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Sharper-elbowed families, step aside. Queenswood is all about kindness and support and it shows in every nuance of school life. ‘Comes from the top,’ pupils told us – ‘mutual respect and a culture of support is a given here.’ Drama facilities up there with the best – super contemporary theatre with two-person stage crew always hard at work. Made in Dagenham up next – there was a real buzz about it when we visited. Although sport is the jewel in Queenswood’s extracurricular crown – and doesn’t disappoint even the sporting elite – it’s no biggie if…

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What the school says...

Queenswood is an all-round school with an impressive academic track record; it has a reputation for excellence in Music, Drama, Dance, Art and Sport. The school is known for its exceptional pastoral care and happy, purposeful atmosphere. The ‘Queenswood Qualities’ of creativity and resourcefulness, courage and resilience, curiosity and reflectiveness underpin every aspect of the girls’ education. ...Read more

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


What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2016, Joanna Cameron BSc PGCE, previously deputy head at Ipswich High School. Educated at St Stephen’s College, Broadstairs, where she was a boarder from age 7 (pony in tow) followed by A levels at Moira House School, Eastbourne. Cherished school environment so much that initial thoughts of joining the RAF or the police were only fleeting – it simply had to be teaching. Degree in environmental science - and PGCE with specialism in biology - both from St Mary’s College, University of Surrey. Cut teeth at St Mary’s, Wantage, where she became head of science, followed by a stint at St Gabriel’s, Newbury. Headship of an all-girls boarding school very much her comfort zone.

Whoever bought the cushions for her office must have cleaned out John Lewis in one fell swoop. The oversize sofas they prettify would dwarf most rooms, but this study is vast – and the contemporary interior design quite a departure from the olde-worlde, wood panelled aesthetic of the rest of the building. It suits this head, herself stylish and welcoming. ‘Always friendly,’ say pupils, who report that ‘you see her at chapel and sometimes on the gate and at lunchtimes’ - but all agree they’d ‘like to see more of her’. Parents describe her as ‘down to earth’ and ‘lovely’. ‘Better one-to-one than at the big open day speeches,’ felt one. ‘Gets things done!’ declared another – so far, she’s introduced flexi boarding, improved retention at sixth form, tweaked the curriculum and improved the (already strong) pastoral care. Up next is a new wellbeing centre and much-needed refurb of teaching areas. ‘We want to make learning spaces more flexible and collaborative as we know that girls learn better in groups,’ she told us excitedly, revealing that the new designs will focus on comfort (including wobble seats ‘as not all children want to sit still to learn’), calm décor, breakout areas, digital learning and specific subject areas.

Lives on site with husband, David, a software engineer. They have two sons - one at St Columba’s and the other at Southampton Uni. By her own admission, ‘not a big reader – except of education stuff’, but still a lover of all things equestrian – ‘mainly eventing’.


Around 165 applicants for 70-80 places at 11+. Entrance via exam, interview, reference and a fun team activity. ‘We are looking for average and above – the old C grade level – although they may not have reached that yet; we take into account the opportunities they’ve had so far,’ says head. Spark essential – ‘We know girls thrive when busy outside their academics.’ Most come from local preps, some from state primaries. Top feeders are Stormont, Duncombe, Devonshire House, Edge Grove, Beechwood Park and Manor Lodge. Around 10-15 join in the sixth form, where, although there are no precise GCSE stipulations, Queenswood girls will typically have six GCSEs at 6 or above and and at least 7s in their chosen A level subjects; newcomers sit entrance exams in those subjects. An assessment day is held each November.


Head’s work on sixth form retention pays off in some years - not so much in 2023, when 42 per cent left after GCSEs. Inevitably, there will always be some lured by co-ed or a less remote environment (‘It’s not as if you can pop into town or anything,’ pointed out a pupil). New sixth form centre a major enticement, as is the open-door ‘and very proactive’ careers department. Majority at 18 to wide range of solid universities – just over half to Russell Group such as Imperial, St Andrew's, King’s College London, UCL and Liverpool in 2023. Pleasingly broad range of subjects – no trends. One to Oxbridge in 2023, and one vet. Four overseas in 2023, all to the US, including prestigious Berklee College of Music. Sometimes a few to conservatoires.

Latest results

In 2023, 51 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 31 per cent A*/A at A level (57 per cent A*-B). In 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), 45 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 26 per cent A*/A at A level (56 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

In an area dominated by hothouses, parents feel this is ‘a breath of fresh air – she gets good grades but without undue pressure and with a lot more time for activities outside the classroom.’ Several parents told us their daughters breezed through their 11+ - and would have had no trouble getting into top academic schools – but Queenswood was ‘the easiest and best decision we’ve ever made’. Those with daughters more ‘average academically’ also flourish, we heard. Results certainly impressive for the broad intake – they’re never going to top local league tables (especially with the stiff competition in this area), but value added is first-rate.

Superb languages department, with French, Spanish and Japanese all available up to A level (Japanese increasingly popular partly thanks to a cultural visit to Japan). Chinese GCSE and A level for native speakers if requested. ‘My daughter is not a natural linguist but has come on leaps and bounds.’ We dropped in on a Spanish class where the teacher even made conjugations of verbs entertaining – Perfecto! Latin and ancient Greek from year 7. According to pupils, most but not all teachers make subjects ‘fun’, with (unusually) classics top of the charts…’

Setting only in maths from year 7 – class sizes of 24 max means ‘we have time for every girl,’ says head. We were impressed by a student-led maths class – lots of well-deserved praise from the teacher for her tip-top explanations of complex formulas. Evidence throughout of the collaborative working style the head favours – groups of young chemists were getting busy with test tubes, while physicists completed their tasks in pairs. English pupils were about to embark on a group discussion of The Secret Garden when we poked our heads in – ‘I just need to check they’ve actually read it first!’ quipped the teacher. Homework could be ‘better organised’, say girls – most is uploaded to Google Classroom ‘but sometimes that gets forgotten’ and homework can ‘all come all at once’.

Some early options on offer – for year 9, girls pick six subjects from a list including art, DT, music, dance, drama, classics/Latin, computer science, geography, history, French, Japanese and Spanish. Nine GCSEs the norm. History, geography and drama shine brightest on results day. History of art A level ditched, replaced by psychology, media studies and photography – a bid to stop girls looking elsewhere. No pre-arranged subject blocks, so no limitations (same for GCSEs). Drama, psychology, English and maths most popular A levels; drama, physics, maths and history get the best results. Over three-quarters complete the EPQ (the taught element is compulsory as it supports research skills). Could do with more progress reports, say parents.

Learning support and SEN

School rightly proud of its personalised learning centre – open to any girl who needs support or additional stretch, including scholars, and closely linked to new wellbeing centre. ‘My daughter is top set maths but had some difficulties in English and had an excellent programme put in place,’ lauded one parent. Around 20 per cent are on the SEN register (mainly dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism), with one-to-ones at no extra cost. Parents describe the support as ‘amazing’, particularly praising the joined-up approach with teachers: ‘The centre creates a one-page profile of each child and that goes to every teacher and they really take note of it without making the child feel different,’ said one. Very much a ‘can-do approach’ from the off, reported another parent – ‘None of the barriers you get at other schools – it’s simply, “How can we help your daughter?”’

The arts and extracurricular

Drama facilities up there with the best – super contemporary theatre with two-person stage crew always hard at work. Made in Dagenham up next – there was a real buzz about it when we visited. ‘The drama teacher is ambitious and encouraging,’ said one girl, adding that drama is ‘one of the best ways to make friends with people in other years’. Good LAMDA take-up with dedicated, prop-filled room. Opportunities for the more technically minded, who learn sound and lighting.

Music department took a hit over Covid and is looking to ‘re-energise’. Not before time, say parents – ‘My daughter was very musical before she came to the school but now doesn’t want to get involved – she finds it too formal and stuffy.’ Shame, as there are plenty of bands, orchestras and ensembles for every instrument and genre – plus choirs (including community choir with pupils, staff and parents). All year 7s learning a stringed instrument and a third of girls have private instrumental lessons.

Spacious two-storey art and DT block. We saw girls getting their A level art essays up to scratch in the dedicated sixth form area. Walls awash with imaginative and expressive artworks. We flicked through a couple of sketchbooks and were instantly captivated, especially by one focusing on the environment. Upstairs, pupils experimented with oil paints. Excellent textiles and photography.

Leiths cookery course run in preference to food tech – the mini-kitchens were set up with root veg and saucepans on our tour. Clubs run at lunchtimes and after school – girls encouraged to do at least three per week, but hardly need persuading. Sport tops the bill, then drama and artsy clubs. Debating and Model United Nations also staples.


‘The reason we chose the school,’ we kept hearing. But although sport is the jewel in Queenswood’s extracurricular crown – and doesn’t disappoint even the sporting elite – it’s no biggie if sporting prowess is more average, or even below average. ‘My daughter’s enthusiasm outweighs her talent but the inclusive sport policy means she gets to train just as much,’ said one parent. Girls told us the department rewards commitment above all else – ‘they really notice when we try hard.’

Recommended by the LTA as a destination for wannabe tennis pros, the school is a national LTA clay court centre and offers tennis-specific sports scholarships. A whopping 25 courts – 12 clay and 13 all-weather. Hockey played competitively for two terms on the pristine Astroturf - tip-top coaching sees many girls reach county and some national level and trophies and cups abound. Netball considered the third of Queenwood’s top sports. Swimming popular and does well, with modern onsite pool. School is also a UK hub for girls’ cricket. Athletics, gymnastics, trampolining, fencing, tag rugby, football, riding, golf, basketball and (increasingly popular) badminton on offer. Dance popular and offered at GCSE. At the ‘softer’ end, yoga, couch to 5k, boxercise etc.

Elite athletes across all disciplines are carefully mentored, with a thorough, bespoke programme for sports scholars – includes sports psychologists, strength and conditioning coaches, mentors (so pupils can balance academic work) and experts to advise on eg diet. Available in diluted form for the non-elite too. ‘School is very accommodating for external training and fixtures,’ report parents. Currently school boasts a GB hockey player, swimmer and a number of top tennis players - although girls report some tennis players leaving ‘to go to proper tennis schools’. As you’d expect, plenty of sports tours, eg Barcelona (hockey), ski trip (France).


Far fewer full boarders (who now make up 20 per cent of the school) since the school introduced flexi boarding (40-50 per cent of girls now stay one to four nights a week). Most full boarders are international, all continents represented.

Majority of accommodation over two floors in main school building. More inviting than last time we visited – now includes cinema complete with real-deal chairs and all-important popcorn holders, as well as well-designed hangout areas and kitchens. Dorms of up to six beds for years 7 and 8, up to four beds for years 9 and 10, and year 11s upwards get their own rooms. Very neat – ‘Those with the tidiest rooms win pizza!’ explained our guide. Bathrooms so clean they practically sparkled, though no ensuites. Informative noticeboards – we spotted one on mental health, and a houseparent was updating the breaking news board. ‘Live every moment, laugh every day,’ girls are reminded by wall stencils, and that ‘happiest girls are the prettiest’. Sixth form accommodation – now including flats for small groups of year 13s – aims to bridge school and uni.

Lots of activities – recently to a theme park and Harry Potter studios, and an inhouse night making slime. Trip to Tesco every Friday for whoever fancies some extra Scooby snacks for the weekend. School makes the most of proximity to London; sixth formers are allowed there in pairs. Day girls can stay for any meal with no charge. ‘I would have said, “Over my dead body!” to my daughter boarding before she tried it but she now boards four nights a week and absolutely loves it, not least because it’s taken all the stress out of extracurricular - and wonderfully for me, she gets picked up and dropped off at our front door!’

Ethos and heritage

Founded in Clapham Park in 1894 before moving to purpose-built neo-Tudor building in 1925. Boasts 120 acres of well-used sports fields, woodland and well-maintained gardens. Just two miles from the M25 but feels more rural. Black, wrought-iron monogrammed gates leave real world behind – but don’t get carried away in your rush to enter this altogether more wholesome universe as the vehicle activated speed sign will soon put you to shame.

Buildings a mix of ages, some prettier than others. Sixth form centre among the nicest we’ve seen – no looker from the outside, but a vintage-feel, multipurpose spread of delightful, teenage-inspired areas within, including ‘very tempting’ café. Mammoth, vaulted-ceilinged library – explained by location in Old Pool Hall – yet manages a welcoming, homely feel with study areas. Aforementioned theatre and art block stand out too. Watch this space for refurbed science lab and main teaching block – can’t come soon enough, in our view, as current offerings look, feel and even smell old.

Smart grey and lilac uniform, with ‘business wear’ (very loosely interpreted) in sixth form. Breadth and quality of food outstanding - choice of burger, pasta, jacket potato, quiche, chicken or lentil pies and all manner of salads when we visited. School prides itself on flexibility – if you have a tennis scholar who needs to go to regular tournaments overseas or a young thespian who needs time off to star in the West End, ‘we make it work, with the help of Google Classroom,’ says head. ‘And it’s not just the elite – we finish at 6pm but if a girl has a weekly horse-riding lesson at 4.30pm, fine.’

Carol Thatcher’s an old girl, as are tennis ace Naomi Cavaday, actress Helen McCrory and TV presenter Lady Georgie Ainslie.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Sharper-elbowed families, step aside. Queenswood is all about kindness and support and it shows in every nuance of school life, from the way pupils don’t interrupt peers (and are highly apologetic if they do it by accident) to knowing who they can to talk to if they’re feeling down. ‘Comes from the top,’ they told us – ‘mutual respect and a culture of support is a given here.’ Lack of pressure palpable throughout: ‘Results without tears’ is a phrase you hear a lot here and many parents we spoke to chose the school specifically for this reason.

We wondered if the slightly conservative, rarefied culture would make school shy away from issues such as sex and sexuality, but no, there’s lots of talks on consent (among other areas of growing up) and there’s an LGBTQ+ society. Full-time counsellor (‘shame about the waiting list, though,’ said a pupil) and new wellbeing centre in the making. A level students can sign up to support GCSE strugglers where needed. Sixth formers see their personal tutor daily. When things do go wrong – friendship issues, in the main – it’s nipped in the bud through tried and tested means. Parents kept in the loop. Good multicultural mix among both pupils and staff. Mixed views on socials with boys’ schools – some girls want more, others none at all – ‘a difficult one for us anyway as there are no local boys’ schools to buddy up with, they are all co-ed,’ says head.

‘Has minimum amount of rules to make the school work efficiently,’ reckoned a parent – although school is now clamping down on punctuality (understandable, we felt, when girls told us turning up five minutes late for a lesson is ‘normal’) and use of phones (‘They found a load of girls doing TikToks at lunchtime and although taking their phones away caused an uproar, the girls now actually talk to each other!’ said a parent). No alcohol or drugs related misdemeanours in recent history, and no exclusions – although a few internal suspensions, usually for repeated minor offences.

Pupils and parents

Girls have an innocence about them and are friendly and laid-back, some more conversational than others. Parents a mix – ‘some very monied families, some very down-to-earth ones and then there’s the celebs and the very bling,’ said one. Day pupils from far and wide, helped by the school’s bespoke transport service involving 30 drivers picking up door-to-door. Active PA organises all the usual socials and helps with fundraising. The Old Queenswoodians’ Association has 4,000 members and branches across the globe in readiness to support and advance its members, whatever their location or chosen field.

Money matters

School froze day fees for a few years to get back in the pack – no longer soars above the local competition. Means-tested bursaries available for day fees and discount for Forces families. Sibling discounts available. Majority of scholarships honorary rather than offering monetary value. SEN provision included in fees. Bespoke transport service pricey.

The last word

Not the place for league table obsessed parents but excels when it comes to value added in the classroom and packing in extracurricular outside the classroom. Shines particularly bright on the sporting front, though multitude of other opportunities means it’s not wasted on the less sporty. All-embracing pastoral package too. Girls less streetwise than at some schools – in a good way.

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 proud of our strong SEND faculty, which is part of the Personalised Learning Department. It is our belief that all students should be catered for according to their individual needs. We are a fully inclusive school and pride ourselves on providing personalised provision for all students and recognise the importance to assess, identify and support students with SEND. The SEND team is based in the Personalised Learning Centre (PLC), which is a separate building in the centre of the campus. All staff are passionate about differentiating learning to ensure the needs of all students are met during lessons and where additional provision is required, our dedicated staff in the PLC offer extra support. Our experienced staff work with students both in and outside the classroom to aid students’ learning, give guidance and support students throughout their school experience. A large proportion of intervention takes the form of specific, small class-sized Learning Support lessons, supported by targeted literacy and numeracy intervention led by subject specific teachers. Students in Lower school are supported in a number of ways, including: · In class support in lessons · Small group intervention (on occasion’s one- to- one sessions) · Shared reading with older students acting as reading buddies and access to a post-16 PLC student ambassador/mentor · Intervention to support with spelling Students in Upper school are supported in a number of ways, including: · In class support in lessons · Support during study periods One to one sessions · Personalised curriculum where necessary · Assessing and arranging suitable examination access arrangements.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia Y
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Genetic Y
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment Y
Hospital School
Mental health Y
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty Y
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment Y
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability Y
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
PD - Physical Disability Y
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 Y
VI - Visual Impairment

Who came from where

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