|In 1995 the school celebrated its 500th anniversary, its Quincentenary. In 1495 Bishop
Smythe established the school as a free grammar school as part of the same foundation as
St. John's Hospital, a home for the elderly. Every day prayers are said for the school in
the tiny chapel which forms part of the St. John's almshouses in St. John's Street.
The school takes its name from the Tudor boy king who reigned between 1547 and 1553. The school crest incorporates features of the royal Tudor coat of arms. The Latin inscription beneath, "Deo, Patriae, Scholae", is broadly translated as "for God, Country and School".
In the 18th century a number of eminent people were educated at the school. These included the great scholar and compiler of the first English dictionary, Dr. Samuel Johnson (the buildings of the former grammar school bear his name), David Garrick, the actor, and Joseph Addison, the essayist. Two of the school's four houses are named after Addison and Garrick. (The other houses are named after Bishop Clinton who founded a priory in Lichfield in the 12th century and Erasmus Darwin, who lived in the City for a number of years).
Until the beginning of this century the school occupied the school house in St. John's Street, opposite St. John's Hospital. It can still be seen, now forming part of the District Council premises. In 1903 the first building on the present site was opened. Further extensions were added in the 1920s and 1950s to what has come to be known as Johnson Hall.
The present school
The present King Edward VI School was created in 1972 by the merger of the grammar school with Kingshill modern school which had been built on an adjacent site in the 1950s to cater for the City's expanding population. The premises of the former Kingshill School are referred to as Bader Hall in recognition of Douglas Bader, the World War II fighter ace, who opened that school in 1959.
The school is a co-educational comprehensive school maintained by Staffordshire Educational Authority and admits pupils from the age of 11 (Year 7), with some 60% electing to continue their education into the Sixth Form, leaving at 18 (Year 13). In the main school (Years 7 - 11), there is a limit of 210 pupils for each year group. In total there are in excess of 1360 pupils on roll.
The school's success as a comprehensive school owes much to the merging of two strong and successful traditions; on the one hand, the tradition of academic excellence associated with the grammar school and, on the other, the modern school tradition of care and support for the individual. Academic challenge and care for the individual remain the twin guiding principles of the school today.