What it’s like
Founded in 1915, it is situated in 26 acres of playing fields and
gardens, a mile from the city centre. The main school building opened in
1930 and a continuing programme of development and building has kept
pace with the school’s growth and the demands of its broad curriculum –
most recently a performing arts centre and a new boarding house.
Examination results are very good. The school is a C of E foundation,
but there are pupils of many faiths and cultures, including students
from Europe, Africa and the Far East. Much is made of this diversity –
the girls are known for their individuality and lack of stereotype. Much
emphasis is placed on breadth of opportunity and thus music, art, sport
and drama play a vital role in school life. The rowing club has an
excellent reputation. A CCF was recently introduced. Much use is made of
the cultural resources of Oxford, as well as of London and Stratford.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 3–18; 962 pupils, 764 day (11 boys, 753
girls), 198 boarding girls. Senior department, 11–18, 693 girls.
Entrance: Main entry ages 3, 4, 11 and 16 (some at 12–14). Common
Entrance used at age 11 and 13; own exam at other ages. For sixth-form
entry, 5 GCSEs at least grade C (grade B in sixth-form subjects). No
special skills or religious requirements but talents eg sport, art,
music taken into account. State school entry, 10% main intake plus 10%
to sixth form. Pupils welcomed from a range of junior, prep and primary
Scholarships & bursaries 10+ pa academic scholarships, value 20%–50%
fees, some according to financial need (awarded at 11, 12, 13 and 16).
Parents 15+% are doctors, lawyers etc; 15+% in industry/commerce;
15+% are academics. 10% live overseas.
Head & staff
Head Mistress: Mrs Anne Coutts, appointed 2003. Educated at King’s High,
Warwick, Apsley Grammar and Warwick University (microbiology, virology
and education). Previously Headmistress of Sutton High School and of
Eothen, Deputy Head of Edgbaston College and Head of Department at Trent
College. Also member of Midlands Business Women’s Association; has held
a number of scientific research posts.
Teaching staff: 52 full time, 29 part time. Annual turnover 12%. Average
GCSE: In 2003, 93 pupils in fifth: 75% gained at least grade C in 10+
subjects; 21% in 8–9 subjects. Average GCSE score 70 (69 over 5 years).
A-levels: 86 in upper sixth: 15% passed in 4+ subjects; 78% in 3
subjects. Average final point score achieved by upper sixth formers 393.
University & college entrance All 2003 sixth-form leavers went on to
a degree course (20% after a gap year), 10% to Oxbridge. 12% took
courses in medicine, dentistry & veterinary science, 15% in science &
engineering, 25% in humanities & social sciences, 5% in art, design,
music and drama, 43% in vocational subjects eg accountancy,
architecture, education, physiotherapy.
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 19 GCSE subjects, 28 AS/A-level.
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level;
general studies is not taken. 14% take science/maths A-levels, 42%
arts/humanities; 44% both. Key skills integrated into sixth-form
Vocational: Young Enterprise.
Special provision: Specialist help can be arranged (as an extra).
Languages: French, German and Spanish offered to GCSE, AS and A-level;
also GCSE Italian in the sixth form. French compulsory from 11 to GCSE.
Exchanges to France.
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject (1 lesson/week in Years 7–9) and
across the curriculum, eg video conferencing for modern languages,
mathematics investigations, data logging in science, geography
newspaper. 200+ computers for pupil use (up to 14 hours a day), all
networked and with e-mail and internet access. Many sixth formers have
own laptops. All pupils take GCSE ICT.
Music: Over 50% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams
can be taken. 15 musical groups including orchestras, choirs, flute
group, string quartet, piano trio etc. Participation in music festivals;
foreign music tours etc, chamber choir CD (2000 & 2004).
Drama & dance: A-level theatre studies, GCSE drama and Guildhall exams
may be taken. Majority of pupils are involved in school and house
productions. Regular productions of eg Joseph, Bugsy Malone.
Art & design: 40 take GCSE, 12 AS-level,10 A-level; plus 6 taking
photography AS-level, 3 A-level. Creative design, surface textiles,
sculpture, 3D-design, print-making, multi-media also offered. Several
entrants to art & design and to architecture courses.
Sport & activities
Sport: Hockey, netball, gymnastics, athletics, swimming all compulsory at
various stages; otherwise 22 options, including dance, tennis, fitness,
trampolining, badminton, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, fencing,
judo, rowing. County and regional players in netball, hockey, badminton,
tennis, athletics and swimming. 3 pupils in GB rowing squad (2003).
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award; nearly a third of pupils involved. CCF introduced 2001. World
Challenge trips. Very active community service in upper sixth. Annual
charity fair. Over 30 clubs, eg debating, international, literary, art,
craft as well as various music and sport.
Uniform: School uniform worn except in the sixth form (uniform has
options, including trousers).
Houses & prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects, head girl, head of house
and house prefects, appointed by Head Mistress & staff after staff
/sixth form elections. School Committee (run by Head Girl).
Religion: Attendance at morning prayers expected.
Social: Joint concerts, social events and A-level seminars with other
schools (eg Magdalen College, Radley, Abingdon, Stowe). Trips abroad
include chamber choir tours (Rhineland 2003), language exchanges, drama
and art trips, geography and biology field trips, rowing,
cross-curricular trips, skiing, etc; World Challenge trips to eg Guyana
(2003), Mongolia (2004). Pupils may bring own bike to school, car with
permission. Meals self-service. School stationery shop, tuckshop in some
houses. No tobacco or alcohol allowed.
Discipline Pupils failing to produce homework might expect an order
mark (three mean a detention); any girl caught smoking cannabis on the
premises would incur suspension or expulsion.
Boarding Single or double study-bedrooms from age 14, dormitories for
up to 6 for juniors. 4 houses: junior house (age 11–14); 2 parallel
houses for 12–16; sixth-form house. 33% weekly board; overnight/weekend
stays possible for day girls. Visits to Oxford allowed at weekend.
Alumni association is run by the Development Office, c/o the school.
Former pupils Lady Elizabeth Longford; Baroness Young (former Leader
of the House of Lords); Rev Catherine Milford (Chairman, Movement for
Ordination of Women); Julia Somerville (newscaster); Oliyinka Idowu
(Olympic long jumper, 1992); Christina Onassis.