What it’s like
Founded in 1878, it moved in 1884 to its present premises in spacious grounds in the pleasant suburb of Broomhill. The junior department at Melbourne House and the separate sixth-form centre are on the same site. Many additions have been made to the original Victorian buildings. Recent facilities include a sixth-form centre, sports hall, an art, design and technology suite; a music suite, multi-media centre and drama studio. It provides a sound general education and examination results are very good. There is a full programme of music, dance, drama and art, involving many pupils. A wide range of sports and games is offered and high standards are achieved in many, particularly in athletics, hockey, netball, trampolining and rounders. There are many extra-curricular activities, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, a substantial commitment to local community services and a variety of overseas trips.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 4–18; 962 day girls. Senior department 11–18, 699 girls.
Entrance: Main entry ages 4, 7, 11 and 16. Own entrance exam used at 11; for sixth-form entry, 7 GCSEs at least grade C, including English and maths (grade B in sixth-form subjects). No special skills or religious requirements. Many senior pupils from own junior (enquiries to Head of Junior Department, tel 0114 266 1435).
Scholarships, bursaries & extras Academic scholarships (value 10%–25% fees) and bursaries – no fixed number, but usually 14 at 11, 2 at 16. Parents not expected to buy textbooks; music tuition extra.
Head & staff
Headmistress: Mrs Valerie Dunsford, in post from 2004. Educated at Manchester University (French). Previously Deputy Head at Durham High School.
Teaching staff: 56 full time, 21 part time. Annual turnover 2%. Average age 40.
GCSE: In 2003, 106 pupils in Year 11, 100% gained at least grade C in 5+ subjects. Average GCSE score 65 (62 over 5 years).
A-levels: 67 in upper sixth. Average final point score achieved by upper sixth formers 412.
University & college entrance 98% 2003 sixth-form leavers went on to a degree course (8% after a gap year), 8% to Oxbridge. 10% took courses in medicine, dentistry & veterinary science, 18% in science & engineering, 34% in humanities & social sciences, 14% in art & design, 12% in business and management, 12% in other vocational courses eg optometry, sport and exercise science.
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 25 AS/A-level subjects.
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3–4 at A-level; additionally, AS/A-level general studies may be taken. Key skills level 3 in Year 12. On average, 50% take science and maths A-levels; 40% arts and humanities; 10% combinations.
Vocational: Work experience compulsory at age 16 and 17.
Languages: French, Russian, German and Spanish offered to GCSE and A-level. 80% take GCSE in more than 1 language. Regular exchanges; work experience offered in France and Germany. Tandem European link; European Society.
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject (1 lesson a week) and across the curriculum. All pupils take short course GCSE IT. 165 computers for pupil use plus additional laptops (all day); all networked and with e-mail and internet access.
Music: Almost all pupils learn one or more musical instruments; instrumental exams, GCSE and A-level may be taken. Musical ensembles include orchestras, concert band, string and woodwind groups, swing band and choirs.
Drama: Part of curriculum. GCSE and A-level drama, also LAMDA and script writing exams may be taken. All pupils can participate in school plays and drama clubs.
Art & design: On average, 50 take GCSE, 30 A-level. Design, pottery and textiles also offered.
Sport & activities
Sport: Hockey, netball, tennis, athletics, volleyball, trampolining, badminton, gymnastics, dance, rounders and fitness compulsory. Optional: basketball, self-defence, badminton, aerobics, fencing.
Sixth form: range of activities, eg swimming and CSLA. GCSE PE and A-level sports studies offered. 10 international players in athletics, football, hockey, diving, rounders; National champions in trampolining and skiing; national finalists in netball, biathlon, rounders, skiing; regional and county finalists and champions in hockey, netball, rounders, trampolining, tennis; city champions in cross-country, badminton, trampolining and athletics. Sports tours overseas.
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Community service compulsory in sixth form. 30+ clubs, eg bridge, debating, dance, rock and fossil, physics, Christian Union, Young Enterprise.
Uniform: School uniform worn except in the sixth form.
Houses & prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects, head girl and house captains – elected by sixth form and staff. Student Council.
Religion: Religious assembly most mornings, compulsory except in sixth form.
Social: Games fixtures and debates with local schools. Skiing trips, exchanges and visits to eg France, Singapore, Russia; sports tours eg South Africa, Australia; educational cruises; World Challenge expeditions to Mongolia, Argentina. Pupils allowed to bring own car/bike/motorbike to school. School tuck shop. No tobacco or alcohol allowed.
Discipline Regular monitoring of academic progress and social development by pastoral staff. Code of behaviour drawn up by student council and staff. Pupils failing to produce homework once might expect to see her Head of Year; those using an illegal substance on the premises could expect exclusion. Process for pupils to set own targets.
Former pupils Margaret Drabble; Baroness Oppenheimer; A S Byatt; Angela Knight; Naomi Siddall (England netball).