“ This might be one of the oldest girls’ boarding schools in the country, but there’s nothing stuck-in-the-past about this Salisbury senior where pupils are instantly recognisable by their signature pinny uniforms. It’s aspirational and going places, with ever-improving results – yet most definitely not a hothouse. The school motto ‘Frank and Loyal Are We’ sums up the camaraderie that the school fosters. There is a strong commitment to providing a warm, inclusive and nurturing atmosphere, helped by long-serving staff who, says one member, put in ‘so much love and passion behind the scenes’. ”
A huge thank you to Talk Education for this wonderful review of Godolphin. We are pleased that the School has been shown in such a lovely light. We are extremely proud of all that Godolphin has to offer.
This might be one of the oldest girls’ boarding schools in the country, but there’s nothing stuck-in-the-past about this Salisbury senior where pupils are instantly recognisable by their signature pinny uniforms. It’s aspirational and going places, with ever-improving results – yet most definitely not a hothouse. The school motto ‘Frank and Loyal Are We’ sums up the camaraderie that the school fosters.
Winding through the streets of Victorian villas around Milford Hill, overlooking Salisbury, we felt like we were a pleasant distance from the bustle. No sweeping driveway or grand approach here: the first impression of the main school building is of a handsome yet modest red-brick Victorian house.
Perhaps the school is most memorable for the pinafore uniforms (blue for seniors, red for prep, gingham for nursery) – a great idea to discourage the rebellious rolling up of skirt waistbands and teenage obsession with image. While they may bring to mind images of E Nesbit’s The Railway Children, Godolphin isn’t fussy or frilly at all. The girls we saw were all charging about looking purposeful and happy (we love the idea of the camouflage pinny too, which is worn for special CCF achievements). Good transport links to London, which is an hour and a half away away by train, and there’s a local daily school-bus network.
Since joining from Sherborne Girls, where she was pastoral deputy head, Emma Hattersley has proven to be a strong, determined leader. We found her to be very direct and forthright with a no-nonsense approach, which is clearly yielding good results. The school is undeniably on the up: registrations have increased by 40 per cent and pupil numbers are up by 20 per cent – something she puts down to a coherent strategy across the board and a self-fulfilling buzz. ‘We are what we are and the girls do very well,’ she says matter-of-factly.
Godolphin remains ‘proudly all girls’, says Mrs Hattersley. The main intake points are 11+, 13+ and 16+. Open days have been ditched in favour of Snapshot Mornings (involving a tour with Year 8 or 9 girls and a Q&A with the head) for a more informal and personal experience. Very strong value-added scores, and scholarships are available in academics, sport, drama, art and music.
Mrs Hattersley believes the significant improvement in results is partly down to putting the right teaching team in place. That includes Nick Eggleton (or, as pupils adoringly call him, Mr Egg), the head of art and design. ‘The creative arts are massive,’ says one member of staff, whisking us past wonderful textiles on display in the art department. One of the most standout hubs is the performing-arts centre, which is in an attractive rotunda building.
We like the sound of the Bright Futures initiative, which brings in inspirational speakers – from a vet to a fashion stylist, a psychologist to a financier – to encourage the girls to think about a very wide variety of careers.
For a small school, Godolphin punches above its weight in sports and the new director of sport is thoroughly committed to making it inclusive for all. Lacrosse dominates, and it was lovely to see girls happily and unselfconsciously practising their skills dressed in blue pinnies. The school has a gym and swimming pool, both open to the public.
There are trips galore for these lucky pupils, including an annual CCF ski trip, a Global Action trip to India, a surf trip to Fuerteventura (rather more exotic than Cornwall) and a Chilean exchange programme. Lots of day-to-day activities to get stuck into too, including Zumba, Leith’s School of Cookery, debating and DofE.
Flexi boarding is available, with the option of three, five or seven nights. Around 60 per cent of girls will board at some point throughout their time here and there is a growing demand for boarding in the sixth form. There are plenty of homely activities for boarders, from making chocolates to flipping pancakes on Pancake Day, and sixth-formers reading stories to the younger years on World Book Day.
There is a strong commitment to providing a warm, inclusive and nurturing atmosphere, helped by long-serving staff who, says one member, put in ‘so much love and passion behind the scenes’. The school follows the Girls on Board approach (which takes its starting point from Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bees and Wannabees), aiming to empower pupils to be able to solve their own friendship problems. The school is also currently organising a sell-out GO Parent event for parents (including those from the wider Salisbury community) on wellbeing and mental health. We hear that Sister Gill’s yoga sessions – a perfect pause from busy school life – are very popular.
There are three houses within the school (including the prep pupils) with both a real solidarity and healthy competition between them. There is also an on-site café that is open to all and, while it’s not the most charming space we’ve seen, it makes for a great meeting spot for girls who want to catch up over a hot chocolate.
Those looking for panoramic vistas and shiny facilities may not put this school top of their list, but recently developed areas – such as the bright new locker room with heaps of hangout space – and plans for a new drama studio are a promising start.