On 24 November I had the great pleasure of addressing the Annual Dinner of the Old Bradfordians Club (London). I was once again the warm up act, much like at BGS Speech Day in June, for the star turn, actor, writer, producer, (professional speaker!) and alumnus John Hollingworth, who was charisma and good humour personified.
John spoke with great warmth and generosity about his BGS days. As he spoke, and indeed throughout the evening, I was once again struck by the camaraderie and common bonds of shared experience that bind our Old Bradfordians. In short, I felt very proud to be part of the BGS extended family.
During my speech last Friday I was able to go public and celebrate the news that Bradford Grammar School was about to be recognised in Parent Power, The Sunday Times Schools Guide 2018, as the leading Independent School in the North, one of several regional winners to receive this prestigious accolade.
The Sunday Times have recognised us for our exam results, their steady improvement in recent years and the manner in which success continues to be achieved. In 2017, 83.8% of exams at A Level achieved grades A*- B, up 3.4 percentage points on last year. We also saw our best GCSE results with 73.7% of entries receiving A*/A grades, compared to 71.1% in 2016.
Alastair McCall, editor of Parent Power, said: “Bradford Grammar is in a good place, combining strong academic performance with a caring culture that encourages all students to excel in their chosen field, both within and outwith the classroom. The school explicitly puts pupils’ happiness at the centre of what it does. In an age of growing fears about the pressures put on children to succeed, this enlightened approach helps BGS stand out from the crowd. It’s a deserving winner of our award.”
It is terrific that the cheerful dedication of our students to their studies has been recognised in such a special way.
League tables of any kind do not tell families everything they need to know about an extraordinary school like Bradford Grammar, but it is wonderful to be noticed nonetheless. Moreover, I can think of no better manner in which to celebrate our student’s success than in the good company of Old Bradfordians, as I did on 24 November.
As alluded to above, however, league tables of any kind are tricky to fathom at the best of times.
First introduced in 1992 by John Major’s Conservative government as part of the Citizen’s Charter, the purpose of school league tables was to give parents the consumer information they needed to choose the ‘right’ school for their children. Since then leagues tables have become the tool of successive governments to move our educational system in various, occasionally politicised, directions. The BBC once commented that league tables “have become the Fat Controller’s equivalent of the railway signal box. More focus on the 3Rs! Quick pull the maths and English lever. Worried about “coasting” schools. Throw the value-added switch”.
To distil the essence of any school solely on data alone without context is to miss the bigger picture.
At Bradford Grammar School our students achieve highly. Why? The answer is down to our academically selective nature, our great students and also high quality teaching that makes such a difference and which adds significant value. A broad base of parental support and healthy home/school dialogue also helps to explain our collective achievements. League table position does tell you something about a school. However, it does not tell you everything.
BGS’s results last summer were superb, but as I said at the time, “beyond the headlines we are keenly aware of the many successes that represent a personal triumph for those students who achieved or even exceeded expectations at all levels of achievement. Whilst we are rightly proud of the overall balance of the results that have been realised, it is the many individual stories of accomplishment and success that will stick long in the memory. Not everyone achieves the highest grades, but a life changing and affirming education is open to all at BGS and value is added across the board in many ways”.
We stand by that. Lessons here are fun and engaging. Learning at BGS is an active and enjoyable partnership between expert and learner and it is this dynamic that explains our success. School culture is everything.
To really discover what any school is like you need to visit it, meet the students, observe lessons, chat to staff and current parents and try to get a sense for the school’s ethos and values – its identity.
We are thrilled that Bradford Grammar School been awarded the title of ‘Northern Independent School of the Year 2018’ by the Sunday Times. We are delighted for our students. When viewed in context this lovely bit of recognition adds to a more complete impression of BGS, who we are and where we are going.
“To really discover what any school is like you need to visit it, meet the students, observe lessons, chat to staff and current parents and try to get a sense for the school’s ethos and values – its identity.
We are thrilled that BGS been awarded ‘Northern Independent School of the Year 2018’ by the Sunday Times. We are delighted for our students. When viewed in context this lovely bit of recognition adds to a more complete impression of BGS, who we are and where we are going.”