Located in Wales, this is an outward-looking senior school offering a single-sex education with a particular strength for science, sport and music.
Monmouth has three schools in the Wye Valley in Wales, which support an all through education from three to 18 years in a diamond model. They are part of the family of 11 schools belonging to the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, an educational foundation with 13 independent schools and academy schools across the UK.
The Monmouth group includes a co-ed Prep school for students aged three to 11, two senior schools offering single-sex education for those aged 11-16, and a co-ed Sixth Form for 16-18 year-olds. For over 400 years, these boys and girls’ schools have been run separately but, like several UK independent schools, the move to co-education is seen to offer more advantages. It marks an exciting new chapter for the Haberdashers Monmouth schools, and one where we would expect to see new academic and extra-curricular opportunities for both boys and girls at all stages of their education.
Commenting on the announcement, Lord Moynihan, Chair of Governors said:
“We believe that moving to a fully co-educational school will allow us to provide top quality education to our pupils from three to 18 – for generations to come. There is a significant trend towards co-education in the independent schools’ sector. The majority of parents believe it prepares their children properly for university and adult life.
“We have two terrific schools, and we believe that bringing them together will make them even stronger, delivering the best education for our pupils. At the same time, it would enable us to capitalise on the efficiencies that a rationalisation of the schools’ extensive estates would deliver; efficiencies that would deliver outstanding value for money.”
Thanks to the school’s wide offering of scholarships and bursaries, Monmouth opens the doors of a private education to students from all backgrounds, making it more inclusive than some schools in the area. It also has a very global community of students, with around 45% of students in the boys’ and girls’ schools coming from overseas, the majority from Hong Kong and China.
While the total number of students in the family of schools is over 600, each school feels small in size. Monmouth School for Girls is home to around 350 students and there’s a large boarding community, around 30% are full boarders and nearly half are international students.
Headmaster Simon Dorman, who is currently Head of Monmouth School for Boys, has been appointed as Head of the new co-ed school from September 2024.
Teaching is based on the National Curriculum for England but is anything but shackled to it. As a fee-paying school Monmouth invests in specialist facilities (the science department is very impressive), and a broader curriculum that includes three choices of languages, Latin, and an early introduction to the range of creative subjects.
Class sizes vary from year group, school and subject, and the maximum class size is 24 students.
The school has the freedom to develop its own GCSE programme – which means it can choose not to follow the changes made by exam regulator, Qualifications Wales, to revamp GCSEs in all Welsh state schools. Students at Monmouth will continue to study separate GCSES in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and the school is not affected by Qualifications Wales’ proposals to provide fewer GCSE exams for modern languages and maths.
GCSE options include art and design, computer science, dance, design and technology, drama, food preparation and nutrition, French, German, Spanish, geography, history, Latin, Classical Greek, music, PE, and religious studies
Field sports and outdoor pursuits are a huge part of life at Monmouth, and the school offers girls plenty of opportunity to trial at county, regional and national levels.
With facilities including a full sized all-weather floodlit pitch for hockey and lacrosse in the winter and tennis during the summer term, a large sports hall, 25 acres of pitches, indoor 25-metre swimming pool, climbing wall, a dance studio, and a rowing boathouse on the River Wye, this is a school that takes sport very seriously.
While there’s huge support for girls wanting to pursue competitive sport, the sports programme also offers a wide choice of activities to encourage “teamwork, leadership, and a sense of responsibility”. The school takes full advantage of its location in the beautiful Wye Valley to offer outdoor pursuits including canoeing, kayaking and rowing, as well as lacrosse, tennis, netball and swimming and some more unusual school sports including softball (the Monmouth Rockets is one of the few school teams in the country but one of the most successful), equestrian and golf (students train and play at a nearby golf and equestrian clubs).
Students are also encouraged to take centre stage, in shows, assemblies and dances. There’s a fantastic performing-arts centre with its own professional Blake Theatre, which is already shared with the boys’ school, and there are several joint school, co-ed performances every year.
Amongst the many drama and arts clubs is The Senior Play for both boys and girls, which is an original play is written by the school’s own drama teacher. One of the school’s strengths is also its dance school, which teaches “dance in education” as part of the curriculum and in several extra-curricular clubs. Classes include Tap, Ballet, Freestyle, Contemporary and Modern styles.
There are lots of opportunities to perform and learn music throughout the year with many ensembles, bands and individual tuition (there are over 300 individual lessons taught weekly in the school’s enviable Glover Music School). The school has a strong choral tradition, and the choir has sung in St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. George’s Windsor, Westminster Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral as well as touring to Spain, Morocco and France.
Life at the school is constantly stimulating and challenging for students as there is a vast programme of extra and co-curricular programmes for boys and girls to get involved with. Many students sign up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and Combined Cadet Force, there’s a popular astronomy club, and regular language exchange visits.
2022 A Levels results: More than a quarter of all grades awarded were the top grade, A*, while 56.6% of grades were A* or A, well above the UK national average of 36.4%. More than 75% (77.4%) of all grades were A*, A or B, and four students received offers for Oxford University
2022 GCSE results: 22.87% of all grades were the top grade, 9; nearly two thirds of grades (64.27%) were 7, 8 or 9, or A*/A – more than double the average in Wales of 22.8% and the UK national average of 26.3%.
Around 60% of girls go onto Russell Group universities, with many also going onto medical or dental school.
Around 30% of students at Monmouth are boarders, and there’s only the option for full boarding.
There are three all-girls’ boarding houses, one for 7 to 13 (up to Year 8); one for 14 to 17 (Years 9 to 12); and one for ages 17 to 18. There is a very international community students, from all over the UK; Forces families; and from Hong Kong, Nigeria, Russia, America, Germany, Spain, Japan, Dubai, UAE and Bangladesh.
In most houses, the house staff live there with their families, often with young children and pets, which really helps to create that home away from home feel for the boys. The weekend programme of activities is run with Monmouth School for Boys.
Monmouth has a beautiful countryside location in the Wye Valley, buildings steeped in over 400 years of history, and some state of the art specialist facilities. The Brecon Beacons National Park is 10 miles away, and the school is also conveniently located for cities including Cardiff and Hereford.
There will be several changes to the school over the next 18 months. The Prep School will move to the east side of the Girls’ School site on the Hereford Road. Years 7-11 will move to the current Monmouth School for Boys site at Almshouse Street, and Years 12 and 13, will be based on the west side of the Monmouth Girls’ School site. There are also plans to develop a new Sixth Form centre.
All girls sit an online assessment at the school which covers numerical, verbal and nonverbal ability, as well as an interview where they can choose their own topic for conversation. The school is looking more at your child’s potential, rather than their performance in a single test performance, and its admission process does give students their chance to shine.
Academic, dance, music and sports scholarships are available at 11+, 13+ and 16+ entry levels.
Annual day fees are £16,515 (Years 7-11)and £32,340 for full boarders. Forces families in receipt of the Continuity of Education Allowance only ever pay 10% of the academic and boarding school fees, which costs around £1,000 a term.
Good for: Monmouth is for anyone looking for a forward-thinking school with great facilities, excellent academic results and a beautiful location. Its strong emphasis on sport means that your child will be exposed to a wide range of sports and plenty of opportunity to compete to the highest level. The school also has an excellent science programme, and it creates a very homely environment for the boarders, both local and international
Not for: With plans to move to co-education from September 2024, the school will no longer be a favourite with parents looking for single-sex schooling – or supporters of the school’s current diamond model. Its rural location may not be the right environment for families searching for a more urban upbringing for their child.
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