It’s so good to see all the Knightonians back at Knighton after the hiatus of lockdown and the distance learning of the Summer Term. We are hugely proud of the teaching and learning we all did last term but it is a relief to be back to school. Even while the school stood largely quiet, however, we have all been working behind the scenes to secure Knighton’s future — and today we are pleased to share three very important pieces of news with you all.
A new closer relationship with Bryanston School
We are delighted to announce the start of an even closer relationship with our next door neighbour, Bryanston School. As many of you will know Knighton was originally the dower house of the Bryanston Estate in the days of the Viscount Portman. Today we are announcing that we are putting the estate back together, with Bryanston purchasing the Knighton site and buildings and leasing them back to us. For many years the Crown was our landlord but from today Bryanston will be, with Knighton retaining its operational independence and autonomy.
This move not only secures Knighton’s future at a time when many independent schools are under threat, it also opens the way to a deeper relationship between our two schools. Knighton already benefits from the use of many of Bryanston’s outstanding facilities and our pupils regularly attend inspiring events across the curriculum. Bryanston staff members send their children to Knighton and we have for many years reciprocated by sending Knightonians onto Bryanston, where they thrive in the familiar, beautiful surroundings. The schools already share so much, in terms of ethos and spirit.
Both schools are now committed to developing our relationship further, including cooperation and support across both the academic and co-curricular areas, the sharing of facilities and of wider expertise, such as marketing. To be working more closely with our neighbour, one of the UK’s most prestigious and successful schools, will further enrich the educational experience of all our pupils.
It’s an important and ambitious step for Knighton and will be a big part of ensuring a thriving future. We are hugely grateful to Bryanston’s Headmaster, Mark Mortimer, and the Chair of Governors, Julian Greenhill, for their support and vision, and we look forward to working even more closely with the whole Bryanston community.
Brothers and others: a gradual move to coeducation
A glance at the honours board in the school hall — or the photos outside the dining room — reveals that boys have always been welcome at Knighton and this year we have Felix in Year Three. A survey shortly before lockdown revealed strong demand from Knighton parents to allow ‘brothers and others’ to stay at Knighton for longer. From today we are opening the school to boys up to and including A2 (Year Six), initially for day pupils only.
From next year (September 2021) boys can stay at Knighton through Years Seven and Eight — still as day boys only. Once we have completed a planned refurbishment of our boarding accommodation (likely to be in the summer of 2022) we will then take final steps toward full coeducation.
We will never lose our ethos of empowerment for girls (as parents of daughters we feel this passionately) but we also believe that this agenda is now best served in a modern coeducational environment. We don’t expect an immediate large influx of boys, more a small stream that will over the coming years grow, as we cooperate and collaborate more with Bryanston, experts in both boarding and coeducation.
Celebrating 70 years of Knighton House
The two announcements above represent great strides towards an exciting new era for Knighton House but in this third announcement we take a look back. The 2020/21 academic year is the 70th year of Knighton House School and we want to mark this significant milestone: so today we are launching the Knighton House 70 Appeal. Typically schools launch appeals to fund building works. While we will continue to invest in our boarding and learning facilities, our enhanced access to the Bryanston estate, means we can, with our appeal, do something a little different.
Lockdown and the pandemic have only widened the educational divide. While Knightonians benefitted from a brilliant online programme many other local schools had little or no provision. The Knighton House 70 Appeal will therefore fund scholarships that will continue to widen access to the superb teaching and learning that happens here. We also want to use the appeal to connect OKs with current Knightonians though a mentoring programme.
We’ll be in touch with you to explain further how Knightonians, OKs and OKPs (Old Knighton Parents) can get involved and help us raise funds to widen access to this remarkable school and so give more children an inspirational Knighton House start to their education.
These are three big pieces of news but together we believe they map out a brighter future for Knighton House.
Please feel free to put your questions to Robin, Helen or Charlotte or get in touch with us directly via the school office — and please do also say hello when we see you at a Knighton event.
We look forward to bumping elbows with you all soon.
Paul and Iain
Joint Chairs of Governors