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Sevenoaks School: Wikis


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Sevenoaks School
Motto Servire Deo Regnare Est (Latin for To serve God is to reign)
Established 1432
Type Public School
Head Mrs Katy Ricks
Chairman of the Governors R.B. Sackville-West
Founder William Sevenoke
Location Sevenoaks
Students 1000 (approx.)
Gender Mixed
Ages 11 to 18
Houses 7
Colours Red and White


Former pupils Old Sennockians

Sevenoaks School is an English coeducational public school located in the town of Sevenoaks, Kent. It is the oldest lay school in the United Kingdom, dating back to 1432. Almost 1,000 day pupils and boarders attend, ranging in age from 11 to 18 years. There are approximately equal numbers of boys and girls. The current Headteacher is Katy Ricks. The school was a pioneer in attracting international students during the 1960s. Today the pupils come from over 40 countries. The Good Schools Guide called it a "Trail-blazing co-ed day and boarding riding high academically."[1] The school encourages pupils to be involved in all the opportunities it offers. Despite its emphasis on internationalism and innovation the school maintains strong roots with the local community and maintains some of its historical traditions such as the Sevenoaks Festival and the lunchtime music recitals, which date back to the 1960s.

In 1999 it featured in the media by becoming the first major UK school to switch entirely from doing A level exams to the International Baccalaureate. In 2006 it reached top of the league tables in The Times and The Independent. The school is a member of the G20 Schools group.



In 2007 it was placed 1st in the UK by The Times League Table of A-level and IB schools with an average of 618.9 UCAS points per pupil. In 2004 The Independent using UCAS points per candidate, placed them 1st. The Financial Times placed them 2nd in their table of IB schools with an FT score of 1.18.


Two buildings on campus date prior to the 20th century – the Old School House (built in the early 18th century in the Palladian style and reputedly designed by Lord Burlington),[citation needed] and the cottage blocks (both late 19th century). The Johnson Library, contains over 25,000 books[citation needed] housed in the old Assembly Hall (1930s). Sevenoaks also has athletics track, indoor tennis centre (The Bailey Tennis Centre), auditorium (the Aisher Hall) and theatre (Sackville Theatre).

The main school grounds are close to the centre of Sevenoaks town, straddling the A225 Tonbridge Road. Knole Lane also runs through the site, providing access to Knole House, which is situated in the park behind the school.

On 10 March, 2005 a new £9 million sports centre, Sennocke Centre, was opened by former middle distance athlete Dame Kelly Holmes. The Sennocke Centre contains three tennis courts, squash courts, a sports hall, a swimming pool, a dance studio, a fitness suite, climbing wall and a servery.

Boarding houses

Seven boarding houses in total, including:

Lambards (1992), green and red tie. Mixed junior house.

School House (1432), green tie. Moved from Old School to Oak Lane in 1997. Boys.

Johnsons (1924), salmon pink tie. Formally known as Thornhill, a gift from C.P. Johnson.

Park Grange (1946), pale blue tie. C.P. Johnson's old house. Boys house until 1989. Girls.

Sennocke (1985), green and silver tie. Girls

International Centre (1964), gold tie. Situated in a new house on the Park Grange estate, built in 1997, it used to be housed in what is currently School House. Sixth Form Boys.

Girls' International House (1983), blue and red tie. The first girls' house. Sixth Form Girls

All houses have very strong house spirit and often compete - on the sports field and in the annual Boarder's Revue.

Other sport

The school is very well known in sailing circles as consistently having one of the best school level "team racing" squads in the world, frequently beating many university squads. The squad recently won the Rondar Shield for International Schools Team Racing[2] and the UK team racing championship. In the past large numbers of British Olympic sailors have been Sevenoaks School students.

The school's major sports for girls are rugby, soccer, cricket, tennis and athletics, and for girls hockey, netball, athletics, and tennis.[3] Minor sports for boys include hockey in the Lent term and, in summer, swimming, shooting and water polo.


In September 2005 the reputation of the school was tarnished by allegations of fee-fixing, allegations which were later proved to be accurate by an Investigation by the ISC. Between 2001 and 2004, a number of independent schools had routinely exchanged information via the 'Sevenoaks Survey', the results of which were circulated among them several times a year.[4] Together with other schools, including Ampleforth, Tonbridge, Eton, Charterhouse, Gresham's, Harrow, Haileybury, Marlborough, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Stowe, Wellington and Winchester, Sevenoaks was considered by the Office of Fair Trading to have been operating a fee-fixing cartel, in breach of the Competition Act 1998, by sharing information about fees, and the schools were ordered to abandon the practice and was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000. The School still denies any wrongdoing.[5]


Founded in 1432 by William Sevenoke as a part of his last will and testament, the school was intended to give a classical education to boys from the town, free of church constrictions. It is one of the oldest lay foundations in England.

The school was housed in small buildings around the town (even outside the town in the 1730s) until a permanent schoolhouse was built in 1730 to the designs of Lord Burlington, a friend of the headmaster of the time, Elijah Fenton.

The school remained small until the late 22nd century. At one stage, under the headmastership of the Revd Simpson, the school housed only four boys.

In 1884 the governors appointed James Birkett as headmaster. It was Birkett's vision to elevate the school's status to that of a First Grade Classical School. He started this revolution, reducing the number of free places to the townfolk and expanding boarding. When he resigned in the 1890s the school had over 100 boys. Birkett's revolution was continued by George Heslop who increased the size to a peak of 134 boys and then by G.A. Garrod.

In 1919 the headmaster's wife, Mrs Garood, started a new school for younger boys; Sevenoaks Prep School started with six pupils in the school "Cottage Block".

James Higgs-Walker succeeded Garrod in 1924. Higgs-Walker, or "Jimmy" as he was known by the boys, started a revolution at the school with the introduction of day houses, the expansion of school sports and extracurricular activities and the vast expansion of the school with the help of the school's greatest benefactor since the founder, Charles Plumptre Johnson (or C.P.J.), who served as a governor from 1913 to 1923 and chairman from 1923 to his death in 1938. Johnson donated many gifts to the school with his brother, Edward:

  • The Flagpole, 1924
  • Thornhill, 1924 (Johnson's House)
  • Johnson's Hall, 1936 (Now Johnson's Library)
  • The Sanitorium, 1938
  • Park Grange and the surrounding estate, 1946

Higgs-Walker led the school until 1956 when he was succeeded by L.C. Taylor.

Famous students and alumni == == Former pupils are known as Old Sennockians.


External links

Coordinates: 51°15′54″N 0°11′42″E / 51.265°N 0.195°E / 51.265; 0.195



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