This all-girls’ day school has a reputation for its impressive GCSE and A Level results and well-rounded single sex education that balances academic study with student wellbeing incredibly well.
Founded in 1850, Loughborough High has built on its foundations as a grammar school (one of the oldest in the UK) to become a highly sought-after all-girls school that combines the advantages of a single sex education (teaching styles, subject choices, and extra-curriculars are all focused on girls) with the benefits of being part of a larger group of co-ed and all-boys schools.
Far from being a school that stands still, Loughborough has been at the forefront of championing STEM education for girls, was among the first to use iPads in the classroom to support learning, and is developing all-girls’ sports such as football and cricket. Its enriched education can bring out the potential in the academic, the sporty, the arty and many more – and its efforts to be well-rounded are rewarded, not just with strong GCSE and A Level results, but with many sport and arts achievements too. While the school is very academically robust, the sports and the arts also really shine here; it built a new sports centre to support the expansion of its sporting programme and its music programme is outstanding.
There’s also something quite traditional about Loughborough High; it enjoys the prestige of being one of the oldest grammar schools for girls, and is proud to offer a traditional UK curriculum (there’s no option of the IB here). Houses are named after people linked to the founding of the schools, and it continues to celebrate a unique tradition that has been established for over 100 years at the school – the Tableaux Vivants (living pictures), which are held during the annual Carol Service.
Loughborough High is a member of the Loughborough Schools Foundation, which also includes The Nursery, the co-ed Fairfield Prep, the co-ed all-through Loughborough Ameshurst School, and the all-boys Loughborough Grammar School. Although the school is single-sex, and very proud of its “girl-friendly community”, it also benefits from being part of this family of schools as girls mix with boys at the Grammar School and girls from Ameshurst in extra-curricular activities such as music ensembles and trips.
The school, and its headteacher Dr Fiona Miles, are a strong advocate for single-sex education – and this is a school that certainly knows what it is trying to achieve, understands the specific needs of its all-girl community, and has proven to be an expert at it. The priority and focus is always on girls and what’s best for them.
Unlike the Grammar School, Loughborough High no longer offers boarding.
Life in a selective school can come with certain pressures, and Loughborough High has several programmes in place to provide a supportive, friendly place to learn. From the ‘big sister’ buddy scheme to Wellbeing Prefects, the importance of wellbeing is felt throughout the school. As the school says, “No two girls are the same” and it’s a message that drives the breadth of an education here.
Headteacher Dr Fiona Miles, who was previously Senior Deputy Head at another single-sex school, Haberdashers’ Aske's School for Girls, was appointed in 2019. She actively works with the heads of the other Loughborough Foundation schools to ensure that girls at the school are “inspired by all aspects of their education, whether academic or extra-curricular”. She is also developing closer links with Loughborough University.
Loughborough High describes “a rigorous, fun and stimulating academic curriculum both inside and outside the classroom”. Teaching follows an enriched version of the National Curriculum for England, which is broad, challenging and creative, and under the direction of headteacher Dr Miles it's increasingly about balancing academic study with student wellbeing.
This means that while Loughborough High is definitely a school for the more ‘academically able’, it does not have the hothouse conditions of some independent and grammar schools. There are also plenty of opportunities for all girls to extend their learning, through lectures, external competitions, Olympiads and national challenges – as well as a scholars’ programme for the most gifted and talented.
Languages on the curriculum include French, German or Spanish, and STEM is “an integral part” of any girls’ education here. The school can proudly boast of its students winning many national STEM awards and competitions such as Arkwright scholarships, and it has some excellent recently refurbished and extended laboratories where teaches deliver lectures in STEM.
There’s a high number of girls taking STEM subjects at GCSE and A Level here, over 50% of students choose to study STEM subjects at university. (Another 20% of students went study Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary).
In Years 10-11, there is a wide choice of GCSE options; students take nine GCSEs rather than 10 to allow time for student to focus on their wellbeing and extra-curricular activities. Their options include Modern Languages, Humanities, Sciences, Expressive and Performing Arts, Sport and Technology.
New subjects added at A Level include business, design technology, economics, politics and psychology. Most students study three A Levels as well as completing the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).
Since being appointed head, Dr Miles has made several changes to the Sixth Form that focus on academic achievement as well as student wellbeing. Students have a newly refurbished Sixth Form Centre, have more time on the timetable for enrichment (everything from Combined Cadet Force (CCF) to brewing, creative writing, Ancient Hebrew and the Sports Leadership Award), and are supported through the university admissions process by a dedicated Head of Futures.
Music is absolutely thriving at Loughborough High, and the school is proud to boast of its 100 annual performance opportunities, 50+ ensembles, 10+ choirs and even orchestras, in addition to junior and senior lunchtime recitals, assemblies and house music competitions. Music is on the curriculum through to sixth form, many students choose music or music technology in their GCSE and A Level options.
There’s an outstanding music school (shared with the Grammar School), which has excellent facilities for both piano and music technology. As an All-Steinway School it has six Steinway pianos, and there it has two well-equipped recording studios. All in all, Loughborough High feels like a very exciting place to be for anyone with an interest in music. The girls also have some fantastic opportunities in the arts, including directing their own play and performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The school has a strong sporting pedigree too – and it has invested heavily in expanding its sports programme in recent years. The Parkin Sports Hall (shared with the other Foundation schools) has a multi-use sports hall, fitness suite, dance studio and a dedicated space for dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics. By pooling its resources, the school is able to offer so much than a standalone school.
The Foundation’s Director of Sport, Jo Hackett, remains focused on increasing the variety of sport offered in extra-curricular clubs increasing the number of girls playing competitive sport; it’s great to see sports such as football, rugby and cricket being taught to girls too.
Girls currently play sports including netball, hockey, football, basketball, swimming, badminton, handball, rugby, cricket, tennis, athletics, rounders, gymnastics, dance and table tennis. The school is well-known for regional and national success in hockey and netball.
Extra-curricular activities are an important part of the education experience at Loughborough High, and there’s a strong commitment to give girls the chance to “try it all” here. Students are kept busy during lunchtimes and after school with clubs as varied as carving, saxophone, digital art and baking. Both the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Combined Cadet Force are also very popular.
2022 GCSE results: 33% of girls received A*, 58% received A*- A, and 86% A*-B.
2022 A Level results: 64% of girls received 9-4, 80% 9-7, and 95% received 9-5.
Almost all leavers gain a place at their first choice of university, and in 2022 83% of students received offers to Russell Group/Sutton Trust Top 30 universities.
Candidates sit an entrance examination for year 7 at the age of 11, and there is also a 13+ exam, for those wishing to enter at Year 9, and a 16+ exam for Sixth Form.
Annual fees range from £14,700 to £14,970.
Good for: Loughborough High offers a really wholesome education where the focus is not solely on securing the necessary grades to reach the university or career of each girl’s choice. Students should expect to work hard while being encouraged to select subjects and extra-curricular opportunities that suit their unique personalities and strengths – making it an excellent choice for girls who thrive in academia, the arts or sport. Also, as an all-girls’ school it offers so many of the advantages that parents may look for in a single-sex school while also offering opportunities for girls to mix with the boys at other schools within the Foundation.
Not for: This will not suit families looking for a fully co-ed education, or one that can offer any type of boarding. It’s a selective school so the curriculum may be too rigorous, too demanding for some; there’s also no option for either the IB or BTEC at sixth form, so students need to come here wanting to study A Levels only. As one of the country’s oldest grammar schools, it may feel just that bit too traditional for some; as a town-based school it doesn't have acres of land across a countryside campus, although facilities here are excellent.
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