This small all-girls school in Kent has a reputation for its internationalism, adventurous spirit and cultural diversity, as well as a well-rounded GCSE and A Level programme.
Cobham Hall is a Round Square school, which provides a framework known as the IDEALS. This stand for Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service and it is the only UK Round Square boarding and day school for girls aged 11to 18 years. This offers students a range of opportunities to develop international understanding, interpersonal skills and to broaden their intercultural understanding, through various means.
There are regional conferences for the girls, usually within Europe, and Cobham Hall hosted one such conference, led by Year 9, based on the pillar of Environmentalism, entitled Planting the Roots of our Future. Sixteen schools attended and students created a greenhouse using recycled plastic bottles and they also planted trees. Round Square International Conferences are held annually and are attended by delegations from all full member schools, resulting in international gatherings of more than one thousand students.
With a network of more than 180 schools worldwide, the choice for exchanges is vast and the girls from Years 7 to 13 are able to choose from any Round Square school in the world. They can go for two weeks to half a term and the activities undertaken will depend on the programmes offered by the host school. They can stay with either host families or in the school.
At Cobham Hall, over 30 countries are represented by international students who come to study, and English Language is offered to support their curriculum if required.
Under an agreement in February 2021, North London’s Mill Hill School Foundation added Cobham Hall to its existing family of four schools. Cobham Hall describe this as a positive joining of forces of excellent schools.
It has quick connections to London, the train only taking 17 minutes. The school is set in a huge Tudor manor house which was founded as a school in 1962; the house, however, dates as far back as Roman times.
The Headmistress, Mrs Wendy Barrett, joined in 1993 and has a BSc in Mathematics and Physics from Royal Holloway College, London. She initially trained as an engineer but re-trained to be a teacher after having children.
The core subjects are taught from Year 7 and as students progress through the school, they can choose between art, drama, music, and computer science. French, Spanish and Latin are offered as well as English as a Foreign Language. At Sixth Form, more subjects are introduced, to supplement the core subjects, which include economics, film studies, physical education, photography, psychology and politics.
Sixth Form at Cobham Hall involves more responsibility for the girls and its programme, based around A Levels, has a range of complementary elements. Most girls take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which is equivalent to half an A Level, and provides students with the opportunity to plan, research and develop their own project idea. Examples of recent EPQs undertaken include organising and hosting a Model United Nations Conference and writing, editing, developing and producing a magazine.
The Global Critical Thinking course is well attended by Sixth Formers and it encourages students to formulate their own opinions and allow their own beliefs to “stand up to scrutiny”.
A crucial element of Sixth Form is the Tutorial. This supports the girls through the university application process and involves Study Skills, Personal Statement Workshops, UCAS Application Workshops, Interview Skills and University Talks. Students who have started the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme can continue and work towards the next level or can start from the beginning if they have not given it a go previously. For those not completing this award, service projects in the local community happen instead. These have included reading in local primary schools, training to become Dementia Friends or supporting the elderly in local care homes.
Cobham Hall offers a variety of academic clubs. The Humanities Forum takes place half termly and the girls debate topical issues. Carson Club tackles environmental and sustainability issues. World Film Club is extremely popular as is Creative Writing.
In winter, the girls swim, play hockey and netball and in the summer this changes to tennis, rounders and athletics. Badminton and cross country are also options. If any girl wishes to ride, they can go to the local equestrian centre once a week.
There is a lovely fitness suite and dance studio, where girls can take part in aerobics lessons. Golf lessons are available in nearby Rochester and at the local village golf club and trampolining is also popular with a specialist peripatetic coach. Several girls play sport at county level and take place in national and international competitions.
The art department has good facilities, including a dark room, a kiln room and a Mac Suite. The school choir is open to all and the chamber choir is by audition. Many girls learn solo instruments, with extra tuition available. The Samba band is a fun, popular co-curricular activity.
The Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme is extremely popular at Cobham Hall and it is part of the curriculum from Year 9. The Model United Nations (MUN) is a wonderful role-play activity where girls become delegates for a given country and must research and argue a given topic on behalf of that country’s viewpoint. They attend conferences at other schools which has a social aspect but also improves their debating skills.
Girls practice in the nearby Kent Downs, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions, have campfires in the clearing where Charles Dickens’ writing chalet once stood, and enjoy barbecues in Lady Darnley’s garden. The 150-acre grounds are used for enhancing classroom studies, data for environmental studies, space for physical education, and natural sets for drama or film studies. They can also “climb trees, pick daffodils, and simply relax in the sunshine”.
In 2020, 77% of A Levels were graded A*-C with 81% A*-C in STEAM subjects. 29% of students achieved A*-A in the EPQ.
96% of GCSEs were graded 4 or above and 8% of students achieved an average score of 7.8 or above.
There is a boarding house for Years 7-11 and a separate Sixth Form boarding house. Full, weekly and flexi boarding is offered here. The boarders celebrate their cultural diversity in the boarding houses; one evening may be spent celebrating Nigerian Independence Day, another enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner.
During the year, there are evening outings during the week. Girls often make suggestions for these, with popular trips including tobogganing, bowling, the cinema, restaurants and dessert bars. There is an escorted trip almost every weekend, which is compulsory for full boarders in Years 7 to 10.
In the summer term, there is an annual Year 7 Boarding Week, when all Year 7 day girls are invited to join the boarding community for the whole week and experience life as a boarder.
Entrance assessments in English and Mathematics are required for Years 7-11. Entrance into Sixth Form depends on predicted GCSE grades.
For international students, entry is via Cobham Hall’s own entrance assessments or via UKiset, the Independent Schools’ entry test.
Annual boarding fees are £29,679 (Years 7-9), £32,790 (Years 10-11), and £37,047 (Years 12-13).
Annual day fees are £19,644 (Years 7-9), £22,476 (Years 10-11), and £23,808 (Years 12-13).
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