1 October 2021
This remarkable building offers the perfect environment for the transition from school to university, in keeping with the FHS vision of providing a transformational Sixth Form education that promotes creativity, innovation and enterprise.
The Old School House is a stunning 909m2 neo-gothic building which has undergone a £3.5 million renovation and increased the current school footprint by 15%. Joining directly to the School’s existing buildings, but with its own dedicated entrance on Ebury Street, it offers the opportunity for our 150 Sixth Form girls to collaborate with entrepreneurs in our community and network with those committed to changing the mindset of the next generation. The Old School House started off as a boys’ school back in 1847, but was tragically bombed in World War Two, and so it seems very apt that this incredible building has now reverted to its original purpose of educating young people in their formative years.
The interior design and atmosphere provided by the Old School House are those of a creative workspace or modern university building rather than a traditional school. Comfortable seminar rooms replace classrooms; there is a dedicated A Level science laboratory, a well-stocked library with a popular Feminist section, a state-of-the-art fitness suite with the latest Technogym equipment, a spacious beamed common room with an abundance of greenery and discrete study spaces for individual or collaborative working. Sixth Form girls have their very own café offering breakfast and delicious snacks throughout the day, including school lunch, and bean to cup coffee is available on every floor.
Sixth Formers enjoy numerous privileges and leadership opportunities as they develop greater independence in preparation for the transition to university or college life. We have recently been granted a TEDx licence, affording girls fantastic public speaking experience while also exploring some of the most ground-breaking and topical ideas in today’s world. Alongside this, our flagship programme is our Sixth Form Innovation Sprints – a fast paced series of workshops with Link Entrepreneurs where pupils learn to start businesses alongside their studies. We also run a mentoring programme to provide real-life business learning with an emphasis on giving back, in keeping with our passionate belief in the importance of social responsibility.
The Duke of Westminster, the Lord Mayor and Mayoress of Westminster and of course our generous benefactors were invited to celebrate the official opening of this unique building. The evening began with a wonderful performance by our Years 10 and 11 String Quartet while our guests were given tours of the Old School House by current Sixth Formers. Headmistress Mrs Elphinstone then addressed our guests, commenting “We are proud of our long-held relationship with Grosvenor and honoured that the Duke of Westminster is following his father who graciously opened two major developments in Francis Holland’s recent history. We are also deeply indebted to the generosity of parents and friends who gave freely of their time, talent and treasure to enable this unique project to shine a light in the midst of the pandemic of 2021.”
This was followed by a speech by the Duke of Westminster in which he also praised the longstanding relationship between Francis Holland and Grosvenor Estates and highlighted the similarities in ethos between them. At FHS, one of our most intrinsic values is to enable and empower our girls to be the difference in society, which echoes Grosvenor’s focus on pioneering sustainable property development and environmental leadership.
The Duke of Westminster marked this very special occasion in the School’s history by unveiling the commemorative plaque which will now be proudly displayed in the Old School House for posterity.
Our numbers are growing fast as ambitious young girls turn to us for a truly holistic education that will allow them to transition seamlessly into compassionate, confident and successful adults with integrity and humility. We look forward to our school community enjoying this phenomenal building and its facilities for many years to come.