Cheltenham Ladies’ College

Logo of Cheltenham Ladies’ College

Pupils Info

Gender – Girl's School
Age range – Age 11 - 18
Number of pupils on roll – 850 Pupils


Average Class Size: 15
Day and Boarding school
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 17%
Day: £20,442 – Boarding: £30,450
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 90%

There is no doubt about it Cheltenham Ladies College gets results. Perhaps the most famous girls’ school it the country, Cheltenham was founded by a suffragette, Dorathea Beale in 1858 (who also established, St Hilda’s), and has been churning out high flying ladies ever since. Cheltenham girls are certainly put through the ringer, whether it is on the Lacrosse pitch or in the classroom under-achieving is not an option. The Cheltenham way, though brilliant for getting the very best results out of its girls, can be intense, especially for less able girls. However with 95% of girls getting from A* to B at A Level there is no doubt that by sending your daughter to Cheltenham you are setting her up for success.

Background and Reputation

Cheltenham Ladies College is a slick operation. Run by competent and powerful women, Cheltenham girls are expected to follow suit from the very beginning. No bells are rung to prompt them to get to class; organisation is an essential quality for a Cheltenham girl. The education is about as rigorous as you will find: a typical Cheltenham girl, will take over ten GCSEs, play an instrument to a high standard and represent her county in a sports team. Though the school is large: there are 870 girls, 230 of whom are day, the boarding houses and class sizes are not, meaning that each girl gets a high level of attention. The one criticism occasionally levelled at the school is that such is its reputation and standing, girls who are finding their studies difficult are given very short shrift. League Tables are taken seriously by Cheltenham; and the school’s competitive ethos is testament to this.

Academic and Exit Results

Cheltenham has the golden combination to excel in public exams: competitive admission, excellent teaching and a strongly instilled work ethic. Both GCSE, A Level, and more recently International Baccalaureate, results are uniformly impressive. For 2012 A Levels, 38.1% of students got As, 81.4% of the passes were at Grade A or A, and amazingly, 99.2% got A* to C. The GCSE results were no less impressive, with only 0.4% of girls getting anything under a C. 59.2% of the grades were As, 29.4% As and 99.6% of the grades were for from A – C. As a very international school, the advent of the International Baccalaureate has been significant for Cheltenham, and the results reflect this. One girl achieved an unheard of full 45 points, 78% achieved 40+ points, 94% achieved 38+ points and 100% achieved 37+ points.

Sport, Art, Music and Drama

Sport is as good as you are likely to find at a girls’ boarding school. There are an amazing 65 school teams who play regular matches on the school’s wonderful facilities; the thirty sports on offer at Cheltenham are athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, clay shooting, cross country and fitness, dance, equestrian, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, netball, pilates, polo, riding, rounders, rowing, squash, skiing, swimming, table tennis, tag rugby, tennis, trampolining, volleyball and yoga. Though sports are encouraged for all, the standards get terrifyingly high for the first teams, with many of the girls also playing for the county, region and country. Taking Art at Cheltenham is a bit like going to a bona fide Art Academy: the Fauconberg Wing is four stories of some serious facilities packed with high quality art work to match. Like most things at Cheltenham there is an intensity to taking Art as an academic subject; girls are not left to casually compile their sketch books but are given strict deadlines and as much supervision as they could wish. This, though good for keeping up momentum, has in the past led girls to complain that they were not allowed the time or freedom to explore their own technique. There is no argument that the Art Department produces results though, they often have years where no one achieves anything below an A. Cheltenham is a musical school. It boasts that forty-six highly trained staff give about 1000 individual music lessons each week. Though the over-achieving Cheltenham girls would be forgiven for not adding to their already hectic school schedules with extra music lessons, or involvement in a choir or orchestra, very few opt out of involvement in the music department. Unsurprisingly there is nothing of the soft option about taking Music for GCSE or A Level, it is taught with exactly the same rigour as any other academic subject. It is no coincidence that so many old Cheltenham ladies go on to be actresses, Kristin Scott Thomas and Tallulah Riley make up two of their number. There is a confidence to Cheltenham girls that mean that far from the usual stuttering performances of school plays, you are more likely to think that you have stumbled onto the Edinburgh fringe when you take in one of their productions. Perhaps the best thing about the Drama Department is how much it collaborates with the rest of the school; whether it is teaming up with the Music Department, to put on one of the school’s famous musicals or the Spanish department to dabble in some Lorca, it is easy to get involved in the Drama Department even if you don’t take it as a subject.

Social and Pastoral

Standards of behaviour are taken seriously at Cheltenham; things like appearance and punctuality are watched closely. The relationships that the girls build with the staff are close though formal. No girl is allowed to slip through the cracks or be neglected; rather the combination of a housemistress, tutor and form teacher ensures that each pupil is closely monitored throughout their time at school. The school’s position in the centre of Cheltenham is a great bonus; it means not only can the girls engage with the town’s distinguished cultural life (as well as the shops and cinema) they can also escape the confines of school if it all gets too much. Though Cheltenham Ladies College is a serious place, there is also fun to be had, and most girls keep their best friends from school for life. Old girls also tend to stay connected with the school, offering help and guidance to pupils: a formidable network to be presented with.


Societies and clubs at Cheltenham Ladies can be a good foil to the seriousness of academic life. Non-competitive groups like the Cheerleading Club gives girls who are not necessarily involved in mainstream sports teams, a chance to perform. While there is something so purely Cheltenham about having a Cipher Challenge Club (Bletchley Park was said to be teaming with former students). Another great outlet for girls, is the school’s historical involvement in charity work, each year six foundations are chosen by the school for support; through the year the sums raised by the girls, whether it be through sponsored swims or fashion shows, is truly impressive.

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