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  • Wolverhampton Girls' High School
    Tettenhall Road
    Wolverhampton
    West Midlands
    WV6 0BY
  • Head: Mrs Trudi Young
  • T 01902 551515
  • F 01902 328770
  • E [email protected]
  • W www.wghs.org.uk
  • A state school for girls aged from 11 to 18.
  • Boarding: No
  • Local authority: Wolverhampton
  • Pupils: 1,149; sixth formers: 317
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Open days: April
  • Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
  • Ofsted:
    • Latest Overall effectiveness Outstanding 1
      • 16-19 study programmes Outstanding 1
      • Outcomes for children and learners Outstanding 1
      • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment Outstanding 1
      • Personal development, behaviour and welfare Outstanding 1
      • Effectiveness of leadership and management Outstanding 1
    • 1 Full inspection 28th November 2023
  • Ofsted report: View the Ofsted report

What says..

Head is of the belief that ‘your exam results will open doors, but they are not enough to walk through the door’. Enrichment and extracurricular therefore plentiful, the idea being to produce enquiring minds, get pupils out of their comfort zones and grow in confidence. Pupils tell us the languages department is brilliant. There are always two languages running at A level, usually with double figures for both – bucking the national trend. We saw fast-paced lessons, with teachers going out of their way to include lots of discussion and mass participation. Lots of strategies for…

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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, previously deputy head at Sutton Coldfield Grammar for six years and, before that, a stretch of teaching in Lincolnshire. She holds a medieval and modern history degree and PGCE, both from Birmingham. She attended this school herself as a girl and is clearly delighted she is at the helm, as are her charges. Time and again in our conversations with them, they told us of her obvious concern for them. ‘Mrs Young knowns what it’s like, she understands us.’ Parents see her as an excellent role model for their daughters.

The school has grown considerably under her watch, from four to six form entry, and she has developed a comprehensive outreach programme to improve pupil premium numbers. She has also transformed pastoral care, enriched the curriculum, developed the site and has worked hard to build links with past pupils. Her staff see her as strong, supportive, leading by example. ‘She brings the best out in me as a teacher,’ said one. They – and indeed pupils – were keen to recount an occasion when she started taking clarinet lessons and played in assembly to give lessons about taking risks and always learning. She says she was visibly nervous, ‘but it shows you’re human’.

Not a gregarious, hectoring kind of head. To the contrary, we found her quite quiet, serious and perceptive. Very loyal to her students too. With two sons, spare time is largely family oriented. ‘I love beach holidays,’ she tells us wistfully, ‘but they are now quite action-packed.’

Entrance

Around 1,300 applications for 180 places at year 7. Candidates now sit a West Midlands test, covering around 20 grammar schools, designed to challenge them in maths, English, VR and NVR. No catchment, so entry entirely dependent on those with best grades, with 25 places set aside for pupil premium (with lower benchmark).

Sixth form admission – for both internal and external candidates – dependent on a 6.5 grade average from best six GCSEs (including 6s in English and maths and in any subjects to be studied at A level). School meets with all applicants – not an interview, they insist, but ‘to discuss hopes and aspirations, as well as subject choices’.

Exit

Between 15 and 20 per cent leave after GCSEs – for a whole host of reasons including not meeting the grades, a change of scenery, the lure of co-ed, alternative qualifications or getting fed up with travelling long distances. Nearly all sixth formers to university, around a third to Russell Group. Birmingham and Aston the most popular destinations, followed by Liverpool, then Keele. Seven to Oxbridge in 2023, and 18 medics. Huge range of subjects studied. A few take gap years. A handful have taken up top-end apprenticeships, eg KPMG.

Latest results

In 2023, 77 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 35 per cent A*/A at A level (61 per cent A*-B). In 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), 72 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 36 per cent A*/A at A level (62 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

Academic, but not heavily so. Current head has expanded the curriculum, introducing sociology, business studies, theatre studies and computing into the sixth form, although maths and sciences still steal the show. Most take three out of the 25 A level options, but double figures (just) take further maths as a fourth option. Two teaching groups most years for English, history, geography and sociology. Latin and classical civilisation also on offer. English and geography do particularly well. Impressive sixth form enrichment programme with ‘core’ and ‘optional’ strands. The ‘core’ includes preparation for next steps and study skills. The ‘options’ include voluntary work (primary school or care home), qualifications (TEFL, first aid, British sign language, accountancy, debating, sports leadership etc), competitions (eg national playwriting, which has culminated in several students performing in London), mindfulness and cooking, among others. Could help explain why fewer than 20 pupils opt for the EPQ.

At GCSE, most take 10 subjects, but a few might drop to nine for mental health or medical reasons, and some top up to 11 with further maths IGCSE. Setting in English and maths only. All but 20 per cent choose to do separate sciences, and all students choose between history, geography and RS. Of the remaining two or three options, there’s art, DT, food and nutrition and classical civilisation on the menu, with a pretty even spread of take-up. RS consistently gets excellent results, and maths has done very well in recent years. No weak subjects.

Pupils tell us the languages department is brilliant. In year 7, all take Latin, plus two MFL out of French, German, Spanish and Russian. In year 9, they pick two of those, then at least one for GCSE. There are always two languages running at A level, usually with double figures for both – bucking the national trend.

We saw fast-paced lessons, with teachers going out of their way to include lots of discussion and mass participation. Lots of strategies for checking for understanding too, as well as keeping things lively and focused. For every parent that says there’s too much homework, another reckons there’s not enough – same as in most schools, then. It’s never for the sake of it, though, with staff reminded only to use homework only for preparing or consolidating.

Learning support and SEN

Just five per cent on the SEN register – significantly below the national average, yet school says the number has ‘increased dramatically’ in recent years. Some have SEMH, others ADHD, autism, visual needs, processing issues or a physical disability. They are supported by the SENDCo, teaching assistant and a learning mentor, with a starting point of ‘pupil passports’ being compiled and shared with all staff – these detail the strategies needed to maximise potential in the classroom. Additional booster groups and one-to-ones as required. Regular meetings with parents to review targets. Plenty of training for staff, most recently in dyslexia, autism and emotional literacy – also in how pupils can mask their conditions. EAL support available. No EHCPs. All pupils – SEN or not – have access to lunchtime and after-school ‘surgeries’, and sixth form mentors are also on hand to help any struggling GCSE pupils either on a one-to-one basis or in group sessions.

The arts and extracurricular

Head is of the belief that ‘your exam results will open doors, but they are not enough to walk through the door’. Enrichment and extracurricular therefore plentiful, the idea being to produce enquiring minds, get pupils out of their comfort zones and grow in confidence. The 80+ clubs mainly run during a ‘social enrichment’ slot during the day – these include debating, politics, dance, music, PE, eco, magistrates, among others. Many are pupil led. DofE on offer at all stages. ‘It’s very difficult to be bored here,’ one young pupil told us.

Bags of music, with over 300 pupils taking private instrumental lessons at school, and plenty of ensembles, choirs and groups for conducting and composing, plus orchestra. Concerts at Christmas and in spring term, along with smaller, more intimate showcasing opportunities throughout the year. There are two GCSE music groups, with a few progressing to A level. Facilities include music IT suite, recording room and eight practice rooms.

Lots of cross-over between music and drama (including musical theatre). The latter has its own performing arts studio and use of the lecture theatre with retractable seating. Annual whole-school musical – Guys and Dolls up next. House arts massive – and entirely organised by sixth formers who get involved in writing the script, casting, directing, arranging the music and choreography, as well as doing the tech. ‘It’s a really great opportunity and gives hundreds the chance to shine, as opposed to a smaller cast in the whole-school production,’ we heard. No LAMDA.

Marvellous artwork and very popular with the girls. Displays all around the school. The magic takes place in two well-resourced art rooms and three DT rooms. No leaning towards one type such as fine art, with opportunities for pupils to gravitate towards graphics, ceramics, woodwork and textiles, among others. Food tech on curriculum – not always the case in grammar schools.

Trips abroad, if you can afford them. Russian and history trip to Estonia, food tech trip to Sorento, classics trip to Naples, music to Belgium, to name a few – and they constantly change so it’s not the same old places every year. A staple – which the pupils love – is the team-building trip at the end of year 7, ‘somewhere in the UK’.

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. Sport – and, yes, especially cricket – remains extremely popular, with netball also taking priority. Girls compete to a high level, regularly getting through to regional finals and, in some years, nationals. Hockey, badminton, rounders, gymnastics, tennis, athletics, swimming, rugby and football also played with gusto and skill. Ethos is very much This Girl Can, so it’s not all about the top players but participation. All facilities are on site, including two fields, outdoor courts, sports hall and activities studio. A fitness suite is available in free periods, and yoga and dance sessions get good take-up.

Ethos and heritage

Founded in 1911, the school consists of some early 20th century buildings alongside more modern development. Things have been particularly busy in recent years, largely to cater for growing pupil numbers – with new science labs, IT suites, library, lecture space, multi-activities studio and a sixth form centre much loved by the seniors. Girls still get a sense of history, though, with the ones who showed us around really quite excited by the bomb shelters in the spacious grounds behind the main building. Inside the building, tradition reigns, with old pictures and photos, honour boards and memorabilia displayed along the traditional long, broad corridors with large, light classrooms leading off. Then, suddenly, you find yourself in a new, recent addition offering even more space. Atmosphere is vibrant and lively – not remotely pompous or stuffy.

The strong house system is much more than a mere platform for sports day, generating a lot of excitement throughout the year, with the aforementioned house arts, plus, for example, subject-based events, dance, bake-off, spelling bees and more. Pupils talk a lot about these opportunities, and it’s clear they feel this is what sets the school apart – the power to get involved, to take on responsibilities, to stretch themselves beyond the classroom and to change things.

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 easily with adults. Some pupils bring their own food in.

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

Vertical tutor groups meet daily. These 25-minute lunchtime sessions are considered, alongside the houses, a welcome break from any year group issues (although there was a slight feeling that the middle years perhaps don’t gain as much from it as the youngest, who clearly love getting to know the older girls, while the oldest lap up their roles as leaders and models for the younger years).

A central support hub is home to a team of therapeutic staff including school nurse, counsellor, three wellbeing officers and a visiting ed psych, alongside house leaders and assistant house leaders. School created this on the back of seeing growing numbers of girls needing support. Indeed, some we spoke to talked about imposter syndrome in such a high-achieving school, and how the support hub helped. School aims to be proactive too, utilising PSHE for covering issues such as friendships (year 7), social media (year 8) etc. They don’t shy away from issues such as eating disorders, eg by inviting in experts to do talks and getting canteen staff to keep an eye on any red flags. Nor is the school blind to the pressure that girls can feel, especially around exam time, when wellbeing days are organised, along with sessions on study skills run by external agencies such as Elevate. School very happy to work with agencies such as CAMHS and GPs as necessary. ‘All you need to know is that there’s always someone there for you,’ said one pupil confidently. Parents too speak highly of the level of care throughout the school. A real family feel, with a community spirit, agree all.

Student surveys – of which there are many – always come out very positively when it comes to the issues of respect and inclusivity. No wonder, when you consider that the girls themselves help develop the school’s respect pledges (most recently, being mindful of name pronunciations and use of pronouns). As part of the school council, there are many thematic committees including one for equality, diversity and inclusion – recently they requested a culture day (now an annual event), which celebrates different cultures through dance, fashion shows, food etc. A pupil-driven LGBTQ+ group meets regularly, supported by a member of staff, with posters advertising its meetings on display throughout the school.

Behaviour seems largely to look after itself, with the majority of girls here striving to do well in all aspects of life, although some inevitably slip up and a typical academic year will see around 14 suspensions – anything from vaping to persistent lower-level transgressions, also the odd physical or online issue. This is a mobile phone free school, even in sixth form. No permanent exclusions in living memory.

Pupils and parents

Wolverhampton is a multicultural city and the school reflects this. Pupils with Indian heritage form the largest group, but the impression walking round is of genuine diversity. Parents – many of whom are professionals, but from increasingly broad backgrounds – are very supportive of the school, and the most critical comment we could get out of them was that there are no harp lessons on offer. They told us they chose the school because of exam results, the pastoral support, the facilities and the extracurricular offering. A few moved regions specifically for the school. They are happy with school comms, both formal and informal.

Pupils come across as hard-working, serious minded and determined. They are supportive of their peers and – hurrah to this – appear to concern themselves with their personal best rather than comparing themselves to others. They are politically and socially aware, enjoying the weekly current affairs quiz that provokes much discussion.

The school has no catchment and girls travel from far and wide, thankful that the school is so well served by public transport. So, lots from Birmingham on the Metro and Sandwell on the bus, for example. Many from Staffordshire, Telford, Wrekin, Stourbridge and Dudley. Some travel up to an hour and a half, 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 grammar that never stands still, with ongoing investment in facilities and the ability to flex to the ever-changing social environment. Its pupils leave not just with fistfuls of great grades, but also resilience and confidence, all spurred on by the school’s multiple experiences and positive outlook.

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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