Ipswich High School (Suffolk)

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Ipswich High School for Girls, England
Motto Live for today, learn for tomorrow.
Established 1878
Type Independent day school
Religion None
Headmistress Oona Carlin
Founder Sophie Youngman
Location Woolverstone
England Coordinates: 52°00′11″N 1°11′43″E / 52.00292°N 1.19532°E / 52.00292; 1.19532
Local authority Suffolk
DfE URN 124888
Gender Girls
Ages 3–18
Website www.ipswichhigh.gdst.net

Ipswich High School is a girls' independent school located at Woolverstone, near the town of Ipswich, England. It was founded in 1872 and is one of the earliest schools belonging to the Girls' Day School Trust.


Ipswich High School was opened in the Assembly Rooms in Northgate Street, Ipswich, on 30 April 1878 with 43 pupils. The first headmistress, Miss Sophie Youngman, held the position for 21 years and the school flourished and expanded under her leadership. She was succeeded by Miss Kennett and, in 1905, the Council of the Trust purchased a large private house and grounds in Westerfield Road, Ipswich. The move provided a more modern classroom standard, science laboratories and a playing field.

Following further growth, another house, Woodview House, was purchased in 1913. Owing to the continued expansion of the school and the demands of the modern curriculum, the decision was taken in 1992 to rehouse the school at Woolverstone Hall.

Woolverstone Hall is a Grade 1 listed building set in 80 acres (320,000 m2) of parkland on the banks of the River Orwell which had previously been home to Woolverstone Hall School for Boys during the 1950s.

Present day[edit]

Located in the village of Woolverstone, 4 miles (6.4 km) from Ipswich, the school serves a wide area of Suffolk and north Essex.

The school takes girls aged 3–18 years, providing both primary and secondary school education, as well as a nursery and sixth form, where girls can take the traditional A-Levels in subjects such as Latin, History and Mathematics. The school has some 600 pupils with 75 girls in each year, and excellent facilities including an AstroTurf playing field, indoor swimming pool, a large theatre and sports hall.

The school has extensive grounds and is thought to have the "best GDST site" and the best school grounds in Suffolk. There are extensive formal gardens due to the school owning Woolverstone Hall. The grounds include ha-has which separate the numerous levels of the formal gardens, a working fountain and woodland areas, which includes a pond. The school grounds extend to the River Orwell and the river can be seen from the classrooms.

There are separate buildings for the Senior Department and Junior Department, and many lessons are taken in Woolverstone Hall, including History and Music. Students also dine in the Orangery which is situated in the main building, along with the two libraries and the Sixth Form Centre, which takes up the whole second floor. In the Sixth Form department, the girls have a permanent desk (working space) along with large common rooms and a kitchen.

The headmistress Elaine Purves (appointed 2006) has implemented a new school motto: "Live for today, learn for tomorrow" created by Eleanor Clarke in place of the former "Before honour is humility." A new logo, combining elements of a flower, a sunburst and an owl's eye, represents growth, energy and wisdom, as well as links with the GDST. The colours were also changed to navy and pink. Since 2013, the newest head, Oona Carlin, changed the school colours back to their traditional set, which includes cherry red and dark grey.


The school offers numerous subjects before GCSE, which include five different languages; along with ICT, the humanities, the arts, and the sciences. English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics must be taken at GCSE. At GCSE, girls can study three of these subjects (excluding English Literature, English Language, Maths and triple science) and one language, picking either Latin, French, Spanish or German. At A-Level, girls can study four or five subjects with an 'enrichment course' (Astronomy, Cooking, Sports Leaders or Critical Thinking), with the option of taking an EPQ at A2. Girls can study English Lit, Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Fine Art, Economics, Music, Philosophy, Geography, History, Latin, French, German, Spanish, Classical Civilization and Business Studies.

Academically, the school has featured in the top 100 Independent Schools list for many years and 90% of the Sixth Form students go to Russel Group Universities (2011). The Sixth Form is known for being small and personal, with good teacher-student relationships and support for the students.

The school has always had a strong academic front. To receive entry into the school, the girls must take three exams similar to the 11+ and then must maintain their academic expectations throughout the school, especially at GCSE level. 71.6% of the girls get all A*s at GCSE (2012) and 55.5% of the girls got straight A*s at A Level (2012). Academic support is available for girls, and tutors work closely to monitor the girls achievements.

House System[edit]

A house system was implemented in recent ears, with each of the houses named after influential women, as chosen by the students. Each house has two House Captains from Year 11, and four Vice Captains from Year 10, as voted for by students in the house.

House Colours Inspiration
Garrett Anderson Green Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Hypatia Yellow Hypatia
Woolf Red Virginia Woolf
Nightingale Blue Florence Nightingale


At IHS, music is important within the school- girls are required to study Music until Year 9, where they can take Music GCSE and, if they wish, also study it at A Level. The school has numerous musical clubs which include; Chamber Choir, which is renowned in the area, Senior Choir, Jazz Band, Samba Band, Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Strings and Woolverstone Strings, an elite group of string players. The school organize large music concerts in the Hayworth Theatre, where all musical groups perform in front of an audience of 300+, and in the past had often held concerts at Snape Maltings.

The school has a theatre called The Hayworth Theatre which has a large stage, full performing facilities and built in bench-seating. The school uses the theatre often; Drama students use the theatre to put on numerous performances such as We Will Rock You, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Shakespeare's plays, and the theatre also holds general assemblies. IHS also has an artist in residence, Emma Eagle, who once was a pupil at the school. The Art Department has its own separate building which is adjacent to the stables and Junior School.

Along with art and music, the school has numerous other extra activities, including a debating team which succeeded in qualifying for the British Semi Finals 2014. The school also has sporting success: benefiting from outstanding facilities on our 84 acre site, sport is integral to daily life – a state of the art Astroturf, competition level swimming pool, dedicated sports hall, all – weather tennis courts and an athletics field, focal to the heart of the school are available. The girls have had success in recent years, such as winning the GDST Rally in 2014.


Junior School

In the junior school, the girls wear a cherry-red blazer with the school logo, along with a checked, long sleeved shirt and a grey pinafore. In Year 6, the girls may wear a pleated grey skirt. In the summer, the girls wear a below-the-knee length dress decorated with a geometric design; white socks and black shoes are worn.

Senior Years (7-8)

The uniform for girls from Year 7 through to Year 11 is a grey fitted blazer with dark grey piping around the collar (introduced in 2011), a cherry-red jumper with a red-and-white checked blouse worn with a knee-length grey skirt and black shoe. From Years 7-8, girls wear a 6-pleated grey skirt.

In the summer, white socks are allowed, but there is not a change in uniform. Sleeves may be rolled up.

Senior Years (9-11)

Years 9, 10 and 11 may wear a pencil skirt with a slit at the back, and years 10 and 11 may wear a white blouse with the schools logo on the collar. The rest of the uniform, including the blazer and jumper, remain the same throughout the years.

They may wear only studded earrings, a religious necklace and a watch. Sports uniform includes a navy blue skort with a white polo-shirt and pink/blue stripped hockey socks. There is an 'IHS' tracksuit available for girls during the winter.

Sixth Form

The Sixth Formers (girls aged 16–18) may wear neat and smart clothing, which include blazers, blouses, shirts, skirts, jumpers etc., and are not allowed to wear any form of denim, revealing tops, high shoes, maxi-dresses/skirts, tracksuits, t-shirts or hoodies.

Notable former pupils[edit]


External links[edit]