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.
Since Monday 15th June, University College School in Hampstead has opened its doors to further pupils beyond key worker and vulnerable children, with a bespoke programme for Year 10 and Year 12.
21st June 2020 — Since Monday 15th June, University College School in Hampstead has opened its doors to further pupils beyond key worker and vulnerable children, with a bespoke programme for Year 10 and Year 12. Classrooms and corridors have been adapted to ensure the government’s social distancing guidelines are adhered to but it is clear every day that pupils and teachers are simply delighted to see each other.
Mark Beard, Headmaster at UCS, commented, “Our Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils returned immediately after half-term and this week we have been delighted to have the Year 10 and 12 pupils back on site. Our staff have worked hard since mid-March to ensure the impact of lockdown on our pupils’ learning has been minimised. Teachers have learnt to use remote teaching techniques very quickly but activities for the Year 10 and 12 pupils over the next fortnight will focus on promoting positive mental health and, in the case of the Year 12s, preparing for UCAS applications. Many facets of UCS have continued to run throughout this period. Throughout June we are running an online arts festival and a number of collaborative events with our partner state schools have actually been easier to facilitate with each school operating remotely. Next week we look forward to welcoming all other primary-age children back into school too.”
UCS also reopened its sport facilities last week allowing pupils and members of UCS Active to use the cricket nets and the tennis courts at its playing fields in West Hampstead.
One of UCS's Young Enterprise teams wins Best Customer Service Award at Young Enterprise Awards.
21st June 2020 — Throughout their time at University College School in Hampstead pupils are given numerous opportunities to develop and test their entrepreneurial skills both in and out of the classroom.
The Young Enterprise scheme is a popular national scheme and, following an internal competition which ran during the autumn term, two teams of Sixth Form pupils were selected to represent UCS at the London Finals of the scheme which were held last month. The two teams had spent the previous six months launching and developing two businesses: UniforMe, a platform used for the sale of second-hand school uniform; and Balanced, a task management app. Both companies made excellent use of the guidance given throughout and learnt a number of new skills including a coding language which was new to them. In February the teams spent a day in Spitalfields market networking with potential customers and pitching their ideas to a panel of judges including Apprentice star Dean Ahmed.
60 schools across London are involved in the Young Enterprise scheme and, due to lockdown restrictions, their teams were invited to compete remotely in the finals. UniforMe were particularly impressive and scooped the prize for Best Customer Service after a particularly strong video presentation. Damian Armitage, Careers Coordinator at UCS, commented, “I was delighted by the teamwork displayed by both teams throughout the competition. They worked extremely hard and it was rewarding to see them implement their ideas so well. UniforMe stood out in the competition as they had considered the experience of each customer so carefully. They had responded well to feedback throughout the process which improved the viability of the product and continued to develop the service on an ongoing basis.”
This year’s Young Enterprise scheme has now concluded but another group of young entrepreneurs from UCS are already looking forward to taking part in the scheme in the next school year.
The tragic death of George Floyd has given rise to a period of reflection at UCS. Earlier this week, Mark Beard, Headmaster, wrote to pupils, former pupils, staff & parents to outline his plans for consultation & evolution.
12th June 2020 — The tragic death of George Floyd has given rise to a period of reflection at UCS. Earlier this week, Mark Beard, Headmaster, wrote to pupils, former pupils, staff & parents to outline his plans for consultation & evolution. Read his letter here:
On Wednesday this week, the funeral of George Floyd, whose tragic death in police custody has generated global condemnation, heard impassioned pleas for racial justice and equality. Speakers in the church lined up to remember a man whose “crime was that he was born black”. In sweeping the world, the Black Lives Matter campaign has touched not only London and the UK, but also UCS. Recent events have made me reflect on the importance of diversity and equality, neither of which should be taken for granted nor presumed to be established. There is no place for discrimination or prejudice of any sort, on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. I know I speak for my colleagues as much as myself when I say that I am determined to use this watershed moment to review and refresh our strategic approach to diversity and equality in order to set UCS on a path where tolerance and respect are foremost and prejudice is a thing of the past. A time when every single pupil and member of staff can say truly that they have enjoyed and benefitted from our distinctive liberal ethos and the values that make the UCS community strong and inclusive.
I am very grateful to current and former pupils who have come forward to tell us their views or relate their experiences and suggest ways of raising awareness and understanding. We need to keep listening and asking questions, and we want very much to involve the student body in shaping the strategy and ensuring effective implementation throughout our schools.
To that end, we are in the process of establishing a steering group that will comprise current pupils and staff, and also reach out to Old Gowers. Along with understanding better the pupil experience, the steering group will review our PSHE programme, our taught curriculum and the co-curricular and enrichment programme. It will also consider our recruitment and equal opportunities policies. I expect the recommendations may include improvements to all of these areas, along with opportunities for staff and pupil training in, for example, diversity and unconscious bias. We promise to develop an open and transparent approach and to ensure that our culture will enable everyone to feel involved and valued. We are also interested to see how UCS can contribute to the debate on the nature and content of the nation’s school curriculum.
I hope laying out these plans is of reassurance to you that UCS remains committed to providing an environment in which every one of you can be the best version of yourselves, rooted in a community of individuals bound together by their common humanity. If you have ideas or experiences you would like to discuss, please do share them with any member of staff, and I thank you all in advance for your help in making UCS the best possible version of itself.
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.