The Girls’ Day School Trust or GDST private schools is the biggest network of independent schools in the UK. It consists of 25 independent schools – 23 private schools and 2 academies. They, however, employ nearly 4000 staff and educate 20 000 girls between the ages of 3 and 18 per year.
The GDST is a registered charity. Subsequently, with a gross income of £261 million in 2016/17, it is one of the 20 largest charities in the UK.
Each school has its own school entrance requirements, so please make sure to check the short summaries as taken from the individual schools’ websites. Schools run by the GDST as of July 2018 include:
London GDST Schools
Kensington Preparatory School in Fulham London
Entry at 4+ and 7+. The assessment procedure involves ‘a morning’ in school during which girls are assessed in math, reading, reasoning and writing.
Blackheath High School in Blackheath Village, London (Opened 1880)
Entry at various points from nursery to Sixth Form. In January, 11+ and 13+ scholarship and bursary candidates sit an hour-long 11+ English and Mathematics examination. The English paper consists of a comprehension test and also a piece of creative writing. Girls also sit a non-verbal reasoning paper which lasts approximately 50 minutes.
Bromley High School in Bickley, Bromley, London (Opened 1883)
Entry to the Junior School can be at 4+ or 7+. At 11+ entry into the Senior School, the Entrance Examination will consist of tests which are non-subject specific and which test a pupil’s academic potential. These are based on CAT assessments. However, they cover verbal, non-verbal, spatial and quantitative reasoning skills. In addition to these standardised tests, girls sit a short creative writing paper and a brief mathematics extension exercise. For external applicants who are successful in their application to the Sixth Form, individual offers will be dependent on the achievement of specified GCSE targets.
Entry to the Junior School is in the nursery. Entry points to the Senior School are usually in September for Years 7, 9 and 12. At 11+ entry, girls will be tested using an adaptive online test. This test is designed to assess ability in skills such as numeracy, problem solving and vocabulary. In addition, the school will also carry out a teaching activity as part of their testing process after which the girls will be asked to complete a task based on the skills and content taught in the session.
Northwood College for Girls in Northwood, London, England. (Opened 1878. Joined the GDST in 2014)
Entrance tests for 7+ are written papers in English and Mathematics and also an interview. Assessment for 11+ entrance consists of a bespoke cognitive ability test of 70 minutes, incorporating mathematics, verbal and non-verbal questions. The questions will be mainly multiple choice. The entrance requirements for the Sixth Form are 5 GCSE passes graded 9-5 (A*-C) with 9-7 (A*-A) in the subjects chosen at A-Level.
Notting Hill & Ealing High School in Ealing, London (Opened 1873)
Girls normally join Notting Hill and Ealing High School at 4+, 7+, 11+ and 16+. Assessment for Reception entry takes the form of an informal ‘play’ assessment in small groups of up to four children. However, for entrance at 7+, all girls are invited to sit formal entrance tests in English, Maths and Reasoning.
Notting Hill & Ealing High School is also part of the London 11+ Consortium. These twelve independent girls’ schools set the same test paper which is taken on the same date in all schools. Subsequently, these schools have removed the requirement to sit examinations in English and Maths. Instead, they make use of 3 assessment approaches. A bespoke cognitive ability test lasting 70 minutes. This test includes maths, verbal and non-verbal questions. Most of them will be multiple choice.
Putney High School in Putney, London (Opened 1893)
Entrance to Putney High School can be at 4+, 7+, 11+ or 16+. Understandably, for entry at 4+, there is a friendly, informal, 1.5-hour assessment. However, entry at 7+ require the girls to complete assessments in English, Mathematics and Reasoning. The entrance exam for 11+ consists simply of English and Mathematics and is based on the Year 6 National Curriculum.
South Hampstead High School in Hampstead, London (Opened 1876)
Girls can usually enter South Hampstead High School at 4+, 7+, 11+ and 16+. Assessment at 4+ consist of 2 ‘playdates’ where assessors can observe candidates. At 7+, the initial assessment comprises three papers – English, Maths and Reasoning – based on the curriculum taught in all schools in Year 2. If successful, candidates will then be invited back for a group assessment. South Hampstead is also part of The London 11+ Consortium. Therefore 11+ assessment consists of a 70-minute cognitive ability test. The test will include questions testing verbal reasoning, mathematical reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.
Streatham & Clapham High School in London (Opened 1887)
Entry to Streatham & Clapham High school can be in the nursery (3+), 4+, 7+, 11+, 13+ or 16+. For 4+ entrance, girls are invited for an informal one-to-one assessment with the Head of Foundation Stage Co-ordinator. This lasts about 30 minutes. They are assessed in accordance with the developmental expectations for their age.
Girls entering at 7+ are tested in English and Mathematics. The candidate’s approach and attitude toward learning will also be assessed. This takes roughly an hour.
All 11+ candidates are called for an interview. Reading, group work, initiative, spelling, mathematical ability and general knowledge are assessed during the course of this interview. The 11+ examination comprises papers in Mathematics and English. Applicants for 13+ entry sit papers in English, Mathematics and Science. Applicants for 13+ entry will have individual interviews after the 13+ entrance examination.
In order to enter the Sixth Form, existing pupils should achieve a minimum of 6 GCSEs awarded at grades A*, A or B, where grades are awarded 9, 8, 7, or 6, where numbers are awarded.
Sutton High School in Sutton, Greater London (Opened 1884)
The usual entry points are the nursery (3+), 4+, 7+, 11+, 13+ and 16+ with some occasional vacancies in other years. Firstly, girls entering the school in Nursery (3+) or Reception (4+) take part in an informal assessment in the form or a learning session.
Secondly, when entering the school at 7+, girls have a formal assessment. We expect students entering the Sixth Form to have achieved a minimum of 8 GCSEs at grades 9-5 (or grades A*-C). Girls will also be expected to achieve grades 7, 8 or 9 (or grades A* or A) in the subjects they wish to study at A Level.
Sydenham High School in Westwood Hill, Sydenham, London (Opened 1887)
Usual entry points are 4+, 7+, 11+ and 16+. Firstly, for entry to Reception (4+), girls will be asked to take part in a playgroup session with the class teachers lasting approximately one hour. They will assess numeracy skills, early phonics awareness, handwriting, conversation skills and interaction with other pupils.
Secondly, for 7+ entry, candidates are invited to take part in a formal assessment lasting three hours. Applicants will be required to sit three forty-minute assessment papers: maths, reading and writing, followed by a team-building and collaboration exercise. Please note: they do not assess verbal or non-verbal reasoning.
In conclusion, admission to the Sixth Form is on the basis of an interview with the Headmistress or the Director of Sixth Form and a good reference (with predicted GCSE grades) from the candidate’s current school.
Wimbledon High School in Wimbledon, London (Opened 1880)
Assessments for entry at 4+ are held in a nursery-style environment, with activities designed to enable the child to relax and be themselves. The assessment covers language and social skills, number, physical and creative skills. Subsequently, girls who are successful are invited back for the second round.
Assessments for 7+ are held in a formal setting and cover three areas of learning: English: comprehension and creative writing; Mathematics: based on work familiar to a Year 2 child; Verbal Reasoning: eg: sorting words, anagrams, logic, selecting words and coded sequences. In addition, the girls have a semi-formal group interview, which will include reading.
From 2019 entry the school will be testing 11+ candidates in TWO stages. Stage 1: test all candidates in Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The school assesses curiosity, clarity of thought and communication, risk-taking, creativity, teamwork, integrity, teachability, problem-solving, numeracy.
They will also be testing literacy in a short writing task at the end of the morning.
For entrance into Sixth Form, the school requires A or A* grades (or grades 7, 8 or 9) at GCSE (or equivalent) for the subjects to be studied at A-Level.
GDST school exams
- Birkenhead High School Academy in Birkenhead, Cheshire (Opened 1901)
Brighton and Hove High School in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex (Opened 1876)
Entry into the Prep school, require teacher-led informal assessments for entry into Reception – Year 2 and short assessments for Years 3 – 6 in Verbal Reasoning, Maths and Comprehension.
There is no entrance test into our Sixth Form and admission is based upon submission of a personal statement, interview and academic achievement. We accept students with 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above.
Howell’s School, Llandaff in Cardiff, Wales (Joined the GDST in 1980)
Different entry points are available. In Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 assessment is by play, informal activities and unstructured tasks. However, for entrance to Year 3, candidates sit entrance papers in Mathematics, English and non-verbal reasoning. Entrance into the High School into Year 7 (11+), also require external candidates to take entrance papers in Mathematics and English.
Newcastle High School for Girls in Newcastle upon Tyne, North East England (Opened 1895)
Northampton High School in Northampton, East Midlands (Joined the GDST in 2006)
Girls can enter the school at Nursery, Junior School, Senior School or Sixth Form. There is no assessment for entry into the Nursery or Reception classes.
On the Year 7 Entrance Assessment day, girls will sit one multiple choice paper in English and one in Mathematics. The papers are based on the National Curriculum. Girls will join in team building activities, have lunch with the school and participate in group activities and a ‘getting to know you ‘ session in the afternoon. On the Year 9 Entrance Assessment Day, girls will complete assessments in Maths and English.
Norwich High School for Girls in Norwich, England (Opened 1875)
Entrance points vary from Nursery, Prep School, Senior School and Sixth Form.
At 4+, assessment is based on verbal and practical activities undertaken with the Head of the Prep School and at 7+, girls will spend a full day with the school, attending lessons and doing assessments in English, Mathematics and Reasoning.
At 11+, 13+ and 14+, girls will sit an entrance assessment in English, Mathematics and Reasoning in the early spring, prior to possible entry. The Headmistress will interview all girls.
Nottingham High School for Girls in Nottingham, England (Opened 1875)
Different entry points are available. Firstly, for entry to the Nursery, girls will join the school for a short session in their Early Years unit to help them determine her readiness for school. It’s friendly and informal. They’ll be looking for good speaking and listening skills and making sure she can follow instructions.
Secondly, for entrance to Year 1 to 6, girls will join the school for a ‘taster day’, which will include an assessment in English and Mathematics.
Thirdly, for Senior School admission, at 11+, girls will sit an entrance examination and have an informal interview with the Head and other staff. They will be testing her in English, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning. Each paper takes approximately one hour.
Oxford High School in Oxford, England (Opened 1875)
At present, there are no formal assessments for entry to Reception. This will include a variety of tasks in English, Mathematics and Reasoning.
Main points of entry to the Senior School are 11+ and 13+. The 11+ Admissions Day takes the form of combined admission and taster day. Girls sit assessment papers in English, Maths and a multiple-choice reasoning verbal and non-verbal reasoning paper. They also invite all girls attending the Admissions Day to attend for interview in the following week with the Head and other senior members of staff.
Candidates for entry into Year 7 take an English paper of one hour. There is also a mathematical paper testing numerical skills and an ability to apply mathematical knowledge which will last for one hour. They meet up with other girls sitting the examinations, have lunch with the current Year 7 pupils and take part in a number of communication and team-building activities. The afternoon allows the school to observe and assess the candidates informally.
Entry into Year 8, 9 or 10, will require girls to sit papers in English and Mathematics.
For Sixth Form admission, the school expect Sixth Form students to have obtained at least seven GCSE qualifications at grade B or above. Most subjects will require at least grade A as a prerequisite for A Level study.
GDST school exams
Royal High School, Bath in Bath, Somerset (Opened 1875)
Entry into Reception will require girls to attend for a taster day prior to their starting for the school to assess their general development.
At 7+, girls have the opportunity to join the class in specialist lessons. At the end of her taster visit, the Head of the Junior School will meet with parents and offer feedback and places as appropriate.
For entry to the Senior School at 11+, girls will be invited for an assessment day. The entrance exams will include papers on English, Mathematics as well as Reasoning (Verbal and Non-Verbal). However, the English assessment has two parts, a comprehension part (30 minutes plus 10 minutes reading time) and a writing task (30 minutes). For Mathematics there is one paper of 45 minutes. Lastly, the Verbal Reasoning lasts 45 minutes and the Non-Verbal 25 minutes.
For Sixth Form entrance the school will also arrange a formal interview with the Head of Sixth Form. Entry is dependent on a minimum of six GCSEs at A*-B grades (or equivalent qualifications). You will need a minimum of a C grade in both English and Mathematics.
New applicants sit the test along with girls currently in Year 6 at the school. The test comprises 2 parts: English (comprehension, grammar and extended writing) and Maths.
Shrewsbury High School in Shrewsbury, Shropshire (Opened 1885)
Firstly, for entry at 11+, an application is by examination in Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Skills along with an English paper and Mathematics paper. Each paper is approximately 50 minutes, which will include a short practice test. The Mathematics paper is however 20 minutes and the English paper is 25 minutes. Secondly, for entry in Years, 8-11 (when vacancies are available) candidates sit a standardised test in Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Skills.
Girls usually study 3 A Level subjects but on occasion, study 4.
The Belvedere Academy in Liverpool, England. (Opened 1880 as Liverpool High School, later The Belvedere School)
The Year 7 (11+) entrance assessment is a three-part assessment test. For Sixth Form admissions and criteria please visit them for an open day.
GDST school exams
GDST Maths Practice Papers
GDST school exams
13+ 14 +
GSA Private School Consortium
Girls’ Schools Association schools top the Independent Secondary table in this year’s Sunday Times Parent Power survey, published here.
St Paul’s Girls’ School in London tops the entire national table for combined exam results (A level & GCSE). Other GSA schools to make the top 10 in the same table are Wycombe Abbey (4) and The Godolphin & Latymer School (6). GSA schools make up nine of the top 20 schools in this table.
St Paul’s Girls’ School also came top nationally for A level performance, with Wycombe Abbeylisted fifth. The GSA schools in the top 10 nationally for GCSE performance are St Paul’s Girls’ School (top), St Mary’s Ascot (2), The Godolphin & Latymer School (3) and North London Collegiate School (6).
Altogether, GSA schools account for 12 of the top 30 independent schools for A level performance, 13 of the top 30 for GCSE performance and 15 of the top 30 for combined results.
GDST school exams
Regional Top Achievers
The following GSA schools were top in their region for independent schools (combined exam results):
Cheltenham Ladies College (South West)
St Paul’s girls’ School (Greater London)
Withington Girls’ School (North West)
Wycombe Abbey (South East)
Independent School of the Year Winners
The Parent Power survey also acknowledges schools for their general achievement relative to previous years. This year, the following GSA schools have been named ‘Independent School of the Year’ for their region:
King’s High School Warwick (West Midlands)
Manchester High School for Girls (North West)
The Godolphin & Latymer School (Greater London)
GDST school exams