What it's like
Founded in 1891, Leweston is situated 3 miles south of the historic abbey town of Sherborne, in beautiful Dorset countryside. It shares the site with Leweston Prep School. It is based around an elegant 18th-century manor house set in 40 acres of grounds and parkland, including an open-air theatre. Good modern facilities include centres for music, science and DT, computer suites, robotics and arts studios, an all-weather sports pitch, indoor swimming pool and library. It is a Catholic school with a keen sense of Christian and moral values. There is a wide social mix and spread of talents; the school's aim is to encourage each pupil to fulfill her potential in a stimulating environment. Examination results are very good. There is a strong tradition in music, drama and the creative arts. A good range of sports is available, with a successful record in netball, hockey, football and cross country. Help is available for a limited number of pupils with individual needs, including EFL. The school has very flexible boarding arrangements; day girls are welcome to join in weekend activities.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Age range 11 -18; 240 girls (130 day, 110 boarding). Entrance: Main entry ages 11, 12, 13 and 16. Common Entrance used. For sixth-form entry, 6 GCSEs at least grade C (including sixth-form subjects). A Roman Catholic foundation but all denominations are welcome. Many pupils from own prep, Leweston Prep School.
Scholarships & bursaries
Scholarships available at 11, 12, 13 and 16 (academic, science, sport, art, drama, music and a few all-rounder), value 5%-30% of fees. Means-tested bursaries available, including to supplement a scholarship if necessary.
Head & staff
Head: Adrian Aylward, appointed 2006. Educated at Worth School and at Oxford University (Greats) and King's College London (education). Previously Headmaster of Stonyhurst, Housemaster and Director of Admissions at Downside. Prior to teaching, worked in corporate finance with Samuel Montagu, County NatWest and as chief executive of a public company. Teaching staff: 43 full time, 13 part time.
GCSE: 37 pupils in Year 11, 96% gaining at least grade C in 5+ subjects (including English, maths, a science, a humanity and a modern language). A-levels: 40 in upper sixth, passing an average of 4+ subjects, with a final points score of 421.
93% of sixth-form leavers go on to degree courses (27% after a gap year), 5% to Oxbridge. 5% take courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 18% in science and engineering, 23% in humanities and social sciences, 13% in the arts, 13% in vocational subjects eg computer studies, physiotherapy, business and 20% in various other courses.
GCSE, AS and A-levels, Pre-U. 26 A-level/Pre-U subjects offered (including sports studies, further maths, psychology and theatre studies). Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level (few take 4 or 5). All sixth form have current affairs and critical thinking lessons and study Pre-U global perspectives course. Key skills taught, one a term, and applied to activities. Vocational: Work experience available in Year 11 and 12. Special provision: Specialist centres for EFL and individual needs support. Languages: French, German, Spanish and Italian offered to GCSE and AS and A-level. 2-week 'ecole en France' near Caen is integral to the curriculum. ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject and then across the curriculum, eg maths, English, science. Computers for pupil use, all networked and with email and internet access.
Music: Over 50% of pupils learn a musical instrument (22% learn more than one); instrumental exams can be taken. Musical groups include 2 symphony orchestras, string ensemble, choral society, chapel choir, chamber music groups, jazz band. Drama and dance: A-level, LAMDA and Guildhall exams may be taken. Majority of pupils involved in frequent house and school productions. Regular successes in Bath Festival. Art and design: History of art, painting, drawing, graphic design, ceramics, sculpture, jewellery, fabric painting and photography offered. Annual art study tours to eg Paris, Barcelona, Florence, New York.
Sports & activities
Hockey, netball, cross-country, rounders, tennis, athletics, swimming, gymnastics, dance, badminton, basketball; some 10 additional options including riding, karate, skiing, kickboxing. A-level sports studies may be taken. County representatives at hockey, netball, cross-country, athletics, tennis; successful teams in cross-country and hockey. Also bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award; community service; explorer scouts; young leaders programme. Wide range of evening and weekend activities, eg riding, quad biking, aromatherapy, aerobics, yoga, trampolining, life-saving, also driving lessons.
Uniform: School uniform worn; dress guidlines in sixth form. Houses and prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects, head girl - elected by staff and peer group. Religion: Roman Catholic school but pupils of all denominations welcome. Pupils expected to attend Mass once a week (twice for boarders); Anglican Communion once a term. Preparation for confirmation available for Catholic and Anglican pupils. Social: Discos, film nights, plays, dinners etc with Sherborne and Milton Abbey. Annual art and history of art study tour.
Aims to be firm and fair. Standard policies on drugs, alcohol and bullying.
Sixth formers have own study bedroom (with internet access). Houses divided by age: junior house (7-13) shared with prep school; separate sixth-form house. Sixth form have own kitchen facilities and may host dinner parties on a rota system. Many evening and weekend activities. 2 long weekend exeats each term; short (24 hour) weekends when required. Weekly and flexi-boarding available and popular.
Association of former pupils
Old Antonians' Association, c/o the school.
Sarah Payne (actress); Erin Pizzey (founder of women's refuges); Kristin & Serena Scott-Thomas (actresses); Serena de la Hey (sculptor); Angela Hickey (opera singer); Louise Innes (singer); Dido Harding (Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner, 1998).