'Beware ye be not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge'.
These words, central to Kingswood's approach to education, were contained within a letter written to a former Headmaster of Kingswood School, Joseph Benson, by Kingswood's founder, John Wesley, who also established the Methodist Church and was one of the eighteenth-century's most influential figures. The evidence suggests that Wesley had begun his efforts to build a school even before he opened Methodism's first chapel, such was the strength of his conviction that the Christian faith has something distinctive to offer the world of education.
Kingswood School opened in 1748 and moved to its present site on the picturesque northern slopes of Bath in 1852. Over the years, a number of educational institutions around the world have been founded on the Kingswood model. Today, through the Methodist Independent Schools Trust and the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities, Kingswood is part of a large network of institutions which are at the forefront of education.
Kingswood's Christian heritage and ethos are central to its identity as a school for the twenty-first century. Kingswood is an open community which welcomes pupils of all faiths and none. All the school asks is that pupils are respectful of the school's values, throw themselves into the life of its community, and each embark on a journey of personal discovery and development.
Today, Kingswood is still guided by Wesley's approach to education which seeks to bring together clear, rational thinking with an enthusiasm which touches the heart and lights up the eyes. The school is convinced that happy, supportive relationships are central to the process of learning. Many visitors comment that one of the most striking characteristics of the school is that it is such a friendly and caring place.
In this environment, Kingswood seeks to foster in its pupils a questioning approach to life within an atmosphere of discovery and debate. Each child is uniquely valued and, with a holistic view of education, is helped to develop the whole person. The nurturing of God-given gifts and potential, along with a growing sense of awe and wonder at the world, and of compassion towards fellow human beings, equips Kingswood pupils for life well beyond their school years.
The Chapel was opened in 1922 as a memorial to former pupils and members of staff who died in the First World War. It was dedicated by the Revd Owen Spencer Watkins, a former pupil who was instrumental in establishing the Royal Army Chaplain's Department and who served as the first Free Church Honorary Chaplain to the King. The Chapel now also holds memorials to pupils who have been killed in action in the intervening years.
Today, the Chapel is central to the daily life of the school. Pupils attend, in year groups, a weekly morning act of worship. On Fridays, the whole school community gathers together for the Whole School Service, often with a visiting speaker and always with pupil participation and musical performance. True to our Methodist heritage, singing together forms a central part of the services, along with opportunities to reflect upon the Christian belief that it is the way of Jesus which leads to the flourishing of life.
Many pupils look back so fondly on their time in Kingswood School's Chapel that, in later life, they choose to come back to the Chapel to be married.
The Chaplain, the Revd David Hull, is a Methodist Minister who is available to the whole Kingswood community. The Chaplaincy is central to the life of Kingswood School and the Chaplain acts as Pastor to the Headmaster, staff and pupils. He shares with the school's Senior Management Team a special responsibility for the development of a stimulating and compassionate school community in which, true to the School's heritage, all individuals are cared for and valued.