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Entrance criteria as follows: Entry year appropriate examination papers in maths and english plus interview for Years 7 to 10. Minimum of six GCSE Grade A passes, Entry Test and interview for entry to Sixth Form. Parents and candidates attend Open Evenings or make private visits separately. 11+ examination consisting of one 75 minute paper taken in January for entry in following September with places for Year 7 offered in February as part of The London Independent Day Girls' Schools' Consortium. ...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.

Sports

Rowing

Fencing

What The Good Schools Guide says

Principal

Since 2006, Rosalynd Kamaryc BA MSc PGCE (50s). Previously did a 10 year stint as head of Wykeham House School, Fareham. Not heading for retirement any time soon but after spending over a decade ensuring that this happy, successful school became even happier and more successful, there’s always the vague possibility that she might want another challenge.

Neat, confident and fit, she plays tennis seriously as often as she can and was once a keen horse-woman before she decided that tennis racquets are less trouble than horses at the end of a long day. She gave careful consideration to the questions we asked and thoughtful, if not revelatory, answers on subjects such as the change in A level choices and university destinations, showing that she has a thorough knowledge of her profession and her school.

Teachers talk of strong leadership and help when needed, while parents talk of her friendliness and willingness to communicate. It was, in other words, easy to believe this extremely capable woman wants the best outcome for her girls and her staff and that she’s telling the truth when she talks of her belief in the ‘Queen’s Gate family’.

Academic matters

The head speaks of being ‘always ambitious’ for her girls and the academic results across the board bear witness to the school’s success. In 2019, 70 per cent gained A*/A (9-7) at I/GCSEs and A level results were impressive in 2019 with 54 per cent A*/A and 79 per cent A*-B. Moreover, it looks likely this level will be maintained.

Once known as an ‘arty’ school, there are few academic gaps here these days and a conscious effort has been maintained to teach a wide range of subjects from year 7 onwards (unusually, you can study Latin and Mandarin for GCSE, even if it’s just you). This richesse of options is particularly obvious at A level, where they offer an astonishing (for such a small school) range of 28 guaranteed subjects, even if a subject has only one or two takers, a fact the head is, rightly, very proud of.

There has been a small swing in favour of STEM subjects at A level, with more girls taking a route which will lead them towards science or medicine, typified at the top end by one girl heading to Oxford to study engineering. Maths, art and English are still the most popular choices but biology, sociology, psychology and economics don’t lag far behind.

At the moment, everyone signs up to four A levels (one of which can be dropped at any point in the lower sixth) but there is talk of reducing it to three with the option of a fourth. Head is still undecided but feels that this would probably end them up in the same place (as far as numbers of exams taken) but that it might make for a better journey on the way.

Teacher turnover is low (unless retirement beckons) and some have been here for more than 20 years. However, the head seems well aware of keeping the balance between young NQTs and familiar faces and the pupils and parents love the continuity.

They are very careful to state that they can only cope with a certain level of SEN (which really means mild dyslexia), but there is a full-time SEN teacher and girls felt that there is always help on hand. Definitely not a wheelchair friendly school as you are constantly faced with steps and stairs.

Games, options, the arts

For a school with two small roof terraces and two other tiny outside spaces, they do well to offer any sport at all beyond basic PE in the basement gym. However, they try and overcome the practical problems and even field netball, hockey and basketball teams and can boast of a potential international rower and a ‘brilliant’ fencer. Perhaps not a school for a noticeably sporty girl, but encouragement is handed out liberally to anyone who has a go.

Buzzing art rooms at the top of the houses, presided over by the ‘legend’ of an art teacher who was overseeing an A level project on chairs when we visited, calling for the wood glue whilst wielding a drill. Imagination, enthusiasm and stimulation on show among all the different classes working under the roof. ‘We are so lucky to have all this - it was one of the main reasons I wanted to come here,’ said one student.

Music not quite so much in evidence but a substantial percentage learn instruments in school. Cosy drama teacher was re-capping the important bits of the ’39 Steps’ in a slightly chaotic space next to the small studio stage, the size of which does not appear to deter the girls.

Clubs are ubiquitous from astronomy to book club - ‘absolutely everything you want’ enthused one mother. The location is an added boon and has led to exciting outings behind the scenes at their near-neighbour, the Natural History Museum - the chance of being up close and personal with dinosaurs makes the average school outing seem very dreary.

Background and atmosphere

At the end of Victoria’s reign, when Miss Eleanor Wyatt opened her door in nearby Stanhope Gardens, her aim was to help well-brought up girls turn into educated young ladies. The ethos remains the same over a century later, the only difference being that Oxbridge rather than marriage is now the goal.

The facades of the adjoining houses have recently been embellished with discreet dark blue banners. Inside, the Queen hangs on the stairs next to a pupil’s drawing of a screaming girl, seemingly heavily influenced by Munch. The entrance we came through was narrow and unglamorous, decorated with photographs of visits by their startlingly recognisable alumnae (think HRH the Duchess of Cornwall) and staff members (ex- chief spy, Eliza Manningham Buller) but there is a much grander hall and staircase next door.

A stranger would need a map to negotiate the maze that consists of classrooms, libraries and staff cubby holes but it appears to be zero problem for its daily inhabitants who think it adds to the ‘homeyness’ of the school. The basement (apart from the gym and kitchen) is basically all about science, the top floor is all about art and the rest is squashed in-between. Fairly bonkers but it works.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

The praise (as well as fondness) for the staff and the pastoral care was unanimous and close to fulsome, if it hadn’t been so obviously genuine. School appears not only to help with problems but are aware of them before the student has realised that she should be worried. Everyone seems involved, with form teachers, heads of year and the subject director all coming in for plaudits. Particular mention of the relationship and care taken by older girls for younger ones, fostered by a buddy system set up on induction day, and a residential outing for the year group at the beginning of year 7.

When asked about the existence of eating disorders or other psychological and emotional problems causing distress, honest soul-searching went on amongst sixth-formers, concluding that they could only remember one girl in trouble and that it wasn’t a worry here unlike in some of the schools that their friends went to. Detention and late detention for offenders but the crimes appear minor and no evidence that serious problems are more than very occasional, or indeed are not dealt with before they manifest themselves.

Pupils and parents

Kensington has always been the respectable half of the borough alliance with raffish Chelsea to the south but nowadays the girls tend to come from both sides of the Fulham Road. The mix of backgrounds and nationalities appears not to have changed that much recently, with a cohort that includes Americans and Europeans, and Brexit has not made any significant difference, as yet. Strong links with old girls are actively encouraged by the head - not only do they come back visiting but regularly send their daughters.

An English family told us that despite the variety of nationalities, it was really easy to make friends, both for the children and the parents. She was really pleased by this as she had wondered whether this would be the case among families who often have dual nationality and two, if not three, passports.

Entrance

Around six applicants for each place at 11+ with the same process applied to girls from the lower school as for outsiders. This means an assessment, report from their previous school and an interview, (the head always sees the candidates from the junior school but not always all external candidates). A very high proportion of the lower school applicants are accepted (usually 20+ girls). Almost always a waiting list further up the school, but occasional places due to the international background and movement of families. A very small intake for the sixth form, minimum of six 9-7s at GCSE and head states ‘we are very selective’.

Exit

Tiny shrinkage after GCSEs - although the head actively encourages them to explore other options, few want to flee the cosy nest. Year 13 leavers not only aim for a wide range of universities in the UK but an increasing number want to head overseas, particularly American colleges. For example, in 2019 two girls went to Ivies in the US and one to hotel school in Lausanne. The choice of courses is equally eclectic, ranging from psychology to neuroscience, fashion design and criminology – no stereotyping here. Slightly sadly, the suggestion that they should suggest apprenticeships to their charges fell on stony ground.

Seven or eight apply to Oxbridge each year and three were accepted in 2019 to read, respectively, theology, languages and Asian studies. There’s also a high success rate among those who re-apply after taking a gap year, which head puts down to the single factor of increased maturity. Three medics in 2019.

Money matters

Automatic scholarship candidacy for 11+ entrants with the prize of a 25 per cent remission on the fees; also scholarships at sixth form entry. More money being channelled into bursaries (current sum around £500,000) and if parents are struggling, attempts are made to help existing pupils stay until they reach a suitable break-point.

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

Our Learning Support department offers excellent support to pupils and works closely with staff and parents. Learning support staff provide teaching staff with detailed recommendations for all pupils receiving assistance and they attend all weekly staff meetings to update and advise staff. Parents are kept fully informed and provided with termly plans.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers
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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