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University College School

University College School
Motto Paulatim sed firmiter
(Steadily but surely)
Established 1830
Type Independent day school
Headmaster Mr Mark Beard MA
Chair of Council The Rt Hon Lord Justice Brian Leveson
Location Hampstead
Local authority Camden
DfE URN 100065 Tables
Students 1180~
Gender Boys; Coeducational Sixth Form
Coeducational (Phoenix School)
Ages 7–18
Colours Maroon, Black
Former pupils Old Gowers

University College School, generally known as UCS, is an independent school charity situated in Hampstead, northwest London, England. The school was founded in 1830 by University College London and inherited many of that institution's progressive and secular views. According to the Good Schools Guide, the school "Achieves impressive exam results with a relaxed atmosphere."[1]

UCS consists of the junior and senior school for boys (with a coeducational sixth form) and a coeducational nursery school, Phoenix School, for children aged 3–7.[2]

UCS is a member of both the Eton Group of twelve independent schools and the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and it maintains links with a number of other schools in north and west London, including South Hampstead High School and Westminster Academy. It also has strong ties with Equatorial College School in Uganda.


  • History 1
    • Foundation 1.1
    • Further Developments 1.2
  • Council 2
  • 'Beyond Words' Festival 3
  • Community action 4
  • School motto, colours, songs etc 5
  • Arrangement 6
  • Location 7
  • Year names and Demes 8
  • Admissions 9
  • Notable Old Gowers (Old Boys) 10
  • Notable staff 11
  • Further reading 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


A painting of University College School, Frognal, Hampstead in the early twentieth Century

According to H.J.K. Usher (author of An Angel without Wings), giving a detailed history of UCS is close to impossible as many of its early records were lost when the archives of University College London were destroyed during bombing in the Second World War, and because many documents were destroyed or left to rot by a headmaster, C.S. Walton who believed "that tradition began with him".

The following is largely based on the published histories of the School which are given as references at the bottom of the page.


UCS was founded in 1830 by the University of London (the University College London, founded four years earlier). Continuing on the long tradition of dissenting academies, the University of London had been inspired by the work of Jeremy Bentham and others to provide opportunities for higher education for men regardless of religious beliefs (if any).

At the time, only members of the established Church could study at Cambridge and Oxford (the only other two universities in England at the time)while similar religious tests were imposed at the other universities dating from the medieval and renaissance periods present in the rest of the British Isles, namely St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dublin. Furthermore, the subjects taught at these Ancient Universities during this period, especially at Cambridge and Oxford, were relatively narrow, with classical subjects and divinity dominating.

University College found that fewer students were being admitted than had been expected and that the quality of the school education of many of its applicants was inadequate. Several of the founders of UCL therefore took the decision to establish a school.

Several of the founders of the University of London are directly associated with the founding of the school; they include William Bingham Baring, 2nd Baron Ashburton, Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, Henry Hallam, Leonard Horner (The Royal Society of Edinburgh has described UCS as his 'monument' [3]), James Mill, Viscount Sandon (probably either Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby or Dudley Ryder, 2nd Earl of Harrowby), James Lock, Stephen Lushington D.C.L. M.P., John Smith M.P., and Henry Waymouth.

According to A Tradition for Freedom, further inspiration for the School came from an elderly Jeremy Bentham who had attacked the traditional education he had been given, and Church of England schools in Chrestomathia.

The first headmaster was The Reverend Henry Browne, who quickly caused controversy, by publishing a prospectus for the School which appeared to include some type of communal worship. This was quickly replaced with a new version which also stated that the School would not use corporal punishment (highly unusual at the time).

The School opened at 16 Gower Street (from where the sobriquet 'Old Gower' derives) on November 1, 1830, under the name 'The London University School'. Browne soon resigned from his position and was replaced by John Walker (an assistant Master).

By February 1831 it had outgrown its quarters, in October 1831, the Council of UCL agreed to formally take over the school and it was brought within the walls of the College in 1832, with a joint headmastership of Professors Thomas Hewitt Key and Henry Malden.

The School was original - it was never a boarding school (though there were at times pupils who boarded in private lodgings or with teachers), it was one of the first schools to teach modern languages, and sciences, and it was one of the first to abolish corporal punishment. It has also been noted that, in fact, UCS had a gymnasium before the school that is generally credited with having the first gym. Originally, there were no compulsory subjects and no rigid form system. Most boys learnt Latin and French, and many learnt German (a highly unusual subject to teach at that time). Mathematics, Chemistry, Classical Greek and English were also taught. There was no religious teaching.

Further Developments

In the mid nineteenth century, the government of Japan sent a number of pupils to the School (see Kikuchi Dairoku and Hayashi Tadasu) which had been recommended on the advice of Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby, who was the British Foreign Secretary at the time.

Under the University College London (Transfer) Act 1905, University College London became part of the federal University of London, and the School was created as a separate corporation.

UCS moved away to new purpose-built buildings in Frognal in Hampstead in 1907, which were opened by HM King Edward VII with the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance on July 27. Kikuchi Dairoku was invited to the first annual prize giving at Frognal where he represented those who had received their prizes at Gower Street.

The Sixth Form Centre, which also houses the Theatre, was opened by HRH The Duke of Kent in 1974. In 1980 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited the school to celebrate its 150th Anniversary and to inaugurate the rebuilt hall which had been destroyed by fire in 1978.

In 1993 a new library, music school, lecture theatre, computer laboratory, sports hall, geography block, mathematics School and further classrooms were added to the senior school site. The Junior Branch buildings were also refurbished, with the addition of an Art & Technology Centre.

In 2005 UCS announced a four-year £12 million development programme.

The Sir Roger Bannister Sports Centre was officially opened by Sir Roger (himself an Old Gower) in December 2006. A new Art, Design Technology and Modern Languages building came into use in November 2007 and, in a gesture of respect to one of the School's intellectual founding fathers, was formally opened as the Jeremy Bentham building by The Duke of Gloucester on 22 May 2008. Also in 2008, the Sixth Form Centre was completely renovated along with most of the School's interior and classrooms were renovated. In September 2008, girls were admitted into the sixth form.


The governing Council consists of 20 members.

The Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London each nominate representatives on the Council, as do University College London, the Worshipful Company of Grocers and the London Borough of Camden.

The Chairman of the Council is currently Sir Brian Leveson.

'Beyond Words' Festival

The school's annual Beyond Words' UCS Festival has received press attention in recent years because of the number of celebrities that attend; in 2006, The Times placed the festival at the top of its list of 'Top Cultural Places To Be' that week. The festival has also appeared several times in Time Out magazine, rated as one of London's top cultural attractions of the season.

The 2006 festival welcomed many household names including Lord Falconer, Zadie Smith (who, according to reports mentioned that one of the characters in her second book was based on an Old Gower), Matthew Pinsent and Rupert Everett, as well as a multitude of journalists, actors, authors, musicians, economists, and many more.

Highlights of the 2007 festival included Sophie Dahl, the ULU Jazz Band, Anton Edelmann and Bombay Bicycle Club. In 2008, University College School again welcomed a wide and varied range of contributors including Raymond Blanc, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Pym, Ben Macintyre, Charlie Higson, Martin Bell, Nabeel Yasin, Daljit Nagra, Anjum Anand, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Derek Landy, Alex Lifschutz, William Eccleshare, Ziauddin Sardar, amongst many others. The Beyond Words Festival was cancelled in 2010.

Community action

A major part of the contemporary school culture is community action, where for about six weeks a year students raise money for various charities (2009 total - £20,000).

School motto, colours, songs etc

UCS Logo (from stationery)

The school motto is "Paulatim sed firmiter", roughly translated as "Steadily but surely". The school song is called Paulatim.

Paulatim Lyrics
Back in the old time, the morning time, the brave time,
Earnest hearts once labour'd for the halls we tread;
Paulatim, Paulatim, Paulatim!
Paulatim, blow on blow,
They laid intolerance low,
Up, up and let us follow where our founders led,
Up, up and let us follow where our founders led.

Now in the new time, the noontide time, the brave time,
Lightsome hearts are beating in the halls we tread;
Paulatim, Paulatim, Paulatim!
Paulatim, blow on blow,
Let us lay ignorance low,
And broaden out the pathway where our founders led,
And broaden out the pathway where our founders led.

On in far time, the twilight time, the brave time,
Hearts will hold an echo of the halls we tread;
Paulatim, Paulatim, Paulatim!
Paulatim, blow on blow,
May they lay tyrannies low,
Tho' they fall beside the highway where our founders led,
Tho' they fall beside the highway where our founders led.

The school's colours are maroon and black. On blazers these are in vertical stripes.

There have been numerous songs written about UCS. The film Wondrous Oblivion is thought to have been partly inspired by Paul Morrison's experiences at UCS.

The annual Speech Day, at which boys are awarded various prizes, has been hosted by many famous speakers, including Rory Bremner, Gary Lineker, Henry Olonga, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Roger Bannister OG, Stephen Fry, Lord Coe (2007), Professor Malcolm Grant (President and Provost of UCL) (2008), Sir Michael Parkinson (2009), Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (2010), Nicholas Hytner (2011), Hugh Dennis OG (2012), Victoria Wood (2013), Fiona Bruce (2014), and Michael McIntyre (2015).

UCS publishes a termly newsletter called Frognal and a yearly magazine called The Gower; both publications are sent to current and past students free. The latest editions are available on the school website. In addition, a student-run newspaper, The Compass, was set up in 2013. The website for The Compass can be found at, on which previous editions can be downloaded in addition to online-only articles. A Masonic lodge (the Paulatim Lodge) exists, which former pupils or those with links to the school may join.


The UCS Foundation is composed of three main entities:

  • "The Phoenix School", co-educational for ages 3 to 7. This was acquired by UCS in 2003. This is known as the "Phoenix".
  • "The Junior Branch", for boys aged 7 to 11 (primary). This is also known as "Holly Hill", or "The JB".
  • "The Senior School", for boys aged 11 to 16 and co-educational for ages 16 to 18 (secondary). This is commonly referred to as just "UCS".

The Senior School site is divided into seven buildings:

  • The main building, housing English, History, Maths (since June 2008) and Politics classrooms and the ICT, Learning Support departments as well as History of Art and Geography in the crypt (basement). The building also houses the Headmaster's office, main School office, the Common Room, the phoenix room and Deme land (housing the Deme Warden's offices).
  • The "Science Block", housing Chemistry, Physics and Biology laboratories. It also houses the Fleming Lecture Theatre.
  • The "North Block", housing the 'Enav Library', the Refectory (dining hall), Economics and Business Studies and The Bursary.
  • The "Giles Slaughter Wing" ('GS Wing'), housing Classics (since June 2008), Music and the Lecture Theatre.
  • The "Jeremy Bentham Building" housing Art, DT, Philosophy and Modern Languages.
  • The "Kent Building", housing the 'Lund Theatre', the Computing and the Sixth Form Centre.
  • The "Sir Roger Bannister Sports Centre". Completed in the second half of 2006, the centre contains a six-lane swimming pool, two indoor sports areas, a fully equipped gym and the Sixth Form Costa Coffee café. This is open to the 6th Form and members using the UCS Active health and fitness club.


The Senior School site is located on Frognal, in pipe organ, used for school concerts, professional recordings and other festivities.

University College School entrance, Frognal, Hampstead

Outdoor sports, including Rugby, Football, Cricket, Athletics, Tennis and Field hockey, take place at the games fields in Ranulf Road in West Hampstead. Basketball, swimming, Tennis and Fives take place at Frognal.

The Junior Branch and the Phoenix School are located on two separate campuses in Hampstead. The Junior Branch has its own Library, Science Laboratory, Music, Computer and Drama rooms.

Both the Phoenix School and the JB use the School playing fields as well as the Sir Roger Bannister sports centre at Frognal.

Year names and Demes

The Senior School is divided into three schools by age, and each year has a unique name:

Lower School
Entry Year 7
Shell Year 8
Middle School
Lower Remove Year 9
Remove Year 10
Upper Remove Year 11
Upper School
Transitus Lower Sixth (Year 12)
Sixth Form Upper Sixth (Year 13)

Students in the Lower School are arranged into Houses, each named after a bird. In the Lower School, there is one form (class) per year in each house.

  • Kestrel --- Blue
  • Eagle --- Yellow
  • Hawk --- Black
  • Falcon --- Green

Students in the Middle School and Upper School are arranged into Demes, each named after a former prominent member of staff. This is similar to a school house. In the Middle School, there is one form (class) per year in each Deme, and in the Upper School there are two forms per year in each Deme. There are regular inter-Deme competitions in sports throughout the year. In the Middle School the distinctive school blazer carries a coloured school logo on the breast pocket depicting the pupil's Deme. There are currently six Demes:

  • Baxters --- Blue
  • Black Hawkins --- Yellow
  • Evans --- Black (Pink Badge)
  • Flooks --- Green
  • Underwoods --- Purple
  • Olders (Girls Deme, 6th Form Only) --- White


There are five main points of entry for prospective pupils:

  • Phoenix School, at age 3 (Nursery), offered to siblings and UCS connections in first instance. Entry at 4+, 5+, 6+ by assessment by Headmistress.
  • Junior Branch, at age 7, judged by combination of internal exam and interview. As of 2010, The Junior Branch no longer operates an 8+ entry point.
  • Lower School, at age 11, judged by combination of internal exam and interview.
  • Middle School, at age 13, judged by combination of internal exam and interview.
  • Upper School, at age 16, judged by subject-specific exams and interviews, not conditional upon GCSE results. This is only available for a handful of boys and around 35 girls.

Since the acquisition of the Phoenix School, a pupil transfer between the school and the Junior Branch is in place at age 7 for those "displaying academic potential".[4]

Notable Old Gowers (Old Boys)

Former pupils are known as Old Gowers, which was derived from Gower Street where the school was originally founded. Notable Old Gowers include:

Notable staff

Former staff include:

Further reading

  • A Tradition for Freedom The Story Of University College School by Nigel Watson, James and James (Publishers) Ltd 2007.
  • An angel without wings: The history of University College School 1830-1980 by H. J. K. Usher, C. D. Black-Hawkins and G. J. Carrick, edited by G. G. H. Page (University College School, 1981).
  • University College School Register for 1860-1931 : with a short history of the school by Leathes, Stanley with an introduction from S.N. Carvalho (Published 1931)
  • From Gower Street to Frognal: a short history of University College School from 1830 to 1907 by Felkin, F.W. (Published Arnold Fairbairns 1909)
  • University College School Register, 1901-63 compiled by N.Holland (Published 1964)
  • University College School Register for 1831-1891 edited by Orme, Temple Augustus (published H.W. Lawrence [1892?])
  • University College School Roll of Honour and War List 1914-18 compiled by Cockman, Charles Roadnight and Thomas, Cyril Leonard Ross (published St. Albans Campfield Press 1922)
  • On the Japanese connection with UCS see Japanese Students at Cambridge University in the Meiji Era, 1868-1912: Pioneers for the Modernization of Japan, by Noboru Koyama, translated by Ian Ruxton, (Lulu Press, September 2004, ISBN 1-4116-1256-6).


  1. ^ "University College School | London | LEA:Camden". The Good Schools Guide. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  2. ^ [3]
  3. ^ "Edinburgh Academy". Edinburgh Academy. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  4. ^ UCS Website Retrieved 4 August 2015. 

External links

  • University College School
  • University College London
  • Profile at the Good Schools Guide
  • Beyond Words Festival website
  • School’s grief for teacher killed in train tragedy
  • [4]
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