An all-girls senior school which is a great choice for girls who need that extra support and familiarity that can come with being part of small, nurturing school community that encourages talent in both the academic and extra-curricular activities.
Located just south of York, QM is a strong all-round performer and has a reputation for its excellent academic education and strengths in the arts and sport, particularly dance and tennis. As well as helping your child to achieve great, QM is a senior school that nurtures their individual talents – and that could be anything from lacrosse to horse riding, stage design to physics.
It’s a small school of just 230 students, but this does not limit the choice of activities, clubs and societies and other enrichment opportunities. Its small class sizes are one of its strengths, and they allow for plenty of one-to-one attention. The school will tailor timetables to the individual, and it’s proud to be a school “where girls are known by name in their lessons, on the hockey pitch and even in the dining hall”.
It’s one of the few all-girls’ schools in the area, so it is unique in tailoring every aspect of teaching and learning to girls, from learning and wellbeing to sport and leadership. QM celebrates single-sex education and believes that this is the best environment for girls to thrive and equip them “with the mindset that they can achieve anything”. Like many single-sex schools, QM bucks the trend when it comes to girls’ participation in subject areas that have been traditionally male-dominated, such as STEM. With subjects such as economics offered at A Levels, QM girls can study towards a career in engineering, computing, and business.
Founded in 1901, and named after Queen Margaret, Queen of Scotland (who reigned from 1070-1093), QM has been at its current site at Escrick Park for the past 70 years where it has 75 acres of beautiful parkland on its doorstep. It’s proving itself to be a forward-thinking school. In recent years, it has introduced the QM Diploma, a Psychology A Level, QM Community Weekends, and the refurbishment of the boarding houses.
Girls come from nearby York, Ripon, Thirsk, Newcastle upon Tyne, Inverness, as well as overseas destinatons including Hong Kong, Madrid, Frankfurt and Bangkok. There’s a high number of boarders, around 70%, “not because they have to, but because they want to”, says the school.
QM was awarded 'Excellent' across all categories in its most recent Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) in 2019.
Sue Baillie took over as Head in September 2019. She talks about “encouraging a strong work ethic” while "maintaining the girls’ sense of fun, friendship and pride in their school”
QM offers what is describes as a “motivating girl-focused education” and there’s a balance between learning inside and outside the classroom.
QM is focused on secondary education and college. In Years I and II (11-13 years), the curriculum is broad and gives time to explore new subjects. Girls study English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, Latin, French, Spanish, religious studies, history, geography, art, art textiles, food nutrition and preparation, PSHE & SRE, music, drama and sport.
In Years IV - V (14 to 16 years) there’s increasing independent learning and preparation for GCSEs. QM offers a wide choice of 24 GCSE courses, with options including French, Spanish, Latin, Classical Greek, further mathematics, geography, history, religious studies, classical civilisation, business, physical education, art and design, art textiles, drama, music, food nutrition and preparation.
In the Sixth Form, girls can choose from 30 A Level subjects, with plenty of choice in languages, the arts, business and newer subjects including philosophy and psychology. Many students also complete the Extended Project Qualification, and they can study courses including Life Skills and the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, as well as enrichment courses such as Advanced Cookery for Sixth Formers. Sixth Formers also learn Car and Household Maintenance, Personal Finance and Budgeting, Cooking at University, Interview Skills and First Aid in a life skills programme.
Girls at QM are active, sport is inclusive, and the school’s wide variety of sporting activities can find a match for all abilities and interests. The school has acres of grounds for hockey, netball, lacrosse, swimming and gymnastics, tennis, rounders and athletics, taught as part of the curriculum; after-school activities also include aerobics, Pilates, basketball, volleyball, spinning, combat, fitness training, gym sessions, and football.
The school has an excellent reputation for tennis and the facilities (four hard tennis courts, nine Astroturf courts and an indoor court) are impressive. There’s also a riding school on campus, and the beautiful Escrick Park Estate is a lovely place for hacking. There are many opportunities to develop sports skills at QM, whether by competing in matches and district tournaments, or choosing to study PE at GCSE and A Level.
Music, art and dance are championed at QM. There are plenty of opportunities to perform at QM, from the informal Wednesday @One lunchtime concerts to full-scale productions such as the recent A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Girls can work towards exams such as LAMDA and Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Ballet; take singing or instrumental in everything from the bassoon to the viola; and, as a Christian school, there are weekly choir concerts.
The school puts student wellbeing front and centre to help get the very best achievements from its girls, and the pastoral care is excellent. QM has won several awards for its wellbeing initiatives including being named Independent School of the Year for Student Wellbeing in the 2021 Independent Schools of the Year Awards.
As a school with less than 250 students, it’s not surprising to hear that it has a family vibe and close-knit community; new students are cared for by buddy students known as Guardian Angels; there are regular mindfulness sessions; and the school takes the nationwide ‘Girls on Board’ approach to help girls “navigate the often troubled waters of friendship problems”.
As well as encouraging academic achievement, QM takes a very holistic approach to education and encourages students to take part in various artistic, sporting, and adventurous pursuits. There are many clubs and societies focused on Art, Dance, Drama, Music, Sport, and despite its small size, the girls have plenty of opportunity to grow and broaden their horizons.
2022 A Levels results: 91% of all entries scored A*-C. Nearly half (49%) of all girls achieved two or more A*-A grades, and the most notable achievements were in Physics, English Literature, Fine Art and French. There were also successes in Music, Geography and Latin, with 100% of girls achieving A*-A.
2022 GCSE results: 25% of grades were 9 and 40% of girls achieved five or more 9-8 grades. 100% of Music, History, Latin and Mandarin entries achieved high grades 9-6, and 98% of all grades in individual sciences were marked 9-6.
University destinations reflect the diverse student body and their interests, and include Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, LSE, UCL, Durham, Bristol, Stern Business School (USA) and The Royal Drawing School (London)
There are day, flexi, weekly and full boarding options available, so an option to suit all modern lifestyles; day and flexi boarders can enjoy all the benefits of an extended school day from 7:30am to 7.30pm too.
The boarding houses are all on campus and arranged by year group, with the school focused on accommodating a girl’s needs at different stages of her school life and creating a ‘home away from home’ where its most needed. Girls move up from the cosy farmhouse dorms of Red House for Years 1 and 2 to independent living with friends in a cottage within the school grounds in Years 12-13.
QM is excellent at helping to build friendships and a close-knit boarding community. As well as planned activities every weekend, QM hosts Community Weekends at regular intervals throughout the year. This is an opportunity for the girls to plan a themed weekend for all students with activities such as football zorbing, extreme adventure Zip Wire, surf simulator and an inflatable obstacle course.
While QM may be a small school, it has a large campus and facilities in beautiful surroundings, which are both a huge draw for parents searching for a country school. Its mix between the modern and the historic buildings is what many families looking at a UK private school are looking for. York is only six miles away too, so students are certainly not made to feel too remote.
Such sweeping grounds are used to the full, with some impressive indoor and outdoor facilities. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, on-campus boarding houses, theatre and dance studio, chapel, sports hall, squash courts, and dedicated well-equipped buildings for academic subjects.
QM is a selective school, and all girls are tested in English and mathematics, have a one-to-one interview with a member of staff and complete a dyslexia screening test.
Annual fees for boarders are £36,930; for day students it is £21,360, and there are scholarships offered for Academic, Art, Choral, Dance, Drama, Music and Sport.
Good for: It’s a great choice of girls who need that extra support and familiarity that can come with being part of small, tight-knit school community. There’s an interesting range of both GCSE and A Levels on offer, which you’ll not always find in small schools. There’s also more opportunities for every girl to take an active role in all the sport, arts and extra-curricular activities on offer. If you’re looking for a school that is free from gender stereotypes, where your daughter may be more likely to speak up in class, take on a leadership role, or be more competitive in sport, then the all-girls' QM could be a perfect fit.
Not for: As a girls-only school, QM won’t suit families looking for the benefits of a co-ed education. Its size may be seen a weakness by some (ask if it can really compete with the huge choice of activities offered at some much larger schools in the area, or the number of teams fielded for competitive sport) and not if your child prefers to be a small fish in a big pond with more peers around them. QM may also feel too holistic for families looking for rigorous, results driven focus on education.
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