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The King's School, Canterbury: parents’ guide to Year 9 entry

School guide

Jan 31, 2023, 2:04 PM

The King's School, Canterbury: a parents' guide to Year 9 entry


The King’s School, Canterbury is a day and boarding school in historic Canterbury, Kent for boys and girls aged 13 to 18. It’s believed to be the oldest school in the world, with origins dating back to 597 AD. The main school site is located in the Precincts of Canterbury Cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – with further sites including St Augustine’s Abbey and 22 acres of multi-purpose sports fields.

King’s Canterbury is focused on developing each individual through an active and dynamic learning experience. Pupils are supported to develop skills in enquiry and research, to question and challenge, and to share their skills in a supportive and vibrant community. All pupils receive comprehensive guidance on higher education and careers, including psychometric testing, annual information fairs on topics such as overseas universities and gap years, and access to a careers advisory service for alumni. Exam results are consistently high; in 2022, 83% of A level grades were A*–B and 74.2% of GCSEs were graded A*/A/9/8/7.

Co-curricular activities are intrinsic to education at King’s Canterbury. Sport takes place on three afternoons per week, with school fixtures on Saturdays. A weekly timetabled activities afternoon allows pupils to dedicate a few hours to a wide range of interests, including numerous clubs and societies – from ceramics to cryptic crosswords, and photography to mountain biking – and community service. There is a flourishing creative arts programme too, including major musical concerts and overseas tours, art exhibitions, gallery trips and an artist-in-residence scheme, and drama productions, modern dance and ballet performances..

Directory of private schools in Kent

Key information for The King's School, Canterbury

  • Head: Ms Jude Lowson (from September 2023)

  • Address: The King’s School, 25 The Precincts, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2ES

  • County: Kent

  • Admissions contact: Mr James Outram – [email protected], 01227 595630

  • Age range and gender: 13–18, boys and girls

  • Number of pupils: 925

  • Open day date: Saturday 4th March and Saturday 10th June 2023. Book via the school website

  • Overview of selection procedure: prep school pupils: ISEB Common Pre-Test, interview and school reference. Non-prep school and overseas pupils: school entrance exam and interview

  • Registration closes: November 2023 (for entry in 2024)

  • Assessment date: November 2023 (ISEB Common Pre-Test) or January 2024 (King’s Entrance Examination)

The King's School, Canterbury fees and financial assistance

The current fees at The King’s School are £8,710–£9,670 per term for day pupils (sliding scale for pupils throughout age groups) and £13,925 per term for boarding pupils.

The King’s School is able to provide means-tested support with the payment of school fees (known as bursaries). Up to 100% of full boarding fees may be available depending on the financial, compassionate or other circumstances of applicants. The amount of a bursary award is influenced by the extent of need, with each case assessed on its own merits. Priority will be given to those most likely to gain the most from the school’s education.

Everything you need to know about bursaries

A range of scholarships are available for entry to Year 9 in seven categories. These carry financial value and are based on talent, as opposed to financial need.

  1. Academic scholarships (King’s Scholars) and exhibitions: 10% fee remission for scholarships and 5% fee remission for exhibitions

  2. Music scholarships and awards: 10% fee remission and free tuition on two instruments for scholarships, and 5% fee remission and free tuition for one instrument or voice for music or choral awards

  3. Art scholarships and exhibitions: 10% fee remission for scholarships and 5% fee remission for exhibitions

  4. Sports scholarships and awards: 10% fee remission for scholarships and 5% fee remission for awards

  5. Design & technology scholarships and exhibitions: 10% fee remission for scholarships and 5% fee remission for exhibitions

  6. Drama scholarships and exhibitions: 10% fee remission for scholarships and 5% fee remission for exhibitions

  7. Dance scholarships and exhibitions: 10% fee remission and one private weekly lesson for scholarships, and 5% fee remission for exhibitions

The King's School, Canterbury term dates

The term dates at The King's School, Canterbury for 2022–23 are:

  • Spring term (Lent): 9th January – 25th March 2023

  • Half term: 11th–19th February 2023

  • Summer term: 18th April – 6th July 2023

  • Half term: 27th May – 4th June 2023

The term dates at The King's School, Canterbury for 2023–24 are:

  • Autumn term: 4th September – 15th December 2023

  • Half term: 21st October – 5th November 2023

  • Spring term (Lent): 9th January – 23rd March 2024

  • Half term: 10th–18th February 2024

  • Summer term: 15th April – 4th July 2024

  • Half term: 25th May – 2nd June 2024

Admissions process for Year 9 entry to The King's School, Canterbury

Year 9 is the main entry point for The King’s School, Canterbury. Approximately 150 pupils join, with 120 boarding and 30 day places available. The admissions process is slightly different for pupils applying from UK prep schools and pupils applying from non-prep schools, or schools overseas.

1. Visit

All families who are considering The King’s School for their child’s secondary education should visit the school first to speak to current staff and pupils, and check that it’s a good fit for their child. Open mornings include a welcome brunch, speeches from the head and the registrar, a pupil panel, and tours of the school facilities (including the boarding houses) with a current pupil. Families are welcome to watch school sports fixtures during the afternoon.

Open mornings take place in March, June and October. The next open mornings for 13 plus entry are on Saturday 4th March and Saturday 10th June 2023. Booking is essential.

2. Registration

Once you have visited The King’s School with your child and decided to proceed with an application, you will need to register your child online. The registration fee is currently £200.

After you have registered your child, you will receive regular updates to keep you informed about the school and the status of your child’s application. The admissions team will also be in touch with your child’s current school to ask for a reference.

3. Entrance exam and interview

Applicants currently at a UK prep school

Children who are currently studying at a UK prep school will be made offers at The King’s School based on their performance in the ISEB Common Pre-Test. This is usually taken in the autumn term when your child is in Year 6, and is normally sat at your child’s current school. Note that you will need to register your child to take this test via the ISEB website..

The ISEB Common Pre-Test is an online adaptive test. It takes just over 2 hours to complete:

  • English: 40 minutes available. The content covers reading comprehension and SPaG (spelling, punctuation and grammar).

  • Maths: 40 minutes available. Pupils are tested on Key Stage 2 maths, which includes number and place value, calculations, fractions, decimals and percentages, measurement, geometry, and statistics.

  • Verbal reasoning: 30 minutes available. Candidates are tested on their logic and comprehension, including problem-solving techniques, trial and error skills, the ability to work logically, the ability to recognise suitable solutions, and knowledge of vocabulary and definitions.

  • Non-verbal reasoning: 36 minutes available. Pupils will be asked to analyse 2D figures and diagrams and look for patterns, and manipulate 3D figures and diagrams to visualise them in different ways.

Exclusive resource: Best exam techniques for the ISEB. Free download

Applicants will also have an informal interview with the registrar at The King’s School.

Applicants not at a UK prep school

Children who are registered for Year 9 entry to The King’s School but who do not currently attend a UK prep school will take the King’s Entry Examination (KEE) in January when they are in Year 8.

UK-based candidates will need to take the KEE test at The King’s School, Canterbury. Overseas candidates can take the test at the nearest British Council Office or an accredited Examination Centre.

The King’s Entry Examination takes approximately 3 hours to complete, with short breaks between each section. It consists of three online assessments and one written English paper:

All applicants will also have an informal interview with The King’s School registrar. This will take place at the school on the same day as the KEE for children who are living in the UK. Overseas candidates who perform well in the KEE will be invited for an online interview with the registrar via Skype or Microsoft Teams.

4. Scholarships

Applicants are welcome to apply for a 13 plus scholarship for The King’s School, Canterbury. Scholarships need to be applied for separately (application forms are available from the school admissions office). Children can hold awards of more than one kind, and additional bursary assistance may be available in cases of financial need and evident merit.

Potential scholars will take an assessment as part of their application:

  • Academic (King’s Scholarships): compulsory written papers (English, general paper, a modern language, maths, and science), three additional papers (from a choice of maths, geography, French, Spanish, Mandarin, history, classics, and religious studies & philosophy), and an interview.

  • Music scholarships: 13 plus candidates should be working at approximately Grade 6. Auditions will take place over the course of one day in Canterbury, and will include two performances, ear tests and sight-reading.

  • Art scholarships: art scholarships can be held together with a music or academic scholarship. The exam will take place at the school and will consist of two practical papers in objective drawing and imaginative composition. Candidates will also need to bring examples of their work.

  • Sport scholarships: selected candidates will be invited to an assessment day at The King’s School, where they will be examined in their chosen sports and in generic sports aptitude and teamwork exercises.

  • Design & technology scholarships: candidates will need to present a portfolio of work illustrating their experience, ability and interest. Shortlisted candidates will then be invited to an assessment day, consisting of an interview and a task which will assess understanding of at least one aspect of product design, electronics or mechanical engineering.

  • Drama scholarships: auditions will involve two practical assessments – one practical group workshop, and the performance of a two-minute monologue of the candidate’s choosing.

  • Dance scholarships: candidates will need to prepare 2–3 minute solos of contrasting styles for an audition. They will also have a group dance lesson, an improvisational session and a short interview.

5. Offers

The King’s School will make offers to pupils based on the informal interview with the registrar, a reference from the child’s current school and performance in either the ISEB Common Pre-Test (for UK prep school pupils) or the King’s Entrance Examination (for non-prep school and international applicants).

Prep school applicants will receive offers in the spring term when they are in Year 6, and will be expected to maintain the same academic standard in their final two years at school. Non-prep school and international applicants will receive offers in early February 2024 (Year 8).

How to prepare for 13 plus entry to The King's School, Canterbury

If your child is applying for Year 9 entry to King’s Canterbury, they will be tested in a range of subjects including English, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning and will be interviewed by a member of staff.

Atom Learning is an all-in-one exam preparation platform which can help your child consolidate everything they need to know and prepare effectively for success in the admissions process for The King’s School.

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Interview preparation with Atom Tuition

As well as academic tests, all candidates applying for entry to The King's School, Canterbury will have an interview with a member of staff. This is a common practice at independent schools, as it can provide a more holistic insight into your child’s abilities and interests. However, even informal interviews can still be daunting for many 10 and 11-year-olds!

Atom Tuition offers online mock interviews with experienced tutors who are specialists in the private school admissions process. A one-hour session consists of a 30-minute interview, a 10-minute break, 20 minutes of feedback and a follow-up report.

These mock interviews are an ideal opportunity for your child to:

  • Encounter typical private school interview questions

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  • Reduce any anxiety and feel confident for the real interview

Book a mock interview today and give your child the benefits of expert guidance and a confidence-building experience.

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