An academically successful all-girls school on the outskirts on London, which is moving towards providing a single sex education in a co-educational 'single campus' over the next 10 years.
This is a mid-sized school in north London with around 1,200 students, the majority coming from families in the surrounding area, as well as further afield in Hertfordshire, and Buckinghamshire. The school celebrates ethnic diversity; there are weekly separate faith assemblies and girls can choose which one they attend. There is also a wide choice of foreign languages, including Asian options.
Students typically join the school at four, seven, 11 or 16 years, and almost all students from the junior school move up to the senior school; Year 6 students do not need to sit the 11+ senior school entrance exam.
While Habs' Girls is run separately, it does enjoy the advantages of being on the same site as Habs' Boys School and they join together for many activities, especially in the Sixth Form. There is also a shared bus service. The school says it offers “the best of single-sex education in a co-educational environment”, and last November both schools announced a 10-year plan to provide single sex education in a co-educational 'single campus'.
Headteacher Rose Hardy, previously at St Margaret's School for Girls in Bushey, joined the school in 2019. She announced early on her plans to forge much stronger links with Habs' Boys’ School and this is happening. From September 2021, all Sixth Formers will be taught at least one subject in a co-ed class with the boys school. This is unlikely to be the end of it: We can expect to see the schools working more closely in the future and sharing even more facilities.
Having seen a steady increase in the number of girls choosing science A Levels, and keen to encourage girls into science and engineering, the school has invested heavily in STEM. A new £11 million STEM facility opened in 2020 to support learning in Artificial Intelligence (AI) such as the creation and development of robots.
Nicola Percy, director of STEM at Habs' Girls School, said:
“Real-world problems are complex and inherently multidisciplinary. The new STEM space provides an area where students can explore creative problem solving in a collaborative environment and also work on long term projects such as VEX Robotics, F1 in Schools and GoForSET.
“We have invested in additional robotics kits to increase the number of students that are able to participate in these projects. We have also purchased extra science equipment so that one of our labs can now be used for community outreach work with our partnership primary schools, which is something we are very passionate about.”
Habs' Girls is one of 11 schools belonging to the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, an educational foundation with 13 independent schools and academy schools across the UK.
The school was rated Excellent in its most recent full ISI Integrated Inspection, which was in 2014.
Teaching here begins by following the UK’s EYFS framework for four to five-year-olds, with the support of specialist teachers for languages, PE, arts, as well as art, design and technology and computing from Year 1. Students learn French from Reception, Spanish from Year 1, and also German from Year 3. In Reception and Years 1 and 2, students also have weekly lessons in the on-campus forest school.
Throughout the Junior School there’s a focus on integrating subjects to deliver a very holistic curriculum, and this gets broader as girls move up the school. Students have more subject specialists from Year 3, and move into the science labs, art studio and language rooms for their lessons; there is setting in maths from Year 4.
Habs' Girls offers a wide choice of subjects throughout the Senior School and students are given increasing levels of responsibility. Year 7 students learn Latin, philosophy is taught alongside RE, and all girls are given their own iPad. In Year 10, students typically study 10 GCSE subjects, four of which are optional subjects selected from a varied list including classical Greek, drama and theatre studies, technology, PE, and computer science.
In the Sixth Form, the girls have a free choice of A Levels from a list of 22 subjects as varied as classical civilisation, both 16th Century and 20th Century history, Greek, philosophy, PE, drama and theatre studies and economics. They also study up to four subjects that go well beyond the A Level curriculum as part of the school’s enrichment programme, which is as wide-ranging as Cookery Survival Skills, Clowning, Mask and Physical Theatre, and Anthropology. Taught with the Habs’ Boys School, these courses are a good opportunity for students to stretch themselves.
Instead of the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which is offered by many schools as a supplement to A Levels, Habs has developed its own Aske Diploma for the Sixth Formers in the Girls and Boys schools. Introduced in September 2020, this independent research project replaces the EPQ, which the school describes as being “potentially too process driven”.
Daniel Sabata, deputy head (academic) says:
“It is designed to really give you a flavour of what study is like beyond your school career and gives you an opportunity to explore an area that is of interest to you.”
There’s excellent preparation for university, future careers and adult life here, delivered through a Life After School programme, university open days, careers talks, work experience placements, and other tutorials.
Habs’ Girls may be a very academic school but it does offer a well-rounded curriculum that involves all girls in both sport and the arts.
Facilities include a sports hall, gymnasia, netball and tennis courts, a swimming pool and ample playing fields. The curriculum provides a core of gymnastics, dance, swimming, netball, tennis, athletics and rounders. Teams in netball, cricket, football, gymnastics, rounders and lacrosse compete against other schools, and there’s a Talented Athlete Programme for the school’s most talented sportspeople.
It is also a creative school. Girls’ paintings, sculptures and design installations are displayed around the school; there is a full programme of drama that ends with a major play each term; and students can take art, design and technology, drama and theatre studies, and music at both GCSE and A Level.
Habs' Girls offers what is described as a “smorgasbord of activities” extra-curricular clubs mainly offered during lunchtimes. The academic year starts with the Habs’ Freshers’ Fair where students can sign up for a wide variety of clubs and activities taking place at lunchtime and after school.
There are plenty of leadership roles including House Captains, Form Captains, School Councillors, Eco Councillors, Games Captains, and Sports Captains. All Year 6 girls are prefects, with responsibility for different aspects of school life, and Sixth Formers run several after-school clubs for the younger students.
Habs' Girls is consistently ranked in the top 10 league tables for GCSEs and A Levels, and nearly all students consistently achieve A*-C in all GCSE and A Level exams.
In 2020, 36% of A Level grades were the highest A* (29% in 2019), a very high 82.7% were graded A*-A (74% in 2019), and 99% were A*-C (98% in 2019). Maths, biology, physics, Spanish, history and economics were the most popular subjects taken by students.
In GCSEs, 81% of grades were A*/Grades 9/8 (76% in 2019) (, 95% were A*-A/Grades 9-7 (92% in 2019), and 100% were A*-C/Grades 9-4 (same in 2019); the three sciences, English literature, English language, and maths were the most popular subjects in this year group.
The Class of 2020 went on to study at some of the UK's top-tier universities: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, City, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Imperial, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Loughborough, London School of Economics, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Queen Mary University London, Sheffield, Southampton, University College London, Warwick, and York.
Located within extensive grounds in leafy Elstree, a village in Hertfordshire, Habs’ Girls is a single campus with separate teaching facilities for Junior, Senior and Sixth Form students.
Aside the impressive STEM building with its 15 labs there's a sports hall, gymnasia, netball and tennis courts, swimming pool and fields; and dining hall. The school also shares some facilities with the neighbouring Habs’ Boys School. There’s a wonderful library bus and Forest School in the Junior School, and a West End Terrace in the Senior School with grazing plastic sheep!
The key years for admission are 4+, 7+, 11+ and 16+, and assessments vary according to age; at 11+ and 16+, girls sit English and maths entrance exams. The school says it takes roughly equal numbers of girls from state and independent schools.
Annual tuition fees are: Junior School (Rainbow – Year 5) £17,826; Junior School (Year 6) £17,226; and Senior School £19,311.
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