“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
The King Alfred School was founded in 1898 by a group of parents who sought to create an excellent education focussing on the whole child, and who wanted the school to make a positive impact on the world.
Today, King Alfred’s remains true to these two principles, and is a school that stands out from the prevailing educational landscape. Based on a deep understanding of child development and educational research, we have developed our own concept of excellent education, which enables all of our students to ‘Thrive at school, and beyond’.
How we deliver an Excellent Education
- Enjoyment of school is a fundamental for us. Children and teenagers do not need to feel unnecessary pressure, stress or fear. Rather, school should be a place which emphasises creative and active learning and the value of play. It should be a place where teachers go beyond the syllabus to engender a passion for their subjects. And it should be place where every individual enjoys their learning, and takes that enjoyment with them into their adult lives.
- Academic success is something we expect all our students to strive for, so they can be proud of their achievements, and so they open the door to the next stage of their education. In this context, we celebrate diversity and acknowledge academic success for one child may look different to another. We allow children to develop at their own pace, and focus on the progress each child makes from their individual starting point. Our excellent GCSE and A level results are testament to the success of this approach.
- Well-being has always been at the heart of who we are. We support students to become relaxed, confident, tolerant and articulate young people who are able to take responsibility for themselves. We cannot promise every KAS student will have a 100% sense of well-being 100% of the time, but we can promise we will give them the tools to build their self-esteem, now and in the future. Key to this is our staff, who provide a compassionate and supportive environment and develop strong relationships with students based on mutual respect and trust.
- A school is only successful if it prepares its pupils well for their future. The twenty-first century world requires our young people to have a passion for learning which continues beyond school. It requires that they have the right skills to innovate, create, and take risks. And, it requires them to work effectively in teams, appreciate diversity, and manage a whole range of complex personal and professional relationships. The pace of change and shifting global currents, mean that alongside knowledge and skills, every individual needs a strong sense of who they are and the confidence and self-belief to find their place in the world. This is what we mean by preparation for the future.
Impact on the world
- We believe our pupils should feel empowered to make a difference in the world. We want them to go out into their communities and address environmental, social and political challenges. We support students from an early age to articulate their views and learn how to have an impact. This may be in their class, year group or the school as a whole, it may be on a social action project in this country or abroad or it may be by campaigning on a local, regional or national level. Fundamental to the KAS experience is finding your own path, having the courage to follow it, and being equipped with the knowledge and skills to make a difference.
- As a school, we also seek to make a difference in the world. We believe passionately in our vision of education, and we want to inspire and influence other education professionals. In this country, we see rising levels of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders in young people alongside rising levels of exclusions, exam manipulation and teachers leaving the profession. The current model of schooling, as constructed by successive Secretaries of state and Ofsted, has played a significant role in making this happen. Putting the development of the whole child at its heart, we champion an alternative model.
Internationally, we welcome visitors from across the globe. We seek to work collaboratively to develop our practices, and champion our alternative model of education which achieves high academic standards, alongside an innovative mindset and a genuine sense of well-being.
Our five guiding principles
Our founders asked themselves what would most benefit children and developed the principles that are still at the heart of education at King Alfred School today:
- Mutual respect
- Individuality and self-reliance
- Social responsibility
- Freedom, play and the enjoyment of education
- A broad definition of success