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St Paul's Girls' School

St Paul's Girls' School
File:St Paul's Girls' School logo.png
Established 1904
Type Independent day school
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Ms Clarissa Mary Farr
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The Hon Timothy Palmer
Founder Worshipful Company of Mercers
Location Brook Green
W6 7BS
Local authority Hammersmith and Fulham
DfE number 205/6011
Students 730~
Gender Girls
Ages 11–18
Former pupils Old Paulinas

St Paul's Girls' School is an independent day school for girls, located in Brook Green, Hammersmith, in West London, England. It remains one of the leading schools in the United Kingdom, as supported by the consistent outperformance of other schools in examination results and university offers.


File:St Paul's Girls' School in London W6, spring 2013 (1).JPG
Main building of the school in Brook Green area

St Paul’s Girls’ School was founded by the Worshipful Company of Mercers in 1904, using part of the endowment of the foundation set up by John Colet, to create a girls’ school to complement the boys' school he had founded in the sixteenth century. The governors hold proprietorial responsibility, and some are representatives of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London.

The buildings for the school were designed by the architect Gerald Horsley, the son of the painter John Callcott Horsley and one of the founder members of the Art Workers Guild.

The school has had several distinguished directors of music, most notably Gustav Holst (1905–34) and Herbert Howells (1936–62). Holst composed his St Paul's and Brook Green suites for the pupils at the school. Holst also composed what is arguably his most well known work, "The Planets", while teaching at St Paul's.


The curriculum comprises the traditional ingredients of a liberal education with some more modern additions (such as drama GCSE). Every student follows a set curriculum in years 7, 8 and 9 but as they move up the school they have more and more ability to develop their own programme of study. The GCSE curriculum has room for up to four optional subjects and the A-level curriculum consists entirely of options. The 2011 ISI inspection rated the curriculum as "excellent".

Exam results

St Paul's girls have regularly performed extremely well in the GCSEs and A Levels.[1] Over half of girls at the school get all A*s in their GCSEs and many take extra languages or maths GCSEs. In 2014, 99.3% of GCSEs were graded at A*s or As with 93.6% graded at A* alone. This was the highest ever A* percentage achieved by the school and in the country. The 2014 A level results were also the highest in the school's history with 54.9% of entries achieving an A* grade and 91.3% of entries achieving A* or A grades.


Gustav Holst was Director of Music at the school during the period he composed his orchestral suites, including St Paul's Suite and The Planets; he was succeeded by Herbert Howells before John Gardner followed in the 1960s. Gardner wrote many memorable pieces for the school, including his popular Christmas carols Tomorrow Shall be My Dancing Day and The Holly and the Ivy.

The school has many music programmes, both for mainstream pupils, and also for scholarship or advanced pupils. The training orchestra, called the "Sinfonia", is generally for years 7-9, and trains for one and a half hours a week. The advanced orchestra, called the "Symphony", is generally for years 10 and above, however, higher ability and scholarship musicians from younger year groups perform in it as well. It trains for two hours a week. There are also a number of string, brass and flute groups, as well as a wind band. The school also has a choral programme. For Lower School students (ages 11–13), there is the Junior Choir. For Middle School Students (ages 14–16) there is a Middle School Choir. Both of these are open to all. However, for the Senior School (ages 16–18), there is a select choir. For the entire school, there is an advanced choir - "Paulina Voices" - to which admission is by audition only.


The school has several sports fields, halls and tennis courts. Generally regarded as the schools' main sport, lacrosse remains a focus, with teams regularly touring. Netball is also popular, as is rowing. Girls from year 7-9 will also take part in athletics, gymnastics, dance, swimming and many other sports such as football and lifesaving. These are provided for by the well-equipped sports building, which houses a large sports hall, dance studio and fitness gym, as well as offices and changing rooms.


The school has numerous pupil-run magazines and newspapers: these include, but are not limited to, The Marble, M2, Marmor (the classics magazine, Latin for "marble"), "Words" (the creative writing magazine), and The Foreigner (the modern languages magazine). The main school creative writing competition, the Monica Dickens, runs once a year, although there are others, and the school is also represented at national creative writing competitions: in the past two years alone Paulinas have won or been highly commended in the Foyle Young Poet of the Year competition, the BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year competition, the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition with Corpus Christi, the Martin Wills (three Paulinas were shortlisted in the 2009 competition), the Artsrichmond Young Writers Festival. Every year a delegation attends the Arvon courses, entry into which is competitive.


The school's main theatre, named after alumna Celia Johnson, is where most school productions are staged. The drama studio is another, smaller, space where many of the other productions are staged. Both are black box. Productions have, in the past, been performed elsewhere in the school, including the Great Hall and the Singing Hall.

Students are able to put on 'studio productions' where they direct, produce, tech and act in a play of their choosing. This is open to the whole school.

The Colet Play is put on annually by the girls of the Seventh (Year 12). Voted for from a pool of proposals, the production is undertaken independently of the school, though its premises are used. In recent years several productions have been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, often with critical success.

The VIIIth play is an annual undertaking for the Eighth (year 13), where a member of staff not in the drama department directs a play of their choice. Recent VIIIth plays have included 'The Love of the Nightingale' and 'The Changeling'.

The leavers' revue is another annual tradition, written and performed by the outgoing Eighth (Year 13) to the rest of the school. In recent years the revue has undergone numerous name changes; from the Eighth Revue to the Eighth Event, the Eighth Charity Event, and, in 2009, the Eighth Burlesque. In 2010 the title returned to The Eighth Revue. Advertisement for the VIIIth Revue has in recent years borne the slogan 'It's Coming'.

Drama club runs on a weekly basis for students in the MIVth (year 7) and the UIVth (year 8) where they devise short performances, and junior and senior improv club also run. Commedia dell'arte troupe has been running for several years. The Theatre Society runs trips to theatre events around London, chosen by the Theatre Society Committee made up of senior girls. Several trips also run throughout the year to theatres to support learning in other subjects such as history, English, classics and modern foreign languages.

Every couple of years, the school puts on a large musical, which involves a multitude of girls from all years and is sometimes in collaboration with St. Paul's School (the boys' school). Former productions have been Broadway classics such as 'Sweet Charity' and 'Les Misérables'. There is normally also a play in the autumn term.

Recent and current performances at the school include (but are not limited to)'Much Ado about Nothing','Guys and Dolls' 'Medea'(in the original Greek) and devised cautionary tales.

Bursaries and scholarships


The school awards up to twenty means-tested bursaries to students who join in Y7 (two of which are funded by HSBC), and up to five more bursaries for students arriving in Y12. For candidates who join in Y12, there is also the Ogden Trust science award for a UK citizen currently at a non-independent school who wants to study both physics and maths at A level. Bursaries fund up to 100 per cent of tuition fees on a sliding scale depending on annual family income, assets and other information, plus exam entry fees and a grant towards textbooks. Holders of 100 per cent bursaries entering in Y12 also receive an extra package to cover the cost of sports uniforms and equipment, travel (where not covered by free London bus travel for under 18s), an annual contribution towards school visits and free tuition in one musical instrument.


Year 7: The school awards up to four academic scholarships and two music scholarships to 11+ entrants (worth £100 a year; the music scholarship also includes free tuition in one instrument).

Year 12: The school may also award two music scholarships to current students and two more to new joiners (worth £250 a year plus free tuition in two instruments), and two art scholarships (worth £250 a year) to internal and external candidates. The Nora Day music scholarship (worth up to 50% of school fees plus free tuition in two instruments) is awarded every other year to a new joiner who shows exceptional musical potential. St Paul's also awards scholarships worth £250 a year for academic distinction in the 'Senior Scholarship', a dissertation written by students in Y12 during the Summer holiday following their AS exams.

In 2007, the traditional wreath logo was redesigned and replaced by current High Mistress Clarissa Farr, provoking much controversy from students within the school and a Daily Mail article. The traditional wreath is now the symbol of the Old Paulina Alumnae Association.[2]

It was announced in 2013 that the old logo would be reinstated, as the girls were so keen to have it again.

High Mistresses

The headmistress of St Paul's Girls School is known as the High Mistress.

  • Frances Ralph Grey OBE (d.1935), High Mistress 1903–1927
  • Ethel Strudwick CBE (1880–1954), High Mistress 1927–1948, daughter of the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Melhuish Strudwick
  • Margaret Osborn (1906–1985), High Mistress 1948–1963
  • Dame Alison Munro DBE (1914 – 9 September 2008), High Mistress 1964–1974
  • Lady Brigstocke CBE (Heather Renwick Brigstocke, created Baroness Brigstocke 1990) (1929–2004), High Mistress 1974–1989
  • Helen Elizabeth Webber Williams (born 1938), High Mistress 1989–1992
  • Janet Gough (born 1940), High Mistress 1993–1998
  • Elizabeth Mary Diggory (1945–2007), High Mistress 1998–2006
  • Clarissa Mary Farr (born 1958), High Mistress 2006–

Notable Old Paulinas

Alumnae of the school, known as "Old Paulinas", include:



Culinary arts



  • Myrtle Solomon – pacifist and former Chair War Resisters' International


  • Dame Sonia Proudman QC – High Court Judge
  • Rosalind Wright CB QC - Director Serious Fraud Office (1997-2003)

Journalism and media




Feeder Prep Schools

St Paul's doesn't have a feeder school although many girls from Bute House Prep School join St Paul's due to the lack of distance between the two schools. Bute House Prep School for Girls, Hammersmith.


  1. ^ "Results". 
  2. ^ Kay, Richard (7 July 2008). "The Vulcan splits up with lover". Daily Mail (London). 
  3. ^ REYNOLDS, Barbara Who's Who
  4. ^ Alexandra Shulman Vogue UK, 22 April 2008
  5. ^ TATE, Mavis Constance Who's Who
  6. ^ Shirley Vivien Teresa Brittain Williams UXL Newsmakers (2005)

External links

Coordinates: 51°29′42″N 0°13′08″W / 51.4951°N 0.2188°W / 51.4951; -0.2188{{#coordinates:51.4951|-0.2188|type:edu_region:GB-HMF|||||| |primary |name= }}