List Of Oldest Schools In The United Kingdom

The UK is home to some of the world’s oldest schools, each with a legacy of academic excellence, prestige, historical significance, as well as rustic charm. These attributes, among others, contribute to their status as highly sought-after study destinations for students from around the globe. In this guide, we explore some of the oldest schools in the UK.

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List Of Oldest Schools In The UK

1) The King's School, Canterbury

Founded with the establishment of Canterbury Cathedral in 597, The King’s School holds the distinction of being the oldest school in the UK. Notably, it received a new royal charter in 1541 under the reign of King Henry VIII, solidifying its status as an institution of national importance. Over the centuries, the oldest boys school in the UK has nurtured countless notable alumni, known as Old King’s Scholars (OKS), consisting of politicians, writers, philosophers, sports celebrities and more.

2) St Peter's School, York

With its origins tracing back to 627, St Peter’s School stands as a testament to the enduring tradition of education in the UK. Its Royal Charter, granted in the 1550s, marked a significant milestone in its journey towards academic excellence. Today, the school firmly believes that education transcends the confines of the classroom, and that it is important to empower students with tools, skills and qualities for lifelong success.

3) Royal Grammar School, Worcester

rgs worcester

Established in 685, Royal Grammar School Worcester boasts a rich history spanning centuries. Its Royal Charter, granted in 1561, further solidified its esteemed status in the realm of education. 

The school’s ethos, ‘Cherishing the past, looking to the future’ embodies a school that seamlessly blends time-honoured traditions with a progressive outlook on education, aiming to prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow while respecting the legacies of yesterday.

4) Sherborne School

Dating back to 705, Sherborne School holds a venerable position among the oldest schools in the UK. Its Royal Charter, bestowed in 1548, symbolises its enduring commitment to educational excellence. The independent boys school is steeped in prestige, and has produced many famous alumni such as Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay and Charlie Cox, the lead actor of Daredevil.

5) Warwick School

Founded in 914, Warwick School stands as a bastion of learning with a history spanning over a millennium. The school’s excellence continues to flourish in the modern era, through its world class facilities and expansive curriculum, creating an environment for students to achieve their full potential. Today, many Warwick School leavers enter the UK’s top universities such as Nottingham, Exeter, UCL, Bath and Durham, a testament to the quality of education provided.

6) St Albans School

St Albans school has origins dating back to 948, with a rich history intertwined with the fabric of the community it serves. The school was initially founded within the St Albans Abbey and was reformed with the dissolution of the Abbey in 1549. Today, the school provides quality education for year 11 onwards, with an emphasis on holistic learning, pastoral care and student wellbeing.

7) Bedford School

Established in 1086, Bedford School has been a bastion of learning for over nine centuries. It’s relaunch in 1552 marked a period of renewal and rejuvenation, aligning the school with the changing educational landscape of the time. Bedford School aims to maintain the Christian ethos which was embedded into its foundation principles when established. However, it also accepts students of all faiths. Today, it has remained committed to fostering a dynamic learning environment where students are encouraged to explore their passions and reach their full potential.

8) Abingdon School

Believed to be as old as 1100, Abingdon School carries with it a legacy steeped in history and tradition. The school is notable for providing quality education and holistic development through its various sporting activities. Many of Abingdon students move on to join Russell Group universities, pursuing their intended degrees. The school is also known as a truly international school— with alumni from 63 countries around the world and a current pupil body from 18 countries.

9) Reading School

Founded in 1125 as the school of Reading Abbey, Reading School has played a pivotal role in shaping the educational landscape of its region. Over the centuries, the school has experiences a series of closures and re-openings. However, Reading School has persevered, re-emerging in 1871 to continue its legacy of excellence. The school believes in people first, hence its emphasis on building character, nurturing curiosity and cultivating social impact.

10) Stamford School

Last on our list of oldest schools in the UK we have Stamford School. Established in 1309, Stamford School boasts a venerable history spanning over seven centuries. At Stamford, the focus is to give young pupils the opportunity to thrive and become the best version of themselves. This ethos is embodied by the school through its nurturing environment where students are encouraged to explore their interests, develop their talents, and cultivate the skills necessary for success in an ever-changing world.

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