University College School

University College London Jeremy Bentham Hugh Dennis

University College School
UCS RGB logo reduced resolution.jpg
London, NW3

Coordinates51°33′12″N 0°10′52″W / 51.5533°N 0.1811°W / 51.5533; -0.1811Coordinates: 51°33′12″N 0°10′52″W / 51.5533°N 0.1811°W / 51.5533; -0.1811
TypeIndependent day school
MottoLatin: Paulatim Sed Fermiter
("Slowly but surely")
Established1830; 190 years ago (1830)
FounderJeremy Bentham
Local authorityCamden
Department for Education URN100065 Tables
Chair of CouncilSimon Lewis
HeadmasterMark Beard MA
Coeducational Sixth Form
Age3 to 18
Colour(s)Maroon, black
Former pupilsOld Gowers

University College School, generally known as UCS, is an independent day school in Frognal, northwest London, England. The school was founded in 1830 by University College London and inherited many of that institution's progressive and secular views.

The UCS Hampstead Foundation is composed of four main entities:

UCS is a member of the Eton Group of twelve independent schools, the Haileybury Group of 26 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 Academy of Excellence and UCL Academy. It also has strong ties with the Equatorial College School in Uganda, and charitable work in Romania and India.


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'[2]), 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. The new school buildings were designed by Arnold Mitchell and built by the Dove Brothers. The main school block has been Grade II listed on the National Heritage List for England since May 1974.[3]

The Duke of Kent opened the Sixth Form Centre (which also houses the Lund Theatre) in 1974. Queen Elizabeth II visited the school in 1980 to celebrate its 150th anniversary and to inaugurate the rebuilt hall, which had been destroyed by fire in 1978. 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 in 1993 and the Junior Branch buildings were also refurbished, with the addition of an Art & Technology Centre.

In 2006 the Sir Roger Bannister Sports Centre was officially opened by Bannister (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. In 2009, girls were admitted into the newly co-educational sixth form for the first time.

The Playing Fields, situated in West Hampstead, were upgraded between 2017 and 2019, with an overhauled drainage system and the building of a new pavilion, named the Kantor Centre. 2018 saw the opening of a newly refurbished library, known as the AKO Centre, replacing the older Enav Library.


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 on the school's vertically striped blazers and striped ties. UCS publishes a termly online newsletter called The Frognal and a yearly printed magazine called The Gower sent to current and past pupils.

The annual Speech Day and Prize Giving ceremony has been hosted by many notorious 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), Lord Daniel Finkelstein OG (2016), Julia Hartley-Brewer (2017), Helen McCrory (2018), and Vernon Bogdanor (2019).

The Senior School is divided into three sections by age, and each year has a unique name. Each section is led by a Head of Section.

Pupils 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. The four Houses are Kestrel (blue), Eagle (yellow), Hawk (black) and Falcon (green).

Pupils 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 at least two Forms per year in each Deme. As well as a Deme Warden (Housemaster/Housemistress), each deme have Deme Captains (Head of House). Deme, Half, and Full Colours are awarded through an accumulation of academic and extra-curricular achievements. There are regular inter-Deme competitions in sport, music and drama 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:

In the final year of school, a team of Monitors (prefects) is selected. There are two Captains of Monitors, forming the Head Boy and Head Girl, along with Vice Captains of Monitors. A notable Captain of Monitors includes Hugh Dennis, who held this role in 1980.

The school song, Paulatim, is sung at the end of every term and the annual Speech Day and Prize Giving ceremony. This usually involves pupils throwing their hands in the air in sets of threes, to the phrase Paulatim, Paulatim, Paulatim.


There are five main points of entry for prospective pupils:

Old Gowers (Old boys)

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

Notable staff

Notable former staff include:

Further reading


  1. ^ https://www.ucs.org.uk/assets/user/toolbox/Good_Schools_Guide_Draft_-_Pre_Prep.pdf
  2. ^ "Edinburgh Academy". Edinburgh Academy. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  3. ^ Historic England, "University College School (1113085)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 27 November 2017
  4. ^ J. L. Garvin, Life of Joseph Chamberlain, 1935, p. 33