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Westcliff High School for Boys
Kenilworth Gardens, SS0 0BP, UK Westcliff-on-Sea
+44 (0)1702 475443

Westcliff High School for Boys is a selective Grammar School. It was founded in 1920 and moved to its present and very spacious site in 1926. It has established a reputation as a centre of excellence and has twice been designated ''outstandingly successful'' by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED). In September 2001 the quality of the School''s work and the breadth of its achievements were recognized in the award of ''Beacon'' status and the School now uses its Conference facilities to offer courses to other Schools in the area.

The School has about 1000 boys on roll and draws from the Borough of Southend as well as from districts further afield. Most boys entering at eleven remain at School for seven years before moving on to Higher Education. For a number of years the School has enjoyed a greater measure of freedom and independence, first as a Grant Maintained School and now as a Foundation School, and it has used this to improve substantially its facilities. The Headmaster and Governors have been able to implement a series of ambitious Development Plans which have given the School:

  • a new Library with an attractive mezzanine floor
  • purpose designed Sixth Form teaching accommodation
  • a new and spacious Technology Block
  • two extensions to the Science Building
  • enhanced facilities for Information Technology
  • a new Pavilion and Sixth Form Centre
  • a Joint Dining Hall and Music Centre (with Westcliff Girls)
  • a major extension offering five teaching rooms in the West Quadrangle
  • a new Art and Design Centre
  • a splendid and fully equipped 154 seater Theatre
  • a substantial upgrading of general teaching accommodation
  • improved facilities for the staff and for School administration.



 Design & Technology





 History & Politics



 Modern Languages


 Physical Education


 Religious Education



Any attempt to define the purpose of education in a selective Boys'' Grammar School into the next century is bound to rest, to a great extent, on value judgments. These, by their very nature, will not command the support of all, but they have to be made. But if value judgments are the foundation of any curriculum then they might as well be explicit as implicit. Every school ought to start from a clear and honest statement of its aims and of the values underlying its curriculum. For it is a good thing for a school to know, and for its public to know, what the school is about.

When we consider the aims of education, central to our vision should be the child. This is not a plea for a purely child-centred education but rather a recognition that education is about the development of the human personality and that we cannot think about it without reference to the characteristics and capabilities we expect young people to have. For every educator has an interest in fostering within his pupils knowledge, understanding, skills or attitudes. Even the educator who simply wishes the child to discover himself has a particular vision in mind.

The characteristics we hope to encourage at Westcliff ought to reflect our understanding of the child''s needs today and his anticipated needs in the future. Pre-eminent among these characteristics will be the importance of rationality and autonomy, for it follows from the kind of democratic society in which we live that education ought to encourage pupils to choose for themselves the kind of lives they wish to lead and the kind of activities they wish to pursue once they leave school. Young people ought also to have developed by the age of 16 a capacity for critical and analytical thought and they should have taken the first steps towards acquiring some independence of mind. They should be personally resourceful but they ought also to be conscious of the importance of being able to work with others.

Secondly, pupils ought to be initiated into the culture and the values of western civilization. For central to education is cultural transmission and a young person needs to be made familiar with those forms of knowledge and belief which will enable him to make sense of his experiences. For example, the case for providing some basic education in political and economic awareness, in information technology and in health and environmental education, is a strong one. A knowledge of these areas is increasingly desirable to enable children to make sense of, and participate in, contemporary society. It matters that we have a population which is both politically and economically literate, which is familiar with rather than intimidated by new technology, and which understands something of the conditions for physical well-being. We cannot leave provision for these areas to chance or suppose glibly that, for example, Politics is ''covered'' by History, health and environmental issues by Biology, and technology by Science.

Thirdly, pupils need to develop the capacity for imagination, not in the sense in which the word is often used by educationists (almost as a synonym for either ''self-expression'' or ''creativity'') but in the sense of developing the ability to be able to envisage what is not yet the case. Young people need to be flexible in attitude and emancipated from a perception confined entirely to the present. It is in this area of the curriculum that the Humanities have a particular role to play. For once children can appreciate that things were once different (or still are elsewhere) they will find it easier to envisage a world different from that which they know.

Fourthly, we should be concerned to inculcate a number of procedural values. Through a child''s education, a respect for the principles of fairness, honesty, tolerance, respect for persons, and respect for property, ought first to be distinguished from other areas, for example, dress and smoking (which while important, are not moral questions) and then fostered other than through a casual word in the corridor. The transmission of these values ought not to be a matter of chance or personal taste. They should be encouraged through the teaching of all subjects but they should also receive fuller and separate consideration within a properly integrated curriculum.

Fifthly, an educated person has judgment, manners and taste and he will be sensitive to matters of moral and aesthetic concern. It is in this area that the School has a responsibility to articulate and defend values and standards which may not always be fashionable. We should insist upon correct speech and high standards of appearance; we should be clear that the courtesies of interpersonal relationships do matter and that there are intellectual, cultural and artistic pursuits which go beyond anything offered by much of contemporary popular culture.

Sixthly, we should recognize that education has a practical as well as a liberal dimension and that no statement of its purpose today will be sufficient without reference to the importance of giving people the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will enable them to contribute to the world of work. Education ought never to be narrowly utilitarian in focus but neither ought it to set aside utilitarian considerations entirely. The growing importance in the School curriculum of careers education and education to promote economic and industrial understanding reflects that concern.

In short, the end is to provide a basis for continuing personal development. The curriculum ought to be something which is coherent in the sense of being designed to realize defined objectives across a number of years, which is relevant to the pupil's immediate and longer term needs, and which awakens, where possible, his sense of intellectual curiosity.



For many years our principal sports were rugby (at which Westcliff excelled) and cricket. These strengths have continued but, more recently, football has developed as a popular team game. In all three sports there are regular fixtures against other schools. Hockey, squash, basketball, swimming, table-tennis, gymnastics, tennis, cross-country, athletics, golf and badminton are also played, many at representative level. Practices take place both during the lunch hour and after School and standards are high.

We were recently delighted to have the breadth of our achievements reflected through the Sportsmark Award we received from Sport England. We shall continue to enjoy competition against others while retaining a strong emphasis too on participation. Opportunities are generously available for all who wish to play, irrespective of their level of ability.


The School enjoys a vigorous musical tradition and has its own choir, orchestra, brass band and various ensembles. Rehearsals take place regularly at lunchtime or after School. Each year a number of concerts are given and, in recent years, we have had many splendid and entertaining chamber and orchestral concerts, a Young Musician of the Year Competition and a popular summer Band and Barbecue.

The school´s Big Band, led by Mr Ebden, plays in many concerts throughout the year, and this year has also released its own CD and participated in a music exchange with a school in Newcastle. Also, for younger pupils there is a junior big band.

Every Wednesday, pupils are given the opportunity to perform in assembly in front of the school.

Drama & Public Speaking

Over the past few years drama has emerged as a significant strength in our extra-curricular life. Many recent productions have been driven and directed by the students themselves. Productions cover the full spectrum of entertainment, from farce to serious drama and musicals.

Clubs & Societies

The School has many clubs and societies such as the Art Club, the Bird Club, the Technology Club, the Chess Club, the Christian Union, the Computer Club, the Debating Society, the Radio-controlled Car Club, the Science Society, the Table-Tennis Club and the War Games Society. All enjoy strong support from pupils and, as new enthusiasms arise, new clubs or societies are formed. Boys are strongly encouraged to participate in the extra-curricular life of the School through which so many interests can be developed. Staff are certainly involved in our programme but we also encourage senior boys to organize activities on behalf of younger ones. Senior pupils have also had success in business games sponsored by major companies and younger pupils have gained recognition in national writing competitions as well as in Mathematics and Science Olympiads. We also try to broaden perspectives. Visits to the theatre or to concerts, in London and elsewhere, are frequently arranged and are open to pupils (and very often their parents) throughout the School.

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