1.Continuity in a family environment
The Bury Grammar Schools – Co-ed Infant, Junior Boys, Senior Boys, Junior Girls and Senior Girls – offer an all-through education from 3 to 18. The schools have a caring family environment where each pupil is known and nurtured as an individual. Many Old Boys return to visit staff and to speak to current pupils, and friendships formed at BGSB often last a lifetime.
2.High academic standards
Our pupils are challenged to fulfil their academic potential and are helped to achieve the best grades of which they are capable. They are encouraged to be independent learners and to extend themselves. In 2014 the A2 pass rate was 96%, 13% of grades awarded were A* grades, an increase on the previous year. 29% of all grades awarded were A*/A and 51% of grades A*/A/B. 4 boys gained A*/A grades in all of their A2 subjects. Matthew Bowen achieved 4 A*, 1 A grade at A2 and 1 A grade at AS and is deserving of his place at Christ Church, Oxford, to read Economics. Richard Picardo achieved 4 A* and 1 A grade at A2, plus an A* for an Extended Project, and will read Medicine at the University College London. Harold Bearn leaves us with 1 A* and 2 A grades at A2 and 1 A grade at AS, and has an offer to read Music at Durham University. Subodh Kafle gained 4 A grades at A2, and is taking a gap year and will apply to University next year.
At GCSE the overall A* to C pass rate was 94%. 96% of boys achieved at least 5 A* to C passes, including English and Mathematics, both at the more academically demanding IGCSE level. The percentage of entries graded A* was 15%, an increase on last year. 32 out of 76 boys achieved A*, A or B in all of their GCSE entries (42%). Almost 1 in every 2 grades awarded at GCSE were A*/A. 99% achieved 5 or more A*-C. Ashish Ramuni achieved the A* grade in all 11 of his subjects. Joseph Patel achieved the A* grade in all of his 10 subjects. Both boys also achieved a grade A in the Free Standing Mathematics Qualification, the equivalent of a grade A at AS levell.
3.Excellent relationships between staff and boys and among the boys
We are proud of the excellent relationships which exist between staff and boys and among the boys themselves. These are developed, not only in the classroom, but also through our rich extra-curricular programme. The ISI inspectors recognised this during their 2010 inspection of the school: ‘Pupils of all ages develop outstanding personal qualities: they are friendly, confident and articulate. They are considerate of others and know that they are valued as individuals by the school community.’ ‘Relations between pupils and teachers and among the pupils themselves are excellent.’
4.A strong home-school partnership
We believe that the education of the boys is a partnership between boys, parents and school. This ‘triangle’ is critical to the boys’ success and is promoted throughout the school – not least through the close liaison between parents and their sons’ Form Tutors and Heads of Year. Parents are closely involved in their sons’ education from the induction programme, which begins before boys enter the school, through to the end of the boys’ BGSB careers.
5.Excellent pastoral care
In addition to the pastoral work of Form Tutors and Heads of Year, the school has a School Nurse and a Health Support Worker. The 2010 ISI inspection report said: ‘Critical to pupils’ personal development are the excellent, year-based pastoral care system and the quality of individual tutors. Pupils’ personal and academic progress is monitored carefully by Heads of Year and Form Tutors who know their pupils well and care about their well-being.’ The school is fully committed to the Every Child Matters agenda. PSHEE is delivered each week by specialist teachers.
6.Small classes and a highly qualified and dedicated teaching staff
The boys are taught in small classes, typically around 20 at GCSE and often fewer than 12 at A Level, thereby enabling the individual attention which helps to ensure that the boys make the best possible progress. Our highly qualified and dedicated staff have faith in the ability and potential of those they teach, and the skill to nurture them. They work hard to create an environment which is academically exciting and fun to be part of. They are caring and encouraging – nurturing in each boy a sense of self-worth, and those high aspirations and high expectations which are vital to success. They create a friendly and supportive community in which each boy is helped to flourish and fulfil his potential. And they are generous with their time, energy and expertise, both in the classroom and in the provision of a rich extra-curricular programme.
7.A rich co-curricular and extra-curricular programme and plenty of opportunities for leadership
While grades in public examinations are hugely important, we recognise that a good education is about more than academic results. Alongside our academic life, we have a rich extra-curricular programme – embracing Sport, Music, Drama, Debating (eg the Cambridge Union Debate), Community Service, Outdoor Pursuits, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, World Challenge expeditions and the Combined Cadet Force (one of the oldest contingents in the country and affiliated to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers). Boys are encouraged to pursue their interests and to explore and develop new ones. In addition to a rich extra-curricular programme, many co-curricular activities – ie those directly related to what goes on in the classroom – take place. These activities include the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge; Physics trips to CERN in Switzerland and to an Observatory in Portugal; Mathematics Challenges; field trips for Geography and Geology; an annual trip to First World War battlefields, run by the History Department; and language exchange programmes with schools in Cologne and Dijon. We take part in the Young Enterprise scheme and in such competitions as the annual Sir Rhys Davies Mock Law Trial, which attracts teams from the leading independent schools in the region.
Boys are given the opportunity to assume responsibility and to take on leadership roles throughout their time at BGSB. From the First Year they can become members of the School Council and take on leadership roles in, eg, sports teams. As they progress through the school the number and diversity of such opportunities increase to include roles as Form Prefects, School Prefects, Academic Mentors and service as NCOs in the CCF.
8.Fine facilities which enhance teaching and learning and Superb value
The school’s excellent facilities do much to promote the high standards of teaching and learning which flourish at BGSB. These include an excellent Learning Resource Centre, opened in 2002; the superb Art facility, opened in 2004; and, most recently, six new Science laboratories. These labs are of the highest quality and provide the boys with a first-class teaching and learning environment for Science – which all boys study as separate sciences from the day they enter the Senior School through to their GCSE examinations. We are committed to the ongoing enhancement of our buildings and facilities. The current project is the building of a new Sixth Form Centre, which will be a university-style facility for the senior students of both schools, due to open this autumn term.
Our next project is Sport, developing state of the art facilities both on the main school site and at Buckley Wells, our playing fields. A full size artificial pitch is planned on the main school site, whilst the remodelling of Buckley Wells is in its early stages as is our partnership with Bury FC, which will see this developed into a multi-million pound sports facility.
The Governors are committed to keeping the fees at a level which will enable a BGSB education to be accessible to as many boys as possible. They are also committed to the provision of bursaries, which enable boys who would flourish here, but whose parents cannot afford the fees, to come to the school.
9.A fantastic location – as easy as A to Bury
The school is in the centre of Bury and is easily accessible from Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham and North Manchester. It is a five-minute walk from the Bury Interchange. And the school runs dedicated coach services from a wide range of locations across the region. The Metro link enables us to take advantage of the wide range of educational and cultural opportunities available in Manchester – and not least the city’s universities.
10. A single sex education – with a difference
While our Infant School is co-ed, from the age of 7 the boys and girls are taught separately. This reflects our belief that, in their academic work – particularly during those years when all the biological and emotional changes are taking place – boys flourish best when they are taught in single-sex classes. We also believe that a single-sex environment encourages boys to engage in, and excel at, such things as Music, Drama and Art – because in such an environment, these things are not seen as being only for girls. In a single-sex school, boys interested in the arts see good male role models. All teaching is done in single-sex classes until the end of the Fifth Form. Throughout the Senior School, however, many extra-curricular activities are shared between the Boys’ School and the Girls’ School. There is, for example, a joint musical each year, and our CCF consists of both boys and girls. This enables the Bury Grammar Schools to offer our pupils the benefits of a single-sex academic education together with the enrichment of shared extra-curricular activities. In the Sixth Form, a certain amount of mixed teaching takes place. This enables us to widen the number of subject combinations we can offer our students.