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Students we met over lunch were a microcosm of the school’s ethos. Bright, articulate, patient and ambitious. Careers in medicine, veterinary science, dance and professional football beckoned. Impressive and a delight to talk to. No arrogance or entitlement, just pride in their school and gratitude for their opportunities. Diamonds are forever? On this basis it looks likely.

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What the school says...

Dame Allan’s Schools are a group of independent schools in Newcastle upon Tyne. The only establishment in the North East offering the ‘Diamond Structure’ of education, students receive the academic benefits of single-sex education aged 11-16 with the social advantages of co-education; and a the mixed-gender Sixth Form. The schools were founded in 1705 with the Girls’ School believed to be one of the oldest independent girls’ schools in the country.

Entrance examinations at Years 7 and 9 consist of: English, maths & non-VR followed by an interview. For Sixth Form: A minimum of 45 points at GCSE with emphasis on grades achieved in subjects to be pursued.
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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, Will Scott. Background in Northern Ireland, boarder in Dublin and Edinburgh. Economics at St Andrews followed by six years in the Royal Navy. Time as a market trader in London failed to inspire. Experience working with young people in the navy and the City led to teaching economics, starting down the road at RGS. Spells in Bristol at Clifton College as head of faculty and house tutor, followed by St Lawrence College in Ramsgate as deputy head. Daughter an Allanian and a son at RGS (he ‘needed some space’). Enjoys cycling in various forms, sings in several choirs and gets creative in the kitchen. Bedside reading is Colm Tóibín, listens to The Rest is History podcast.

Arrived at Dame Allan’s in the midst of the pandemic. Proud of the response; as a Google school, well placed to shift to online learning smoothly. Says results in 2022 ‘knocked it out of the park’, confirming the way staff and students ‘rose to the challenges’. Current priorities focus on facilities; lots of construction in evidence or recently completed, including new art and DT space and extension to sixth form centre. Parents feel he is ‘lovely’, although one felt he could be more engaged with them. Student view is he is ‘really nice’, welcoming them at the gate each morning and hosting Principal’s Breakfasts, not just for the academic high fliers. He is ‘approachable’ and ‘involved’.

Staff say he is a strategic thinker, not afraid of making the difficult decisions. Has clear views and values concerning education and wants to shift the focus towards students understanding learning. Big emphasis on metacognition and the work of Deborah Eyre and Carol Dweck. Parents have noticed and one said their child had previously found learning challenging, but now ‘understands how to learn… the teachers have given him the tools and now he does things for himself to learn and revise’. Head wants to ensure that students understand the importance of making mistakes and learning from them. Becoming ‘meta-thinkers’ is the goal.


Most pupils come from the junior school but also from local state primary or other independent schools. Automatic from junior school, test for incomers. New online system with a one hour screen-based assessment covering verbal, non-verbal and maths skills. There is an interview in groups, a tour, and a morning spent on site. Parent of a child with SEN ‘blown away’ by process. ‘Every accommodation’ made for her child who ‘didn’t feel they stood out’ and was paired with the only other child from their primary. Head feels it is not all about academic ability. Engagement with the extracurricular offer is important. He sees this as ‘the social glue’ that holds the diamond structure together. Some entry in later years, especially year 9.

Around 15 join at sixth form – they need 45 points from their best eight GCSEs (which must all be passes) and grade 6s in subjects to be studied at A level (some subjects require higher grades). Reference also requested from last school. Attracts from both state and independent schools across a wide area, often for sciences and prep for medical school.


Between 15-20 per cent leave after GCSEs, mostly looking for alternatives to A levels. University awaits vast majority, with just over half to Russell Group. Northumbria, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and Glasgow most popular recently. Two to Oxbridge in 2023, but Oxbridge is ‘not the dominant focus’, insists head. Sciences are a strength, with eight medics in 2023. MFL, drama, dance, DT and music also do well and some get places in conservatoires (the Rambert name is dropped).

Latest results

In 2022, girls’ results were 72 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 66 per cent for the boys. At A level, 55 per cent A*/A (83 per cent A*-B) across boys and girls. In 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), girls’ results were 63 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 53 per cent for the boys. At A level, 35 A*/A (65 per cent A*-B) across boys and girls.

Teaching and learning

Parents see this as a less academic option than some others locally. ‘The least private of private schools,’ one said. They feel there is a ‘reasonable amount of work for pupils, but it’s not about perfection’. One parent said the supportive staff led to her child ‘falling in love with learning’ and feeling ‘understood and valued and happy’.

Diamond formation is not just a football strategy. Here it means co-ed prep, single-sex 11-16 and co-ed sixth form. Parents felt this helped their children ‘maintain focus’. ‘Exactly what was needed for my son,’ said one. Head refers to ‘varying societal expectations’ by gender, and staff say boys and girls ‘learn differently’. Benefits cited include a ‘big STEM take-up from girls’. Senior students do mix at GCSE when class sizes are small and both schools are housed in the same building. Extracurricular activities, apart from most sports, are also mixed. Rules around access to the girls’ and boys’ quads have been relaxed since the 80s and students can socialise at breaks and lunchtimes. The head’s ‘social glue’ needs time to take effect, according to students, though. Joint year 7 party led to scenes reminiscent of the gym dance in West Side Story (thankfully without the violence). By sixth form, however, students ’mixed very quickly’, we are assured.

Years 7 to 9 follow national curriculum content with setting only in maths from year 7. Classes of no more than 24. French and Latin in year 7 followed by introduction of German or Spanish in year 8, choose two for year 9. Nine GCSEs is the norm, two language options available; 75 per cent take separate sciences. Only A levels available post 16, with 24 subjects on offer, including dance and politics. Three, plus one ‘super-curricular’ option from EPQ, digital futures, Mandarin, enterprise or sports leaders is the expectation. Reports every half-term with a mix of full written comments, a summative comment or effort and attainment only.

Students get a library lesson once a fortnight for private reading and sixth form have their own space in the Jennifer Cole room, also used for meetings. Shakespearean display in situ during our visit. We were unable to access the sixth form block as it was being extended to reflect the growing intake. More space for private study, social area and classrooms for sixth form use. Separate block alongside for CCF and DofE activities and resources.

Students say their lessons are well planned and teachers ‘will go over it again’ if they don’t understand. Exams are important ‘but not be all and end all’. Teachers value ‘the person, not the grades’. There can ‘quite a bit’ of homework, but it tails off in summer.

Learning support and SEN

All students are screened on entry in year 7 for SEND. Currently 133 with SEND including ADHD, visual and hearing impairment, ASD and DCD. No EHCP at time of visit. No in-class support – withdrawal is the norm, to the Snug, a dedicated space for SEND and wellbeing. Counselling service and school nurse available, along with Heidi, the support dog. Parents were effusive about the inclusive nature of the support and rated the provision ‘fantastic… a responsive and outstanding team’.

The arts and extracurricular

Co-curriculum, not extra-curriculum. Head believes participation in clubs, sports etc are crucial for personal development. Parents and students identified a perceptible increase in availability and focus on participation since his arrival. Closely monitored – only nine students from years 7-13 not participating in any clubs or teams. Students back the head’s view that ‘success comes in many forms’, to the extent that they feel staff understand if they put clubs and participation ahead of homework. Among the staggeringly varied - and, in some cases, niche - options include archivists’ club, medsoc, ecosoc, engineering society, femsoc etc. The creative writing club recently had a visit from Ian La Frenais, of Likely Lads fame. All departments also offer extra support in clubs to review and go beyond the curriculum. Competitive house system adds to the appeal of getting involved.

Three drama studios support a thriving department with large uptake from both genders; we observed girls working creatively on cliff-hanger moments. Opportunities not only to perform, but also work backstage on productions such as Nought and Crosses and musical theatre, including The Addams Family, Sister Act, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. LAMDA coaching available. Year drama clubs too, with Christmas Extravaganza a highlight. Drama clubs ‘fantastic’, said one parent.

Dancers also strut their stuff across all year groups and genders. Boys’ dance club displayed their talents at lunchtime, developing skills in the dance studio. Students get to perform in the annual dance show, held at Dance City. Four dance companies meet once a week during term time. Plenty of success at regional and national level.

Music department housed in the Lumsden Music Centre with numerous practice rooms and the chance to learn ‘any instrument’, according to guides. Two auditoria facilitate lessons and various ensembles, along with multiple choirs, orchestra, Ceilidh band and rock and pop groups. The biennial musical productions are popular. Regular tours, Italy and France the latest. Links with Newcastle Cathedral for aspiring choristers. Informal lunchtime recitals, as enjoyed during our visit.

New facilities for art and DT in the Jubilee Building (which is also home to languages and science), with art displays especially striking in the large, bright spaces. One installation of an unexploded mortar shell half buried in the floor was unnervingly realistic. How did the builders miss that? Models of UFOs and wooden puzzles in DT also impressed.

DofE and outdoor activities - under the umbrella leadership of head of OLED (outdoor learning education department) - are prioritised. This is the biggest DofE centre in the north. Over 100 year 9s take bronze award, around 70 silver in year 10 and over 30 gold in year 12. CCF takes 40 on camp as well.

Trips across the age range, starting with year 7 residential to Lake District to bond form groups in first half term. Others include: sixth form history to New York/Washington; languages to Paris/ Berlin; ski trip and climbing in Spain. Real adventure is further offered by World Challenge participation – has seen pupils go to Uganda, Kenya, Bolivia, Mongolia, China, the Indian Himalayas and Mozambique.


Over 60 teams and clubs available, so no surprise that students say ‘the opportunity for sport is incredible’. The list is impressive and not just the standard fare. Archery, climbing, surfing, rowing, squash, karate, fencing and table tennis on the menu. Where possible, clubs are mixed, such as rowing.

Old-style gym still in use, supplemented by modern sports hall at edge of site with a fitness suite attached. Sports spaces limited by site being landlocked, but impressive cricket pavilion, 3G hockey pitch, tennis courts and green spaces facing the entrance and reception.

All students are given the chance to compete and represent the school. Many go on to representative honours regionally and nationally. There are 15 rugby teams, with boys and girls involved. Recent successes include plate finalists at Rosslyn Park sevens and reaching the semi-final of the National Schools Vase. Hockey took a pre-season tour to Barcelona and reached the quarter-finals nationally. Year 8 cricket team playing a cup final at home during our visit.

Links with Newcastle Eagles and Newcastle Falcons, England Badminton and England Football. An elite athletes programme also runs in the summer. Regular tours to sunnier climes: South Africa, Barbados, Netherlands and (not quite so sunny) Northern Ireland.

Ethos and heritage

Dame Allan’s Schools were founded in 1705, and are two of the oldest schools in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Girls’ School is believed to be the eighth-oldest independent girls’ school in the country. Founded by Dame Eleanor Allan, daughter of a city goldsmith and the widow of a wealthy tobacco merchant, to provide a ‘proper’ education for 40 poor boys and 20 poor girls. An Anglican Christian tradition, rooted in the school’s foundation, underpins its ethos.

Buildings give a sense of travelling through time, with original 1935 glass-covered walkways and pretty, well-kept quads linked seamlessly to the new £8 million Jubilee Building. Enter a room from the 1930s and leave via a different door onto a 2023 corridor. Modern take on reception area: lots of glass and an open airy feel. Head’s office glass walled and visible overlooking reception. Original Newsom Hall leads off at one side, very traditional, where productions are performed and assemblies held. Dining hall also has old-school feel with rows of trestle tables, middle row reserved for staff. During our visit boys sat one side and girls the other. Our guides assured us this was not a rule, but a hangover from Covid and felt it would gradually fade. Interestingly, no sign of that yet. Diamond by choice?

Whilst the diamond structure is retained for most lessons up to GCSE, outside the classroom it is generally relaxed and there is a strong community feel. Students told us, ‘Dame Allan’s is known for friendship.’ Head says it’s ‘about the individual, not headline results’. Easy to say, given the performance in recent tables, but students agree. They feel it isn’t a ‘pressured environment’. They acknowledge it is an academic school and that students get good results, reaching their potential, but they don’t lose sight of what matters, to them and the school: ‘Teachers advise and guide. They recognise the importance of exams but wellbeing is more important,’ they tell us. Asked to summarise their experiences at Dame Allan’s: ‘Friendly environment that pushes you well.’

Alumni include conductor Sir David Lumsden, comedy writer Ian La Frenais, Elizabeth Fallaize (once pro-vice chancellor of Oxford University) and more recently Ellie Crisell, TV presenter and journalist, and Vick Hope, TV presenter and Radio 1 DJ.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Form tutors are first port of call with well-structured systems in place to ensure all students receive individual care. Parents report children feel well supported and any with SEND have their extra needs cared for ‘discreetly’. Issues are dealt with ‘responsively’ and with ‘no drama’. Peer mentoring by sixth formers (with training) provides support largely in years 7 to 9. Mental health is prioritised, campaigns often led by peers, such as the mental health buddies in the sixth form working with younger students. The learning support department comes in for particular praise: ‘the door is always open’ and Heidi has earned herself several treats for sitting with one child and calming them down, according to one mother.

Plenty of reminders about the importance of inclusivity on our tour – displays of female role models, celebrations of neurodiversity and of superheroes of all ethnicities etc. In discussions with pupils, we noticed they showed respect and kindness towards each other – and newcomers said they are made welcome and supported.

Behaviour is well monitored, bullying dealt with promptly on the rare occasions it happens. A recent issue with vaping was stamped out quickly and effectively, according to students. None could recall a suspension in recent times. Parents also acknowledged the systems ensure prompt action and resolution when necessary.

Pupils and parents

Families – mainly white British and dual income - come from a wide social mix, including some from the more deprived areas, as well as business and professional backgrounds, with a bias towards medics. Parents tell us that, apart from the odd association with Newcastle Football Club, they are all ‘normal people’ who just ‘want the best for their children’. Catchment very wide due to central location, although no parking on site so drop-off and pick-up can be tricky. Extensive minibus service on offer from six locations. Lively WhatsApp groups and a PTA that works tirelessly to raise funds. Students we met over lunch were a microcosm of the school’s ethos: bright, articulate, patient and ambitious. Careers in medicine, veterinary science, dance and professional football beckoned. Impressive and a delight to talk to.

Money matters

There are 160 bursaries across the school. These are means tested and range from around 80 per cent to 100 per cent and are individually assessed, based on entrance results. Scholarships also available up to 50 per cent of fees, on the basis of academic merit, for those joining in years 7-9. Applicants for the sixth form are also eligible for a Don Walker bursary (means tested and conditional upon GCSE results).

The last word

No arrogance or entitlement among students here, just pride in their school and gratitude for their opportunities. Diamonds are forever? On this basis, it looks likely.

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

At a small charge to parents, Dame Allan's provides an excellent service for children with specific learning difficulties. Lessons take place on a mainly one to one basis throughout the entire Schools' age range. The School has its own Learning Support Department with a highly qualified member of staff as the learning support teacher.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
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

Who came from where

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