What it's like
Founded in 1876, it is the longest established girls' independent school in Birmingham. It moved in 1962 to its present attractive 4 acre site (plus 8 acres of playing fields), next to the Botanical Gardens and 2 miles from the city centre. The senior school is combined with the pre-prep and prep departments and is very well equipped with an indoor swimming pool, up-to-date facilities for IT. Academic standards are high and examination results are very good. Parents are supportive in time and energy and the staff place emphasis on the importance of good relationships with their pupils and do much to create a friendly atmosphere. Pastoral care is a strength of the school. There is a good variety of cultural activities. Music and the performing arts are strong. There is a wide range of sports (including life-saving and fencing) and standards are high with an impressive number of teams and individual representation at county, regional and national level. Notable success in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. The girls have opportunities for community service, work experience and a careers programme which aims to help each girl develop as an individual.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 2½-18; 990 day girls. Senior department 11-18, 526 day girls. Entrance: Main entry ages 11 and 16. Own entrance exam and interview; for sixth form entry, 5 good GCSEs (usually grade A in sixth form subjects).
Scholarships & bursaries
Some academic scholarships (at 11+ and 16+), value 25%-50% fees: 2 music (at 11+ and 16+), sports (at 16+). Variable number of bursaries.
Head & staff
Headmistress: Dr Ruth A Weeks, in post from 2006. Teaching staff: 66 full time, 27 part time. Annual turnover 3%. Average age 38.
GCSE: 73 pupils in Year 11: 100% gained at least grade C in 5+ subjects; average 9.8 subjects. A-levels: 76 in upper sixth. On average, pupils passed 3 A-level subjects with a final point score of 394 (plus AS-levels).
92% of sixth form leavers go on to a degree course (11% after a gap year), 2% to Oxbridge. 5% take courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 23% in science and engineering, 39% in humanities and social sciences, 25% in other subjects. 8% go on to art and music colleges.
GCSE, AS and A-levels. 23 AS/A-level subjects (including Latin). Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level; in addition, all take critical thinking or general studies AS-level (A-level optional). 20% take science A-levels; 40% arts/humanities; 40% both. Key skills integrated into sixth form courses. Vocational: Work experience available. Languages: French (from age 4), German and Spanish (from Year 8) offered to GCSE and A-level. Short courses in sixth form in Italian. Regular exchanges (France, Belgium, Germany, Spain). ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject and across the curriculum. Year 8 take Clait; sixth form can take ECDL; also GCSE and A-level. 100 computers for pupil use (8 hours a day), majority networked with email and internet access.
Music: At least 50% of pupils play a musical instrument; instrumental exams taken each term. Well-equipped music ICT suite. Several musical ensembles: choirs, orchestras, windbands, recorders, strings, flutes and guitar. Many pupils also involved in local and county orchestras and competitive festivals. Drama and dance: Both offered; drama GCSE, theatre studies A-level. Own youth theatre; several major productions a year, eg The House of Bernarda Alba, Orpheus in the Underworld, Under Milk Wood, The Boyfriend, Antigone, involving some 80 girls (acting, production etc). Variety of dance offered. Dance and movement show involving girls of all ages and professional companies invited to give workshops. Art and design: On average 25 take GCSE, 10 A-level. Computer graphics and animation, ceramics, textiles also offered. Regular visits to exhibitions and galleries throughout the country; trips abroad; annual art exhibition.
Sports & activities
Sport: Hockey, netball, dance, gymnastics, health related fitness, basketball, volleyball, swimming, badminton, athletics, rounders and tennis are taught. Year 10 have options eg volleyball, basketball, table tennis, badminton, dance, aerobics, cricket, swimming and running; Years 10-11 out-of-school activities eg skiing, rock climbing; sixth form options eg self-defence, fitness, aerobics, golf, climbing, ice skating, squash, pool lifeguard and community sports leaders award. GCSE and A-level PE available. County reps in eg hockey, netball, tennis, rounders, cross-country, fencing, squash, synchronised swimming, skiing and sailing. Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Community service in sixth form. Up to 30 clubs, including fencing, yoga, lifesaving, drama, ceramics, dance, animation.
Uniform: School uniform worn except in sixth form. Houses and prefects: Competitive houses. Sixth form committee, head girl and deputies, and heads of house. School student council. Religion: Non-denominational. Regular school assemblies. Attendance at religious worship encouraged but not compulsory. Social: Young Enterprise, debates, careers functions with other local schools. Language exchanges abroad; sports links with USA, South Africa and Australia. Strong links with local business community. Pupils discouraged from bringing own car, bike or motorbike to school because of parking difficulties. Meals self-service.
Any girl involved in dealing or using drugs on the premises should expect expulsion.