King Henry VIII School, Coventry

King Henry VIII School is a coeducational independent school located in Coventry, England, comprising a senior school (ages 11–18) and associated preparatory school (ages 3–11). The senior school has approximately 800 pupils (120 in each of years 7–11 and 100 in each year of the Sixth Form). The current fees stand at £12,000 per year,[1] with bursaries and scholarships available.[2] Due to its location close to Coventry's railway station, the school accommodates pupils from around the West Midlands area, including towns at 30 miles' distance, such as Northampton, Warwick, Balsall Common, Leamington Spa, Kenilworth, Rugby and Nuneaton.

King Henry VIII School
King Henry VIII School, Coventry, England-1Sept2012.jpg
Warwick Road

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Coordinates52°23′57″N 1°31′01″W / 52.3993°N 1.5169°W / 52.3993; -1.5169Coordinates: 52°23′57″N 1°31′01″W / 52.3993°N 1.5169°W / 52.3993; -1.5169
TypeIndependent day school
MottoReligioni et reipublicae (For religion and for public affairs)
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
FounderJohn Hales
Local authorityCoventry
Department for Education URN103750 Tables
ChairCoventry School Foundation
Head teacherMr Jason Slack
Age3 to 18
Colour(s)Red, Black, Yellow
PublicationThe Arrow (Monthly)
The Coventrian (Annually)
Former pupilsOld Coventrians

The school is situated on an 11-acre (4.5 ha) urban site. The buildings are an imposing example of Victorian collegiate architecture. Numerous additional facilities modernise the of campus, including a new art complex, drama studio, sports hall, library and, most recently, a swimming pool and fitness suite. In 2015 an extension was also added to the library aiming to provide older students with an area for solitary study. The Junior school has its own building on the same site but the preparatory school is located on a different site entirely, a few minutes away.

Although the school is Christian, cultural and religious diversity are heavily engrained in the school's ethos. Pupils are also encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities including sports played at county, regional and national levels, music, drama, Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, public speaking, chess and a variety of additional academic societies. The school is run by the Coventry School Foundation, a registered charity, and jointly administered with Bablake School under a common Board of Governors. The schools have mutual arrangements such as a common entrance examination, shared astroturf pitches, and similar school uniforms, differing only in the style of tie and the badge on the blazer. The Coventry School Foundation also includes the new Bablake Junior School and King Henry VIII Preparatory School, formed from the merger of Coventry Preparatory School with King Henry VIII Junior School from the beginning of the 2008/9 academic year. The two school sites remain in use by the preparatory school, with the Reception to Y3 classes occupying the old Coventry Preparatory site, which is known as Swallows, in honour of the school's founder. The Y4 to Y6 classes occupy the former King Henry VIII Junior School site, adjacent to the senior school, which is known as Hales in honour of that school's founder. With effect from September 2008, King Henry VIII School began to offer continuity of education from ages 3 to 18.


The school was founded on 23 July 1545 by the Clerk of the Hanaper John Hales as the Free Grammar School under letters patent of King Henry VIII. During the initial foundation of the school it was located in the Whitefriars’ Monastery. Nevertheless, due to religious differences, the school was relocated to the building of the former St. John's Hospital in 1558, where it spent more than 300 years before moving to its present site on the south side of the city in 1885, a building there having been designed for it by Edward Burgess. Much of this original redbrick still stands despite war damage, as well as many expansions.

In 1572 the school's administration was conveyed to the Coventry Corporation. It is interesting to mention that in 1573, a deed was legalised by the Mayor of Coventry, according to which, generous endowments were allocated to the school, which were used for the school's overall maintenance, but more particularly, for the sustenance of music as part of the educational curriculum, as the School was the only Grammar school which emphasised the importance of music as part of education. The Free Grammar School offered the students a choice between as many as seventeen subjects, including Greek and Latin (Grammar), Mathematics and Music.

Between 1572 and 1600 the reputation of the School had become well known around the West Midlands area, which accounted for a large increase in the number of pupils. The 17th century was the most prosperous period for the School, as the city of Coventry was blooming and regardless of the political and religious controversies in the country, people were finding consolation and shelter in schools. In 1601, the School's library was established and maintained by the donations of affluent contributors, which further enhanced the reputation of the School as a leading educational institution. Nevertheless, during the 18th century, the School experienced major decline and struggle.

Due to financial difficulties, the School was required to introduce fees to the students. In an attempt to deal with these struggles the School was divided into two departments: Classical and Commercial. The Commercial subjects were taught at the Schoolroom and were greatest in demand, while the Classical subjects were taught in the library and were specifically aimed at boys willing to attend the University. Specific regulations were set for each of the departments.

The first indication of a modern school uniform was introduced as boys attending the Free Grammar School were required to wear College caps. The implemented changes assisted in certain improvements in the performance of the school.

In 1878 the School was no longer a “Free Grammar School” and it became an independent institution after being under the administration of the Corporation and the City Authorities for 300 years. The old school premises were condemned and the new buildings, used at the present, were established on Warwick Road in 1885. Further improvements to the curriculum were also implemented and a wide diversity of subjects was introduced. By 1910 the number of pupils had increased and the work and discipline in the school were greatly improved. Over the next several years, the school continued to thrive and in 1926 the Preparatory classes were reinstated. By 1939 the number of boys in the school had grown from 94 in 1901 to approximately 500. The number of pupils continued to grow even during the war times (1939–1945) with over 822 students in the school, 179 of which in the Junior division. Regardless of the damage caused by the bombings over Coventry, which diminished the school's library and other buildings, the school continued to expand and develop. Girls were first admitted to the school in 1975.

Houses and competitionsEdit

The four modern-day houses are:

  • Hales'
  • Holland's
  • Sherwyn's
  • White's

A fifth house called King's was abolished in 1996, following a decision to reduce the number of houses to four by eliminating whichever house came in overall last place that year. Its loss was particularly notable since up until a change of leadership only a few years previously it had consistently dominated the house competitions, winning the overall competition almost every year for some decades.

There are around fifty events each year, across all years in the school. They range from sporting competitions on Games’ afternoons to major Drama and Music festivals, via many after-school events, such as badminton and basketball in the Sports’ Hall and debating, chess and hockey in their specialist areas. Students can show their paces in rugby or netball, get involved in cricket or tennis, or pit their wits at more intellectual pursuits. At events such as inter-house music and drama festivals, they are presented with further opportunities for individual and group achievement. The House Points system, whereby all staff can commend work, behaviour or attitude, is integrated into the competition.

The points won in each of the House events (four for first down to one for fourth) are totalled to make up the Band Trophy points, with that trophy awarded annually (the winning house of 2017/18 was Hollands). There is a real sense of competition and belonging, fostered by the fortnightly House meetings; it is certainly the intention that every student finds an opening in House events, whether in something in which they have already enjoyed success, or taking the plunge in an entirely new activity. King Henry VIII school is known to have a firm yet friendly rivalry with its sister school in the Coventry School Foundation – Bablake School. Annual competitions in sports between the two schools often attract local spectators with no association to either school.

Le FousseauEdit

In 1991 Le Logis de Fousseau, a manor house in the French Department of Mayenne, was generously donated to the Foundation by Mr Bill Boucher for the use and benefit of the pupils of the Foundation. Le Fousseau is around 15 km from Fougères. The border with Brittany is only a few kilometres to the west and that of Normandy some 20 km to the north. The chateau was typically used for residential trips by students practising French.

With effect from September 2012, the school no longer make use of Le Fousseau. The Coventry School Foundation took the decision in 2012 to sell the property.


King Henry VIII School's Swimming pool was featured in a BMW ad starring Rebecca Adlington.[3]

In 2016 the King Henry VIII app was launched on iOS and the Google Play Store.

In 2017 a large scale advertising campaign was launched by the Senior School in the Coventry and West Midlands area in an attempt to attract new, external, enthusiastic students.


Former headmaster, Terence James Vardon, left his position after pleading guilty to three charges of possessing indecent images of children between 1989 and April 1999.[4] In 1999, John Skermer, a senior teacher was also convicted of taking and possessing photographs of naked boys.[5] In 2012, two pupils were expelled over allegations they sold drugs to other children; three other students were suspended for a term.[6][7] Debee Ashby, a teenage glamour model was expelled from the school after topless Page 3 pictures were published.[8][9] A teacher at the school, James Anstice, admitted to a charge of causing criminal damage costing £2,500 by destroying a nativity scene at Madame Tussauds featuring David and Victoria Beckham.[10][11][12]

Former HeadmastersEdit

  • Thomas Sherwyn BA (Oxon)
  • Leonard Cox BA (Cantab) MA (Oxon), 1572–1599
  • John Tovey MA (Oxon), 1599–1602
  • Jeremiah Arnold, MA (Oxon) MA (Cantab), 1602–1611
  • James Cranford, 1611–1627
  • Philemon Holland MD (Cantab) MA (Oxon), 1628–1629
  • Phineas White BA (Cantab), 1629–1651
  • Samuel Frankland MA (Cantab), 1651–1691
  • Samuel Carte MA (Oxon), 1691–1700
  • George Greenway, 1701–1717
  • Richard Marsden MA (Oxon), 1717–1718
  • Edward Jackson BA (Cantab), 1718–1758
  • Thomas Edwards DD (Cantab), 1758–1779
  • William Brooks MA (Oxon), 1779–1833
  • Thomas Sheepshanks MA (Cantab), 1834–1857
  • Henry Temple, 1857–1867
  • John Grover, 1867–1879
  • W.W. Sweet-Escott MA (Oxon), 1879–1889
  • C.R. Gilbert MA (Cantab), 1890–1906
  • A.D. Perrott MA (Cantab), 1906–1910
  • John Lupton MA (Cantab), 1910–1931
  • A.A.C. Burton MA (Oxon), 1931–1950
  • Herbert Walker BA (London), 1950–1974
  • Roy Cooke MA (Oxon), 1974–1977
  • Rhidian James BA (Leeds), 1977–1994
  • Terence Vardon MA (Oxon), 1994–1999
  • George Fisher MA (Oxon), 2000–2010
  • Jason Slack MA (Leeds), 2010–

Notable Old CoventriansEdit


  1. ^ "Fees/Finances on". Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Scholarships & Bursaries". Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "UK Ex-head had child porn". BBC News. The British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Crimes, Fires & Accidents - King Henry VIII Teacher Awaits Sentence - 23 June 1999". Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Two pupils expelled over drug allegations at Coventry's King Henry VIII School". coventrytelegraph. Coventry Telegraph. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Pupils expelled over cannabis use". The British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  8. ^ Lockley, Mike (14 September 2014). "Page three stunner who said no to Reggie Kray". birminghammail. Birmingham Live.
  9. ^ Chilton, Steve (23 January 2015). "Red Button: Coventry 'stunner' Debee Ashby says Page Three should be consigned to dustbin of history". coventrytelegraph. Coventry Telegraph.
  10. ^ "The law lecturer who launched 'a war against crap' in Madame Tussauds". The Independent. 25 January 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Becks waxwork vandal discharged". The British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News. 24 January 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Nativity scene attacker escapes jail". Evening Standard. 24 January 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  13. ^ Duck, Alison. "Debbie's all set to be a model mum; Couple's baby delight". Coventry Evening Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2007.

External linksEdit