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When it comes to competitive sport Loughborough High is premier division. All activities take place on site and the bold new Parkin Sports Hall includes a classroom and soon to be completed dance and fitness studios. Corridors are lined with photos of triumphant winning teams ... A level results took a significant leap forward in 2020 and if that year’s national results can be taken as sound (a big if) then they are testament to the school’s success in beefing up its focus on academic achievement.  Amid the bitter controversies that batter the rest of the world, sixth form leaders assured us that all is sweetness and light at LHS and respect reigns. Indeed ...

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What the school says...

Loughborough High School is a lively academic school which offers a traditional education in an excellent environment alongside numerous extra-curricular activities. Our pupils not only achieve very good results but they also learn to be active and participative members of the community, developing excellent leadership and communication skills.

Entrance examinations consist of: 11+ - English, maths and NVR (interviews may take place where there is a discrepancy). 12+, 13+ and 14+ - English, Maths & Reasoning. Entry to the sixth form is by interview and GCSE grades. ...Read more

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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

Head

Since 2019, Dr Fiona Miles, previously senior deputy head at Haberdashers’ Aske's School for Girls. After an English degree at Cambridge, she went to teach English at Habs, then left to study medicine at King’s College, London and worked briefly as a doctor before returning to teaching at Habs. She ‘believed she could make more of a difference in teaching’. Promoted internally at Habs before moving to the headship at Loughborough High, where she tells us she thrives in the collegiate atmosphere, working with the heads of the other Loughborough Foundation schools: the prep Fairfield, Amherst an all through 3-18 school and the boys’ Grammar School.

Dr Miles was herself a pupil at Nottingham Girls’ High and loved the all-round education it gave her (she remembers playing netball against Loughborough). Confident, professional and warm, Dr Miles has had a busy introduction to Loughborough, making new appointments that signal her direction of travel – senior positions for careers (Head of Futures) and extracurricular activities as well as a mental health worker. These initiatives were informed by surveys – of staff, parents and the girls at various stages. She has also embarked on a curriculum review. The sixth form is now offering three A levels and EPQ, more flexibility is to be introduced into the KS4 curriculum with the normal number of subjects taken at GCSE reduced from ten to nine. Not a universally popular move but in this, Dr Miles assures us, pupil voice has been key. It is important to her that the academic life of the school goes hand in hand with pupil well-being. She teaches some of the PSHE programme so is in touch with the reality of well-being on the ground. She is working on transforming the sixth form to make it more appealing for today’s 16+s. She has made new senior sixth form appointments and the aim is a highly academic sixth form (including enhanced Oxbridge preparation) in a more relaxed, flexible environment.

Girls tell us she is efficient but also very personal in her approach. They love the handwritten notes she sends to congratulate or say thank you. Staff say she is bursting with energy and passion and has a heart of gold; parents say she responds very quickly to any concerns that are brought to her.

Dr Miles has two daughters at the junior school and somehow manages find time to play act as a visiting church organist.

Entrance

The school is oversubscribed and selects on the basis of its entrance examination – English, maths, NVR at 11+, then English, maths and reasoning if pupils come in at other stages where there may be the occasional vacancy. In the sixth form, offers are made on the basis of an interview and GCSE results.

Exit

Around a quarter leaves after GCSEs. Rest nearly all progress to university. Majority choose to study mainstream academic subjects. Birmingham, Bristol, Durham, Exeter, Imperial, King’s College London, Leeds, Liverpool, Loughborough, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, UCL, Warwick and York all feature. Three to Oxbridge and 18 medics in 2021.

Latest results

In 2021, 90 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 86 per cent A*/A at A level (86 per cent A*-B). In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 78 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 47 per cent A*/A (80 pe cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

A level results took a significant leap forward in 2020 and if that year’s national results can be taken as sound (a big if) then they are testament to the school’s success in beefing up its focus on academic achievement. Biology, chemistry and maths have the really large groups at A level and pupils are getting over 60 per cent A*-A grades in these subjects. Smaller numbers opt for drama, economics, physical education, religious studies and physics but results are still excellent.

There are normally four classes in each year group of about 24 girls each. Everyone studies Latin for at least two years and tries out French, Spanish and German before making choices about which to take further. Girls are ability set for maths from year 7.

The school has put an emphasis in recent years on study skills, including how to revise, starting in year 7. Everyone is provided with their own iPad and the school prides itself on how well IT is embedded. The adequate library has a pleasing number of new books but we thought it had a slightly sterile feel - no soft edges, splashes of colour or visible signs of quirky librarianship.

Broad range of A level subjects on offer, 29 at present including sociology, food and nutrition, history of art. Offering this wide choice is possible because of some joint teaching across the High and Grammar (boys’) schools, allowing for more unusual combinations and minority subjects to thrive. All the girls have the opportunity to take an EPQ. STEM subjects are encouraged as part of the ‘girls can do anything’ mantra. Girls we spoke to say they thought history, chemistry and modern languages were particularly popular. In one or two subjects (physics was given as an example), we heard that there can be disruption in staff continuity and substitute staff are viewed with suspicion. However, exam results do not seem to have been compromised by this.

Since the recent curriculum review Thursday afternoons are now devoted largely to extracurricular activities, some of which are run across the boys’ and girls’ schools. Not all academic work is exam focused and the staff tell girls that they want them to think more deeply not just recall facts. Some make it clear that they do not expect girls to be working throughout their holidays. A scholars’ programme has been established and there is more emphasis on Oxbridge preparation. Both have been welcomed by parents who have compared the girls’ school rather unfavourably with the boys’ school where participating in national competitions and early Oxbridge coaching seem to be the order of the day. The head’s mission is to provide academic stimulus and excitement without undue pressure.

Learning support and SEN

Learning support is there for everybody and parents don’t pay extra for it. It ranges from one off individual sessions on a particular issue, such as revision technique, to more intense weekly interventions and some small group work. iPads are used to good effect with different appropriate apps being added according to individual needs.

The school screens in year 7 and year 9 for learning difficulties as well as using information available from junior schools. Girls who are identified as having additional needs have a learning profile which is shared with staff and form teachers go through the profile with each girl at the start of the year. The department organises accessibility reports for exam boards and university admissions as well as connecting with university support departments.

It struck us as a very well oiled, efficient part of the school. The head of learning support tells us that this is the first school where she has worked, that has really given her the time to make a difference. The school is rightly proud to point out that in terms of value added scores, the girls with learning support plans gained a full grade above ALIS predicted grades last year.

The arts and extracurricular

Extracurricular activities take place before and after school as well as during the generous, long lunch break. Usual wide range of pursuits on offer with the stand out being music - everyone assured us the standard of performance music is quite exceptional.

The current deputy of the school, a musician himself, tells us he jumped at the job because of the quality of music. Music is largely coordinated across all the Foundation schools so there is a strong pool of good musicians for the selective orchestras and ensembles who perform an ambitious repertoire. There is an annual European music tour and weekly lunchtime concerts as well as big set pieces including an annual concert at the De Montford Hall.

Striking art work hangs all around the school. The school has had artists in residence and we liked one result of this collaboration with the girls - a women of influence portrait collage.

The head has prioritised extracurricular activities, making a senior appointment to ensure quality throughout and the new model for Thursday afternoons has allowed more time for Y12/13 to engage in non-academic areas. On offer, for example, are Level 3 Sports Leaders Awards; creative writing; LSF radio; voluntary service, Gold Crest Award; Leith’s cookery course; biblical Hebrew and a Level 3 finance qualification.

Sport

When it comes to competitive sport Loughborough High is premier division. All activities take place on site and the bold new Parkin Sports Hall includes a classroom and soon to be completed dance and fitness studios. Corridors are lined with photos of triumphant winning teams – national U18 football champions, national U14 hockey winners, almost every team you care to mention seems to have won at least at regional level in the last year or two. There is an elite sports programme for the top sports players. Parents were pleased that cricket, rugby and football are options. One or two concerns were raised that girls coming from the prep school had a far higher skill level than those entering from state schools and it could be hard to catch up. One or two parents felt girls could be slightly put off sport if they just wanted to have fun and were not first team material. However, as the girls move up the school, there are alternatives to team sport on offer – indoor rock climbing, pilates and squash.

Ethos and heritage

The original building dates from the school’s foundation in 1850, but while atmospheric, stairs and corridors are rather narrow by modern standards. The main hall evokes an ethos of tradition and academia, but is rather small for the school’s expanded size. New buildings, some more attractive that others, are set around the quad. The huge shiny blue blocks of the new sports hall may call to mind a Travelodge or Amazon depot, but the facilities they house are second to none. Science labs are refurbished and there is a new science building entrance, though we thought its display area had not been used in a particularly inviting or exciting way. The Foundation Music Centre with recital halls and endless space is the jewel in the crown.

It’s school tradition to celebrate achievement whenever possible; names are read out in assemblies and everyone seems to be pleased about the success of others. Girls and staff both mentioned a strong sense of community and togetherness. The school takes its social responsibilities seriously with Saturday masterclasses for local children just one part of a drive to work more closely with the local community. Links with Loughborough University are also developing - the new lead on careers education came from there along with various STEM projects.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Girls told us that pastoral care has always been excellent but is now far more obvious. For instance, there have recently been talks about the links between achievement and well-being. Everyone is aware of the pastoral resources available, including access to an educational psychologist and mental health nurse. The PSHE curriculum has been revised to include practical skills and finance as well as inclusivity and prejudice and the usual meaty issues. Senior staff lead on the delivery of the PSHE lessons.

The year 6 to year 7 transition and induction programme is well honed with visits to the junior schools, team building days and bonding events. A weekly enrichment period with form teachers at the start of the year ensures tutors really know each girl and covers topics such as coping with homework and e-safety. Homework doesn’t start straightaway. The girls’ overall welfare is at the heart of the systems, though some unease was expressed about the practice of form groups being rearranged each year. Parents whose daughter joined the school not in year 7, or who for some reason, miss the regular open days, say the school could not have done more to help smooth the process.

The high standard of behaviour is due in part to the relationship between girls and teachers as well as expectations being made clear from day one. Very few detentions ever need to be given. Any transgressions are usually dealt with by a member of staff calling a meeting to discuss and understand the cause. With both disciplinary and pastoral matters, staff engage with parents quickly and usually with the full knowledge of the girl involved. Strong line on illegal substances being brought into school – pupils may expect expulsion. This is, however, a highly unusual occurrence.

Pupils and parents

Buses bring girls from quite a wide area so there’s a fair geographic and social spread. The head is well aware of the serious financial choices many families make when opting to send daughters here and recognises parental aspirations are every bit as high as those in London and elsewhere. As always in such schools her job is to manage those expectations in order to ensure every girl follows a path that is in her best interests. Dr Miles told us that parents are very supportive of the school and our conversations confirmed that. Parents also appreciate the way that communications have been streamlined into weekly bulletins.

Girls are good at volunteering and show initiative and drive with popular events such as charity breakfasts and cake sales. One wrote a children’s book about Black Lives Matter and a girls’ well being committee runs a regular newsletter. Parents told us that the girls are proud of their school and that was our impression too.

The school is aware that the outside world might present its pupils with a few more challenges and looks at what it can do to shake a bit of the complacency. We understand that there have been assemblies and surveys on race issues, but amid the bitter controversies that batter the rest of the world, sixth form leaders assured us that all is sweetness and light at LHS and respect reigns. Indeed, the fact that we even raised such issues with pupils appeared to upset them.

The school certainly listens to its pupils. The girls tell us they are very ready to act if they consider a teacher is not up to scratch and they expect their views to be given suitable weight; they are also involved in interviewing new staff.

Money matters

There has been special bursary provision put aside to help with difficulties arising for families from the Covid crisis. Those on bursary support can receive help with instrumental lesson fees. About four full bursaries are available for each year group; these are normally split into part bursaries.

The last word

Parents and pupils keenly endorse Loughborough High’s message that its girls benefit from a single sex academic environment that also offers plenty of opportunities to mix with boys through an exciting programme of joint extracurricular activities. Truly the best of both worlds.

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

We are currently able to offer limited support for pupils with special educational needs but are not able to offer any specialist teaching. The progress of pupils with special educational needs is carefully monitored.

Who came from where


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