Manchester High School for Girls

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Manchester High School for Girls
MHSG front entrance.JPG
Motto Today's Students, Tomorrow's Successful Women
Established 1874
Type Independent day school
Headmistress Claire Hewitt
Location Grangethorpe Road
M14 6HS
Local authority Manchester
DfE number 352/6030
DfE URN 105592 Tables
Students c. 950
Gender Girls
Ages 4–18
Logo Ivy leaf

Manchester High School for Girls is an independent day school for girls and a member of the Girls School Association. It is situated in Fallowfield, Manchester, England. The school has more than 930 students on roll. The school is regarded as one of the United Kingdom's leading independent day schools based on A-level results.[citation needed]

The head teacher is Claire Hewitt who took up the position in January 2009 [1] and is the 10th head teacher in the school's history.


The school was founded in 1874 by nine men and women who were prominent citizens of Manchester: it was first established in Chorlton on Medlock. A new school was built in Dover Street in 1881. The building is now occupied by the University of Manchester School of Social Sciences).[2] The founding group included Prof A. S. Wilkins, Harriet and Robert Dukinfield Darbishire and Edward Donner (afterwards Sir Edward Donner, Bart.)[3] The first headmistress was Elizabeth Day. Day was replaced as head by Sara Annie Burstall in 1898.[4]

In September 1939 the school was evacuated to Cheadle Hulme and by 1940 a new school building was under construction at Fallowfield. The unfinished buildings at the Grangethorpe Road site were destroyed by bombing on 20 December 1940. In 1941 the school moved temporarily to Didsbury and by 1949 a new building at Grangethorpe Road began to be occupied. The move into the new school was complete by 1952. The Grangethorpe site was occupied by a large private house and gardens from 1882 to 1936. From 1917 to 1929 it was used as the 2nd Western General Hospital, a military hospital.

The school archive, under archivist Dr Christine Joy, is one of the most extensive in the country, attracting a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and contains material from the mid-19th century onwards.[5]

Preparatory department and Senior School[edit]

MHSG has a Preparatory Department for girls aged 4 to 11 and many progress into the Senior School. Prep pupils benefit from a close community which includes a purpose-built infant section, two assembly halls and a fully equipped playground and gardens. There are also specially designated areas for Mathematics and Science, a music room, library and two computer-suites providing multi-media facilities. In 2006, the school introduced the teaching of Mandarin to girls in Years 3 and 4.

MHSG's curriculum includes traditional disciplines such as Latin and use of ICT resources. Pupils are also tutored in areas such as Mathematics, Sciences and Art and Design Technology. MHSG is a multi-cultural school embracing many faiths. Assemblies are organised by Sixth Form students and include Christian, Hindu and Sikh, Humanist, Jewish, Muslim and Secular themes.

A purpose-built Music House has 12 practice rooms and several classrooms, including one with space for orchestra rehearsals. Tuition is provided by over 25 specialist instrumental teachers. A flood-lit, all-weather hockey pitch, tenniscourts, netball courts, rock climbing wall and swimming pool all provide facilities for all-year-around sports.

Organisation and curriculum[edit]

There are four forms in each year, M, H, S and G and students placed in these forms remain in that form until Sixth Form. MHSG's Sixth Form offers AS Level and A Level courses in around 25 subjects.

From September 2010, Manchester High School for Girls is offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma for study at Sixth Form. The two-year course will run independently alongside the usual A Level curriculum. Its introduction supports the school's strategic aim to ensure MHSG remains a centre of educational excellence, which stimulates and challenges bright, able girls. The IB Diploma will further develop the school's international activities and ensure a global dimension to learning. MHSG was awarded International Baccalaureate (IB) World School status in April 2010, and is the first girls' school in Greater Manchester to offer the globally recognised IB Diploma.[6]

The curriculum contains English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, History, French, Religious Studies, Music, Latin and Art (which deviates into Fine Art or Graphics in Y10). These subjects are taken in Y7, Y8 and Y9 when students choose which subjects to take for GCSE.

In the first month of the school year, 7 senior school students visit the YHA Lakeside Outdoor Activity Centre on the bank of Windermere. During this trip, students participate in activities such as archery, orienteering and team challenges to allow students to make new friends and meet teachers outside the school environment.

Notable former pupils and staff[edit]

  • Julia Bodmer, née Pilkington, Manchester High School pupil: 1945 - 1953, discovered the details of the Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) with genetic differences causing transplant rejection, and was married to Sir Walter Bodmer, who was the first Professor of Genetics at the University of Oxford, Chancellor of the University of Salford from 1995 to 2005 and Principal from 1996 to 2005 of Hertford College, Oxford
  • Catherine Chisholm (1879–1952), Manchester High School doctor: 1908 - 1944, GP and paediatrician: the first woman to graduate from Manchester University Medical School in 1904, founder of the Manchester Babies' Hospital [later the Duchess of York Hospital] in 1914, in 1950 became the first woman to be awarded an honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of Physicians.
  • Myrella Cohen, Manchester High School pupil: 1937 - 1940, was called to the bar in 1950, became Britain's third female judge in 1972, was appointed to the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey.
  • Eileen Derbyshire, Manchester High School pupil: 1943, actress, played Emily Bishop in the television soap, "Coronation Street"
  • Louise Ellman, Labour MP since 1997 for Liverpool Riverside
  • Judy Finnigan, journalist and television presenter
  • Clara Freeman OBE, the first woman to be appointed to the Board of Marks and Spencer[7]
  • Kathleen Gordon CBE, Director from 1948–68 of the Royal Academy of Dancing
  • Kathleen Hale, Manchester High School pupil: 1913 - 1917, artist and children's author, best remembered for the Orlando the Marmalade Cat series, was awarded the OBE for services to literature in 1976.
  • Sally Hamwee, Baroness Hamwee, President from 1995 to 2002 of the Town and Country Planning Association, and former Chairman of the London Assembly until 2008
  • Mollie Hardwick, née Greenhalgh, Manchester High School pupil: 1930 - 1934, was one of the first women announcers on BBC radio in the 1940s, writer and scriptwriter of TV series, e.g. "Upstairs and Downstairs" and "The Duchess of Duke Street," with her husband she set up a theatre company, the Hardwick Players.
  • Vivienne Harris, née Hytner, Manchester High School pupil: 1933 - 1938, founder of the Jewish Telegraph, Manchester Evening News Female Executive of the Year, awarded the MBE for services to the community and to journalism.
  • Lucy Higginson, editor since 2002 of Horse & Hound
  • Libby Lane, first female Church of England bishop
  • Sunny Lowry, Manchester High School pupil: 1923 - 1927, in 1933 was one of the first British women to swim the English Channel, President of the Channel Swimmers' Association.
  • Merlyn Lowther, the first woman Chief Cashier of the Bank of England from 1999 to 2004
  • Joyce Moseley OBE, Chief Executive since 1999 of Catch22 (charity)
  • Adela Pankhurst, Manchester High School pupil: 1893 - 1902, campaigner in the Australian suffragette movemment
  • Christabel Pankhurst, Manchester High School pupil: 1893 - 1897, first woman to be awarded an LLB degree by Manchester University, founder member of the Women's Social and Political Union and leading campaigner in the British suffragette movement.
  • Sylvia Pankhurst, Manchester High School pupil: 1893 - 1898, leading campaigner in the British suffragette movement
  • Sue Turner, Controller of Children's Programmes 1972–78 at Thames Television
  • Clare Venables, theatre director
  • Professor Julia Yeomans, Professor of Physics at Oxford University
  • Dr Seher Ahmad GP, NHS Leadership Fellow & Chair, RCGP AiT Committee 2013/14, awarded the 2014 British Muslim Awards Dr. Abbas Khan Memorial Award for Services of Medicine


  1. ^ "London Society events". Manchester High School for Girls. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-07-29. 
  2. ^ "Manchester High School for Girls". Ardwick Heritage Trail. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  3. ^ 100 Years of Manchester High School for Girls, 1874–1974. Manchester: Manchester High School for Girls (compiled by K. L. Hilton)
  4. ^ Sara Annie Burstall, Oxford Dictionary of Biography, Retrieved 30 January 2016
  5. ^ "Manchester High School Girls Archive". Manchester High School. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  6. ^ "Manchester High School for Girls". IB World Schools. IB. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Andrew Davidson; Clara Freeman (interviewee). "It's challenge in spades for Marks & Spencer's first female executive director as she attempts to dig retail stores out of trouble". Management Today. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  • 100 Years of Manchester High School for Girls, 1874–1974. Manchester: Manchester High School for Girls (Contributions by 16 women associated with the school, compiled by K. L. Hilton)
  • Burstall, Sara Annie (1911). The story of the Manchester High School for Girls, 1871-1911, Volume 6. Manchester University Press. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°26′49″N 2°13′16″W / 53.447°N 2.221°W / 53.447; -2.221