A short history of
King Edward VII School
Early History 1905-1918
- King Edward VII School was founded in 1905 by Sheffield City Council.
- The councillors wanted to establish a high performing school that would give a very good education to all its pupils and also send many of them to Sheffield, Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
- Because they wanted it to be seen as a highly prestigious school they petitioned King Edward VII (1901-10) to seek his permission to name the school after him, and in December 1904 the King agreed.
- The Council had planned since 1903 to join together two existing boys’ schools to form King Edward’s.
- These two schools were Wesley College and the Sheffield Royal Grammar School (SRGS).
- The SRGS was a very ancient school going back to 1604 when it was called the King James Free Grammar School after the new monarch, King James (1603-1625), newly arrived from Scotland.
- Before 1905 their building was on Collegiate Crescent and it is still there today but it now part of Hallam University’s Collegiate campus.
- Wesley College (1838-1905) was a boarding school for the sons of wealthy Methodists from all over England.
- Their building in Broomhill was a magnificent “palace” like a great country house, and the new King Edward VII School moved into this building in 1906 after a year of alterations to the classrooms and the creation of a new assembly hall.
- There were only 331 pupils for a start and they were all boys from 8 to 19 years of age. Some of them were in the Junior School who took boys aged 8-11. Until 1915 the Junior School was based on the Lower Corridor of Upper School. Then it moved into a large house on Newbould Lane opposite the school gates.
- By 1918 the school numbers had grown to 600. They would eventually be 800 pupils by 1969 when girls were admitted to the school for the first time. Now there are over 1700 students at the school and roughly half are girls and half are boys.
- People in Sheffield often referred to the school as “King Ted’s”, but it preferred to call itself KES. In the early days almost everyone had to pay fees (just over £19 a year; a lot of money in those days). However, parents who could afford the fees thought it was worth it, because KES was a successful school, with many pupils going on to university, mainly at Sheffield, Oxford and Cambridge.
- By the time of the First World War (1914-18) the school had gained a big reputation in the whole of Yorkshire, but many of the former pupils would very sadly be killed in the war. Many of them while serving as junior infantry officers on the battlefields of the Somme, Arras and in the Ypres Salient. Old Edwardians were awarded thirty-two medals for gallantry during the War.
- During the War the school included some boys who were refugees from Belgium and because many teachers were in the Army, there were women teachers at KES for the first time.
- After the War the school built a War Memorial to remember the ninety former pupils and two teachers who were killed in the War. It is in the form of a stone cross and still stands just near the south-east corner of the main school building.
Between the Wars 1918-39
- After 1918 a quarter of the pupils at the school got a free education because they had passed their scholarship at 11 years of age, but the school was still only for boys.
- About thirty boys who came from other towns were boarders and they were accommodated in a large house nearby on Clarkehouse Road that was owned by one of the teachers. Today it is a pub that is called the Francis Newton.
- In 1922 the School was admitted to the Headmaster’s Conference and therefore could define itself as a Public School.
- The school also had its own Army OTC cadets (the Officers Training Corps) with about one hundred pupils in its ranks. The KES Cadet Corps (the OTC) was opposed by the newly elected Labour Council in 1926 who did not want to see young boys preparing for war and they abolished the KES OTC in 1927. This decision of the Council caused a national furore and the Headmaster resigned and the school lost is public school status.
- Instead the school formed a large troop of Scouts that continued until 1974. Nowadays, girls and boys belong to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and so enjoy many of the activities, such as camping and exploring, that previously the cadets and the scouts had done.
- During these years the school continued to build its reputation as an impressive academic school, but there was also more success at sport (the school played football, not rugby union, and was very successful at cricket) whilst school plays, the orchestra and the choir flourished. Boys made trips abroad to Europe, including visits to Paris, Germany and Switzerland, which was very unusual for schoolboys at that time.
- In 1936 a brand new Swimming Pool was built in the corner of the school grounds. It is still in use today. It replaced an old open-air pool that had been built by Wesley College in Victorian times that had become full of dirty water and covered with slime.
- Also in 1936 the Junior School (for boys 8-11years old) moved into new premises nearby called Clarke House. It was not needed by KES after 1947 as LEA grammar schools were not allowed to have Junior Schools any longer. It is now the Junior School of Birkdale School.
The Second World War 1939-45
- When the War broke out in September 1939 everyone expected an overwhelming assault from the air, right from the start. So KES was not allowed to start the new term until air raid shelters had been built under the school grounds in front of the school. They are still there today; they cannot be seen but they are still fully intact.
- When the air raids did finally happen in Sheffield in 1940, KES boys helped to run messages, look out for fires and help rescue injured people. One or two incendiary bombs landed on the school buildings but staff members and pupils put them out. One boy was presented to the King because he had been especially courageous during the big Blitz on Sheffield in December 1940. Four years later that same boy was one of the first British soldiers on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day 1944.
- Again, sadly, many Old Edwardians were killed (110 in all) with many of them flying with the RAF. One Naval officer won the George Cross for defusing unexploded mines and bombs and overall, Old Edwardians won sixty awards for bravery.
The Grammar School Years 1945-69
- There was a big change at the school after 1945. The year before the Government had passed the 1944 Education Act that created three types of secondary school. Grammar Schools for about 20% of pupils, Technical Schools for 10% and the rest of the boys and girls could go to Secondary Modern Schools from 11 years of age to 15, when they would leave school and go to work.
- KES would become one of the Grammar Schools, where everyone had to pass a scholarship exam at 11 years of age, thereby qualifying them to receive an academic education.
- The school was still only for boys but now everyone came free to the school and no-one had to pay fees anymore.
- Sheffield, a city of half a million people, produced some very able boys and many of them came to KES. Not surprisingly, with all this talent in the school, KES did very well in the “O” level and “A” level exams and an amazing number of boys went to university, especially to Oxford and Cambridge. The school developed a reputation as one of the best day schools for boys in the country.
The Comprehensive Era 1969-present
- In the 1960s many people argued that this tri-partite system was unfair. It worked very well for KES, but many people thought that 80% of pupils were getting a poor education and changes needed to be made.
- So the movement to introduce Comprehensive Schools in England was intensified, led by the Labour Party both nationally and locally. Sheffield was one of the first LEAs to abolish Grammar Schools and turn all their secondary schools into Comprehensive Schools. The Council argued that this would allow children of all abilities to mix together and this would raise overall standards and give everyone a fairer chance in life. However, there was a considerable campaign of determined opposition to these changes from KES parents and Staff, but most people in the City welcomed Comprehensive Schools.
- No longer did children in Sheffield have to take an exam at 11 years of age, that many felt was far too early to decide which kind of school you went to.
- KES became a Comprehensive school in 1969 and there were other big changes at that time. Apart from getting pupils of all abilities, the school now admitted GIRLS for the first time. 13 girls were recruited into the Sixth Form, the others came from Crosspool School which was amalgamated with KES.
- The numbers went up to 1270 (they had been 800) and so the school needed new buildings. The Lower School took over the recently built Crosspool school buildings at Darwin Lane and some pupils were taught in a house that is now a pub on Clarkehouse Road, that had once been the home of KES boarders. The Sixth Form moved into a big house on Newbould Lane which is now part of the Girls High School.
- Today KES is only based on two sites –Darwin Lane and Glossop Road.
- Despite all these changes KES continued to do well, but in the 1980s it looked as if the school would lose its Sixth Form. The Council produced a new plan to make all their Comprehensive Schools responsible for educating their pupils only from 11-16 years of age. Then pupils would go to Sheffield College and study whatever subject or skill they wanted to pursue.
- But, in 1986 two years before this plan was due to come into operation in 1988, KES and five other schools in south-west Sheffield were allowed by the Conservative Government to keep their Sixth Forms (Y12 and Y13). The Sixth Form flourished in the years following 1988, with the vast majority of students going on to University.
- In 2001 a brand new Lower School was opened at Darwin Lane and the old Crosspool School building was demolished (it stood where the all-weather pitch is now situated). Then between 2010 and 2012, Upper School was totally refurbished and a new Sports Hall and Science Laboratories were added.
- In 2008 KES appointed a new Headteacher. She was Mrs. Jackson, the first woman to be the Head (there had been 7 men previously since 1905) and she was also the first Head to have been born and educated in Sheffield. She retired in 2016 after the leadership of the school had been rated outstanding by Ofsted inspectors. The Sixth Form was also rated outstanding, and during Mrs. Jackson’s time in office it reached 600 students each year, half of them coming from other Sheffield schools after having successfully taken their GCSE examinations.
- In 2016 Linda Gooden became the ninth Headteacher of KES