Opinions on Guildford High School please(5 Posts)
We have a bright hardworking daughter, who is a self starter. She has an offer for secondary school at GHS but found the classrooms dark and run down compared to the school she would be coming from. She is apprehensive as a result if this is the school for her or not. Any views from current parents would be gratefully received on the school in general. It obviously gets great academic results. Are there children that don't thrive there? Is it competitive or are the girls happy and inclusive to each other? Do the girls get outside during the day or do they spend most of their time indoors (years 7/8/9)?
Which school did you go at the end & were trying to compare? I agree with you on the darkness and bit cramp conditions of the classrooms. But, some how they produce the results. We are looking at GHS and some other schools around the area too. Trying to get other views/opinions.
snannak - DD2 starting in Yr 7 at Guildford's Tormead School in September (name-checked in today's Sunday Times's Home section!). She didn't sit for any other schools as she was in the junior school. DD1 is already in the senior school.
Tormead is definitely worth a look. You can get a flavour of what the girls get up to via the school's various Twitter feeds - see @TormeadSchool, @Tormead_Sport and @Tormead_Acad amongst others. The teachers' 4 X 100m relay race was a particular highlight of the recent Senior School Sports Day!
I love Tormead girls. They are down-to-earth and pleasantly, rather than showily, confident. They are also inclusive and have a diverse range of interests - all of which are equally valued by the school community (e.g. current UK and Ireland Junior Girls' School Chess Champions).
Tormead fosters a "give it a go" attitude in its girls without them feeling that they need to "ace" something from the off - which, I think, helps them develop resilience/ perseverance for the future. Girls are therefore involved in a diverse range of activities without the pressure to devote themselves to just one activity in order to excel (although this is, of course, an option should your daughter so choose!).
We have been very impressed by Mrs Foord’s (the current headmistress) changes to Tormead since 2010 when she took over the headship. I gather that there was much in need of tweaking at that point. There has been a significant changing of the guard amongst the staff with the recruitment of a raft of enthusiastic, dynamic teachers, both male and female, across all subjects. She has also presided over a major building project that has dragged the senior school buildings into the 21st century.
Sport was initially lower down Mrs Foord's list of priorities. However, in the last year, she has recruited a number of new PE staff including a highly respected local netball/ athletics coach and a Scottish national hockey player. Tormead's gymnastics provision is arguably one of the best in the country (current national U11 and U16 champions) and there's therefore been no need to tinker with that.
This investment is now bearing fruits. The junior school dominated the track events at the most recent District Athletics event (June) coming only 5 points behind St Catherine's, Bramley overall and beating Guildford High School into third place. Its girls also reached the National IAPs finals for the 4X100 relay event and 1500m (July). Guildford City has also just been announced as provider of its swim training. See www.gcsc.co.uk . There is therefore a strong feeling amongst current parents that Tormead's stock is on the up.
I also find Mrs Foord a pleasure to deal with. Whilst public speaking may not be her strongest suit, on a one-to-one basis, she is straight-talking and looks you in the eye. Some school principals can come across as more a combination of a politician and a blue-chip CEO. That is not what I am looking for in the person who is ultimately responsible for nurturing the best from my daughters. Have a look around.
My DDs both went through GHS senior school, one recently. Of course there are some girls who don't thrive there, no school can suit every child and some children will have issues that mean they struggle in a particular environment, but the current pastoral care there is absolutely excellent - the current pastoral head is superb. I wouldn't worry about the classrooms at all - the facilities are overall excellent, and I can't say either of my DDs ever noticed whether the classrooms are dark or not. I think my biggest criticism of the school would be that for those who are lacking talent but keen to participate in sport or music there will be limited opportunity to do so - it's very much a meritocracy. This was not a problem for my children, who hated sport and music anyway and were not bothered by this at all, but for some it can be. Otherwise, it's a very good school overall IMO that does exactly what it says on the tin. It copes very well with mavericks, with being flexible for those with unusual agendas, especially in the sixth form, and for accepting individuality. My younger DD was in a class that gelled particularly well and was not at all competitive - she has absolutely lovely friends. It's a real community with lots of stuff happening that is not about getting academic results - although it has that reputation and obviously does do that, there is a real emphasis on having fun as well. Personally I think the sixth form is a particular strength, with many more girls staying on for it than in some other local schools and some integration with RGS. As the sports pitches are so near, they do get outside a certain amount in the day, but obviously there are not the lavish grounds of some out of town schools. To my mind the advantage of being in a central town site and the life experience that brings more than made up for this, but YMMV.
I have a DD in the lower years of the senior school.
As far as space is concerned, if you haven't been to the school since the new musical hall was completed then I suggest you visit again. There is now actually quite a lot of outdoor space alongside the new buildings and extension, so that the whole site feels significantly less cramped. The money has clearly been spent on this rather than classroom upgrades to the main building, but the classrooms are all adequate.
My DD is very happy at GHS and doing well. The school actually works hard at trying not to put too much pressure on the girls. For the recent year end exams, they got as much guidance about what was too much revision as too little. In my view it's a great school for a bright girl who is keen to learn, the fact that it is socially acceptable to be clever and work hard is a big plus. Also, being bright is good enough, girls don't need to be exceptionally able to thrive.
I do agree with japanesegarden on the sport front, this is the one area where those not naturally good have few opportunities. For example, while the netball teams go down to about G, that still leaves around half the year group unable to play in a netball team. Drama and music are more inclusive. My understanding is that while there is an auditioned lower school choir there is also one for anyone who is keen.
Do PM me if you have any other specific questions.
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