King's - A Historical Perspective

Many girls’ schools run on Grammar School lines, like their male counterparts, sprang up around the UK in the late nineteenth century and were trailblazers of girls’ education. King’s High was one such school, and the first 22 girls assembled in Landor Hall on April 29 1879, under the headship of 22-year-old Miss Janet Fisher and her staff of three. By the early 1900s, with its first graduate headmistress, Miss Margaret Lea, the school had grown and flourished and its curriculum included Euclid and Botany. Several of the buildings we now know and use were added, and a trickle of Sixth Formers began to go to university. The school also had boarders at that time.

Under the charismatic leadership of the award-winning author, Miss Eleanor Doorly, the school introduced innovations such as Form and School councils (very far-sighted for the 1920s), and many of Miss Doorly’s famous friends from the world of the arts came to speak to the girls. During the Second World War, King’s shared its premises with girls evacuated from King Edward’s School in Camp Hill, Birmingham, with King’s girls attending in the morning and Camp Hill’s girls in the afternoon. By the end of the war, the 1944 Education Act had done away with the boarding house and direct grant pupils came to King’s High, having passed the 11+ and winning scholarships for their fees.

The school expanded greatly in the years that Miss Winifred Hare was Headmistress, and at her retirement in 1970 it had over 600 pupils. By this time, university entrance was far more widely achieved by Sixth Formers and each year several girls won coveted Oxbridge places. This continued through Miss Leahy’s years in the 1970s and 1980s, when the school hat became obsolete (following a vote in school council).

By the end of the twentieth century, when Mrs Anderson was Headmistress, newer school subjects like Computing, Business Studies and Psychology were introduced. The school colours were changed from the old gold and black to today’s pale green and blue. Uniform was dispensed with altogether for Sixth Form girls.

During the first 14 years of the 21st century, with Mrs Surber at the helm, the school continued to be at the forefront of girls’ education, offering wider opportunities for extracurricular activities such as foreign exchanges, a Mandarin club, climbing and ballet lessons. In addition, Mrs Surber led an ambitious building programme which included the Sixth Form Centre and St Mary's, the Creative Arts Centre and the Dining Room.  

In September, 2015, Mr Nicholson joined King's as its first Head Master, furthering the school's well-established tradition of innovative leadership.