Located in the centre of At Albans, this selective all-girls' school offers a creative and forward-thinking curriculum that delivers top grades at GCSE and A Level.
An urban school, STAHS has the advantage of being close to town while offering some excellent specialist subject and sporting facilities. It is a Church of England school accepting girls of all faiths and none. It has just over 300 girls in its prep school, nearly 500 girls in the senior school and 160 Sixth Formers. It offers I/GCSEs and A Levels.
Founded in 1889, the school has close links with the Diocese of St Albans and also with St Albans School for boys.
Mrs Amber Waite, BSc Rutgers, MSc Oxon, has been Headmistress since 2019. Her first degree was in Mathematics in Texas and after 10 years as a biochemical oceanographer she realised she had a passion for teaching. She taught at Headington, Abington and Ashford Schools and then became deputy head pastoral at St Dunstan’s College.
The core subjects of English, Mathematics and Sciences and at least one Modern Lagrange chosen between French, German, Spanish and Mandarin are taught. Additional subjects are Art and Design, Classical Civilisation, Classical Greek, Design and Technology, Drama, Food Nutrition, Geography, History, ICT and Computer Science, Italian, Latin, Music, Further Mathematics, PE and RS.
Extra A Level subjects on offer at St Albans High School are Design and Technology (fashion and textiles), Economics, the EPQ, Politics, Psychology and GCSE Astronomy, with 25 A Levels offered in total. Most students start on four A Levels.
Its philosophy of Sixth Form is “Teach to 25” and it does not view this two-year period as the “pinnacle of secondary education”. Rather, it is a much longer journey through university, embarking on a first career and embracing adulthood. The brand new Sixth Form building is more like a university than a school, with study areas, computer rooms and a dedicated Sixth Form library.
The school offers its own STAHS Diploma for Sixth Formers which has four distinct Pillars: Academics, Skills for Life, Service and Leadership and Making the Leap. Students develop their own portfolio where they “record and evidence their achievements”. This offers the students a platform to track and document their successes, which STAHS firmly believes is much more than just their A Level results; the Diploma Ceremony takes places before A Level results are announced.
The Academic Pillar encompasses A Level learning, the development of independent thought, the EPQ, super-curricular studies and additional workshops, lectures and masterclasses. The Skills for Life Pillar includes the co-curricular activities and practical skills needed for a successful adult life. The Service and Leadership Pillar includes community service, charitable activities, activism and leadership opportunities within the school and the local area as well as nationally and globally.
The Making the Leap Pillar is “The first step on a multi-destination journey to adulthood” and ensures that the students are well prepared to leave school and go on to higher education, apprenticeships and the world of work. It prepares students for tertiary education including specialist preparation for Oxbridge, offers careers education, and helps with work experience.
Compulsory games go all the way to Sixth Form here and those on offer are netball, lacrosse, athletics, dance gym, karate, fencing and dance. The sports pitches are a ten-minute walk from the school and facilities include an excellent new indoor sports pavilion, a dance studio and fitness suite, a traditionally equipped sports hall and a twenty-five metre swimming pool.
STAHS stages around eight productions per year and its own theatre company commissions new plays with “meaningful and exciting roles for female casts” which put women at the “heart of the action”. The students participate in The National Theatre’s New Views programme where they develop their own original short plays, supported by professional playwrights.
The department offers many clubs exploring improvisation technical theatre skills and design, contemporary theatre and choreography. The girls make their own podcasts. A theatre artist in residence offers workshops and masterclasses throughout the year.
Music is integral to daily life and STAHS has a Conductor-in Residence. With two large orchestras, three concert bands and numerous chamber groups and choirs, from gospel to chamber, this is a busy department offering regular master classes, recitals and trips.
Unlike many day schools, STAHS operates a house system comprising four houses that are like “families within the school”; pastoral care is taken seriously here. It has a clear strong ethos of social responsibility and STAHS engages with and contributes to St Albans and the wider community. The students volunteer locally, work with Luton’s primary schools and more.
The co-curricular choices are large, so they are divided into Strands, and the girls are encouraged to get involved with each one during their time at STAHS. Creative includes music, dance, drama and art; Sport includes fitness; Leadership could be captaining the Chess Team or belonging to the Student Council; and Service involves engaging in charitable activities.
There's also Academic, where every department offers super-curricular and extension clubs and activities to “enable girls to pursue their academic interests beyond the curriculum”, and Performance where students can get involved in plays, concerts and House events.
2021, 97% of grades were A*-B and 87% grades were A*-A at A Level; 94% of grades were 9-7 at GCSE.
The Jubilee Hall seats 350 and the lovely rotunda building, which is floor-to-ceiling glass, is a place where the girls can socialise, work and order coffee online. The new Sixth Form Centre is in the style of a university and new classrooms and a dining room opened in 2020. Mixed in with these impressive buildings are traditional Victorian and some, not so beautiful, from the 1970s. The different sites are along a residential road.
This is an unashamedly academic school and offers 130 places at Tear 7, with one place for three applicants. Girls sit the online ISEB Common Pre-Tests in English, Mathematics, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning and around two- thirds are interviewed.
Fifteen places are offered at Sixth Form and minimum grades of 7 or 8 are required at GCSE for the chosen subjects. There is also a Sixth Form assessment day and students complete a non-specific written paper testing critical thinking and communication with two interviews.
Fees are £6,665 per term plus £280 per term for school lunches.
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