Westminster Under School

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Westminster Under School
Westminster school arms.jpg

Greater London

United Kingdom
Coordinates51°29′31″N 0°08′03″W / 51.491867°N 0.134261°W / 51.491867; -0.134261Coordinates: 51°29′31″N 0°08′03″W / 51.491867°N 0.134261°W / 51.491867; -0.134261,
TypeIndependent school
Preparatory day school
MottoDat Deus Incrementum (Classical Latin: "God Gives Increase")
Religious affiliation(s)Church of England
FounderWestminster School
Local authorityWestminster
Department for Education URN101165 Tables
The MasterMark O'Donnell
Age7 to 13
PublicationThe Vincent

Westminster Under School is an independent school and preparatory school for boys aged 7 to 13 and is attached to Westminster School in London.[1]

The school was founded in 1943[2][3] in the precincts of Westminster School in Little Dean's Yard, just behind Westminster Abbey. In 1951 the Under School relocated to its own premises in Ecclestone Square. Due to rising numbers of pupils in the 1960s and 1970s, the school moved again in 1981 to its present site (which was a former hospital[4]) overlooking the Westminster School playing fields in Vincent Square.[3][5][6] There are 285 pupils attending the school. The school has a strong musical tradition and provides choristers for St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey. It also excels in sport, drama (winners of the recent Shakespeare Schools Festival), chess and Latin. Most boys attending the school move on to Westminster School after the completion of either Common Entrance or Scholarship examinations (The Challenge, in the case of Westminster School), although a number of boys each year go on to other schools, including Eton.

The interim Master was Philip Lough, who came out of recent retirement and reigned from Autumn 2015 to Summer 2016. The new, current Master is Mark O'Donnell, joining from St. Martin's Ampleforth. There are currently 47 members of staff.[7]

The school fees for 2015–16 are £5678 per term.[8][9]


The Under School was founded in September 1943[10] in 2 Little Dean's Yard (now known as Grant's House) by the former Headmaster of Westminster School, John Traill Christie.

The Under School was first established at 2 Little Dean's Yard, known as Grant's House (right), part of the school including College (far left) was destroyed during the Blitz – this image is a present-day view.

There were only 6 teachers when the school was established and only 31 boys. Dean's Yard was used as a playing field for the boys and the roofless remains of the School, the bombed school hall were used as a playground. St Faith's Chapel in Westminster Abbey served as the school chapel. For much of the Under School's history, the final year (Year 8) was known as the Upper Remove and the second to last year (Year 7) was known as the Remove.

After the war, the school moved to its own premises in Eccleston Square, and in 1981 moved to its present site in Vincent Square to cope with expanding numbers.


Competitive entrance examinations for Westminster Under School can be taken at 7+, 8+ or 11+. Entry into Westminster Under School at 11+ attracts many pupils from the state sector. At this stage, the school also offers Music Scholarships and means-tested bursaries.[11]

Previous School Fees[edit]

Date Per term Per year
2005–06 £3,697 £11,091[10]
2006–07 £3,900 £11,700
2007–08 £4,163 £12,489
2008–09 £4,412 £13,236
2009–10 £4,544 £13,632
2014–5 £5,460 £16 380


The school is housed in three buildings, listed below. As well as these buildings and the playing fields of Vincent Square, the school hires facilities at the Queen Mother Sports Centre in Victoria and at Battersea Park.

Adrian House[edit]

Adrian House is situated at 27 Vincent Square, a four-storey building in the south-east corner of Vincent Square in Central London. It opened in 1951 and underwent a major rebuilding programme in 2001, when new classrooms, a new hall, Art Department (which became more classrooms following the opening of 21 Douglas Street) and IT suite were built on the site of the old hall. In addition, all the classrooms and labs were refurbished.[12][13] The hall, which would also serve as a canteen prior to the opening of 21 Douglas Street and space for P.E. prior to the opening of Lawrence Hall as Westminster School Sports Centre (see below), is used for theatre and drama performances by the school. It was refurbished in the 2014 and renamed the Performing Arts Studio. Adrian House provides access to two science laboratories and the basement is devoted entirely to the music department.

George House[edit]

George House, opposite Adrian House on 21 Douglas Street, opened in 2011 by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall. In 2014 it was given the name "George House". The building houses the School's Dining Room, Art Department, conference and staff meeting rooms.

Westminster School Sports Centre[edit]

In September 2012, the Royal Horticultural Society's Lawrence Hall was leased by Westminster School for 999 years, and became the School's Sports Centre. It was officially opened by HM Elizabeth II in 2015. The building is located on Elverton Street, moments from Vincent Square. The Under School uses it for sport, including P.E. and Games, and Extras (see section below).


The School holds its annual carol service at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey

The school, being attached to Westminster School, sends the oldest year of the school (Year 8) to take part in the annual pancake greaze on Shrove Tuesday. This is watched by the year below in the Great Hall. The school is Anglican and has a Thursday service in St Stephen's Church, Rochester Row.

The school also holds an annual Music Competition each summer in which all boys may enter one piece of music for any instrument they play. The winners and some runners-up from the Years 7 and 8 finals of the competition are invited to play in the school's annual Summer Concert in St John's, Smith Square, as well as the school's Senior String Orchestra, Senior Choir (made up of boys from Years 6, 7 and 8, also known as the Westminster Boys' Choir), the winning house choir and a number of instrumental ensembles.

There is also an annual reading competition, in which each boy chooses and learns a short piece of prose or poetry (whether it be fiction or not), based on a given theme, and learns it so it can be recited by heart. The competition is held in the Lent term and is compulsory for each boy to enter. These are both house events, so points are given to houses for the results of the competition which are added to other points from other competitions or events, for trophies.

A photography competition and a model competition are held by the art department (both optional to enter). There is also a general knowledge quiz, written by a Latin, Greek and sports teacher, S.R.H. James. S. R. H. James is also the author of the series, Latin I, Latin II and Latin III. The quiz is held annually at the start of winter, and is scored out of 100. Boys who obtain a set mark (set for each year) are permitted to the second round. Boys who do well in the second round are entered to the SATIPS nationwide General Knowledge quiz.


The school uniform consists of a grey shirt, grey trousers, grey socks and black shoes. A grey jumper with a pink v-neck may also be worn and, in the summer, grey polo shirts and shorts may be worn without a tie.


Years 3 and 4[edit]

In Years 3 and 4, pupils are taught in most subjects by the same teacher (usually their form teacher), however they have specialist teachers in French, Music, Art and Design, IT, PE and Games. There is only one Year 3 form, typically of around 22 boys, and only 2 forms in Year 4 as the school typically accepts only 22 pupils per entry point. Until 2001, there was no Year 3 form, and the school accepted 42 boys into Year 4.

Years 5 and 6[edit]

In Year 5, the following subjects are taught, all by specialist teachers: Mathematics, English, Science, French, history, Geography, Religious Studies, Music, Art, Drama, IT, PE and Games but most are in their classroom. Year 5 are also taught Roman and Greek mythology to prepare for when they start Latin in Year 6. In Year 7, the boys are split into sets for Maths according to their performances in their Year 6 summer exams or 11+ entrance exams, depending on whether or not they were at the school in Year 6. When the list of boys who are to enter the school aged 11 the next year is confirmed, those boys begin to attend Saturday morning school so that they may begin to catch up in terms of curriculum with the Year 6s already at the school.

Year 7[edit]

Another two forms are created for the 11+ entrance. In Year 7, the curriculum remains broadly the same as in Year 6.

Year 8[edit]

Going into Year 8, the year group is split into those who will take Common Entrance or a similar exam for their chosen future school and those who embark on what is known as the "Scholarship Course", in which they prepare for scholarship papers to their chosen future schools. In Year 8, there are four forms, two for those who will take Common Entrance, typically containing 18 or 19 boys each, and two other forms containing boys on the "Scholarship Course" – typically these forms will contain 16 students each. One scholarship form will contain exclusively those preparing for The Challenge, the Scholarship exam to Westminster School, whilst the other will also contain boys preparing for scholarship exams to other schools.[14]

Greek is added as an additional subject but is optional for scholarship boys going to other schools which do not require Greek. These boys do Latin separately during Greek lessons


The school is organised into 4 houses, based on the charges on the Westminster Abbey, Westminster School and Westminster Under School coat of arms: Tudors (Red), Lions (Blue), Fleuries (Green) and Martlets (Yellow).[15] There are regular inter-house competitions during the school year, including music, Scrabble and Chess. All the houses have a House Captain, Vice Captain and between two and four Monitors, selected from the Year 8s, who are changed every term. This is done in such a way that most of Year 8 will be either a House Captain, Vice Captain, Head Boy or Monitor at some point during the year.


The school has many Extras (or clubs) boys can take part in. These extras include bridge, chess, swimming, fencing, judo, karate, mandarin, LAMDA, indoor and outdoor cricket, indoor football, cooking, photography, climbing, table tennis and outdoor tennis. Extras take place after school time.

Notable alumni[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.isc.co.uk/school_WestminsterUnderSchool_Westminster.htm
  2. ^ "History". Westminsterunder.org.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  3. ^ a b . Britannica Online Encyclopedia http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9076689. Retrieved 4 January 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Buildings". Westminster Under School. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  5. ^ "Westminster Under School". Westminsterunder.org.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  6. ^ "Entry Levels – Entry at 7/8+". Westminster School. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Westminster Under School". Westminsterunder.org.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  8. ^ "Registration and Admission Procedures". Westminster Under School. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  9. ^ "School Fees". Westminster School. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  10. ^ a b schools, isbi. "Westminster Under School - Westminster - London - SW1P 2NN". www.isbi.com.
  11. ^ "Entry Levels – Entry at 11+". Westminster School. Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  12. ^ Westminster Under School Propectus, page 1
  13. ^ "Westminster Under School". Westminsterunder.org.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  14. ^ "School Organisation and Curriculum". Westminster Under School. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  15. ^ Westminster Under School Propectus, page 7
  16. ^ https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-107760
  17. ^ Wilson, Rob (9 July 2012). "Jacob Rees-Mogg: a Boris in the making?". Total Politics. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2018.

External links[edit]