Cheltenham Ladies’ College – UK Boarding School Review
Founded in 1853, the school was established as a place to provide a “sound academic education for girls”. Starting with 82 students then, the school now has over 800 pupils at a time. In 1858, the school saw its most influential principal to date, 27 year old Dorothea Beale, a suffragette who pioneered women’s education in a time when learning biology would deem women unmarriageable. Under the direction of Dorothea Beale, who would devote the next 50 years of her life to the school, Cheltenham Ladies’ College (CLC) became a symbol of revolutionising women’s school education. In 1873, the school moved to its current location, the site of the original Cheltenham Spa. The school has since grown from a boarding house, the Lower Hall, and a few classrooms, to the sprawling campus it is today.
Table of Contents
Summary of School
- Type of school: Girls
- Age range: 11-18
- Pupils: 862, 316 (Sixth Form)
- Boarders: 78%
- Fees (2023/2024): £15,050 to £16,900 per term
- 2023 A Level Results: 71.7% A*/A
- 2023 GCSE Results: 87.1% 9-7 (A*/A)
- 2023 IB Results: 39.1 Point Average
Cheltenham Ladies' College Overview
Academic excellence forms the basis of CLC, with much care and attention devoted to the planning and resourcing of the school’s academic programmes and facilities. The school has over 120 full-time teaching staff, and a further 40 part-time teachers, as well as 40 music and drama teachers.
In Lower College, girls study separate Sciences, Computing, Humanities, Philosophical Enquiry, and a Language Acquisition course, which builds a foundation for the girls in Upper College, where most girls take 10 GCSE subjects. Girls also have a range of options in terms of the subjects they take, though a minimum of two Sciences and at least one Modern Language is recommended. Post-GCSE, girls have the option of opting for their A Levels, or joining the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
CLC’s campus is located in the heart of Cheltenham, a town with much to offer, from its graceful architecture and history, beautiful public gardens and diverse shops, to the sheer cultural diversity offered by the annual Cheltenham Festivals programme.
The campus also features beautiful surroundings, with Victorian Gothic creeper-clad grandeur among concrete modernism, with Dorothea Beale’s legacy of waning her girls to learn in surroundings that are as beautiful as the boys who had been favoured for centuries.
Boarding and discipline
CLC is an independent boarding and day school. Parents praised the pastoral care, be it for the boarders, who are split into houses of 60 girls per house, or day girls, with the house-mistresses noted as being responsive and contactable. Any incidents, such as friendship issues or bullying, are nipped in the bud very quickly. Houses, most of which are substantial and Victorian in design, are scattered in nearby leafy residential roads. Some houses are quite a hike away, which makes sensible footwear a must.
Girls do bring their own laptops, but internet use is heavily monitored, with social networking sites only open to those from year 9 onwards outside of school hours. An open library (with wireless access) means that girls are able to come and go freely to peruse its contents, though house-mistresses and academic tutors do liaise to avoid girls pushing themselves too hard, with staff in the library keeping an ear out for any late night working.
With that being said, the school introduced a whole-school wellbeing programme in 2015, complete with sessions in healthy lifestyles, coping with stress, study skills, self-defence and mindfulness. The school also meets every day in Princess Hall for prayers.
Cheltenham Ladies' College Courses
Lower College (LC)
In the Lower College (Years 7-9) curriculum, the school provides a comprehensive foundation, establishing the groundwork for GCSE courses, many of which commence during LC3 (Year 9). The institution encourages students to pursue a contemporary, well-rounded curriculum. Throughout this phase, students receive guidance to ensure that their early aspirations for Higher Education are nurtured and supported.
Upper College (UC)
During Upper College (Years 10 and 11), most students engage in 10 GCSE subjects, including core subjects like Mathematics, English Language, and Literature. Additionally, students have the option to undertake a Higher Project Qualification. The school actively encourages them to maintain a diverse curriculum while allowing them the freedom to choose their subjects.
Sixth Form College (SFC)
In the Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13), students have the choice to pursue either the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme or A Levels.
For those opting for the IB, they must select six subjects from distinct curriculum areas, with three at Higher level and three at Standard level. Additionally, they engage in a core program consisting of Theory of Knowledge, an Extended Essay, and Creativity, Activity, and Service.
Students who choose the A Level route can take up to four subjects in a linear course spanning two years. Those pursuing three A Levels may decide to study Mathematics and Further Mathematics or the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Furthermore, students can initiate their study of a new language through the IB language ab initio certificate. All A Level examinations occur at the conclusion of the second year.
The school offers an abundance of possibilities in terms of subject combinations, and there are ample opportunities for discussions about new subjects and choices at each stage. Unlike many schools, there are no predetermined options blocks. Instead, with guidance, students select a subject combination tailored to their individual needs and aspirations, which then forms the basis of their timetable.
Cheltenham Ladies' College 2023 Fees
Tuition Fees for Lower College, Upper College, and Current Pupils Advancing to Sixth Form
For the academic year 2023/24, the College tuition fees are as follows:
- Boarding: £15,050 per term
- Day: £9,900 per term
Tuition Fees for New Students Joining College in the Sixth Form
For the academic year 2023/24, tuition fees for new students joining the College in the Sixth Form are as follows:
- Boarding: £16,900 per term
- Day: £11,300 per term
Please note that additional charges may apply for external exams, certain co-curricular activities (such as offsite activities or extra music and drama lessons), supplementary coaching, select curriculum trips, educational magazine subscriptions, and optional insurance coverage.
Cheltenham Ladies' College 2023 Results
Cheltenham Ladies’ College have achieved great results in the A Level, GCSE, and IB examinations. In 2023, Cheltenham Ladies managed to achieve the following results:
- 2023 A Level Results: 71.7% A*/A
- 2023 GCSE Results: 87.1% 9-7 (A*/A)
- 2023 IB Results: 39.1 Point Average
CLC ranks 23rd in our A-Levels League Table for 2023. Their achievements at all three public examinations this year are keeping with their five-year average which sits at around the same percentages. This is a very great indication about how well the school has managed disruptions caused by the pandemic and still manage to maintain their high standards in education.
Their past results have also been excellent. In 2021, Cheltenham Ladies College achieved 84.3% A*/A in the A Level examinations, which is an increase from their previous achievement of 71% A*/A in 2019. Additionally, the college has achieved 96.1% A*/A in the GCSEs which is an improvement from their 2019 results which was 90% A*/A. Cheltenham also achieved a 42.7 point average for IB in 2021, an improvement from its previous achievement of 39.3 point average.
Cheltenham Ladies' College Entry Requirements
Cheltenham Ladies’ College is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive educational environment while maintaining high academic standards. To gain admission to the school, students are required to meet certain entry requirements and criteria tailored to their specific entry points:
1. Lower College (Years 7-9):
- Admission to Lower College typically occurs at the start of Year 7 (LC1).
- Prospective students may be required to take an entrance examination and participate in an interview as part of the assessment process.
- The school may also consider school reports, references, and any special educational needs or accommodations.
2. Upper College (Years 10-11):
- Entry into Upper College generally occurs at the start of Year 10.
- Applicants are typically required to provide their GCSE or equivalent qualifications from the previous stage of education.
- An interview and additional assessments or tests may be part of the admissions process.
- The school may also consider references and reports from the current school.
3. Sixth Form College (Years 12-13):
- Entry into the Sixth Form at Cheltenham Ladies’ College is typically at the start of Year 12.
- Prospective students may be required to provide predicted or achieved GCSE or equivalent results.
- For students pursuing A-levels, specific subject requirements may apply depending on the chosen courses.
- Those opting for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme should meet the prerequisites for this program.
- Interviews and assessments relevant to the chosen course of study may be part of the admissions process.
4. International Students:
- International students may be required to demonstrate proficiency in English through standardized language tests such as IELTS or TOEFL.
- Visa and immigration requirements must be met.
It’s important to note that admission criteria and requirements may evolve over time, and it’s advisable for prospective students and their parents or guardians to consult the school’s official website or admissions office for the most up-to-date information regarding entry requirements, application deadlines, and the application process.
Cheltenham Ladies' College Reviews
I’m a boarder and I’m always surrounded by friends. We support each other and help each other. It’s this interdependence that really makes boarding so much fun and so special.
Cheltenham Ladies’ College (CLC) is very good at producing well-rounded prototypes and its method of teaching is productive for those girls who are less independent in their academic approach. Class size ranged from about 15 in younger years to not more than about 10 in sixth form. The faculty were very hands on and accessible, though the limit of their skills were exposed with reference to the more independent students as discussed above. Work load was fairly high in sixth form, but never unmanageable.
It’s not always academic (at Cheltenham), there’s lots of fun activities and wellbeing and it’s really exciting.
I think there is something to be said about how willing the teachers are to go above and beyond what’s required of them as teachers just to support the students and to make sure you understand and that you’re okay.
Cheltenham students are known to be well-rounded, dynamic and capable. A lot of this is due to the great support that we have at CLC. There is this really positive culture where we support each other. The classes are small too, so we get to know each other pretty well. The teachers here are great and I owe them my successes!
Cheltenham Ladies' College Accommodation
For many of the students at Cheltenham Ladies’ College (CLC), joining the institution marks their first extended period away from home. Whether they come from the UK or overseas, the college’s house system is thoughtfully designed to facilitate a smooth transition for new boarders. Older students in each house play a pivotal role in welcoming and nurturing younger pupils, forming what are often referred to as “House families.” With the support of experienced staff and comfortable boarding houses, CLC strives to create a genuine home away from home for all its boarders. The aim is to ensure that each boarder feels not only included but also valued, part of a close-knit community.
The boarding houses are sanctuaries where girls eat, sleep, play, relax, and study. Within this environment, a strong sense of camaraderie and family flourishes, and girls develop a robust house spirit that comes to life during spirited inter-house competitions of various kinds.
The boarding houses at CLC serve several important objectives. Through the boarding experience, the college seeks to:
- Foster the growth of independent, confident young adults who can form mature, fulfilling relationships with family and friends while becoming contributing members of society.
- Ensure the overall well-being of each student, encompassing their physical, mental, and emotional health.
- Facilitate intellectual growth and academic achievement by providing a conducive environment for learning.
- Encourage participation and achievement in a diverse co-curricular program.
- Offer opportunities for leadership development and the assumption of responsibilities.
FLEXIBILITY AT WEEKENDS
While CLC primarily operates as a full boarding school, it recognizes that families have various commitments outside of school. Therefore, in addition to scheduled exeats and half-terms, most weekends allow boarders to spend time with their parents or guardians, departing from college on Saturday afternoon (once any commitments are completed) and returning in time for Sunday evening supper. There are exceptions, known as “closed weekends,” which include the first and last weekends of every term and special events, during which boarders are expected to remain on campus for the entire weekend.
This flexibility has proven invaluable to families, allowing them to balance school and home life effectively. It enables parents to support their daughters’ participation in college events, fosters closer relationships with parents, and strengthens the sense of connection to the broader college community.
At CLC, house allocation differs from other schools. Students apply to the school itself, rather than to a specific house, and house placements are determined 2-3 months before enrolment (typically in June/July for a September start), well after offers of admission have been accepted.
While many students actively engage in sports and music at CLC, the college does not link houses to specific activities, as some schools do. While parents can express a preference, if they have one, specific house placements cannot be guaranteed except in the case of siblings. CLC takes into account a wide range of factors when assigning students to houses, with the goal of achieving a balanced mix of abilities, interests, personalities, and backgrounds across each house community.
Cheltenham Ladies' College Extracurricular Activities
CLC places a strong emphasis on each girl striking a balance between academic and co-curricular activity, and offers over 170 activities for the girls to find their niche. However, music and drama play a large role at CLC, with opportunities for all students who wish to perform, as the school holds concerts and lunchtime recitals. The jewel in the school’s crown is actually its arts centre, located just across the main school on Parabola Road. Aptly named the Parabola, the arts centre features a 300-seat theatre, dance rehearsal rooms, and a small gallery. The gallery itself is primarily for the school’s use, though it does host public shows and exhibitions as well. The school often sees the presence of artists and writers in residence as well, who make use of the arts building.
CLC also holds to a strong tradition of charitable volunteering and fundraising, with the girls nominating and voting for four charities to support each year, alongside the charity established by CLC alumnae, called St Hilda’s East. In Cheltenham itself, girls are often seen helping out at homeless shelters, animal sanctuaries, primary schools, and retirement homes.
In terms of sports, physical activity is compulsory for all girls. The school recently added a new health and fitness centre to the campus, allowing sports such as hockey, tennis, and lacrosse to be played all year round. The school has also seen achievements in athletics, tennis, skiing, riding, and netball. Girls have also been making it to the national finals in hockey, swimming, and riding. For the less sporty, zumba and pilates are offered as well.