What it's like
Founded in 1874, it moved in 1940 to its present 11-acre wooded site near central Manchester. The main school buildings have been frequently updated and offer excellent modern facilities, including a specialist music house, a multi-purpose auditorium, and a state-of-the-art sports complex (with dance studio, fitness suite and swimming pool). The preparatory department is on the same site. Originally established to promote the extension of educational opportunities to women, it was a pioneering institution preparing girls for university entrance. This early emphasis on academic strength continues and examination results are very good. There is a strong pastoral care system in which all pupils are encouraged to get the most out of school life in a caring and supportive environment. The school is non-denominational and welcomes girls of any religious faiths or none. There are assemblies for religious and multi-denominational services. Music is a strength, with a variety of instrumental and choral groups. A wide range of sports is offered and a large number of girls participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Sports Leaders Awards. Pupils also learn about the importance of social responsibility through charity, voluntary and community work. There are joint social activities with Manchester Grammar School, including debates, drama, musical performances and lectures.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 4-18, 947 girls. Preparatory department 4-11, 218 girls. Senior school 11-18, 729 girls. Entrance: Main entry ages 4, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 16. Own entrance exam used. No special skills or religious requirements. State school entry, 40% senior intake.
Scholarships & bursaries
3+ pa scholarships at age 11 (academic, music, sports/dance). Means-tested bursaries for entrants aged 11 and 16, based on educational attainment and parents' income. Parents not expected to buy textbooks; music tuition, lunches, school trips extra.
Head & staff
Head Mistress: Mrs Claire Hewitt, in post from 2009. Educated at Wakefield High and Sheffield University (chemistry, PGCE). Previously Head Teacher at King Edward VI Grammar School (Louth, Lincolnshire), Deputy Head at Sheffield High, Head of Chemistry at Fulneck and taught at Harrogate Ladies' College. Teaching staff: 74 full time, 11 part time. Annual turnover 5%. Average age 43.
106 pupils in Year 11, the majority gaining at least grade C (usually grade A) in 9 subjects. A-levels: 104 in upper sixth, achieving an average final point score of 412.
90% of sixth form leavers go on to a degree course (10% after a gap year), 6% to Oxbridge. 19% take courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 12% in science and engineering, 2% in law, 44% in humanities and social sciences, 5% in art and design, 6% in vocational subjects eg pharmacy.
GCSE, AS and A-levels. 22 GCSE subjects, 24 AS/A-level. Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level; AS-level critical thinking additional option. 16% take all science A-level subjects; 24% arts/humanities; 60% both. Vocational: Work experience available. Languages: French (compulsory Years 7-9), German and Spanish (both offered from Year 9, with taster sessions in Year 8); all offered at GCSE and A-level. Regular exchanges to France, Germany and Spain. ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject and across the curriculum. 250 computers for pupil use, all networked with email and internet access. All pupils take IT key skills level 2 in Year 9.
Music: 42% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams can be taken. Wide variety of musical groups including orchestras, choirs, string ensembles, flute and guitar groups, wind band. Drama: GCSE drama and A-level theatre studies offered. LAMDA speech and drama exams may be taken. Art and design: 30 take GCSE, 15 A-level. Textiles offered in Years 7-9.
Sports & activities
Sport: Athletics, dance, gymnastics, health related exercise, hockey, netball, rounders, swimming, tennis, water polo, badminton, lifesaving, basketball, tag rugby, trampolining available at various ages. GCSE dance and PE, junior sports leaders awards may be taken. Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh's Awards. Charity, voluntary and community work encouraged. Many clubs, including philosophy, public speaking, debating, art, chess. Pupils take part in science and maths olympiads.
Uniform: School uniform worn except in the sixth form. Houses and prefects: No competitive houses or prefects. Head girl and team elected by the school. School Council. Religion: Non-denominational. Attendance at religious worship not compulsory. Social: Joint society meetings, drama productions and debates with Manchester Grammar School. Trips abroad include classics visits to Athens and Rome; hockey tour to South Africa and history trip to St Petersburg. Students allowed to bring own car or motorbike to school. Meals self-service.
All sanctions depend on the nature and circumstances of the offence. Pupils are expected to adhere to a code of conduct. Good behaviour is encouraged through a formalised system of certification.
Association of former pupils
Old Girls' Network is co-ordinated by the Development Manager, c/o the school.
Emmeline, Sylvia and Adela Pankhurst (suffragettes); Judy Finnigan (TV personality); Kathleen Hale (children's author); many other pioneering women.