A top Birmingham school has been handed a £2.5 million donation from an ex-pupil towards a major building programme.
The benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave the cash to King Edward’s School in Edgbaston in what is believed to be one of the largest single donations made to any UK school.
The former pupil’s fortune is connected to languages and the money will go towards a new modern languages centre at the boys school, which counts JRR Tolkien and two Noble Prize winners among its former pupils.
King Edward’s latest donation takes the school’s fundraising total to more than £10 million in recent years, which has been put towards building work and a scheme to help fund school places for students from poorer backgrounds.
In a statement, the donor said: “I am delighted to be able to make this gift to my old school to ensure that the school stays amongst the very best in the teaching of languages.
“Languages were important to me when I studied at the school and have remained important to me throughout my career.”
The new modern languages department forms part of a £20 million building programme at the Edgbaston Park Road school to improve existing facilities for teaching, music drama and sport.
Work will start next summer on a new £5 million centre, which will house the modern languages department and a new sixth form centre, as well as the extension and revamp of existing science laboratories.
Chief master John Claughton said: “This is a gift of great scale and significance. It will enable us to create a state-of-the-art modern language department.
“The teaching of modern languages is very important to this school, at a time when there are concerns about language teaching in this country. The school has been consistently successful in getting boys into the best universities to read languages and I can’t see that changing.”
Every boy at the 830-pupil school studies at least one modern language to IGCSE, and one language in the sixth form.
King Edward’s become the first independent country to completely scrap the teaching of A-levels nearly two years ago in favour of the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma course.
IB students can study language including French, Spanish, German and Italian, as Latin and Ancient Greek.
Other former pupils who have made donations to the school have included John Osborn, former chief executive of clothing company Alexon, who made a significant donation to the school’s assisted places scheme following a three-fold increase in the number of applicants looking for help with fees last year.
Fellow former student Paul Ruddock has also lent his name to the £10 million Paul and Jill Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, which is currently being built in conjunction with the neighbouring King Edward VI High School for Girls.
Work is expected to be completed in April on the centre, which includes a 400-seater concert hall and room for an 80-piece orchestra, plus a drama studio and dance studio.