ "TIFFNEWS No. 226", 22 December 2005.
  28. ^ Chris Heaton-Harris profile, leicesterconservatives.com; accessed 1 June 2008.
  29. ^ "The Lindley Prize - Dennis V. Lindley", International Society for Bayesian Analysis; accessed 28 June 2008.
  30. ^ Horne, Ben (January 2007). "Players and Officials - Arun Harinath". Cricinfo. Retrieved 22 September 2009. 
  31. ^ "Lion Rob glad to ring the changes", Chris Jones, Evening Standard, February 27, 2001
  32. ^ "Football Note", tiffinfriends.org; accessed 30 September 2014.
  33. ^ "Alec was aggressive - He'd even sledge the teachers Says the England captain's Games Master!", Sunday Mirror, Steve Whiting, 24 May 1998
  34. ^ "Newsletter of the Old Tiffinians’ Association No. 235", March 2008
  35. ^ Obituary in Flightglobal 1942
  36. ^ [1], Evening Standard, Oscar Williams-Grut, 06 October 2014
  37. ^ "Commander Peter "Roddy" Elias - obituary". Daily Telegraph. 11 Mar 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 

External links[edit]

News items[edit]