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What says..

Horizontal boarding structure: girls live with their year group all the way through. Really liked by both girls and parents. 'Enables great camaraderie and the foundations of lifelong friendships,' observed one pleased parent. Younger girls envious of the privilege of pain au chocolat delivered to sixth form houses for breakfast - all very civilised. Sport for all here with games keenly contested at house level and a full inter-school fixtures list. Stunning facilities...

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What the school says...

The Queen Margaret’s Family has nurtured girls to reach their full potential for many years. We’re a small school and our girls are part of a community of people who care for each other and grow as individuals. At the heart of a QM education is a love of learning, which is supported by a healthy body and healthy mind.

A QM education is an exciting, challenging and enriching experience. When a girl has completed her education at QM she will be a freethinking, courageous individual prepared to take her learning to the next level and her place in a changing world. Every girl we welcome also leaves with our red ribbon of success; it ties us all together and represents the lifelong bonds made and experiences shared.
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Sports

Equestrian centre or equestrian team - school has own equestrian centre or an equestrian team.

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since 2019, Susan Baillie, previously pastoral director at Newcastle Royal Grammar. Started her career at Barnard Castle School, has been head of history and politics at selective day and boarding schools, and was second deputy head at Kimbolton. Enjoys walking, running and cooking: feels her greatest victory has been winning the local village cheese scone competition. Married to a Yorkshireman with a young daughter plus a cockapoo called Monty, an elderly cat called Polly and six hens.

Entrance

Own assessments at 11, 12 and 13; mathematics, English, dyslexia screening and observation of group working in two classroom activities. Additional intake into sixth form: two 7s and three 6s at GCSE, at least a 5 in maths and English and a minimum of a 6 in the subjects proposed for study at A level. Interviews for all admissions. Taster days for new boarders prior to admission with buddies for first years and guardian angels for third years, most popular boarding entry point.

Exit

Post-16, around 15 per cent of girls become restless and move to co-ed, local sixth form colleges or boarding schools like Uppingham and Oundle, usually ‘for a valid reason not a worrying reason,’ says school. A number goes and looks elsewhere before deciding to stay put. Virtually all sixth formers to higher education nationwide – the majority to Russell Group universities, with Durham and Edinburgh both popular. Courses cover a wide spectrum and include engineering, business and finance, languages, law and ‘ologies’. Heartening to see numbers going on to prestigious art colleges eg Central St Martins. Three overseas in 2019 - New York Film Academy (film), Hong Kong Polytechnic (nursing) and University of the Bahamas (psychology).

Teaching and learning

Excellent academic results almost taken as read by parents and success matters despite entry not being particularly selective. Overall A level performance consistently good and improving, with 2019 grades 42 per cent A*/A and 71 per cent A*-B. Mathematics, biology, economics, English, chemistry, languages and the arts popular and no weaknesses; psychology a new addition. At GCSE, 58 per cent 9-7 grades. Mathematics, sciences, humanities and art all tend to have an excellent proportion of top grades.

At A level, choice of 31 subjects; the girls mostly take three, plus an enrichment activity under the umbrella of the QM diploma, which covers excellence inside and outside the classroom, independent thought, learning and research, emotional maturity, and community and school activity and participation

At GCSE, 23 subjects offered - timetables are built around each girl’s choices, generally including one MFL. French, Latin and a choice of either Spanish or Mandarin are on the timetable for the first two years. German an option in the third year; all are on offer at GCSE and A level.

Class sizes around 10-12, maximum 16, and we saw evidence of interactive teaching and engaged pupils across a number of subjects, notably a history lesson considering WW1 propaganda posters.

IT embedded in the curriculum but not given high profile, though plenty of computers and wifi site wide. Surprisingly no overt computing or programming clubs, though the head of physics is a Raspberry Pi educator and led the QMSKYPI project, which culminated in a high altitude balloon launch for Margaret the knitted teddy bear.

Around 90 girls receive some sort of SEN support, mainly mild difficulties and dyslexia (all pupils have a screening test as an entry requirement). Two teachers work closely with academic colleagues to provide classroom and prep support where needed, some one-on-one where girls have slightly reduced timetables. Around 50 girls have individualised programmes for EAL taught by suitably qualified specialist teacher; small group and individual sessions according to need.

Sport

Sport for all here with games keenly contested at house level and a full inter-school fixtures list. Stunning facilities - floodlit all-weather pitch, two swimming pools (one indoor, one outdoor), sports hall, tennis/netball courts, dance studio, new sixth form cardio suite, fitness trail etc – hard to find something that’s not on offer. Riding popular (private riding school on campus); some girls bring ponies, school keeps a number.

Traditional team sports, winter lacrosse, hockey and netball and summer tennis, athletics and cricket. Links with local sporting clubs and training offer opportunities for talented sportswomen, scholars receive weekly sports conditioning session with a personal trainer. School supports and encourages girls whose sporting prowess involves competition at regional, national or international level. Sports tours - recently to Sri Lanka.

About a third of girls have individual instrument lessons with plenty of ensembles to showcase their talents, from wind to rock band, orchestra to songwriters’ collective. Year 7 and 8 choir compulsory, training for the senior chamber choir, together with close harmony pop up group covering popular repertoire. Weekly informal concerts, summer and Christmas concerts, annual musical production.

Fabulous drama facilities for aspiring luvvies. Two productions a year, one in collaboration with the music department - recently an open air Midsummer Night’s Dream (a brave decision in Yorkshire) and a musical version of the edgy and gritty Bad Girls. Recently shortlisted in Performing Arts School of the Year category by Independent School Parent magazine.

Not overwhelmingly 'arty' school but plenty of choice across the genres, textiles and photography as well - though no electronics, product design or resistant materials. A handful of girls go on to the top performing art and fashion colleges each year. Home economics for all through to small uptake at A level with Leiths food and wine certificate part of sixth form enrichment. Inter-house Masterchef competition hotly contested and first year tea party a high spot on the calendar.

The extensive range of extracurricular activities offers something for everyone and extends to clay pigeon shooting, driving remote control cars and climbing walls. A breadth of activities ranges from science and mathematics Olympiads to dance and music qualifications, DofE gold to Queen Margaret’s Princes Trust, Model United Nations to Amnesty International.

Boarders

Horizontal boarding structure: girls live with their year group all the way through. Really liked by both girls and parents. 'Enables great camaraderie and the foundations of lifelong friendships,' observed one pleased parent. For 11 year olds Red House is a welcoming home from home with a Cath Kidston inspired kitchen for tea, toast and conversations around the Aga. For the next three years girls are in houses at the top of school buildings whilst year Vs (15-16 year olds) move out into the grounds to purpose built boarding house, Winnie's (named after old girl, journalist and writer Winifred Holtby). Lower sixth are in the heart of the school in Cloisters and enjoy the privilege of sitting and walking on the quad lawn. ‘Modern loft-style living’ twin rooms with individual study areas enable girls to be well organised for busy lives.

The jewels in the boarding crown are the upper sixth cottages: ‘something to look forward to,’ the girls say. Reminiscent of the Emmerdale set, stepping back in time, the line of cottages all have large kitchens, 'great for entertaining', communal sitting rooms, individual study rooms. Cottage life has the feel of a college campus though head girl has the first pick of houses. Breakfast and snack preparation, responsibility for all their laundry, non-uniform dress code all contribute to the girls’ transition to post-school independent living.

Has recently introduced flexi-boarding and day girls, a quarter of pupils, all have allocated beds and can stay for a nightly charge. House activity nights for all on Fridays; a programme of weekend trips and visits and shared café and social spaces encourage girls of different ages to mix. Community weekends four times a term require girls to stay in school but at other times about 70 per cent remain. Greater freedoms for sixth form which they are careful not to abuse – cars allowed, York at free times on Wednesdays and Saturdays, supervised Cellars bar open on campus on Saturday nights – alcohol allowed with parental permission.

Parents commented that their daughters feel hugely supported by house staff who ‘adapt their life around ours’.

Ethos and heritage

Founded in 1901 as a Woodard school in Scarborough; moved to Escrick Hall, a John Carr built Georgian country house in 70 well kept acres in 1949. Independent from Woodard since 1986, a large yet compact and cohesive campus with a number of Victorian additions, clever conversions, complementary new-build with award-winning centenary theatre, chapel and indoor swimming pool. A throwback to earlier times - a cluster of timber cabin classrooms - add a quirky touch.

Circular dining hall (once an indoor lunging school) serves all meals to award winning standard, with school rarities such as a cappuccino machine and balsamic vinegar; younger girls envious of the privilege of pain au chocolat delivered to sixth form houses for breakfast - all very civilised.

Girls are expected and encouraged to think big here, challenged to break out of their comfort zone and aim high. Focus now on providing each girl with the confidence, strengths, maturity and values for an unknown future. ‘A greenhouse not a hothouse,’ says school. Confident, articulate, reflective girls show great loyalty to their school and say, ‘we know we’re in a bubble but we know what we’re in for’. Many house activities, communal social areas, buddying, mentoring and guardian angel schemes, not to mention the size of the school, make this a very supportive and close knit community.

Whilst 20 per cent of boarders are from overseas, this is not an international school. Girls find that where there are wide cultural differences this can preclude close friendships: ‘we’re friendly but not all best friends,’ say sixth formers. Parents comment on the overseas pupils ‘whose priorities are different and they are not so interested in sport or drama’ - they would not like to see this number grow. Cultural festivals are celebrated communally in house.

Good exposure for girls to global and topical issues through debating, extracurricular organisations and mock elections such as Brexit hustings and vote. Parents aware that this is a privileged life and take responsibility for widening their daughters’ experiences, though would like to see the girls do more in the community.

Uniform is an attractive tartan and charcoal - no skirt lengths above the knee: a first for us. Own clothes worn after tea - don't provide anything that you wouldn't want boil-washed. Relaxed smart casual dress code rather than uniform for sixth form.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Parents cannot speak highly enough of the pastoral care: as one put it, ‘compassion and kindness run through the veins of this school’. Together with house staff each girl has a personal tutor (of varied quality, say parents) who meets boarding staff daily with any concerns to SLT weekly. Sixth formers have a personal mentor who acts as a guide.

Girls and parents feel the rules are very clear. Zero tolerance for smoking, unsupervised repeat offenders, but girls and staff were quick to point out that behaviour is not a problem here with no full exclusions in the last two years. An army of sixth form posts of responsibility: head girl with three deputies, prefects covering the gamut of school life and six house captains.

Evolving from meditation groups, mindfulness is a recent introduction to PSHE lessons (and at lunchtime for a group of staff). The head has introduced a 10 session course on mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive therapy delivered by a trained practitioner.

Pupils and parents

A real sense of collegiality across the campus, lots of smiling faces. Girls aim high in every arena – whatever their talent; higher education is a foregone conclusion.

Parents mainly upper and middle class: landowners, farmers, professionals. Boarders some 20 per cent from overseas - span tens of nations and four continents; head using Spanish and South American networks to widen further. Many from Scotland, Cumbria, East Anglia and of course Yorkshire. Essentially the main catchment is the east coast train line - head keen to open the eyes of London prep schools to God’s own county, unexplored territory for many; however shrinking numbers over the past five years.

OMs include Winifred Holtby (author), Ann Jellicoe (playwright), Sarah Connolly (opera singer), Dame Justice Eleanor King (High Court judge).

Money matters

Scholarships at 11,13 and sixth form; academic, art, choral, dance, drama, music and sport scholarships. Means-tested bursaries. Sibling remission of five per cent, maximum 15 per cent for three or more sisters in school.

The last word

A supporting and enabling atmosphere where girls thrive and their talents developed, whether they are academic, sporting or arts based. All rave about the pastoral care and the breadth of opportunity on offer. Girls prepared go to on to post-school life with their eyes open. As a number of parents told us, it seems ‘they’ve got the balance right’.

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

A Special Educational Need can take on a variety of forms and whether a student is experiencing a learning difficulty, medical condition or pastoral need, the Learning Support Department at Queen Margaret's serves to provide students with full support to enable them to flourish. As soon as contact is made with the School it is important to advise of any special educational needs a student may have. Everything can then be put in place right from assessment day. There is a process of continual monitoring in place and an ‘open door’ policy. All girls are screened for learning difficulties when they first join QM and then again in Year III (9) and in Lower Sixth Form. This ensures that any emerging difficulties are quickly identified and provisions made. The School is fortunate in having its own Specialist Assessor who sees the examination process through from start to finish for each individual girl, carrying out the appropriate assessments for examination access arrangements, implementing arrangements in the classroom for girls and ensuring the appropriate paperwork is completed and applications made to the examination boards. All girls on the Special Educational Needs register are offered weekly, personalised lessons, for which there is no charge. These are one to one, tailored to each girl’s individual needs and timetabled to fit with girls’ other commitments, so enabling girls to shine in all areas of the curriculum. The Learning Support Department embraces a ‘can do’ attitude and encourages girls that a special educational need is not a barrier to achievement. From the girl now reading English at Cambridge, to the girl who has set up her own underwear business, anything is possible.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment Y
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty Y
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 Y
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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