King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon

The Grammar School of King Edward VI at Stratford-upon-Avon (commonly referred to as King Edward VI School or shortened to K.E.S.) is a grammar school and academy in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, traditionally for boys only. However, since September 2013 the school has admitted girls into the Sixth Form.[1] It is almost certain that William Shakespeare attended this school, leading to the school describing itself as "Shakespeare's School".[2]

King Edward VI School
Guild Chapel & King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon - DSC09034.JPG
The Guildhall and Chapel (from Church Street)
Church Street/Chapel lane

, ,
CV37 6HB

Coordinates52°11′24″N 1°42′27″W / 52.19°N 1.7075°W / 52.19; -1.7075Coordinates: 52°11′24″N 1°42′27″W / 52.19°N 1.7075°W / 52.19; -1.7075
TypeGrammar school, Academy
Established13th century
1553 (Refounded by King Edward VI)
FounderKing Edward VI
Department for Education URN137302 Tables
Chair of GovernorsVictor Matts
HeadmasterBennet Carr
Staff34 full-time teachers, 12 part-time
GenderBoys (Years 7-11)
Coeducational (Years 12-13)
Age11 to 18
Colour(s)Navy and gold   


There has been an educational facility at the current site of the school since at least the early thirteenth century - established by the Guild of the Holy Cross, the School can trace its origins to May 1295, when in the Register of Deacons of the Diocese of Worcester there is the record of the ordination of Richard as rector scholarum, to teach the basics of learning the alphabet, psalters, and religious rites to boys. A schoolroom, schoolhouse and payment of £20 per annum for a master was one of the provisions of King Edward VI's charter which established Stratford-upon-Avon as a borough in June, 1553.[3] The school was re-founded as one of King Edward's schools nine days before the young king died of tuberculosis and is believed to be the last of the King Edward VI Schools. A history of the early years of the school has been published by the former chairman of the governors Levi Fox[4]

It is likely that the playwright and poet William Shakespeare attended the school between the ages of seven and fourteen.[5] His father, John Shakespeare, a glover and wool dealer in the town, held the office of bailiff of the borough in 1568. As a child, William would have been entitled to a free place at the school,[6] and it was the only school for miles around, however there is no conclusive evidence that he was schooled there. Classmates may have included William Smith, Richard Field, John Sadler, Arthur Cawdrey, John Lane,[7] Robert Dibdale[8] and Thomas Green.

Following a tradition established in 1893, each year pupils and masters lead a procession through the town from the school in Church Street to Holy Trinity Church, where they lay flowers at Shakespeare's grave. In 1982 the five-hundredth anniversary of the endowment of the school by the priest Thomas Jolyffe was celebrated and in 2003 celebrations were held for the 450th anniversary of the school's re-foundation.


The school is currently led by the Headmaster, Mr. Bennet Carr MA FRGS, and the Chair of Governors, Mr Victor Matts. The Head Boy/Girl is elected by the students of the Lower Sixth and teachers. It is a former voluntary aided school and became an academy on 17 August 2011.


KES is a completely selective school: to enter the school, all students must pass a selective exam, primarily the 11-plus, which is taken in Year 6 (ages 10 and 11) across Warwickshire.


In 1921, the headmaster, the Revd. A. Cecil Knight, established six houses to promote healthy competition amongst the boys. This number was reduced to four houses in 1924: Shakespeare, Flower (after Charles Flower, a benefactor of the school in the 1890s), Warneford, and De La Warr (Earl Delawarr was High Steward of Stratford in the 1850s). The house system was altered in 1973 and just two houses established – King’s (blue) and Guild (gold) – in recognition of the historic benefactors of the school.

In 2000 the number of boys at the school meant that more houses were needed to make true competition possible, and so four houses were re-introduced. These were named after men associated with the twentieth-century school who had made significant contributions in their respective fields. The houses are: Dyson (Red colours), Fitzmaurice (Blue), Spender (Purple) and Warneford (Green). Denis Dyson was a physics and astronomy master who came to the school in 1926, initially for six-months, and then he stayed until his retirement at the age of 71 in 1975.[9] He continued to assist the school well into his nineties.[10] Richard Spender was an old boy and poet who was killed assaulting German machine-gun positions in 1943.[11] Reginald Warneford was an old boy who was the first naval airman to receive the Victoria Cross. He was killed in a flying accident in 1915.

School Council and Sixth Form CommitteeEdit

There is a School Council, consisting of elected members from each year group, which provides a voice for the students in many different aspects of the school. The Sixth Form Committee organises charity events (such as cake sales and Macmillan coffee mornings), as well as providing a formal route for Year 12 and 13 students to voice concerns about Sixth Form-related matters.


There are a variety of architectural styles on the site ranging from the fifteenth-century Guildhall to the Denis Dyson science building opened in 2008.[12] The majority of the historic parts of the school are still used. The ground-floor of the Guildhall, where the town council of Shakespeare's time met and where travelling players performed - the holes for the rods to hold the temporary stage are still visible - was used as a library until February 2013. Having undergone restoration work, it is now open to the general public from 11am onwards each day.[13]

On the first floor, known since Victorian times as "Big School", is the room in which William Shakespeare is believed to have been taught. The building known as Pedagogue's House across the courtyard currently houses the school office, the offices of the Headmaster and the two deputy headmasters. Pedagogue's House, first built in 1427 and believed to be the oldest half-timbered schoolroom in England,[14] is attached to the Old Vicarage where the Headmaster lives. Adjacent to the school site is the Guild Chapel, founded by the medieval Guild of the Holy Cross and now owned by the Stratford-upon-Avon Town Trust. Today it is used by the school for morning service and various other school events, such as the annual carol service.

The other school buildings predominately date from the 1930s. Many were extended during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s by Stratford architect Robert (Bob) Harvey. The departments of Biology and Chemistry are housed in the Denis Dyson Building (built in 2008) and contains 6 science labs. The most recent part of the school, built in 2017, is the Richard Spender Building, a three storey block which offers new English classrooms, computing suites, and a library named after old boy Tim Pigott-Smith. The Levi Fox Hall, named after a Chairman of the Governors, is primarily used for sport, assemblies, school plays, concerts and examinations.[15] The Royal Shakespeare Company has used the space for a production of Julius Caesar.

Student lifeEdit

The school has the Warwickshire Mock Magistrates and Mock Bar court trials, Young Enterprise, Bank of England Target Two Point Zero Challenge.


The school's rugby team has had success in the Daily Mail Cup (Winners 1991, Semi Finalists in 1996, Quarter Finalists on two occasions and in 2008/09 Vase Semi Finalists) and goes on annual international tours, most recently to Australia in 2014.[16] Students take part in fencing,[17] athletics, rowing, hockey, basketball, badminton, table tennis, volleyball, and previously fives. Fencing is a sport at the school, with wins from pupils at several fencing tournaments.[citation needed]

Esport: Scorpions

The KES Esports team, formed in 2017, triumphed in tournaments run by Digital Schoolhouse (DSH) and the British Esports Association (BEA).

The team won the National Esports Tournament beating 3,500 secondary schools playing Overwatch – a team-based shooter game set on a near-future earth.

And they then went on to win the BEA’s Open National Tournament held at Insomnia, the UK’s largest gaming festival attended by over 50,000 enthusiasts.

Team manager and captain was Patrick Marosan (2017-2018).


Music and theatreEdit

The music department holds termly concerts and the King Eddie's Revival Big Band are frequently featured. The band has played at the 100 Club, Oxford Street, London. The school puts on an annual play; in 2005 the production was Unman, Wittering and Zigo, in 2006 Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, in 2007 an adaption of Simon Armitage's The Odyssey, and in 2008 The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.

Edward's BoysEdit

Established and run by deputy head Perry Mills, this theatre group developed out of the school’s involvement with Michael Wood’s documentary series In Search of Shakespeare. In 2014 they were awarded an inaugural Owle Schreame Award for their production of his Galatea,[19] and have since performed twice in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London, as well as Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Christ Church, Oxford, and the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. The company recently toured to Montpellier, France, where they performed at L'Assomption School, the 'Maison des Choeurs', and 'SortieOuest'.

Notable former pupilsEdit

Born before 1900Edit

Born after 1900Edit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "'Shakespeare's school' enrols girls for first time". Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Shakespeare's School". King Edward VI School. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  3. ^ King Edward VI School website Archived 2006-01-05 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Fox, Levi (1984). The early history of King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon. Stratford upon Avon: The Dugdale Society.
  5. ^ Stratford-upon-Avon website
  6. ^ "Elizabethan Education". Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  7. ^ Eccles, Mark (1961). Shakespeare in Warwickshire, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, pp.58-62
  8. ^ Ackroyd, Peter (2005). Shakespeare: The Biography, London: Chatto & Windus, p. 64
  9. ^ The Guild School Association (2003) "Denis Dyson recalls the years he taught at the school, 1926-1975 Archived 15 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine". Shakespeare's School - Stratford-upon-Avon. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
  10. ^ The Guild School Association (2003) "Denis Dyson remembered, by Tim Raistrick Archived 15 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine". Shakespeare's School - Stratford-upon-Avon. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
  11. ^ Pearson, Richard (2010). The boys of Shakespeare's school in the First World War. Stroud: The History Press Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-5510-9.
  12. ^ "The Science Block". Archived from the original on 4 February 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  13. ^ "One of the most Atmospheric, Magical & Important buildings in Britain". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  14. ^ "King Edward VI School history" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2013.[permanent dead link]]
  15. ^ "The Levi Fox Hall". Archived from the original on 29 January 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  16. ^ "KESST". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Shakespeare's Swords Fencing Club". Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  18. ^ "Victorious Stratford pupils at the top of their game". Stratford Observer. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  19. ^ Loxton, Howard The Owle Schreame Awards for Innovation in Classical Theatre: Edward's Boys, "British Theatre Guide", September 19th (2014)
  20. ^ KES Archived 2009-02-15 at the Wayback Machine[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit