Watford Grammar School for Girls

Watford Grammar School for Girls (commonly abbreviated WGGS) is an academy for girls in Watford in Hertfordshire, UK. Despite its name, it is only a partially selective school, with 25% of entrants admitted on academic ability and 10% on musical aptitude.[1]

Watford Grammar School for Girls
Lady's Close

, ,
WD18 0AE

Coordinates51°39′05″N 0°23′46″W / 51.6515°N 0.3962°W / 51.6515; -0.3962
TypePartially selective academy
MottoSperate parati
("Go forward with preparation")
Established1704; 320 years ago (1704)
1884 (refounded)
FounderElizabeth Fuller
Department for Education URN136289 Tables
Chairman of governorsNick Moorhouse
HeadmistressSylvia Tai
Age11 to 18
Colour(s)  Navy blue and   yellow

Its GCSE results were the highest achieved by non-grammar state schools in England in 2007.[2]



The school and its brother school, Watford Grammar School for Boys, descend from a free school founded as a charity school for boys and girls by Elizabeth Fuller in 1704 and refounded as a secondary school in 1884.[3][4][5][6]

The school has occupied its present site in central Watford since 1907. The name Watford Grammar School for Girls dates from 1903. Although the school ceased to be a tripartite system grammar school in 1975, it retains some features of the grammar school tradition.[7]

The school site is divided in two by a public footpath, with a footbridge spanning the path to connect the two parts. The northern part includes a former private house, Lady's Close now used as the English block. Also in the northern part is the PE block and Fuller Life Gym (with a swimming pool), open to members of the public in non-school hours. A new building, Hyde House, is also situated in the northern part. Except during the First World War, when it was taken over by the Red Cross as an auxiliary hospital, the building served as the school's preparatory department until that department was closed in 1944. Since then it has served as the home of the entry form to the school.[8]

The school today


Watford Girls has been partially selective since 1995, though the proportion of selection has been reduced over this period. The school also gives priority to sisters of current pupils at the school. Prior to 2008 it also gave extra consideration during the selection process to sisters of pupils of Watford Grammar School for Boys.[9][10] Its admission area reaches out about 5 miles (8 km), including some northern parts of the London boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon. In comparison with the national average, its intake has significantly higher academic attainment, greater ethnic diversity and fewer children receiving free school meals.[11]

An inspection in 2007 by the Office for Standards in Education rated the school as outstanding in all categories.[11] It has long been near the top of performance tables for comprehensive schools, but when the key measure at GCSE was changed in 2007 to include English and mathematics the school moved to the top position.[2] The then-headmistress, Dame Helen Hyde, attributed part of their success to De Bono Thinking Tools, for which the school was one of the first in the United Kingdom to receive accreditation as a national training school.[12][13]

Notable former pupils




(since the founding of the secondary school in 1884)[7]

  • 1884 Louise Walsh
  • 1884–1895 Julia Anne Kennaby (married name Rogers from 1893)
  • 1895–1913 Ann Coless
  • 1913–1938 Grace Fergie
  • 1938–1956 Jean Davidson
  • 1957–1973 Jessie Tennet
  • 1974–1987 Margaret Rhodes
  • 1987–2016 Dame Helen Hyde
  • 2016–2017 Clare Wagner
  • 2017–present Sylvia Tai


  • 7A - Red
  • 7B - Yellow
  • 7C - Blue
  • 7D - Purple
  • 7E - White
  • 7F - Pink
  • 7G - Green

See also



  1. ^ Adams, Richard (23 January 2014). "Watford academy tops GCSE rankings of non-selective state schools". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b Paton, Graeme (24 August 2007). "All-girl schools top results league table". Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2008. [dead link]
  3. ^ Samuel Lewis, ed. (1848). "Watford (St. Mary)". A Topographical Dictionary of England (7th ed.). p. 486. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  4. ^ William Page, ed. (1908). "Watford: Introduction". A History of the County of Hertford: volume 2. pp. 446–451. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  5. ^ W.R. Carter (1894). "Mrs. Fuller's Free School". Watford Endowed Schools Journal. 3.
  6. ^ W.G. Hughes; M. Sweeney (1954). Watford Grammar Schools for Boys and Girls: A History of their Foundation and Development. Watford: Mayflower Press.
  7. ^ a b Neil Hart, ed. (2005). Mrs Fuller's Free School: Three Hundred Years of the Watford Grammar Schools. Rickmansworth: Atlantic Publishing.
  8. ^ Hart (2005), pp. 79–80, 140.
  9. ^ Judith Judd (20 November 1997). "Education: In a league of their own - or selective on the sly?". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 February 2008. Retrieved 30 April 2008.
  10. ^ Elizabeth Passmore (26 September 2008). "Determination: Watford Grammar School for Girls". Office of the Schools Adjudicator. Archived from the original on 24 March 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2008.
  11. ^ a b Watford Grammar School for Girls, Ofsted.
  12. ^ Nicola Woolcock (10 January 2008). "Lateral thinking paves the way to GCSE success". The Times. London. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  13. ^ Helen Hyde (July 2004). "Why Thinking Skills? Why De Bono Thinking Tools?". Foundation & Aided Schools National Association Newsletter. Archived from the original on 22 September 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2008.
  14. ^ "'It makes all the hard work worthwhile'". Watford Observer. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  15. ^ Joanna Moorhead (24 October 2007). "Girl power comes of age". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  16. ^ Meikle, James (1 May 2016). "Liz Kendall challenges Priti Patel to EU debate at their old school". Guardian.