Mid-afternoon and the Price Hall seems oddly quiet now that the rush of our Open Day has come to a close. Colleagues and I have just finished clearing away the last few copies of our various prospectuses and the kettle is on for a brew.
As I’ve suggested before, current pupils, parents and colleagues unite in their affection for BGS and today we wanted to present our school positively to all visitors. We tidied up displays, brought out the Euro bunting from the Modern Languages Department cupboard, practised our songs in the Junior School and baked a cake or two (or two hundred!). At the same time, we tried not to overdo things and much of the School looked as it does on any normal day.
It is always our hope that visitors to BGS will get an authentic feel for the place, not always possible at an open event I admit. However, the warmth of the welcome today reflected a school that understands relationships to be at the core of effective learning, personal exploration and growth. The place looked great but people matter most.
Proactive pastoral care, pupil welfare and happiness are our priorities. We have standards, high ambitions and we help our pupils to meet these. If things get a bit wobbly, and they do from time to time in all schools, we are here to help. We talk and genuinely listen to our parents and pupils. We listen and we care. We aim to provide the very best opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom for our young people to prosper.
School culture is aspirational, scholarly and supportive. Our honest, hardworking pupils do well by virtue of their ambition, appetite for good learning and the mutually respectful relationships they enjoy with their teachers. Lessons are interactive, varied and interesting; and, of course, our pupils’ achievements, the School’s successes, would not be possible without the support of our tremendous parents.
A little myth busting if I may? It is not true that similarly bright children will do equally well in all schools. Data crunched independently by Durham University shows, for example, that cohorts of GCSE pupils at BGS have averaged one grade per subject better than their equally able counterparts in other UK schools. You cannot achieve this by rote learning and a hothouse method. That simply does not wash anymore. 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.
At BGS our values guide us. Excellence, Compassion, Determination, Opportunity and Service – we stand for something. Established before 1548 and recognised by virtue of royal charter in 1662, we have a long and distinguished history. Nevertheless, we are not stuck in the past, far from it. BGS is defined by both our heritage and forward-looking approach. Walk from the Price Hall and into the state of the art Clarkson Library and it would be hard not to get an instant impression of the blend of the traditional and the modern that BGS achieves for its pupils which is manifestly identifiable with us. Secure, deeply rooted, traditional in many respects, but innovative too. This is the fertile ground of Bradford Grammar School.
Many Heads will tell anyone who stands still long enough at an open event that choosing a school is very often an intuitive process. Parents, and I’m one, quite rightly assess the evidence, weigh-up the relative merits of different schools and possibly even over analyse things. However, the final decision about a school for your child is something that most parents feel.
So, does a school feel right? This is the key question.
In this context, the most important thing I would say about BGS is that we are a happy and high achieving school and I’d like to think this was self-evident at our Open Day. At both Junior and Senior levels, we have a tradition of recognising and nurturing young people as individuals, equipping them for life. We care deeply about developing the whole child – mind, body and soul. Not so much a vision for the School, more a vision for each individual pupil. Many schools will however say something similar.
However, does the prospective parent feel it? Is evidence of this passion for holistic education discernible amongst those recently spruced-up corridor displays or on the School’s Twitter feed? Is the Head convincing when she/he speaks? Are the pupils? What do members of the existing parent body say?
I’d like to think that the messages at our Open Day resonate with the atmosphere of the School, the fabric of BGS life. When these things fit together and form part of a seamless whole then the overall impression can be persuasive.
What you hear, see, and feel is ultimately what you get.
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“I’d like to think that the messages at our Open Day resonate with the atmosphere of the School, the fabric of BGS life. When these things fit together and form part of a seamless whole then the overall impression can be persuasive.
What you hear, see, and feel is ultimately what you get.”