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Rewind the clock a decade or so and the local perception was that while a lovely school, academic stretching was not necessarily a driving force. Not so now, say parents, who report that girls are ‘engaged and stretched’ and ‘well tracked’. Small size of school ‘allows staff to really know the girls and quickly support them whenever they need it,’ said a parent. Several told us they had chosen the school over larger local schools for this reason. DT room the most pristine we’ve ever seen – we couldn’t decide if that’s a good or a bad thing. In pre-prep, we saw reception pupils…

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Cambridge Pre-U - an alternative to A levels, with all exams at the end of the two-year course.

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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 2020, Nicola Smillie (early 50s), previously head at St Martin’s School, Solihull, which she left following a merger six years later. The fact that she is ‘wedded to single-sex girls’ schools’ suggests the resulting large co-ed might not have been for her anyway. Before that, at Westholme School, Blackburn for 19 years.

State educated in Lancashire, she studied modern languages at Liverpool. Quite fancied herself as ‘travelling South America as a writer for Lonely Planet,’ she grinned, but a taster of teaching during an Erasmus year in Spain and France quickly had her hooked and led to her PGCE. Still teaches (Spanish) with, according to pupils, her signature cheeriness, of which they and parents very much approve. ‘She had big shoes to fill but she’s very welcoming and friendly...

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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.

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