Ken Jenkinson

Former Head, Colchester Royal Grammar School

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"Colchester offers the benefits of a traditional town whilst being a fast-growing, outward-looking and vibrant hub in the eastern region"

How would you best describe Colchester Royal Grammar School and its values?

Colchester Royal Grammar School (CRGS) is a state-funded 11-18 grammar school for boys, and since 1998 it has admitted girls to its coeducational sixth form. It is committed to the pursuit of excellence in education. From 2006 to 2015, the school was ranked each year the top school in the country, both state and independent, for A level results. OFSTED rated it ‘outstanding’ in every category, an accolade enjoyed by very few schools in the country.

The school is committed to the development of individual talent and character. It combines a forward-looking approach with a belief in traditional values. It instills in young men and women the confidence and ability to lead with a sense of duty, consideration for others and respect. The strong ethos of the school encourages pupils to approach every challenge with confidence and a positive attitude, and for many past pupils, this has been their route to success.

Who started Colchester Royal Grammar School and when; how has it evolved to date?

The school is directly descended from a ‘town-school’ or ‘great-school’ that existed in 1206. It was granted Royal Charters by Henry VIII in 1539 and Elizabeth I in 1585. Originally based in Culver Street in Colchester, it moved to its Lexden Road site in the first half of the nineteenth century. The school of today is synonymous with excellence in education and offers a broad academic curriculum, dedicated pastoral support and a rich extracurricular programme. A designated specialist school for Science and Languages, it was granted academy status in 2012. It became a National Teaching School in 2013 and assumed a leading role in an area-wide alliance of local secondary schools.

How big is Colchester Royal Grammar School now?

There are now approximately 900 students, and this is the largest the school has ever been. There are around 350 A level pupils, including 30 boarders in its international boarding house.

How do you see Colchester Royal Grammar School evolve further over the next 5 years?

The school is well placed to maintain its position as one of the nation’s leading selective schools. It will seek to develop further its national profile and strengthen its international links in the years to come, but it will always remain rooted in and committed to its local community.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based organisation?

Colchester has much to offer businesses, workers and families. It is well placed geographically in terms of its proximity to London, the coast and open countryside. It has a long and fascinating history, and the town of today prizes the arts and is rightly proud of its cultural heritage. It offers a variety of sporting activities and is home to ambitious and forward-looking professional, semi-professional and amateur sports clubs.

The town’s rich educational provision is characterised by choice and diversity and a shared commitment to excellence. As a town, it has its own unique identity, distinct from other towns in the region. It offers the benefits of a traditional town community, where all the amenities are easily accessible and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, together with the advantages of being a fast-growing, outward-looking and vibrant hub in the eastern region.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

In education, the biggest challenges are funding and the recruitment and retention of high-calibre teaching staff. Schools now have to be resourceful, even entrepreneurial, to maintain the quality and variety of their provision.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both Colchester Royal Grammar School and for the town generally?

The current development of the town will attract more pupils to the local schools. This will bring increased funding and an influx of talent to the area. New schools will need to be built and more school places will need to be created in order to meet the projected demand. However, it is important that, where expansion occurs, the Colchester schools do not lose their own special ethos and individual identity and that they continue to play their part in the integrated educational provision in the town. It is a difficult balance to strike, and one which, in some ways, mirrors the town’s aspirations: how to develop in order to take advantage of new opportunities and, in doing so, how to reinforce the special character, unique appeal and collective responsibility that have characterised the provision and progress to date?

Of the 4 themes promoted by Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

Education is at the heart of what makes Colchester what it is today and what it will be in the future. The schools, colleges, Institute and university provide a wide range of opportunities for the students who study here, the people and families who live and work here and the businesses which operate here. The will to be creative and innovative permeates every sector of the educational provision in Colchester, and this, together with a common commitment to excellence, is a hallmark of a world-class knowledge borough.