Creative arts taking centre stage at King Edward VI School in Southampton


- Credit: Archant

King Edward’s is steeped in tradition with a rich cultural heritage. Educating children since 1553, it is Southampton’s oldest school with roots deep in the city’s history through their founder, William Capon

The co-educational school is one of the south coast's leading secondary institutions academically, not least as a result of the acquisition of Stroud School in Romsey as their preparatory school.

Naturally, promoting intellectual excellence and developing curious minds take precedence as a selective, academic school. Almost all students go on to higher education institutions, with over 80% attending Russell Group universities with an average of 10% taking up places at Oxford and Cambridge. However, academia is not the sole focus. Fostering a sense of personal worth in every pupil and equipping them with the practical skills to be successful in the wider world are also priorities. The creative arts themselves can provide a gateway to innovative methods of thinking that are valuable in every industry, and the King Edward's departments consistently produce exhibitions and performances of the highest calibre.

The school has invested over £20 million in its infrastructure over the past decade with the complete refurbishment of all of its teaching accommodation and the purchase of an outward-bound facility on Dartmoor. The crowning glory of the developments thus far is the state-of-the art Dobson Theatre, refurbished in 2017, which sits at the heart of a dynamic creative arts programme. The impressive space not only acts as a hub for dramatic and musical activity, but is a forum for outside lecturers and student public speaking.

The Dobson is the epicentre of the biennial arts festival, #KESFEST, which returns this summer and celebrates creativity in all its myriad forms within the local community. The school-wide three-day festival features lectures, performances, and workshops run by creative arts professionals which give King Edward's and local primary school students the opportunity to engage with physical theatre, stage combat, photography, jazz ensembles, acapella, and much more. Annual highlights include King Edward's Dance Gala, and the Peter Foulkes Art Exhibition, where budding artists from Hampshire's prep schools showcase their work to the public.

The drama calendar boasts impressive plays and musicals, including exclusive Lower School and Sixth Form productions, the latter entirely devised by students. Musicians enjoy numerous opportunities to perform abroad and in prestigious regional venues including Winchester Cathedral and various Oxford colleges. Sport is a vital part of provision, supported by regular sports tours to far-flung corners of the globe and full use of the thirty-three acre Wellington Sports Ground. Former students have won medals at the Beijing, London, and Brazil Olympics, including gold for Iain Percy.

Students from King Edward's are found in all walks of life and combine academic achievement with the impressive communication and leadership skills they acquire through directing a production, organising a musical charity fundraiser, or captaining a sports teams. They leave with the values that every employer will prize and the independence of mind to shape meaningful changes.

To take a tour of the site or attend the Open Evening on Friday 4 October 2019, contact the registrar via or call 023 8079 9216. Visit to find out more about life at King Edward's

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