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This is the school where the Right Honourable Baroness Heyhoe Flint, one of the greatest woman cricketers of all time, learned to play the game. She was also, incidentally, an international hockey player. A former head girl is currently in the England squad. Teachers were in full flight – none more so than a language teacher who seemed to be speaking simultaneously in three languages - and there was a real buzz about the place. ‘Was this because of visitors from the GSG?’, we asked ? ‘Oh no, it’s always like this’...

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What the school says...

Entrance examination age 11 consists of 2 tests each assessing maths, Verbal and Non-verbal reasoning.
Entry at 16: Dependent on achieving certain grades at GCSE.

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School associations

State grammar school

What The Good Schools Guide says

Headteacher

Since 2012, Trudi Young (30s). Though perhaps not quite as young looking as her photograph would suggest, nevertheless the word ‘eponymous’ effortlessly springs to mind. In conversation, she reveals considerably more than youthful wisdom and experience. She has plenty of those qualities as well as determination and courage. Twenty years ago she was a pupil at the school and now, slightly surprised and totally delighted, she is head. In the intervening years she attended Birmingham University, where she read medieval and modern history, following this up with a PGCE. Before coming back to her alma mater, she taught in Lincolnshire, followed by a stretch at Sutton Coldfield Grammar, where she was assistant and deputy head.

And so she returned, full of newly acquired experience and knowledge and with a strong sense of justice about the way adolescents should be treated. Time and time again in our conversations with the girls, they told us of Mrs Young’s obvious concern for them. She’s not an ebullient, hectoring sort of head, but she is intelligent, perceptive, very loyal to her pupils and, yes, brave. A few years ago, faced with defending staff cutbacks made because of government funding cuts, she was worried about upsetting the girls. ‘That’s typical of Mrs Young,’ they said. ‘She does tend to put our interests first.’ Several parents have told us that the best thing about that incident was the way in which Mrs Young kept everyone in touch with letters and emails.

On our arrival it was good to see calm and happy senior girls arriving for assembly – exams done – and the way they greeted each other and, indeed, us. The assembly, it turned out, was to acknowledge some seemingly small acts of kindness and generosity. In a self-deprecating manner, Mrs Young explained that she was keen for small, unremembered acts to be recorded without embarrassment.

She teaches some year 7 and year 9 groups, and delights in sowing the seeds of history and getting to know the girls. ‘I hope they get to see me in a different light.’

Entrance

Due to the school’s excellent academic reputation the competition for entry is very fierce. Over 1,200 girls take the test each year for about 145 places and the 11+ is designed to challenge in maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Register by early June of year 5. Entrance is determined purely from the results of those exams. Sixth form admission on the basis of GCSE predictions and results. Both internal – pupils already in the school - and external pupils must achieve more than six 9-5s, including maths and English. It’s a pretty tough process all round.

Exit

Leavers set off to read around 90 subjects in almost 40 universities including Oxbridge (two places in 2020). An extraordinary range and a great tribute to the staff whose expertise and knowledge of both subject and pupil ensure that pupils are introduced to the right subject. It doesn’t always work but that won’t necessarily be anyone’s fault. A few take gap years and fewer still make straight for the job market.

Latest results

In 2020, 80 per cent 9/7 at GCSE; 56 per cent A*/A at A level (77 per cent A*/B). In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 72 per cent 9/7 at GCSE; 36 per cent A*/A at A level (62 per cent A*/B).

Teaching and learning

A strong school, academically; recently scored more highly than Shrewsbury, Harrow or Eton on its percentage of students achieving at least AAB with two facilitating subjects. The school has a language specialism and everyone starts two of French, German, Japanese and Russian in year 7 and adds Latin in year 8, continuing at least one to GCSE. It is one of the top schools in the country for Japanese and Russian. At A level, maths and sciences particularly popular. Academic, but not heavily so.

Learning support and SEN

Good support for the few with learning needs, including EAL.

The arts and extracurricular

Like nearly every one we have come across, the dynamic head of art is fighting a battle to extend the art facilities. She has certainly won the first round and is extending even further into the threatened garden. Marvellous artwork and very popular with the girls. Bags of music: everyone learns it at key stage 3 and many beyond. There’s a lot going on at this school. ‘Enrichment’, that buzz word, is plentiful here. Trips abroad, if you can afford them. Recently they have been to Indonesia, Russia, Iceland and USA. Community service – assisting in local schools or supporting in day centres the very old or the very young; Duke of Edinburgh Awards; drama and music. On and on goes the list. ‘It’s very difficult to be bored here,’ one young pupil told us and then added, ‘I haven’t tried very hard, I must confess.’ An extraordinary range of extracurricular activities is highlighted in the handsome prospectus.

Sport

This is the school where the Right Honourable Baroness Heyhoe Flint, one of the greatest woman cricketers of all time, learned to play the game. She was also, incidentally, an international hockey player. It must give her much pleasure to know that six girls at WGHS currently represent their county at cricket. Georgia Elwiss, former head girl, is currently in the England squad. Sport is extremely popular here: netball, hockey, badminton, cricket, rounders, gymnastics, tennis, athletics, swimming, rugby and football – they’re all played with gusto and skill. PE is shared in the sixth form with Compton Park Learning Partnership, but not at the expense of music and art, both of which are excellent.

Ethos and heritage

The school was founded in 1911 and there is evidence of the two wars it has survived in the spacious grounds behind the main building. The girls who showed us around were very excited by the bomb shelters. The main building itself is very handsome in the best schooly sort of way: long, broad corridors with large, light classrooms leading off and then suddenly into a new, recent addition offering even more space. Very impressive science block amidst what seemed to be a plethora of lecture theatres, concert halls, assembly rooms, classrooms: bags of space and much ‘new build’. Teachers were in full flight – none more so than a language teacher who seemed to be speaking simultaneously in three languages - and there was a real buzz about the place. ‘Was this because of visitors from the GSG?’, we asked ? ‘Oh no, it’s always like this,’ came the immediate reply. We believed them: you only have to consider the results both social and academic. Banks of computers everywhere and we were shown by young members of the school rows of new lockers in bright colours. It felt a lively place to be. What is very attractive is the way in which the school has retained old pictures and photographs, honours boards and memorabilia. The effect is not remotely pompous or stuffy but it gently confirms the best traditional links. It’s good to be in touch with one’s history. Lunch was a lovely occasion. The dinner ladies – such an important part of the school – were friendly, seemed to know most of the pupils by name and were patient and motherly. The food was excellent and the company forthcoming and friendly. Clearly the girls are used to talking to alleged adults.

Alumnae include, alongside Rachel Heyhoe Flint, politicians Baroness Hayman and Baroness Perry, high court judge Anne Rafferty and authors Narinder Dhami and (very briefly) Caitlin Moran.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Sixth formers and prefects are encouraged to take on responsibilities and concern themselves with the welfare of pupils in the years below. Joining a new school at any stage is potentially worrying and parents we spoke to, and pupils themselves, acknowledged the trouble staff had been to in ensuring that new pupils felt safe and cared for. Each pupil is now allocated to one of four houses, across five tutor groups. The form tutor offers guidance on a daily basis. The pastoral leader works with the form tutor to compile a personal programme for anyone who is feeling a little unhappy. We were a trifle confused by it all, but a youngish girl took pity on us. ‘Really,’ she said, ‘all you need to know is that there’s always someone there for you.’ Quid plura? Parents spoke highly of the level of care; one spoke admiringly of the head’s refusal to give in to a request which she considered unreasonable. ‘I was irritated initially, then I thought about floodgates and the head’s responsibility to the school as a whole. I have to admit she did say No very nicely.’

Pupils and parents

The school has a very wide catchment area and parents come from a variety of social and ethnic backgrounds. Some bus in from an hour away, but everyone we spoke to considered the journey worthwhile. There is an active and loyal parents’ association which raises money and spreads the good word.

The last word

A gentle, determined and successful school run by scholarly staff who really seem to enjoy teaching bright, lively, willing pupils. For the pupils, experiences for life; for the staff a lifetime of experiences.

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

The school has a Special Needs Co-ordinator and a Learning Mentor. Both work with students to offer support and advice. These staff also liaise closely with parents to ensure that home and school are working together productively to support each individual.

Interpreting catchment maps

The maps show in colour where the pupils at a school came from*. Red = most pupils to Blue = fewest.

Where the map is not coloured we have no record in the previous three years of any pupils being admitted from that location based on the options chosen.

For help and explanation of our catchment maps see: Catchment maps explained

Further reading

If there are more applicants to a school than it has places for, who gets in is determined by which applicants best fulfil the admissions criteria.

Admissions criteria are often complicated, and may change from year to year. The best source of information is usually the relevant local authority website, but once you have set your sights on a school it is a good idea to ask them how they see things panning out for the year that you are interested in.

Many schools admit children based on distance from the school or a fixed catchment area. For such schools, the cut-off distance will vary from year to year, especially if the school give priority to siblings, and the pattern will be of a central core with outliers (who will mostly be siblings). Schools that admit on the basis of academic or religious selection will have a much more scattered pattern.

*The coloured areas outlined in black are Census Output Areas. These are made up of a group of neighbouring postcodes, which accounts for their odd shapes. These provide an indication, but not a precise map, of the school’s catchment: always refer to local authority and school websites for precise information.

The 'hotter' the colour the more children have been admitted.

Children get into the school from here:

regularly
most years
quite often
infrequently
sometimes, but not in this year


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