Students at the Senior School achieve outstanding academic results. There are around 850 pupils (aged 11 – 18), and each year around 40 girls join our Sixth Form. Our aim is to produce students who can progress to university with the confidence and motivation to stand alone as independent learners, with a love of learning for learning's sake. Academic endeavour is supported by a wide range of co-curricular activities, including excellent provision for Sport, Music, and Drama.
About the school
University College School was founded in Gower Street in 1830 as part of University College, London and moved to its current location in Hampstead in 1907. The UCS Foundation comprises three separate schools offering education to children at each stage of their development from the ages of 3 – 18. UCS was founded to be different from other schools and we remain so today. Our approach to education is founded on a dual emphasis on liberal academic scholarship and on being a community of individuals; this lends the School a distinctiveness of which we are extremely proud. We have an outstanding reputation for pastoral care which results in a happy and well-balanced environment for pupils and staff alike. Our pupils are hard-working, thoughtful, enthusiastic, and a lot of fun. We believe in creating a culture of intellectual curiosity where our pupils think outside the box and develop a love of learning for learning’s sake. Our inspirational teachers encourage debate and breadth of thought to nurture this culture: our outstanding academic achievements are the result not just of effective learning, but of the fact that UCS pupils leave School as problem solvers. Our founding principles of tolerance and liberal scholarship can be seen in the kindness and confidence displayed by each of our pupils; their caring attitude is evident not just through the respect with which they treat each other but also through the ambitious programme of charitable fundraising which they undertake each year. We want our pupils to be able to make a real difference to their world, and we take great pride in UCS being such a strong and vibrant community – one where the educational experience is truly unique. Teaching and learning at UCS is driven by far more than simply the desire to achieve top examination results. Our aim is to produce students who can progress to university with the confidence and motivation to stand alone as independent learners, with a firm basis of knowledge, experience and understanding, and a strong sense of values, personal integrity and compassion. The emphasis in all that we do at UCS is on identifying, supporting and meeting the needs of individual students. Teaching is well-structured and orthodox, yet challenging and varied. Much emphasis is placed upon developing in our students a commitment to, and an enthusiasm for, learning. The Senior School is the largest single element of the UCS Foundation. Approximately half of the students who sit GCSE and A-level here will have come up from the Junior Branch. Some of those will have started their education at The Phoenix. The other half will have joined through our admissions processes at the ages of 11, 13 or 16. Whenever they join us, all will quickly feel full and valued members of the UCS community.
UCS Shortlisted For Sustainable School of the Year Award
On World Earth Day, pupils and staff at University College School in Hampstead were delighted to learn that the UCS Foundation had been shortlisted for the Sustainable School of the Year in the Sustainable City Awards.
26th April 2021 — On World Earth Day, pupils and staff at University College School in Hampstead were delighted to learn that the UCS Foundation had been shortlisted for the Sustainable School of the Year in the Sustainable City Awards. The awards are organised by environmental charity Global Action Plan and partnered by Investec, Mayor of London and LEDnet (London Environment Directors’ Network). They seek to recognise individuals and organisations who have developed imaginative solutions and approaches to help Londoners from all backgrounds live, work and spend their leisure time in ways that are good for health, wealth and the planet.
In January, UCS pledged to go Carbon Zero by 2030 and are working through a series of measures in an effort to meet this target. James Firth, the Environmental Impact Coordinator of the UCS Foundation, commented, “We are so pleased that what we have done across the three UCS schools has been recognised by being shortlisted for this award. We are making great strides in this area but what is really special, is that so many of our initiatives have been pupil-led. Around sixty pupils getting involved in planning a significant number of projects. For example, the work of Year 9 pupils devising and implementing a drive to improve recycling across the school has been particularly eye catching and over 75% of our waste is now recycled. Year 12s should also be congratulated on their work with Oxford University in devising short films to promote communication on the subject of climate change.”
Earlier this year, UCS teamed up with the Camden Forest initiative and 100 trees were planted across the borough in pupil’s gardens. 60% of UCS pupils and staff travel to school via sustainable means and an independent travel scheme running at the UCS Junior Branch further encourages pupils to walk to school whenever possible. Pre-pandemic, this scheme achieved a 50% reduction in daily vehicle use. In the last 12 months, the number of pupils cycling to UCS has doubled and the school are working with Sustrans to further encourage this. Staff are strongly discouraged from driving to school although there are now five electrical charging points for their cars on site. The school’s biodiversity and allotment societies contain pupils aged between 4 and 18 and their enthusiasm for growing vegetables, keeping bees and looking after chickens is evident. As a Green Flag School, the ‘Eco Warrior’ team is well-established at the UCS Pre-Prep and throughout the Foundation’s curriculum, sustainability is firmly embedded.
Mark Beard, Headmaster of the UCS Foundation, stated, “I congratulate my colleagues Mr Firth, Ms Casey and Mrs Lenton who have done so much to promote sustainability across the UCS Foundation. Our pupils are carrying out sterling work in an area which is of huge importance to us all.” Tristan Jenkins from Year 10 concluded, “Everyone at UCS knows how important our work is and it has been fantastic to see the whole community working together. Improving air quality, reducing emissions, and encouraging biodiversity are fundamental to life in the 21st century. There is more to be done so watch this space.”
UCS Pupils Enjoy Great Success With US and Canadian University Applications
Year 13 pupils at UCS in Hampstead are celebrating receiving a remarkable 22 offers (including three scholarships) to study at universities in the USA and Canada from September 2021.
22nd April 2021 — Sixth Formers at University College School in Hampstead typically enjoy great success with applications to some of the most prestigious universities in the USA and Canada. In the last three years, pupils have been offered places at institutions such as Harvard, Princeton, MIT, McGill and Stanford. Despite the implications of various lockdowns over the last 12 months, the class of 2021 have enjoyed a similar level of success and twelve pupils are now looking forward to the possibility of studying on the other side of the Atlantic. 22 offers were made from the universities and these included 3 scholarships.
Charlie Quinn was delighted to be offered a place at McGill University in Montreal. He commented, “It is such an amazing opportunity for me. The support I have had from the teachers at school with my application has just been tremendous. Their knowledge of the application process, not to mention the institutions themselves has certainly helped to turn my dream into a reality. I can’t thank them enough.” Applicants to US institutions benefitted hugely from the ACT and SAT preparation course which runs for UCS pupils throughout Year 12. The course has been running at UCS for over ten years and also gives pupils an insight into what studying overseas is really like.
Mark Beard, Headmaster of the UCS Foundation, was understandably pleased, “I congratulate the pupils who received their offers last week. They have worked so hard - and not just during their Sixth Form years but throughout their time at UCS: some of them have been with us since they were age 7! It will be fascinating to see what they do with their futures.”
In November, two Year 11 pupils at UCS launched a history and politics podcast, The Historic Present. In the latest episode, the pupils are joined my renowned historian and presenter Dan Snow who discusses Blitzkrieg and The Battle of Britain.
24th February 2021 — In November, two budding historians at University College School in Hampstead decided to turn their conversations about history into a podcast. The boys, Jonah Howe and Charlie Gordon in Year 11, had no idea how popular their initial broadcast on Spotify would be and they then decided to turn the pilot episode into a regular series. Four months later, The Historic Present podcast has gone from strength to strength. It has now reached an audience of over 2000 listeners and this week, they were joined by renowned historian and television broadcaster Dan Snow.
The pupils are a little surprised about how popular the podcast has become. Charlie commented, “It just seems to have snowballed. We decided after the first broadcast that we wanted to use the podcast to give people of our age a platform to discuss history and politics and we have used our Instagram page to offer people the chance to appear. We have not been short of applicants and we have had some extremely informative interviews with a number of leading historians such as Guy Walters, Andrew Chatterton, James Holland, Ian Johnstone and James Rogers. They have given us a tremendous insight into events during the 20th century including the Weimar Republic, the effects of the Treaty of Versailles, the Holocaust and appeasement.” Jonah also has a strong interest in politics and has enjoyed the debates which often take place during the broadcast, “Things have got quite lively at times. Whilst we have mainly looked at aspects of modern history, we have also discussed things going on around the world today. Trump, the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, and capitalism are all things which people of our age have an opinion on. I am thinking about studying politics at university but let’s see. I haven’t taken my GCSEs yet.”
Dan Snow was the latest in a long line of historians to join the broadcast. Charlie has enjoyed working with all of them but the chance to interview Dan Snow was a real boon, “I still can’t believe any of them agreed to come on the podcast! We have seen Dan on TV so much and it was really exciting talking to him. We were both a bit nervous but he was wonderful and gave a real insight into Blitzkrieg and the Battle of Britain. It’s probably my favourite episode.”
Mark Beard, Headmaster at UCS, is delighted that the boys have enjoyed such success, "Jonah and Charlie came up with the idea for the podcast during the autumn and this term it has gone from strength to strength. At UCS, we are all so proud of what they have already achieved. The boys have used the podcast to bring experts together with their peers to discuss aspects of modern history and the number of listeners is a testimony to the high quality of the broadcast." Charlie concluded, “Jonah and I are both passionate about history. James Holland told us in episode 5, ‘History doesn’t repeat itself but patterns of human behaviour do.’ We feel that if everyone saw these patterns and respected them, we could certainly make the world a much better place.”
The Historic Present can be listened to on Spotify.
Stephen Warshaw Succeeds Simon Lewis OBE as Chair of UCS Council
The Council of University College School has elected Stephen Warshaw as its next Chairman. He succeeds Simon Lewis OBE, who announced that he would step down from the governing body last year.
29th January 2021 — The Council of University College School has elected Stephen Warshaw as its next Chairman. He succeeds Simon Lewis OBE, who announced that he would step down from the governing body last year. Simon has spent 15 years as a governor of the independent school in Hampstead and has chaired the Council since 2015.
During Simon’s time as Chair, UCS has maintained its commitment to the highest standards of academic achievement. The school currently sits 22nd in the latest Sunday Times Parent Power League Table, which means it is the highest placed co-educational school in North London. UCS has also maintained its belief that education should not be restricted solely to those who can afford it. The school’s investment in its bursary scheme has increased to £1.2m per annum and around sixty pupils at UCS currently benefit from the programme. In addition, the school has developed strong links with five secondary schools across London and around twenty primary schools. Pupils at these schools are able to use the facilities at UCS during term time and benefit from a number of partnership events run collaboratively by the schools.
Simon Lewis commented, “It has been an honour to serve as a governor at UCS for fifteen years and chair of the council for the last five years. The school is going from strength to strength and we are delighted by the sustained academic success enjoyed by the pupils. The bursary programme also continues to grow and we are proud that the school has remained true to its liberal ethos and is at the forefront of providing access to education. Lack of social mobility has become more pronounced during COVID-19 and it has to be addressed. Under the leadership of Mark Beard and his senior team, the Foundation has performed extremely well. Stephen has deep and relevant experience for this role.”
Mark Beard, Headmaster of the UCS Foundation, expressed his gratitude for Simon’s outstanding work throughout his term of office, “Under Simon’s tenure, UCS has changed forever. In 2017, the school embarked on a number of significant redevelopments and our sporting facilities, library, creative learning centre and Sixth Form Centre are now the envy of schools across London and indeed the country. The stunning 27 acres of sports fields and the Kantor Centre were opened in 2019 are used by pupils throughout the Foundation and those from state partner schools. The quality of the playing surface is so impressive UEFA had earmarked the facilities to be used by teams preparing to play games at Wembley in the 2020 European Championships. The AKO Sixth Form Centre was completed in late 2020 and pupils are stunned by the changes which they will benefit from in the months and years to come. Importantly, the cost of these significant projects was donated by UCS friends and benefactors.”
Stephen has lived locally for most of his life and has had a distinguished business career, both as CEO and Chairman, in the professional information, education and software industries. He has previous, direct experience of the Education sector as Chair of Cambridge Education Group and through his Vice Chairmanship of the charity United World Schools. Stephen commented, “I am delighted and honoured to be joining such a successful school and am very much looking forward to working with Mark Beard and his excellent team, as well as with the governing body, to help take the UCS Foundation on to the exciting next stage of its development.
Inspiring Junior Branch Poet Published by Camden New Journal
On Thursday, a UCS Junior Branch pupil was delighted to see his poem about his vision for his local neighbourhood, printed on the inside cover of local newspaper, Camden New Journal.
13th January 2021 — During the latter stages of the autumn term, one local newspaper, Camden New Journal, set pupils across North London a challenge to plan how the borough of Camden could be improved over the next decade. Pupils across the Junior Branch of University College School embraced this challenge and devised a variety of imaginative proposals which would make the area around Hampstead, where UCS is based, a cleaner, safer and healthier place. A poem written by Frankie Donn, a Year 5 pupil, truly captured the attention of the editorial team at the newspaper and he was delighted to see his poem, I Have A Vision, published on the inside cover of this week’s newspaper.
Simon Hall, Head of English at the UCS Junior Branch commented, “Frankie was ecstatic to see his poem published. Environmental issues form a key part of our school’s curriculum. Our pupils care deeply about the world around them and the positive and negative impact their behaviour can have on the environment. A number embraced the challenge posed by the Camden New Journal but Frankie’s poem was truly exceptional.” Lewis Hayward, Headmaster at the Junior Branch, was extremely pleased. “The challenge run by the Camden New Journal dovetailed with a number of initiatives we have to promote environmental matters across UCS. The pupils are extremely passionate about this and in the last two years there has been a 50% reduction in car journeys to and from school. Frankie’s poem shows great sensitivity and vision and I am very proud of his achievement.”
UCS Supports Festive Wellbeing Hampers at Food Bank
In December 2020, two Year 11 UCS boys organised a collection of toys, colouring books, crayons & board games for North Paddington Food Bank's Festive Hamper Appeal. The items will be used to relieve boredom at home during the lockdown.
13th January 2021 — Back in October 2020, the pupils at University College School in Hampstead collected over three tonnes of food from across the UCS community in a single day. This food was donated to North Paddington Food Bank (NPFB) and with lockdown nearing conclusion, several Year 11 pupils were keen to organise a second collection. However, the food bank reported that they were increasingly concerned about the welfare of their clients and of the rising problems associated with boredom in a number of families whom they worked with. The UCS pupils therefore decided to support an alternative collection and within the space of three days, over 110 boxes were filled with donations which would keep families entertained throughout the festive period. Boxes were filled with colouring books, crayons, board games, toys, books, toiletries and bubble bath.
Nathalie Hayes (of NPFB) was delighted with the response from the UCS Community, “UCS saved our bacon! The hampers started as an idea I had with my friend Shahida and we had no idea whether we could pull it off, but the response has been overwhelming. So many individuals and organisations have donated lovely treats that might bring a bit of sunshine this Christmas to people who have had a difficult year. We are so grateful and proud of the kindness shown." Edward Roberts, Assistant Head at UCS was equally pleased, “The appeal across our community was led and driven by two Year 11 pupils. They got everyone on board and we were astounded by the generosity of our pupils and their families. It took three journeys in the school van to deliver everything. I have never seen so many colouring books and I know everything will be put to good use.”