Those who return to The King Alfred School after 10, 20, or 30 years of absence recognise an atmosphere and a spirit that does not change. This spirit is perfectly summed up in our motto: ex corde vita...out of the heart springs life. It is not what you put into the child, but what you draw out that constitutes education.
BH Montgomery, Head, 1945-1962
King Alfred School is an informal independent day school situated on the edge of Hampstead Heath in London. With 650 students from Reception age through to a flourishing Sixth Form, we are a vibrant and friendly community where the emphasis, both academically and socially, is on discovering and maximising the potential of each child.
The King Alfred School was founded in 1898 by a group of parents who believed in the then radical idea that boys and girls should be educated together in a secular environment that encouraged learning for its own sake. They wanted to provide an education that focused on what was best for the whole child, on the development of character and individuality.
Based on these principles, King Alfred’s remains a school that stands out from the prevailing educational environment and continues to provide an outstanding educational experience. The village green setting of the main school site contributes to the community feeling. Most children will join at Reception and continue on to the Sixth Form. Transition from Lower to Upper School is a natural one and for KAS students does not depend on assessments or examinations.
Academic success is achieved without excessive pressure, and informality is typified by the use of first names between students and staff, the absence of uniform and as few rules as can be managed within a community. By promoting the development of strong staff-student relationships and personal responsibility, we pride ourselves on facilitating the emergence of relaxed, confident, tolerant and articulate young people who are able to take responsibility for planning their own lives.
It is the school’s belief that each child should be allowed to develop at their own pace in an atmosphere that is free from fear, according to the principles of mutual respect and trust. We place a strong emphasis on creative and active learning and on the value of play. Supported by a high staff to pupil ratio, we aim to provide a happy, compassionate environment in which the emotional, physical and social development of each child are held in equal regard to academic progress.
The founding values of the school are at the heart of King Alfred School education today:
- Mutual respect,
- Individuality and self-reliance,
- Social responsibility,
- Freedom, play and the enjoyment of education,
- A broad definition of success
As these values can have widely different interpretations, the King Alfred School Society has developed a ‘Framework’ to define what we mean by them at King Alfred School. The Framework sets out our rationale for holding these values, and how they are put into practice today.
The Framework underpins all aspects of our academic and pastoral education.
Our objective is to help train up its scholars in the way of the good life, to help to fit them for effective work in the world, for effective sympathy and for effective joy.
John Russell, Head 1901-20.