Westminster City School

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Westminster City School
Westminster City School.svg
Motto Unitate Fortior
Established 17th century
Refounded in 1877
Type Academy
Headteacher James Wilson BSc NPQH
Chaplain Rev Gary Swinton
Deputy Headteachers Justin Alcock & Seema Solani
Location 55 Palace Street
Coordinates: 51°29′52″N 0°08′21″W / 51.4978°N 0.1391°W / 51.4978; -0.1391
DfE number 213/4687
DfE URN 138312 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 739
Gender Boys, Mixed Sixth Form
Ages 11–18
Website www.wcsch.com

Westminster City School is a Christian foundation secondary school for boys with a mixed sixth form in Westminster, London. The school has 700 pupils in the lower school with a further 120 students in the Sixth Form. It offers places each year to boys of Christian faith, other world faiths, and those of no faith. The current Headmaster is James Wilson.[1]

The school became an academy in 2012. In January 2013, Ofsted rated it "good" in all aspects and in some ways outstanding.[2]

Old school poster
The vestibule 1922
Aerial view of School

School Houses[edit]

For some social and competitive purposes, pupils are grouped into "houses". The names have also been used for school buildings. They represent some of the historic charity schools in Westminster.

  • Dacre's: Commemorating the foundation of Lady Anne Dacre, who died in 1595 and whose executors established Emanuel Hospital, incorporated by Queen Elizabeth I in 1601.
  • Hill: Retaining the name of the school established in 1647 by Mr Emery Hill, a churchwarden in the parish of St Margaret's, Westminster.
  • Kings: In 1633 Charles I granted a Charter of Incorporation for the education of poor boys and girls in Westminster which was aided annually by King Charles II.
  • Palmer's: Continuing the tradition of the school provided in 1645 by Revd James Palmer of the parish of St Margaret's Westminster.
  • St Margaret’s: Arising from the St Margaret’s Hospital, established by the churchwardens of St Margaret’s in 1624.
  • Waterlow: Commemorating Sir Sydney Waterlow, the Lord Mayor of London, who was elected the first Chairman of Governors in 1873 and filled his post with enthusiasm and distinction for over a quarter of a century.

Form groups[edit]

140 boys are admitted in each year group, arranged in six forms. Each form is named after one of the six houses of the school and is known by the initial letter of the house name. A form tutor is assigned to each group and will have oversight of each pupil’s well-being and academic progress. The form tutor is the primary point of contact between parents and the school.



The charters and foundations of several historic charity schools[3] were by Act of Parliament in 1873 incorporated into the Grey Coat Hospital Foundation and United Westminster Schools (UWS) Foundation. UWS comprised the Westminster City School and Emanuel School, Wandsworth; The Grey Coat Hospital Foundation comprised the Grey Coat Hospital, Westminster and Queen Anne's School, Caversham. In 1910 The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers transferred the Sutton Valence School in Kent into UWS.[4][5]

The school is amalgamation of the former Brown Coat, Green Coat and Black Coat schools. Key dates in its history are:[4]

  • 1590: Lady Dacre petitions Queen Elizabeth I for a Royal Charter for a Hospital in "this City of Westminster" and to provide “instruction of certain boys and girls"
  • 1601: Queen Elizabeth grants Order of Incorporation for Emmanuel Hospital
  • 1624: Green Coat School Westminster opened
  • 1633: Charter of King Charles I for St Margaret's Hospital
  • 1654: A hospital along with almshouses and a school is founded by Rev. James Palmer in Westminster
  • 1671: Following a period of closure Palmer's school is reopened as The Black Coat School
  • 1677: Bequest of benefactor Emery Hill to the Brown Coat School
  • 1688: Blue Coat School founded
  • 1698: Grey Coat Hospital founded
  • 1706: Queen Anne granted a Royal Charter to Grey Coat Hospital
  • 1728: Accommodation for children added at St. Margaret’s Hospital
  • 1736: Brown Coat School formally opened
  • 1847: Brown Coat school numbers increased to 60
  • 1870: Elementary education for all provided by an Act of Parliament
  • 1873: Following a vote in Parliament, Queen Victoria approved amalgamation under United Westminster Schools
  • 1874: The school was formally opened.[6]
  • 1874: Mr Goffin appointed Head of amalgamated schools
  • 1876: The ‘Foundation stone’ was laid in Palace Street by Sir Sydney Waterlow[6]
  • 1877: The new school building was opened by the Dean of Westminster, Dean Stanley.[6]
  • 1888: Pupil numbers increased to a maximum 850
  • 1890: School officially named Westminster City School[6]
  • 1900: London County Council placed a statue of Sir Sydney in Waterlow Park.[6]
  • 1901: The sculptor Frank Taubman placed a copy of the statue of Sir Sydney in front of the school.[6]
  • 1906: First issue of School Magazine
  • 1908: Creation of House system along with Prefects
  • 1908: Old Westminster Citizen's Association and Football Club launched
  • 1909: New Assembly Hall opened along with other improved accommodation
  • 1910: Governors obtain lease of playing fields in Turney Road, Dulwich
  • 1914–1918: School life continued although there were many fatalities amongst Old Boys
  • 1918: Education Act gives Westminster City ‘Grammar' school status
  • 1922: Memorial to Old Boys killed in the War opened in the vestibule
  • 1924: Grand Pageant organised to celebrate the Jubilee of the Foundation, St. Margaret's Hospital tercentenary and the anniversary of Lady Dacre's bequest
  • 1931: School Orchestra filmed by Pathe News and shown in cinemas across the country
  • 1934: Mitcham pavilion opened and sports activities moved from Dulwich
  • 1934: Number of school houses reduced from eight to four
  • 1936: School gym opened
  • 1937: Seven boys chosen for the Westminster Abbey choir at the Coronation of King George VI
  • 1939: Outbreak of the Second World War – School evacuated to Tonbridge, Kent area, amalgamating with the Judd School
  • 1940: Westminster City School badly damaged in an air raid. The school suffered bomb damage to its building in Palace Street during the Blitz.[7]
  • 1944: School moved from Tonbridge to Exmouth
  • 1945: With the end of the War, School re-assembles in Westminster with numbers now down to 350
  • 1949: Inspectors praised academic achievements but were disturbed by the condition of the bomb battered building
  • 1951: Appointment of Mr. R Fern as Headmaster and GCE Ordinary Levels (O Levels) and GCE Advanced Levels (A Levels) introduced
  • 1953: The Choir were well represented at the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II
  • 1957: Work commences on new laboratories over the School Hall
  • 1958: Golden Jubilee Year of the Old Westminster Citizens’ Association and School used as a location for the film Inn of the Sixth Happiness starring Ingrid Bergman
  • 1963: 330th anniversary of the Charles I Charter celebrated with a service at St. Margaret's church attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother who visited the school after the service
  • 1965: University places gained reached all-time high of 48
  • 1968: Nine Elms relocation first mooted
  • 1970: Opening of Pimlico Comprehensive provokes fears that WCS may become redundant
  • 1971: Nine Elms project to move the School submitted for planning consent
  • 1973: Centenary of United Westminster Schools celebrated with a world premiére of "Westminster Psalms" by Carl Bontoft
  • 1975: Nine Elms project abandoned. John White appointed Headmaster
  • 1977: Westminster City School celebrates 100 years at Palace Street and becomes a four form entry mixed ability comprehensive school
  • 1980: New squash courts get go ahead
  • 1981: Building fund appeal launched – First School Association science evening
  • 1983: Westminster City School and its Origins – by R.Carrington is published
  • 1985: School play Sergeant Musgrove's Dance transfers to the Edinburgh Festival
  • 1991: School financial pressures cause widespread redundancies and cuts
  • 1997: School placed in Special measures
  • 1999: School released from special measures
  • 2001: New science block completed
  • 2002: School presents acclaimed play on the life of Edward the Confessor at Westminster Abbey
  • 2004: A teacher was raped by a pupil in an empty classroom after the end of classes. The student involved was sent to prison and the teacher eventually won compensatory damages and legal costs from the school.[8]
  • 2008: The Trouble With You Boy Is You Don’t Like Latin! A Century of History and Memories, written and compiled by Chris Hare is published
  • 2008: Work commences on transformation of school following the 'Building Schools for the Future' bid by Westminster City Council
  • 2009: School buildings are refurbished and new modern buildings are completed
  • 2009: School became a Specialist Science College
  • 2012: Secretary of State for Education approved its academy converters application.


  • Mr REH Goffin 1874 – 1906[6]
  • Dr Stevens 1906 – 1930[6]
  • Mr JC Dent 1930 – 1950[6]
  • Mr RJ Fearn 1951 – 1954[6][9]
  • Dr GR Shutt 1955 – 1966[6]
  • Mr S Allder 1966 – 1972[6]
  • Mr JH White 1973 – 1983[6]
  • Mr D Garvie 1983 – 1988
  • Mr J Noakes 1988 – 1992
  • Mr M Billingham 1992 – 1995
  • Mr J Harding 1995 – 1998
  • Mr R Tanton 1998 – 2002
  • Mr D Maloney 2002 – 2013
  • Mr J Wilson 2014 – present

The Old Westminster Citizens' Association[edit]

The Association of Old Boys of Westminster City School aims to keep Old Boys from around the world informed and in touch. Started in 1908, it maintains close links with the School and through its Trust Fund provides finance to support a number of activities and projects.

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ "Westminster City School : Home". wcsch.com. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Westminster City School Inspection report" (PDF). OFSTED. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "WHERE DID THEY GO TO SCHOOL?" (PDF). 26 May 2004. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  4. ^ a b A brief history, Westminster City School. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  5. ^ Foundation, Westminster City School. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Westminster City School and its Origins by R.Carrington Published by kind permission of the United Westminster Schools Foundation and the Governors of Westminster City School. 1983
  7. ^ Ronan Thomas, Victoria Street SW1 1940–1945, West End at War, with photograph. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  8. ^ Teacher raped by boy wins damages, BBC News, 22 June 2009
  9. ^ letter signed by RJ Fearn[full citation needed]
  10. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1956". nobelprize.org. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "John Auguste Pouchot – Fenny Stratford In The Great War". freewebs.com. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Athletics at the 1920 Summer Olympics – Men's 800 metres
  13. ^ "OWCA | Welcome to the Old Westminster Citizens' Association". owca.org.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "National Portrait Gallery – Person – Alan Francis Bright Rogers". npg.org.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  15. ^ Who's Who (UK)
  16. ^ "Sir Denis Rooke, OM – Telegraph". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "Rosenthal quits Royal Academy after 31 years of blockbusters | UK news | The Guardian". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Councillor details – Councillor Wes Streeting". moderngov.redbridge.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "My perfect weekend: Christopher Warren-Green – Telegraph". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 

External links[edit]