From age 7 through to 18 and the Sixth Form, life at Bristol Grammar School is vibrant, stimulating and supportive.
As an independent day school we are extremely proud of our excellent exam results but life at BGS is about so much more than that. Our House system provides every student with an extended family within the School and develops a sense of friendship, pride and belonging in our pupils that lasts long after they leave us. A huge range of sports and extra curricular activities gives each boy and girl the opportunity to discover their own talents and passions. In this positive environment, girls and boys interact naturally together. Known and valued as individuals, their every achievement is encouraged and celebrated, whether academic, artistic or sporting.
Pride in a rich heritage balanced by a thoroughly modern outlook makes BGS a place where pupils can really achieve their potential. Founded in 1532 by Royal Charter for the teaching of 'good manners and literature', the School has changed in many ways since then, but our core values remain: the importance of scholarship and learning for its own sake and, linked to this, our care and concern for others.
Always looking ahead and keeping up with trends, BGS was one of the first all boys’ schools to welcome girls into the classroom, over 25 years ago. Today we are fully coeducational. Our curriculum has also changed and expanded to reflect the changing demands of a modern society. Alongside subjects such as maths, chemistry, Latin and classical Greek, we offer drama and theatre studies, sports science and psychology. In all 20 subjects are offered at GCSE and 26 at A Level.
The Tyndall’s Park site, neighbouring the university in the cultural and commercial heart of the city, has been our home since 1879. Originally all teaching took place in the Great Hall, but a wide range of specialist facilities have since been developed and the School is constantly investing to maintain its high status. Always intent on giving our pupils the best, we have an exciting and ambitious development programme. Over the next five years we plan a new sports pavilion and prestigious new areas for the Sixth Form, art , the Library and learning support.
In an atmosphere that nurtures energy, enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity, each student's personal, moral and social development runs alongside the academic. We help them discover and develop abilities, so they can achieve their full potential, whatever it may be, in the friendly, caring environment of a vibrant community.
Dr David Mascord
One is struck by the anecdotal nature of the debate surrounding coeducation versus single sex education. When I first came into teaching some thirty years ago, the debate was all about girl’s underachievement in mathematics and sciences. Now the debate is about boys underachievement in literacy. The former was set in a context of significant numbers of single sex schools with coeducation seen as one of the key drivers of school improvement. Now coeducation is seen as part of the problem and we hear calls for the creation of more single sex schools. The answer is, of course, that the reasons for underachievement are complex.
Key factors in the underachievement of children are social class and ability as a recent study has shown. Gender is identified as a weak and inconsistent factor. In that study the authors comment: 'The paradox of education is that the beliefs are so strong and the evidence is so weak.' This seems to be particularly true in the coeducation versus single sex debate. The most recent research paper by Ofsted comments on early reading as follows '… while differences in performance between boys and girls emerge early, they can be countered by good quality teaching that has high appeal for all pupils.' Good schools are about good teaching rather than selection by gender. Good teaching will be appropriate for both boys and girls. I cannot believe that introducing a sense of competitiveness into some aspects of learning is bad for girls or believe that promoting teamworking is bad for boys.
If the case for attainment does not stand close scrutiny, why would I, given two equally good schools, prefer to send my children to a coeducational school? My experience covers quite a range as a result of my experience as a pupil, a parent, a teacher and a school inspector in the independent sector. I do not believe that one understands one’s own identity in hermetic seclusion from the other half of the human race: we are social animals whose sense of self comes from our interaction with others as much as from our own internal dialogue.
For me schools are not something outside the 'real world', they are the real world. Schools must reflect the values we want for our society. They should be places in which children grow into young men and women understanding one another and valuing the contribution each can make to the world. They should be places where prejudices about gender are challenged and children follow their interests and strengths. Schools can teach the value of lasting relationships and act as a counter to the trivialisation of love. For me the achievement of all of this is so much easier in the coeducational setting.
In my own work I see coeducation working effectively, helping children to grow into confident young adults who have a real sense of who they are and where they want to go in the world. Other schools would wish to make the same claim but they make it not because they are coeducational or single sex but because they are good schools.
Dr David Mascord BA PhD
Headmaster, Bristol Grammar School
A brief history of Bristol Grammar School
The ‘Gramer Scole’ over the Frome Gate was in the care of its first schoolmaster Thomas Moffat, when good fortune stepped in to secure its future. The Thorne family were wealthy Bristol merchants, friends of men like John Cabot and known to royalty. They wished to endow a school where the sons of Bristol merchants and tradesmen could receive a good education before settling down to the important business of making money. On 17 March 1532, Henry VIII issued a Charter under which the Thornes could endow The Grammar School and establish it in larger premises at St Bartholomew’s Hospital near the bottom of Christmas Steps. There the School remained for over two hundred years and the boys learnt Latin and Greek, divinity and some Hebrew.
By 1767 the buildings were too small and cramped and Charles Lee, the Master, had influence with the Corporation. He persuaded them that The Grammar School should be allowed to exchange premises with the other city school, Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, which had a pleasant, new site on Unity Street, further up the hill. This exchange was carried out, and Charles Lee proceeded to enjoy his new school by greatly reducing the numbers of boys. He had a duty to accept any middle class Bristol boys whose parents wished them to receive a classical education, but he persuaded all too many parents that Latin and Greek were not the best preparation for business life. Eventually he was left with one pupil, known in the city as Lee’s Chick. The School was set to rights in 1812, but education was moving away from the classics and this caused further problems – aggravated by yet another unsuitable headmaster with the inappropriate name of Goodenough.
The Grammar School received a new scheme in 1848 and prospered. In 1879 the decision was taken under the Rev John William Caldicott to move again, further up the hill to the pleasant rural site of Tyndall’s Park. There the first buildings were the big school, with its remarkable Great Hall, originally a teaching room, and still with the Masters’ stalls in place, and the Headmaster’s house, a modest dwelling which is now the Lower School. Caldicott’s portrait is on the east wall of the Great Hall. The School grew rapidly on its new site. Further classrooms were added, a gymnasium, a fives court and a rifle range. These have been rebuilt as art rooms and rehearsal rooms but the Winterstoke wing still houses the laboratories which were added in 1914. The preparatory school began in 1900 and in 1928 moved into its own building on Elton Road, but this, with so much of Bristol, was destroyed on the night of 24 November 1940 by incendiary bombs.
The prep hall which survived is now the Mackay Theatre. The Elton Road ruin was rebuilt as classrooms under John Garrett, who added the University Road block and began to colonise the other side of Elton Road. Since then the School has built yet more classroom accommodation and a new sports hall; art and music have their own Elton Road houses, and the former playing field is now the technology centre. Playing fields at Failand provide accommodation for team games and outdoor sports, including rugby, netball, cricket, hockey, tennis and soccer.
The School is now a modern, coeducational, independent day school. There are over a thousand pupils and nearly one hundred staff, but the whole School can still assemble in Caldicott’s Great Hall.
Who would have thought it?
BGS was thinking environmentally and saving trees as long ago as 1906!
‘No more homework pads are to be given out. I have had too many instances of great waste to permit pads to be used. Form masters are to give out exactly what paper is required for homework at the end of the day, and no more. During the day boys will receive paper from masters taking the lesson and form masters will not be expected to supply it. At the beginning of a lesson a master will know whether he wishes any written work to be done and will, if he does so wish, order the two form monitors to distribute it. It will not waste time, if done at once, nor will it cause disturbance.’
Cyril Norwood, Headmaster 1906 - 1916
The facilities enjoyed by students at BGS are second to none and we are committed to ongoing investment to ensure they remain so, right the way from Year 3 up to the Sixth Form.
Recent improvements include the opening of two new teaching houses on Elton Road and a £1 million refurbishment of the junior school. We also have exciting plans for the future, beginning with the building of a new pavilion at our Failand sports fields (scheduled for completion summer 2008). You can find out more about our future plans in the What we're doing section of this site.
Please use the menu on the right to see an overview of some of the facilities our pupils benefit from. We’d love to show you the School in person so please book on to one of our school tours and come and see for yourself.
The best years of your life? Well, that's certainly something we aim for in the education of our students here at Bristol Grammar School. We believe that the best way for your child to achieve their full potential is to ensure they are happy and supported, not just academically but emotionally.
At BGS we are proud of our pastoral system and the support it offers to all our students. Browse through the menu on the right to learn of some of the measures we take to ensure that your child's time at BGS is as happy as we can make it.
Joining a House is like being part of an extended family, with all the loyalty and strong ties of such a close-knit group.
Every BGS pupil joins one of our Houses. Not only great fun to be part of, the Houses are a valuable support to all our pupils. They give a powerful sense of community and continuity, achievement and belonging.
With inter-House competitive events in sport, music and dance, loyalty to your House helps build team spirit. Everyone makes new friends in other classes and across all year groups, and pupils feel a keen sense of belonging to an extended 'family' of all ages.
'Your House gets you to work as a team and means you get to work with people you don’t necessarily know that well. It makes for a nice atmosphere because you’ve done something together.' James, Year 7
'I've enjoyed playing in the House matches, even though we haven’t had that much success it’s been really good fun.' Simone, Year 7
The School is committed to supporting students with individual needs who might require provision in addition to the School’s normal academic and pastoral systems. Students with exceptionally high all-round ability (the ‘gifted’) may be invited to join the scholars’ programme. Students with high ability in a particular area such as music or sport (the ‘talented’) are supported by the relevant subject teachers, liaising with the Head of Learning Support. Students with physical disabilities, specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) or other conditions are offered individual support from the learning support department. The department has two members of staff; Mrs Elizabeth Thorne, firstname.lastname@example.org , Head of Learning Support, and Mrs Jennifer Benn, specialist teacher).
The school currently has students with the following characteristics: dyslexia; dyspraxia and related coordination difficulties; mild autism (Asperger’s syndrome); English is the second language at home; physical impairments (e.g. deafness).
What you should do if you think your child might fall into one of these groups:
1. Tell the School about it before making a formal application. Contact the admissions office.
2. You will be contacted if your child might be eligible for special arrangements (e.g. extra time) in the entrance examinations or tests.
3. Before a formal offer of a place is made, you may need to discuss with the Headmaster what arrangements the School can reasonably make to accommodate your child (provided your child has passed the entrance tests).
4. When your child begins at the School, the learning support department will coordinate appropriate support. Do feel free to contact the Admissions Office or Mrs Thorne to discuss your child.
When your child is at school, you want to be assured that they will be cared for in every way. At Bristol Grammar School we take pride in our medical centre and in providing a fully qualified nurse on a full-time basis. If your child has an accident or feels unwell at school, she is available in the medical centre for advice and treatment. This might include first aid for minor injuries or simple 'over the counter' medicines for minor ailments but always with your prior consent. More serious injuries or illness may require hospital care.
Giving help, taking care
All students have things they need to talk over from time to time. Concerns about relationships or schoolwork, peer pressure or self-image are often easier to discuss with a contemporary. BGS set up a peer mentoring system in 2002. A number of Sixth Form students are trained by a professional psychologist and supported with advice on issues that come up. With a drop-in centre, a secure letterbox and the peer mentors available around the School, it's a confidential and friendly support service for all our pupils. The peer mentors themselves find they gain a lot from their compassionate role and learn valuable life lessons.
We recognise experience of leadership and teamwork as a valuable skill for professional life. Under the guidance of the Head of Leadership Development, BGS offers all pupils a wide range of activities designed to help them become effective leaders and team members. As students progress through the school they take on increasing responsibility for educating our younger students in leadership skills.
Student’s Personal Development
Each student’s personal development occurs throughout the school day and throughout their school career. However, in Years 7-11, this becomes the focus for one lesson each week, whilst in the Sixth Form this doubles.
Most SPD lessons are delivered by the form tutor and will cover a wide range of subjects including social relationships, emotional wellbeing, bullying, understanding self and others, as well as sex, health and drugs education. These sessions provide a welcome opportunity to explore social and moral issues in a safe environment, one where students can try out their ideas and understandings both with their peers and their tutor.
We aim to bring in a variety of outside speakers to enrich our students’ experience and have had visits from speakers as diverse as those representing Alcoholics Anonymous, the Teenage Cancer Trust, the Army Student Presentation Team and Bristol Magistrates along with many more. Older students are encouraged to assist in delivering some of the areas covered by SPD and have been particularly helpful in areas such as anti-bullying and work on social relationships.
In the Sixth Form, students are encouraged to take increasing responsibility for their own personal development with their form tutors. This is a time where critical issues can be debated in a more mature style, where choices about university and careers are discussed, with plenty of time devoted to preparation for life after school and UCAS applications.
Years 3-6 (Ages 7-10)
Places are allocated on the basis of performance in an entrance test. For entry in September 2008, entrance tests will be held on the mornings of:
Friday 16 November 2007
Saturday 2 February 2008
Friday 6 June 2008
Please note: Candidates need only attend one session of testing and offers will be made following the test date. This may impact on the availability of places for subsequent test dates. We are always happy to consider applications for entry at other times of the year, subject to the availability of places. Please contact the Lower School Admissions Secretary for up-to-date information regarding places and entrance procedures.
Year 7 (Age 11)
Offers of a place in Year 7 are made on the basis of entrance examinations held in January of Year 6. The examination is made up of multiple choice verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests, an English paper and a mathematics paper. Some candidates may be asked to attend an interview and for all candidates a reference from their primary school is carefully considered.
Year 9 (Age 13)
Each September additional places are available for entry into Year 9. Admission is dependent on performance in the entrance examination which consists of mathematics, English and verbal reasoning papers. Some candidates may be asked to attend interviews and for all candidates a reference from their current school is carefully considered.
For entry to Years 7 and 9 in September 2008, the main entrance exam will be held on Saturday 26 January 2008.
Years 8 & 10
Places are sometimes available in Years 8 and 10. These are offered on the basis of examinations suited to the chosen year of entry and interviews with the head of year and relevant academic staff. Further information can be obtained from the Admissions Office.
Lower Sixth (Age 16)
Admission is dependent on the results of interviews in the proposed subjects and consideration of a confidential testimonial from the head of the student's present school. Offers of places are made after the interviews, which are held in January and March prior to entry in September. Offers are conditional upon the attainment of good grades at GCSE (usually at least an A in the subject a pupil wishes to study), or an equivalent examination.
BGS is pleased to consider requests for additional time for pupils (at any age) with special educational needs. Such requests are to be supported by an educational psychologist's statement or report, and submitted to the School along with your application.
Strongly embedded in the tradition of the School is the support of those who wish to attend BGS, but lack the necessary means to do so. We offer substantial financial assistance towards the fees of able pupils whose parents have only limited means.
Seperate schemes operate in the Lower (Years 3-6) and Upper (Year 7-Upper Sixth) Schools; please use the menu on the right to access the relevant information.
Guidance for students from overseas
BGS is always pleased to consider applications from students from overseas. Wherever possible, entrance procedures and assessment will be the same as those for UK based students. If it is not possible for applicants to attend BGS for testing, it may be possible for pupils to sit the entrance exams at their present school. The cost of the examination and all courier expenses are to be met by the parent or guardian of the pupil.
If you are considering an application to BGS, please bear in mind the following:
The School can offer some support for English as an additional language but a pupil’s spoken and written English must be good enough to allow them to fully access all aspects of our curriculum. This will be assessed as part of the entrance procedures.
A pupil of any age whose parents would be resident outside the United Kingdom must live with an education guardian in the United Kingdom who has been given legal authority to act on behalf of the parents in all respects.
Pupils seeking entry to BGS should fall within the same age group as others entering their year group. (In exceptional circumstances, students who are slightly older may be considered.)
Fees and charges
Fees for the 2007/8 academic year
Lower School: £1,990 per term (£5,970 per annum)
Upper School: £3,099 per term (£9,297 per annum)
There is a sibling discount of 5% for a second student in the Upper School while the older sibling is still at BGS.
Fees from September 2008 will be announced by the end of January 2008. The cost of most stationery and textbooks is included in the fees.
An Acceptance Deposit of £200 will be payable when parents accept the offer of a place at BGS. This is repaid, without interest, on the student joining the School. Additionally there is a £250 entry deposit which is refunded, without interest and less any outstanding charges, when a student leaves BGS.
A termly sum of £3.50 is paid to this discretionary fund used by the Headmaster to support educational trips and visits, and a wide range of other pupil related activities.
Students’ Personal Accident Insurance Scheme
This is the insurance recommended by the Independent Schools’ Council and BGS – along with many schools throughout the country – has adopted this scheme. The premiums cover accidents both during term time and the holidays and benefits are payable in defined circumstances. The premium is £3.70 per term. Details of the scheme are included in the information pack sent to parents of new pupils.
Breakfast and lunch
Breakfast is available to students and parents between 7.45am and 8.15am in the Great Hall. There is a set lunch for £2.67 or a choice of other main meals, snack meals and sweets at various prices. A vegetarian option and a salad meal are always available. A system of payment using SMART card technology is used.
Public Examination charges will be added to the bill in the summer term of the year the student takes them. In 2007 the average total cost of GCSE examinations was £220. The average total cost of AS and A2 examinations was £290.00.
School Fees Insurance
Parents are encouraged to consider taking out suitable insurance to cover school fees. Prior to your child joining BGS, you will receive information on various schemes and policies currently available. BGS does not endorse or recommend any particular policy.
Method of payment
The School charges an annual fee but, for convenience, one third of this is payable by the first day of each term. Payment can be made by cheque, bankers order or direct transfer.
An increasing number of parents prefer to make monthly payments and we offer this facility through Holmwoods Termtime Collections. There is a small fee payable to the company for this facility. Further information is available from the Finance Office. If you wish to consider fee planning or making advance payments, please contact the Bursar who will be pleased to assist.