Kingham Hill School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Kingham Hill School's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Kingham Hill School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Headmaster Nick Seward
The library mezzanine:
encouraging reading for
pleasure is fundamental to
a KHS education
Kingham Hill School was established in 1886 to provide
orphaned and destitute boys with a family home and an
education. It subsequently become a fee-paying school
but remains committed to this focus and works with donors,
charities and local authorities to secure fully funded places
for pupils from vulnerable backgrounds. Alumni include Lord
Adonis, who received such funding after being placed in care.
Nick Seward has been headmaster for 11 years and discusses
their unique curriculum and original vision.
Founded in 1886 by a Christian evangelical philanthropist, we are blessed with an
extraordinary history. Charles Baring Young devoted his entire wealth to construct
a school for vulnerable or destitute boys from the East End. The objectives of the
trust were to provide these boys with an opportunity to hear the gospel while
giving them an education that would increase their life chances. Over the years, as
financial constraints tightened, the school had to liquidise assets to cover the costs
of this free education. Unfortunately, following the Second World War, this was no
longer viable, so we became a fee-paying independent school. I was attracted to
the school by its founding ethos, and I wanted to move the school back towards its
original foundation, refocusing on disadvantaged children.
This has been the driving vision of my time at the school. Over this time, we have
moved from a difficult financial situation into surplus, grown by 50 per cent and
achieved record exam results, testament to our dramatic academic improvement.
We have also launched a “Founder’s Pupils” initiative, which saw two fully funded
year 7 pupils join us last September, in addition to those who benefit from more
»Headmaster: Nick Seward
»Established in 1886
»Based in Chipping Norton
»Type: Independent
»No. of pupils: 334
Kingham Hill School
Highlighting best practice
conventional bursary support. The
school has invested £12 million into
new and refurbished facilities recently,
including a STEM building, a library
and a sports centre.
Because of our founding vision, we are
not selective. In my view, the success
of any school depends on a clear
vision and a strategy that flows out of
this. For us, this involves an overriding
mission statement that is broken
down into ten strategic themes. They
define our DNA as a school, including
the Christian ethos, academic rigour
and home-from-home pastoral care.
Each theme has a champion who
sits on the operational management
team and fights for their individual
cause. This promotes creative energy
at a senior level, as each individual
takes responsibility for their area.
We are also practically unique in the
UK as the only school to offer both
the UK curriculum and American
accreditation, AP courses and high
school graduation. Roughly 10-15 per
cent of our pupils are American and
get the best of both worlds.
Pastoral care and staff
To ensure we can maintain our progress,
we have set milestones for each theme
that identify a matrix of objectives until
2030. The two key factors behind our
success in recent years have been the
change from an inspectorial approach
to teachers to a developmental one and
the strength of our pastoral care. After
undertaking an educational leadership
course at the University of Buckingham,
I was inspired to change the mindset of
our common room. The core element
of this change was switching from a
negative fear of inspection to an attitude
of collaborative working and the sharing
of best practice. The mentality is now
centred on the idea that teaching is
a noble profession that entails the
developing of expertise, rather than
a tick-box exercise. INSET involves the
best of cognitive science, including the
insight that experts and novices think
differently. The teacher is the subject
expert in the classroom, and both formal
and informal lesson observation is a
regular and low-stake exercise marked
by collegiality and the desire to develop
a liberal and humane culture of learning.
We believe that our pastoral care is
second to none. Part of this is structural,
as governors have directed at board
level that each boarding or day house
should not have more than 35 pupils
and our total pupil number should not
exceed 400. This focus on keeping
an intimate environment is essential
for effective pastoral support. In each
house, we have two house parents,
three tutors and an internship scheme,
with recent graduates acting as pastoral
role models before going on to PGCE,
sometimes with us. This scheme grew
out of our culture and ethos and helps
to produce polite and personable
pupils. Similarly, tutor groups are kept
small, and each tutor takes on the
pastoral responsibility to get to know
each of their pupils and ensure they
are receiving the support they require.
The new Veritas STEM
building nestles into the
idyllic setting we enjoy
observation is
marked by
and a desire
to develop a
liberal and
culture of
Our American syllabus is another
factor that sets us apart from other
schools. We are located close to a
US Air Force base, which required an
educational option after their own
school closed over a decade ago.
We now have accreditation through
the Middle States Association and
follow Virginia Board of Education
requirements, offering transcripts,
APs, diplomas and college counselling.
Melding two very different educational
approaches is quite a work of art, with
the US curriculum based far more on
continual assessment, whereas the UK
system focuses on high-stake exams.
American pupils will sit GCSEs and
A-Levels while also studying credits to
fulfil their graduation requirements
and are assessed under both rubrics.
When they graduate, they finish with
A-Levels and a high school diploma.
While it is the route of choice among
US pupils, it has also become popular
with Spanish and some Middle
Eastern pupils. Beyond this American
component, we offer a wide range
of subjects at A-Level and, as a non-
selective school, we also offer a suite
of vocational qualifications.
Returning to our original
Our biggest challenge has been
balancing our desire to return to the
original vision of our founder with the
funding we have available. My dream
going forward is that 15 vulnerable
pupils will start in year 7 each year
with full funding. In 2018, we had
two, and we are seeking to expand
on this. We have sought partnerships
with trusts and foundations, and I
recently gave a presentation to the
Department for Education at the
launch of the “Boarding Partnerships”
programme. This seeks to provide
funding packages in partnership with
local authorities.
When I arrived, the school had just
over 200 pupils and was losing money:
we now have over 330 and are looking
to expand to 390. If we are able to
provide a much higher proportion
of places to disadvantaged children,
we can continue the legacy of our
founder while providing a valuable,
socially diverse and engaging learning
experience for all of our pupils.
If we are able
to provide a
much higher
proportion of
places to
children, we
can continue
the legacy of
our founder
Pupils value the
welcoming family
atmosphere of the Hill

This article was sponsored by Kingham Hill School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development