What is the best all-girls school in the country?
‘Millie can I borrow a tampon?’
All-girls schools are emotional places where everyone gets their period at the same time and stays frigid just that little bit longer.
The rival girls school was always shrouded in mystery: did they really ban electric toothbrushes over there? Why did everyone call them the “whores on the hill?”
We asked the ex-pupils of the prestigious private schools and elite grammars why they had it better than everyone else.
“Tuesdays (Tits out Tuesdays) were a highlight of every Guildford High School girls’ week when Royal Grammar School sixth form boys infiltrated the corridors for just one hour of general studies. With everyone’s favourite options Cryptic Crosswords and Tai Chi on offer it was the perfect setting for romance to blossom.
“Winning Independent School of the Year 2012 was probably mostly down to the headmistress’ inevitable termly inspirational video montage set to Heather Small’s ‘What have you done today to make you feel proud?’.
“More important than A-level results were the National Schools Lacrosse Championships, with the promise of an assembly fit for champions if the first team bought the trophy back home. These were always humbling moments: the whole school watched as the headmistress dramatically popped the cork of a bottle of champagne while ‘We are the Champions’ played unsubtly in the background’ – notice a pattern?”
– Written by Leeds first years Jess Sweet and Char Furniss
“Standing on top of a hill, Downe House resembles a cross between a prison and a nunnery. Maybe because it is.
“The girls themselves were far from nuns, however. No wonder Kate Middleton decided to leave this character building psychological war zone after only a few months – this hotbed of oestrogen was always going to be a recipe for disaster.
“The colour scheme of Years 7-11 uniform makes the girls look much like mobile Christmas trees. Sixth formers meanwhile would either wear a suit or a collared shirt with a floor length black skirt, reminiscent of a nun’s attire. With uniform patrol on every corner, any expression of individuality would quickly be oppressed.. That includes nail polish and hairstyles. You must all look the same.
– Written by a UCL student
Cheltenham Ladies’ College
“Although CLC students have often been stigmatised as posh twats and tweed wearing divas, becoming the butt of many jokes (thanks, St. Trinians), when you can afford to fly to St. Tropez on Daddy’s private jet for lunch and still be back in time for supper in the country house, why wouldn’t you post it on social media?
“We may not have the most impressive alumnae, or have educated the entire cast of Made in Chelsea like Downe House, but I know you all buy those cute-but-overpriced workout clothes at Sweaty Betty. And who do you have to thank for them? Us. (Well, technically Tamara Hill-Norton, but still).
“Cheltenham Ladies’ College (note the apostrophe, please), has been cited as one of the country’s most “prestigious independent schools”, and provides the girls with a chance to mingle with London’s socially elite through regular socials with the likes of Eton and Radley – although these interactions were conducted from a safe distance of 30cm away, obviously.
– Written by Leeds first year Caroline Griffin
St Paul’s is so prestigious it divided opinion like any other school. Here are two very different responses from ex-pupils.
“These hags are the most stuck up you’ll ever meet. They’ll stake your wittle human heart out and add it to the growing pile of others on a Brook Green. They are also magical because they piss glitter but make no mistake they are not unicorns- they are camels. The humps say it all.
– Written by an Edinburgh student
“St Paul’s Girls School. The holy grail of adolescent academia, the crème de la crème of London private single sex education, the darlings of Hammersmith. The reason you probably don’t know a Paulina at Bristol is because the majority are at Oxbridge, Ivies, or on a gap year, rearing for that second shot at Cambridge.
– Written by a Bristol first year
St George’s Ascot
“I know what you’re thinking, what makes St George’s different to Heathfield, St Mary’s or Downe House? The answer is simple: the food. I don’t think they ever serve sushi or mussels in a white wine sauce for lunch in any of those places. We were having kale and quinoa way before Gwyneth Paltrow made it cool.
“Described by some as ‘the female version of Eton’ (no offence Cheltenham Ladies’ College), St George’s Ascot is the greatest school in the country. Don’t listen to me though, listen to the Tatler Good School Guide who lavish us with awards.
“Heathfield had Sienna Miller? That’s nice. Downe House had the Duchess of Cambridge? Adorable. We had Winston freaking Churchill. How many wars has Sienna Miller won?
“Despite being an all-girls school our most famous alum is, in fact, a male. Historically St George’s used to be an all-boys school and we had a pre-Harrow Winston Churchill. So basically if it wasn’t for some kick ass Georgian education we’d all be speaking German now. No need to thank us.
– Written by Bristol second year Celina Brar
Lady Eleanor Holles
“If you survive LEH you’ll be prepared for any cutthroat bitchiness and scheming in later life. We sign in with finger prints, have carpets on the walls and have a Costa Coffee in our sixth form common room – what else do you need?
“LEH girls know how to roll their skirts without kinks for the Hampton School boys next door (occasional meetings at the fence), but also don’t have a problem with wearing no makeup to school and practically wearing pyjamas in the sixth form because the only boys that are inside the walls are the male teachers.
– Written by Bath second year
Queen Elizabeth Girls’ School
“We were commonly known by rival schools as “Hoes on the Hill” or “Slags on the slope” due its notorious position on Barnet High Street.
“From PE teachers that didn’t wear bras when teaching trampolining to English teachers that couldn’t control the class when flashmobs broke out in a lesson – there was a lot of ammo for students to play with. We had the most sass in North London.
“Despite its rep, the girls at QE looked out for one another, whether covering for your mate who’s having a cig down the grounds or backing that girl that skipped swimming for 6th week in a row because it’s her time of the month again. QE girls always had each others back.”
– Written by Liverpool graduate Lizzie Thomson
North London Collegiate
“NLCS was the first school in the country offering female education, and has earned itself a feminist reputation. Or rather, a ‘Never Leave Completely Straight’ stance.
“North London Collegiate School is definitely the best out of the lot, hands down. You only need to look at the uniform to be convinced. This aesthetic melange of muddy cowpat brown with a hint of sky-blue is a very pleasing sight on the eye.
“Yet, every North London Collegiate girl will be aware of her own inner Beyoncé or female boss and will undoubtably run the world in the future. Watch this space.”
– Written by a Bristol second year Amalia Morris
“Benenden girls pride themselves on the Benenden bulge, which they gracefully obtain at the age of 11 and manage to maintain until they’re 18. It’s the abundance of free cookies, which is every girl’s dream as well as the occasional hot dogs that never go amiss.
“Break-time occurs twice a day and usually involves girls fighting over the biggest brownie or stealing food out of younger years hands without shame.
“Being in the heart of Kent gives Benenden girls a sheltered look on life, we like to say we are trapped within our own little bubble. Not only is the country air simply wonderful for the likes of Lacrosse it also means smoking is very limited, as it can be smelt from a mile away.
– Written by Bristol second year Charlie Whitehand and Edinburgh first year Arabella Spendlove
“The academic hothouse is filled with various famous children and girls who pride themselves on being very ‘country’ now that they’ve moved down from London. Mondays are spent discussing Sunday’s hunt and Saturday’s showjumping competition and Thursday afternoons spent preparing for the weekly trip to town to see the Winchester College boys.
“The girls pride themselves in their ability to sneak behind the sheds for a cigarette, roll up their long (not to mention heavy) kilts every morning and cut holes in their jumpers to run away from the Switunite reputation of perfection.
“It wasn’t whether you played a musical instrument, but how many and getting an A rather than an A* was seen as a fail. But it was all worth it for tuna steak and French fries on a Friday.”
– Written by a Bath second year
“This red brick school stands as a diamond amongst that ashes that is Grantham, home to our first and only female Prime Minister and was voted the worst town to live in earlier this year. Obviously Margaret Thatcher went to KG.
“Our lack of male surroundings was tackled with the odd exchange with the King’s School. While many think this caused us to become frigid sluts with no concept of social situations involving the opposite sex, it just made us more resilient.
“It might only be a grammar school, but nothing less than AAA is deemed acceptable in A-Levels. As a treat for the harbouring pressure we receive during our late teens sixth form students are treated to a kitchen and lounge complete with leather sofas and a superiority complex.
“You might think oversized blazers and arrogant blue shirts make us look cheap but snobbish, but at least we have the end of year bouncy castle and hog roast to look forward to.”
– Written by Reading third year Rebecca Scotter
“A very sheltered and nurturing environment. Even the uniform aims to protect its girls with luminous yellow shirts acting as high-vis jackets against cars and the gaze of the dreaded male gender.
“If a boy was ever to enter the Convent then girls would be pressed against every window of the 1960s style Asylum-esque building to get a look – see the Eton incident of 2010. This happened again with the Oratory and those were literally the two times in my seven years where we had any form of socialising.
“Our headmaster has been known to compare a Marist girl to an envelope, plastic bag and even a carrot in his infamous speeches. But from our colourful experiences we know Marist girls have the best stories and the strongest bonds. Once a Marist girl, always a Marist girl.”
– Written by Nottingham second year Megan Viegas
“We were known as the Whores on the Hill. Behind the iron gates and fancy grounds is an army of the sassiest girls in Oxfordshire. Lunchtimes are filled with endless drama, girls will be gossiping about Daisy getting with Beth’s Magdelen boyfriend last weekend, or Millie getting with ALL the boys at Becca’s dinner party.
“Whatever the drama, everyone will be involved and they’ll all have something to say about it. Or they won’t, and silence from a group of Headingtonians is far worse than any screams.
“As soon as the morning uniform and skirt length check is over, skirts will be rolled up under tights, bronzer will be caked onto faces and their long hair will be backcombed and arranged into the ‘Headington flick’.
“Hierarchy between school years is at it’s finest and the school cafeteria (which sixth formers still run to) resembles something out of Mean Girls. On lunch breaks, Headington girls will be peeking over the walls flirting with the Cheney boys who chat to them over the fence, or lusting over the older boys at Brookes on the other side.
“The pressure is extreme in Headington, you’ll often find girls in tears because they got three As instead of A*s, and working hard is a necessity. But come weekend it’s all about how many Sourz can be downed and how many boys can be snogged at Bridge under 18 nights.”
– Written by Liverpool third year Cydney Yeates and Manchester graduate Daisy Bernard
Wondering what the best public school in the country is? Have a look at the boys’ version.