Wimbledon High School

Logo of Wimbledon High School

Pupils Info

Gender – Girls' School
Age range – Age 4-18
Number of pupils on roll – 905 Pupils

Characteristics

Day School
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 10%
£5,507 per term
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 97%

SUMMARY

Wimbledon High might not be the most high-flying girl school in London, but it might be one of its most progressive. The school’s headmistress, Heather Hanbury, is choc-full of ideas for her school. For one she has institutes a two-week timetable, which she believes gives more time and flexibility to the curriculum; ‘a failure week’, in which girls get used to the idea that they won’t always get what they want and ‘enrichment afternoons’, where girls are encouraged to follow their passions outside of the classroom. Though all this sounds rather rackety, the school is not. Good results are produced every year, generally around 95% A* to B at GCSE, the sport and art are strong, and WHS girls say they love that the school is more playful and relaxed that some of the more intense GDST schools.

Wimbledon High is a very good choice for most girls. One of its strengths is that it offers the same quality of education to the less academically able girls as it does to the high flyers. In the same way the arts departments are imbued with the same importance as the science block; it is very much about finding out what each girl is good at and then encouraging her to be the best at it she can be, rather than squeeze her into an uncomfortable mold. The teaching is good on the whole, and the teachers themselves compassionate and friendly; this makes for a happy, relaxed but productive atmosphere. Though the results are not the very best in London, 100% of girls go onto Higher Education, and a healthy 11% of those gain places at Oxbridge.

Academic and Exit Results

A combination of strong teaching and steady hard work from the WHS girls generally produces good solid results at exam time: in 2013 at A Level, 60.5 % of grades were from A* to A grades and 97% were from A* to C, with an 100% pass rate.

The GCSE results were even better, with 49% of the year, gaining all A* or A grades. 56% of all grades were A, 87% were A and A grades and 98% A* to B grades. 22% of the year group, 18 girls, achieved 9 As or more; and nine students got 10 or more As.

Social and Pastoral

A great strength of the pastoral care offered at WHS is the way that the school organizes the tutor system: rather than changing tutors every year, girls keep their tutors for at least two: from Year 7 to 9, then a new one for 10 and 11, then finally a new tutor is assigned for sixth form. What this means, if all goes to plan, is that rather than simply having a passing relationship with a member of staff, each student will get to know well (and hopefully like) a single teacher who they can approach with any academic or personal problems. There is also the backup of the Head of Year, which keeps on changing, should there happen to be a personality clash. Wimbledon is a nice place to go to school. Quieter and leafier than going to school in the middle of the City, there is nevertheless plenty going on. In the summer girls hang on Wimbledon common and in the winter chat in the coffee houses around it; the other great boon about going to school in South London is that you get to know girls and boys from surrounding schools like, JAGS, Kings, Putney High and Dulwich College too. Girls at WHS are known to be cheerful and chatty, as well as much more relaxed than girls at the more competitive London day schools tend to be.

Sport, Art, Music and Drama

Sport is played to high standards at Wimbledon High. Though not all of the school’s facilities are on site (there are pitches a 10 minute walk away), sport is very much part of day-to-day life. In school girls can use the sports hall, gym, large swimming pool, netball and tennis courts, while off campus there are all- weather and flood-lit surfaces for hockey, athletics and rounders, as well as a further five netball courts and tennis courts. Though the school sports teams are undoubtedly given much of the PE staff’s focus, girls of all abilities are encouraged to get involved, and the program of inter-house sports matches gives all girls the chance to compete. A PE IGCSE is offered, and although not over- subscribed, has achieved good results in the past. A thrilling prospect for sporty Wimbledon girls is the chance to be chosen to be a ball girl by the All England Lawn Tennis Club who come recruiting each year. An amazing 60% of Wimbledon girls choose to study a private instrument, and this is symptomatic of a larger ethos of music within the school. Music at Wimbledon High takes lots of different forms, there are more informal sessions like “Monday Jammin” and the yearly “Battle of the Bands” as well as plenty of serious and very high end Orchestras and Choirs. One of the best things about music at WHS is the staff’s enthusiasm for taking the girls and their music outside of school: whether this be a choir trip to Italy or more local performances around Wimbledon. The school fosters an ability among its students to be able to get up and perform which sets them in very good stead for private LAMDA and Guildhall exams, GCSE and A Level coursework as well as auditions for some of the top music schools in the country. The Art Department at WHS consists of three studios on the top floor of a teaching block; though not as high tech or spacious as the departments of many other schools there is always some plan for improvement in the pipeline, one of the most recent innovations was the creation of a screen-printing area. A brilliant thing about the department is the apparently seamless mix of the fun and wacky (girls are actively encouraged to immerse themselves in their art, often translating as their paint) as well as the serious discipline of contextual artistic grounding and draughstmanship. At the behest of the visionary Head of Art, Rebecca Owens, the sketchbooks that the girls produce as coursework for the GCSE and A Level course, bulge not just with individual work but also private research. Much of the inspiration comes to the girls via their frequent sallies into the galleries of London as well as from the art trips that take place in Years 12 and 13 to places like Paris and Barcelona. There is always some theatrical project afoot at WHS. The girls seem to naturally be of a dramatic bent; thankfully the school has the facilities to accommodate its thespians with the Rutherford Center (named after old girl Margaret “Peggy” Rutherford), which is souped up to the rafters. For the girls who don’t want monopolize the limelight however, there is plenty to do behind the scenes: set design is taken particularly seriously for instance, one parent reports that a recent production looked like Covent Garden. The Drama Department encapsulates an important part of WHS, which is the girl’s openness to throwing themselves into things and getting immersed in school life.

Extracurricular

At the beginning of each year girls are invited to Club Fest, which like a university Fresher’s Fair, gives them the opportunity to choose the extracurricular activities that they would like to get involved in. These range from chess and Mah Jong clubs to basketball and modern dance, and are often run by the girls themselves. In addition to this, Year 11 girls have weekly mandatory Enrichment Afternoons, in which they leave the academic syllabus to one side and immerse themselves in options of their choice. Whether it be going out into the community and talking to the aged, or dissecting a frog, it provides the girls with the chance to simply enjoy school life and being with one another, without the prospect of being graded at the end of it.

Contact

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