As The King’s School, Canterbury prepares to open the doors of its first international institution, headmaster Peter Roberts reveals how students will now be able to enjoy the school’s spirit and ethos in the dynamic city of Shenzhen

A school has been in existence on the site of The King’s School, Canterbury in southeastern England since the year AD597, making it potentially the oldest school in the world. The campus is also a Unesco World Heritage site. “That’s the ancient side,” says Peter Roberts, the school’s headmaster. “But then there’s the modern side, which is very creative. We put a lot of store on the development of the whole person.”

The King’s School, Canterbury is one of the UK’s finest co-educational, full-boarding schools. It is acclaimed not only for its traditions, its history and its academic successes but also for its modern approach to education, which ensures that the young adults who graduate from its classrooms are well-rounded. There’s an emphasis on bringing creative endeavours to the table, whether they be in drama, dance, art, music or sport, alongside discipline and structure, encouraging the development of happy, successful individuals.

It is this that The King’s School, Canterbury will soon be bringing to Shenzhen with its international school. The junior section of The King’s School, Shenzhen is set to open in September 2019, and will include kindergarten and preparatory, with the senior school to follow a year later. By 2021 the school hopes to be at capacity with about 1,200 students. “We are the first high-quality international school in Shenzhen,” says Roberts.

"We are bringing the spirit, the atmosphere and the sense of a King’s education."

London-based Walters & Cohen Architects is behind the modern design of the Shenzhen campus. “We are very creative, very original and different from some of the other international schools who want to recreate their schools physically,” says Roberts.

“We can’t do that, but we are bringing the spirit, the atmosphere and the sense of a King’s education.” The campus is designed to facilitate an excellent academic and extra-curricular education, with everything from breakout classrooms for discussions to state-of-the-art theatres for music and the performing arts, and a strong focus on digital education.

There will also be a roof garden, designed to mirror The King’s School, Canterbury’s Green Court, the setting of King’s Week, an annual event that has taken place in the final week of the summer term for the past 72 years. It consists of a summer ball and various shows and concerts for families and visitors.

“Where most schools give up at the end of June, that’s when we lift ourselves off the canvas and put on a show,” says Roberts. “You should have parties at school. That’s the idea of King’s Week: work hard, play hard.”

Within easy reach of Hong Kong, The King’s School, Shenzhen will be perfect for parents looking for the educational spirit for which The King’s School, Canterbury is known.

There will even be the chance for senior school students in Shenzhen to enjoy the full-boarding experience, as well as opportunities for exchange in both directions: Canterbury students and teachers will be able to spend time in Shenzhen, while the school has built an international college on the UK campus, so students from Shenzhen can experience Canterbury.

But whether at The King’s School in Canterbury or Shenzhen, the schools’ point of distinction is encouraging something extra among their students. “There’s another dimension besides just the academic and the cocurricular,” says Roberts.

“It’s good to have passions and interests which are different from your main focus professionally. It’s about something that makes you more real, but also gives young people the pleasure and the confidence of not just being a product of a system.”

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