Withington Girls' School

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Withington Girls' School
Withington Girls School-geograph-1684409.jpg
Wellington Road

M14 6BL

TypeIndependent day school
MottoAd lucem
(Latin: "Towards the light")
Local authorityManchester
HeadmistressMrs S J Haslam
Age7 to 18
Enrolment660~ (2016)

Withington Girls' School is an independent day school in Fallowfield, Manchester, United Kingdom, providing education for girls between the ages of seven and eighteen. Withington is a member of the Girls' Schools Association.

The school was founded in 1890 by a number of eminent Mancunians.


Withington Girls' School was founded in 1890 by a group of eminent Manchester families who wanted the same educational opportunities for their daughters as were already available for their sons. Among the founders were the mother of C. A. Lejeune, C. P. Scott, Henry and Emily Simon, Miss Caroline Herford and Sir Adolphus Ward. There were four pupils in the beginning.[1]

The founders stipulated that: the School should remain small, to allow for the individual development of each girl; all girls should be taught the Natural Sciences, as it constitutes excellent intellectual training; there should be more physical exercise and practical work than usual in girls’ schools; no prizes should be awarded, as the pleasure of academic work should be its own reward.

Present day[edit]

Over the years, the School has remained true in essence to the founders' principles[neutrality is disputed].

Pupils receive an outstanding education in accordance with the school's aims to help girls achieve an excellent standard of academic achievement, and to foster intellectual curiosity, a love of learning, independence of mind and individual responsibility.

— Independent Schools Inspectorate (2013)[2]

Withington currently has 130 girls in the junior school and 540 in the senior school.

The school suffered a serious arson attack in August 2003, but took this as an opportunity to build new science labs, and has since built a new sixth form common room and additional classrooms.[3] In 2015 (the School's 125th year), a new junior building and community hub, encircling the existing theatre-in-the-round arts centre, was added. The new development also enabled the major upgrade of the chemistry laboratories to university specification standard.

Founders' Day[edit]

The aim of Founders' Day is to commemorate the efforts of the school's founders, including Charles Prestwich Scott, Louisa Lejeune, Henry and Emily Simon and Caroline Herford, after whom the houses are named. It is celebrated annually at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester in the autumn term, usually in October, when all members of the upper sixth receive a book to recognise their contribution while at the school.

All parents and governors of the school are invited to enjoy music from the choir and the orchestra, the headmistress's and head girl's speeches, as well as a speech from a special guest, usually an inspirational or leading woman[neutrality is disputed].

School song[edit]

Gaudeamus is the school song and is sung each year at founders' day, accompanied by the orchestra. However, the school only sings three of the seven verses[citation needed]:


On joining the school, girls are assigned to one of the four houses, each named after a founder: Herford after Caroline Herford (green), Lejeune after Louisa Lejeune (red), Scott after Charles Prestwich Scott (blue), or Simon after Henry & Emily Simon (yellow)[citation needed].

Inter-house competitions[edit]

There are many inter-house competitions, including

  • house carols
  • house plays
  • inter-house rounders, netball, hockey and lacrosse
  • bienniel English speaking competition
  • Annual Sports Day (athletics)
  • Annual Swimming Gala (only open to year 7 pupils)

Academic curriculum[edit]

The following subjects are available for all third form (first year/year seven) pupils:

As the girls move up the school, other subjects are available, including:

Extra-curricular activities[edit]


For all years, singing in a choir is available, and for instrument players of any standard there is an orchestra (Middle School Orchestra for beginners and Senior Orchestra for those of Grade 5 or above). There is also jazz band, wind band and the Thursday Singers. There are many concerts throughout the school year, including the Christmas Concert, the Rotarians' Christmas party and the Summer Concert, as well as Founders Day, and many others. All girls are given the offer to have instrument lessons inside school.


Withington has always encouraged its pupils to stay active. In the winter, girls have lessons in:

  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Netball
  • Badminton
  • Trampolining
  • Gymnastics
  • Volleyball
  • Football

In the summer, girls have lessons in:

  • Tennis
  • Athletics
  • Rounders
  • Swimming (third form only).
  • Occasionally quick cricket

Withington houses many county and national players, and a trampolinist – Sasha Carter – who has represented her country at international trampolining competitions.[4]


All girls, of any age, can study drama. GCSE drama is available for girls in Lower Fifth to Upper Fifth, and AS and A2 Level has been a long-running success. As part of the GCSE and A-Level specification requires, all students put on a play. They occasionally collaborate with the local boys' school Manchester Grammar School[citation needed].

A whole-school musical is staged every two years; most recently[when?], 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' and 'The Sound of Music'.

Other activities[edit]

All girls from Lower Fifth upwards are given the option to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh award, and Withington has seen many girls go onto Gold level[citation needed].

Withington also has a very successful Model United Nations scheme, known as WiMUN – Withington MUN, and in 2014 were the overall winners at Edinburgh's prestigious George Watson's College conference, with all twelve WGS delegates winning individual awards and the top accolade of Best Delegation overall. They have also performed to an extremely high standard at other conferences[according to whom?], including Stockport Grammar School, Royal Russel School International Model United Nations, and Bath. In the 2016-2017 academic year, WGS had its most successful year in MUN, winning Outstanding Delegation awards in every conference they attended.

In 2013 the Withington Debating Team became the Debating Matters UK National Champions and subsequently represented the UK in the follow-on international competition, winning the International Debating Trophy. There have also been a number of successful Mock Trial competitions that Withington Girls’ school have won.

Sixth formers are also given the option to take part in the Young Enterprise scheme, under which they start a company, and attempt to make a profit through selling products. This has been very successful, with many companies winning prizes at both regional and national levels.

Girls are also given the opportunity to participate in charity societies, including St. Ann's Hospice Young Volunteer Scheme, and Amnesty International. Many girls choose to go on international trips for charity work, most notably the annual Gambia and Uganda trips[citation needed].

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ Newsletter 1936–1937. Withington Girls' School. 5 February 1937.
  2. ^ Independent Schools Inspectorate – Report on Withington Girls' School 2013
  3. ^ Haile, Deborah (28 August 2003). "Schools count the cost of arson". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media.
  4. ^ https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/trampoline-trio-picked-for-world-championships-930103
  5. ^ https://www.ft.com/content/9e8ff20e-ad1c-11dd-971e-000077b07658

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°26′20″N 2°13′34″W / 53.439°N 2.226°W / 53.439; -2.226