Families with young children have been moving to the London Borough of Barnet because of the strong performance of its secondary schools -- a strength recognised at the annual "Celebration of Excellence" at Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School.


Awards were presented in recognition of achievements during the 2022-23 academic year by a former pupil, Lady Alison Leahy (left), guest speaker for the evening, who was welcomed by the headteacher Mrs Violet Walker (right).

Neil Marlow, Barnet Council’s director of education and learning, who joined the celebration, praised QE Girls for its academic success and popularity.

Barnet was a London borough with a growing population because families with young children understood how good its schools were teaching children aged 11 to 18.

“Every secondary school is rated as good or outstanding and that is a strong pull factor in attracting families with school age children.”

Mr Marlow said the opening in 2019 of the Ark Pioneer Academy at Underhill, which had been fully subscribed each year, was a further illustration of the strength of the borough’s schools.

“Initially there were questions as to whether the new Ark academy would be needed and whether it would have an impact on other secondary schools nearby, such as QE Girls and Totteridge Academy.

“But all three schools are fully subscribed, and the arrival of the Ark has shown there is the demand and that we needed the Ark if the borough is to meet its statutory obligation to provide a school place for every child at 11.”

While there had been no slackening off in the demand for places at secondary schools, the borough was beginning to see a reduction in the number of primary school pupils coming forward.

He thought this was a reflection of the post-Covid repercussions such as a trend of people moving out of London and more working from home at some distance from the capital.

For Alison Leahy and Violet Walker this “Celebration of Excellence” event was a re-union for two former school buddies.

They are both former pupils of QE Girls and were in the same year group in the 1970s studying maths, physical science, and biology.

Alison went on to study medicine at UCH and Violet did a degree in psychology at UCL.

They both had fond memories of their time at QE Girls and how they had bonded as friends.

Alison said that when they started at the school the girls were still wearing berets and the uniform rules were very strict. “If your heels were a millimetre too high, you knew all about it.”

Violet, who was appointed headteacher in 2015, said the great difference between her time as a pupil and now was that QE Girls was the half the size back then.

“In the 1970s there were 600 girls at the school. Now there are 1,200.”