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.
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.
Over One Thousand Meals Donated by UCS Community to Food Bank
Following a collection organised by the UCS community, on Monday, 93 boxes of food and 15 bags of nappies were delivered by UCS staff to the North Paddington Food Bank. We estimate these boxes contained over 1000 meals.
5th May 2020 — On Monday, 93 boxes of food and 15 bags of nappies were delivered by UCS staff to the North Paddington Food Bank. UCS has worked with the food bank since 2016 but pupils, parents and staff were deeply concerned to learn last week that the food bank was endeavouring to support an extra 570 households during the Covid-19 lockdown. A drop-off point was organised outside the school’s sports centre, UCS Active, and, whilst taking care to follow social distancing rules, a steady stream of donations filled the boxes. The donations were delivered to the food bank by two UCS staff.
Mark Beard, Headmaster at UCS commented, “The food bank usually works with around 30 families so we were keen to try to help them cope in some way with the extra demand. We have been delighted with the response from the UCS community and the residents of Hampstead. It was wonderful to see our neighbours delivering groceries to the drop-off point and we estimate that at least a thousand meals were inside these boxes.” James Quayle, manager of the North Paddington Food Bank, was equally pleased, “This single donation from the UCS community has allowed us to fully stock a new distribution point which will give families in NW1 and NW8 access to the food they so badly need. The number of donations to our food bank has decreased in comparison to the rise in demand and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this collection. We value our link with UCS and we hugely appreciate the vital support which the school and its community regularly gives us. Thank you.”
The school will continue to run a collection point for the food bank but this will now be located at the UCS Pre Prep which is located on College Crescent.
Pupils studying science A Levels at UCS have enjoyed remarkable success in external Olympiad competitions during the first four months of 2020. Three have been selected to represent the UK in forthcoming competitions.
23rd April 2020 — Pupils studying science A Levels at University College School in Hampstead have enjoyed remarkable success in external Olympiad competitions during the first four months of 2020. Olympiads give the most academically able Sixth Form pupils an opportunity to test their understanding of a subject to its limits, and achieving the top grade in these papers is considered as great an achievement as attaining the top grade at A Level.
Nine pupils sat the first round of the British Physics Olympiad and three achieved gold medals meaning they scored in the top 100 students in the country. Nik Maslov was placed in the top thirteen of candidates who sat the paper and has been selected to represent the UK in the International Physics Olympiad which will be held, subject to travel restrictions, in Vilnius, Lithuania during July. James Powell who teaches Physics at UCS commented, “Being selected to represent the UK in the International Physics Olympiad is an outstanding achievement. We are delighted for Nik and it is testimony to our opinion of him, that we were not surprised by his selection! The organisers are running online training in preparation for the competition and I know Nik will enjoy the challenges presented to him.” Sasha Boone was placed in the top 6 of candidates who sat the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad and sat over six hours of papers, with questions on topics ranging from Supermassive Black Holes to Quantum Mechanics. His performance also has given him a place in the squad for the forthcoming international competition.
Over 50 pupils sat the Chemistry Olympiad. The demanding exam asked pupils to consider the chemistry behind using hydrogen as a fuel and the colourful compounds in leaves, blood and the skin. Four UCS Sixth Formers secured gold medals and one, Geno Racklin Asher, scored achieved the highest mark from a UCS pupil in over six years.
Biology students enjoyed great success in February’s British Olympiad. Again, four pupils secured gold medals and one, Noah Grodzinski, was placed among the 16 highest scoring students in the UK. Noah has been selected to compete at the International Biology Olympiad which is due to be held in Nagasaki, Japan in July but this is subject to change depending on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
We congratulate all the pupils who were awarded medals in these Olympiad papers and we wish those competing internationally every success.
UCS Hampstead donated safety goggles, gloves and hand sanitiser to local hospitals during the Coronavirus pandemic. The DT department's 3D printers were also used to produce protective visors for local NHS workers.
7th April 2020 — From Monday 23rd March, the site at UCS Hampstead has only been open to a very small number of children. On that day UCS Virtual was born and at 8:45 am, pupils of all ages were registered online by their form teachers and over a hundred teachers logged onto Google Classroom to start the delivery of their lessons. Few would have anticipated such a smooth start to the online experience. Teachers reported a high level of engagement from their pupils and it was evident that the challenge of teaching their charges online was bringing teachers’ creative streak to the fore. Dr Dell delivered a practical chemistry lesson using a demonstration of reaction rates in her kitchen and Ms Hess remotely guided her Shell pupils through the preparation of a croque monsieur using a recipe written in French. Pastoral staff checked in with their tutees every day throughout the week. Some form groups used Google hangouts to maintain a sense of community, while others, like LSKH, played Connect 4 against each other. Dr Quirke and Mr Hind led an online UCS chess competition, Mrs Isaac started several book groups with pupils in the Underwoods Deme and Mrs Anthony’s allotment group shared photos of their experiences gardening at home.
We are grateful to the teachers and support staff who worked in school throughout the final week of term enabling the children of key workers to be supervised. Whilst the site was much quieter than usual, the 3D printers in the DT department were producing visors which have been donated to the NHS. The printers only stopped when they eventually ran out of raw materials. Mr Vliegen, the Head of DT, also collected all the protective equipment from his department and delivered it to the Whittington Hospital in Archway. The staff there were particularly pleased to receive over a hundred pairs of protective goggles. 50 litres of alcohol hand gel was donated to the Royal Free Hospital and UCS is currently working with the hospital in an effort to provide free parking for their staff. Local primary schools have also been offered use of the UCS tennis courts for their pupils.
Headmaster Mark Beard commented, “Our thoughts are with those who are ill at this time and those who are working so hard to keep everyone safe and well. We are keen to support the NHS and vulnerable members of society. We were pleased we could donate so much protective equipment to local hospitals and if you have any suggestions about how we could provide further support, please do not hesitate to contact us.”
The end to the spring term was certainly unconventional at every school across the UK and it is clear that the whole UCS community has pulled together. Lessons have been taught, pupils have been responsible and resilient in their learning and we now look forward to the possibility of the summer term at UCS Virtual.
Talented UCS Violist Impresses at the Royal Festival Hall
Jaren Ziegler, a 14-year-old violist at UCS in Hampstead, performed the first movement of Schumann’s Violin Sonata (arranged for the viola) at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Rotary Club’s Youth Makes Music Concert.
3rd April 2020 — University College School in Hampstead is renowned as a hotbed of musical talent. Former pupils make up three quarters of Bombay Bicycle Club who recently sold-out two nights at the iconic Alexandra Palace. Hana Mizuta-Spencer, a supremely talented violinist who left UCS in 2016, was awarded the Dame Ruth Railton Chamber Music Prize in 2014 and 2016 and last year was awarded a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
This year, Jaren Ziegler, a 14-year-old violist at UCS has enjoyed great success in music competitions across the UK. The first three months of 2020 have included numerous highlights for Jaren. On 3rd March, he performed the first movement of Schumann’s Violin Sonata (arranged for the viola) at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Rotary Club’s Youth Makes Music Concert. “It was fantastic to play in such a well-known venue,” commented Jaren. “I auditioned for the concert via video submission and it was amazing to be introduced by Bill Turnbull from Classic FM.” Jaren’s successes are not limited to London competitions. In February, he was highly commended for his performance in Bromsgrove’s Young Musicians’ Platform and he has already been selected for the semi-finals of the Gregynog Young Musician Competition which was won in 2015 by Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Jaren has also been invited to play in a masterclass for Rivka Golani as part of the Ernest Bloch Anniversary Festival and will be hosting his own solo recital at All Saint’s Church on 21st June 2020. In addition to his solo playing, Jaren has performed this year with the Apollo Philharmonic Orchestra, run by musicians from the Yehudi Menuhuin School and the London Young Soloists Chamber Orchestra.
Jaren has enjoyed the benefits of a music scholarship at UCS since he joined the school in 2017 and practises for two and a half hours every day. He is part of a number of UCS’s ensembles and the Sharp String Quartet, which features Jaren on viola, was due to appear in the finals of the South-East Schools Chamber Music Competition after a sublime rendition of the sixth and seventh movements of Beethoven’s String Quartet No 14. This, and Jaren’s planned performances at the North London Music Festival and the Royal Academy Senior Viola Prize have understandably been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you would like to learn more about a music scholarship to UCS, please see: www.ucs.org.uk/bursaries-and-scholarships
Fantastic Celebration of World Book Day at UCS Pre Prep
Staff, pupils and parents joined forces to ensure that World Book Day 2020 would never be forgotten by the pupils at UCS Pre Prep in Hampstead as they transformed the school into a Fantasy and Fairytale wonderland.
6th March 2020 — Staff, pupils and parents joined forces to ensure that World Book Day 2020 would never be forgotten by the pupils at UCS Pre Prep in Hampstead. Overnight, staff transformed the school into a Fantasy and Fairytale wonderland. Boys arrived with their parents in the morning and could only enter the school through a gingerbread house made from sweets. This was just the beginning of the fun and, on the other side, they were greeted by Hansel and Gretal’s breadcrumb trail which led through the school.
Throughout the day, the Pre Prep boys enjoyed an array of literary treats. Local illustrator, Sharon King Chai, shared the secrets of her design processes, and the children were delighted to hear her talk through the drawings in her latest book Starbird. Many pupils dressed as their favourite literary characters and staff joined in the fun – Cinderella, Rapunzel, a Fairy Godmother and a wicked witch were all spotted about the site. These teachers shared their favourite stories and the boys enjoyed reading books with each other during their House assemblies, where they also showcased their fabulous costumes from their chosen book.
It was a wonderful day and was a fitting celebration of the rich genre of fairytales and fantasy writing. For those who were lucky enough to see Little Red Riding Hood, Prince Charming and the Three Little Pigs at the Hampstead school, it will certainly live long in the memory.
Last Thursday, 180 former pupils (known as Old Gowers) from UCS gathered for a reunion which marked the 40th anniversary of the Queen reopening the Great Hall following the devastation of a fire in 1978.
3rd March 2020 — Last Thursday, 180 former pupils (known as Old Gowers) from University College School gathered for a reunion at the school in Hampstead. This was a reunion unlike any other as it was held exactly 40 years after the school was reopened by the Queen following a fire, which devastated the Great Hall and surrounding classrooms in 1978. Old Gower, Alan Jacobs recalls, “On 27th February 1980, the Queen visited UCS and as Sixth Formers at the time, we were presented to her. We were delighted that Her Majesty took the time earlier this month to write to us to wish us well on the 40th anniversary of her visit.”
The reunion was attended by Old Gowers of all ages, including comedian Hugh Dennis and journalist and politician Daniel Finkelstein, and the guest of honour was former UCS pupil Sir Chris Bonington. The famous mountaineer shared his experiences of life at UCS and how he turned his love of climbing into a lifelong career. Mark Beard, Headmaster of the UCS Foundation commented, “It was wonderful to welcome so many former pupils back to school. The talk by Sir Chris Bonington was fascinating. We all enjoyed hearing how a set- back in his sixth form years led him to start climbing and the future successes from which he never looked back. It was a lesson to us all in resilience.”