Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Kingsdale Foundation School

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Type  Academy
Chair of Governors  Cllr N Gibbes
Phone  +44 20 8670 7575
Founded  1958
Colors  Black, Blue, Red
Head Teacher  Mr Steve Morrison
DfE number  210/4265
Number of students  1,600
Staff  220
Kingsdale Foundation School
Established  1958 - (Converted to Academy status in 2011)
Location  West Dulwich Southwark London SE21 8SQ England
Address  Alleyn Park, Dulwich, London SE21 8SQ, UK
Motto  Fac Omnia Ad Dei Gloriam; (Do Everything for the Glory of God)
Similar  The Charter School, Dunraven School, Sydenham School, Harris City Academy Crystal P, Elmgreen School

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Kingsdale Foundation School is a mixed secondary school with academy status in Alleyn Park, West Dulwich, Southwark, South London, England, with an age range of 11–19. Admissions to the school are coordinated by the Southwark London Borough Council.


The school was built by the London County Council and opened in 1958. It was originally built to accommodate close to 2,000 pupils. From the 1970s it developed a reputation for poor performance and examination results and in 1998 it was put under special measures.

In an attempt to bring the school up to date, a new management team was put in place and the school formed a partnership with School Works, an initiative that uses better management and design to improve the attitude and results of failing schools. A £30 million package resulted in a state-of-the-art building utilising the existing structures and an improved environment for the pupils The school was recently identified as one of the most popular state secondary schools in the country.

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Section 5 Ofsted Inspection Report December 2012

The school was judged to be a Good school during the December 2012 Section 5 Ofsted Inspection. The school was judged to be at least Good in all areas, with an Outstanding judgement awarded for the Behaviour and Safety of pupils.

Notable comments from the December 2012 full Inspection Report include:

"All groups of students, including those with additional needs and those supported by the pupil premium, make good progress in their learning and achieve well."

"The quality of teaching is good. Teachers are enthusiastic, have good subject knowledge and plan interesting lessons. There are very good relationships between staff and students.."

"Students are very proud of their school and behaviour in and out of lessons is excellent. Students are very considerate and respectful to one another and state that they feel very safe in school."

"The proportion of students leaving school and entering employment, education or training is well above the national average."

"A strong feature of the best lessons is the quality of relationships, which helps to give students the confidence to express ideas, justify their answers and extend their understanding of complex issues...."

"...The small class size policy ensures that students receive good individual support from teachers and additional adults, helping all students to make good progress in their learning."

"Students behave exceptionally well in lessons and around the school site. They respond to the very high expectations for behaviour and show respect and courtesy to one another and staff."

"Students say that they feel very safe and secure in school and parents and carers...strongly agree. Students are cared for extremely well."

"The headteacher has high expectations of what staff and students alike can achieve and sets a clear direction for the school's further improvement. He is supported well by his committed team."

"The range of subjects and topics taught is imaginative, well constructed and contributes well to students' good achievement and their outstanding spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Numerous opportunities for students to reflect on their work, relationships and behaviour are woven seamlessly into their learning. A wide range of departments provides a large variety of very popular learning opportunities beyond those in lessons."

"There is a good range of courses available to students in Key Stage 4 and the sixth form. Courses offered are reviewed regularly and developed in response to the ability and needs of the changing student intake."

"The strong commitment to equality of opportunity by school leaders ensures that no group is overlooked and the school ensures that all make similar progress in their learning. Discrimination in any form is not tolerated and this is evident in the courtesy and respect that both staff and students demonstrate for each other."

The achievement of pupils

In previous years Kingsdale had risen from its previous poor performances and has been recognised as one of the most improved schools in London. In 2010 58% students achieved the key national benchmark of 5 or more A* – C grades at GCSE. The GCSE pass rate including Mathematics and English, in 2011 this went up to over 60%. Government figures for the new English Baccalaureate created in 2010 has the school at 4% pass rate against a national average of 15%. In 2011, all students, nearly 250, left with one recognised qualification resulting in a 100% pupil pass rate.

In 2012, as reported by Ofsted in the December 2012 report, Year 11 attainment experienced a 'significant dip'. In reporting on this situation, Ofsted stated that "During this inspection, all groups of students were making good progress in the large majority of lessons and outstanding progress in some lessons.". The report went on to state "..As a result, the progress made by all students, including boys, has now returned to the good levels seen in the past and attainment is rising rapidly across the school, particularly in English, mathematics and science."

In 2012, the school's GCSE results fell, particularly prior to the English GCSE resits which were offered to all schools caught up in the national English GCSE examination scandal. This equated to roughly 1 in 14 students nationally resitting the examination in October 2012. Performance Tables for 2012 achievement published in January 2013, do not reflect the attainment of students who achieved a Grade C or above in these English GCSE resits (36% of Kingsdale pupils achieved 5A*-C GCSE grades with English and Mathematics). The school results published on their website are therefore considerably higher than this figure as they reflect the addition of resit grades (currently published at 5A*-C GCSE grades with English and Mathematics at 49%). The national average for secondary schools in England and Wales is 59% of pupils achieving 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths.

In 2010 and 2011 the school was above national averages for the percentage of students achieving 5A*-C GCSE grades including English and mathematics. In 2012 it was below. The school has met the Government's floor target for school performance and this has been confirmed.

Building refurbishment project

The modernist building was designed by Leslie Martin, whose practice built the Royal Festival Hall for the London County Council. In 'austerity Britain', Martin's team had to scrimp on materials creating unique 'honeycombed' plaster walls and minimal scree between floors. Still the design observed the best principles of modernism, with concrete stairs positioned at each corner of the oblong building, boxed in glass and steel frames. The shoe-box shape described a 'quadrangle' that served as an inner playground as well as letting natural light into the corridors. William Turnbull's sculpture 'Stargazer', popularly known as 'the Fish' stood in the quad.

In the early 2000s (decade), the architects De Rijke Marsh and Morgan and builders Galliford Try refurbished the building, adding a translucent, and sun-sensitive 'skin' over the quadrangle, adding additional corridors, and constructing a wooden framed, egg-shaped 'pod' that projected into the quad, containing a music hall. The re-build was controversial after the administrator Hilary Cottam was awarded the Designer of the Year award 2005.

The building refurbishment and the stakeholders, including architects drMM, have achieved world recognition for the project. Recognition has included:

2009 Highly Commended - British Council for School Environments Industry Awards 'Inspiring Design' 2008 Highly Commended - World Architecture Festival Awards 'Learning' Category 2005 Winner - Royal Fine Art Commission 'Building of the Year Award' 2004 Winner - The Wood Awards (for the Auditorium) 2004 Winner M4I - Demonstration Award (for the consultation process)

The building refurbishment programme was also featured on Channel 4's 'Secret Life of Buildings' presented by Tom Dyckhoff in August 2011 where the highly positive effect of the building and the spaces created on the students was discussed.

Kingsdale Foundation School Sixth form

The school re-opened its sixth form in September 2010 and offers a range of courses at Level 2 and Level 3. These include Advanced Levels in Art, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Mathematics, Music, French, German, Spanish, Economics and Philosophy, Post-16 Scholarships are made available for students in Mathematics and the Creative and Performing Arts. Sixth Form students have access to a refurbished study centre incorporating an open plan space, as well as a range of other facilities including a music recording studio, wireless internet connection, Auditorium and HD projector equipped classrooms.

The school offers a number of official Open Evening events for students each year and has advertised the option of private tours for prospective students.

In the December 2012 Section 5 Ofsted Inspection, it was noted that:

The sixth form is good. Students achieve well due to good teaching.

Students achieve well in the sixth form....Good quality advice and guidance mean that students stay the course and move on to higher education, further training or employment. Students are typically taught well and this makes a strong contribution to their success in meeting their personal aspirations.


Kingsdale continues to be a very popular choice for parents when selecting a secondary school for their children. In 2011, the school received over 1750 applications for 210 places which makes it the most popular school in the Borough of Southwark. The school offers Music and Sports Scholarships which assess student aptitude in these areas. Students who apply for these scholarships must complete a Supplementary Form in addition to their borough CAF.

Most recently, the school was identified by the Telegraph as being one of the most popular state secondary schools in the country.

Examinations allegations

On the 26 July 2011 an investigation began following allegations from staff and students, that students were supposedly aided and allowed to cheat during and after exams. The investigation continues.

Both the headteacher and parents have rejected the claims.

In October 2012, it was confirmed that following an investigation, the integrity of the examination grades awarded at the school in 2011 were not compromised and "...were a true reflection of students' attainment.". This was announced in a statement from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) whose spokesperson stated "On the basis of the information received and the preliminary investigation undertaken, the conclusion was reached that the integrity of the grades given was not undermined.".

The investigation focused on claims which included grades given to students for coursework not completed, or that some students were allowed to come back and finish exams after the exam had finished.

A Channel 4 documentary transmitted in October 2012, looked into the reasons why the investigation had not concluded. It spoke to two alleged ex members of staff and one ex student. It also spoke to local MP Tessa Jowell, who expressed her concerns over instability caused to students by the situation and gave her views about the powers of academies.

Views of Staff

The views of staff were given in the December 2012 Ofsted Inspection, which stated.

"....staff were positive about the support and direction provided to them by senior leaders."

"....Discrimination in any form is not tolerated and this is evident in the courtesy and respect that both staff and students demonstrate for each other.

Notable former pupils

  • John Coghlan - drummer in Status Quo
  • James Heartfield - writer and journalist
  • Andy McNab - novelist and former SAS operative and soldier
  • Caron Wheeler - singer, most famous for association with Soul II Soul
  • References

    Kingsdale Foundation School Wikipedia