What it’s like
Founded in 1906, it moved to its present 14-acre site on the outskirts of the
town in 1930. The nursery and junior schools are housed in their own buildings
in a self-contained area of the grounds. It is a non-denominational school.
There are good modern facilities including a sixth-form centre, science and
technology block, a learning resources centre, design and technology laboratory
and a drama/sports pavilion. A broad curriculum is provided and examination
results are very good. Music and drama are strong and involve many pupils; many
joint activities with a local boys’ independent school. It is also strong in
games, with regular county representatives in a number of sports. The Duke of
Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is popular. Great importance is attached to pastoral
care and contact with parents.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 3–18; 720 pupils, 670 day (55 boys, 615
girls), 50 boarding girls. Senior department 11–18, 400 girls.
Entrance: Main entry ages 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 16. Own entrance exam and
interview used. No special skills or religious requirements.
Scholarships & bursaries Scholarships available, academic, creative
and music. Also means-tested bursaries for existing pupils.
Parents 75% live within 30 miles; some abroad (10 different
Head & staff
Headmistress: Mrs Susan Gorham, appointed 2001. Educated at Manchester
University (French) and Homerton (education). Previously Deputy Head at Dame
Alice Harpur School. Also ISI inspector.
Teaching staff: 51 full time, 18 part time. Annual turnover 4%. Average
GCSE: In 2003, 75 pupils in Year 11, 95% gained at least grade C in 8+
subjects. Average GCSE score 61 (59 over 5 years).
A-levels: 40 in upper sixth. Average final point score achieved by upper
sixth formers 380.
University & college entrance All 2003 sixth-form leavers went on to
a degree course (10% after a gap year). 30% took courses in science, 30% in
engineering, 40% arts.
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 21 GCSE subjects, 22 AS/A-level.
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3–4 at
A-level; in addition, all follow a life skills programme. 40% take science
A-levels; 55% arts/humanities; 6% both.
Special provision: Gifted children, mild dyslexics and those with minor
physical disabilities welcomed.
Languages: French, German and Spanish offered to GCSE and A-level. French
compulsory Years 4–9. Regular exchanges to France and Spain.
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject (1–2 lessons/week in Years 7–9)
and across the curriculum. 120 computers for pupil use (8 hours a day), all
networked and with e-mail and internet access; interactive whiteboards. Most
pupils take text processing up to RSA III.
Music: Over 60% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams
can be taken. Some 10–15 musical groups including 2 full orchestras, choirs and
ensembles. Pupils regularly perform in local youth orchestras, winners in
festivals and win scholarships to music colleges.
Drama & dance: Drama is very strong. Overseas tours. Joint projects with
Art & design: On average, 22 take GCSE, 12 A-level. Design and/or
textiles technology also offered. Art school entrants each year.
Sport & activities
Sport: Netball, hockey, rounders, athletics, tennis, volleyball
compulsory. Optional: yoga, basketball, aerobics, badminton, football, riding,
rowing, swimming, squash and cricket. Sixth formers: golf, squash. Pupils
regularly represent county in netball, hockey, volleyball, cricket, tennis,
athletics. County and regional champions in variety of sports. Own equestrian
team and events.
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award. Community service compulsory from Year 11. Money raised for charity
annually. Up to 15 clubs eg chess, stamps, drama, art, cookery, football, film,
Uniform: School uniform worn except in the sixth form.
Houses & prefects: Competitive houses. Head girl, prefects. School
Religion: Inter-denominational assembly compulsory.
Social: Drama, music, debates with Worth. Trips abroad include ski trips,
sports tours, concerts, field courses, classics trips. Meals self-service.
School shop. No tobacco or alcohol allowed.
Discipline Pupils failing to produce homework without genuine reason
might expect first a warning (detention thereafter); those caught with illegal
drugs on the premises would be asked to leave.
Boarding 70% of pupils have their own study bedrooms, others share in
pairs. Houses of 15–20. Pupils allowed to provide and cook own snacks. 2 weekend
exeats a term, flexible according to circumstances. Visits to local town
allowed. Casual boarding available.