Walthamstow Hall Senior
What it's like
Founded in 1838, the school moved to the edge of Sevenoaks town centre in 1882. All the buildings are purpose-built, from the original Arts and Crafts-inspired building at its heart to the most recent buildings. There is an up-to-date science block, theatre, library, swimming pool complex and a new drama studio and music rehearsal space. Its aim is to inculcate a respect for self and others, a strong sense of community, to provide an environment in which each girl can flourish, discover and develop her talents and make lifelong friendships. Originally established as a school for the daughters of missionaries, the school has a Christian foundation but welcomes pupils of all faiths or none. Academically selective, it specialises in educating girls to the highest standards and academic results are very good. Music, drama and art are well supported. The school fosters a sport-for-all policy, with team sports played to a high standard (frequent representation at national and county level) as well as a range of non-competitive activities. Extra-curricular learning is very strong and includes local community service and charity work. There is also an impressive record in both the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and the Financial Literacy Challenge.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Age range 11-18; 341 day girls. Entrance: Main entry ages 11, 13 and 16. Own entrance exam used; for sixth-form entry, 5 GCSEs at least grade C (grade B in sixth-form subjects). No religious requirements but a Christian foundation. State school entry, 50% of intake plus 10% to sixth form. Large intake from own junior, Walthamstow Hall Junior school.
Scholarships & bursaries
Scholarships awarded, worth up to 50% of fees: academic at age 11, 13 and 16; music at 11 and 13; and drama and sport at 13. Means-tested bursaries, to a maximum of 100% of fees, awarded at age 11 and 13 to those whose family circumstances would otherwise not allow an independent education. 36% of current pupils receive a scholarship or bursary. Parents not expected to buy textbooks.
Head & staff
Headmistress: Mrs Jill Milner, appointed 2002. Educated at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls and Oxford University (English). Previously Assistant Head Teacher at Tonbridge Girls' Grammar School. Teaching staff: 68 full time, 37 part time. Annual turnover 4%.
GCSE: 46 pupils in upper fifth, all gaining at least grade C in 10 subjects (30% with straight A grades). A-levels: 29 in upper sixth, passing an average of 3.7 subjects (30+% with straight A grades).
All sixth form leavers go on to a degree course. 15% take courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 15% in science and engineering, 35% in humanities and social sciences, 15% in art and design, 20% in vocational subjects (eg nursing, radiography, business management, drama, accounting, teaching).
GCSE/IGCSE, AS and A-levels, Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: 22 GCSE subjects offered, 26 AS/A-level/Pre-U. Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level, as well as AS-level general studies. Some pupils take global perspectives and research project to qualify for the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma. Key skills are integrated into sixth-form courses and activities. Vocational: Work experience available. Annual Challenge of Success Conference. Special provision: Extra help from willing staff; occasional paid tuition arranged for dyslexia or EFL. Languages: French (compulsory to GCSE), German, Spanish, Latin and Greek available at GCSE and A-level. Regular exchanges, work experience in France and Germany. ICT: Used across the curriculum (eg data logging, graphing results in science, searching for data and analysis in geography). 165 networked computers for pupil use, all with access to internet and email.
Music: 50+% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams are taken. Musical groups include wind band, wind and string ensembles, choirs and music ensembles. Pupils involved in local musical activities. Drama: GCSE drama, A-level theatre studies and Guildhall exams may be taken. Pupils are involved in school productions and in house/other productions. Regular drama workshops. Art and design: On average, 20 take GCSE, 8 A-level. Painting, drawing, design and creative textiles offered; GCSE photography in sixth form.
Sports & activities
Sport: Lacrosse, netball, tennis, rounders, swimming, athletics, gymnastics, trampolining, basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, squash. Optional: fencing, judo. 1-year GCSE for sixth form. Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Community service vigorous. Science Club projects in conservation. Some 34 clubs and activities, including art, book groups, basketball, Christian union, classics, dance, drama, fencing, film, financial literacy, geography, hockey, judo, maths, music groups and orchestra, science, squash, swimming, Young Enterprise.
Uniform: School uniform worn; business clothes in sixth form. Houses and prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects, head girl, head of house and house prefects - elected by school. School Council. Religion: Inter-denominational. Social: Voluntary service unit involves all local schools; links with Tonbridge School for music, drama and debating. Wide range of organised trips abroad eg to France, Germany, US, Morocco; 2 ski trips a year. Pupils allowed to bring own car, motorbike or bike to school on request. Secondhand uniform shop.
Pupils failing to produce homework once would be admonished. Very strict anti smoking, alcohol and drugs discipline policy.
Association of former pupils
Walthamstow Hall Old Girls Association (WOGA), contact via firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Beverley Hunt (Founder and Medical Director of Lifeblood charity; also triathlete); Rowan Pelling (journalist); Alison Petit (business strategist); Janine Gibson (editor of www.guardian.co.uk).