Westminster Under School

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Westminster Under School
Westminster school arms.jpg
Motto Dat Deus Incrementum (Classical Latin: "God Gives Increase")
Established 1943
Type Independent school
Preparatory day school
Religion Church of England
The Master Vacant
Founder Westminster School
Location 27 Vincent Square
Greater London
United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51°29′32″N 0°08′03″W / 51.4923°N 0.1341°W / 51.4923; -0.1341
Local authority Westminster
DfE URN 101165 Tables
Staff 39
Students 267
Gender Boys
Ages 7–13
Houses 4
Colours Pink     
Publication The Vincent
Unofficial Publication(s) The Under School Magazine (US)

Westminster Under School is an independent school and preparatory school for boys aged 7 to 13 and is attached to Westminster School in London.[1] It is considered to be the finest preparatory school in the country.

The school was founded in 1943[2][3] in the precincts of Westminster School in Little Dean’s Yard, just behind Westminster Abbey. In 1951 the Under School relocated to its own premises in Vincent Square. Due to rising numbers of pupils in the 1960s and 1970s, the school moved again in 1981 to its present site (which was a former hospital[4]) overlooking the Westminster School playing fields in Vincent Square.[3][5][6] There are 267 pupils attending the school. The school has a strong musical tradition and provides choristers for St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey. It also excels in sport, drama, chess and Latin. Most boys attending the school move on to Westminster School after the completion of either Common Entrance or Scholarship examinations (The Challenge, in the case of Westminster School), although a number of boys each year go on to other schools, including Eton.

The interim Master is Philip Lough, who came out of recent retirement to become interim head while the school searches for a permanent Head. The Deputy Master is Padraic Fahy.[7] There are currently 39 members of staff.[8]

The school fees for 2010-11 are £4726 per term.[9][10]


The Under School was founded in September 1943[11] in 2 Little Dean's Yard (now known as Grant's House) by the former Headmaster of Westminster School, John Traill Christie.

The Under School was first established at 2 Little Dean's Yard, known as Grant's House (right), part of the school including College (far left) was destroyed during the Blitz - this image is a present-day view.

There were only 6 teachers when the school was established and only 31 boys. Dean's Yard was used as a playing field for the boys and the roofless remains of the School, the bombed school hall were used as a playground. St Faith's Chapel in Westminster Abbey served as the school chapel. For much of the Under School's history, the final year (year 8) was known as the Upper Remove and the second to last year (year 7) was known as the Remove.

After the war, the school moved to its own premises in Eccleston Square, and in 1981 moved to its present site in Vincent Square to cope with expanding numbers.


Competitive entrance examinations for Westminster Under School can be taken at 7+, 8+ or 11+. Entry into Westminster Under School at 11+ attracts many pupils from the state sector. At this stage, the school also offers Music Scholarships and means-tested bursaries.[12]

Previous School Fees[edit]

Date Per term Per year
2005-06 £3,697 £11,091[11]
2006-07 £3,900 £11,700
2007-08 £4,163 £12,489
2008-09 £4,412 £13,236
2009-10 £4,544 £13,632
2014-5 £5,460 £16 380


The school is housed with three buildings, one being Adrian House on 28 Vincent Square, a four-storey building in the South East corner of Vincent Square in Central London. It underwent a major rebuilding programme in 2001, when new classrooms, a new hall, Art Department and IT suite were built on the site of the old hall. In addition, all the classrooms and labs were refurbished.[13][14] The hall, which would also serve as a canteen prior to the opening of George House on 21 Douglas Street and space for P.E. prior to the opening of Lawrence Hall as Westminster School Sports Centre (see below), is used for theatre and drama performances by the school. It was refurbished in the 2014 and re-named the Performing Arts Centre. The school has access to 2 science laboratories, an IT suite and the basement of the school is devoted entirely to the music department. The building opposite, George House, houses a canteen, art studios, staff meeting rooms and staff accommodation. The school also hires facilities at the Queen Mother Sports Centre in Victoria and at Battersea Park to supplement the playing fields of Vincent Square. The school uses Lawrence Hall on Everton Street not far from Vincent Square as a sports hall, the Westminster School Sports Centre, which opened in September 2012, alongside Westminster School.


The School holds its annual carol service at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey

The school, being attached to Westminster School, sends the oldest year of the school (year 8) to take part in the annual pancake greaze on Shrove Tuesday. This is watched by the year below in the Great Hall. The school is Anglican and has a Thursday service in St Stephens Church, Rochester Row.

The school also holds an annual Music Competition each spring in which all boys may enter one piece of music for any instrument they play. There is a maximum number of pieces entered per boy; this is three. Also, each boy may enter with one additional singing piece. If necessary, the piece or songs, accompanied by a schoolmaster. Rewards, in the form of house points, are given for every piece entered and more for progression to the second round. From the second round onwards, the pieces are grouped into categories; singing, plucked strings (mainly guitar or harp), bowed strings, percussion (not including keyboard instruments), keyboard, woodwind and brass. In some years, the categories of piano and organ have been separate, and no organists would play in the finals. This arrangement was made redundant following the purchase of an organ by the school for the Performing Arts Centre upon its refurbishment in 2015. The whole school watches the finals; the year 3-6 finals, and the years 7 and 8 finals. The years 7 and 8 finals are held on two separate days, one day for the instrumental performances, and another for the vocal ones. In each age category, there is a winner and a runner up in each instrumental category. The finals are almost always judged by two visitors from outside of the school - traditionally one would be an instrumentalist to judge the instrumental finals, and the other a singer, to judge the vocal finals. The visiting judge may also highly commend a few musicians for outstanding pieces. There is also a prize for the best composition (a separate category), and a house choir competition, for which choirs from each of the four houses would rehearse, for performances in the finals. The winners and some runners-up from the years 7 and 8 finals of the competition are invited to play in the school's annual Summer Concert in St John's, Smith Square, as well as the school's Senior String Orchestra, Senior Choir (also known as the Boy's Choir of Westminster Under School), the winning house choir and a number of instrumental ensembles. Until the 2000s, some winners from the year 3-6 finals of the Music Competition were invited to play at the Summer Concert. This was, however unpopular, and thus a separate Junior Concert was created, held at the school.

There is also a reading competition held in a very similar suit, in which each boy chooses and learns a short piece of prose or poetry (whether it be fiction or not), based on a given theme, and learns it so it can be recited by heart. The competition is held in the winter and proceeds very much like the reading competition. The judge chooses winners and runners-up based on choice of piece, but more importantly the presentation given. The reading competition is compulsory for each boy to enter. These are both house events, so points are given to houses for the results of the competition which are added to other points from other competitions or events, for trophies.

A photography competition and a model competition are held by the art department (both optional to enter). There is also a general knowledge quiz, written by a Latin, Greek and sports teacher, S.R.H. James. S. R. H. James is also the author of the series, Latin I, Latin II and Latin III. The quiz is held annually at the start of winter, and is scored out of 100. Boys who obtain a set mark (set for each year) are permitted to the second round. Boys who do well in the second round are entered to the SATIPS nationwide general knowledge quiz.


The school uniform consists of a grey shirt, grey trousers, grey socks and black shoes. A grey jumper with a pink v-neck may also be worn and, in the summer, grey polo shirts may be worn without a tie. Unless a pupil is wearing a polo shirt, a tie must be worn. The school tie is pale grey with pink stripes; a house tie (Year 8's only), may be either Blue, Red, Yellow, or Green; half colours are pale grey with pink stripes and the colours tie is plain pink. Colours are awarded for sporting achievements. Boys in the Senior Choir ( Years 6,7&8) are awarded a very navy blue tie with pink and pale grey. Boys also have games kits, consisting of blue shorts and socks, and a white or blue top. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th XIs and the U11A team, however, have specialised football clothes, which are pink shirts with black embroidery, blue shorts and blue socks and so do the Year 6 A and B team wear the sports uniform of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th XI.


Years 3 & 4[edit]

In Years 3 and 4, pupils are taught in most subjects by the same teacher (usually their form teacher), however they have specialist teachers in French, music, art, IT, PE and games. There is only one form of 20 boys in Year 3, and only 2 forms in Year 4 as the school only accepts 20 pupils per entry point.

Years 5 & 6[edit]

In Year 5, the following subjects are taught, all by specialist teachers: mathematics, English, science, French, history, geography, religious studies, music, art, drama, IT, PE and games but most are in their classroom. Year 5 are also taught Roman and Greek mythology to prepare for when they start Latin in Year 6. In Year 7, the boys are split into sets for Maths according to their performances in their Year 6 summer exams.

Years 7 & 8[edit]

Another two forms are created for the 11+ entrance and there are Saturday morning classes for the new Year 7 classes, during which they study Latin, so as to reach the standard of their fellow students when they join the school. The curriculum remains the same in Years 7 and 8, however, Greek (optional for Common Entrance) is added to the curriculum and the year is split into 4 forms of 15-19 boys each, usually with 2 preparing for Common Entrance and 2 preparing for scholarship examinations.[15]


The school is organised into 4 houses, based on the charges on the Westminster Abbey, Westminster School and Westminster Under School coat of arms; Tudors (Red), Lions (Blue), Fleuries (Green) and Martlets (Yellow[16]). There are regular inter-house competitions during the school year, including music, Scrabble and Chess. All the houses have a House Captain, Vice-Captain and 2–4 monitors.


The school has many extras (or clubs) boys can take part in. These extras range from Bridge and Chess to Swimming and Fencing, from Judo and Karate to Bookshop. Most extras take place after school time.

It is noted for chess, its under 9 team having come second in the country in 2015, and its under 11 team having been National Champions for two years in a row.

Notable alumni[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.isc.co.uk/school_WestminsterUnderSchool_Westminster.htm
  2. ^ "History". Westminsterunder.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  3. ^ a b . Britannica Online Encyclopedia http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9076689. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Buildings". Westminster Under School. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  5. ^ "Westminster Under School". Westminsterunder.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  6. ^ "Entry Levels - Entry at 7/8+". Westminster School. Archived from the original on February 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  7. ^ "Staff". Westminster Under School. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  8. ^ "Westminster Under School". Westminsterunder.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  9. ^ "Registration and Admission Procedures". Westminster Under School. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  10. ^ "School Fees". Westminster School. Archived from the original on October 12, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  11. ^ a b http://www.isbi.com/isbi-viewschool/1051-Westminster_Under_School.html
  12. ^ "Entry Levels - Entry at 11+". Westminster School. Archived from the original on October 19, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  13. ^ Westminster Under School Propectus, page 1
  14. ^ "Westminster Under School". Westminsterunder.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  15. ^ "School Organisation and Curriculum". Westminster Under School. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  16. ^ Westminster Under School Propectus, page 7

External links[edit]