Stephen Thatcher (2012)
"My initial impression of KES was how friendly both pupils and staff were towards me. The personal involvement in the open day tour and incandescent wit of the teacher in whose office I sat my entrance exam combined to make me feel welcome, comfortable, and at home.
"On starting at KES in Year 9 I did not make life easy for myself, convinced that I 'did not belong' and would rather be back with 'my friends'. However, the support I received from members of staff was somewhat humbling and is testament to their unwavering dedication and commitment to make our school experience the best it possibly can be.
"I look back on those months now with great incredulity. Over the past six years this unique establishment with its mix of inspirational teachers and motivated, interested and engaged pupils has had a profound effect upon me as an individual. The 'King Edward's experience' is one that I would not change for anything and that, whilst I look forward to university with excited apprehension, I wish could last longer.
"The extra-curricular activities that the school offers are in many respects a greater indicator of the ethos of the school than exam results and league tables. One regret is that I have not done more however, playing cricket and Eton fives, partaking in Duke of Edinburgh's award expeditions and more recently on school cycle tours, I have been by no means idle.
"The balance between work, rest and play is difficult to achieve but the opportunity at KES to 'do' things and the willingness of staff to put in the hours outside of school has given me, and every other boy, the chance to find that balance. For me this, above all of my academic success, has provided the greatest pleasure and satisfaction.
"For me, the greatest feature of the school is the diversity amongst its pupils, a diversity that is not just embraced but celebrated, serving only to strengthen the bond that develops between boys throughout their journey through the school.
"When I arrived at KES I was expecting to find a bunch of arrogant boys spoilt by the privileges of a wealthy upbringing but what I found was almost the polar opposite. I could point out a number of boys who come from families with more wealth than I can even begin to imagine, however if someone were to tell me there were X boys on assisted places in my year I very much doubt I could come close to identifying them.
"Within the walls of the school neither your wealth nor family's social status matters, rather what matters is the person you are. I find it incredible how the school environment can be so far removed from outside factors, and the social harmony that develops within and between each year of Edwardians is a quite extraordinary phenomenon.
"I would suggest that those like myself who pass through the school on assisted places, are perhaps even more aware of just how fortunate they are to have the opportunities KES provides and as a result even more motivated to make the most of them.
"The best thing at King Edward's is the people. The pupils, the staff and the way the two combine make learning a true pleasure; learning for learning's sake rather than to pass an exam, a subtle yet profound distinction.
"Whilst there have been many special times at KES I cannot pin down a single proudest moment and as such will say that I have achieved, reached out to the opportunities presented to me and made the best of them that I possibly could.
"KES provides a platform of intellectual stimulation, rigorous discussion and continued challenge that enables boys to both achieve and enjoy the process of learning. I cannot begin to estimate the difference being around similarly motivated students to myself has made to my education, though I will say that it's fairly enormous!
"KES has given me opportunities I could not have even dreamt of before and the assisted places scheme is a means to ensure that boys who want to learn can access that opportunity regardless of the family from whence they come.
"Results permitting I will be heading to Merton College, Oxford to read Mathematics and Philosophy, after that who knows where life will take me? I just hope that wherever I end up and whatever I end up doing I have as good a time as I have had at KES. The bar is set pretty high!"
Stephen achieved an incredible 44 out of 45 points in the IB Diploma, exceeding his offer for Oxford and securing his place.