125th Anniversary Celebrations

In 2015, we celebrated the 125th year since our foundation. This section is an archive of all the celebratory events that took place during the year.

Welcome from the Headmistress

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to this special section of our website, which celebrates 125 years since the foundation of Withington Girls’ School.  We intend to continue to add content throughout 2015, including news of celebratory events and previously unseen archive material, so please do remember to visit this section from time to time, to see what is new.

wgs104_sue-marksI feel immensely privileged to be the tenth Headmistress in Withington’s remarkable history. The Founders, when they met in 1889 at Lady Barn House, Withington, to discuss
the possibility of establishing a “continuation school” for their daughters, could scarcely have imagined that the resultant school would prosper and develop to attain national recognition as a centre of excellence in school education. From its first four pupils in 1890, the School has developed to the current total of around 640 – large enough to offer a challenging and contemporary range of academic subjects and extra-curricular activities, yet still sufficiently small that every girl is known as an individual.

Excellent schools never stop striving for “incremental improvement” and, as this 125th anniversary year progresses, so will the construction behind the Arts Centre of a new, purpose-built Junior School and the creation of the ‘Hub’ – an enclosure of the resultant courtyard to create a light, bright, functional internal space beneath the Arts Centre for recreation and displays of girls’ work. The new building will be complete by September this year, a new landmark in the School’s history.

The ethos, aims and values of the Founders have influenced the development of the School from its inception, and they continue to provide the framework for current procedures and plans for the future. The Founders’ vision – remarkable in its time – was to prepare girls for higher education and “the work of life”. It prescribed greater emphasis than was then usual in girls’ schools, on science as a training in observation and reasoning, on “manual training” and outdoor games. The Founders expected that schoolwork should be its own reward, rather than relying on examinations and prizes “as motives for exertion”. These tenets continue to underpin Withington’s development in the 21st century, although we naturally take great pleasure in our girls’ success in public examinations and national competitions.

From our Foundation, it has remained the aim of successive Headmistresses and Governing Bodies that the fees charged should be “as moderate as is consistent with the efficiency of the School”, and the means-tested Bursaries offered today make it possible for many girls to attend the School irrespective of their families’ financial circumstances. I believe the Founders would approve wholeheartedly of the opportunities the Bursary programme offers to girls from the Manchester area.

Withington in the 21st century is a school with a strong sense of its unique heritage and a powerful vision for its future in an increasingly technological and globalised world. We who have the privilege of being the School’s current custodians look to that future with confidence, striving to build on the efforts of those who have gone before us, and always looking to move onward and upward – Ad Lucem: Towards the Light.

Mrs Sue Marks


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