Leading London independent day school for girls, Blackheath High School GDST, is enviably nestled between leafy Blackheath Village and the beautiful Royal Greenwich Park with its 13 acres of open space, extraordinary views across the river Thames to St Paul’s, the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum, and the Royal Naval College.
It is an all-through school, where girls aged 3 to 18 years have thrived in an environment tailored to them since its doors opened in 1880. It was one of the first purpose-built Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) schools, established for the education of girls at a time when this was far from the norm. As pioneers in, and shapers of, the future of girls’ education, GDST’s purpose is to help every girl fulfil her potential and her dreams.
Carol Chandler-Thompson who has been Head of the school since 2014, after leading roles in independent girls’ schools from North London to South Korea, reveals “there is a wealth of research that shows that girls do better academically in an all-girl environment, where they have the freedom to be themselves. This underpins everything we do at Blackheath High School. The school’s empowering, feminist culture means the students are more likely to take intellectual risks, adopt leading, active roles and be less inclined to conform to gender stereotypes.”
With unique facilities on their doorstep the students are given unrivalled academic opportunities from GCSE Astronomy at The Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park, play-writing with the National Theatre on London’s South Bank, rowing at the Royal Albert Docks on the river Thames, to performing music concerts in the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Rated ‘excellent in all areas’ by the Independent School Inspectorate, academic success is at the core of the school. With the aspirational culture and inspirational teaching by specialist expert teachers, students make exceptional progress with excellent public examination results and broke all records this year in their GCSE exams with 37% of students awarded A*/ 9/8.
From outdoor teaching to the Positive Wellness program, well-being is at the heart of Blackheath High School. Cathy Maddison, Deputy Head in charge of pastoral care said “we pride ourselves on knowing each and every girl well and on treating each student as an individual, our school size enables us do that well. Ensuring students are happy and healthy – in body and in mind is a priority – to help them achieve their full potential.” Physical exercise and general wellbeing is promoted through the school’s expansive sports and societies programmes from Cricket to Iron Woman, Flamenco dancing to Chinese martial arts, to Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga, or simply charity walks in Greenwich Park, or with the Eco Club.
Nearly a century and a half later, Blackheath High School continues to invest in the school environment to enhance the learning experience. The Senior School site on Vanbrugh Park has been under major construction for the last five years and the £18 million investment in new school buildings and state of the art facilities is due for completion this academic year.
The student led architectural team, ‘Big Build Committee’, has ensured girls have been involved throughout the redevelopment project not only contributing ideas at every stage but also learning about architecture, construction, design and engineering.
The multi-million pound transformation of facilities will include a brand new library and resources centre, enhanced learning environments for Art, Design & Technology and Music, expansive gallery and exhibition spaces, enlarged sports facilities and dining area, a living roof garden for social and wellbeing activities, a new courtyard at the heart of the school and an expanded Sixth Form Centre to inspire a mature, pre-university atmosphere. The re-development will enhance the opportunities already on offer through the theatre, dance and drama studios, language lab, science suite and teaching rooms. It will ensure an optimum environment for the students to thrive in a huge variety of pursuits and subjects, enabling each individual girl to grow both academically and personally to unlock their full potential.
Cheryl Giovannoni, GDST CEO, recently said at the annual GDST Summit, “If the girls in our schools are to storm new frontiers like never before, we have to equip them to change the world and create a better future, for the benefit of all.”
Providing inspirational teaching, a world class but intimate environment and tailor-made opportunities is at the heart of what Blackheath High School do. So over 140 years later the GDST female founders would be proud the school continues to deliver on their original mission.
The grand opening will be in May 2019 however tours will be available at the school Open Morning on Oct 6th, or School in Action Mornings on 7th and 15th November.