Queenswood is an all-girls school in Hertfordshire with a reputation for academic success, a strong language programme, and a highly regarded tennis academy.
The school was founded in Clapham Park in 1894 and moved to its present campus in Hertfordshire in 1925. Today, it is divided between the Lower, Middle and Senior Schools for 11 to 18 year olds, with all students sharing facilities on one beautiful countryside campus. Its international community of around 420 students (representing around 30 nationalities) study and board within a friendly relaxed campus where teachers believe “happy girls are successful girls”, and students grow their own fruit and vegetables in the allotments. It’s small enough for students to be known personally by staff, but large enough to deliver a broad curriculum, a variety of extra-curricular programmes, and specialist facilities.
Queenswood says that it is “most definitely not an academic hothouse”, however its students achieve well above average grades at both GCSE and A Level. Some of this success can be attributed to the school’s personalised programme; a dedicated team of teachers provide 1-1 support to both gifted students and those requiring additional help, outside of classes and in lesson time. The school is also focused on recruiting teachers with the experience of educating girls. As a firm believer in the advantages of single-sex education, the school says:
“Girls can take intellectual risks, ask questions, or make judgements without worrying about ‘looking stupid in front of boys’.”
Principal Jo Cameron, who has worked almost exclusively in all girls’ schools, joined Queenswood in 2016; prior to this she was Deputy Head at Ipswich High School for Girls. Mrs Cameron describes Queenswood as having a “dynamic learning community where the girls’ interests, happiness and wellbeing are the first consideration at all times”. In her spare time Mrs Cameron is a keen sportswoman, with a passion for hockey, running and equestrianism.
The school was rated Excellent in all areas in its most recent full ISI inspection in 2017.
Year 7-8 follow a common curriculum that includes art, computing, design & technology, drama & dance, English, French, geography, history, Latin and classical civilisation, mathematics, music, physical education, religious studies and science. More unique features of the curriculum include practical cookery, popularly known as 'Haute Quisine', and the teaching of Japanese. Students are taught in sets for English, maths and languages.
All Year 7 girls study Spanish and choose French or Japanese as a second language; around two thirds take two languages at GCSE. The school supports language learning through close ties to the Konan School in Japan, co-curricular French clubs, study visits, and a GCSE work experience placement in Spain. Queenswood’s language department is certainly one of its many strengths; in 2020, 91% of A Level grades across Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese were A*-B.
There’s no typical Queenswood student, and girls follow a wide variety of pathways to university. This is made possible by the broad choice of subjects at both GCSE and A Level.
I/GCSE options include art & design, computer science, classical civilisation, dance, design & technology, drama, geography, history, Italian, Japanese, Latin, music, physical education, religious studies, and Spanish. Most girls take an average of nine GCSEs/IGCSEs.
A Level options include art & design, biology, business, chemistry, classical civilisation, computer science, design & technology, dance, drama & theatre studies, economics, English literature, French, geography, government & politics, history, Japanese, Latin, mathematics, further mathematics, media studies, music, photography, physical education, physics, psychology, Spanish, theology, philosophy and ethics. Many girls choose to expand their independent study skills by completing the EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).
In 2020, subjects which performed particularly well at A Level included physics (100% A*-B), politics (100% A*-A), drama (100% A*-B) and Latin (100% A*-B); statistics have not been published for 2021.
To fill the gaps left by the now devalued AS Levels, Queenswood offers an enriched Sixth Form curriculum through its lecture series and Column Q, a programme of compulsory and elective courses that range from mindfulness to art appreciation, and university interviews to politics. Sixth Form girls can also take the Leith’s Introductory Certificate in Food and Wine.
As well as being the leading school for girls' tennis in the UK (the Queenswood tennis team have won the national independent schools’ trophy for five successive years), the school has sporting success in hockey, fencing, athletics, netball and cricket. The offers an enviable scholarship programme for talented tennis players. Tennis scholars are trained at the prestigious Gosling Tennis Academy, as well as on campus. The two-tier scholarship programme trains students with Top 20 potential at National (Tier 1) or County (Tier 2) levels.
There are excellent indoor and outdoor sports facilities here, which support a strong PE, games and extra-curricular programme for girls of all abilities. These include an indoor swimming pool, large sports hall, Astroturf pitches, a cardio gym, fitness suite, and sports pavilion – and 12 outdoor clay courts and two indoor hard courts.
The school’s investment in the arts is very evident. Facilities include a 280-seat Clarissa Farr Theatre, a more intimate studio, and a mirrored, sprung, purpose-built dance studio; and there is a dedicated Theatre Manager who mentors students wanting to specialise in set, lighting and costume design. Walls across the art department, which includes a wonderful glass-ceilinged studio, are covered in colourful student work. There are also music practice rooms, DT studios, a ceramics workshop, and darkroom
Girls can study drama, art, music, media studies and dance at GCSE and/or A Level, and there’s a genuine enthusiasm for the creative arts here. Students play everything from electric bass to French horn, from musical theatre to the Chinese guzheng.
Both day students and boarders have full access to a programme of over 70 co-curricular clubs and activities, as well as a diverse programme of house outings and excursions. The majority of students in Year 10 take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
In 2021, 81.3% of grades were A*-B (compared to 80.7% in 2020). Girls went on to some of the UK’s most prestigious universities, including Durham, Imperial College London, SOAS, Bristol, Kings College, London, Manchester and Leeds.
In the same year, GCSE results were equally strong. Overall, 67.2% of grades were 9–7 (equivalent to A*/A under the former grading system), and seven students were awarded exclusively Grades 8 and 9. This is slightly higher than the 2020 results, when 61.6% of grades were awarded at 9-7.
Queenswood offers full, weekly and flexi boarding, and girls stay in four separate houses: Stamp (Years 7-8), Centre (Years 9-11), Trew (Year 12) and Senior (Year 13). Girls are encouraged to board, even for just a few nights, and they are cared for by a team of full time resident staff members.
All boarders share rooms until Year 11, when students have their own bedroom, complete with a private study area. Expect to find both day and students using their house for study and socialising outside the classroom; Middle year students enjoy the use of a cinema, music room, IT suite and cooking facilities.
The majority of Sixth Formers choose to board, taking full advantage of the on-campus support and additional study groups, lectures, and wider range of co-curricular activities.
Queenswood has a vast 120-acre parkland estate in the Hertfordshire countryside; located north of London, it is three miles north of the M25. In addition to sport and arts facilities, Queenwood is proud of its Pauline Edgar Library at the very heart of the school. Originally the swimming baths, the building is now home to an ever-expanding collection of 20,000 resources.
Academic facilities include a main teaching centre, personalised learning centre, science block, and sixth form centre.
Most students join at 11+ and must sit either the ISEB Common Entrance Examination or the school’s entrance papers in English, mathematics and verbal reasoning at Queenswood in the November prior to entry. Students joining in the Sixth Form typically achieve at least six Grade 6 at GCSE, with Grades 7-9 in the subjects to be studied at A Level.
Girls coming from overseas must have an English-speaking guardian, whose residential address is in the UK.
Academic Scholarships are available at 11+, 13+ and 16+ (Sixth Form) entry. Art, Music, Hockey, Sports and Tennis Scholarships are available at all entry points; Dance and Drama Scholarships are available for 14+ entry and above.
Annual fees for Years 7–8 are £21,990 (day) and £26,445 (full boarding); for Years 9-13 £25,620 (day) and £36,060 (full boarding).
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