Withington Girls' School
Manchester, United Kingdom
About Withington Girls' School
Withington Girls’ School was founded in 1890 by a small group of eminent and far-sighted Manchester families who wanted the same educational opportunities to be available for their daughters as were already available to their sons. In keeping with the Founders’ wishes, the School has remained relatively small, with approximately 725 pupils; 155 in the Junior School (Years 3 – 6), 405 in the Senior School (Years 7 – 11) and 165 in the Sixth Form. The Head of Withington Girls’ School is a member of both the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC).
The School’s A Level and GCSE results are outstanding, with Withington ranked consistently in national league tables as the top independent school in the North West of England. The Sunday Times’ prestigious schools guide, Parent Power, named Withington the North West Independent Secondary School in 2019, and North West Independent Secondary School of the Decade in 2020
Girls who gain a place as a result of the entrance examination normally take GCSE/IGCSE examinations in 9/10 subjects, followed by 3 or 4 A Levels. An exciting and varied Enrichment programme offers Sixth Formers core elements such as PSHCE, financial literacy and professional skills plus a range of choices from computer coding and languages, to mosaics, mindfulness and cooking and preparing healthy meals. In addition to the Enrichment Programme, which all Sixth Formers follow, many also complete an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Studies are directed towards encouraging a love of learning for its own sake, frequently going beyond the confines of the examined curriculum, as well as towards the ultimate goal of University entrance, including Oxford and Cambridge.
Academic excellence is secured alongside an extensive range of extra-curricular opportunities, including Music, Drama, Sport, Mathematics, Linguistics and Science Olympiads, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Young Enterprise Scheme, Model United Nations, Debating and Robotics Clubs, to name but a few. Sixth Formers work as voluntary assistants in local primary schools, a centre for severely disabled children, residential homes, hospices and hospitals. All girls, throughout the School, engage in charity fundraising, collectively raising over £30,000 each year. There are special links with Barnardo’s, two schools and a hospital in Kenya and a school in Uganda. Groups of Upper Sixth Formers engage in voluntary projects in The Gambia and Uganda each year and pupils take part annually in World Challenge, or similar, expeditions. Academic departments offer subject-related trips and activities in addition to cultural trips at home and overseas.
Preparation for life after school starts early and involves a programme of careers advice, work experience and UCAS application guidance. Older girls work with younger girls in numerous ways, through the House system, extra-curricular activities, peer support and mentoring.
Pupils come from a wide geographical area around Greater Manchester and Cheshire, and from many different social, cultural and religious backgrounds, creating a diversity in which the School rejoices. The School is non-denominational and girls of all faiths, or none, are equally welcome. Through the Withington Girls’ School Trust, up to 100 means-tested bursaries are offered each year according to need. The Governing Body is strategically focused and highly supportive of all areas of the School.
The School enjoys excellent facilities and has an ongoing programme of major developments. Recent projects have included a purpose-built Junior School building, a central, enclosed ‘Hub’ area at the heart of the school and an expanded and refurbished suite of university-standard Chemistry laboratories, all of which were completed in 2015. During 2018 a significant new sports facilities development was completed, reflecting the school’s ongoing commitment to the promotion of physical activity for girls, one of the school’s founding principles. In 2019 the outdoor netball courts and all-weather pitch were resurfaced to a high specification, bringing Withington’s sports facilities to an excellent standard across all areas. Outdoor fitness equipment – also installed in 2019 - has provided an innovative facility that will benefit fitness, wellbeing and social interaction for senior pupils.
The Development Office has strong links with alumnae as well as former and current parents and staff and has been successful in raising substantial amounts for the Bursary Appeal, for the new Chemistry laboratories and for an Annual Fund which enables enrichment activities for current pupils. Withington Onwards (the past pupils’ association) and the Parent Teacher Association are active in, and committed to, supporting the School socially and financially. There are also close links with the local community including, for example, a range of Saturday morning lessons run by the School for gifted and talented boys and girls from local primary schools under the SHiNE Together programme and an annual event involving a number of primary schools across Greater Manchester known as Manchester Sings.
The excellent quality of teaching and pastoral care is a major factor in the exceptional level of achievement secured by pupils, both within and outside the classroom. Staff are eager to share their passion and enthusiasm for their subjects and give willingly of their time to assist individual pupils outside lesson times; the relationship between pupils and staff is a particular strength of the School. The School has little need for formal rules and runs on ‘the 3 Rs’ of Respect for self, Respect for others, and Responsibility for personal actions and its pupils thrive within the warm, friendly and supportive environment. At home or abroad, Withington girls attract positive comments, and we are just as proud of them as they are of their School.
I like the relaxed feel of the school." "I think the school is a very good place and I love the happy ethos it has." "I really enjoy coming to school here and I feel at home." "I love this school" "My daughter has thrived here" thank you! "I am truly proud that my children attend the school." "Pastoral care is superb! The girls are individual, free thinkers, not pushed and prodded to fit a mould as they are in other schools." "Withington is a wonderfully warm and friendly school, where girls are encouraged to aim high and achieve their best." "My daughter is extremely happy at Withington." "Fantastic school, with a key strength being the culture and feel of the place, and the consequent fostering of respect and responsibility in the girls." "Our daughter has had a fantastic É year at WGS. If only I had been able to attend a school like it!- Quotes
When Withington was named the Sunday Times Parent Power Independent Secondary School of the Year 2009-10, the guide's editor, Alastair McCall, said: The award is thoroughly deserved....what sets it apart is inspiring leadership, the outstanding quality of the teaching and sheer breadth of opportunity available to girls both inside the classroom and out. Exam success is almost incidental at this school, a by-product of everything else it does which is of course how it should be. The result is happy and engaged girls with a sense of purpose and a belief that they can succeed in whatever they go on to do in life.- Quote 1