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What says..

An elegant school offering a broad education to bright, interesting girls. Older girls frequently smile and greet much younger ones, a sign of refreshing vertical friendships. This is not a school paralysed by hierarchy. Our guides said the thing about their school they were most proud of was the ‘community’. ‘Everyone knows each other and everyone is involved,’ they enthused. Parents of girls in years 7 and 8 are excited to report their daughters discovering... 

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What the school says...

Queen's College occupies four elegant and spacious houses in Harley Street. The College is academically selective, and great importance is placed on the development of the talents of each individual girl and on pastoral care. Results are impressive, and students go on to competitive degree courses (including Oxbridge).

Classes are small yet the curriculum is wide at both GCSE and A-level. Five modern languages are taught as well as Latin and Greek; the three separate sciences are available throughout. Provision for the creative arts is outstanding and good use is made of the cultural resources of central London. Sport takes place in Regent's Park and a wide variety of activities are on offer, with a full programme of fixtures in the traditional team games.

Queen's College is a unique institution. It has an exceptional history behind it and an ambitious, warm and distinctive approach to the education of young women in the 21st century.
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What the parents say...

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2015 Good Schools Guide Awards

  • Best performance by Girls taking Art & Design at an English Independent School (GCSE)

What The Good Schools Guide says

Principal

Since September 2017, Richard Tillett, previously senior deputy head at Harrogate Ladies' College. Degree in modern languages and history from Cambridge; taught history and politics at King Edward VI Grammar and was housemaster and history teacher at The Leys before joining Harrogate Ladies' in 2010 as head of sixth form. His wife, Dr Emma Longstaff, is a sociologist who now works in academic publishing, and they have a young daughter. Richard's primary academic interests are Russian history (he is a Russian speaker) and contemporary politics. Away from school life, he is an avid follower of football and cricket, and loves travel, good food and hill walking.

Academic matters

The trend is upwards and results get more impressive year on year. In 2017, 76 per cent A*-B grades at A level, with 50 per cent A*/A grades. GCSE results 73 per cent A*-A/9-7 in 2017. The range of subjects is broad, but by far the most popular and successful subject – according to recent results - is English, closely followed by history. Philosophy and ethics is another popular department. Tiny take up of further maths and physics, though several doing biology and chemistry, and A*s uncommon in all these subjects. The number of girls doing a modern language at A level appears to be low too. This is despite the fact that there is a lot of language provision in the early years – in year 7 they do Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian and German, and then can choose a second modern language in addition to French in year 8 and 9 before finalising GCSE choices. We swept through a corridor overhearing the songs and languages of different European countries that poured out of each classroom. Results in modern languages are good at GCSE – in French, Italian and Spanish. A shame that this doesn’t seem to carry through – yet – to A level. This may change following the appointment of a new head of modern languages from North London Collegiate.

Classics department is lively, we were told, with lots of recital competitions, for example, organised by the London Classical Association, as well as plays, trips and activities. Top Latin set in year 9 is introduced to ancient Greek and a tiny few take GCSE. The take up of Latin is also low at A level; at GCSE approximately five each year take the subject, some achieving strong A* and A grades.

In some of the EBacc subjects (maths, English, history, geography, and French, but not sciences) the girls take the tougher IGCSE. Results in maths are excellent. No one has got below a B in recent years, with 19 As and eight A*s recently. Parents of girls in years 7 and 8 are excited to report their daughters discovering a love of science and enthusiasm for subjects they had never shown an interest in before. From 2018 girls will take the tougher IGCSE in sciences too.

Reports across the board about the excellent relationships between staff and pupils. Girls here are treated with respect and consideration by their teachers and we were told by a number of parents that the atmosphere was more similar to a university than a school - helped, no doubt, by the ‘supervision style’ class sizes in the sixth form. Our guides enthused about the teachers ‘being there for them’ and that they felt they could always trouble them - in or out of lessons – with a question or concern. Small class sizes (15-20) and sometimes tiny in the sixth form – contribute to the particular personal rapport that develops between teacher and student.

One SENCo only, employed four days a week. Emphasis given to literacy and numeracy in admissions process means candidates with ‘spiky profiles’ are unlikely to reach the standard. Although the SENCo can meet the needs of pupils with mild dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia etc, ‘we are not a school that specialises in this,’ asserts head. School currently supports a handful of girls with ASD, and takes measures such as timetabling a period each day when a student with sensory issues is able to be in a quiet and calm environment, and liaising with another's psychotherapist to manage her anxieties during exams. All staff are trained in managing ASD in the classroom. Girls needing extra support are rarely taken out of lessons but will have ‘individual learning plans’ which all their teachers will be familiar with so that support can be given all the time during every lesson. Laptops and extra time may form part of the plan. No EFL tuition but will give support for EAL if necessary.

Games, options, the arts

Sport here is surprisingly strong considering this is a central London all girls’ day school – and a relatively small one, too. Lots of choice of sports – netball arguably the strongest, but girls can also play lacrosse, football and tag rugby in winter, rounders, cricket and tennis in the summer. Despite its urban centre – Oxford Street and John Lewis only a stone’s throw away – Regent’s Park is also just up the road in the other direction and the girls can walk there in 10 minutes. Plenty of fixtures against other schools – they normally field a first and second team - and games is timetabled heavily in the early years. Twice a week girls will have double games, once a week PE and once a week dance. A gym in the bowels of the school is well equipped and a great space for letting off steam and doing (almost) any kind of sport, dance, ballet or gymnastics and even spinning and zumba. The school’s sports uniform – ‘a hoody and leggings,’ as one parent described it – is very popular with the girls, no doubt a positive influence on the relish for physical activity.

Enthusiasm for sport wanes somewhat in the senior years but they then graduate to yoga, pilates and zumba classes at the University of Westminster gym off Regent Street. Swimming takes place at the Marshall Street Leisure Centre. Work has been done to create a fuller programme with a wider choice of activities and to encourage the competitive spirit. The appointment of a dynamic head of PE is reaping dividends. ‘We are working on two threads,’ school told us, ‘coaching for excellence and ensuring everyone has a go.’

Drama and music are flourishing, productions here are inclusive, exciting and impressive. A recent show, Belles of the Ball, was devised by the girls with the help of a visiting professional writer and was based on a women’s football team formed during World War 1 to raise money for men at the front. In writing and producing the play the girls not only wowed an audience with their final performance but were able to extend and enhance their understanding of a particular period through a very personal and liberating female experience. We spent some time with the head of drama, a former actor, who impressed us with her spontaneity, passion and experience. Lots of lunchtime clubs connected with drama.

School has a full orchestra and a number of ensembles. We heard rave reviews of the singing and tales of girls who had shown no interest in music before starting here, now being entered into choral scholarships for university. Formal recitals and concerts held in the beautiful Waiting Room on the ground floor. Annual jazz concert and a healthy number of girls are starting to choose to take music A level.

The art on the walls and the sculptures on display take your breath away. The art room is creatively inspiring – a barn-like, large, long room with windows in the ceiling and sun beaming in from every corner. However, when we visited the atmosphere was distinctly chilly. The girls were focused but not relaxed. What should have been a buzzy, creative warmth was instead stiff and wary. Perhaps we caught it on a bad day, but we did hear a few reports from parents that suggested we weren’t imagining it. Girls who take art have historically done well here; large numbers continue to apply for the handful of art scholarships at the 11 plus. This should be a strength of the school: whether it will continue to be so remains to be seen.

Plenty of opportunity to travel, whether on cultural exchanges with schools in Pennsylvania and France, for example, or on football and cricket trips to, eg, Sri Lanka.

Background and atmosphere

Founded in 1848 and given a royal charter in 1853, a pioneer in education for women, this was the first institution in Great Britain to give academic qualifications to girls. Still on its original site in four elegant, well-proportioned Georgian houses, internally it has often been altered through the years in order to provide the best modern education possible. There is a faint whiff of Victorian hospital about it, with some cold stone floors and forbidding doors; however, the William Morris wallpaper decorating the ground floor corridor, tastefully toning in with the pale green school uniform, together with the high ceilings, large windows and frescos, goes a long way to making the school feel tastefully familiar, and comfortable. The school, tucked between expensive doctors' private practices on Harley Street in the heart of central London, with the music blaring out of New Look and Top Shop only yards away in nearby Oxford Street, is deceptively large. The houses extend some distance to the rear and classrooms and corridors are large and airy. An exciting development extending up at the top of the building (‘the roof project’) has provided a new sixth form centre.

The school is more intimate than many of its kind in London. Older girls frequently smile and greet much younger ones, a sign of refreshing vertical friendships. This is not a school paralysed by hierarchy. Our guides said the thing about their school they were most proud of was the ‘community’. ‘Everyone knows each other and everyone is involved,’ they enthused. A wonderfully atmospheric, wood panelled library with grand fireplaces, dark green wallpaper and serious looking, distinguished people, staring down from paintings on the walls, is where the sixth form currently work. The Waiting Room is an elegant old-fashioned room with an arresting frieze on the ceiling, where once girls waited to be taken to their next lesson. Now PSHE talks are held here, small drama productions and concerts. The 'goldfish bowl', a striking glass-walled computer centre in the heart of the school, is a startling modern contrast to most of the rest of the school, and just outside Daunt Books runs a book stall where parents can place credit and girls can buy books at will. Plenty of computers around the school and a number of classrooms have desks with drawers containing laptops.

Spacious dining room in the basement, colourful Perspex chairs cheering up the dank basement ambience. Large glass doors open out onto an attractive courtyard area, with surrounding benches, into which girls can spill during the warmer months. Lots of choice, sushi and salad as well as the usual pasta and potatoes. Sixth formers can go out at lunch and sample what Oxford Street has to offer.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

Year heads, known as year tutors, help to monitor each individual girl, and there are section heads to oversee, for example, years 7-9 and years 10 and 11. There do not appear to be any serious disciplinary issues. We were surprised to hear no mention of drugs at all among the parents. ‘Girls here are respected and treated as adults.’ ‘They feel listened to, the atmosphere is more like a university than a school’ commented a number.

Parents' perception is that there could be more collaboration with boys’ schools in the area. School counters this, pointing out participation in the Model United Nations and debating in the London leagues which ‘bring the girls into contact with boys’, as well as musical events organised with Harrow school.

Pupils and parents

Traditionally regarded as a school that caters for the well brought up, upper middle class girl whose parents regard a good education as of the highest value. The latter persists, and while there remains a faint fragrance of aristocracy, the demographic, as in most central London schools, is highly cosmopolitan. A wide mix of nationalities, Middle Eastern, European and American as well as Scandinavian, Antipodean and Asian; but there is no EFL teaching so they have to speak good English. The culture of the school is very English, however, and the majority of the pupils ‘tend to be British,’ says school. Girls here are well mannered and polite. They will look you in the eye and can hold their ground. A number of parents said how pleased they were that their daughters had formed such good and healthy friendships. Their view is that the school selects grounded girls who are willing to take advantage of the opportunities on offer. There used to be limos parked outside on Harley Street delivering girls – not any more.

Two of the earliest students, Miss Buss and Miss Beale, went on to found the North London Collegiate School and Camden School for Girls, and St Hilda's College Oxford, respectively. Katherine Mansfield and Jacqueline du Pré also stand amongst the long list of distinguished old girls as well as, more recently, writers Daisy Goodwin and Imogen Lloyd Webber. A distinguished tradition and history in the making.

Entrance

Mainly at 11+ via the North London Consortium group 1 exam. From 2019, this will consist of a one hour cognitive ability test (rather than maths and English exams) with great emphasis on the interview. Some 500 applicants for 60 places and the numbers seem to rise relentlessly each year. Unusually at Queen’s everyone is interviewed, regardless of performance in the exam. Indeed interviews take place between October and December before the exam. ‘We like to form a picture of the child without seeing her test results.’ They are genuinely selective and are looking for someone who is going to enjoy getting involved and seize the opportunities available.

No automatic entrance from Queen’s College Prep but a good percentage come from there. Otherwise over 40 different feeder schools, with about 15 per cent from local state primaries. Another (small) intake at 16+ subject to GCSE results and letters of recommendation from their previous schools. All prospective entrants at this level interviewed by the head of sixth form.

Exit

Some 30 per cent leave after GCSEs, mostly to board or move into the state system. Post A level leavers to top universities eg King's, LSE, Birmingham and Exeter, with three off to Central St Martins and another three doing art foundation courses elsewhere.

Money matters

Several means-tested bursaries available at 11+ and 16+, funded by the Old Queen's bursary trust fund. Academic, music and art scholarships, for up to 25 per cent of fees, for both internal and external candidates. Would hope always to be able to find a way of keeping a pupil in need.

Our view

An elegant school offering a broad education to bright, interesting girls. There is nothing generic about Queen’s College. A very individual place where each girl is genuinely treated as an individual Will suit your all-round daughter who will thrive in a structured, nurturing community that takes a personal interest in every child. Stimulating teaching with strength in both breadth and depth. An excellent preparation for life for a young woman in the 21st century.

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Special Education Needs

Queen's College focuses on the development and needs of each individual. All new girls are screened to see if they have specific learning difficulties and when a pupil requires help, whether for basic study skills or essay technique at A Level, we provide up to half a term of sessions with our educational support specialist.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
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

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