King's Scholar

A King's Scholar is a foundation scholar (elected on the basis of good academic performance and usually qualifying for reduced fees) of one of certain public schools. These include Eton College, The King's School, Canterbury and Westminster School, although at Westminster their name changes depending on whether the current monarch is male or female (under Elizabeth II, they are Queen's Scholars).

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King's Scholars at Eton College

At Eton College, a King's Scholar is one who has passed the College Election examination and is awarded a Foundation Scholarship and admitted into a house, College, which is the oldest Eton house and consists solely of King's Scholars. There are, at any one time, around 70 King's Scholars, and they are distinguished by the black gown which they wear. The other pupils at the school, more than 1200 of them, all boys, are known as Oppidans.

This gown is said to be the basis of the nickname "Tugs", from the Latin "gens togata", i.e. "toga'd people", although this particular slice of Eton argot has become less commonly heard in recent years.

As there are 70 King's Scholars, and they are in College for five years, approximately 14 are admitted per year (a "block" in Eton argot), and share every aspect of school life with the Oppidans (or Etonians who have entered Eton via Common Entrance), including lessons and school sport. They also have the privileged position of eating all their meals in College Hall, the old central hub of the school which has seen many distinguished diners in its long history including Elizabeth I. One other difference is that Collegers usually play the wall game in the winter term for the full five years, while Oppidans tend only to play it in their last year.

They also live in the central area of the school, either overlooking or in close proximity to School Yard, where both Eton College Chapel and Lupton's Tower are situated, as well as the Founder's Statue. The boarding house in which Collegers live includes New Buildings and Chamber. Chamber, the older section, includes rooms which look out onto School Yard, while New Buildings is on the reverse side and contains the majority of the boys' living spaces.

A Foundation Scholarship used to provide a full and unconditional waiver of all the school fees. But since the 1960s this formerly automatic award has been reined in, and is increasingly subject to means testing. As of 2009, a scholarship now only guarantees an automatic remission of 10% of the usual fees. Part or all of the remainder may also be waived, but this is dependent on financial circumstances.

King's Scholars have the letters KS attached to their surnames in the school lists. Oppidans who have distinguished themselves academically are called Oppidan Scholars — they receive no financial benefit, but have OS attached to their surnames in the school lists.

Famous ex-King's Scholars (Eton)

King's and Queen's Scholars at Westminster School

See Queen's Scholar

The foundation scholars at Westminster School are called Queen's Scholars when there is a reigning Queen and King's Scholars when there is a reigning King. As at Eton, they are selected by competitive examination ("The Challenge"), board at the oldest house in the school, known as College, and wear gowns during school chapel services.

King's Scholars at King's College Cambridge

The term King's Scholar is also used for those who obtain firsts at King's College Cambridge, who receive a small prize. This is a historical hang-over from scholarships endowed by the college's founder. (King's College Cambridge and Eton College were both founded by Henry VI, and are sister colleges.) At King's it is rumoured that the right to use K.S. after a name is a privilege of King's Scholars, but the legal status of this is not clear.

King's Scholars at the King's Schools

The seven King's Schools at Canterbury, Chester, Ely, Gloucester, Peterborough, Rochester and Worcester were re-endowed or re-founded by King Henry VIII in 1541 following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and award King's Scholarships in his name. Originally all pupils at the King's Schools were endowment-funded King's Scholars; the King's Schools now generally award the King's Scholarship in recognition of academic or musical attainment, and the Scholarship is often accompanied by a discount on school fees. By statute of Queen Elizabeth II, the King's Schools were granted the right to award Queen's Scholarships in 1973, both in recognition of the reigning Queen, and because many of the King's Schools, previously all single-sex schools, were moving towards co-education at the time.

King's School Ely

The King's School Ely awarded King's Scholarships to 12 boys every year until 1973 when Queen Elizabeth II requested for the scholarship to be awarded to high achieving girls as well, in conjunction with her visit to the school. Thus every year 6 girls and 6 boys from the lower sixth are awarded the scholarship based on the grades achieved at GCSE with most scholars achieving over 5 A*. The ceremony is carried out in Ely Cathedral in which the Scholars are added as members of the Cathedral foundation. Every year the scholars participate in one of the King's School Ely's oldest traditions, the annual "Hoop Trundle". Essentially the scholars trundle hoops along the college lane in a race. The tradition derives from when centuries ago, one of the privileges of being a King's scholar was the right to be able to play games in cathedral and college grounds. King's scholars wear a red gown over their uniform and are also entitled to several other privileges:

  • Former scholars can marry in Ely Cathedral
  • Are members of the Ely Cathedral foundation for life
  • They can be buried within the grounds of Ely Cathedral

King's School, Canterbury

At the King's School Canterbury, King's Scholars are students who have taken the scholarship exam on entry or achieved exceptional grades in their GCSE, usually more than 8 A*. They wear a black gown over their uniform and are entitled to several additional traditional privileges:

  • They have the letters KS after their name
  • Former KSs can marry in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral
  • They can be buried within the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral

See also Kings School Canterbury#Traditions.

King's School, Worcester

At the King's School, Worcester, the King's Scholarship is the highest scholarship awarded. It is awarded on the basis of academic or musical attainment, and typically accompanies a reduction in school fees. King's Scholars are generally appointed in the Lower Remove (year 9) on the basis of exam results and an interview, or in the Lower Sixth (year 12) on the basis of attainment up to GCSE. All scholars appointed in the Lower Remove are titled King's Scholars, regardless of their gender or of the reigning monarch, in honour of Henry VIII; male scholars appointed in the Lower Sixth are also titled King's Scholars; female scholars appointed in the Lower Sixth are titled Queen's Scholars in honour of Elizabeth II.

King's and Queen's Scholars are members of the foundation of Worcester Cathedral, and wear a white surplice over their uniform during major school services. The Senior Scholar, who is appointed from among the King's and Queen's Scholars in the Upper Sixth (year 13), has the job of co-ordinating the scholars. In an annual ceremony, the Senior Scholar proceeds to Worcester Crown Court, to demand from the presiding judge, in Latin, a day's holiday for the school, known as Judge's Day. He or she is entitled to be married in the cathedral and buried within the cathedral grounds, and is also theoretically entitled to graze a sheep and a goat on College Green.

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