King Edward VI High School for Girls is a beautiful school for pupils aged 11 to 18 with the capacity to transform the lives of the bright, multi-talented girls who come here from an extraordinary range of backgrounds.
Our girls achieve outstanding results but we are about much more than just stellar grades and Oxbridge places. We provide a richly varied and exciting education in a friendly, nurturing environment.
KEHS Sixth-formers turn Ghost-Busters after 'haunting' claims'
Senior pupils are investigating reports of possible supernatural phenomena, including inexplicable door-knockings and alleged ghost sighting.
1st January 2021 — Harry Potter would be proud. Sixth formers at King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham have launched an investigation into reports of possible supernatural phenomena, including a moving statue and an alleged ghost sighting. Several rooms and a corridor at the school have long been rumoured to be haunted but recent changes linked to Covid-19 measures have brought a flurry of further claims.
Several centre on the Old Edwardians’ room in a remote turret on the top floor, untouched since the school was built in the mid-1930s and decorated in Arts and Crafts style. Although usually reserved for Old Girls, several teachers have recently been billeted there to enable adequate social distancing.
“Many of us have felt a strange, biting chill in the room, even on mild days,” explained the school’s Director of Drama, Hannah Proops “and an indefinable sense of dread, even those with no idea anyone else has experienced this.”
Some, including Classics master Tim Cooper have heard a loud, insistent rapping. “It’s like someone knocking at the door, trying to get in,” he explained, “but whenever I’ve crept up quietly and flung it open, there’s been no one there – and although we’ve examined the door closely, there’s been absolutely no explanation for the knocking.”
In the classroom directly below, girls have reported unseen visitors, often several times each session. “We regularly hear a sudden loud gust of wind in the corridor outside, however calm the weather is”, said Mary Bridgeman, 16, “then the door’s flung open violently, despite being securely shut beforehand and no problem with the handle. We say it’s the ghost come to visit, as there’s no earthly reason for the door to burst open like that.”
“In the same classroom, our friends were giving a presentation at the front of the class” added her friend Ruby Thompson, “and a heavy overhead screen screwed to the wall suddenly crashed down in front of them, which startled them though no one was hurt. But the fastenings were in perfect condition and no one could explain why the screen had suddenly fallen like that,”
Some believe the bizarre happenings may be linked to a life-size concrete statue standing near the Old Edwardian’s Room, ‘Our Lady of Sorrow’ which the second headmistress Miss Edith Major bequeathed to the school on her retirement in 1925. 20 years ago, Peter Wright, a long-serving KEHS porter suffered an extraordinary experience as he approached it.
“I’ll never forget it,” he said. “I was, locking up the school one night around quarter past midnight and walking along the top corridor towards the statue. As I got closer I was amazed to see it begin to turn slightly, quite slowly and noticeably. I froze and stood there for a few moments absolutely astonished. As I examined it closely I could see a mark on the floor as if it had moved from its original position. I saw nothing nearby that could have made it move and with only me around at that time of night, it couldn’t have been girls playing a prank.”
Mr Wright had another strange encounter around 30 years ago. “When I joined King Edward’s in 1986, another porter George Brace, who was down-to-earth and a bit grumpy always insisted the back corridor and one classroom, Room 6, was haunted by the ghost of a lady called Molly, a former cleaner who’d apparently died there of a heart attack. I didn’t believe in ghosts and thought nothing of it but a few years later I was working in the hall close to this classroom when one of our youngish cleaners came screaming up to me, white as a sheet. She said she’d been dusting in Room 6 when she felt someone touch her shoulder. She’d turned round to see who it was and saw the ghost of a woman. I tried to calm her down but she was terrified and totally hysterical and said she wouldn’t stay in the school another minute. She rushed straight out and we never saw her again.”
A Lower Sixth form group of “Ghost Hunters” is now investigating the accounts of alleged paranormal activity, interviewing those who’ve experienced it and compiling a project on the bizarre occurrences.
“This school fosters intellectual curiosity,” said KEHS Director of Drama Hannah Proops, “and everyone’s fascinated by these mysterious reports. The girls are researching aspects like hallucinations and auto-suggestion and also studying the supernatural in literature like Cathy’s ghost in ‘Wuthering Heights’ and Hamlet’s father plus moving statues in classical mythology. We’re organising a sleepover with the group next term, if they’re not too scared, to see if this provides any more sightings or clues. Our resident film buff Danielle Russell is also taping a ghost ‘mockumentary’, with echoes of ‘The Turn of the Screw’.
I’m an Old Edwardian myself and this school’s always had a really happy, purposeful atmosphere – it’s not exactly Birmingham’s answer to Hogwarts, but we’re keeping an open mind about these strange goings-on. Even if we don’t manage to explain them, who doesn’t love a spooky story to make your hair stand on end?”
Double joy for the high-flying King Edward VI independent schools in Birmingham
King Edward VI schools are the pride of the Midlands as they celebrate an enviable double in the Sunday Times's prestigious 'Parent Power' Awards
10th December 2020 — The two King Edward’s independent schools in Edgbaston are enjoying a double celebration. King Edward VI High School for Girls has been named as the top-performing Midlands school in the Sunday Times's prestigious 'Parent Power' Awards and tenth in the country, for its fine academic record, focus on intellectual curiosity and humane, liberal atmosphere. It was the only school north of Oxford to figure in the top 10, which is increasingly dominated by the richly-endowed London and Home Counties schools. KEHS’s brother-school King Edward's School made it an outstanding double when it was hailed as West Midlands Independent Secondary of the Decade in the Awards, thanks to its academic excellence and commitment to widening access through its generous Assisted Places scheme. Both schools are renowned for their exceptional strength in music and commitment to top-level enrichment and extra-curricular activities which include shared arts facilities in the Performing Arts Centre partly-funded by Old Edwardian philanthropist Sir Paul Ruddock.
Darcey Bussell and fellow-stars help KEHS launch online UK-wide arts network
Darcey Bussell, star photographer Rankin and comedian Greg Davies among the big names inspiring the next generation as KEHS’s Tuneup Arts network takes off
10th December 2020 — King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham is launching a nationwide arts network after the success of its star-studded, online gathering, Tuneup Tuesday. This free one-day event was designed to celebrate the arts and their impact on young people’s mental health and well-being and proved such a hit that the school is now creating TuneUp Arts, giving schools across Britain a virtual platform to boost creativity in the next generation. Celebrated arts figures including the photographer Rankin and Irish dance star Louise Lenihan are now adding special Christmas and New Year video content of further virtual lessons and activities.
Tuneup Tuesday brought together over 110,000 young people from all over the UK, featuring scores of streamable performances from top companies including Shakespeare's Globe and the RSC. Leading industry professionals offered careers advice and led arts activities, among them prima ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell, multi-award winning musical director of Hamilton and The Greatest Showman Alex Lacamoire, playwright and screenwriter James Graham, the world's top solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, comedian Greg Davies and rising musical theatre star Georgina Castle.
“TuneUp Arts is a nationwide campaign to encourage and inspire young people of school age to consider and believe in a career in the arts and theatre,” explained the initiative’s Patron James Graham. “Our particular landscape can feel precarious, but that won’t always be the case. When we open up, we’ll need lots of brilliant, inspiring young people to come and forge careers and take jobs in our really exciting sector”.
The event is the brainchild of KEHS’s new principal, violinist Kirsty von Malaisé and the school’s Director of Drama, Hannah Proops, a theatre director and former professional puppeteer
“Children have been through so much and the arts industry has suffered considerably during the pandemic,” explained Mrs von Malaisé, a former prizewinner in the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year. “With many extra-curricular activities severely restricted in this second lockdown, we wanted to give schools and young people an easy, safe way to do something vital together. We decided to launch TuneUp to affirm the power of the arts, particularly at this time, and to uplift us all by bringing us together in this celebration.”
TuneUp Tuesday began with an online assembly featuring musician and mental health advocate Yshani Perinpanayagam. “During these turbulent times, it’s so important that everyone can access music and its ability to help us express what we may have thought was inexpressible,” she said.
Scores of participating schools took to social media to share their experience of the day, posting photos and videos of their pupils taking part. From reception class dance routines to lighting design workshops for secondary school physicists, there was something to inspire all ages and disciplines.
“We were bowled over by the enthusiastic uptake and the volume of posts on our social media,” said former Disney puppeteer Hannah Proops. “Our industry might be suffering now but, arts are still the shining light that’s keeping us all going and making us feel connected. This feels like the start of something really exciting – and we’re building on this momentum by launching TuneUp as a national arts outreach network. We aim to provide a virtual platform for all schools across the UK to deliver arts curricula and activities, offering resources to foster creativity in the next generation.”
Registered schools can still access the library of careers videos and arts activities while KEHS develops the next phase. Schools and artists can find out more at www.tuneup.life or via Twitte@TuneUpArts.
KEHS and top names from the arts world on song for Tuneup Tuesday
Over 70,000 schoolchildren sign up to inspirational virtual arts festival with comedian Greg Davies, iconic photographer Rankin and Hamilton’s Broadway Musical Director among stars featuring in KEHS's one-day arts school
21st November 2020 — Comedian Greg Davies, multi-award winning musical director Alex Lacamoire, iconic photographer Rankin and playwright James Graham are among scores of leading arts professionals taking part in KEHS's ground-breaking virtual arts school for young people. Over 70,000 children from schools across the UK have signed up for TuneUp Tuesday on 24th November designed to celebrate the arts and their positive impact on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. The free, one-day event will feature teaching and careers advice from some of the industry’s biggest names, plus scores of streamable performances from top companies including Shakespeare’s Globe, Vamos, the Young Vic and the RSC.
The event is the brainchild of the new principal of King Edward VI High School for Girls, Edgbaston, award-winning musician Kirsty von Malaisé and the school’s Director of Drama Hannah Proops, a theatre director and former professional puppeteer. Old Edwardians Ali Natkiel and Maya Sondhi from “Line of Duty”, rising musical theatre star Georgina Castle, and celebrated music producer and singer Mr Hudson are among other big names offering their expertise.
“Children have been through so much and the arts industry has suffered considerably from lockdown” explained Mrs von Malaisé. “We wanted to do something to celebrate the tremendous healing power of the arts and uplift everyone. As soon as we started approaching arts organisations, we were bowled over by their generosity and enthusiasm to volunteer their time and resources, and realised we had a national event on our hands. With many school extra-curricular activities severely restricted in this second lockdown, we really hope the free lesson-based sessions will give schools and young people something to celebrate.”
TuneUp Tuesday will begin with an online assembly featuring musician and mental health advocate Yshani Perinpanayagam. “During these turbulent times, it is so important that everyone feels they can access music," she explained, "and its ability to help us express what we may have thought was inexpressible. TuneUp Tuesday is a wonderful opportunity to come together and explore so many different sides of music and what it can do.”
The event is open to children of all ages across the UK, with resources for primary and secondary schools. Activities range from colouring and puppet shows to communication workshops and explorations of set exam texts. The day is designed to inspire youngsters from all backgrounds and show that careers in the arts are worthwhile, valuable and viable.
Schools and artists can find out more and register at www.tuneup.life. You can also follow the action on Twitter @TuneUpArts.
Tuneup Tuesday www.tuneup.life
An Arts Council study – Be Creative Be Well - found that arts and culture can improve self-esteem, combat depression and increase feelings of community. Young people from low income households who take part in arts activities in school are three times more likely to get a degree.
Fatma Mohiuddin, 14, named as Birmingham Young Poet Laureate
Fatma takes over the Laureateship from fellow-Edwardian Aliyah Begum who encouraged her to enter. Both girls built their confidence performing at their school's Spoken Word Poetry Club.
5th November 2020 — Gifted writer Fatma Mohiuddin, 14, has been crowned Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate, and said she was “amazed and incredibly proud”, as it was the first time she had ever entered a poetry competition. Fatma, a pupil at King Edward VI High School for Girls, Edgbaston was among hundreds of talented youngsters who applied for the honour which, along with the adult Laureateship, is awarded every two years by the Birmingham Library and Writing West Midlands. She follows in the footsteps of her fellow-Edwardian Aliyah Begum, the previous Young Laureate who is also a member of the school’s Spoken Word Poetry Club, run by the Old Edwardian performance poet Jasmine Gardosi.
As Young Laureate, Fatma will write and perform at important occasions and workshops across the region, many of them online and via Zoom, under current restrictions. These are designed to inspire and encourage thousands of young people to become creative writers themselves. Previous Laureates have appeared on radio and TV, met politicians and royalty and written on a range of subjects, including sport, romance, gaming and what it's like to be young today. The role also involves producing poems for special events like Holocaust Memorial Day, and Black History Month.
“This was the first time I’ve put my poetry out there for people,” she said. “I certainly didn’t expect to win but I wrote a lot over lockdown. I got really inspired and our poetry teacher sent us emails letting us know about the competition. For the Young Laureateship, we had to submit two poems of up to 30 lines long and I was really excited to be shortlisted. I attended a Zoom interview and answered some questions then performed one of my poems, which I wrote specially for it about Poetry itself and I performed it to music – a piece by Chopin.
I’ve always loved writing and two or three years ago I got particularly interested in creative writing and prose, then I joined our school’s Spoken Word Club and began focusing on poetry most of all. The previous Young Laureate Aliyah Begum is also a member and she and another friend encouraged me to enter the competition and build my confidence by performing my work in public.
Fatma, who is also an enthusiastic netball player, representing the school and the Bournville Club, eventually hopes to become a journalist or a teacher. For the moment though, she is preparing for a variety of radio and Zoom interviews and is writing new poems to mark Black History Month and International Women's Day.
“What I love about poetry is that it’s such a great way to express your thoughts and ideas,” she added, “specially things that can’t be said: really deep topics that you can’t entirely express in normal speech but which you can through poetry. In year 7 I was quite nervous when performing and did not enjoy it as much. But I gradually gained confidence and experimented with the things you can do while performing and now it is one of my favourite things about poetry. If a performance is done well it elevates the whole poem.”
'We are incredibly proud of Fatma's achievement, but not surprised,” said the new Principal of KEHS, Kirsty von Malaisé. “She has an exceptional ability to marshal the power of poetry and we look forward to seeing what she will write in the coming months.”
Below is Fatma's winning poem:
By Fatma Mohiuddin
Sometimes our words are just too powerful,
Our apologies are too painful
And our feelings are too tearful,
Sometimes our mind has listened to our thoughts for too long,
Wanting to hear something other than the broken echoes of lost hope.
And so it reaches for words.
Words that are moulded into a symphony of melodic notes.
Watching the ink bleed onto the page,
Words that are stained crimson from the anger in their flame.
A flame that’s called - poetry.
Poetry speaks when the words can’t escape the cage of our muted lips,
It whispers in its quiet, pained, hidden yet beautiful voice.
It sings to the fragile song of pain and hope.
Because poetry isn’t just a crowd of words and lines
Poetry is a desperation,
It’s a purpose
A picture perfect creation
Poetry is musical and magical
It sings and it shouts.
It's meaningful and melodious.
And it defies all doubt.
Poetry dances on the shards of false stereotypes.
It ignites an amber spark in the centre of our eyes,
But most of all poetry is a delicate flood of words that doesn’t lose hope.
It’s the way we can make sense of the thoughts in the deepest part of our mind.
Through the darkest shadows poetry is a light.
Because poetry is more than a crowd of words and lines,
It’s for times that we realise that
Sometimes our words really are too powerful to be said.
But there are never any words that are too powerful to be written.
King Edward's pupils collaborate on groundbreaking book to help would-be medics
Edwardians Rhea and Aroun have produced a crucial book to help youngsters keen to study Medicine tackle the crucial BioMedical Admissions Test. They used lockdown to produce an up-to-date set of user-friendly solutions.
5th November 2020 — Two Upper Sixth formers from the King Edward VI schools in Edgbaston, Rhea Takhar (King Edward VI High School for Girls) and Aroun Kalyana from King Edward’s (Boys’) School have made the most of lockdown by taking on a project to help other would-be medics. The pair both aged 18, who have each won university places to read Medicine, Rhea at Oxford and Aroun at Cambridge, have written a new and updated book of worked solutions to past papers from the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) which everyone planning to study Medicine must sit. This is now being sold on Amazon and as an eBook.
“We saw a gap on the market,” explained Rhea “and realised we didn’t have much to do during lockdown with exams being cancelled and no social gatherings, so we decided to write an updated BMAT worked solutions Guide for past papers from 2011-2019.
The BMAT website provides past papers free of charge, but it doesn’t give worked solutions to the answers, so it’s often difficult to work out how to answer a question if you’ve got it wrong during your practice. When we sat the BMAT, both of us used a similar guide to help us through our preparation, so we thought it would be useful for prospective medical students to have a more up-to-date, comprehensive set of solutions, especially for more recent papers. We’ve tried to make the book as user-friendly as possible, walking readers through every single solution. We also created detailed essay plans with our own tips on how to maximise your score, along with links to further reading.”
“Writing the book was really challenging,” added Aroun, “as simply writing over 500 solutions is a gargantuan task in itself. Given the time frame, we’re proud we’ve managed to produce the book, especially given how complicated many of the questions are. It was a really steep learning curve as we had to get to grips with new software and techniques, including preparing a manuscript for publication.”
“Our schools gave us a huge amount of support when we were preparing for our BMAT examinations;” said Rhea, “extension sessions after school with KES’s Head of Biology and the Head of Careers from KEHS). We’re both extremely lucky to have had that kind of support in place when we took our exams.
We hope this will be really useful to any student taking the BMAT, and give them an added level of support, especially during this difficult time. And we’re not finished yet. Aroun and I are currently putting together worked solutions to 8 additional papers, from 2003-2010 – and we’re both thrilled to have fulfilled our long-held dream to study Medicine at university.”