Cheltenham Ladies College: A Brief History


Date of Publication: 31 December 2018

We are proud to offer courses at Cheltenham Ladies College for summer 2019- but what should you know about this historic school before you arrive?

Learn more about the history of CLC below, as well as some information about the structure of classes at the school, academic results, and notable alumni.

A Brief History of CLC

Founded in 1853, Cheltenham Ladies’ College began with just 82 pupils- all of whom were day girls (non-boarding students). From 1858, Dorothea Beale served for almost 50 years at the college and was responsible for its flourishing during those years. She was instrumental in the introduction of maths and science at the college, despite parental opposition that these were not suitable or necessary for girls. In 1873, the College moved its location to the site of the original Cheltenham Spa (and this is where it remains to the present day). This new site contained only a boarding house, a few classrooms and the Lower Hall initially, but it soon grew in coming years to include music rooms, a library and laboratories. For those who wished to study further, Miss Beale also founded St Hilda’s College, Oxford, in 1893.

By 1900, college had become a thriving community of over 1,000 pupils, with boarders, day girls and part-time students, studying from Kindergarten to Degree level.

The Second World War had a major impact on the college, and in September 1939, all College buildings were requisitioned by the War Office and lessons were relocated to army huts.


Structure and Academic Results

For CLC, academic excellence forms the basis of College life, but the college considers the formation of character in their students just as important. The school is committed to preparing its students for life well beyond their college years, encouraging flexibility and resourcefulness in their students so that they can flourish in our rapidly changing world.

The school is divided into three divisions, Lower College (KS3), Upper College (KS4), and Sixth Form College (KS5).

The school’s academic results are high, both compared to the national average and within the independent sector. From 2014 to 2017, the school reported that over two thirds of A Level results and approximately 90% of GCSE results were A* or A grades. Since 2015, the school has been the top girls boarding school in the country for IB results for three consecutive years.


Notable Alumni

  • Kristin Scott Thomas, actress
  • Cheryl Gillan, Conservative Member of Parliament and former Secretary of State for Wales
  • Sally Keeble, Labour Member of Parliament
  • Rachel Lomax, the first woman Deputy Governor of the Bank of England
  • Cicely Mayhew, UK’s first female diplomat
  • Amber Rudd, Home Secretary (2016-2018)
  • Clare Marx, first female President of the Royal College of Surgeons (2014-2017), Chair of the General Medical Council (January 2019)
  • Beatrice Harraden, writer and suffragette
  • Nina Clarkin, World number one female polo player
  • Muriel Robb, Wimbledon Champion and only person to win all national UK tennis singles titles
  • Mary Russell, Duchess of Bedford, 11th Duchess of Bedford
  • Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, Commandant of the Women’s Royal Air Force and Chief Controller of the Auxiliary Territorial Service
  • HRH Princess Raja Zarith Sofiah, consort of the King of Johor, Malaysia (future Queen of Malaysia)

You can read more about CLC, the school’s news, and view the photo and video gallery on their website:

You might also be interested in watching this video: , which shows the class of 2018 reminiscing about what made CLC so great, and what they will miss once they graduate.

Related posts

March 04, 2020

A Guide to Our Junior Courses

  What are our junior courses? Open to students between the ages of 9-12, our junior courses offer a taste of British boarding school experience ….

Read more

April 16, 2019

Explore our Cities and Choose Where to Study

Since 2008 when we began, we have expanded to new locations almost every year- and while this is incredible, as it means we can offer ….

Read more

Sign up to the Newsletter

Want to know more? Enter your details below to sign up for our email newsletter.