King's Worcester Headmaster
Mr Matthew Armstrong, Headmaster, sets out his vision for the King’s School
‘I want pupils to come to King’s and leave still curious about the world, still excited to learn and able to adapt to changes which none of us are able to predict’.
Matthew Armstrong, headmaster of the King’s School, Worcester since September 2014, is clear about his vision for every King’s pupil. He believes that the biggest challenge facing young people today is to develop a confident sense of self, a self-assurance which is not reliant on the affirmation of others; a sense of the importance of themselves as individuals rather than a constant seeking to be part of the crowd. The ethos of the King’s Foundation of schools is to instil in its pupils: ‘Confidence in a changing world’. Pupils should be well qualified through academic achievement and fulfilment of their talents, equipped with a range of life skills and enriched by a variety of interest and experiences. This is what Mr Armstrong believes most parents want for their children and what guides the school in what it does from the moment that boys and girls join King’s.
The Headmaster reflects on the events of 2017
I write these notes at the end of a tremendously exciting academic year during which King’s has marked its 475th anniversary with some gusto. There was a festive feel to the celebrations on December 7th, which began with a talk to the school about how they might have found school in 1541 and ended with a magnificent firework display. Another highlight came in the spring term in the shape of a performance of the promenade play 1541, a piece specially written for this anniversary year by drama teacher Shara Parry. This compelling piece used the surroundings at King’s to remarkable effect, with parts set in the cloisters and College Hall as well as a compelling evocation of Catherine Howard’s court in a candlelit Edgar Tower.
The summer term brought a special celebratory OV weekend at the end of April which involved a hugely well attended dinner in the magnificent surroundings of the Cathedral. The Cathedral was also the venue for the final major event of the anniversary year, a service which included a setting of Psalm 150 specially commissioned for the occasion by the King’s School Parents’ Committee and composed by former member of the Music Department Piers Connor Kennedy. It is a bright and vibrant work which we look forward to enjoying as part of the choir’s repertoire over years to come.
Our 475th birthday made the year particularly special, but there has also been much else to celebrate. Results at both GCSE and A level were again excellent, and the spirit of intellectual enquiry has been much in evidence in the range of academic activity beyond as well as within the classroom. Our sporting squads have had an excellent year too, with impressive rugby success at Rosslyn Park and some excellent results on both the netball court and the hockey pitch. Our cricketers were joined by members of the OV Cricket Club in June for the naming of the Peter Iddon Pavilion in memory of our much-loved master in charge, and produced a thrilling victory over the MCC which would have warmed Peter’s heart.
The arts continue to provide much excitement, with a wonderful senior production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and music-making of the highest quality. The Duke of Edinburgh Scheme continues to flourish, as does the CCF, and a wide range of trips took place this year, including a rugby tour to Sri Lanka and Singapore. Both the variety and the quantity of extra-curricular activity continues to impress me, and I am grateful to my colleagues who devote so much time not just to their teaching but also to encouraging their pupils beyond the classroom.
A lovely feature of 2016-17 has been the relatively high number of visits from OVs with fond memories of King’s for whom their time at school provided a platform for later success. I know that many who attended the school, via the direct grant or assisted places scheme, acknowledge the value of the education they received here, and we are anxious to preserve the inclusive feel of the school which is so much a part of its heritage. It is partly with this in mind that we have launched a 475th anniversary bursary appeal in the hope of achieving the goal which Henry VIII set out but failed to fund, that of providing forty free places to those in need who will benefit most from them. This appeal was launched on King’s Day, and you will hear more about it over the years ahead. My hope is that the wonderfully warm King’s Community will embrace this cause with its customary enthusiasm and that together we will be able to secure broad access to a King’s education for generations to come.