What it’s like
Founded in 1894 at Clapham Park by two Methodist ministers, in 1925 the school
moved to its present 120-acre estate, in an exceptionally pleasant area of the
green belt. The site includes woodland and sports fields. There has been much
recent expansion and the school is now very well equipped. Being within easy
reach of London, its pupils make frequent visits to theatres, concerts and
exhibitions. The school prides itself on its friendly atmosphere and general
community spirit. It has a strong Christian foundation and the chapel plays a
significant part in the life of the school. The staff:pupil ratio is about 1:7.
High academic standards are achieved and exam results are very good. There is a
great deal of emphasis on drama, with high standards of performance. Music is
very strong, there is a large music staff and a variety of musical groups. High
standards are attained in sport, with numerous representatives at county level
and some at national level in tennis, hockey and athletics. There are many clubs
and societies for other extra-curricular activities. The school has a
substantial commitment to local community schemes, an impressive record in the
Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and runs its own outdoor activities society.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Age range 11–18; 401 girls (180 day boarders, 221
Entrance: Main entry ages 11, 13, 14 and 16. Common Entrance or own exam
used. Special entrance test for sixth-form entry, interview, head’s report and
usually 6 GCSEs at least grade B. No religious requirements. State school entry,
15% main intake. Other feeder schools include St Hilda’s Harpenden (020 8950
1751), Stormont School, Potters Bar (01707 654037) and St Mary’s Hampstead (020
Scholarships & bursaries 9 pa academic scholarships, value 25%–50%
fees (3 awarded at 11, 3 at 13 and 3 at 16); up to 10 pa scholarships for sport
(incl hockey), tennis and music. Biennial organ scholarship. Variable number of
Parents 50+% live within 30 miles; 15% live overseas, half of whom
are foreign nationals.
Head & staff
Principal: Clarissa Farr, appointed 1996. Educated at Bruton School for
Girls and Exeter University (English). Previously Deputy Head (Academic) at the
school and Senior Mistress at Leicester Grammar School. Also former BSA
Chairman; GSA President (2005).
Teaching staff: 55 full time, 13 part time. Annual turnover 5%. Average
GCSE: In 2003, 49 pupils in Year 11: 96% gained at least grade C in 8+
subjects; 4% in 5–7 subjects. Average GCSE score 65 (over 5 years).
A-levels: 52 in upper sixth: 13% passed in 4+ subjects; 87% in 3+
subjects. Average final point score achieved by upper sixth formers 389.
University & college entrance 100% of 2003 sixth-form leavers went on
to a degree course (50% after a gap year). 14% took courses in medicine,
dentistry & veterinary science, 7% in science & engineering, 59% in humanities &
social sciences, 14% in art, design and architecture, 6% in drama and acting.
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 16 GCSE subjects offered; 19 at AS
and A-level (including economics, theatre studies, business studies, history of
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level;
general studies is not taken. 18% take science/maths A-levels; 40%
arts/humanities; 42% both. In addition, sixth formers take free-standing
language courses. Key skills optional; some integrated into sixth-form courses.
Vocational: Work experience available. Lower sixth involved in Education
for Engineering Scheme.
Special provision: Specialist help for dyslexic pupils. EFL teaching.
Languages: French, German and Spanish offered at GCSE, AS and A-level;
also Italian GCSE. All sixth form take a certificated language course (eg GCSE,
FLAW) Spanish or German, business French. Regular exchanges to Germany (Years
9–11 to Dresden), France (sixth form to Lyon and Nice) and Spain. Variety of
European trips and visits.
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject (1+ lessons a week in Years 7–9)
and across the curriculum (eg geography, modern languages and history). 140 PCs
and 350 laptops, all networked and with email and (filtered) internet access;
all students have access to networked laptops. Most pupils take GCSE short
course in IT.
Music: Approx 60% of pupils learn one or more musical instruments;
instrumental exams can be taken. Wide range of musical ensembles, which perform
regularly in school and major London venues. Concert tours to eg Prague (2002).
Pianist in residence.
Drama: Drama offered; GCSE, A-level and LAMDA exams may be taken. Drama
technician in residence. School production annually.
Art & design: Design, pottery, textiles, photography, printmaking
offered. 2–4 students to foundation art courses each year, artist in residence.
Sport & activities
Sport: Hockey, netball, gym, swimming, badminton, football,
health-related fitness, outdoor education, dance, aerobics, tennis, rounders,
athletics compulsory to Year 10. Optional: trampolining, riding, canoeing, golf.
Year 11 and
Sixth form: gymnastics, sailing, windsurfing, skiing, weight training.
GCSE and A-level PE, BAGA, RLSS, BTF exams may be taken. National tennis
players; regional tennis and hockey players; county tennis, hockey and swimming
representatives. LTA National Centre.
Activities: Pupils take Duke of Edinburgh Award. Community service
compulsory for 1 year at age 16. Up to 20 clubs and societies, eg chess,
pottery, craft, art, fencing, Young Enterprise, outdoor activities, history,
English, language, debating, Model United Nations.
Uniform: School uniform worn except in sixth form.
Houses & prefects: Pupils in houses Years 7–11. Head girl (upper sixth)
appointed after wide consultation; head of house and house prefects (Year 11)
selected within house. All upper sixth receive leadership training. School
Council, members chosen by girls.
Religion: Both compulsory and voluntary worship exist. Many girls choose
to be confirmed.
Social: Debating, tennis, socials, discos, annual ball. Refurbished study
facilities for sixth-form day boarders. Organised trips abroad for skiing,
tennis, music, language, art. Meals self-service. School shop and school bank.
Wine allowed at some formal meals (adults present); no other alcohol or tobacco
Discipline Pupils failing to produce homework or submitting
inadequate study are monitored closely by tutors. Rewards and sanctions have
recently reviewed (by a group including the Head Girl and Deputy). Clear
policies on drugs and the possibility of expulsion.
Boarding 60 have own study bedroom, 72 share with 1 or 2; 80 in
bedrooms of 4, remainder in bedrooms of 6+. Houses of 30–40, divided by age
group. Medical centre staffed by SRNs. Central dining room. Lower sixth pupils
can provide and cook snacks (own kitchen); upper sixth given budget and cook own
supper (own large kitchens). Five exeats plus half terms (extra for seniors if
no school commitments). Visits to local town allowed for Year 9 and above
(usually Saturday); sixth form allowed into London in groups.
Alumni association c/o the school.