I have a special place in my heart for a hidden gem of a school that pupils, parents and staff alike love and carry in their hearts long after they may have left.
With its unique location and environment Kingham Hill nestles in its own 100 acre estate surrounded by stunning cotswolds farm land and peaceful villages yet only a couple of miles from a quaint little railway station that links it to the outside world. Kingham Hill ,a co-ed, non-selective secondary school with a strong Christian ethos , is in its own bubble but this is indeed a feature of the place, everyone knows each other and so the pastoral care is immense.
With only just over 350 pupils, the School is deliberately small, with a palpable sense of kindness and honesty within the whole community.The unofficial school motto is ‘work hard, play hard, serve well’, and everyone is encouraged to abide by these words at every opportunity.
Founded in 1886 by Christian philanthropist Charles Edward Baring Young, Kingham Hill School promotes more than just academic achievement and strives to ensure each individual pupil finds their own inner excellence in every aspect of themselves, pupils emerge from this cocoon splendidly unique and ready to conquer the world equipped to have happy and successful lives.
High quality education is delivered within top class learning facilities where every pupil has endless opportunities to learn, excel and realise their potential. ‘ ‘Knowledge is power’ and ‘Hillians’ leave as powerful young adults. Coupled with small class sizes, the School provides academic challenge and support for every child. Cited by The Telegraph as a ‘Top Small Independent School’ for highest A-level results, the Department for Education ranks the School in the top 5% nationally for pupil progression from GCSE to A-level. Kingham Hill School was recently selected for the 2019 Parliamentary Review due to its outstanding practice in various industry sectors.
The School celebrates diversity and classes include the US Program, which offers pupils the opportunity to study at a British boarding school whilst completing an American High School diploma. This program is the first of its kind in the UK, and was developed in conjunction with the US Department of State. The whole school celebrate with a thanksgiving dinner and I have experienced those from other cultures sharing their celebrations such as mooncakes, red envelopes at Chinese new year and an orange and coin in a shoe left outside a dorm on St Nicholas eve.
The beautiful gothic style houses that are dotted around the site house the boarding pupils and are nowhere near as large as in many schools. Whilst grand on the outside the inner is warm and exudes a family sense of belonging and care. House parents ,matrons and tutors are all available so that every pupil has all the care and attention they need.
Promoting the idea of independent living Sixth Formers are not expected to wear uniform but their own business wear, they have chances to frequent a Sixth Form bar with the headmaster serving behind the bar.They plan meals,have social events, oversee prep in the boarding houses and set themselves high standards as role models.
Dotted around the beautifully kept grounds are a cricket square, pavilion,tennis courts, floodlit astroturf pitch, an assault course , , dance and drama studio and of course plenty of room for rugby , football and hockey pitches. The headmaster , NIck Seward, also runs a school motorsport team with 10 karts.A combined cadet force feature heavily in the school and many a lark has been had in the school woods and off site.
The school has zones that celebrate their own areas of expertise. A beautiful well stocked library, complete with a dedicated librarian ,sits at the top of the site next to the beautiful and serene Chapel. Next to that is ‘Veritas’ a dedicated building for Maths and Science. Wander down the path and you find the Catering dept. Food really isn’t in the ilk of Tom Brown’s Schooldays! There is a food committee so that pupils and staff can all have input to the dedicated catering team and make suggestions. The art and DT departments produce many of the beautiful works of art that adorn the school walls . An impressive new Sports Hall features a climbing wall, squash court, changing rooms and viewing platform.
The school farm is a wonderful place for pupils to meet care and love animals, if children have had to leave pets at home the horses, rabbits,goats ,pigs, sheep guinea pigs and cats are a welcome addition to school life. Many of the house parents have dogs and they are often walked by eager volunteers!
Of course academic achievement is vitally important and the results speak for themselves, A level results for 2020 saw 56% A*-A and 76% A*-B. and GSCE results included 53% 9-7 (A*-A).
The Covid lockdown in March was a chance for the school to move to ‘Virtual KHS’ enthusiastically and successfully employed, the school moved to online learning including a virtual sports day, music concerts and the eagerly awaited Speech Day.
Fees per term are £5,965 rising to £6,795 for day pupils and £8,450 – £10,435 for weekly boarding (Sun night to Fri morning). Full boarding starts at £8,450 rising to £11,450. Some scholarships are fully funded, and there are also means-tested places from 50% – 75% fee remission.
For me the quote by Grenville Kaiser sums up the ethos of the school
“Let your intentions be good – embodied in good thoughts, cheerful words, and unselfish deeds – and the world will be to you a bright and happy place in which to work and play and serve.”
You can arrange a Covid-safe, private visit anytime by calling 01608 658999.
Kingham Hill School, Kingham, Oxon, OX7 6TH. Tel:01608 658999.
Things you might not know about Soho’s Wardour Street
Perhaps the most important street in the neighborhood, Wardour Street in Soho was once called Colmanhedge Lane and changed its name in honor of Sir Edward Wardour who owned land in the area and who managed to obtain fresh water for the street’s houses from a spring not far away from`sw12 Wardour Street was called Prince’s Street until 1878 when the whole street became the current street.
In this street there was the church of St Anne dating back to 1600 which was seriously bombed during the Second World War, now it is used as a community centre. Mystery writer Dorothy L Sayers is buried here.
Wardour Street is one-way street. At number 33 was the famous Flamingo club in the 50s and 60s, which became an important venue for the mods of the time. Oddly enough, the Flamingo didn’t sell alcoholic beverages.
The history of Wardour Street in Soho
The street also existed in medieval times but was developed, like many parts of Soho in the late 1600s and became a centre for building and selling furniture and antiques and in the early 1800s there were also many used book shops. Many houses were rebuilt in the early 1800s.
After the Second World War, Wardour Street in Soho became an area for movie distributors, nightclubs and live music venues. In this street was the legendary Marquee which was the place that launched dozens and dozens of musicians from The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and The Sex Pistols, almost all of them played here in their early days It was located until 1988 at 80 Wardour Street in Soho. Jimi Hendrix only played once in 1967 after the success at the Monterey festival, the queue for tickets went all the way to Cambridge Circus!
For the first time you can visit Buckingham Palace’s gardens
For the first time, the famous Queen’s Gardens at Buckingham Palace will be opened. Normally only the Royal Family and those invited to the Queen’s parties can see them. The reason for this decision is that this summer there will be no traditional opening of part of the building because of the pandemic and to compensate they open the gardens.
Visitors will be able to wander the garden paths and experience the calm of this garden in the heart of London. You will see Horse Chestnut Avenue, the plane trees planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the famous lake with its bee island of Buckingham Palace. You can also have a picnic on one of the lawns. The gardens will be open from 9 July to 19 September but there are also weekend tours in April and May. You can book your tickets here.
The statue remembering the children of Kindertransport
You might have seen the bronze monument at the entrance to Liverpool Street Station. You may not know what it is. The statue depicts the children of the Kindertransport which brought over 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to the United Kingdom.
We can see a little girl sitting on a suitcase with a teddy bear in her hand. The boy to her right holds a satchel and a violin case. The older girl behind him looks away as they wait to be picked up and separated.
The names of the cities on a stretch of track behind them show the places of origin of the children: Cologne – Hanover – Nuremberg – Stuttgart – Düsseldorf – Frankfurt – Bremen – Munich, Gdansk – Wroclaw – Prague – Hamburg – Mannheim – Leipzig – Berlin – Vienna
Between December 1938 and September 1939, nearly 10,000 Jewish children arrived on Liverpool Street via the port of Harwich and the Netherlands. Following the attacks on synagogues and German Jews instigated by the Nazi government at the Kristallnacht from 9 to 10 November 1938, the British government allowed children under 17 to immigrate, provided they found a foster family and a benefactor willing to give a deposit of 50 pounds.
The first to come were nearly 200 children from an orphanage that had been burned down in Berlin. The German authorities allowed children to carry a suitcase and a bag, with no valuables and only a photo. No adult escorts and no train station farewells were allowed.
10,000 children were separated and ended up in different places in Britain and few saw their parents again, many of whom died in concentration camps. A good number of the children decided to stay in Britain at the end of the war.
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