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What says..

A relaxed and convivial style of teaching, where mutual respect between pupils and teachers and a low-pressure environment (‘definitely not a hothouse,’ say parents) tap into pupil’s own drive and ambition. The good results ‘speak for themselves,’ say parents, and are on an exciting and steep trajectory. ‘What don’t they do?’ laughed a parent, referring to the vast range of sport on offer for a relatively small school set in limited grounds (paddle and rugby, if you really want to know). Lacrosse is...


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What the school says...

Walthamstow Hall educates girls with academic potential to lead confident, challenging and fulfilling lives at school and beyond. The school is a thriving, forward-looking community built on a solid foundation and specialising in educating girls to the highest standard since 1838. Respect for others, a strong sense of community and a pride that comes from sharing a great tradition make Walthamstow Hall an environment in which each girl can flourish, discover and develop her talents and make lifelong friendships. Our students are keen to 'have a go' in all areas of life and as well as succeeding academically often excel in their many extra-curricular interests and activities.

Inspiring teaching, wonderful facilities and the close partnerships which exist between parents, staff and girls lie at the heart of our success.
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Cambridge Pre-U - an alternative to A levels, with all exams at the end of the two-year course.

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.


Unusual sports

What The Good Schools Guide says


Since June 2023, Louise Chamberlain, previously vice principal at CATS, Cambridge, for a year and before that, at Worth School for over 14 years as head of biology, assistant head of welfare and deputy head of pastoral. Had a grammar education and ‘booky’ childhood, bred by a love of learning (she ran a society for the ‘academically curious’ at Worth). After a dip into medicine for a year, she converted to applied microbiological sciences at Nottingham, followed by PGCE at Newcastle.

Her firm handshake injects confidence - a laser focus and energy too – all necessary at the helm of this ship (school logo is literally just that, with a hand carved version in her office). Parents say she’s ‘energetic’, ‘bubbly’ and ‘positive’ but that they ‘hope she doesn’t change too much Wally’. So far, so good, they approve of her ‘different’ approach saying that she’s ‘on it about mental health’, including encouraging pupils to socialise outside of school, and noting that she ‘normalises teenage angst’. ‘High challenge, low threat!’ is her mantra.

Her office, like no other we’ve seen, sets out her stall, complete with cuddly microbes, many of them given to her (‘I got Covid for Christmas!’ she laughs, pointing to SARS-CoV2). Pupils also love her shoes, lined up in the corner. ‘The girls like the red fake crocodile ones but my favourite would probably be the satin red and gold, I wore them for my interview.’ She’s not all about the heels, she insists, but smiles that even her wellies have ‘big bows!’ And it is this ‘spark’ that gets the thumbs up from everyone we asked about her. ‘Authority with a personality,’ said one parent.

Her tote - bearing the slogan, ‘Books are my Bag’ - is slung over her chair, a clue to the fact that she devours books of all flavours. When not curled up with one, or spending quality time with family, her heels are clicking around numerous museums and cathedrals. She recently completed an undergraduate diploma in death and the ancient world ‘just for interest’ – it has, she says, given her a ‘renewed understanding of facing assignment deadlines’.


Entrance into year 7 by ISEB (maths, English, VR and NVR), with almost three candidates per place. A third of the 60-odd places are taken up by juniors (three quarters of them move up), the rest coming from over 40 preps and primary schools including The Granville, Sevenoaks Prep, Amherst Primary School and Chiddingstone Primary School. Also St Michael's - helped by possible deferred entry to year 9 (when an extra 10 pupils join).

About five join at sixth form (frequently from grammar schools), following reference from current school and interview with head. They need at least 7s at GCSE in their chosen A level subjects, 8s or 9s if choosing sciences, maths or economics.


A small number depart post GCSEs, mostly for co-eds. Nearly all to university, three quarters to Russell Group (Durham, Exeter and Bristol recently popular). One in 10 study STEM subjects (biological sciences particularly popular), with business, English, MFL and geography also trending. Degree apprenticeships viewed as prestigious and smart options – recently taken up at Unilever, Barclays and Laing O’Rourke. Fashion marketing and fine art at the University of the Arts, London, shows the breadth of subjects pursued. One to Oxbridge in 2023.

Latest results

In 2023, 73 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 55 per cent A*/A at A level (84 per cent A*-B). In 2019 (the last pre-pandemic results), 79 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 56 per cent A*/A at A level (80 per cent A*-B).

Teaching and learning

A relaxed and convivial style of teaching, where mutual respect between pupils and teachers and a low-pressure environment (‘definitely not a hothouse,’ say parents) taps into pupil’s own drive and ambition. The good results ‘speak for themselves,’ say parents, and are on an exciting and steep trajectory.

‘You get more work done without boys,’ pupils reckon – and they’re certainly industrious, no more so than in a sixth form chemistry practical we dropped in on. ‘Rather than doing that, what could you do?’ the teacher gently guided with encouragement. The lightness of atmosphere was also evidenced in English GCSE practice. ‘No panic, no pressure,’ the teacher assured pupils, reminding them that it was a step-by-step process and that ‘if by the end of this lesson, you don’t know how to tackle question one, my life needs reassessing!’

Setting in maths and English from year 7, when there’s also a carousel of the usual mix of academic and creative subjects. Options added in year 8 include a choice between 3D design or food preparation and nutrition; classical civilisation or Latin. Sports leadership on offer in year 9. Split sciences from the off ‘crucial’, pupils reckon, if wanting to pursue science later. Tailored timetables at GCSE encourage pupils to choose subjects that interest them (not strategic choices), although some are frustrated at having to take MFL (French, German or Spanish). All take 10 GCSEs. Geography is popular and does well. Drama gets good take-up, and around half the cohort take either fine art, DT or textiles.

Three A levels standard, with a solid take-up for science plus psychology, economics and business studies. Pupils say the variety of societies, eg medsoc and debating, help make links between disciplines. EPQ an option. The impressive sixth form centre hosts lessons but also gives pupils a home to hang out and study. ‘I really liked moving into the sixth form - it almost feels like starting a new school,’ said one pupil. Pupils say they are well supported with UCAS applications.

Learning support and SEN

The learning support department, on the first floor of the main school building away from the hustle and bustle, oversees the 17 per cent on the SEN register mainly for dyslexia, ADHD and autism. The school says that provision is ‘interlinked with the overall learning for each student and dovetailed between support and the classroom’. One-to-one support available from specialists (at an additional cost) but some parents feel the overall support is ‘lacking’ and that information from reports is not always shared effectively. However, pupils recently led an assembly to increase awareness of neurodiversity where they shared their experiences of how their condition affects daily life, eg lack of personal space in a lunch queue or ‘being late to the table’ in group conversations. According to parents, the small class sizes are a ‘massive bonus’. Pupils use their own laptops in lessons from year 10. No TAs. No EHCPs.

The arts and extracurricular

In some schools we have to go on a drama hunt, and we don’t find it even then. Not so here, where we stumbled across no less than three curriculum lessons in our first hour. Drama is, we were told, ‘taken as seriously as maths’. Three full time staff oversee the department, whose excellent facilities range from the ‘up in the eaves’ drama study where pupils work on improvisation (a ‘building block to everything they do’) through to the theatre rehearsal studio and The Ship Theatre (where we saw scenes from Antigone and later The Crucible). The latter is anchored behind the main school, intimate and well-equipped (including green rooms but frustratingly no wings). Hooray to ditching ‘imported boys’, say girls, who now get to play all roles. Upcoming Peter Pan has pirates ‘going for it’, no holding back on the facial hair and throwing themselves off the plank and into their roles. Quieter girls encouraged too, eg as technicians, prompts, ‘costume angels’ etc. Music composed by in-house musician – most recently a pirates’ rap.

Impressive breadth and quality in the music department too. The assembly hall has a digital organ and live streaming system, and there are ‘acoustically treated’ practice rooms which are digitally fed into the department ground control, plus suites for percussion and music IT. Plenty of choirs (including junior chamber) and orchestras (‘baby’ and symphony). Ensembles include the ‘bigger than ever wind band’, where girls appreciate being encouraged to take up ‘traditionally male instruments’ – currently three different kinds of sax. Concerts tend to be themed eg St Cecilia concert and Space (cue Holst). Professionals frequently visit, and Wally Pop is ‘a good laugh’, we heard – including guest appearances by staff. All year 7s perform in every concert, and all performances live streamed. Choir tour to Venice or Sicily.

Art in all guises displayed around the school, from large ceramic pots to pupil-designed shirts. One ‘purposefully messy’ art studio set aside for A level and GCSE students, plus textile studio, 3D workshop and triple aspect art studio for curriculum art. Students appreciate being able to leave work in progress and not worry about clearing up for the next lesson – like your own personal art studio, reckoned some.

‘Outstanding’ clubs include all the usual suspects, plus the standout Wally Green Power (with self-built green powered car, housed in the science block foyer and emblazoned with self-raised sponsorship and a new set of wheels fundraised by student’s events eg movie night). DofE has always been big and, as an accredited centre for gold expeditions, has moved up a gear with Tonbridge School recently having teamed up with Wally’s dedicated DofE manager. Trips in all shapes and sizes including the popular annual ski trip. For the really adventurous, volunteering for four weeks in Borneo is ‘life changing’, where the best thing was ‘building a wall for a health centre’, while sleeping in hammocks in the jungle was ‘awesome but scary’.


‘What don’t they do?’ laughed a parent, referring to the vast range of sport on offer for a relatively small school set in limited grounds (paddle and rugby, if you really want to know). Lacrosse is cherished on account of being ‘a level playing field in year 7', where progress is quick and success is tangible (some pupils go on to play for England) though ‘travel to fixtures is frustrating and expensive’. Hockey recently introduced, plus cricket hardball (with school runners up in Kent Super 8s for the latter - the future looks bright!). Any pupil attending the sports clubs are selected for fixtures (and conversely those who don’t, won’t be). Not all approve, especially those just wanting to go along for fun. Superb swimming pool is open until 10pm and used by seniors, juniors, and outside clubs. Running club in neighbouring Knole Park draws a crowd, as does badminton club and football. The gym’s sprung floor is the envy of local schools. Year 11 choose a weekly activity eg trampolining, dance, yoga.

Ethos and heritage

The school’s emblem of a ship seems curious in its landlocked location but makes sense when put into context – the school was founded in 1838 for missionaries’ daughters (whole school prayers still held twice a week – thankfully not for malaria anymore), with the original pupils having waved their parents off to set sail around the world. In 1882, the school moved to its current arts and crafts building, complete with narrow corridors, tiled walls and a lovely bright and spacious modern foyer – the crossroads to school life branching out to various contemporary facilities. In the traditional high-ceilinged, wood panelled dining hall, we enjoyed freshly made bread (sourdough) and chicken and stir fry on the long tables. No wonder pupils rate the food here. The library is another favourite place for them, where initiatives to encourage reading include ‘Have a date with a book’ (Valentine’s Day).

A competitive (including with staff) house system raises money for chosen charities, eg Malawi project. Pupils design and manage the house boards, with own slogans eg ‘We’re gonna win and we know it!’ – all in good humour. Bench ball among the biggest house events, as is tug of war and the more civilized bake-off, plus house music - the jewel in the crown, which gets all students and most staff committing to ambitious and diverse performances on stage – from hip hop and R’n’B to country, rock and musicals.

‘Comfortable’ uniform of black blazer and jumper with striking gold and red band, and grey pleated skirts (‘too long,’ groan some). Sixth formers wear smart business gear, nothing sloppy. Low level grumbles about restrictions on jewellery.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Pastoral care embedded, with pastoral leads and the therapy dog coming in for high praise. PHSCE (PSHE with added citizenship) displays in every department, eg science labs explaining the chemistry behind mental health. Peer mentoring scheme involves training (including in safeguarding) year 11 mentors, who are available for daily support, as well as organising events, eg pyjama party. ‘If you’re not feeling it that day, just talk to your mentor,’ said a younger pupil. A year 7 post-box for questions or concerns is put to good use. Sixth formers run clubs eg debating and drama, and pupils say they mix with all ages on the minibuses: ‘When I first started, older girls would ask me how I am, they took an interest in me.’ Space 2 Be another outlet for pupils to talk. Talks by child psychologist well received. Friday Fry-Ups are ‘brilliant’, we heard, giving an opportunity to catch up informally and flag up any issues over a free brekkie, open to all, parents included.

‘Thoughtful’ transition into year 7, report parents, including taster days when pupils are given their houses and even a library book ready to return in the September – we heard that anxious pupils ‘were sorted’ from that point. School very good at proactively picking up on any challenges before the pupils even join, apparently.

Excellent behaviour attributed to good relationships between staff and pupils. Parents say the new head is ‘on it’ when it comes to the ‘occasional bitchy behaviour’ and ‘dealing with cliques’ – and that friendship issues are now dealt with through open and swift communication. Simply not true that the school has a bullying issue, say parents, some of whom had heard this through the grapevine. The Diana committee, which promotes anti-bullying, is taken on the road to local schools where pupils run sessions which include defining bullying behaviour. No phone policy (including smart watches). Nobody could remember any suspensions or exclusions.

School Council invited to fortnightly SLT meetings. ‘Scary at first but we feel heard and valued,’ said one girl - and it gets things done, eg hair now allowed to be worn down. Their next request is more clocks in classrooms. Eco-committee runs monthly magazine and hatches plenty of initiatives eg ‘Hard 2 Recycle’ bin initiatives, self-serve in canteen to avoid food waste and a bike shed.

Pupils and parents

‘Wally isn’t flashy,’ insist pupils, despite the local perception of the girls all having designer bags. In reality, this would be ‘called out’, they told us. We certainly found them grounded, as well as considerate and earnest (and not one designer bag on show!). Some quite affluent parents, ‘if drop-off is anything to go by’, laughed one parent, but first time buyers and dual income families too. Some came here themselves. All are drawn by the small class sizes, facilities and breadth of education. Most pupils are local and either walk, take the minibus or get dropped off (the eco committee promotes cycling). Ethnic diversity narrow, mainly white British, reflective of local area.

Money matters

Up to a quarter of girls are on means-tested bursaries and there’s one ‘founder's bursary’ ('almost' 100 per cent) per year group. Scholarships (between 10-20 per cent fee remission) awarded at 11+, 13+ and 16+ in academic, art, drama and sport.

The last word

Wally girls are at ease in their own skin – swashbuckling on the stage, facing-off in lacrosse, or engineering racing cars. Chatty and full of joy – proud of their community too, but not full of it. Best for girls prepared to launch themselves into Wally life, parking self-consciousness and putting a curiosity to learn into gear.

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

Walthamstow Hall offers a continuum of provision to meet a diversity of pupils’ needs. Additional support can be provided for individual pupils and small groups of pupils who are catching up on their basic literacy, numeracy and communication skills. Computers are available to support learning in many classrooms in addition to ICT, eg music, and in centrally located areas of the school. Provision or action that is additional to or different from that available to all will be recorded by the specialist support tutor in consultation with the special and individual needs co-ordinator, pupil, parents, carers and teachers as necessary.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
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

Who came from where

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