Leicester High School for Girls
A relatively small, nurturing girls' school in the city centre producing excellent results and offers fantastic pastoral care. What's not to love?
Leicester High School for Girls (LHS) is an independent, day school for girls aged from 3-18 years. Tucked away off Leicester’s busy London Road, the school opens up to a peaceful and neat cluster of buildings. Built around 1826 and used as a hunting lodge for the Duke of Portland, the school has been running since 1906 and was originally known as Portland House. In 1985 it changed its name to Leicester High School for Girls.
It’s a relatively small school (3 acres) with 350 girls in total – 100 in Juniors (Reception and EYFS) and 250 in Seniors (10 years up to Sixth Form) but what it lacks in size it makes up for in performance; Leicester High School is one of the academically highest achieving schools in the country. There is also a strong emphasis on pastoral care – combine this with the homely setting and the school just feels like a big family.
A Christian ethos is at the heart of this small school but pupils from all faiths are welcome and we noticed this during our visit – the school reflects Leicester’s cultural diversity brilliantly. Kids come to the school mainly from the local area and because of the location its great for those living in Kibworth, Market Harborough and Northamptonshire.
The brand new shiny (it really is) Davé Family Music Centre opened up this term. It was partially funded by two former students which once again, emphasises the sense of community and family spirit you get from the school.
Head of music, Mr Haynes has been teaching here for four years and gave us the grand tour and was beaming from ear to ear the entire time. The centre has an impressive organ, industry standard equipment including fancy midi keyboards fully loaded with Logic Pro X software, a nifty but expensive sound system, drum sets, electric guitars and not one, but three Yamaha U Series pianos enough to make any young budding musician weak at the knees.
Sports-wise the school has netball and tennis courts and the girls also play rugby and football indoors. Other sports are done down the road in The Roger Bettles Sports Centre and the juniors go swimming over at the Parklands Leisure Centre so they manage to cover all bases.
The Art department is popular and is fully tech’d up with the latest laser cutter, macs and digital design packages. When we visited there were some impressive paintings inspired by Gifford’s Circus and the girls also benefit from a kiln, dark room and excellent print facilities. Art is taught in Years 6-9 but is also available as an option at GCSE and A Level, alongside Photography at A Level.
The Sixth Form spaces have their own form rooms with plenty of kitchen space as well as tea and coffee facilities.
The emphasis at LHS is very much on the academic side and it shows in their results plus, Science and Maths are the most popular subjects taken at A’Level and most girls aspire to work in the medical profession. This year 70% of the GCSE grades in 2019 were at 7-9 (A* to A) and 43% of A Level grades were at A* to A.
Wanting to nurture the girls further, in 2010 a building dedicated to Science and Humanities was opened and it’s been put to good use with six science rooms – two for chemistry, two for biology and two for physics.
There is an admissions process for all girls before they enter the school and class sizes rarely go over 22 – if they do, they are split into two smaller groups.
The Junior Department is in another building separated only a gravel pathway. It’s where you’ll find the Foundation class (preschool) and Reception class (EYFS). The building has its own hall, library, IT suite, garden, playground and an onsite ‘spinney’ which also works as an outdoor classroom area – it’s tucked away around the back giving the appearance of a secret garden and quite magical for the little ones.
The Junior Department now follow the Cornerstones Curriculum which provides learning challenges throughout the academic year requiring children to solve problems and express their knowledge and understanding effectively.
There’s a strong sense of giving back to the local community. The Senior girls sing with the Leicester Philharmonic Choir at De Montfort Hall once a year and the school choirs entertain residential homes and hold a carol service at St James’ Church.
Sixth Formers assist with the ‘masterclasses’ for girls from local primary schools. These free Saturday morning masterclasses are suited for Years 4 and 5 pupils who want to explore their potential. The classes are primarily fun, but help to develop confidence and prepare the girls for their move to secondary school. GCSE masterclasses are next on the agenda.
The Senior girls put together a big show once a year which pulls together all of the Expressive Arts – Drama, Art and Music. Previous productions include Oliver! and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Girls also take part in the annual Shakespeare Festival as well as the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
The flagship Computer Science suite has had a huge makeover during the summer holidays. A clean, bright and professional environment has been created with cutting edge levels of technology. The machines have been upgraded in preparation for the E-Sports and Game Design club. Each machine now also has high resolution monitors and the room also boasts a full set of inventor kit level microbits, used in the lower years along with 3D printers.
I was really impressed with Alan Whelpdale as soon as I met him. The first male Head in the history of the school, he was warm, friendly and very approachable. He’s been at LHS for seven years and moved here from Durham High School for Girls where he was Deputy Head and also taught History – a subject he is still passionate about.
He talks of “making memories” at school something he strives to do by encouraging them to be the best they can be by fulfilling their potential. I especially liked the comment he made that there are no glass ceilings for the girls and believes that the positive impact of education will last a lifetime.
Girls are allocated to one of three Houses which are named after local landmarks: Beaumanor, Bradgate or Charnwood and each House supports a charity. This year they are supporting Global Action Plan, The Malala Fund and The Leicester Y.
The Headmaster has invited a variety of well-known personalities to the school to inspire the girls. Everyone from Glenda Jackson (who directed the girls in a scene from Macbeth) to Dame Janet Suzman, Sarah Hunter (Captain of the women’s English rugby team who also taught PE during her visit) right down to the President of Malta (female by the way).
Year 12 and 13 mix during form time. This way, the Sixth Formers are able to help and support them with things like their UCAS application.
The school offers more than 20 A Levels including art, Spanish and even Photography so there’s plenty to choose from.
WRAP AROUND CARE
The school day starts at 8.15am and finishes at 3.15pm. Juniors can attend Before School Care from 7.30am to 8.00am and After School Care from 3.15pm-6.00pm and girls in Years 1 to 5 can also attend after schools clubs and take part in activities including art and craft, games, or cooking for a small cost. Holiday clubs are also offered.
Seniors and Sixth Formers are able to come onto site from 7.30am and study in their form rooms. After School, for the Senior girls include anything from taekwondo to trampolining or they can sign into Late Supervision which goes on until 6pm.
Foundation, Reception, Junior Year 1 and 2 £3100 per term. Junior Years 3, 4, and 5 £3465 per term and Senior Years 6-13 £4190. The school fees cover all of the costs of providing the day to day education and include lunch for the Juniors.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Those who know Leicester High School say that the girls grow in confidence. They work hard and appreciate the sense of family they get here. The school encourages ambition and excellence, and turns out happy and well-rounded girls into young ladies.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Parents that want a supportive, friendly school with a caring family feel that does well on the academics. Handy location if you’re travelling into the city from Market Harborough and Northamptonshire.
Not for: If you’re after a big school or want lots of green/outdoorsy space for your girls, this may not be the one for you.
Don’t take my word for it: Go see for yourself: there’s an Open Morning on Sat 5 Oct.
454 London Road, Leicester, LE2 2PP. Tel: 0116 270 5338. Leicester High School for Girls