Head of Surrey school named best in UK says no phones and 'special community' is secret to success

Guildford High School has been awarded Independent 'School of the Year'. Credit: Google Maps/PA Images

The headteacher of a Surrey school which was named the school of the year has credited their no mobile phone rule and the school's 'special community' as the secret to the schools success. 

Independent school Guildford High has been awarded Independent 'School of the Year' amongst all schools nationally, according to The Sunday Times Parent Power Guide.

Headteacher Karen Laurie says she hopes to create an environment that feels like “being at school is "the best years of their life” with a “sense of joy and excitement”.

Pupils play a version of the Harry Potter game Quidditch on the lacrosse pitch, and there are hundreds of clubs from coding to football, or rowing to crochet.

Mobile phones are handed over in the morning to be locked away until it is time to go home.

Karen Laurie became headteacher of Guildford High School in September 2023. Credit: BPM Media

Reacting to the news that the school had won, Karen Laurie said: "It is a real honour to have been named Independent School of the Year And for our academic performance to have been recognised by The Sunday Times.

"My aim is to offer our pupils a plethora of opportunities, both academic and co-curricular, which instil a love of learning and a daily dose of wellbeing. School should be fun and life at GHS is never dull.

"There is a ‘GHS Feeling’ that comes from participation in such a wide variety of activities, stimulating lessons, and daily interactions between pupils, teachers and friends. Pupils channel this ‘GHS Feeling’ both inside and outside the classroom and it allows them to achieve success in all areas of school life.

"I am extremely proud to lead this exceptional school and my thanks go to my staff, governors, our parents and our wonderful pupils who together create a very special community"

The guide found conversations around mental health are now ingrained in the top schools with many offering mentoring systems, talks from motivational speakers, and workshops offering study tips and techniques to help with stress and anxiety.

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Helen Davies, Editor of Parent Power, said: “The educational landscape continues to be challenging across both the state and independent sectors, and this is the first true assessment of post-pandemic exam results in England.

"We believe these rankings – and all the additional information on offer in Parent Power – provide parents with a more reliable guide to academic achievement in schools today.

“The guide showcases academic excellence but also celebrates schools who may not be right at the top but are rising, innovating and helping pupils flourish.Being a teenager is hard enough, and the past few years since Covid have made life even harder.

"It is heartening to highlight the achievements of so many students and schools across the UK.

“This year Parent Power includes details on all those other issues that you choose a school as well as results from extracurricular clubs, wellbeing initiatives even school lunch menus – chicken katsu seems to be the dish of the day.”