One thing that girls’ schools can really excel in is understanding girls – what makes them tick, how they study best, what motivates them and more importantly, the huge challenges which they face in the modern world. Headmistress of Francis Holland, Mrs Lucy Elphinstone, is very aware of the issues surrounding girls in the 21st century: she makes sure that all girls learn computer programming and emphasises the need for all girls to be adaptable and able to reinvent themselves.
Whilst not traditionally seen as an academic school, Francis Holland’s results are very good. Modern languages are well-taught, as are Latin and History. Science subjects are less popular amongst the girls. Every pupil is encouraged to take 5 AS Levels and to take 4 of these to A Level. Almost all the leavers go to university, and the career advice is excellent. The number of girls going to university in the US is increasing, Many also take arts courses at St Martins, the London College of Fashion or the Royal Ballet School.
Drama, dance and music are taken very seriously here. Drama teachers try to get all girls involved. The ballet teacher, Valerie Hitchen is an institution. She is well-loved and has established great links with the Royal Ballet School. There are lots of choirs and most girls learn at least one instrument. There is central school courtyard where some of the PE takes place, but mostly girls go to local parks for riding and other sports.
Pastorally, the school is excellent. The girls are happy here and it shows. We hear very few complaints from girls who attend the school. The staff engage well with parents and they are encouraged to come to the school with any concerns they may have. The staff care about all the girls and encourage individual talents and aspirations. A very happy place indeed.