Former Head Girl Alice Keeling is one of many students who have reaped the benefits of being a boarder at King’s Ely.
In fact, Alice says sending her to King’s was the “best decision” her parents could have made.
18-year-old Alice, from Hertfordshire, joined King’s Ely Junior in Year 5 as a boarder in Priory House.
She is now at University College London reading English after achieving two A* grades and a B grade in her A Levels last summer, as well as an A* grade in her Extended Project Qualification.
Alice said: “I joined King’s in Year 5 as a boarder in Priory House. Living away from my parents full time from such a young age was difficult to say the least, however I soon came to realise that sending me to King’s was the best decision they could have made.
“Boarding in both Priory and Hill House has shaped who I am and I cannot express enough how grateful I am to the various housemasters/mistresses, matrons, gap students, roommates and friends who helped make King’s a home away from home.”
Alice, whose brother Tom is also a boarder at King’s, certainly took full advantage of the extra-curricular activities the school offers – including debating!
She said: “Although I am not particularly gifted in terms of music and drama, I was still able to enjoy plenty of extra-curricular activities at school.
“I particularly loved playing hockey for the school’s first team and the sports staff gave me access to connections which meant I could train with Ely City. The boarding staff generously arranged transport for me from the boarding house to the city pitch, so I felt I could pursue my interests despite not having all the advantages of living at home.
“Another extra-curricular activity which I really loved at King’s was debating, and I was lucky enough to represent the school in a competition at Westminster when I was in Year 11, as well as representing my house in the final last year with Yinni.
“I have enjoyed public speaking ever since, and my role as Head Girl has given me plenty more experience of it. The position also allowed me to influence some positive change throughout the school, for example helping establish an LGBTQ+ club with the unwavering support of my housemistress and my brother Tom.”
Alice was also a winner at this year’s Hoop Trundle – one of King’s most historic and fiercely-contested events and which sees the school’s King’s and Queen’s Scholars racing each other, while bowling traditional wooden hoops.
Held in the grounds of Ely Cathedral, the Hoop Trundle commemorates the re-founding of the school by King Henry VIII in 1541. Having dissolved Ely monastery, which had educated children for centuries, he gave the school its first Royal Charter and inaugurated the 12 King’s Scholars.
One of the privileges he allowed them was to play games, including the bowling of hoops, in the cathedral precincts. In 1970, the school admitted girls for the first time in its 1,000 year history, and three years later the King’s Scholars were joined by Queen’s Scholars at the request of Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the school in 1973.
Alice said: “Sixth Form at King’s was filled with a whirlwind of experiences, both emotional and academic, all of which have helped to prepare me for the future.
“Experiences with the prefect team have allowed me to develop leadership skills, playing in various sport teams has taught me the importance of teamwork, and careers talks have given me a sense of confidence concerning what my next step may be after university.
“I believe that my A Level grades were a result of my own determination combined with the incredible long-term support I had from certain teachers, some of whom taught me for five years. One also guided me through my Extended Project for which I achieved an A*.
“Likewise, thanks must go to my History teacher (and founder of the infamous History Café) for his patience in supporting me to achieve top marks.
“Despite the significance all of this, I feel that the best preparation for my future in my final two years at King’s came from Hill House, where I have met friends for life and learnt the importance of being kind, eating lots of cake, and not taking yourself too seriously!”