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Lifting the lid on hidden histories for KAS 125

5th June 23

A 1911 photo of staff and students at The King Alfred School (KAS) has been recreated as the School gears up for its 125th birthday.

Taking to Hampstead Heath as part of a Year 2 Forest School lesson, current Head Robert Lobatto restaged a photo taken 112 years ago of then-Head John Russell leading children on an outdoor learning expedition.

The black and white photo is one of many treasures to emerge from the School’s archive in its milestone anniversary year, and history buffs are being encouraged to learn more about King Alfred’s 125-year story by following king_alfred_archive on Instagram.

Through Insta posts, archivist Dr Sheila Hanlon is telling the history of KAS in 125 artefacts, lifting the lid on stories such as the School’s long-standing belief in the importance of outdoor learning and being known as the ‘Treetop School’, revealing how historic KAS films ended up in the BFI’s National Archive, and sharing insights into student experiences across the years – followers can even put their knowledge to the test by taking a science exam from 1930.

Robert said: “Hidden away in a subterranean room beneath my office, the KAS archive is full of treasures; photographs, student publications, and artefacts going back to the reign of Queen Victoria.

“As part of our 125th anniversary celebrations, this Instagram project is threading a tapestry of stories across the decades, inspired by our motto ‘Out of the Heart Springs Life’.

“Outdoor learning has always been a big part of what we do here at KAS. Recreating this photo from our archive and feeling that connection with a previous Head from over 100 years ago who had the same commitment to an excellent education acted as a powerful reminder that while much has changed, our vision is as strong as ever.

“When The King Alfred School was opened by Millicent Fawcett on 24th June 1898 it had seven students, two staff members and was based in a ramshackle old house in Ellerdale Road. Over 125 years later the roll is 700, the staff over 150 and can now be found across two sites called Manor and Ivy Wood in North End Road.

“KAS has touched the lives of thousands of children. It is a place which people hold dear to their heart, and one only has to hear the affection with which Old Alfredians talk about their experience, to appreciate its profound impact.”

The School is issuing a call to the local community encouraging any former students – known as Old Alfredians – who may have lost contact with KAS over the years to get in touch.

If you are an Old Alfredian, and would like to reconnect with the School community, please email oa@kingalfred.org.uk.

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