Woldingham

Logo of Woldingham

Pupils Info

Gender – Girl's School
Age range – Age 11-18
Number of pupils on roll – 542 Pupils

Characteristics

Average Class Size: 20
Day and Boarding School
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 7%
Day: £6,715 per term Boarding: £10,725
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 84%

SUMMARY

A girls’ boarding and day school with a long history, catering to all abilities, Woldingham has done a great job of adapting to the times. As well as offering the best in technology – there’s even a school iPhone app – they have taken a very modern approach to boarding, whereby boarders are allowed home frequently (from Saturday after lessons until Monday morning most weekends) and day girls are allowed to board from time to time; not surprisingly, boarders and day pupils mix seamlessly in this fluid environment. Although the school is located inside the M25 – convenient for London families – Woldingham is not an over-sophisticated place, and has a reputation for turning out quite innocent girls. Perhaps it is because they are watched over by the statue of Christ that sits front and centre on the main lawn. Deep in the Surrey downs, this feels anything but an urban school, despite its proximity to London (35 minutes by train; the station is actually in the school grounds). Set in 700 acres in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you would never know how close you are. The main building is an impressive chateau.

Background and Reputation

One of the traditional Catholic girls’ schools, established as a convent school by the Sacred Heart Foundation, Woldingham has a long history in educating nice English girls in traditional Christian values. Today, applications are welcomed from girls of all faiths, but Christianity is still at the core of school life, with a compulsory Sunday night mass for all girls and an additional weekly evening prayers. The school prides itself on its diversity – only 34% of girls are Roman Catholic, a similar percentage C of E and the remainder comprising Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and other non-Christian faiths. The school has never been considered an academic powerhouse and has long savoured a reputation as a place where girls of all abilities can shine, but with the appointment – in 2007 – of Oxford-educated headmistress Jayne Triffitt that may be changing. Whatever the case, there are certainly plenty of celebrated old girls – these running the gamut from BAFTA winning actress Carey Mulligan to novelist and ex MP Louise Mensch to Clarissa Dickson-Wright and Lady Isabella Hervey.

Academic and Exit Results

Given that entry is not particularly selective – it is via the school’s own exam, not common entrance – Woldingham punches above its weight academically, and things seem to be on the up and up since the appointment of Triffitt as head. Last year, 69% of A Levels were A*-A, with 97.4% were marked C or higher. There is setting in most subjects from the age of 11, so that bright sparks may flourish. Geography and sciences are particularly popular subjects, as are more offbeat ones introduced at AS stage; these include textiles, music technology and psychology. Woldingham also makes ample provision for girls in need of learning support – including those with dyslexia, dyspraxia and Asperger’s. There is also – at the other end of the spectrum – a ‘gifted and talented’ provision, including an ‘Oxbridge programme’, for those girls who may be on that path. Each of the school’s four houses – each girl is assigned to one upon enrolment – has a house tutor, who monitors each girl’s progress and gives support throughout their time at Woldingham.

Social and Pastoral

Although the school has been praised for its flexible boarding arrangements, Ms Triffitt is very keen to increase boarding numbers – and anyone who glimpsed the newly updated sixth form boarding accommodation, with beautiful en-suite single rooms for all, a lift and flat screen TVs adorning the walls, might well be tempted to send their girls away! The four-house system works well, especially the aspect of having the same tutor – in many cases – throughout one’s time at the school. There is also a very popular “buddy system”, whereby lower sixth girls looks after those in years 7 and 8. Woldingham girls are known for being very grounded – and some girls attribute this to the lack of any nearby boys schools, or even towns, for that matter. which makes for a very relaxed, uncompetitive environment. There are some socials arranged with boys’ schools on weekends, though girls appear equally effusive about other weekend activities – such as shopping and museum trips into London.

Sport, Music and Drama

Woldingham’s facilities are rarely described as anything other than “excellent”. Sport is compulsory for all. Games are played on superb grounds – there’s certainly no shortage of space here – and there is a state-of-the-art floodlit, all-weather pitch. All of the traditional sports are played, e.g. netball and so forth, but no one is forced to take part in games they don’t enjoy and there are plenty of alternative sports, like polo and body combat and a dance club run by a troupe of professional dancers. There’s also an excellent weekend sports programme, Saturday Active, run by professionals, with offerings like yoga and fencing. There is a 600-seat auditorium in the Millennium Centre for performing arts, with productions broadcast on the school’s website, and the dressing rooms and costume workshop are of a professional standard. Music is also taught to a very high standard, with everyone given the opportunity to sing with a choir, orchestra or band. The senior choir regularly performs in European cities.

Extracurricular

The school excels in extra-curriculars and they are, thus, given equal weight with academics in the each girl’s schedule. As well as art, music, drama and sport, there is a whole host of other activities on offer, from fencing to archery, and a range of clubs in everything from French cinema to psychology, to a Law Society and on-site Leith’s cookery courses, among many, many other options.

Contact

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