Background / History

The King’s School is part of The Pontefract Academies Trust, we work closely with our neighbouring Secondary and Primary schools, learning and developing best practice to raise standards for all the children in and around Pontefract. Please read the ‘Pontefract Education Trust Magazine’ for more information.

Our motto “Success for All” has true meaning for us – we are a fully comprehensive and inclusive school, committed to equal opportunities and the highest aspirations for all.We are recognised as a centre of excellence for the education of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. We provide best practice in intervention and mentoring, recognised by the National Mentoring & Befriending Foundation, and we are an exemplar school for best practice in Careers Education & Guidance, having received and maintained the “Investors in Careers” kite-mark for several years.

Our students are very successful in their progression pathways Post 16, moving onto Further Education, Training and Apprenticeships and Higher Education with significant success. Our most able students have gained places at the top universities, including Oxbridge, after inspirational visits as part of our “Raising Aspirations” programme.Our curriculum is broad, balanced and designed to meet the individual needs of all of our students, equipping them with the skills needed for the 21st century.

Our student-focussed curriculum provides access to an exciting range of academic, vocational and extra-curricular activities. We offer a wide choice of enrichment activities to challenge, in particular, our most able students including Enterprise & Work-Related Learning competitions, educational visits, outside speakers and bespoke “Enjoy & Achieve” days. We are also actively involved with the British Council to deliver an international programme of staff/student exchanges.

We have a successful Creative Arts Team offering exciting opportunities in Art, Music, Drama and Dance and our success in a variety of Sports takes some beating, with student representation at local, national and international levels.

Teaching and Learning come first with us. The King’s School is the lead school for teacher training in the Wakefield Regional Partnership for Initial Teacher Training (WRPITT), graded Outstanding by Ofsted in 2013. We work tirelessly to create outstanding learning experiences for our students, both in and out of the classroom, for example with our innovative approach to outside learning in our own “Forest School”.

We maintain a strong focus on improving Literacy and Numeracy, led by a specialist team of mentors to support our more vulnerable students, ensuring we maintain strong across the Core Subjects of English, Mathematics and Science. As members of the Pontefract Academies Trust (PAT), we work in partnership our Primary and Secondary colleagues to create a thriving learning community which provides the best possible education for the students of Pontefract and the wider community.

The King’s School is reputed to be the second oldest school in Yorkshire, having been in existence since at least the reign of William the Conqueror. The School provided education during the middle ages through the Church under the guidance of St. Nicholas’ Hospital. Despite the fact that the Church property was confiscated by the Crown, the School continued and became one of several Grammar Schools founded by Edward VI in 1548 when it received its first Royal Charter as “King Edward Grammar School, Pontefract”.In 1588 the Duchy of Lancaster consolidated the stipends of five neighbouring schools with those of Pontefract and re-established the School in new premises in Northgate as “Queen Elizabeth School, Pontefract”.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries falling revenues and rising inflation saw the School fall into a state of decay and it was left vacant for many years.

A petition to the Crown in the late eighteenth century led to a doubling of the School’s revenues by the Duchy of Lancaster and a second Royal Charter was granted on 13th February 1792 during the reign of George III, wherein it was stated: “that the said free grammar school, situate and being within the said town of Pontefract…shall ever and hereafter be called The King’s School… ”

Further inflation continued to erode revenues. Despite efforts by the Duchy of Lancaster to resuscitate the School it floundered in 1879 due to local apathy. Local interest was revived at the end of the 1889’s when the Governors purchased the disused militia barracks in Back Northgate as a site for a boys’ grammar school which was officially opened on May 6th 1890.

The School moved to its present site in 1932, and the Main Block presently housing the English, Modern Languages and Performing Arts Departments surrounding an attractively laid out quadrangle, dates from that time. A conservatory overlooking the quadrangle which acts as a reception lounge has also been added. Extensions were added in the late 1950′s (Poulson Block-housing Mathematics & ICT)) and the late 1970′s (Design Block and Humanities Block).

From September 1998 further accommodation was provided with a large new Assembly Hall and in September 2000 a new Science Wing was completed. In addition, the original Great Hall was converted to the Learning Resource Centre, at the heart of the school. These together with a Sports Hall, Gymnasium and extensive playing fields, a refurbished Drama Studio and a Music Suite (with adjacent practice rooms) provide specialist accommodation for the full range of work to be found in an 11-16 comprehensive school.

Further improvements have been made with the refurbishment of the Dining Hall and the addition of a Deli Bar, a new Medical Room, the conversion of the Library into a Learning Resource Centre (incorporating the latest technology) and the creation of a number of additional staff work spaces.

Recent additions in 2013: Foundation Learning Centre – A teaching and learning (T&L) space with a focus on vocational curriculum, new T&L classroom and Training and Conference facilities. We converted the ex-Caretaker’s House into a bespoke inclusion facility. Our “Caretaker’s” House provides us with specialist inclusion facilities where some of our more vulnerable students are supported and cared for. We also have a new fitness centre/gym and a new reception with accompanying covered walkways leading into the school.

Autumn 2014 has seen the refurbishment of the “Poulson” Maths/ICT block with new windows and an external “face-lift”.

Considerable efforts have been made to retain the traditional character of the school, whilst, at the same time, providing modern facilities and creating a pleasant working environment for our learners.


Please click here to download a pdf version of our School Prospectus.