Woodford County High School

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Woodford County High School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Headteacher Jo Pomeroy
Our STEM building houses science laboratories, open
learning spaces and a roof-top outdoor classroom
Founded in 1919, Woodford County High School is a
maintained selective girls’ school based in Woodford Green.
Continuing the high standards today that were established
at its foundation, the school acts carefully to balance its proud
tradition with modern educational techniques. Headteacher Jo
Pomeroy tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about the school’s
culture and ethos.
It has been a matter of considerable pride to everyone at Woodford that we celebrated
the school’s centenary this last year as the
Sunday Times
’ “London State Secondary
School of the Year”. Those founders who, in the aftermath of a world war, had the
vision and tenacity to establish a school for the education of girls would surely have
taken no less pride in the coincidence of this accolade with so significant a milestone.
Woodford County High School first opened to pupils on September 29, 1919.
Seven teachers oversaw the education of 110 girls in a building which had only
recently been repurposed having served as a military hospital throughout the
First World War. Over the intervening century the school has increased tenfold in
size. While its core purpose remains unchanged, the scope of its ambitions for its
students, the national and international networks within which it operates, and the
research and technology which underpin the business of learning day in and day
out place today’s school firmly in the 21st century.
Striking a fine balance between tradition and innovation
In grounds landscaped by Repton, our beautiful Georgian manor house sits cheek
by jowl with a state-of-the-art STEM building (the Centenary Centre) housing
»Headteacher: Jo Pomeroy
»Opened: 1919
»Based: East London/Epping
Forest border
»Type: Selective girls’ school
»No. of students: 1213
Woodford County
High School
Highlighting best practice
13science laboratories, open learning
spaces and a roof-top outdoor
classroom, complete with greenhouse
and astronomy dome – a physical
representation of the way our vibrant
school community balances the old
and the new, tradition and innovation.
In the curriculum, Latin and classics sit
side by side with creative technologies.
An innovation lab challenges girls to
put computational thinking to practical
use in the programming of robots, in
computer-aided design, in the creation
of problem-solving apps or in the on-
site manufacture of some suddenly
indispensable widget.
Highlights of our annual school
calendar similarly reflect the old and
the new. The rites of school birthday
celebrations have changed little over
the decades (a formal parade, a service
– and lots of cake), but then the school
year opens out to busking Thursdays,
to the building and competitive
racing of rocket cars, and to school
visits which range from the very local
(out and about in London) to the
international, including established
biennial expeditions.
Unlearning inequality
As a grammar school educating girls
in the sixth most multicultural local
authority in Britain, we value the
diversity and fluidity of our school
community and recognise the role
we play both in supporting social
mobility in our population and in
enlisting our students themselves
in the promotion of equality –
for everyone. An unusually high
proportion of our grammar school
leavers are the first in their families
to attend university, and we make
increasing use of programmes such as
those run by Villiers Park to support
their aspirations and build their
confidence. Involvement in an ongoing
2016 state department programme
researching educational provision for
refugee, migrant and underprivileged
children across six countries
underpinned planning for an equalities
programme, which subsequently
earned us a place on the Prince’s Trust
Training of the whole staff was
built upon subsequently by bespoke
coaching of a team of 16 student
Equality Ambassadors, tasked with
raising awareness among their fellow
students and working to counter
any issues (often unwitting but
impactful micro-aggressions) which
continue adversely to affect groups
of our students, in school or out.
Theultimate goal is to have a student
body, and a school, in which everyone
is comfortable and where issues that
arise – for they still will from time to
time – can be addressed in a context of
greater understanding.
A Wolfson Foundation
grant enabled us to
equip our STEM building
to university standards
We celebrate the School
Birthday annually each
We recognise
the role we
play both in
social mobility
and in enlisting
our students
themselves in
the promotion
of equality
Engaging everyone in
research-based learning
We are committed to building a
culture of research in the school
community. Enrolment with
CamSTAR (Cambridge University’s
support programme for school-
based research) provided a
framework for the whole staff
action research project, which two
years ago earned us the School
Research Mark. The endeavour is
reflected in student programmes,
with students at Key Stage 4
electing to complete CREST
on the basis of individual research
projects inscience.
Two thirds of A-level students
here gain the Extended Project
Qualifications (EPQs) on topics as
diverse as the gendering of robots
and the status of graffiti as an
art form. With so skilled a school
community (both staff and students),
we recognise the value of classroom-
based research and the sharing
of good practice. We are making,
we believe, the kind of investment
in research and development that
is conducive to real and ongoing
advancement ineducation.
Stepping up and stepping
The 2020 public health emergency,
which saw us almost overnight shut
one school and open two (WCHS
Remote Schooling and Key Worker
provision), tested our mettle as a
school community, both in terms
of our ICT capacity and, more
importantly, in terms of the deep-
seated resilience and resourcefulness
of staff and students.
The school – which, a decade ago,
didn’t use email (it wasn’t the
“Woodford way”, an incoming
headteacher was told) – wasn’t
found wanting. It’s testimony to
the efforts of everyone working
and studying here that our virtual
schooling model has been as
ambitious, effective and recognisably
“Woodford” in ethos as our now
centenarian school.
We are making,
we believe, the
kind of
investment in
research and
that is
conducive to
real and
advancement in
The annual School
Birthday Banner Parade
links Woodford girls past
and present
An Innovation Lab gives access to
the latest technologies


This article was sponsored by Woodford County High School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy