Altrincham Grammar School for Girls
|Motto||Fortiter, Fideliter, Feliciter
Bravely, Faithfully and Cheerfully
|Chair||Chair of Governors|
|DfE URN||137289 Tables|
|Ofsted||Reports Pre-academy reports|
|Also called||Altrincham Girls Grammar School
Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (sometimes referred to as "Alty girls" or AGGS for short) is an all-girls grammar school with academy status situated on Cavendish Road in Bowdon, in Greater Manchester, England. Serving about 1,250 students age 11 to 18, it is the biggest single-sex grammar school in England.
Altrincham Grammar School for Girls was founded in 1910. AGGS was found to be "an extremely effective school that sets very high standards and achieves these through high quality teaching and excellent management and leadership".
AGGS was a product, alongside many other schools, of the 1902 Education Act which set out to build new schools especially motivated towards the provision of enhanced education for girls. It was not originally planned as a girl's school but as a dual school with boys. However it was finally agreed that the lot (the area was an originally inhabited by a substantial derelict house with spacious grounds called Bowdon Lodge) was not big enough for both the boys and girls school and the Bowdon lodge site was reserved for a girl's school and the provision for the boys was sought elsewhere.
The building was designed to accommodate one hundred and eighty children, thirty of whom were at nursery age and the school was opened on Monday, 4 July 1910.
In September 1910, the school was eventually populated by sixty pupils. Three full-time and five part-time staff were employed which is a distinct contrast with today's 80 plus teachers. The original plan for the school was to cover an age-range from five to eighteen years but in 1931, the school's 21st anniversary, it lost most of its preparatory department.
The headmistress for the first twenty-three years of AGGS was Miss Mary Howes Smith whose portrait can still be seen to this day, hanging on the wall of the main hall.
The school motto, which can still be seen on an illuminated light-oak board in the main hall, originates from this era also. The motto – Fortiter, Fideliter, Feliciter – translates as Bravely, Faithfully and Cheerfully (the aptly coined term for the opposite of the feelings of the majority of girls.
In 1933 the school saw the retirement of its first headmistress. In 2010 the school celebrated its centenary year, in commemoration a special centenary garden was built.
Most recently, the school saw changes in its management. In 2011, the headmistress from 1997 onward, Dame Dana Ross-Wawrzynski set up the 'Bright Futures Educational Trust'. This is a partnership which initially began between Altrincham Girls Grammar School and Cedar Mount High School, which is located in Gorton, Manchester. The trust aims for the highly successful school which is AGGS to help nearby failing schools increase performance. The best teachers were sent on a temporary post to help teachers at Cedar Mount to improve their teaching techniques. This evolved into the Bright Futures Trust which is a group of disadvantaged primary and secondary schools around East Manchester, headed by Dana Ross-Wawrzynski. This became such a huge job for her that she decided to hand over the management of Altrincham Grammar school for Girls to her Deputy, Mrs Mary Speakman, at the start of the school year beginning 2012. She has since retired and the new head, Mrs Stephanie Gill, took over her role at the start of the school year beginning 2014.
The school has undergone much building work. In 1983, Fairlie, was built on the opposite side of Cavendish Road. The school has seen developments to the Main school building as well, early on, the science block at the East Wing was built, and has since been yet again partially developed with the addition of a new reception area and Dining room, plus a new science staffroom, and four state-of-the-art science labs. The West wing was built, with the addition of a new library added in 2003. It features a floating first floor with a stainless steel staircase in the middle. The most recent addition to AGGS is 'Breeze Hill', which replaced the older, smaller Breeze Hill which stood in its place. It now features three Geography and History rooms and a state of the art ICT suite. Breeze Hill features a Training Room, where courses and conferences for teachers from around the North-West are held.
Management at AGGS have been accused of failing to adequately protect students after a Feminist society started by students fell victim to a campaign of threats and abuse. The controversy arose when the society engaged with a national campaign called Who Needs Feminism which involved young feminists taking pictures of themselves holding placards with phrases or ideas linked to their own feminist beliefs and publishing them online. Although initially supportive of the society, management at the school demanded that the photos be removed following what one student described as a "torrent of degrading and explicitly sexual comments".
One of the students, Jinan Younis, published an op-ed in the Guardian newspaper in response, accusing the school of failing to take action against the perpetrators and rendering the targeted students isolated and without support. The school's statement in response arguably failed to address the specific actions and issues raised by Younis and contradicted the version of events in the op-ed by claiming that they only "recommend[ed]" that the pictures be removed, as opposed to the students who claimed that they "insisted that we [the students] remove the pictures".
AGGS statement to the Guardian: "We are committed to protecting the safety and welfare of our students, which extends to their safety online. We consider very carefully any societies that the school gives its name and support to. As such, we will take steps to recommend students remove words or images that they place online that could compromise their safety or that of other students at the school."
The school did not provide any evidence or further explanation of their remarkable claim that participating in Who Needs Feminism (http://whoneedsfeminism.com/about.html), a public-relations campaign to tackle popular misconceptions about Feminism, could "compromise the safety of students at the school".
AGGS is currently one of the highest achieving schools in England (this being helped by the fact that it is a selective school which requires girls to sit and pass an entrance exam - the 11+ - to gain a place at the school) and has gained status as a language college (although ironically unenthusing girls in the modern languages). Most recently it has had excellent results in national GCSE exams with all girls achieving an A*-C grade (a 100% pass rate) and with 80% of these girls achieving at least a B. In 2008, At A2-Level, over 80% of girls achieved all B's or A's- a high result nationally.
- Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (PDF), Ofsted, 2005, retrieved 15 June 2008
- Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (PDF), Ofsted, 2000, retrieved 10 September 2008
- , Guardian Newspaper, Why I started a feminist society
- , Altrincham student goes national with her gender equality campaign .
- , The young women passionate about modern feminism .
- Altrincham Grammar School for Girls website
- "A-Levels: Best-performing grammar schools", The Independent, 17 August 2007.
- "Why I Started a Feminist Society", The Guardian, 20 June 2013.