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At sixth form, girls can choose between A levels or IB – the only school in Bath which offers it. Music is exceptionally well blessed with the fabulous new Steinway music school, complete with eponymous pianos, charming recital space – and head of department simply bursting with pride. DT has a well-equipped space with two-headed laser printer and other wizardry, both new and tried and trusted. RHSB girls do very well in this subject, maybe because there are no boys or…

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What the school says...

Royal High School Bath is a secret gem of a school that gives girls confidence, capability and a strong set of values needed to underpin success at university, throughout careers and in achieving aspirations in every aspect of life. It is a leading independent boarding and day school for girls aged 3-18, offering a seamless journey with four unique experiences from the Nursery to the Prep School, Senior School to Sixth Form (offering A levels as well as the International Baccalaureate). Its an all-through, all-encompassing, all-girls education that delivers outstanding academic results and nurtures self assured, courteous and articulate young women who are aware of, and who can achieve, their full potential.

Established in 1864 and set in beautiful grounds within walking distance of the centre of Bath - a city combining history and tradition with a vibrant, contemporary cultural scene - Royal High School Bath is inclusive and caring, the perfect place for girls to study, have fun, make friends, enjoy life and develop a global perspective in education.
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International Baccalaureate: diploma - the diploma is the familiar A-level equivalent.

Other features

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


Since 2020, Kate Reynolds LLB PGCE MEd, previously head of Leweston School; educated at St Mary’s Ascot and sixth form at Wellington. She went on to read law at Bristol, practising briefly as a solicitor both in London and Somerset, before her PGCE at Bath Spa and master’s at Buckingham some ten years after that. Her early teaching career took her to Sherborne and Gillingham School but the bulk of her career has been at Leweston, teaching English (including to overseas students) and drama, alongside heading up international boarding.

While long an admirer of GDST and its generous sharing of CPD with other girls’ schools, she admits to a little scepticism about the Royal High and just came for a look. ‘But I found sparky and articulate girls who had teachers who understood them and were part of the GDST family.’ And that was that: ‘Plus my mother-in-law was an old girl,’ she said with a wink. The constraints of Covid mean she feels she is only now getting into in her stride, but her unshakeable conviction of the value of girls-only education and the opportunities it offers inside and outside the classroom was compelling: we loved the notion of RHINOs she has introduced – Really Here In Name Only (not an accolade). Very chic – it’s obviously a family thing, as husband Giles (head of history at Sherborne) is an equally snappy dresser. Any spare time will be spent with family – she has four children – and enjoying music and exercise: ‘Both take you out of your sphere,’ she told us. Her choice of reading ranges between the intriguing factual (eg Tim Harford) and decent fiction (eg Anthony Doerr). She has gone down well with most students (‘supportive, visible, involved, puts in the effort’), although we heard a murmur of dissent – as we did from a few parents – about a reluctance to take suggestions from outside the school. ‘Perhaps that is down to what they are…’ she remarked.


Mostly at year 7 by means of the school’s own entrance assessment (creative writing), if coming from anywhere other than the prep school (eg local primaries and other preps), plus interview where they are asked to ‘bring along something of which they are proud’. No pets, however. Everyone sits a CAT 4 test on a given Saturday in January. Girls coming up from the prep school have assured entry; for the very few who might not thrive there, those tricky conversations start in year 4. A few join in year 9 or 10 and will do assessments including science, plus interview. At sixth form, six GCSEs at grade 6 or above (4s in English and maths), 7s in subjects to be taken at A level or higher level IB are required, plus assessments in key subjects and interview.


About a quarter leave after GCSEs in search of greater subject choice, a change of scene or – frankly – boys, but strenuous efforts are made to retain them. The vast majority of sixth form leavers go on to university (50 per cent to Russell Group). In 2023, UCL, Bristol and Imperial were most popular. Two to Oxbridge, two medics and one vet. Some to art foundation courses and two per cent to apprenticeships. Distinguished former students across the board, of whom the most famous is probably Mary Berry, but Bunny Guinness (Gardeners’ Question Time regular) and Dr Dawn Harper (Embarrassing Bodies) are national figures too; plenty of others doing prestigious and worthwhile things in fashion, theatre, STEM and academia.

Leavers join the GDST’s alumnae network, which offers mentoring for GDST alumnae and sixth formers, university advice, career development and networking opportunities. The Royal High encourages former pupils to inspire and mentor their younger counterparts – old girls return to talk about their careers and many offer work experience.

Latest results

In 2023, 65 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 42 per cent A*/A at A level (65 per cent A*-B); average of 34.8 points at IB. In 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), 67 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 46 per cent A*/A at A level (75 per cent A*-B); average of 36 points at IB.

Teaching and learning

An unashamedly academic curriculum from the outset, but not one, we think, lacking fun or creativity. Particularly strong on languages, with three modern languages in year 7 (French all year, German and Spanish half a year each) with Mandarin added ‘as enrichment’ in year 8; then there are the classics, with no getting away from the rigours of Latin until year 9, when the less linguistically inclined can drop it and continue with classical civilisation, while top linguists do ‘Gratin’ – possibly replicated in food tech, but in this case Latin with a crunchy topping of ancient Greek. We particularly liked the fact that RHSB girls do not have to choose between art, DT, food tech or textiles until the end of year 9. GCSE choices are clearly set out in a helpful booklet: double science and at least one modern language are expected; nine are the norm. Brighter sparks can do ‘extension’ GCSEs such as Italian or creative i-media and will be picked up by the Aspire programme which also lays on a lecture series and Oxbridge discussion groups.

At sixth form, girls can choose between A levels or IB – the only school in Bath which offers it. IB tends to attract the most academic, and average scores are high. Twenty-two subjects on offer at A level; almost everyone does three. Choices take in music tech and Latin: we were impressed to see a class of just one. Other classes we popped into included a PHSE lesson on consent, and an A level psychology set looking at emotions underlying behaviours such as nail-biting in children. Girls rate the academic support they are given in this fast-paced environment but one parent felt uneasy about the number of times that GCSEs were mentioned in year 10. The school states the importance of keeping up to date with digital learning and operates a ‘bring your own device’ policy, rather than issuing iPads or similar. Any whiff of the digital offering not being up to snuff – as raised by a couple of dissatisfied parents we spoke to – is robustly countered by the school, which pointed out its recognition by Microsoft as a showcase school, one of only 80 in the country, reflecting excellence in digital innovation. ‘More digital interface than textbooks!’ we were told.

Learning support and SEN

HSB is not the place for girls needing significant learning support, but those with mild SpLD (especially dyslexia) or autism will find a well-staffed department comprising two teachers and three TAs, one specialising in English and a second in maths. Most support is provided within the classroom but, if needed, girls join small groups to look at specific issues, moving on to one-to-one help in occasional cases. Students arriving with EHCPs are welcome, as long as their needs can be met. We were told that there is a ‘massive overlap’ between learning support, wellbeing and pastoral teams and that the TAs go into boarding houses and prep sessions, even after hours. So much openness about having learning support that alumnae come back and talk about it; one current girl we spoke to was full of praise for the help she had been given to overcome her own barriers to learning. ‘We know when to put the tissues on the table and when to put the sweeties out,’ in the wise words of the head of department.

The arts and extracurricular

Music is exceptionally well blessed with the fabulous new Steinway music school, complete with eponymous pianos, chamber organ, recording studio, charming recital space – and head of department simply bursting with pride. Historically music has long been great at RHSB – Amy Lyddon, a young mezzo forging a solo career is a former student and one to watch, and a current student belongs to the national youth choir.

Plays and other productions take place mostly in the memorial hall, quite small by modern standards, but retractable seating makes varying the performance space possible. A former chapel has been converted into a drama and dance studio, named for a former student who died tragically young. Dance has a good following and school, generously but also cannily, lays on annual workshops in music and dance for girls in years 4 and 5 from any school. At the time of our visit, Beauty and the Beast was in rehearsal, staged with a double cast to give the maximum number of girls time in the spotlight. Social media indicates it was a roaring success! Plenty of other lower-key drama on offer throughout the year, including – for the drama scholars – an appearance at the Egg Theatre in Bath and the in-house monologue slam. Behind the scenes participation actively encouraged and trips to productions near and far laid on.

We loved the light bright art school with its floor-to-ceiling windows and dedicated spaces for sculpture and textiles. Here, girls were making gorgeous circle skirts we could only envy. Art is hung all around the school and the summer exhibition both for art and product design is a major fixture in the school calendar. DT has a well-equipped space with two-headed laser printer and other wizardry, both new and tried and trusted. RHSB girls do very well in this subject, maybe because there are no boys or gender stereotyping and a very engaging teacher; several get prestigious Arkwright scholarships every year.


Verdant pitches do not roll as far as the eye can see, but school has used every bit of its relatively compact site, cramming in tennis and netball courts, an Astro for hockey, sports hall and fitness suite. Unlike many of the other Bath schools, the Royal High does not have pitches off site, but in common with many of them it makes good use of other excellent facilities in the city, such as Lansdown Tennis Club next door and Bath University, including its 50m pool when necessary. Plans are afoot to upgrade the current non-standard size outdoor pool, to the delight of some girls we spoke to. Each year group, including sixth form, has an hour and a half’s sport on a designated afternoon each week – on this day, school finishes half an hour later at 4.20pm. Fixtures with other schools and across the GDST network are offered in all the usual sports such as hockey, netball and cricket (strong here), but a decent choice of sport and fitness activities on offer, particularly in sixth form. Dance is big too: a dance leaders’ qualification is laid on as an A level enrichment activity, entailing devising and delivering a dance course to younger students. DofE take-up starts promisingly, but just a handful of girls take it all the way to gold; annual Ten Tors team. School is supportive of sports played outside school, eg riding, where the team is heading for the county dressage championships at Hickstead in 2023.


The Royal High occupies its position as the only GDST school to offer boarding rather well. Imaginative conversion (think split-level dorms with some beds on mezzanines) of the lofty top floors of the main building mean wonderful views over Bath and surrounds and a cosy feel at the top of the house, added to by super colourful common rooms and kitchens. All pretty tidy when we looked round but not unnaturally so. Girls below sixth form live in School House in shared dorms; from year 10, rooms are shared or singles in year 13. Sixth formers board in Gloucester House, where they have their own café displaying a tempting array of doughnuts and cookies at break time.

Everyone below sixth form is required to eat in the dining hall, where catering firm Holroyd Howe provide what we thought looked like pretty good nosh: chicken and butternut squash curry and vegan moussaka on the day we visited, plus chocolate pudding or fruit for afters. All is paid for on a smart card which has the added benefit of recording choices girls make: eating disorders do not seem to be rife here, and it is reassuring to note that this scourge particularly of teenage girls is kept an eye on. The weekend is for relaxing and catching up on work where necessary; later starts, an outing or activity each day or walk into Bath differentiate it from the rest of the week. Smallish numbers of younger boarders (about 20 per cent) mostly from overseas are looked after by the fabulously named Mrs Custodio. The boarders we met struck us as genuinely very happy, and the mix of boarding and day girls was mentioned as a positive by those we spoke to.

Ethos and heritage

The Royal High is an amalgam of two proud Bath girls’ schools, founded ten years apart in an era of expanding girls’ education and florid Victorian architecture. The elevated site of the Royal School won out over the city centre site of Bath High, but Bath High’s legacy is its longstanding GDST membership; the Royal School was originally founded for the daughters of army officers. Twenty-some years on, the school has settled into its own identity as Bath’s sole independent girls’ school and the only one offering the IB.

Occupying tall grey imposing buildings complete with tower on the slopes of Lansdown in the north of the city and with a terrifyingly narrow gateway designed with carriages rather than cars in mind, the school enjoys terrific views over Bath but is near enough for an invigorating trot into town and back. As unpretentious as all GDST schools, uniform is sensible and ordinary; though trousers are now permitted, take-up has been limited – ‘because they are ugly,’ according to one parent. Ubiquitous black suits for sixth formers except for a couple of rebels attired in checks in seasonal shades of russet and brown. The students we spoke to – and indeed parents – celebrate girls-only education: ‘Boys are distracting and think they are better than us – for example at football,’ said one, another commenting that she was glad that the element of competition with boys had been removed. ‘My disempowerment by a co-ed sixth form and City law firm was of its time but has informed my life,’ the head told us, though it is hard to imagine her being disempowered by anything much. When we sought students’ more general views of the place, words came tumbling out so fast we could hardly keep up. ‘Warmth, togetherness, family, diverse, fun and open, open, open,’ we heard, and we were struck by the easy relationships between girls of all ages. Negatives revolved around insufficient attention paid to student feedback on occasion, eg improving the IT offer to match the technology in the music department – and more loos please.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Taken very seriously here, with a dedicated space (the hive), an oasis of quiet and a muted colour palette away from the hubbub of school life, including areas for quiet study. We saw eight girls just sitting in the darkened contemplation room… Prominent posters identify sources of support from the school nurses, pastoral team and school counsellors. We liked the way that complete confidentiality is guaranteed only if staff are ‘sure that [a student] or someone else is not in any danger of harm’. No fewer than 31 members of staff, both teaching and non-teaching, are ‘wellbeing angels’. Support was named as a key quality of RHSB by girls we spoke to. Ditto diversity in its many forms: nationality, sexuality, learning differences and so on. One parent was courageous enough to say that she thought there was ‘a fine line between raising awareness of sexual diversity and promoting it’, but we liked the fact that the school’s statement on working relationships is phrased in a way that covers same-sex liaisons.

Discipline does not seem to loom too large at RHSB but one parent thought the focus on petty infringements such as skirt lengths was just that – petty – and that more attention should be given to encouragement and motivation. This view not shared by the girls we spoke to who, though they mentioned debits for playing fast and loose with uniform (or should that be short and tight?), appreciate the tendency for poor work to be met with tips for improvement rather than sanctions, plus swift action on bullying.

Pupils and parents

A mixture of Bath families and those who reckon RHSB is worth a bus journey; school lays on buses from all points of the compass, making the school accessible from Frome, Tetbury, Chippenham and east Bristol. The chance to make friends in other year groups was mentioned as a positive. Reasonable fees attract a wider economic range than some schools and there is no whiff of snobbery that we could discern. Both the girls and parents we spoke to subscribe wholly to the idea of single-sex education: a conscious choice in all cases, but they are not shy of expressing their views, the main gripe being clunky communications: ‘Please could more be videoed and/or streamed and could we have more parents’ evenings or staff feedback?’ being heartfelt requests, so far unmet. School strives to strike a balance between face-to-face and online opportunities to meet teachers and encourages direct contact with tutors and heads of year, we were told. As for the girls? Well, we found them frank, funny and pleased with their lot.

Money matters

Like all GDST schools, good value for money even for boarding, partially provided by its buying power and economies of scale. Extras such as lunches, exam fees and individual learning support lessons are charged separately and transparently set out on the website. A 10 per cent discount for Forces daughters who board and a generous 20 per cent for sisters but only for families of three-plus daughters. About 10 per cent of girls receive financial help via the school’s bursary scheme; demand outstrips supply. Scholarships, worth generally about 10 per cent of fees, are awarded for academics, sport, performing arts and art and design – breadth we heartily endorse.

The last word

While not the place for the bad-ass rebel seeking an entirely digital curriculum, RHSB occupies a niche in Bath for sparky ambitious girls keen to make their mark in any arena and – crucially – be themselves

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

As a selective independent school we provide support for a very few students who are neurodiverse and have learning differences such as dyslexia. We offer a palette of provision for learning support at four levels: Level 1 - We provide learning profiles for every student with a learning difficulty to assist class/subject teachers. Level 2 – In addition to differentiated and scaffolded learning in class, some students can receive support from the class teaching assistant to help them and other students access the material in class and remain focused. Level 3 –Certain students are invited to group sessions with a qualified member of the Learning Support department to work on improving their learning skills. And optional Level 4- Individual support alongside the previous levels can be offered by arrangement to allow enhanced support. Parents will pay for this additional tuition. Support time is often timetabled outside of lesson times to cause minimum disruption to the students academic day. We always value regular contact with parents, believing that working in partnership is the foundation of student progress and success. The Learning Support department provides support for your child to help them improve confidence, independence with learning and develop study habits to reach their potential. Our school is also a boarding school and we offer support for English as an additional language.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyslexia Y
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
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 Y
VI - Visual Impairment

Who came from where

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