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One of the high fliers in Surrey (and way beyond). Pupils do not feel unduly under pressure academically (‘not as pushy as other schools,’ said a parent), and any worries about exams are sensitively handled by the school. Less confident girls benefit from the caring and positive ethos; girls leave the school with self-confidence, good social skills and a dash of worldliness. The sixth formers have their own department (revered and envied by the younger girls), no uniform, and recently refurbished lair complete with…

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What the school says...

Tormead is one of the country’s leading independent girls schools located in Guildford, Surrey. We are very proud of our school and its ethos of encouraging each individual pupil to develop her talents to the full in a happy, caring and supportive environment. Our academic expectations are high, and we value our students’ impressive record of examination successes and university places. ...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.

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since 2010, Christina Foord BA MPhil PGCE (40s), previously deputy head and head of boarding at St Catherine’s, Bramley. Prior to this she taught English and history in a number of schools including The Queen’s School, Chester. She takes a keen interest in music and sport of all sorts and is eager to provide her girls with opportunities to showcase their talents. Known throughout the school as being 'up for a challenge', she recently abseiled down the tower of Guildford Cathedral in aid of charity. Married, with two senior-school aged children and two dogs. Staff remark in admiration that she’s ready to get 'stuck in' and when the new climbing wall was inaugurated, she was one of the first to scale it.

Academic matters

One of the high flyers in Surrey (and way beyond). Excellent academic results across a wide range of subjects – 2018 GCSE results were 79 per cent at A*-A/9-7; A level results 83 per cent A*-B and 58 per cent A*/A. ‘Does really well even by less academic students,’ said a parent. Plenty of scope for choice in languages at GCSE and A levels including Spanish, German and Greek.

Ten GCSEs is the norm. Refreshing to see that risk-talking is also encouraged – pupils who are keen to pursue a subject which may not be their academic forte are still encouraged to follow their dreams. No undue academic pressure (‘not as pushy as other schools,’ said a parent), and any worries about exams are sensitively handled by the school. Pupils are marked for effort as well as attainment, so the less academic still get plenty of credit for trying hard and ‘you feel on top of how your daughter is really doing,’ said a parent. Has 'embraced digital technology' with every teacher Apple qualified.

In the pre-prep, literacy and numeracy are taught in the mornings, when the little ones are fresh. Core English, maths, science and ICT, plus French from year 2 and Latin from year 5. Girls are gradually prepped for the entrance exam to the senior school, although everyone is keen to stress the lack of pressure – pupils included.

Much focus on thinking skills, learning attitudes, and encouraging the girls to take risks, both academically and physically, in the junior school. Ethos geared toward helping them to have confidence in their work and in their lives. Much effort to create a culture of thinking outside the box, exemplified in the Out of the Box Project in which pupils invent a 360 degree art project or answer questions such as 'what’s inside Paddington bear’s suitcase?' or 'what’s Leonardo’s next invention?

SEN provision recently upgraded from peripatetic support to a full-blown department, including a full-time member of staff in the junior school, offering not only dyslexia support but also study skills, maths clinics and acknowledgement of different learning styles. ‘Brilliant,’ say pupils, ‘Extremely good at helping you out,’ and no stigma here for anyone having extra help. Personal attention pays off. Pupils with dyslexia credit their teachers with helping them flourish – dyslexic pupils have achieved A*s and served as head girl.

Games, options, the arts

A school known for its gymnasts (‘we’re hot on gymnastics here,’ said one pupil, proudly); specialist gymnasts’ training hall with sprung floor. All sport is played keenly and to a high standard – including hockey, netball, rounders, swimming and tennis. New system of ‘development squads’ for the keen but less naturally able. Increased number of fixtures for the B and C teams after parental complaints that the A teams were stealing the show. From pre-prep upwards, games and gymnastics weekly with specialist teachers, with swimming added in year 3.

It’s a small campus, but on-site facilities are supplemented by use of formidable local ones, such as the Surrey Sports Park at the University of Surrey – the school has an agreement that lets the hockey team use it as their home pitch, allowing the introduction of junior hockey; other sports include spinning, zumba, a climbing wall and squash. Tennis is on two on-site all-weather courts. Sporting success at county level and nationally, especially in swimming, gymnastics, biathlon and sports acrobatics.

Music mandatory until year 9, enthusiastic participation afterwards. Some 275 individual music lessons a week, plus two senior school orchestras, a jazz band (which tours Europe biennially), numerous ensembles and choirs. A programme of events throughout the year, including lunch time concerts and the inter-house music competition in which every girl takes part. The performing arts centre provides a modern and vibrant venue, with a proscenium stage and professional lighting and sound. LAMDA speech and drama awards are popular. Art is exceptionally strong here – wonderful examples are on display around the school and new art suite recently opened.

Much buzz around other extracurriculars, including additional sporting, language, film, art and craft activities, plus fencing, movie club, cake decorating, origami and debating (another school success story). Students regularly achieve recognition in DofE Award (multiple gold awards achieved each year), the Wings of Hope Achievement Awards, and others. School is one of only a handful nationally to have been awarded Star status by the British Schools Exploring Society. Past sixth form destinations have included Vietnam and Zambia, with plans for Ecuador and Galapagos and a partnership in Nepal.

Background and atmosphere

Founded in 1905, the school has made do in the past with a hodge-podge of classrooms and Hogwarts-style corridors tacked onto the original Victorian building (‘Frankenstein’s building,’ quips Foord), but ambitious modernisation and expansion has seen, inter alia, numerous and well-equipped science labs (sciences very strong here), plus a dedicated sixth form physics room with a white board, computers, etc. An impressive art department and design and technology room. The library is new with sixth form area and resources accessible from home. Increasing uptake of the early morning breakfast club, which starts at 7:50am. IT provision good, with plenty of computers and internet connections.

The sixth formers have their own department (revered and envied by the younger girls), no uniform, and recently refurbished lair complete with kitchen facilities, groovy furniture and a clock designed by the DT teacher. Sixth form girls love their freedom and compliment the school on letting them organise charity events, discos, etc themselves. They are visibly proud of their achievements in maths and science and comment on how much extra time teachers spend to help students understand the material. Popular socials with local boys’ schools – RGS, Lanesborough, Cranmore.

Nursery-aged girls have their own little domain, bursting with age-appropriate playthings and charming examples of artwork. They also have a dedicated playground apart from the hustle-bustle of the older children. Older pupils are encouraged to spend time with the younger ones, and they do, creating a nice atmosphere of community between the nursery and the rest of the school. Classrooms for the older junior pupils boast small library collections and projects cover the walls, into the stairwells and beyond. Art rooms and computer labs well kitted out and obviously well-used. Art lovingly displayed about the premises. Absolute discipline on the playground (the whistle blew and the children literally stopped in their tracks). World maps prominently displayed and highlighting a different country each week; geography a big part of the culture.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

Various problem-solving options start with the form tutor and a trained counsellor is on hand. System of ‘aunts’ whereby every new girl has another girl assigned to her to help through the first few weeks. Full-time staff member for university counselling and professional development, keen to refocus pupils not only on university entrance but also ‘what they will be like when they’re 35 and beyond.’ ‘Oxbridge teas’ to link past and present pupils, higher education evening for lower sixth, even support for SAT tests for those pupils considering university in the US.

Pastoral care programme unanimously praised by parents as superb, for some the deciding factor in choosing the school. ‘My daughter comes off the bus happy all the time. Nothing seems to overwhelm her,’ said one parent. Another noted, ‘Mine doesn’t compare herself to others, but she used to in her old school. Academics used to be very hard, now she just takes it in her stride.’ Less confident girls benefit from the caring and positive ethos; girls leave the school with self-confidence, good social skills and a dash of worldliness. 'Good at taking the timid and shy and making them blossom,' said a junior school parent. In addition to emphasising girls’ independence and strengths, the junior school has a very proactive policy on creating a positive atmosphere and combating bullying in any form. It works this magic by focusing on the small things, whether it’s a pencil case or an unkind comment, because for girls of this age, 'that’s their reality'.

Parents ‘have no hesitation’ in getting in touch with the school. Any issues are dealt with promptly. PSHE lessons start in the junior school and extend, by the time they reach the sixth form, to discussions about substance abuse, personal safety, relationships and childcare. Assembly an important beginning to the school day, emphasis on care, respect and highlighting the six ‘core values’ of the school, which cover topics such as respect, academic excellence, a varied curriculum, and bringing out the best in the girls in preparation for life beyond school. Tough line on all transgressions – drugs possession a cause for instant expulsion, similar stance on persistent smoking or misbehaviour. Both pupils and parents say bullying is confronted openly and with great success.

Pupils and parents

Pupils are bubbly and enthusiastic, self-confident and friendly. They appreciate their all-girl campus (‘You can come to school ugly!’) and have a strong sense of their good fortune in being there. Neatly dressed in blue blazers, no ties but occasional personalised uniform in evidence. Happy chatter in the hallways between classes.

Parents' association has a co-chair for the junior school and the senior school. Parents mostly English or foreign nationals raised in the area, with a mixture of backgrounds – old girls, professionals, London-bound commuters, first-time buyers. Excellent bus service extends all the way to Esher and Haslemere (and beyond). Old girls include comedian Sandy Toksvig and Claudia Parsons, the first woman to circumnavigate the world by car.

Entrance

Junior school selective at 4 (by a 'party' where girls are observed by staff members) and at 7 by maths, English and reasoning tests.

Senior school entrance exam at 11, with pupils selected for academic potential (reasoning, maths and English), extracurricular interests and current school reference. No interview. Some 25 to 30 per cent from state schools. Sixth form entrance requirements include eight GCSEs, 9-5, with at least five at grade 7 or above.

Exit

The vast majority of the junior girls sit the entrance exam for the senior school and 85 per cent go on there, many with scholarships (including seven to the Elite Athletes programme in 2018). About sixty per cent stay on to sixth form. Three medics in 2018; Nottingham, Birmingham, Kings College London and Newcastle popular destinations.

Money matters

Parents remark on the ‘good value’ represented by the school. At 11+, academic, music, sport and art scholarships, worth 10 per cent of tuition fees. For sixth form, academic, music, and art scholarships, plus internal sport scholarships are available. Full bursaries available at 11+ and 16+ on a case-by-case basis.

Our view

A nurturing, buzzy school with a tradition of high academic standards that is not content to rest on its laurels. New facilities bringing it in line with its aspirations. Opportunities for pupils to find their niche, whether in art, sport, drama or music, while still encouraging experimentation and maintaining an all-round approach.

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

Tormead is academically selective and its students do very well in public examinations, but the school is particularly proud of the achievements of its dyslexic students, many of whom achieve high examination honours. Two such former students recently obtained Oxbridge firsts. Dyslexic students in both Junior and Senior school are taught in mainstream timetabled lessons, but are also supported by a team of specialist SEN teachers who meet them for weekly sessions. There is some flexibility in offering tailored programmes for students with other special needs such as moderate auditory or visual impairment, diabetes, epilepsy and cystic fibrosis.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
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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