Tonbridge has invested a great deal to ensure that all of our boys study in the very best surroundings, and can take advantage of a range of superb facilities for all manner of activities.
The campus continues to go through its most significant period of development since the Victorian era as part of the school’s commitment to providing a world-class learning environment.
Drama plays a major part in the life of the school, with the EM Forster Theatre at the hub of activity.
The award-winning refurbished and extended Smythe Library, including a small outdoor amphitheatre, is a major enhancement. Improvements continue to be made to academic departments, with boys and staff in Social Sciences and Classics the latest beneficiaries.
Boys have also benefited from the rolling refurbishment programme to the houses, most recently Ferox Hall, Cowdrey House, and Judde House; Parkside and Park House are next. The school quad has been transformed from a car park into a picturesque and safe area for boys to move between classrooms and buildings.
Some of Tonbridge’s outstanding facilities are detailed below.
- Barton Science Centre
- Teaching and performance spaces
- OBS Gallery
- Smythe Library
- The Tunnel Gallery
- EM Forster Theatre
- Tonbridge School Centre
- Playing fields
- THE CHAPEL
- VERE HODGE CENTRE
Tonbridge’s Barton Science Centre is one of the most ambitious developments to happen on the campus since the school's first science building was constructed in 1887.
The Barton Science Centre opened in January 2019, at a cost of £20 million, and is modernising the way the subject is presented, learned and understood. It places Tonbridge at the cutting edge of school science both nationally and internationally. State-of-the-art classrooms and latest technology blend with many original architectural features, celebrating both the old and the new.
For more on the Barton Science Centre, please click here.
The school has fully equipped and spacious classrooms and laboratories, which are essential to creating the right teaching environment. The school is generously equipped with audio-visual, television, video and computing facilities, and many departments have their own library and reading room.
Information technology is, of course, an integral part of a boy’s learning experience at Tonbridge. Boys can log in to the school's network from home, or from anywhere in the world, all boys have an email address and there is ready access to the Internet, subject to some sensible restrictions. All boys learn the technological skills required in our dynamic and changing world.
Classroom accommodation is continually improved and updated, and the school’s strategic plan focuses strongly upon the ongoing development of the academic buildings in the coming years. The school is very well provided with auditoria and lecture theatres. These include the magnificent Chapel, suitable for large-scale orchestral concerts, and the main EM Forster Theatre Auditorium and Big School. There are also several excellent smaller venues, such as the Recital Room and the Cawthorne Lecture Theatre.
Old Big School Gallery provides a space for a varied exhibition programme which attracts an audience from within as well as beyond the school community. The gallery is a non-profit space that showcases work from artists that are recent graduates as well as established names. It also provides a platform for the work of Tonbridge School students and staff.
The Smythe Library is a modern space refurbished to support the teaching and learning needs of the whole school community, providing a flexible environment for individual study, group work, teaching or simply relaxing after a busy day.
The library has developed together with the school, providing a wide variety of resources for boys and staff including over 16,000 books, 60 periodicals, online resources and databases, all carefully selected to promote intellectual curiosity and academic excellence.
The addition of the Chan café has promoted the use of the library as a social space. The incorporation of the Higher Education and Careers, and Learning Strategies departments since the refurbishment has meant students have a hub of support to assist their school development.
The expertise of two qualified librarians is available during term time to provide academic support and a friendly face to answer most queries:
•Mrs Helen Precious (firstname.lastname@example.org)
•Miss Elizabeth Ridout (email@example.com)
The Tunnel Gallery is attached to the Vere Hodge Centre and forms an important part of the school’s Art facilities. It is a ‘white cube’ gallery which is purpose built and used for the display of Art by students, community groups and visiting artists.
Every year group has at least one exhibition annually and this provides a fabulous incentive for boys to produce work: it also validates the work and places it within an arena shared by visiting artists and other organisations. As a space it is extremely versatile, allowing for various floor plans, partition walls and ‘dark spaces’ for projection.
The Tunnel Gallery also provides studio/exhibition space as part of the Michaelmas Term Artist-in-Residence Programme, which allows the boys to interact with the artist and have first-hand experience of working practices and creative processes.
The EM Forster Theatre is home to the Drama Department and also presents a diverse range of artistic events including theatre, comedy, dance and music productions.
This modern proscenium arch theatre seats up to 380 people with tiered seating, full backstage facilities, advanced lighting, sound and audio visual equipment.
Within the complex, there is also a smaller studio theatre (seating up to 90), two foyers that adapt as teaching or rehearsal areas, a dressing room and classroom facilities.
In 2017, Tonbridge was made a Microsoft Showcase School in recognition of our innovative and imaginative use of IT both inside and outside the classroom.
Tonbridge School is at the forefront of digital learning and we have embraced the potential of technology to transform our teaching in this area. The school has a campus wide, high speed, secure WiFi network, allowing boys to use digital devices across the school. All boys bring devices to lessons, which broadens their educational experience and prepares them for the fast changing digital world.
Pupils are able to access a wide range of academic resources, including interactive material through Firefly, our Virtual Learning Environment. All boys are provided with a Microsoft Office 365 licence, which helps to ensure that learning does not finish when they leave the classroom.
Parents receive information about their son’s progress and performance via the Parent Portal. This is used for event streaming, trip forms, sports results, parents’ evening appointments, weekend leave arrangements and individual information such as exam results, sets and timetables, billing extras, exam timetables and all reports.
The school’s facilities include two recital halls, a suite of teaching and practice rooms, a music library, a sound-isolated percussion and rock suite, and a well-equipped double recording studio. Larger scale events are held in the school’s main hall, or in the magnificently restored Chapel – the four-manual Marcussen organ is internationally famous.
Tonbridge is an All Steinway School, which means that more than 90 per cent of the pianos in the department are either built or designed by Steinway and Sons.The school has four Steinway grands and one upright, two Boston grands and three uprights as well as one Essex grand and fourteen uprights. All the pianos are regularly serviced by Steinway technicians and will be replaced on a ten year cycle.
The school’s relationship with Steinway and Sons also gives the students access to Steinway Hall in London and opportunities to have masterclasses with Steinway artists.
The Tonbridge School Centre is a sports hub offering some of the very best facilities in the south east, including an award-winning pool, a large fitness suite and a world-class athletics track.
The £11 million centre, which opened in 2008, is a landmark in national sporting provision. It also includes a five-court sports hall, five lanes of cricket nets, a magnificent climbing wall and facilities for fencing, martial arts and table tennis.
In addition to the facilities offered by the Tonbridge School Centre, the school has over 150 acres of superbly-maintained playing fields.
As well as high-quality rugby, football, hockey and cricket pitches, there are three astro-turf pitches and courts for tennis, rackets, squash, Fives and hockey. Sailing takes place on a nearby lake. There is an indoor small-bore shooting range on the school grounds and an outdoor full-bore range off site.
The quality of the facilities has meant that Tonbridge is regularly used by a variety of national governing bodies, and was recognised as an Olympic training venue for London 2012.
Sports staff have access to the latest technical equipment for both games and individual movements, as well as the latest performance analysis programmes, allowing pupils and staff to take advantage of the latest developments.
The Chapel of St Augustine of Canterbury was consecrated first in 1902 to replace a smaller nineteenth century chapel. It was a notable building and much loved by boys and staff alike. In 1988 it was severely damaged by fire. Restoration and repair took seven years to complete and the Chapel was re-consecrated by the Bishop of Rochester in 1995.
The Chapel is collegiate in layout with twelve blocks of pews and seats corresponding to the respective Houses. The focal point of the Chapel is the fine stone High Altar and there are two pulpits, one each on the north and south sides of the Chapel. The fire enabled an extra Chapel area to be developed. The Lady Chapel is used for the celebration of the Eucharist, Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament and Baptisms.
The Narthex or outer lobby of the Chapel is also the school War Memorial. The original statuary, lost in the fire, was copied and installed. In addition the names of all Old Tonbridgians who lost their lives in the First or Second World Wars are displayed in stone or ironwork. Each year wreaths are laid here during the school Remembrance Day service.
The 1995 Marcussen organ is widely regarded as one of the finest instruments in the country; it is a four-manual tracker-action instrument with 66 speaking stops, including two 32' stops.
The Vere Hodge Arts and Technology Centre includes spacious accommodation for the departments of Art, Digital Creativity and Design Technology. It also comprises a substantial extension to the Music School, a reprographics centre and an exhibition area, and it is linked in one complex with the EM Forster Theatre.
The complex has been designed to enable and encourage interaction between the various practical and creative departments. The range and quality of the equipment, which is constantly updated, is of exceptionally high standard, bearing comparison with the provision in many universities.
The Centre makes it possible within the curriculum for boys to develop their talents and skills, under expert guidance, to a very high level. There are also, of course, many opportunities for boys to pursue interests outside the curriculum - most of the facilities are open all day and during part, if not all, of the weekends.