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What says..

This is a gentle school with a real focus on fun and imagination. Children here aren’t pushed to achieve or to go in any particular direction, but they see all around them examples of how learning can change their lives. Pupils told us that the recently formed Eco Warriors club was a particular favourite among juniors. This perhaps builds on the WGS tradition of developing the social conscience of the community-spirited young women in its care – or maybe it’s just a chance to get muddy growing strawberries and then eat them with cream. The school comes across as…

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What the school says...

There are few things more important than choosing the right school for your child. The special atmosphere at Withington Junior School encourages creative and independent thinking and extends each girl not just academically but in every area of her life.

Our Junior School has the advantage of being able to retain its small size and its individual character whilst benefiting from its close links with the Senior School. Our excellent team of Junior Staff teach their subject specialisms in the Senior School and Senior Staff teach juniors. Each form has a trained 6th form peer supporter, which strengthens the links across the age range. Junior girls are offered a great variety of cultural experiences, visiting galleries, museums, concerts and theatres. The school also welcomes an exciting range of visiting speakers, and plays host to authors, poets and drama workshops.

In this lively environment, well structured but warm and friendly, Withington girls flourish and grow into balanced, happy, confident young people. We invite you to come and visit us and see for yourself all that Withington has to offer.
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since September 2019, Bridget Howard BEd, previously head of Alderley Edge junior school. She joined as deputy head in 2010 from Bolton Girls Junior School.

Entrance

They try to stop the selection experience feeling intimidating – with year 6 helpers on hand to show the girls around – but still it’s a test. There’s a one hour paper in English and another in maths. There’s also a short reading assessment and the girls will be informally observed during a morning of play and activities. School says they enjoy themselves, though: ‘Sometimes they go away with a pocketful of telephone numbers of girls they’ve made friends with … and they want to come again the next week’. They’re looking for girls with the potential to go on to succeed in the senior school entrance exams so standards are high. As a rough guide, you’d need your child to be at or near the top of her class already. A few more places in year 4, 5 and year 6. (In previous years, where there has only been one form entry into year 3, it expands to two forms in year 5.)

Exit

Nearly all the junior school pupils pass the exams to the seniors and stay on at Withington Girls throughout their school careers. It does occasionally happen that a girl doesn’t make it through, but this would never be a shock to her or her family – as performance is closely monitored and communicated to parents.

Our view

Academic standards are, as you’d expect, very high. Almost all children attain a standard equivalent to at least national curriculum level 5 across every subject by the end of year 6. But parents say their children aren’t put under pressure. One mother said that she felt the school was significantly less academically pressured than the state primary her daughter had previously attended – perhaps because juniors sit no external assessments.

As well as the bread and butter of literacy, maths, science, languages, humanities and art and technology, the children do PE every day, music twice a week and drama once a week. They also have ‘thinking and learning’ lessons where they’re encouraged to engage with abstract concepts, think critically and ask difficult questions.

There’s very little separation between the junior and senior sections of Withington Girls School so do have a look at our review of the senior school as well as this one. New junior school building and central Hub recently opened, but the juniors also regularly make use of the equipment, classrooms and specialist teachers from the senior school. They’re very well connected with the older girls: sixth formers provide affectionate peer support and many of the senior school’s extracurricular activities are on offer to the whole school. Some junior girls took part in the recent production of The Sound of Music, for example, and the science department houses the Little Critters Pets Corner – a rodent-heavy pet care club which allows juniors and year 7s to mix, chat and cuddle small furries during their lunch breaks. As with the senior school, there are just too many clubs, societies, days out and visiting speakers to list, but pupils told us that the recently formed Eco Warriors club was a particular favourite among juniors. This perhaps builds on the WGS tradition of developing the social conscience of the community-spirited young women in its care – or maybe it’s just a chance to get muddy growing strawberries and then eat them with cream.

The school comes across as warm and cosy. Parents love how well their children are known. One mum was touched by her daughter’s report after her first term at the school because finally, after many years at another primary where reports had repeatedly contained the same few cursory lines badgering her to ‘speak up in class more’, she felt that the teacher at WGS had got to know her child individually and to appreciate the contributions she was making in her own way.

Some parents might not want to take their daughters to a single sex environment so young. Others may feel that such a selective and high-achieving environment is just too much too soon for their little ones. The junior school is essentially a feeder for the senior school, so if you’re not sure that WGS is what you want for your daughter at age 11, then there could be some upset when all of her classmates progress to the seniors without her – but then again, she won’t be accepted to the juniors unless the school is confident there’s a future here for her. This is a gentle school with a real focus on fun and imagination. Children here aren’t pushed to achieve or to go in any particular direction, but they see all around them examples of how learning can change their lives. If your daughter does come here, you can expect her to aim high.

Special Education Needs

An SEN specialist is employed by the school. The girls are screened annually for any special needs and parents are contacted if necessary. Private lessons are available in school time from the SEN specialist, who liaises with the form teacher. If further assessment is required an outside agency is used. Nov 09.

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