St Swithun’s School

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St Swithun’s School, Winchester, is set on an impressive and attractive campus of over 45 acres overlooking open countryside in Hampshire, yet only a 50 minute train journey from central London. The school offers excellent teaching, sporting and recreational facilities with day, weekly boarding and full boarding options for 510 girls aged 11-18. There is an adjoining Prep School for girls aged 4-11 with a co-ed nursery.

St Swithun’s has a long-standing reputation for academic rigour and success, but this is only a part of what the school offers. Jane Gandee, headmistress, describes the school as ‘appropriately academic’ expecting girls to give their full attention to classwork and to homework before taking advantage of the wide range of co-curricular activities on offer. Girls are encouraged to develop individual passions and expected to display intellectual curiosity, courage, perseverance, compassion, humility, respect and a sense of fun.

The senior school has six boarding houses for its 214 full and weekly boarders, with separate houses for those in their first year and those in the upper sixth. The school buildings are modern and well equipped. As well as the normal academic classrooms and science laboratories, there is a magnificent performing arts centre with a 600-seat auditorium, a music school, an art and technology block, a sports hall and a full-size swimming pool. There is an impressive library and ICT facility. The grounds are spacious and encompass sports fields, tennis courts and gardens.


The learning support department supports the aims of the school by encouraging pupils to maximise their full potential and develop their talents in a caring and supportive environment.

Through the learning and reinforcement of specific skills and knowledge, we aim to underpin the pupils’ academic studies, building on their strengths and supporting any weaknesses. However, the emphasis of learning support is to encourage each girl to think and make decisions for herself, focusing on problem solving, personal responsibility and self-esteem.

Everyone in the first year group at St Swithun’s receives advice and practical help with their organisation and with study skills and their good working habits are supported and encouraged by form tutors throughout the year.

We encourage any girl (regardless of age) to seek advice, reassurance or practical help and we listen sensitively to, and take account of, her own perceptions and analysis of her needs when considering the programme of support to be offered.

Alongside this open-door policy we also identify pupils who are experiencing difficulties through school screening procedures and staff and parental referral. If we and parents feel it is necessary then we seek outside agency help and work in partnership with them. At all times we liaise closely with teachers, form tutors and house mistresses to make sure everyone on the team is aware of the support being provided.

The learning support department identifies those pupils who are in need of special examination arrangements and we provide the girls with the skills they need to demonstrate their true potential under exam conditions.

Individual programmes may include any of the following:

  • Time management, personal organisation, planning skills
  • Spelling (knowledge, strategies and practice)
  • Reading skills (decoding, comprehension, strategies and speed)
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Development of written work
  • Note taking
  • Essay writing
  • Revision skills and strategies
  • Memory skills and techniques
  • Examination technique
  • Handwriting
  • Stress management and emotional support


Known as the EAL department, which stands for ‘English as an additional language’, we offer both language and pastoral support to girls for whom English is not their mother tongue, or who have been exposed to major influence from another language. We also support girls who are full or overseas boarders and would benefit from advice from another dedicated adult.

Our aim is to help the girls concerned to feel secure and comfortable while at St Swithun’s, especially when they first arrive, and to go on to maximise their academic achievement.

Initially, the girls are given a lesson every week where we get to know them and help them with any worries, which are usually easily solved. There are also a range of social activities to help the girls integrate into the school. We assess the girls’ English skills where appropriate and, in consultation with them, build a programme of weekly study to develop, consolidate, and extend their linguistic fluency, which we sustain throughout their time at the school. We keep in close contact with other academic and pastoral staff, who let us know if particular problems arise for which girls need specific help.

Practical areas in which we support girls range from increasing their awareness of cultural expectations of behaviour and language use, to taking them to register their passports with the police if they need to.
The department is careful to get to know the girls well and to respond sensitively to their needs and concerns. Typical lessons start with a few minutes’ chat to make sure that all is well; this talk is also used to monitor girls’ fluency in spoken English.

Individual learning programmes may include any of the following:

  • Explorations of the formality of language expected in different situations
  • Reading for comprehension
  • Vocabulary extension
  • Grammatical exercises and explorations of how languages work
  • Support for particular curriculum subjects, such as GCSE English
  • Cultural awareness activities
  • Study of topical issues through newspaper articles
  • IELTS classes to prepare girls for university entrance

We are particularly keen to learn about the girls’ own cultures and to celebrate them as we help them to enjoy their life at St Swithun’s. Equally we aim to be sure that their English skills are enhanced by the time they leave the school, particularly in reading and writing, so that they can use English confidently as they meet the demands of the adult world.

Bursaries & Scholarships

St Swithun’s offers academic scholarships at 11+, 13+ and 16+. These carry a fee subsidy of up to 20%.

Music scholarships may be awarded each year to suitable applicants at 11+, 13+ and 16+ and carry a fee subsidy of up to 20%.

Sports scholarships to a maximum value of 20% fee remission may also be awarded at the end of year 9 and at 16+.

Maths scholarships may be awarded each year to suitable applicants at 13+ and 16+ and carry a fee subsidy of up to 20%

Bursaries are also available. The level of financial assistance offered to an eligible applicant may be up to 100% of tuition fees. All awards are at the discretion of the awards committee and their decision is final. Armed forces bursaries are also available.

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