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King's Ely
King's Ely
King's Ely Ely, Cambridgeshire Visit
school
King's Ely
Ely
630 pupils, ages 13-18
Mixed
Day and Boarding

King's Ely

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Our View

One of the oldest schools in the world with the stunning Ely Cathedral at its heart, King’s Ely certainly has gravitas. And with pupils regularly filing into the cathedral for assemblies, services, and choristers’ choir practice, it feels like a grounding force for everyone. But equally appealing is the incredibly friendly atmosphere at the school and the brilliant choice of academic and co-curricular options. And with the prep on the same site and nursery and pre-prep five minutes’ walk away, it offers an all-through option which is certainly compelling.

Where?

King’s Ely sits in the shadow of the cathedral in the centre of Ely, which is the second smallest city in the country and as pretty as a picture with a lovely waterfront and the fens surrounding it. The school’s 75-acre grounds are home to some amazing architecture, from the beautifully restored medieval Monastic Barn where pupils climb an ancient winding staircase to the dining hall to the Old Palace, a 15th-century Tudor building once home to the bishops of Ely and now the most impressive sixth-form centre we’ve ever seen. Cambridge is a 20-minute train ride away and around 45 minutes by car.

Head

John Attwater joined the school as head just before the pandemic hit in August 2019. A popular figure, he is softly spoken and has a relaxed manner. He was formerly head of King Edward’s School in Witley, Surrey, and has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be a chorister as he was one himself.

Admissions

Selective from Reception onwards, most children in the prep school gain automatic access, and make up around 90 to 100 of the Year 9 intake with approximately 30 new pupils joining alongside them. Scholarships are available in Year 9 and Year 12 for academics, art, music, STEM, drama and sport.

Academics and destinations

Although the school caters for the top 50 per cent of the academic range, this is no hothouse. Children are taught to be reflective learners and own their own academic journey. Every transition to the next stage – both academically and pastorally – is managed really well and no one gets left behind. At GCSE, pupils can pick from 22 subjects and at A-level there are an impressive 28 to choose from, ranging from film studies to computer science.

The aforementioned sixth-form centre is an incredible space with classrooms, refectory, common rooms, gym and accommodation. Leavers regularly head off to some 50 different UK destinations, including Russell Group universities, Oxbridge, conservatoires, filmmaking schools and art and design colleges.

Co-curricular

There’s no traditional playbook for sport here, with pupils offered a choice of what they do right from Year 9 – ‘No one is going to be forced to do netball or rugby if they really don’t want to,’ the school tells us. As children move up the school, the choices expand with Year 11s onwards being offered everything from basketball and clay-pigeon shooting to Zumba and bouldering. Everyone joins in, including staff, some of whom run the individual sports options. Rowing is the school’s hottest sport: it’s a quick five-minute walk to the boathouse and King’s Ely excels on the river, consistently bringing home most of the silverware. The school also offers masterclasses in various other sports for those pupils who want to develop their skills.

King’s Ely is also renowned for its excellence in music. The arts quad where the Gibson Music School is situated has a laid-back, bohemian feel and here you’ll find the sixth-form music scholars pursuing their passion. Like sport though, music is as inclusive as possible with the house song competition as celebrated as the invitation-only barbershop quartet the King’s Barbers – who happen to also do a sideline at weddings.

The art department is superbly equipped too with specialist teachers for all disciplines, including fine art, sculpture, textiles and photography. It’s an inspiring space and we were impressed by the creativity of the work on display, especially the textile design pieces and photography (the school has its own studio and film processing facilities). Pupils’ work is frequently exhibited locally and in London, and last year the school bagged first prize in the National Fashion & Textiles Awards.

The Year 9s have timetabled drama and many choose it as an option subsequently. The whole-school production is a real highlight of the year with everyone getting involved and dedicating their time to rehearsals after school and at the weekends.

Some 120 clubs mean pupils have ample opportunity to find and follow their passions. Ancient Greek, Mandarin, Da Vinci (engineering) club and Avicenna (the medics society) are among the more academic clubs, with a vast number of sports and musical options on offer too. Ely Scheme is the school’s own version of CCF which sees children testing themselves on assault courses, problem-solving tasks, survival challenges and expeditions. Sixth-formers can train to be an instructor and at the moment 43 of them plan and lead the sessions.

Boarding

There’s a large boarding cohort of 200 and a real family feel that runs deep. Most of the boarders are sixth-formers, with around 15 per cent of international students who come for age-specific short courses, including a one-year iGCSE programme in Year 11. Many stay on for sixth form and one of the girls’ sixth-form boarding houses we visited had 15 different nationalities represented, from as far and wide as Brazil, Hong Kong and Germany, lending a wonderfully cosmopolitan feel.

School community

Pastoral care is taken very seriously with a network of support and very approachable staff. Form tutors, school counsellors, trained SEN (all pupils are screened by the learning support team on entry) and medical staff all offer touchpoints if children need to talk to someone. The school is big on creating leadership opportunities and many of the upper sixth students play a role in keeping the school running smoothly and heading off problems early. They also canvas pupils for ideas, so everyone really has a voice.

Parents are a mixed, down-to-earth bunch of everyone from farmers to tech specialists. There’s a lot of diversity, with some 35 nationalities represented in the school.

And finally....

There’s a huge amount to recommend this all-through school, not least its beautiful setting. But under the bonnet, it’s the strong sense of family that really impresses, giving pupils the perfect environment to grow and blossom in.
  • Academic results

    GCSE results
    A level results
    Download results as PDF
  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 7-
    Year 8 -
    Year 9 £8,738
    Year 10£8,738
    Year 11£8,738
    Year 12£8,738
    Year 13£8,738
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7-
    Year 8 -
    Year 9 £12,885
    Year 10 £12,885
    Year 11£12,885
    Year 12£12,885
    Year 13£12,885


  • Transport links


    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Ely
    Journey time to London by train: 74 minutes
    Nearest international airport: London Stansted (35 miles)


School Updates

  • alt-J star returns to King’s Ely to adjudicate “incredible” House Music Competition

    Gus Unger-Hamilton – member of the global indie rock band, alt-J – took a trip down memory lane when he returned to King’s Ely; the school where his musical talent was first recognised and nurtured.
    alt-J star returns to King’s Ely to adjudicate “incredible” House Music Competition
  • ATCL Diploma for skilful King’s Ely pianist

    A young musician at King’s Ely has achieved her Associate of Trinity College London (ATCL) Diploma in piano.
    ATCL Diploma for skilful King’s Ely pianist
  • King’s Ely GCSE Results 2023

    Students at King’s Ely have achieved excellent GCSE results, with over a quarter of all grades being the highest 9s-8s, equivalent to the old A*.
    King’s Ely GCSE Results 2023
  • King’s Ely students celebrate fantastic A-Level results

    Hardworking King’s Ely students have once again achieved places at their first-choice universities and institutions having gained a stellar set of A-Level grades.
    King’s Ely students celebrate fantastic A-Level results
  • King’s Ely pupils’ creative talents shine in ‘A Festival of Music and Dance’

    King’s Ely pupils’ creative talents shine in ‘A Festival of Music and Dance’
  • King’s Ely duo on fine form in British Biology Olympiad

    TWO King’s Ely Sixth Form students are celebrating success in an international Science competition.
    King’s Ely duo on fine form in British Biology Olympiad
  • King’s Ely Sports Coach helps England win gold at World Masters Hockey Championships

    A Sports Coach at King’s Ely played a pivotal role in the England Hockey Women's Over 45 team winning gold at the recent World Masters Hockey European Championships.
    King’s Ely Sports Coach helps England win gold at World Masters Hockey Championships
  • See King's Ely in our All-through Schools Guide

    See King's Ely in our All-through Schools Guide
  • See King's Ely in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide

    See King's Ely in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide
  • King’s Ely golfer qualifies for Faldo Series Junior Tour Grand Final

    KING’S Ely Sixth Form student and skilful golfer, Paul Collington, has driven his way to victory in the eminent Faldo Series Junior Tour.
    King’s Ely golfer qualifies for Faldo Series Junior Tour Grand Final

Essentials

Address
Palace Green, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4EW

Contact
admissions@kingsely.org
01353 660707

Website
kingsely.org

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


Open Days

Open days and how to visit View Open Days Register for open Day

Open Event
02 March 2024
Open Event
11 May 2024


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