What it’s like
Founded in Folkestone in 1886, it is now situated on an attractive 75 acre site
half a mile from the village of Pembury, three miles from Tunbridge Wells. Set
around a fine Victorian house; there has been considerable development of
purpose-built facilities and refurbishment of existing ones. Facilities include
comfortable purpose-built boarding houses, indoor swimming pool, sports hall,
music school and a theatre. The junior school has its own purpose-built
building, spacious playgrounds and netball courts. It is a Methodist school,
with a caring Christian ethos, which welcomes pupils of all faiths and
backgrounds. There is a resident Chaplain who is also a member of the teaching
staff. The focus is on high academic standards and although not highly
selective, examination results are good. This is achieved through small teaching
groups (average class size is 16) and individual teaching support. It is a
dynamic, active school with an extensive extra-curricular programme. Drama is a
particular strength, for which there are good facilities. There is a range of
sports available and regular representatives at county, regional and national
level. Girls are encouraged to aim for high standards in all activities. There
is a strong emphasis on involvement and all girls are taught to accept
responsibility and contribute fully to the school community.
Scholarships & bursaries Scholarships awarded at 11, 13 and 16:
academic, music, drama, PE and art. 20% discount available to forces children.
Parents 15+% live overseas.
Head & staff
Headmistress: Mrs Anne E Upton, appointed 2002. Educated at Ashford
Grammar School, Kent, and at Hull University (history & politics), Bognor Regis
College (education). Previously Senior Teacher, Head of History & Humanities at
Teaching staff: 60 full time, 25 part time. Annual turnover 5%. Average
GCSE: In 2003, 44 pupils in Year 11: 64% gained at least grade C in 8+
subjects, 25% in 5–7 subjects. Average GCSE score 52 (over 2 years).
A-levels: 31 in upper sixth, all passed in 3+ subjects. Average final
point score achieved by upper sixth formers 369.
University & college entrance 100% of 2003 sixth-form leavers went on
to a degree course. 20% took courses in science & engineering, 72% in humanities
& social sciences, 8% in arts subjects eg music.
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 21 GCSE subjects, 23 AS/A-level.
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level;
AS and A-level general studies additional option. All take an enrichment
programme developing key skills for working life; option of gaining a Record of
Achievement in group project work (validated by Liverpool University); and
encouraged to take part in Young Enterprise, Duke of Edinburgh Awards or gain
Leith’s basic certificate in food and wine.
Vocational: Work experience for all Year 11 and sixth form. RSA exams in
Special provision: ESL tuition; fast-track programmes for gifted pupils;
support for those with mild learning difficulties eg dyslexia.
Languages: French (from age 7), German and Spanish (from age 12); all
offered at GCSE and A-level. Regular exchanges (France, Germany), language
course in Spain.
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject (Years 7–9) and within the
curriculum at all levels. 140+ computers for pupil use (13 hours a day), all
networked and with e-mail and internet access. Most pupils take certificate of
Music: Over 60% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental and
singing exams can be taken. Musical groups include 2 choirs, orchestra, chamber
groups, flute and clarinet choirs. Regular musical productions with drama
department. Regular concerts. Successes in local festivals. Host to Tunbridge
Wells International Young Concert Artists’ Competition.
Drama & dance: GCSE, AS and A-level drama offered; 60% of pupils take
LAMDA exams. Majority of pupils are involved in school productions and
Art and design: On average, 20 take GCSE, 7 at AS-level, 7 and A-level.
Painting, ceramics, sculpture, textiles also offered.
Sport & activities
Sport: Hockey, netball, basketball, swimming, gymnastics, dance, tennis,
cross-country, rounders, athletics compulsory. Optional: jazz dance,
trampolining, badminton, sailing, self-defence, aerobics, riding, volleyball,
lifesaving, squash, football. BAGA, RLSS exams may be taken.
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award. Community service optional. Over 60 clubs, eg photographic, art, cordon
bleu, charity committee, self-defence, drama, sign language, dance, riding,
Uniform: School uniform worn except in the sixth form.
Houses & prefects: Competitive houses. Head girl and deputy, elected by
school; house captains and deputies, elected by houses. School Council and
Religion: Methodist foundation, now inter-denominational with a Christian
ethos. Morning assembly and services on Sundays and some Christian festivals.
Social: Debates, dances, matches with local girls and boys schools;
regular theatre visits to London. Trips to France; other visits and exchanges to
USA (eg A-level drama), Australia and Europe and field study visits.
Self-service meals in central dining-room. School shop. No tobacco or alcohol
Discipline Detention for poor work or behaviour; internal suspension
or going ‘on report’ also used for poor behaviour. For a serious breach of
school rules (eg smoking, alcohol offences), parents are informed and the girl
may be gated for 2–3 weeks including weekends; day girls would be expected to
report to school on Saturdays and Sundays; extra work or community service set.
Further offences would lead to suspension or expulsion. Half termly grades given
for achievement and effort, and commendation certificates of achievement. Strong
pastoral system ensures academic and social development of each girl carefully
monitored (form tutors, divisional heads and boarding staff).
Boarding Most upper sixth have single study bedrooms. Houses divided
by age (1 house for ages 10–13 and 2 for 13–18). 2 exeats per term. Weekly and
flexi-boarding also available. Transport to Tunbridge Wells on Saturdays, for
girls age 13 upwards. Mix of UK and international boarders; transport provided
to airports at start and end of term.