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Godstowe School
Godstowe School
Godstowe School
top 200
Godstowe School High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire Visit
Godstowe School
High Wycombe
400 pupils, ages 3-13
Girls only
Day and Boarding

Godstowe School

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Our view

This school in the Chilterns achieves outstanding results through a magic mix of passion, dedication and skilful teaching. It’s a surprise to discover it’s non-selective, but that’s only one way in which Godstowe is forward-looking. The energetic head Kate Bailey embraces a modern approach to an all-girls boarding education, with confident, happy and successful pupils the proof that it’s an approach that works.


Founded in 1900 (the school lays claim to being the first British prep school for girls – and it’s also rumoured to have been the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers), Godstowe sits on a hill overlooking High Wycombe in a 12-acre site. The main building is covered with Virginia creeper, with a bright and airy atrium decorated in the school’s red and grey colours housing the main reception. A superb sports hall has a large viewing balcony, there’s a theatre and music recital room with excellent acoustics, and a 25-metre indoor swimming pool which was opened by former Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington in 2019. Also in the grounds are the nursery and pre-prep, known as the Lodge. The school has three bus routes, but there may be more in the pipeline.


Miss Bailey had a girls independent school education herself and takes an all-in attitude to the headship, which she took up in September 2022. It’s hard to know when she sleeps, what with dining with boarders on Mondays and Thursdays, joining them for weekend activities, running boarding councils for the girls and attending as many sports fixtures as possible (‘It’s when I have the best quality parent conversations,’ she says). Passionate and energetic, she exudes positivity and says her aim is to enrich things rather than make any major changes. Her big priority is STEAM; development plans are in place for a push on coding, robotics and engineering. A few years ago, one pupil won a computing scholarship to Rugby, which the school hopes will be the first of many.

She’s also been busy forming partnerships with other schools. A local state primary makes use of the swimming pool and Godstowe teams up with local boys prep schools as well as having good links with senior schools.


The school is proud to be non-selective. The main entry points are at nursery, Reception, and Years 3, 5 and 7. New joiners in other years come for an informal assessment, which is mainly for organising which sets they will join. There are around 430 girls with a capacity for 450. The school is pushing for pupils to stay on for Years 7 and 8; Miss Bailey believes the last two years are critical in the girls' development.

Academics and senior school destinations

There is a very positive, caring academic environment at the school, with every pupil celebrated for achieving her best. On our visit we saw lively – and well-mannered – girls eagerly engaging in learning, interacting easily with each other. Classrooms are large and airy, as well as incredibly tidy, with colourful wall displays. There are purpose-built labs for each of the sciences. From Year 5, there are specialist teachers in each subject. Girls are set for English and maths from Year 5 and everything else from Year 6. In Year 6, they can add Spanish or Latin as a second language to French.

In Years 7 and 8, pupils follow the Common Entrance and relevant scholarship syllabus requirements. Some of the senior schools the girls go on to are Downe House, Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Wycombe Abbey – all-girls boarding is popular. Others choose Wellington, Marlborough and Rugby, while the 10-15 per cent who leave in Year 6 tend to go to other independent boarding schools or local grammars.

The haul of scholarships and exhibitions each year is very impressive; in 2022 there were a total of 39 to 18 different schools.


Sport, especially lacrosse and netball, is a strength. Every other year, there is a lacrosse tour to America and the netball team invariably represents the school at the IAPS nationals; the U11 team had just made the finals on our visit. Hockey is becoming more popular, as is football club. The school makes a good showing in swimming too. From Reception onwards, the girls have weekly swimming lessons and there are swim squads and development squads before and after school. The pool is open to boarders on weekends.

The school is very musical with more than 80 per cent of the pupils learning an instrument – plenty are on offer, from fiddle and flute to harp and euphonium. Miss Bailey believes music helps build confidence and resilience and there is always an opportunity for the girls to perform, in choirs, recitals, orchestras and concerts.

Art is also brilliantly strong, with a spacious studio – complete with pottery wheels and kiln – that inspires the girls, whose artwork is of an extremely high standard. It’s not surprising that many leave with an art scholarship. Every May, all the pupils take part in an annual art exhibition and fashion show. Clubs are plentiful; 90 no less, including LAMDA, riding, filmmaking and knitting.


There are currently 75 full boarders, with 110 boarding a week when the flexi boarders are totted up. Around a third are international, mainly from Spain, China, Nigeria and Turkey. The three boarding houses are divided by year groups – Highlands for Years 3 to 5, and Walker and Turner for Years 6 to 8. Individual needs are catered for – say, if a child needs to sleep with a light on or in complete darkness. The girls muck in changing their own bedding and helping with the laundry. Mobile phones aren’t allowed in the boarding houses or on site at all. Day pupils who use them to commute hand them in when they arrive. In the boarding houses, old-fashioned communal phones are available to call home.

School community

There is a dedicated ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) at the school and it’s clear that every child is imbued with confidence. The school’s ethos: Confident, Happy, Successful, is palpable in its girls.

And finally....

A school that prides itself on helping its pupils achieve their potential and meet challenges confidently, Godstowe is non-selective but the girls are stretched without being stressed, leading to brilliant achievements both academically and in sport, art and music.

Gallery See All

Aerial view of Godstowe School
Girls in red caps and goggles with red floats in the swimming pool
Girl in a red jumper holding a notepad in the library
Girl in a red top and green eye mask playing lacrosse
Girls with red trays helping themselves to food at a canteen
Girls gathered around a wooden desk with a teacher drawing with a pencil and paper
Girl in green smock drawing in art class
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    Girls go on to a variety of independent girls' and co-ed schools, including Wellington College, Benenden, Wycombe Abbey, Bloxham, Bradfield, Bryanston, Rugby and Uppingham School.

  • Scholarships for senior schools


    Academic9Cheltenham Ladies' College; Downe House; Marlborough College; Queen Anne's; Rugby; St George's Ascot; Wellington College;
    Music5 Benenden; Cheltenham Ladies' College; Wellington College; Wycombe Abbey
    Drama2 Berkhamsted; Headington
    Sport10 Benenden; Bradfield College; Cheltenham Ladies' College; Marlborough College; Queen Anne's; Millfield College; Sedburgh' St George's Ascot; St Mary's Calne; Stowe
    Art7 Bradfield College; Charterhouse; Cheltenham Ladies' College; Queen Anne's; St Edward's Oxford; St George's Ascot
    DT2 Bradfield College; Marlborough College
    All Rounder1 Wycombe Abbey
    Other2 Benenden (Humanities); Rugby (Computing)

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 1£4,650
    Year 2£4,650
    Year 3£7,250
    Year 4£7,250
    Year 5£7,250
    Year 6£7,250
    Year 7£7,250
    Year 8 £7,250
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 £10,875
    Year 4 £10,875
    Year 5 £10,875
    Year 6£10,875
    Year 7£10,875
    Year 8 £10,875

    Godstowe offers means tested bursaries to girls who may otherwise be unable to attend the school due to financial constraints.  Bursaries are only offered to girls attending the Preparatory School (Years 3 to 8) however parents with children at any primary school may apply for a bursary during the preceding academic year in anticipation of entry into the Main Preparatory School. 

    A Bursary will normally be expressed as a percentage of the fees up to a maximum of 100%. In exceptional circumstances, further help may be available for uniform and school extras. Bursaries will be subject to annual means testing and may be varied up or down at the discretion of the Governors.

    The Bursary will be based on the financial circumstances of the family having regard to all pertinent considerations. (As a guide, it is unlikely that a Bursary will be awarded to a family with gross income in excess of £60,000pa and a bursary of 100% is unlikely unless the family gross income is less than £30,000pa.)

    Bursary contact:
    Director of Finance and Operations Samantha North
  • SEND

    Co-ordinator: Libby Warner
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School bus service to/from London
    Escorted train service to/from London
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: High Wycombe
    Journey time to London by train: 30 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Heathrow (18 miles)

School Updates

  • See Godstowe in our Town & Country Prep Schools Guide

    From bucolic country preps to schools on the edge of buzzy market towns or slap bang in the centre of a city, there are a myriad of prep school options up and down the UK and within a daily minibus-ride of the Big Smoke. Use our guide to help with your search.
    See Godstowe in our Town & Country Prep Schools Guide

Godstowe School is
linked with:


Shrubbery Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP13 6PR

01494 529273


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