La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls' School

Hear From Our Students

Hear From Our Students

We took the time to catch up with some of our girls and Sixth Form students, both present and past, to find out more about their experience at La Retraite.

Harry Warren, Alumni

Harry joined the La Retraite 6 in 2018, where he gained three A-Levels in English and the Sciences, alongside the EPQ before progressing to York University to read Law.

 “As soon as I joined the La Retraite 6, I wanted to enjoy all of the opportunities they offered, not only to enjoy new prospects but also to enhance my CV and university applications. I soon became President of Sixth Form, and embarked on the scholarship programme, which provided access to unique law opportunities, open days and my own mentor from a law firm. I would recommend the LR6 to any student and encourage them to fulfil the pathway and goal aspirations they want to take – the Sixth Form staff are very supportive and dedicated to helping every student progress.”

Heli, Year 7 Student & Heber Primary School Alumni

With dreams of attending university to study Medicine or Law, Heli was drawn to La Retraite for its Outstanding Ofsted status, long history of success and reputation as one of the top schools in the country.

 “The change from primary to secondary school has been huge, but La Retraite helped me to settle in through virtual meetings, answering questions, transition work online and calls with teachers, which really prepared me for what was to come. I wanted to attend La Retraite because of their results, teaching and school values and for these reasons I would recommend the school to any girl”.

Olakou, Year 12 Student

With aspirations of becoming a medical microbiologist, Olakou seeks to find a cure against resistant strands of bacteria. With a passion for science and a strong sense of determination, we look forward to hearing more about her achievements in the years to come.

“Lessons at La Retraite are mentally stimulating, which is why I enjoy my subjects and have chosen to progress into the LR6. I believe that the standard of teaching and learning alongside the support from teachers has equipped me with the tools I need to achieve my very best. Our teachers are dedicated to preparing every one of us for our exams and life after school, through additional support and resources, implementing the high expectations to be expected, positions of responsibility and exposure to the world outside of school. It really is a unique school, and I  would recommend it to all girls”.

Cristopher Castro Panoz, Alumni

The strong community atmosphere and welcoming Catholic values created by La Retraite helped Cristopher and other external students transition and integrate into life at the La Retraite 6 easily.

 “I knew that the La Retraite 6 would be the best place for me, because of the range of enrichment opportunities and additional academic prospects I could experience, which I believed would be beneficial to both my own growth and to support my future applications. I was lucky enough to benefit from the Scholarship Programme which opened my eyes to the opportunities available to me, through a series of lectures and practical experiences, alongside the leadership skills amongst many others I gained whilst Sixth Form President. The culture of La Retraite was one of encouragement and support from teachers, which alongside the incredible learning experiences (including a trip to Washing DC and work experience to gain exposure in my chosen industry), helped me to secure my career aspiration of a degree apprenticeship at the Bank of New York Mellon.

Deba, Year 12 Student

“As a student leader, I have had the opportunity to develop many skills, including leadership, collaboration, reasoning, independent thinking, decision making and presenting, alongside supporting various aspects of school life. I have particularly enjoyed mentoring within my role and working closely alongside young year groups, ensuring they enjoy a smooth transition into secondary school and settle in to their new environment. I look forward to using these skills gained when I attend university to study medicine, for which I feel confident and prepared as a result of our career pathway experiences, including lectures, extra-curricular opportunities and careers fairs”.

Holly Au, Alumni

“During my time at La Retraite and Sixth Form, I was a recipient of the Music Scholarship and the Platinum Scholarship. The music scholarship was a huge privilege, it enabled me to play violin in the school orchestra, enjoy lessons and complete six grades, all subsidised by the school. I was also offered the Platinum Scholarship, which was based on my GCSE grades, and I used towards study resources whilst at the La Retraite 6. In addition, I had a mentor who worked in the surveying sector who networked with me to put me in touch with an engineering, environmental and mining consultancy to gain a work experience placement and the sixth form also organised two work experience placements at a rail engineering management company. I firmly believe that these additional opportunities, insights and experiences were fundamental to my success”.

Min Luo, Alumni

Min Luo left La Retraite Sixth Form in 2019 with a long list of achievements under her belt and having secured a place at the prestigious University of Oxford, to read Oriental Studies and Japanese. Citing the support of staff, Min Luo speaks highly of her teachers, who coached her to achieve her potential and encouraged her to pursue her goals, commenting that she will remember the kindness and support for years to come.

When asked what advice she would offer her younger self, Min Luo recalls the varying experiences offered by the school to push her out of her comfort zone, that enabled her to become confident in her own accomplishments. Referring to the school as a safe haven, she fondly refers to the school as family.

My greatest achievement to date is getting in to Oxford University, despite challenges faced and high entry requirements. It was incredibly rewarding to have achieved my greatest goal, and I believe La Retraite helped me in every aspect: from the supportive community of staff and peers, opportunities offered that provided me with the skills I would use beyond school, including different learning techniques and preparation to adapting to a new environment. I am so grateful and proud to have attended the school and Sixth Form, and truly cherish my seven years at La Retraite.

Treasure, Year 9 Student

At La Retraite, there are numerous opportunities that every girl should take advantage of and not miss out on! As a Year 9 student, I have basked in the greatness of my school for three years, and as a student leader, I also act as an ambassador for the school. Within my role, I work with teams to take a stand against bullying, I support younger year groups and the wider school community. With the help from my teachers and my own passion for education, I look forward to being the first member of my family to attend Oxford University.

 Fiona Asiedu, Alumni

Fiona graduated from La Retraite school in 2014, as the President of the La Retraite 6 and with an impressive portfolio of results under her belt, which enabled her to pursue her ambitious goals. She now works in a Workforce Strategy and Culture Consultancy Firm as a Senior Associate.

La Retraite staff were incredibly proud, but not surprised, when Fiona was invited to study at the prestigious University of Oxford where she went on to achieve First Class Honours in Experimental Psychology. An inspiration, Fiona is an active member of our alumni and Legacy campaign, frequently returning to us to speak to younger students of her experiences at studying at Oxford.

Following her graduation from Oxford University, Fiona accepted a place to Harvard University. Her campaign to crowd-fund her tuition fees garnered the attention of the media, with Rapper Stormzy donating to her campaign and allowing her to embark on her degree at the prestigious university.

Fiona’s intelligence is rivalled by her kindness, integrity and desire to make waves in the world. She offered her skills in diplomacy and advocacy as she took up the role of Vice President of Oxford’s African and Caribbean Society. She is remembered for her generosity and as a gifted student.

Olivia, Year 7 Student & St John XXIII Catholic Primary Alumni

 “I chose to apply for La Retraite as it specialises in Science, Maths and had a strong Music department: my three favourite subjects and some of which I hope to pursue later in life through my career and passions. Moving from primary to secondary school was a big change, but the school helped me, and all my peers, to settle in through visits to our primary schools to outline expectations and invitations to the school for Friendship Afternoon, Taster and Retreat Days, a staggered start and much more, which allowed us to begin building friendships, get to know our new school surroundings and meet with our teachers, which eased the process. I would recommend La Retraite to any girl looking for a welcoming school environment, lots of clubs, opportunities to try something new and teachers that make learning exciting”. 

Zeinab, Year 8 Student

With dreams to work within law and politics and to demonstrate to younger girls that anything is possible, Zeinab is a strong presence and active member in our school community.

In Year 8, Zeinab has already participated in a wealth of enrichment and learning experiences offered to all of our girls. A member of the student leadership, anti-bullying ambassadors and library assistant teams, Zeinab is also a scholar recipient and proudly represents our school in Debate Mate and on the school council. When asked why she would recommend the school, we thought it was best to let her explain for herself:

Attending La Retraite has opened my eyes to see I can achieve anything I want to. High expectations, encouraging and friendly teachers, a school that cares for your wellbeing, the opportunity to enjoy your passions in clubs and positions to take on responsibility and learn new skills is all La Retraite, and it is very special.

Tihara Smith, Alumni

A beneficiary of the Scholarship Programme, Tihara has a wealth of achievements, experiences and accolades under her belt: achieving A-A* in her GCSEs; FAD Fashion Futures Finalist in 2013; Lambeth Achievement Award 2013 recipient and Women of the Future Awards 2014 Shortlisted Candidate. Tihara studied at the London College of Fashion and the University for the Creative Arts Epsom, where she graduated with a First-Class degree in Fashion, and showed her graduate collection at Graduate Fashion Week 2018. Her first career at Estella Bartlett as a production assistant inspired Tihara to pursue her dreams, and she is now the proud owner of her own business.

Her passion for Textiles was nurtured whilst at the La Retraite 6, where she was inspired to push her boundaries creatively and pursue further education in design. Tihara credits her teachers and the scholarship programme for taking her on inspirational day trips to Oxford and Cambridge University, meeting with guest lecturers and receiving mentor guidance and encouraging her to feel confident of her potential.

Renee, Year 10 Student

"La Retraite is unique because the staff care about the whole girl, and every girl. They are dedicated and passionate about providing each and every one of us with a challenging but interesting education and teaching us that if we work hard and persevere, we can achieve our goals. Not only this, but the school cares for our wellbeing, provides us with the very best experience and opportunities to learn and enjoy things we might not get the chance to, outside of school. In recent years, I have won Best in Year and Best in School in the UKMT Challenge, stayed onboard the HMS Bristol and participated in a range of related activities, joined the school leadership team and have been accepted into the Generation Medics Programme."

Klotilda, Year 10 Student

As student leader, I take pride in supporting the running of the school and helping those around me. La Retraite puts emphasis on students’ mental health and wellbeing, and this is clear in every aspect of school life. Our teachers put students at the heart of all they do, care for us and want us to achieve our very best and we all look out for one another –within our anti-bullying ambassador teams and as members of the member of the La Retraite family.

Nicole Figueira, Alumni

Bonneville Primary School and La Retraite alumni Nicole was Head Girl and Student President during her time with us. No stranger to hard work, Nicole celebrated A*A*AA in her Theology, Portuguese, Mathematics and Economics A Levels, and her determination and strong work ethic will put her in good stead for her Degree Apprenticeship at UBS. 

 “I am incredibly proud of all that I achieved whilst at La Retraite and at the Sixth Form. I took advantage of every opportunity, including the chance to be Head Girl of Year 11, Sixth Form President and embarked on the Academic Scholarship. Whilst participating in the Scholarship Programme, I gained an insight into different careers, which allowed me to make informed decisions about my future, I received a lot of information about applying to Russell Group universities, enjoyed inspiring guest talks, visits to universities, guidance from a mentor and the opportunity to develop key transferable skills. I have now begun a degree apprenticeship in Global Banking at UBS and am so grateful to the teachers at the Sixth Form, for enabling me to get to where I am now”.

Kalifa, Year 12 Student

For Kalifa, the highlight of her time at La Retraite is belonging to a supportive community and establishing long lasting friendships. Crediting teachers for going the extra mile and always inspiring her to pursue her ambitions, Kalifa takes pride in establishing her sense of independent and learning what she can do to make a difference in society, as a result.

With plans to read Law at university and ambitious of becoming a barrister, Kalifa praises teachers for providing additional resources and networking connections to further her interests.

I have loved my time at La Retraite, from the interesting lessons and supportive learning environment to the endless encouragement and sense of family among us. The entire school community is welcoming, nurturing and wants the best for one another and each other’s wellbeing. In addition, the student body has a voice that is listened to – which I feel has provided me with practise and experience to prepare me for the court of law.

Abigail Kolawole

Following her time at La Retraite, Abigail attended the University of Southampton, and graduated with a First-Class Honours in LLB International Legal Studies. Now a trainee solicitor at White & Case LLP, her impressive career path comes as no surprise to La Retraite, who fondly remember her strong work ethic and aspirations from the very beginning of her journey with us.

Abigail not only holds a wealth of achievements under her belt but an accolade of personal successes from her time at La Retraite and beyond: a member of the award-winning orchestra, recipient of Lambeth music festival award and Jack Petchey young achievers award, in addition to achieving outstanding GCSE grades and completing Foundation Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design.

We warmly welcome Abigail back to our school as a guest speaker to share with our students her experiences, career pathway and advice to inspire the next generation, each year.

“I am incredibly proud of the life I lead and the woman I am today and thank La Retraite for helping me to achieve this. La Retraite encouraged me to be disciplined and productive in my education, to be ambitious with my career pathway, to believe in myself and trust in my faith. I advise students to work hard, work smart, build lifelong friendships and enjoy their time at La Retraite, to know that their outstanding teachers will always push them the extra mile. My time at La Retraite was incredible, it built the foundation of who I am today, and I am so grateful to all who made my time there so special”.