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.
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.”
UCS Pupils Write Almost 1500 Christmas Cards For Care Home Residents
During the final week of term, pupils at UCS in Hampstead made, wrote and decorated almost 1500 Christmas cards which were sent, via the charity Cards of Care, to residents of care homes across London.
11th December 2020 — During the final week of term, pupils at the Senior School of University College School in Hampstead wrote Christmas cards which were sent, via the charity Cards of Care, to residents of care homes across London. Many of these cards had been made by Sixth Formers throughout the autumn term and during form time in December pupils busily wrote, decorated and addressed these cards to people in care homes who, due to the pandemic, will not be able to see friends or relatives during the festive season. The initiative was proposed by a Sixth Form student and it captured the imagination of pupils and staff throughout the Senior School. Sandy Mayo, a year 12 pupil commented, “It was a fantastic idea. In these times, loneliness amongst the elderly is a serious problem and we were pleased we could do something to make some people feel a little better.” Nicci Menashe, who founded Cards of Care, was overwhelemed by the response from UCS pupils, “We are so inspired by the UCS team spirit. The pupils have truly supported this initiative and it is clear that they have poured their hearts and souls into this project. They will certainly make a stranger smile and we don’t think that any of the residents that receive their cards will forget how special the pupils have made them feel this festive season.”
The links between UCS and care homes across North London are strong. Pupils usually volunteer their time in these homes but due to lockdown regulations, have been unable to do this this term. Instead, they have turned their attention to recording concerts which residents have watched via YouTube. Another group of pupils have taught themselves how to sew (with a little assistance from Mr Vliegen) and have made face masks on a weekly basis which were delivered to Age UK and other pupils have engrossed themselves in a pen-pal scheme for the elderly – writing and receiving letters on a weekly basis.
After completing their A-Levels last summer, three UCS Sixth Formers were invited to compete in three different international olympiads.
9th December 2020 — Every year, tens of thousands of pupils across the UK undertake Olympiads which are run by national societies in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. These Olympiad exams are often sat in the Spring Term and are designed to test the problem solving skills of the most able Sixth Form pupils. Societies usually select the most able pupils (the top 0.005% of candidates) to take part in further challenges and perhaps even compete against pupils overseas. It is extremely rare for a pupil to be picked for these extra events but remarkably, three UCS pupils in a single cohort were selected to compete in these latter challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic prevented international travel but none the less, these three pupils enjoyed the opportunity to push their understanding to the limits and benefit from a wide variety of masterclasses run by societies.
Nik Maslov was chosen to compete in the International Physics Olympiad in July. He sat two five-hour exams online which were sat by physicists from all over the world. Nik finished as the second-highest UK-based physicist and his impressive performance secured him a bronze medal. The organisers were so impressed they subsequently asked Nik to join the Astronomy and Astrophysics team which also contained a UCS pupil, Sasha Boone. Their International Olympiad was held in late September and Nik was rewarded with a silver medal. Sasha Boone went one stage better and was awarded a gold which is a truly outstanding achievement.
Noah Grodzinski enjoyed similar success after excelling in the Biology Olympiad. From thousands of entries, he was selected to take part in a training camp over the summer and then formed part of a four-strong UK team in the International Biology Olympiad. He was awarded a silver medal having finished in the top 30% of the contestants from around 70 nations.
Congratulations to these former pupils and we wish them well as they embark on the first year of their university courses.
Pupil from Lichfield Receives UCS Lockdown Design Award
During the spring lockdown, UCS D&T teacher, Henry Franks, organised a design competition for pupils from local state schools. The competition was won by Isabel Ainsworth from The Friary School in Lichfield who last week received her prize.
9th December 2020 — During the spring lockdown, staff at University College School in Hampstead organised a design competition for pupils from local state schools. News of the competition spread across the UK via social media and eventually over 200 inspiring entries were received by organiser, Henry Franks, a DT teacher at UCS. Henry was delighted by the response, “We asked pupils to design a product that would help people in some way during lockdown. The range of submissions was truly fantastic but it was the level of thought which the budding designers had given their products which really impressed me.” The process of selecting a winner was certainly not straight forward, “We shortlisted the best 10 designs and my colleagues and I agonised before choosing a ‘pop up’ office designed by a pupil from Lichfield. This really was exceptional work.”
The winner in question was Isabel Ainsworth, a Year 10 pupil at The Friary School in Lichfield, and last month her finished product was delivered to her home fresh from being made in the UCS DT workshop. Isabel found the design process was a welcome distraction during lockdown, “I enjoyed thinking about how the design could work and explaining this through my drawings. I would like to be a designer or architect in the future, so this was great. The most exciting thing was knowing that my design would be made. The finished product translated my design perfectly and all the small details were included. Mr Franks explained the materials that were used, and I liked how sustainable they are.” Isabel’s parents were equally pleased. Carol Ainsworth commented, “We are so impressed with how well made the desk is. It functions just as Isabel intended. It can be easily set up in any room and adjusted for any member of the family to use. With both of us working at home and Isabel revising it has already had plenty of use. The competition was a fantastic opportunity that inspired students to use the difficult situation of lockdown to create something useful.”