Skip to main content

What says..

You’ll be hard pushed to find a parent that doesn’t reference the pastoral offering as the key strength of the school. ‘Girls don’t feel under pressure to be a certain way or certain type here and they’re very supportive of each other,’ said one. Girls and parents alike praise teachers for ‘going well beyond the call of duty’ – with staff always available, including out of hours by email and running subject clinics where necessary. We can vouch for the fact that it serves excellent food, with the fish pie we were served easily of dinner party standard...

Read review »

What the school says...

Sutton High School provides an academically rigorous and challenging education for girls within the framework of a caring and supportive community, where there is no embarrassment in working hard or being successful. The vast majority of leavers secure their first choice universities including Oxbridge. But this is no academic hot-house. There is a raft of extracurricular activities - Art, Drama, Music and Sport, as well as a wide range of exciting trips at home and overseas. ...Read more

Do you know this school?

The schools we choose, and what we say about them, are founded on parents’ views. If you know this school, please share your views with us.

Please login to post a comment.

Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2012, Katharine Crouch BSc NPQH (50s). Biology degree from Leicester. Joined Sutton High School in 2003 and has held many roles including head of biology, head of pastoral and deputy head. Before that she worked at South Hampstead High and Tiffin Girls’ School. Still teaches biology and PSHE when she can. ‘Having a teaching role is important in keeping me rooted in what we are all here for,’ she says. Girls say, ‘It means we see her not just as a figurehead, but someone who really gets the day-to-day education bit.’

A jolly, convivial and candid woman who gives a warts-and-all version of school life (‘Our Victorian buildings with character can present some challenges for teaching’; ‘Our PTA was not a thriving place’ etc), she makes a refreshing change from the rose-coloured-spectacled heads we so often see. And while lots of parents have little to do with her (‘There’s just no need when things tick along as smoothly as they do here,’ said one parent), those that have had cause to see her describe her as ‘approachable’, ‘forward-looking’ and ‘very on the ball.’ ‘She has a very loyal team of staff around her – that says a lot in itself,’ said one. Possibly off the back of more general complaints we heard from parents that ‘communications from the school have traditionally been poor,’ she now invites parents to regular coffee mornings to offer input on issues like plans to refurbish the school hall. Lives in Leatherhead with her husband and two dogs and spends much of her spare time walking them in the Surrey Hills. Three grown-up children – two sons and a daughter.

Leaving in December 2019. She will be succeeded by Mrs Bethany Dawson who has been deputy head of Sutton High since 2017. Having grown up in Sutton, Mrs Dawson graduated from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where she studied drama with education. She has taught in both the state and independent sector, including roles at Reigate Grammar School, Surbiton High School and Emanuel School in Wandsworth. A keen singer, she has sung in a range of choirs and ensembles and also enjoys attending the theatre.

Academic matters

While not as strong as some schools in the borough, there are solid results across the board in academics and the arts. In 2019, 67 per cent 9-7 at GCSE and 36 per cent A*/A at A level (77 per cent A*/B). At GCSE, best results tend to be in maths, biology, Latin, drama and DT, while at A level, maths, science, geography, art and DT are among those with the biggest wins. Setting in English, maths and science from year 7. Girls choose two foreign languages out of German, French and Spanish – first choice is guaranteed, although second is not. Latin also available from year 8.

Girls and parents alike praise teachers for ‘going well beyond the call of duty’ – with staff always available, including out of hours by email and running subject clinics where necessary. ‘The lessons are very interactive too, with a good mixture of PowerPoint, games and debates,’ one girl told us. No complaints about homework, which builds up from one hour a night max from year 7. ‘You notice the difference in year 10,’ pointed out one girl.

Specialist teacher for SEN, who (although not an educational psychologist) is qualified to test for dyslexia, among other things – ‘great for those who are borderline SEN,’ said one parent. One girl statemented when we visited, with around 10 per cent mild to moderate SEN. Most help is within the classroom setting, says head, with some one-to-ones also available. ‘I’ve been impressed – they’ve helped my daughter enormously with her dyslexia,’ a parent told us.

Enrichment programme for years 7 and 8 on Wednesday afternoons in second half of summer term. Girls work on a topic such as languages (options include Urdu, Greek or Mandarin), music (girls learn guitar, percussion or handbells), STEM (girls design and build their own model) or sport (fencing, trampolining options). Meanwhile, sixth formers’ enrichment programme involves a mixture of speakers (on issues ranging from mental health to living with HIV), work experience and visits to places including parliament and a university library (to learn research skills). Good, practical help is also available as part of this, with all sixth formers taught about budgeting and money management, for example. Girls praise the careers advice, with careers office handily located in the library and biannual careers fair, which invites representatives from many companies into the school to pitch career paths and ideas to the girls.

Sixth formers also undertake the Extended Project Qualification to help prepare them for university – a fair whack of extra work alongside A levels, but generally considered a good thing to do. Friday afternoons are set aside for community service and fundraising activities.

Games, options, the arts

Stand-out sports facilities include large refurbished gym, modern dance studio and 25m indoor pool – all shared with junior school and open to pupils and their families at weekends and in the holidays. Plenty of tennis/netball courts also dotted around the grounds, although girls have to be taken by minibus to nearby Purley Leisure Centre for hockey and to David Weir Leisure Centre for athletics and annual sports day. Winter core sports are netball and hockey; and in summer, girls focus on tennis, rounders and athletics. For gym and swimming (both hugely popular), there are extracurricular clubs run by coaches and sporty girls compete in plenty of house and in local competitions (doing particularly well in county athletics and cross-country championships). But while the school reassured us sport is not just for the elite (‘You’re not made to feel irrelevant if you’re not a really high achiever,’ echoed one girl), a disappointingly high proportion of parents seem to dismiss their daughters as ‘unsporty – so I couldn’t really comment on sports provision.’ At sixth form, sports offering expands to include the likes of bouldering, ultimate frisbee and badminton. Assortment of sports tours organised regularly to all parts of the globe.

The arts fare well across the school, particularly music, with dedicated music teachers, lots of practice rooms and music technology suite. Choirs include chamber (audition only), year 7/8 choir and mixed choir. Fine groups of young instrumentalists play in a range of ensembles and tuition can be arranged for any instrument. Consequently, there are some dynamic and well-thought-of orchestras. School hall recently transformed into performing arts space with raked seating and professional quality sound and lighting; drama is a popular GSCE and there’s always some A level take-up. No whole school production, but plenty of single and joint year ones, plus joint drama productions (and music concerts) with the boys of Sutton Grammar.

Full range of art and design offered up to A level, with options including painting, pottery, textiles, and resistant materials - with lots of wow-factor examples (reassuringly current) displayed throughout the school, some on vast canvases, although perhaps not as avant-garde as we’ve seen at some schools. Light and airy art rooms to work in, including one dedicated to textiles and a separate sixth form art room ‘so the girls at this level have their own space to focus on larger pieces of work,’ explains head.

Before- and after-school clubs offer further opportunities for sports and music, plus some less predictable offerings such as robotics, Christmas crafts and a creative STEM club (where you make everything from bathbombs to ice cream). Most teachers run drop-in clinics to provide extra support for individuals and extension work. Residential trips a huge strength, with recent examples including year 8 trip to Dorset (annual), Iceland (geography) Geneva (science), Florence (art), Berlin (history), plus two annual ski trips and even (drum roll, please) Galapagos Islands every four years – just to name a few.

Background and atmosphere

Founded in 1884 with just a handful of pupils. Over the years, as pupil numbers have grown, neighbouring buildings have been purchased alongside a rolling building programme to keep pace with modern demands. Latest additions include the dance studio and extension to dining room (‘It was a bit embarrassing before – not now!’ says head – and we can vouch for the fact that it serves excellent food, with the fish pie we were served easily of dinner party standard). George’s Café upstairs also available for more casual dining experiences for year 10s upwards (and all girls during break times). Sixth form centre is notable, with lovely modern spaces for work and play (including the fabulous top floor, appropriately named room The View with colourful couch and oodles of computers for focused work). Library is a decent size, including quiet and less quiet working areas – and to the girls’ delight, not just books but DVDs to borrow too. ‘You get them for three weeks, if you want,’ a girl told us excitedly.

In the midst of all the buildings (which feature the junior school on one side of the school and seniors on the other), well-maintained gardens and sports areas create a cloistered look, while inside the school is light and airy with neat noticeboards displaying useful information and some outstanding schoolwork. Busy pupils move round the site in an orderly way – but with a good sense of fun too. Girls have a good local reputation and the school is always interested in setting up community links, the most well-known being their work and artistic pursuits with Sutton Grammar.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

You’ll be hard pushed to find a parent that doesn’t reference the pastoral offering as the key strength of the school. ‘Girls don’t feel under pressure to be a certain way or certain type here and they’re very supportive of each other,’ said one. ‘My daughter has been happy and confident right from joining aged 11 because of the way they have treated her, and the result has been that she’s done really well academically,’ said another - and that, really, sums up the philosophy of this school. ‘We don’t frown on competitiveness – for instance, we love our house competitions – but it doesn’t seem to turn edgy,’ says head, who says they very rarely come across classic problems such as eating disorders and self-harm. Approachable teachers, visiting counsellor (whom teachers are not afraid to refer girls to even for minor things), school nurse and clued-up head all help, believe parents and girls. ‘I had one friend with some problems and the school got her back on track so quickly.’ Also to the school’s credit, all new entrants are allocated a buddy and form tutors and heads of year monitor academic progress, personal welfare and development with military precision. ‘Leadership opportunities for the girls are in abundance,’ added a parent – and student council helps compile the code of conduct in partnership with staff, giving everybody a chance to have their say. ‘I like the way the school encourages girls to have a wide circle of friends. The attitude of “I’ve got my friends already, thanks,” is wildly discouraged,’ added another parent.

Detentions are the main sanction for misdemeanours ranging from late homework and messy uniform to inappropriate language, with a tiered system of short lunchtime detention, after school detention and (the most shameful) head’s detention on a Friday afternoon. But most girls go through the school without one and head says bad behaviour ‘just isn’t an issue here,’ with only one temporary exclusion in the last year. The school is even pretty relaxed about smartphones, with girls allowed them in lessons with permission – for example to take photos of the whiteboard instead of copying it all down, plus using the device for research where appropriate. Bullying rare. ‘Girls can be bitches in any all-girls school – or any school, for that matter – but they seem to nip anything nasty in the bud here,’ said one parent.

Pupils and parents

Good mix, socially and ethnically; lots of local business families and City types. Others travel from the edges of south west London and various parts of Surrey. School is conveniently located close to Sutton station so attracts a wide catchment, while school minibus services are available from Wimbledon, Southfields, Tadworth and Worcester Park. The Sutton High School Association (replacing the PTA that was going nowhere fast) means the parents get out of all the tedious logistical side of social and fundraising events, and just get to enjoy the fun bit. Old girls (reunions arranged twice a year) include Dora Black (Lady Russell), Susan Howatch, novelist, and Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, former Labour party politician.


Around three applications for every place at year 7. Entrance by 11+ examination in maths, English and online maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests plus an interview with a senior member of staff. At 16+ (when around 10 new girls join) entrance test consists of general papers, verbal reasoning and interview with the head of sixth form. At least eight GCSEs, grade 7 or above in subjects chosen for A level.


Around 25-30 per cent leave at 16+, mostly to co-ed or grammar school sixth forms. ‘The biggest reason given for girls leaving after GCSE is financial,’ says the head. At 18+ more or less everybody goes to a wide variety of mostly top universities or art colleges, with currently popular choices including UCL, King's College London, Leeds, Manchester, Surrey, Loughborough, Reading, East Anglia and Nottingham. Large numbers of girls choose STEM degrees, recent popular courses being computer science, dentistry, engineering, pharmacy and zoology. Others study humanities subjects, including geography, history, international relations and law. One to Oxbridge and one medic in 2019.

Money matters

Academic scholarships at 11+ and 16+ based on top performance in entrance or public exams. Other small scholarships awarded for art, music, drama and PE. Means-tested GDST bursaries are also available for up to 100 per cent fees.

Our view

A small, friendly school suited to those who want a single sex education where girls don’t get lost in a crowd. Pastorally, it is outstanding, with the school firm in its belief that if you ensure girls are happy and ready to learn then they will shine academically – which does indeed prove to be the case here.

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

In both Junior and Senior School the Learning Support Co-ordinator works with staff to ensure that teaching meets the special needs of those girls who have been identified by the educational psychologist as having dyslexia or dyspraxia. In Junior School individual EAL support and dyslexia provision is available from two specialists. In Senior School individual EAL support is available from a specialist and girls wishing to take 9 rather than 10 GCSE's receive Study Support from the Learning Support Co-ordinator. Teachers have many years' experience with gifted and talented children. The range of extra-curricular activities and the challenges inherent in the teaching and learning approach ensures gifted and talented pupils thrive.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

  Zoopla sale properties   Zoopla rent properties   Hide Zoopla markers

Powered by Zoopla

Who came from where

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
 Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,000 schools
 Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

The Good Schools Guide Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

The Good Schools Guide manifesto for parents