Wycombe Abbey School is considered to be amongst the finest examples of girls’ boarding schools in the English Public School tradition. It is often considered to be the sister school to Eton College with a reputation on a similar par. Wycombe Abbey has, historically, been one of the preferred schools for the daughters of the English aristocratic classes, however, it is a modern dynamic school that offers a broad and varied education for young women leaders.
Wycombe Abbey is predominantly a boarding school. Some 90 percent of pupils board at the school and day places are limited to girls who live within the immediate vicinity. Whilst the school adheres to the Anglican faith and maintains some traditions and ceremonies in keeping with its Church of England ethos, pupils of all faith backgrounds are welcome to apply.
Wycombe Abbey School was established in 1896 by Dame Frances Dove and her Girls’ Education Trust. Dame Dove was a renowned educator and champion of girls’ right to education. She had previously served as Headmistress at St Leonard’s School in St Andrews and Mistress at Cheltenham Ladies’ College.
Frances Dove was born in 1847 in Bordeaux, France to Rev. John Thomas Dove and Jane Ding of Lincolnshire. Her family lived in London where Frances was the oldest of ten children. Her education began at home under the direction of her father and alongside her two eldest brothers. Education for young women was not a commonplace or widely accepted idea at that time. She would attend Queen’s College, London as a teenager for three years before her family relocated to Lincolnshire when she was only fifteen years old. Not wanting to complete her educational career, Frances was sent to boarding school where she continued to study for another year before returning to her family home She remained a keen scholar and zealous advocate for women’s education. When she was twenty-two years old, Girton College at the University of Cambridge was established. Girton opened in 1869 as the first residential college for the degree-level education of women. She was inspired by what the institution represented and prepared for entry. In 1871, at the age of twenty-four, she successfully applied for entry into the college with outstanding entrance examination results.
Whilst a student at Girton, she was approached with an offer to teach mathematics and physiology to young ladies at the burgeoning Cheltenham Ladies’ College – itself established in 1853 in what many considered to be a radical, progressive step forward in the education of women. Dove graduated in 1874 with an ordinary degree in Natural Sciences (as the University would not support the awarding of higher degrees to women). With two of her Girton peers, Dove would depart for Cheltenham to take up a role as a teacher there. In 1874, one of these Girtonian compatriots of Dove would be offered a place at St Andrew’s School for Girls in Scotland. Dove would move with her colleague and would replace her as headteacher there in 1882. St Andrew’s School relocated the following year and changed its name to St Leonard’s School, the name by which it is still known today.
Dove would work there for over a decade before resigning in 1895 to found an educational trust for the purposes of establishing a school for girls that would rival the great English boys’ Public Schools. She set about raising funds for this endeavour and, in 1896, the Girls’ Educational Trust acquired Wycombe Abbey from Lord Carrington for £20,000. The school, billed as a sister school to the well-known St Leonard’s School where Dove had made her name, would commence operations on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It had an initial intake of forty pupils and a team of Housemasters that had relocated from St Leonards (each only sixteen years old at the time). Dove would serve as the school’s first Headmistress.
Wycombe Abbey had a long history as a private home. The estate had been the seat of the Archdale family until 1700 when ownership was transferred to Henry Petty, 1st Earl of Shelburne. The house was then known as Loakes House. Henry Petty’s grandnephew, William Petty, Earl of Shelburne, would ultimately inherit the estate. He had inherited a separate Earldom of Shelburne with its own, grander, estate and he had little use of Loakes House. He became Prime Minister in 1782. In 1798 he disposed of the Wycombe estate auction where Loakes House was acquired by Robert Smith, 1st Baron Carrington. Carrington commissioned James Wyatt, a celebrated architect, to undertake a grand renovation and refurbishment of the property, expanding the house significantly and renaming it Wycombe Abbey owing to a loose connection with the historic Abbess of Godstow which historically owned the land upon which Loakes House was built. Wyatt was famed as an architect for grand ecclesiastical projects in a Gothic revival style.
Dove and the Girls’ Education Trust purchased the property from Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 3rd Baron Carrington and 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire in early 1896. Dove had already developed a number of ideas as to how girls’ education should be delivered through a series of published essays. Dove, owing to her family background and upbringing, was a devout and committed high-church Anglican and her faith would heavily influence many of the practices and traditions at the school. However, the primary ethos underpinning Dove’s educational philosophy was the idea of good corporate citizenship. Heavily influenced by the muscular Christian principles that had taken hold in the boys’ Public Schools, she believed that girls also must have a broad set of experiences and interests backed up with strong character and discipline and, essentially, an esprit de corps.
Her reputation and pedigree saw the school quickly expand to achieve a maximum capacity of 210 pupils within three years. The school was so heavily oversubscribed that Dove decided to expand the offering of the Girls’ Education Trust and establish a girls’ preparatory school to act as a feeder to Wycombe Abbey. In 1900, Godstowe School was founded for this purpose. The two schools maintain a close relationship to this day but are now independently controlled and managed.
Under Dove’s grand plan, Wycombe Abbey embraced many of the common aspects of the British Public School model. She established a variety of team sports programmes including cricket, hockey, lacrosse, and (as popular at the time) Swedish gymnastics – all of which were compulsory for all girls. The school’s broad curriculum included mathematics, classics, modern languages, and technical sciences alongside lessons in gardening, carpentry, and cooking. Dove initiated a House system from the outset with four houses being established and supervised by four of her pupils from St Leonard’s who had agreed to commence their careers at Wycombe Abbey (they relocated with Dove to the school in 1896). Those four houses were named Green, Blue, Yellow, and Red. They would, later, be renamed Cloister, Clarence, Pitt, and Rubens. All four houses accommodated boarders in the primary building of Wycombe Abbey. Over the years, additional houses would be established but the original colour-based naming convention would live on in the house nicknames and the house ties of the school uniform.
In 1905, Frances Dove was awarded an MA when Trinity College, Dublin (the only constituent college of the University of Dublin) began to offer higher degrees for conversion from ordinary degrees to suitably qualified women allowing them status on par with male graduates of the three ancient universities (Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin). Under her direction, many Wycombe Abbey girls would win places at these three prestigious universities.
When Dove retired in 1910, both Wycombe Abbey and Godstowe were fully subscribed with 230 boarders residing at the Abbey. As a further embellishing of her legacy at the school, Dove endowed a scholarship upon her retirement. Her legacy would live on too in the young ladies she had taught and in who, through the offer of employment at her fledgling school project, she had taken a chance. Indeed, three former Wycombe Abbey girls (known as Seniors) would engage many of her teachings and philosophies when they opened Benenden School in 1923, another renowned school for girls. In 1928, Frances Dove was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Dame Frances died in 1942.
Dove was succeeded as Headmistress by Miss Whitelaw whose tenure at the school would see substantial growth and expansion of the campus but would be punctuated also by the turmoil of the First World War. Miss Whitelaw was a native of Auckland, New Zealand and her installation was considered a great badge of honour for the resident New Zealander community in England at the time. Indeed, on the first Speech Day under her watch, a great many New Zealanders attended and the occasion was remarked upon in New Zealand’s press. In attendance was Miss Mary Isabel Fraser, then Head of the Whanganui Girls’ College. That specific Speech Day was presided over by Sir John Wolfe Barry, the esteemed architect responsible for Tower Bridge and for whom one of Wycombe Abbey’s Senior Houses would be named.
In 1926 the foundations were laid for the school’s Chapel. In 1929, the school further expanded with the acquisition of additional lands from the Carrington estates, purchasing Daws Hill (and some 200 acres that came with it).
The Second World War forced a significant hiatus in the activities of the school with many girls being relocated to other schools and even to overseas sanctuaries. Wycombe Abbey would become requisitioned to be used as a military facility housing the headquarters of the US Army’s Eighth Air Force Bomber Command (Air Forces Strategic) known as the “Mighty Eighth”. A large telephone exchange was established at the site and it was renamed ‘Pinetree’.
Despuite the school’s closure during the war peirod, Wycombe Abbey was, in 1942-44 identified as one of the country’s elite Public Schools for the purposes of the Fleming Report which investigated the relationship between private schools in England and the nascent state education sector. Few girls schools were recognised as independent Public Schools for these purposes demonstrating the elite status that Wycombe Abbey had attained in the public eye. The site was returned to the Girls’ Education Trust when the war concluded and, in May 1946, Wycombe Abbey opened again. Since then the school has continued to develop facilities, add new houses, and increase the size of its student population. Wycombe Abbey School has grown from strength to strength becoming the institution of choice for the daughters of many of Britain’s aristocratic and landed classes whilst also attracting a number of international pupils and the daughters of well-to-do professional families, academics and intelligentsia and the business and political classes. It is revered as an institution of high academic achievement and a well-established pedigree of sending girls up to Oxbridge and Ivy League colleges.
In recent years the school has also significantly extended its global footprint by signing partnership agreements with overseas operators. This has seen a number of schools opening in China under the Wycombe Abbey brand, including Wycombe Abbey School Changzhou, Wycombe Abbey School Hangzhou, Wycombe Abbey School Hong Kong, and Wycombe Abbey School Nanjing.
Wycombe Abbey School has a strong reputation as an academically challenging school and girls are expected to be able to keep up with their classmates and to perform at a significantly higher level than the national average. The school’s focus on a holistic, character-building education preparing young women for greatness further requires that girls participate in and attain sufficient achievement in co-curricular pursuits, including sports, music, and service (to the community, to the school, and to charity). Furthermore, Wycombe Abbey Seniors are expected to demonstrate great character and moral turpitude.
From the school’s very foundation it was intended to emulate the best of the famous public schools that existed for boys. As such, many of the traditions and characteristics of those schools were incorporated into Wycombe Abbey, adapted where appropriate to the school’s location and the needs of its all-girls, all-boarding student body. The school is primarily a boarding school and, unlike many of its peers, remains steadfastly committed to being so. Whilst a small number of day girls are admitted, this is on an extremely limited basis and only where applicants live within the immediate vicinity of the school. The school does not offer variable boarding plans which are common to other boarding schools today although day girls may enter on a Day Boarder basis (taking meals at the school and engaging in the evening and weekend activities alongside the boarders). It is a full boarding programme with Closed Weekends – weekends where all of the student body are expected to remain on campus and engage in a pre-planned programme of events and activities. Typical of the Public School model, various entry points exist at age 11 (Year 7), 13 (Year 9), and 16 (Sixth Form). Girls entering the school at 11 are assigned to Junior House, a boarding house dedicated to the school’s youngest members with a pastoral and residential care system specifically designed to introduce them to life at the school and help them transition from preparatory school or into boarding life if they have not previously experienced it (typically girls entering at age 11 are unlikely to have attended a boarding school before as most boarding preparatory schools operate until Year 8). They are reassigned to one of the other Houses once they move up to Year 8 and girls entering at age 13 will automatically be assigned to one of these Houses. In these Houses they reside in mixed-age dormitories to foster a family environment and to ensure that girls look out for one another and are fully integrated into the school community. In their final year at the school (in the Upper Sixth), girls all move to Clarence House where support is specifically tailored towards university preparation.
Whilst these year groups may sound familiar to most, at Wycombe Abbey they are given a different naming system. The school is effectively divided into a junior and a senior school. Year 7 is the only division within the junior school and is known as Upper Third (UIII), and the senior school is divided into three distinct divisions – the Fourth, the Fifth, and the Sixth. These divisions are further divided into two year groups each such that Year 8, at Wycombe Abbey, is known as the Lower Fourth (LVI) and Year 9 as the Upper Fourth (UVI). Year 10 is the Lower Fifth (LV) and Year 11 is the Upper Fifth (UV). The final two years of Sixth Form are known as the Lower Sixth (LVI) and Upper Sixth (UVI) respectively. As with many British and Commonwealth schools, pupils in each year group are also members of one of the Houses of the school with Inter-House rivalry and competition being a significant aspect of school life. With the exception of Year 7 and the Upper Sixth who have their own exclusive Houses (Junior House and Clarence House), the remainder of the school body is assigned to one of the Senior Houses. They reside in-House and represent their House teams against one another. Each of the Senior Houses is comprised of approximately 50 pupils. The original four Houses of Wycombe Abbey were established within the main school building and the girls’ dormitories were located there. They were Green; Blue; Yellow; and Red. These Houses were under the direction of four young Housemistresses who had commenced their careers at Wycombe Abbey at the age of only sixteen. They had accompanied the school’s founder, Frances Dove, to the school from St Leonard’s where they had been pupils under the renowned educator. These four houses were subsequently renamed Cloister; Clarence; Pitt and Rubensupp. However, their original colours would remain associated with the Houses and would set the tone for future Houses to be established at the school. Indeed, each House has its own tie which members wear in those House colours. For those Houses established in other buildings on the campus, the front doors would be painted accordingly. Each House has a staff of Housemistresses / Houseparents who are responsible for the welfare of the pupils in their charge, operating in loco parentis. They are supported by Tutors, nurses, and other staff to ensure that the girls enjoy their time at the school. House Prefects also play a major role in supporting the House staff and guiding younger pupils in matters of school life, discipline, and competition.
THE HOUSES OF WYCOMBE ABBEY
Airlie is named for the Countess of Airlie, who was a member of Wycombe Abbey’s Council on its foundation. She was the daughter of Lady Stanley of Alderney a firm supporter of radical educational reform in favour of girls’ education. Airlie is one of the four Outhouses of the school and its colour is sienna with members wearing a sienna-coloured tie.
Barry is another of the four Outhouses located on the Wycombe Abbey campus. It is named in honour of Sir John Wolfe Barry, the celebrated architect responsible for Tower Bridge. Sir John presided over the first Speech Day following the retirement of Dame Frances Dove. Barry House’s colour is sky blue, the colour which its front door is painted and that adorns the House tie.
A Senior House at Wycombe Abbey, Butler is one of the four houses known as the Outhouses. It is named in honour of the Very Rev’d. Henry Montagu Butler, a Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Headmaster of partner school, Harrow. He was also the President of the Classical Association of which Wycombe Abbey was a member. Butler House’s colour is clementine orange with their front door painted accordingly. Girls in Butler House wear an orange tie.
One of the four Outhouses is located along Marlow Hill. Campbell is named for Prof. Lewis Campbell, a professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews who was a well-known advocate for women’s education and was instrumental in the foundation of St Leonard’s School in St Andrews. Campbell House has adopted the colour violet, with a violet front door and violet house ties worn by its members.
Clarence House was one of the original four Houses of Wycombe Abbey and used to be based in the Abbey building. It was originally known as blue but today is represented by the colour Rose. Clarence and Junior House are unique in that they are comprised of an entire year group – the Upper Sixth (UVI), effectively the graduating class. The House was re-established in a building close to The Abbey before moving to a purpose-built block with a common room and study bedrooms. The old building is known as Old Clarence and the newer building as New Clarence. The House is named after Prince Albert, Duke of Clarence who was a regular visitor to Wycombe Abbey as a close friend of the 3rd Lord Carrington. Girls in Clarence House are not required to wear the school uniform but are to wear smart casual attire (Smart Mufti).
Cloister was also one of the original four houses of Wycombe Abbey that were based in the school’s primary building. It was known as green house and still uses olive green as its colour today. It was named for the cloistered yard that formed part of the original ecclesiastical-inspired Abbey building. It is now one of the four Houses located at Daws Hill, an old hunting lodge owned by the Carrington estate that was sold to Wycombe Abbey in 1929.
All Year 7 pupils (Upper Third / UIII) are assigned to Junior House), a boarding house at Wycombe Abbey. Once they have completed Year 7 they will be assigned to any one of the other Senior Houses. Junior House’s colour is lilac and its members wear a lilac-coloured tie. Junior House occupies a purpose-built complex beside the Outhouses.
Another of the original Houses was, until 2017, was located in the Abbey. It was known as Yellow House when the school was founded. It is still represented by a saffron-yellow colour today. Pitt was named for William Pitt the Younger, the youngest ever Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who had been a guest of the 1st Lord Carrington.
Rubens, like Pitt, was one of the original four houses that occupied the Abbey. It also moved in 2017 to a new purpose-built building. Rubens was originally known as red and has ruby as its colour today (albeit with more of a pink hue in its preferred palette). The House is named for Peter Paul Rubens, a celebrated Flemish Baroque painter. Amongst his most famous works is ‘A Portrait of a Lady’. Lord Carrington was a known collector of Rubens works.
Named for Earl Shelburne, who owned Loakes House before it became Wycombe Abbey, Shelburne House is one of the four houses of Daws Hill. Its House colour is indigo and its members wear an indigo-coloured house tie.
The final of the four Daws Hill Houses, Wendover is named for Albert Edward Samuel Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, Viscount Wendover. He was the youngest son of Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire who sold Wycombe Abbey to Dame Frances Dove. Viscount Wendover lived briefly at Wycombe Abbey before the family moved to Daws Hill. Wendover House uses scarlet red as its House colour.
As a school with a large residential community, school life is subject to a defined schedule and beset with traditions and customs. Dove Day is a major traditional fixture on the school’s calendar, a day of celebration in memory of the school’s founder Dame Frances Dove, whose legacy shapes the lives of every girl that attends this august institution. Although the school has always been independent of any religious body or order and has always been under the management of laity, faith, nevertheless, has played a role in the daily lives of Wycombe Abbey girls. Services are regularly read at the school’s Chapel and most girls will participate in Evensong on a Sunday evening. The school’s resident Chaplain remains available to guide all girls in matters of a spiritual, ethical, moral, or faith nature. Girls who may practice religions or Christian denominations other than Anglican are also supported by the school’s Chaplain and the school is firmly committed to fostering diversity and inclusiveness.
As a community, however, Wycombe Abbey is an exclusive group of high-achieving young women from a broad range of backgrounds all of whom contribute something unique and special to the body of traditions and culture that defines the school. Similarly, Wycombe Abbey, in turn, instills its own unique culture and spirit in them. In keeping with traditional British boarding schools, particularly those in the Public School tradition, Wycombe Abbey’s community has its own lexicon of terms and slang which members use to talk to one another (known as Wycombe Words).
THE UNIQUE SLANG, JARGON, AND TERMINOLOGY OF WYCOMBE ABBEY
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For most girls at Wycombe Abbey, the school day starts with post-breakfast Registration and then either Chapel (at least twice a week) or a Tutor Meeting. Friday mornings always commence with a school assembly. Girls then attend lessons at school before returning to their Houses in the evening. Unlike at many independent schools, evening study (otherwise known as Prep) is less structured and pupils have leeway to schedule music lessons or to engage in quiet time. Most pupils will, however, use this time to revise, complete homework, or rehearse.
Class sizes at the Abbey are purposefully small with participation from all pupils encouraged. The school also operates a tutorial system where pupils have one on one and small-group time with their Tutors. A common tradition at Wycombe Abbey is Tutor Teas where pupils and their Tutors take tea and a small meal together.
The school’s rigorous academic programme is based on the English education system with girls preparing for G.C.S.E.s in the Fifth and girls in the Sixth taking A-Levels. All girls are expected to follow the national curriculum and also to undertake classics and modern languages. The school offers a broad choice of options at both levels. In recent years, Wycombe Abbey has garnered a particular reputation for placing girls into the most prestigious American universities and has developed a four-year pathway college-preparatory programme for those seeking to matriculate to Ivy+ universities and there other great colleges and universities in the United States. This is supplemented by the school’s independent learning agenda and girls are encouraged to undertake their own research projects and to prepare essays for entries to national publications or competitions. The school also conducts a series of regular guest lectures on a wide range of topics, typically followed by discussion opportunities and, oftentimes, an evening meal. Many distinguished and accomplished guests have visited Wycombe Abbey to give a lecture. Pupils who attend the school on an academic scholarship are known as Scholars. They are expected to demonstrate a piece of independent research at Scholars’ Presentation evenings followed by a discussion on the subject. Scholars’ Dinners are events where Scholars and invited guest speakers may engage in debate on a challenging subject. Pupils in the school’s Sixth Form are also required to support local primary schools each half-term as supporting staff. Wycombe Abbey has also developed its own proprietary university preparation programme which it uses to support the Sixth Form at its own school and a number of partnering State schools. This is complemented by a teacher training service to support the university preparatory scheme. The school is currently exploring proposals to transform this into a bespoke online service.
Learning at Wycombe Abbey is augmented by a lively body of clubs and societies that offer a broad range of interest-based pursuits. Pupils are also actively encouraged to take part in debating and public speaking with many girls having attained national honours in these respects and several Seniors having made a mark in the debating chambers of both Houses of Parliament. Students are also encouraged to undertake the Dove Award (Wycombe Abbey’s own scheme acting as a precursor to the Duke of Edinburgh) and the Duke of Edinburgh award and engage in the school’s Model United Nations chapter. The school also participates in national schemes, including the F1 science and engineering program and the Tycoon entrepreneurial incubation project.
Similarly, at the Abbey, all girls must participate in a sport and PE classes are mandatory for all ages. Each girl at Wycombe Abbey must also play a musical instrument. In both respects, the school has an elite performance pathway to support girls participating in or seeking to break through to elite-level sports, music, or performing arts. The school has a number of choirs and orchestras (including a Chamber Orchestra and a Symphony Orchestra) which engage in national-level competition. To support girls exploring visual and creative arts, the school has an Artist in Residence as part of the Wycombe Abbey art faculty. Wycombe Abbey’s performing arts courses are LAMDA approved. The school boasts excellent recording, studio, and theatre facilities to support these initiatives.
Participation in sports has always been a key pillar of Wycombe Abbey life and every girl is required to participate in one of the school’s primary sports. Physical Education classes are mandatory for all ages. The school has distinguished itself as a powerhouse school in many of the sports for which it fields representative teams. Particularly, the school has achieved notoriety for its lacrosse programme. Wycombe Abbey teams regularly feature in national finals and many Seniors have achieved honours at club, university, and national levels. The school’s primary sports (for which varsity representative teams are fielded) include: Association Football (Soccer); Athletics (Track & Field); Badminton; Climbing; Cross Country; Dance; Equestrian; Fencing; Golf; Gymnastics; Hockey (Field); Martial Arts; Lacrosse; Netball; Polo; Rowing (Crew); Skiing; Squash; Swimming & Diving; Tennis; and Trampolining. The school has fantastic sports facilities on campus to support these programmes including floodlit and all-weather pitches and courts, rehabilitation and physio facilities, and so forth, as one would expect of a school with an elite performance scheme. Pupils may also undertake sports leadership and coaching courses with A-Level options also available. Captains of sports are often appointed as Prefects alongside House Captains and the Head Girl and Deputy Head Girls. These are always girls in the Sixth Form.
Sixth Formers also have additional privileges which include Socials with partner boys’ schools (particularly Eton, Harrow, Radley and RGS, High Wycombe). Additionally, Sixth Formers have greater leave rights on Open Weekends. Wycombe Abbey also maintains close relations with its sister schools in Hong Kong and China, all of which have borrowed heavily from Wycombe Abbey and its partner schools in terms of tradition and ethos (indeed, Eton’s famous Procession of the Boats has been replicated at Wycombe Abbey’s sister schools in China).
Wycombe Abbey’s departing seniors are extremely accomplished, well-rounded individuals who embody the esprit de corps that was so important to the school’s founder. Since 1896, Wycombe Abbey has perfected its approach to developing gracious and capable young women destined for great contributions to society. Community development and participation are more than just token goals but are taken very seriously and Wycombe Abbey is a standard-bearer for the education of young women and the fostering of young women leaders.
Campus and Facilities
Wycombe Abbey is situated in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, on the outskirts of Greater London. Its enviable campus features sprawling, leafy parkland with numerous buildings, both ancient and new. High Wycombe is well-serviced by public transport links including bus and rail. High Wycombe National Rail Station is a short walk from the school’s campus, with direct trains into London (Victoria and Marylebone stations). With many international families opting to send their daughters to the school, it is conveniently located in close proximity to London Heathrow Airport (LHR). The School Office at Wycombe Abbey will typically assist with travel and logistics arrangements (including airport transfers) and it is preferred that parents and pupils should organise their travel through the office (in order to ensure the safety and security of pupils). High Wycombe is a large suburban town with many local amenities, hotels, parks, restaurants, and shops.
Wycombe Abbey’s impressive campus includes a number of dormitory buildings within the Houses, lecture theatres and classrooms, tutorial suites, and cutting-edge science and technology laboratories. The school has a dedicated Performing Arts Centre, the Main Dining Hall, cookery classrooms, and a new Courtyard cafe. The school also boasts exceptional outdoor and indoor sports facilities which include a number of dedicated lacrosse pitches, athletics track, rounders pitches, floodlit all-weather astroturf pitches, indoor and outdoor netball courts, and hard surface tennis courts. The Davies Sports Centre includes a 25-metre six-lane indoor swimming pool with touchpad timing and water polo scoring facilities, a multi-purpose sports hall, dance studios, fitness suites, four glass-backed squash courts, a fencing piste, and a climbing wall. Wycombe Abbey pupils use Eton’s world-class Dorney Lake rowing facilities and local stables for equestrian sports.
Wycombe Abbey is a highly selective school and, from inception, has been heavily oversubscribed. Prospective pupils are required to undertake an online Cognitive Abilities Test as part of the initial application process. Those who satisfactorily complete this test will then be invited to attend an assessment at the school where they will meet with senior staff and discuss their potential application to the school. Pupils will then be expected to undertake the school’s prescribed Entrance Examinations, which include hour-long English and Maths tests. Admission entry points are in Year 7 (11+), Year 9 (13+), and Sixth Form (16+). Occasionally places may be available in other year groups. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate exceptional ability and will also be required to undertake a senior sport and musical programme at the school.
Whilst Godstowe has historically been the feeder school to Wycombe Abbey, the schools do not maintain a formal relationship and there is no guarantee of a place for Godstowe girls. Nonetheless, the schools do maintain an informal relationship owing to their shared history and geographic proximity. Many Godstowe girls are offered places at Wycombe Abbey and the school is regarded as a leading feeder. Furthermore, legacy candidates (i.e. those pupils who have a current or have had a past family member at the school) will be viewed favourably, however, this does not guarantee a place at the school and higher performing pupils in the assessment process may well be selected ahead of legacy applicants.
International applicants will be expected to ensure that they have arranged for appropriate visas and travel documents (typically this will be done through an agent that maintains a relationship with the school’s admissions team).
The school maintains a number of bursary schemes and scholarship opportunities for pupils of exceptional talent beyond the high standard already expected for admission to Wycombe Abbey. This may include musical, athletic, or academic scholarships which will offer varying levels of financial support depending on performance and means. Academic scholars will be expected to demonstrate a research project of their own undertaking whilst at the school.
Wycombe Abbey’s past pupils are known as Seniors, a convention common to Britain’s best independent girls’ schools. Wycombe Abbey Seniors are invited to participate in the school’s alumni association, which is an active and engaged group of past pupils that work closely with the school and, especially, the school’s development team. Regular reunion events are organised and the school encourages Seniors to return to the school often to discuss their career paths with current pupils and to facilitate mentoring those pupils embarking on similar career paths.
Whilst many Wycombe Abbey Seniors hail from many of Britain’s famous dynasties, many have had extremely distinguished careers making great contributions to academia, sports; the arts, society, politics, and public life and to advancing human understanding and equality. Particularly noteworthy alumni include: Lady Abdy Jane; Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Baroness Butler-Sloss; The Rt. Hon. Dame Sue Carr, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales; Judith Chaplin, MP, Penelope Fitzgerald; Dame Annie Gillie; Patricia Ann Hopkins, Lady Hopkins; The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Howe of Idlicote; Elizabeth Irving, Lady Brunner; India Knight; Lady Dorothy Nicholson; Dame Beverley Lang, The Hon. Justice Lang; Sally Phillips; Mary Pickford MP; Lady Charlotte Santo Domingo; The Hon. Dame Elizabeth Slade; Joy Bacon; Sonya Walger; and Lady Nicholas Windsor.
WYCOMBE ABBEY SENIORS
Accreditations and Affiliations
The school is an accredited independent school subject to oversight by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). It is a member of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), The Heads’ Conference (HMC), and the Independent Schools Council (ISC). In addition, the school is an accredited member of the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students (AEGIS), the Boarding Schools Association (BSA), and the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools (ICGS). The School’s representatives are approved members of the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS), the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA), the Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association (ISMLA), and The Independent Schools Christian Alliance (TISCA). The school was a member of the informal survey convened by Sevenoaks School and known as the Sevenoaks Group.
WYCOMBE ABBEY SCHOOL
BOARDING & DAY
11 – 18
YEAR 7 – SIXTH FORM
PROSPECTIVE CANDIDATES MUST UNDERGO AN ASSESSMENT AND COMPLETE ENTRANCE EXAMINATIONS AND A COGNITIVE ABILITY TEST.
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
IN LINE WITH NATIONAL GUIDELINES
INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS INSPECTORATE
ROLL NO: 7273
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION
FAITH / ETHOS
ANGLICAN (CHURCH OF ENGLAND)
PEDAGOGY / PHILOSOPHY
SUBURBAN / TOWN-CENTRE
AIRLIE | BARRY | BUTLER | CAMPBELL | CLARENCE | CLOISTER | JUNIOR | PITT | RUBENS | SHELBURNE | WENDOVER
DUKE OF EDINBURGH
MODEL UNITED NATIONS
TYCOON ENTERPRISE COMPETITION
VARIOUS ACADEMIC SOCIETIES AND SOCIAL CLUBS
ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL (SOCCER)
ATHLETICS (TRACK & FIELD)
SWIMMING & DIVING
GIRLS’ EDUCATION COMPANY
PATRON / VISITOR
HEAD OF SCHOOL
MRS JO DUNCAN
650 PUPILS (MAJORITY BOARDERS)
AVERAGE CLASS SIZE
GBP £36,000 – £47,700 PER ANNUM
ADDITIONAL FEES AND CHARGES APPLY
SCHOLARSHIPS, BURSARIES & FINANCIAL AID
A VARIETY OF BURSARY AND SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES EXIST FOR ACADEMICALLY, ARTISTICALLY AND / OR ATHLETICALLY GIFTED CANDIDATES
NAVY SCHOOL JUMPER AND SKIRT, WHITE AND SKY BLUE STRIPED BLOUSE, HOUSE TIE, NAVY SOCKS AND BLACK FLAT SHOES. UPPER SIXTH FORM GIRLS MAY WEAR SMART MUFTI
BOAT CLUB COLOURS
ACCREDITATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS, AND AFFILIATIONS
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SISTER SCHOOLS & PARTNER SCHOOLS
CRESSEX COMMUNITY SCHOOL
RGS HIGH WYCOMBE
WYCOMBE ABBEY SCHOOL CHANGZHOU
WYCOMBE ABBEY SCHOOL HANGZHOU
WYCOMBE ABBEY SCHOOLl HONG KONG
WYCOMBE ABBEY SCHOOL NANJING
IN FIDE VADE (GO IN FAITH)
“IN FIDA VADE” / “FORTY YEARS ON”
GAZETTE / SENIORS
CELEBRATED ALUMNI & FACULTY
LADY ABDY JANE; ELIZABETH BUTLER-SLOSS, BARONESS BUTLER-SLOSS; RT. HON. DAME SUE CARR, LORD CHIEF JUSTICE OF ENGLAND AND WALES; JUDITH CHAPLIN, MP; DAME FRANCES DOVEPENELOPE FITZGERALD; DAME ANNIS GILLIE; PATRICIA ANN HOPKINS, LADY HOPKINS; RT. HON. BARONESS HOWE OF IDLICOTE; ELIZABETH IRVING, LADY BRUNNER; INDIA KNIGHT; LADY DOROTHY NICHOLSON; DAME BEVERLEY LANG, HON. JUSTICE LANG; SALLY PHILLIPS; MARY PICKFORD, MP; LADY CHARLOTTE SANTO DOMINGO; HON. DAME ELIZABETH SLADE; JOY TACON; SONYA WALGER; AND LADY NICHOLAS WINDSOR
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