Tiffin School

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Tiffin School
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Tiffin School
Queen Elizabeth Road

, ,

Coordinates 51°24′41″N0°17′46″W / 51.4115°N 0.296°W / 51.4115; -0.296 Coordinates: 51°24′41″N0°17′46″W / 51.4115°N 0.296°W / 51.4115; -0.296
Type Grammar school
MottoFaire Sans Dire
( French: 'To do without saying')
FoundersJohn and Thomas Tiffin
SpecialistsArts (performing) and language
Department for Education URN 136910 Tables
Ofsted Reports
ChairPhil Phillips
HeadteacherMike Gascoigne
GenderBoys, Co-Ed from 16-18
Age11to 18
Colour(s)Red, blue
Former pupilsOld Tiffinians
Website http://www.tiffinschool.co.uk

Tiffin School is a boys' grammar school in Kingston upon Thames, England. It has specialist status in both the performing arts and languages. The school moved from voluntary aided status to become an Academy School on 1 July 2011. Founded in 1880, Tiffin School educates 1,058 pupils as of February 2019.



Entry into the school is by academic selection, using both an English and a mathematics test. [1] The school admits 180 students each year in year 7. Since at least 2002, [2] students have been able to apply to join Tiffin for Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13); approximately 35-40% of the boys are 'new boys', from other schools. Admission to the sixth form is based on GCSE results and interview performance. From September 2019, the Sixth Form became co-educational and admits around 80 girls. Tiffin remains an all boys’ school from Years 7 to 11.


The school colours - red and blue - date from the time of its original foundation in the seventeenth century. The school's coat of arms, with three salmon, is based on that of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The uniform for years 7 - 10 is in the same colours with blue and red stripes. For years 11 it is a full dark blue outfit.

House system

The house system was introduced by the Head Thomas Dean in the Autumn term of 1919. There were originally six houses, named after famous British explorers, but this was increased to eight on 14 March 1947 due to the expansion of the school. At the start of the academic year 1964-1965 the number of houses was reduced back to six. The names of the two newest houses were "retained so that their identity was not lost" according to the Tiffinian Magazine, but no reason was given as to why they were joined with Gordon and Kingsley. The reason for the change was the reduction in the size of the school imposed by the LEA. In 2016 the school added two new houses; Darwin-Wilberforce and Turing-Nightingale.

HouseHouse colourTie colours
Churchill-Gordon BlackBlack and White
Darwin-Wilberforce NavySilver and Navy
Drake RedBlack and Red
Kingsley-Montgomery GreenBlack and Green
Livingstone YellowBlue and Yellow (formerly Brown and Yellow)
Raleigh WhiteMaroon and White
Scott BlueBlue and White
Turing-Nightingale SilverSilver and White

The school also operates a head prefect system, consisting of head, deputy head, senior, and assistant prefects. Students in the lower sixth are invited to become prefects, with several then selected to form a head prefect team. When on duty, the head prefects wear blue gowns and the deputy head prefects wear dark red gowns. Assistant prefects formerly wore red gowns, however this was changed to apply only to senior prefects.


Tiffin School Main Building, taken from the Head's Garden. Tiffin School.jpg
Tiffin School Main Building, taken from the Head's Garden.

Two prosperous brewers from Kingston, John and Thomas Tiffin, left money in their wills in 1638 for the education of local people. At first, the money was used for scholarships to attend local schools. However, the fund grew through investment returns and additional donations, so by the 1820s nearly 110 children were benefiting from the fund.

By 1869, when the charity schools had closed and the money was no longer needed by the Public Secondary School, the charity's trustees proposed to support Kingston Grammar School. There was a debate until 1872 when it was decided that Kingston Grammar School should receive no more than a quarter of the income from the charity.[ citation needed ]

Plans were therefore drawn up in 1874 for two new schools; Tiffin Boys' School and Tiffin Girls' School, each taking 150 pupils. A single building by the Fairfield housing both schools was opened in January 1880. [3]

In 1929, the boys' school moved to its present site, in Queen Elizabeth Road near the centre of Kingston. [3] It became a grammar school under the Education Act 1944. The school changed from being voluntary-controlled to being grant-maintained in 1992. On 1 July 2011, the school achieved Academy status.

New buildings

In 1937, a new building was opened for the Girls' School for 480 pupils. They had previously been in the same building as the Boys' School. [4]

The school site has expanded and now has a Sports Centre, Performing Arts Centre, South Building, Judge Lecture Theatre and Learning Resource Centre (named the Dempsey Centre after a former head). The Sports Centre is used for exams and indoor sports activities. The Performing Arts Centre is used for the teaching of drama, art, music and design and technology. The South Building is used for the teaching of Mathematics, English and Modern Foreign Languages. The Judge Lecture Theatre is used as a lecture theatre for external events and internal classes. The Learning Resource Centre is used as a library, IT suite and career development office.

In 2011, an all-weather AstroTurf pitch was erected on part of the old grass field, funded by Jim Dixon and a National Lottery grant. The cricket nets were refurbished and named the Neil Desai cricket nets in honour of his passing. [5]

Over the course of late 2017 and early 2018, a new building attached to the existing Dempsey Centre was opened. This was funded by the government (£3,000,000). An additional £250,000 was raised with donations from former pupils and former teachers. In this building, a new IT room was installed, a brand new canteen and six new maths classrooms. The old canteen on this site was subsequently demolished prior to build. This has meant there is less space for on-site car parking and recreational play during lunchtimes and breaks. The sports changing room of the sports centre was also expanded. This was due to the need of a refurbishment and an additional changing room for girls, attending the school for the first time in its history from September 2019.

In May 2022, the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) was closed for renovations. It is scheduled to re-open in September 2022.

Present day

The Dempsey Centre DempseyCentre.JPG
The Dempsey Centre

There are between 180 and 190 boys in each year, and about 440 in the Sixth Form, taught by 65 teaching staff. [6] The Dempsey Centre, named after Dr Tony Dempsey, who retired as head in 2004, was opened in September of that year. It contains ICT suites, a lecture theatre, a library and a new careers office. [7] [8]

In 2004, Sean Heslop took over as head of Tiffin School, due to the retirement of Tony Dempsey. He subsequently left the school in 2009 to take a position at Folkestone Academy. He was subsequently arrested and bailed by the police on the charge of abusing a position of trust with a minor. He was acquitted of all charges. [9]

In 2009, Hilda Clarke became the first female head of Tiffin School. She is a former head of Langley Grammar School in Slough and former deputy head of Tiffin Girls' School in Kingston upon Thames. In November 2014, it was announced that Hilda Clarke had stepped down and was replaced by the former deputy head and longstanding history teacher, Mike Gascoigne.

Ofsted report

The Ofsted report in 2002 stated that "the school is very popular; annually, it receives around 1,300 applications for the 140 available places. Very nearly all 16-year-olds continue into the Sixth Form and around 40 more join the Sixth Form each year from other schools. On entry, the pupils’ and Sixth Form students’ attainment is very high compared with the national average." In the 2007 Ofsted Report, Tiffin was rated outstanding (grade 1) in every area. [10]

In the 2013 Ofsted Report, pupils' exam results overall were in the top 40% of similar schools' results, and in the top 20% of all schools. [11]

Academic achievement

According to the Sunday Times Parent Power Guide, the school is ranked 10th in the top hundred State Secondary Schools based on 2011 examination results. [12] The 2011 results for the school are:


The school has a choir and several musical ensembles, including a swing band, and many of its pupils are members of Thames Youth Orchestra. [13] Every year, the school performs an oratorio either held in the Rose Theatre or the Tiffin Sports Hall, which consists of students, parents, staff and friends and is accompanied by the London Mozart Players or the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra or the Sinfonia Britannica. [14]

Tiffin Boys' Choir

The Tiffin Boys' Choir (directed by James Day), which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017, performs at venues including the Royal Opera House, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Barbican with London orchestras, and it regularly goes on tour. [15] The choir has recorded CDs, such as Rejoice in the Lamb and Christmas at Tiffin. They have also recorded film music for the Hobbit, Bohemian rhapsody and the Batman. It has also appeared on recordings of Mahler with Klaus Tennstedt, Puccini's Tosca with Antonio Pappano and Britten's War Requiem with Kurt Masur. The choir was featured on the last episode of TFI Friday , on the soundtrack of A Christmas Carol, starring Kate Winslet, and on the subsequently released top-ten Kate Winslet Single "What If". [15]


Tiffin School is active in all the main sports. [16] It has facilities for rugby, athletics, football and cricket at a large area of ground in East Molesey near Hampton Court, known as Grist's (named after a former headmaster). [17] Tiffin School Boat Club is based at Canbury Boathouse, which is shared with Kingston Rowing Club along the Thames at Canbury Gardens. [18] The school has a sports hall and all-weather AstroTurf pitch open to the public after school hours. Tiffin School provides ball boys for The Championships, Wimbledon.

Old Tiffinians

Former pupils are known as Old Tiffinians. The Tiffinian Association arranges reunion events such as dinners and sports fixtures.

Notable former pupils

Arts and entertainment

Education and politics



Notable teachers

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