Woodford County High School (London)
Woodford County High School (WCHS) is a secondary all-girls selective grammar school in Woodford Green in the London Borough of Redbridge, England. The school opened in 1919.
Woodford's brother school is Ilford County High School.
Like most grammar schools, Woodford County High School has seven Years (7–13). To gain a place in the lower school, children take the Eleven Plus exam via the local authority, the London Borough of Redbridge. Redbridge offer the top 120 girls from the 11+ exam results a place at Woodford County High School where, upon entry, girls are allocated to one of 4 individual 'forms' of 30 students each. Each of the four forms in every year group for Years 7-11 is part of a different school 'house'. These houses are Repton (blue), Warner (yellow), Highams (green) and Newton (red). There are many roles that students are encouraged to volunteer for within the day-to-day running of the school, including representation of peers on the 'school council' and becoming 'Silver Badges' (Y12/13 6th Formers with additional responsibilities). 6th Form (Y12/13) places at the school are highly sought after, and applications to attend 6th Form are open to those who have attended schools other than Woodford County High School in Years 7 to 11.
The school building was the site of the Highams Manor, built in 1768. The grounds of the school were designed by Humphry Repton, who gives his name to one of the school's houses.
The school has a long and colourful history, being a hospital, in which the likes of Florence Nightingale worked, as well as a means of accommodation for Winston Churchill during the World War II. It was also once owned as a house, owned by the Warner family, who also held ownership of many properties in Walthamstow.
Higham Hall, the Main Lobby (which is now the office) and the winding staircase were designed by William Newton.
The school history is learnt by students in year 7 for the first half-term of the academic year.
The School Birthday
The "School Birthday" is celebrated annually around 29 September. On this particular day, former students of the school (called "Old Girls") visit and a marquee is erected on the back terrace. During the morning there is an assembly, attended by the whole school as well as visitors where the Silver Badges read speeches on a topic of their choice. In 2009, this topic was "Notable Women in History", whilst in 2010 the topic was, "New Beginnings". A cake competition is held, where students can enter cakes for one of four categories: Junior Novelty, Senior Novelty, Junior Traditional and Senior Traditional. The cakes are judged during morning breaktime and the winners announced.
Periods 3 and 4 take place as normal, although are usually considered 'fun' lessons, after which pupils return to their form rooms to do fun activities with their form prefects (Year 13s). After lunch, each year is allowed to wear non-uniform and does a separate year activity — aided by Year 12s. The activities are:
- Year 7: Outdoor Cooking or The British Heart Foundation Skipping Challenge (2009) — Year 7 use gas cookers and cook on the tennis courts or in the Greek Theatre. Members of the sixth-form help with the cooking. If it is raining, the cooking takes place under the School Birthday marquee or science labs. After 2010, instead of outdoor cooking, the task was changed to "Year 7 Fitness Challenge" as cooking posed a health and safety risk. However in 2011, the pupils in year 7 will once again cook.
- Year 8: Murder Mystery — filmed by the Silver badges, each year tells a different story in which one teacher is killed by another. The Year 8s must travel around the school collecting clues from the Year 12s which point towards the identity of the killer. Once the activity is over, they hand in their choice of murderer and the motive before watching the end of the recording - which finally reveals the murderer.
- Year 9: The Woodford Challenge takes place on the field. Year 9s travel around the field doing quizzes and puzzles.
- Year 10: Bowling
Throughout the school year there are various competitions between the four houses. The biggest and liveliest of the year is the House Drama Festival, which takes place in November. In this event, each House performs a musical, requiring a chorus and principal roles to be filled. At the end of the week of this event, the judges (former teachers from the school) give out awards such as Best Junior Actress, Best Senior Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Chorus, Best Orchestra, Best Costumes, Best Scenery, Best Publicity and Best Props.
Other house competitions include the 5 Penny Race, held annually in October, during which students lay out 5 pence pieces which have been collected during the year, in lines stretching along the back terrace. Each house has a line to which its members contribute the 5p's; when full, the line is cleared, to be replicated with another line in its place. The winning house is the one which manages to fill the highest number of lines in the one hour of a lunchtime set aside for this event to take place. All monies use to complete lines goes to a charity which focuses on children with leukaemia, in memory of a former pupil. The blue house, Repton, has won this competition 17 years running, due to an amazing commitment to collecting and donating 5p coins by the two most recent House Heads (teachers).
Annually, the school's Asian Society organises a play, formerly known as 'Asian Play' but which has since been renamed the 'Spring Production', showcasing writing, producing, directing, acting and dancing, all done entirely by the pupils. All proceeds go to charity. In 2006, 'Colours, Compromises and a Couple of Ladoos' was performed, loosely based on the comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
During the summer term, pupils can opt to take part in another drama, known as 'Summer Production', which is organised and directed by two former Woodford teachers. In 2011, the play 'Annie' was performed and in 2012 the girls performed a phonomenal 'Oliver Twist.'
An annual 'Prize-giving' event is also held, during which pupils who have been commended by a certain number of teachers as having worked hard during the previous year are awarded prizes. In 2010, the prizes were awarded by Baroness Andrews, O.B.E
During Harvest, another competition is held between houses, in which all forms up to Year 11 are required to produce a 'Harvest Window', which is put up on windows to promote Harvest-themed subjects.
Notable former pupils
- Kathleen Lonsdale (1903–1971), crystallographer
- Jenny Powell, TV presenter
- Lucy Kirkwood, Playwright
Gaudeamus, and Forty Years On are the school songs. It is unknown why these two songs were picked. The songs are traditionally sung on the school birthday, and the last day of all terms.