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A New Dawn at King’s High School, Warwick

Take a first look at King’s High School’s beautiful new home and new Shared Sixth Form Centre with Warwick School on the Myton Road Campus.

Watch out for TV crews this week as the BBC will be filming the youngest string players at top independent girls’ school King’s High and Warwick Prep ahead of BBC Music Day. Check out the school’s beautiful architecturally designed Smart Building with its Oxford College-style Quad and stunning Scandi-style Shared Sixth Form Centre. You can also read my new school review here. Muddy popped in for a tour with Head Master Richard Nicholson.

 

“It’s a new dawn, It’s a new day, It’s a new life, For me, And I’m feeling good…” Feeling Good, Nina Simone

The first assembly in the new school hall. Credit: Vicky Kettell

After a rousing rendition of Jerusalem, a recording of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good was played at the very first assembly of the academic year at King’s High School, Warwick marking a new dawn in a new school!

This song of female empowerment chimed with the jubilant mood of the girls following the move from their historic former home in Smith Street into a purpose-built Smart building beautifully designed by the London-based architects Nicholas Hare. They now join pupils at Warwick School and Warwick Prep on the main Myton Road campus.

Clockwise from left to right: the new Sports Centre; the Quad; the new Shared Sixth Form Centre and the Art, DT and Food Tech building.

It comes after another memorable musical moment when 40 or so King’s High teachers formed an impromptu flash mob at last summer’s ceremony in the new Quad to celebrate the School’s 140th birthday and a Farewell to Smith Street. To the surprise and delight of pupils, especially younger girls staff burst into a performance of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, bringing a real sense of fun and frivolity to what had until then, been a formal occasion.

Like a mini-university site the new school with its airy high ceilings and wide corridors, is made of four very different, intimately linked buildings:

  • the main school with school hall, library, dining hall, classrooms, 10 science labs, dance and drama studios all centre around a beautiful Quad which looks like a modern Oxford college – but without the stuffiness. Here there are no rules to stop girls from walking on the grass!
  • an Art, Design/Technology and Food Tech block which includes teaching rooms, a Great British Bake Off -style cookery kitchen; a dedicated ceramics studio; print-making facilities, a photographic dark room and an artist-in-residence Abi Wright.
  • a state-of-the-art Sports Centre is due to open very soon. Facilities include a gym, locker room, changing rooms and an enormous fitness suite.
  • an impressive world-class Music School is under construction and expected to be completed by next spring. It will feature an acoustically variable auditorium like Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, three teaching rooms and 15 practise rooms.

Each of the four school buildings has its own individual style but is unified by the natural materials used for construction. Made from natural stone, warm maple wood and bronzed steel the design is sleek, modern and stylish with incredibly funky yet timeless features. A clever feature of this eco-friendly Smart building is that it regulates the temperature inside – windows open as if by magic.

The school exterior, a stunning new sculpture The Spirit of King’s, by emerging British talent is due to be unveiled outside the entrance in mid-November.

The Spirit of Kings, a “staggeringly beautiful” 7.5m tall polished steel abstract sculpture designed by public artist Liz Middleton is due to be unveiled outside the main school entrance (above) in mid- November. All very exciting! It’s currently being constructed near Lake Garda in Italy by a world-expert.

The Head Master and staff wanted to fill the school with as much student art as possible, so it didn’t feel like a blank canvas, more like a home. Head of Art Sarah Jordan has done an exquisite job of curating this, with some quite breathtakingly innovative and challenging pieces.

The new kitchen

An enviable new Shared Sixth Form Centre with Warwick School has also been built over three floors. While teaching remains separate, the girls and boys share study areas, careers, and social areas. It’s a fabulously funky space for teens with Scandi-style decor, cool wooden staircases, minimalist white-washed walls and a splash of colour. On the ground floor there’s an open plan social space with floor-to-ceiling windows, trendy sofas, a mini canteen and cafe-style chairs and tables. The second floor is a Careers Hub with study areas, good for group discussions and the top floor with fantastic views to Warwick Castle is a quiet study space. A Code of Conduct was drawn up in advance by the students themselves, who also had a say in the colour scheme and furnishings. This new move so far has been very successful.

Girls have the pleasure of eating lunch in an airy, spacious and stylish cafe-style dining room showcasing another wonderful maple ceiling. There’s a great selection of daily menus too – the Head Chef used to work at Queans in Leamington Spa. On the day I visited there were jacket potatoes with various toppings; sausages and mash with vegetables; and two vegetarian options – a veg Wellington and Mac ‘n’ Cheese.The new build far exceeds Head Master Richard Nicholson’s expectations – he is blown away! He says: “The team at Nicholas Hare have been fantastic – they’ve given us the building we want rather than an off-the-peg design. It’s been designed for the girls.”

These are the six things he likes best so far:

  • the sense of space and light – light is just everywhere.
  • the main school has retained a Tardis effect, much like its predecessor. It may look contained from the outside but inside it’s colossal!
  • every classroom looks over green, whether it’s the school playing fields or the Quad.
  • seeing how the girls utilise the space and spill into the Quad at break-time.
  • the school hall. It’s “just glorious” with a stunning maple wood ceiling and acoustics – microphones aren’t needed.
  • the library. With its maple bookcases, curved orange bookshelves and beanbags in primary colours, it’s one of the funkiest reading spaces I’ve yet come across.

The Sixth Form Open Evening TONIGHT is between Wednesday, September 25,  6.30pm and 9pm  – it’s a great opportunity for girls and parents to take a look at the new Sixth Form Centre, find out more about subjects, the excellent Inspire programme and meet current girls and staff. To sign up please email Admissions – registrar@kingshighwarwick.co.uk

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