University College School

University College School
Motto paulatim sed fermiter.
(Slowly but surely in latin)
Established 1830
Type Independent day school
Headmaster Mr Mark J Beard MA
Chair of Council Simon Lewis
Location Hampstead
Coordinates: 51°33′12″N 0°10′52″W / 51.5533°N 0.1811°W / 51.5533; -0.1811
Local authority Camden
DfE URN 100065 Tables
Students 1180~
Gender Boys; Coeducational Sixth Form
Coeducational (Phoenix School)
Ages 3–18
Colours Maroon, Black
Former pupils Old Gowers

University College School, generally known as UCS Hampstead, is an independent day school in Hampstead, northwest London, England. The school was founded in 1830 by University College London and inherited many of that institution's progressive and secular views. According to the Good Schools Guide, the school "Achieves impressive exam results with a relaxed atmosphere". UCS aims to combine the highest standards of academic achievement and pastoral care with outstanding facilities for all-round education with a distinctive liberal ethos.

The UCS Hampstead Foundation is composed of four main entities:

UCS is a member of both the Eton Group of twelve independent schools and the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. It is well known for its established Bursary Programme and Music Scholarships, as well as its outreach work with a number of other schools in North and West London, including Westminster Academy, the London School of Excellence (LSE) and UCL Academy. It also has strong ties with the Equatorial College School in Uganda, and charitable work in Romania and India.


The school motto is Paulatim Sed Firmiter'. In 2016, the school updated its school logo to incorporate its widely known name of UCS Hampstead and to include the full motto in its distinctive roundel emblem. The school's colours are maroon and black which are shown to the school's distinctive vertical striped blazers. UCS publishes a termly online newsletter called The Frognal and a yearly printed magazine called The Gower sent to current and past students for free. The latest editions are available on the school website.

The annual Speech Day and Prize Giving ceremony, has been hosted by many speakers, including Rory Bremner, Gary Lineker, Henry Olonga, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Roger Bannister OG, Stephen Fry, Lord Coe (2007), Professor Malcolm Grant (President and Provost of UCL) (2008), Sir Michael Parkinson (2009), Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (2010), Nicholas Hytner (2011), Hugh Dennis OG (2012), Victoria Wood (2013), Fiona Bruce (2014), Michael McIntyre (2015), and Daniel Finkelstein OG (2016)

The Senior School is divided into three schools by age, and each year has a unique name:

Students in the Lower School are arranged into Houses, each named after a bird. In the Lower School, there is one form (class) per year in each house.

Students in the Middle School and Upper School are arranged into Demes, each named after a former prominent member of staff. This is similar to a school house. In the Middle School, there is one form (class) per year in each Deme, and in the Upper School there are two forms per year in each Deme. There are regular inter-Deme competitions in sports throughout the year. In the Middle School the distinctive school blazer carries a coloured school logo on the breast pocket depicting the pupil's Deme. There are currently six Demes:


There are five main points of entry for prospective pupils:


University College School, Frognal, Hampstead in the early twentieth century

University College School was founded in 1830 as part of University College London and moved to its current location in Hampstead in 1907. Continuing on the long tradition of dissenting academies, the University of London had been inspired by the work of Jeremy Bentham and others to provide opportunities for higher education regardless of religious beliefs.

At the time, only members of the established Church could study at Cambridge and Oxford (the only other two universities in England at the time) while similar religious tests were imposed at the other universities dating from the medieval and renaissance periods present in the rest of the British Isles, namely St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dublin. Furthermore, the subjects taught at these Ancient Universities during this period, especially at Cambridge and Oxford, were relatively narrow, with classical subjects and divinity dominating.

Several of the founders of the University of London are directly associated with the founding of the school; they include Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (who appears to be singled out as the ring leader in A tradition for Freedom), Lord Auckland (probably George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland), William Bingham Baring, 2nd Baron Ashburton, Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, Henry Hallam, Leonard Horner (The Royal Society of Edinburgh has described UCS as his 'monument' [1]), James Mill, Viscount Sandon (probably either Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby or Dudley Ryder, 2nd Earl of Harrowby), James Lock, Stephen Lushington D.C.L. M.P., John Smith M.P., and Henry Waymouth.

The first headmaster was The Reverend Henry Browne, who quickly caused controversy, by publishing a prospectus for the School which appeared to include some type of communal worship. This was quickly replaced with a new version which also stated that the School would not use corporal punishment (highly unusual at the time). The School opened at 16 Gower Street (from where the sobriquet 'Old Gower' derives) on 1 November 1830 under the name 'The London University School'. Browne soon resigned from his position and was replaced by John Walker (an assistant Master). By February 1831 it had outgrown its quarters, in October 1831, the Council of UCL agreed to formally take over the school and it was brought within the walls of the College in 1832, with a joint headmastership of Professors Thomas Hewitt Key and Henry Malden.

The School was original - it was never a boarding school, it was one of the first schools to teach modern languages, and sciences, and it was one of the first to abolish corporal punishment. It has also been noted that, in fact, UCS had a gymnasium before the school that is generally credited with having the first gym. Originally, there were no compulsory subjects and no rigid form system. Most boys learnt Latin and French, and many learnt German (a highly unusual subject to teach at that time). Mathematics, Chemistry, Classical Greek and English were also taught. There was no religious teaching. Under the University College London (Transfer) Act 1905, University College London became part of the federal University of London, and the School was created as a separate corporation.

UCS moved away to new purpose-built buildings in Frognal in Hampstead in 1907, which were opened by HM King Edward VII with the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance on 27 July. Kikuchi Dairoku was invited to the first annual prize giving at Frognal where he represented those who had received their prizes at Gower Street.

In 1974 the Sixth Form Centre, which also houses the Lund Theatre, was opened by HRH The Duke of Kent.

In 1980 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited the school to celebrate its 150th Anniversary and to inaugurate the rebuilt hall which had been destroyed by fire in 1978.

In 1993 a new library, music school, lecture theatre, computer laboratory, sports hall, geography block, mathematics School and further classrooms were added to the senior school site. The Junior Branch buildings were also refurbished, with the addition of an Art & Technology Centre.

In 2005 UCS announced a four-year £12 million development programme.

In 2006 the Sir Roger Bannister Sports Centre was officially opened by Sir Roger (himself an Old Gower).

In 2007 a new Art, Design Technology and Modern Languages building came into use and, in a gesture of respect to one of the School's intellectual founding fathers, was formally opened as the Jeremy Bentham building by The Duke of Gloucester on 22 May 2008. Also in 2008, the Sixth Form Centre was completely renovated along with most of the School's interior and classrooms. Also in 2008, girls were admitted into the co-educational sixth form for the first time.

Notable Old Gowers (Old Boys)

Former pupils are known as Old Gowers, which was derived from Gower Street where the school was originally founded. Notable Old Gowers include:

Notable staff

The current staff list for each school is available on the school's website

Notable former staff include:

Further reading


  1. "Edinburgh Academy". Edinburgh Academy. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
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