United Kingdom / West Midlands / Staffordshire / Wolverhampton Grammar School

Wolverhampton Grammar School Review

This city day school has lower fees than many UK independent schools, offers a supportive learning environment with a particular focus on supporting children with dyslexia, and has a broad curriculum that will appeal to all-rounders, as well as performers, the sporty and the academic.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2022/23
No data
Availability 2023/24
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 12,500
Annual fees
GBP 7,689–14,715
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1512
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Alex Frazer
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Wolverhampton Grammar School
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2022/23
No data
Availability 2023/24
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 12,500
Annual fees
GBP 7,689–14,715
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1512
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Alex Frazer
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This city day school has lower fees than many UK independent schools, offers a supportive learning environment with a particular focus on supporting children with dyslexia, and has a broad curriculum that will appeal to all-rounders, as well as performers, the sporty and the academic.

Students come to this high-achieving city school for a wide variety of opportunities that focus on academic excellence for all abilities in the classroom with life skills and activities on and off campus. With annual fees of under £15,000, it’s also one of the UK’s more ‘affordable’ schools for a private education.

Founded in 1512, it’s one of the UK’s oldest grammar schools, and it has only recently become an all-through school after adding Reception and Years 1 and 2 to its Junior School in 2021. This means that WGS can now offer an educational journey from four through to 18 years, which has proven so popular with parents that there is already a waitlist.

Describing itself as a “a community where everyone achieves”, WGS is a great school for all-rounders, performers, the sporty and the academic.  It’s a school that values life skills and – and where debating and public speaking are part of the curriculum. It has a reputation for academic success at both GCSE and A Levels, and but also has a vast extra-curricular programme that offers plenty of opportunity beyond the classroom.

The school has a 25-acre campus in the suburbs of Wolverhampton, a city in the West Midlands with two other independent schools – the Royal School, Wolverhampton and Tettenhall College. With around 570 students, it’s small enough to feel very nurturing but large enough to accommodate some excellent facilities for sport and the arts. 

The focus on pastoral care is excellent – as well as being a dyslexia-friendly school, WGS has many resources to support student wellbeing including quiet rooms, mindfulness sessions and special interest clubs such as gardening and knitting. A house system was recently re-introduced with a House Reveal Day complete with a Harry Potter inspired ‘Sorting Hat’. And, ideal for working parents, the school offers wraparound care from 7.30am to 6.15pm.

The school was rated Excellent in its most recent ISI inspection in 2017.

Headteacher Alex Frazer was appointed in 2020 from Mill Hill School in north London.

Curriculum

An education at WHS extends far wider than the core academic subjects, and specialist subjects and extra-curriculars are all well-resourced and highly valued by the school. From the Infant school, students are learning swimming, art, music, German and IT – as well as life skills such as debating, public speaking and team building alongside lessons in philosophy and archaeology. It’s one of WGS’ strengths – a broader curriculum that extends students' knowledge and experiences well beyond their Key Stage, GCSE, and A Level subjects. 

In the Sixth Form choices include traditional A Level subjects, specialised subjects such as Politics, and Economics, and a Cambridge Technical in Sport and Physical Education or Information Technology. Sixth Formers have the freedom and flexibility to choose any combination of A Level subjects as WGS does not have restricted subject blocks, and it increases teaching hours to support the increased demands of A Levels. The Extended Project Qualification is also taken by many to boost their university application.

WGS offers excellent support to Sixth Formers to prepare them for university and careers; there’s a Results Day team offering advice and support, and students have their own Sixth Form Centre, café, common room, library, classrooms and resources.

Class sizes do not exceed 15 across the school, so teachers have more opportunities to observe and assess the class as a whole and their students as individuals. This is coupled with lessons that are described as “lively and challenging” to offer an education that feels very current and relevant.

Despite being one of the oldest schools in the country, WGS is very tech-ready and focused on preparing its students for the “digital world ahead of them”. Technology is used widely throughout the school; there is also video and audio lesson capture (used to support students who may have missed a lesson or need extra time to understand a topic).

Students share the excellent facilities across the school, while also having their own dedicated buildings for Infant and Junior. From Year 4, students spend more classroom time in the main campus and are taught by more specialist teachers which all helps to smooth the transition to Senior school.

The school offers excellent support to dyslexic children; all new students are screened for dyslexia, teachers are trained with the skills they need to spot and support dyslexia, and the library is stocked with many books having dyslexia friendly backgrounds.

Sport and the arts

The arts are given plenty of attention here from as early as Reception, and there are many music and instrument lessons and clubs, as well as concerts to get involved with. Students exhibit their work in the school’s own Viner Gallery and perform in its professional Hutton Theatre; its best arts venue has to be the Big School, a hall with stained glass windows, Bluthner concert grand piano and chamber organ. 

WGS has standout facilities for sport – rugby, cricket, hockey and football pitches, netball courts, an all-weather Astroturf and athletics track as well as a fully equipped sports centre with a dance studio, multi-gym and indoor courts for badminton, squash, fives and basketball.

There’s competitive sport in a wide range of sports and students compete at local, county and international level. Beyond the core sports – rugby, football, cricket, hockey, netball and rounders – there is also judo, dance, girls’ football, table tennis, gymnastics and running. The school’s sportiest students can choose to study for the Cambridge Technical Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity once they reach Sixth Form.

Beyond the classroom

WGS is a school for children who like to try new things, be challenged, and be busy! There are over 100 extra and co-curricular clubs, societies and activities on offer every term, so students may have a hard time choosing; they range from the academic and sporty (Political Forum, Climbing Clubs, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Computer Science Club) to the more unusual (Harry Potter Fan Club, Pokémon Go Club and RAF Glider Challenge Club). Students can also stay at school until 5.30pm to finish off homework.

Overnight trips start from Year 3, and as Covid restrictions are relaxed, students look set to travel to destinations including Cambodia, South Africa and France in 2024.

Academic results

2022 GCSE results: 50% of grades were 9-8; 72% of grades were 9-7 grades; and 86% were 9-6. Over 40% of the cohort were awarded grades 9-7 in nine or more subjects and there was a 100% pass rate in maths and English Language.

2022 A Level results: 48% of grades were A*-A; 100% pass rate.

Just under 90% of 2022 leavers secured places at their first or insurance choice of university, going on to study degrees as varied as Architecture, Aeronautical & Spacecraft Engineering, Law, Medicine, History & Politics, Modern Languages, Theatre and Zoology. Almost 30% of the cohort went on to study Engineering, Law and Medicine.

Campus and facilities

WGS is on the outskirts of Wolverhampton city centre and is very much a city school with the advantage of acres of land. The main 19th Century red brick building is surrounded by sports and recreation fields and the new bespoke Infant school brings a modern addition to the site.

Admission and fees

Students come from across Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, Shropshire and the wider West Midlands region, and many arrive in Junior school and stay through to Year 13.

Junior students have direct entry into the Senior school so there’s none of the pressure of sitting SATS or other final year exams, although they can choose to sit scholarship exams. New students take entrance exams in English, maths and verbal reasoning.

Few students leave after GCSEs, so the Sixth Form is often oversubscribed.

Annual fees range from £7,689 to £14,715.

Our view

Good for: WGS offer a very supportive learning environment with a particular focus on supporting children with dyslexia. The lower fees are certainly a draw for parents, the opening of the infant school now offers parents consistency from Reception, and the city centre location is convenient. We also like the flexibility and choices offered to Sixth Formers.

Not for: It’s a day school and there is no boarding option at all, and parents who prefer a small standalone prep school can will prefer other options in the area. And, while WGS does have acres of land, it is a city school that lacks some of the character of larger country schools.

 

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