The Good Schools Guide Review of Bromley High School (GDST), Bromley, BR1 2TW
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Since 2010, Mrs Louise Simpson (early forties) BSc, PGCE, married with one daughter, educated in Wales and Ireland. She has had an exciting career in teaching at Ratcliffe College and Gresham's, then as head of biology at King's Rochester and deputy head at Brighton College. Having worked with Richard Cairns and Anthony Seldon, she has brought some dynamic education management skills to Bromley and has worked hard to make the school more welcoming. She has established a new community service programme to help the school integrate with the local community.
Off in July 2014 to head St Paul's School, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Academic results consistently high - 74 per cent A*/A at GCSE 2013; 84 per cent A*-B at A level, with 53 per cent A*/A. Science and modern foreign languages remain particularly strong and a number of girls go on to study these at top universities. Modern foreign languages department has links with France, Germany and Spain and arranges much better than average exchanges, visits and work experience placements. Recently awarded the British Council’s full International School Award. All subject areas have dedicated heads of department who ensure high standards and excellent results. Parents say the teaching is solid and fairly traditional, maths teaching is especially impressive and a top subject choice in the sixth form; school adds that staff changes have led to more diverse teaching styles.
The head and her senior management team work extremely hard to make sure that the curriculum is really flexible, so girls can have as much choice possible in all the age groups and fit in extra GCSE subjects if they want. Smart modern classrooms and sparkling labs inspire the girls to work hard and care for their environment. All pupils have a personal tutor who tracks their progress and sets targets with them for their academic and personal development on a regular basis. Well-stocked library looking out onto woodland provides an inspiring place to work before and after school.
Two part-time SENCos provide additional support on a one-to-one basis for pupils with specific learning differences and run study skills programmes for all pupils. EAL is available as required.
Games, Options, the Arts
Great opportunities for the sportswoman here - acres of space, athletics track, three hockey pitches, including an Astroturf which can be hired by local clubs. Pupils frequently win awards at national, county and borough level across athletics, gymnastics, hockey and netball, tennis and swimming; cricket enjoying great success. Ms Simpson was once a national level rower herself. A number of specialist coaches are employed to enhance sporting opportunities via school clubs. Indoor swimming pool and gym which is made available to staff and families out of school hours. Duke of Edinburgh scheme rapidly expanding (over 100 pupils involved), annual World Challenge expeditions, and international cultural exchanges to Asia and China for sixth formers.
Performing arts and dance studios recently updated to create an incredibly clever and versatile performance space. Offers dance GCSE. Regular in-house drama and music festivals and pupils achieve distinctions in LAMDA and ABRSM exams, including musical theatre. Music department to be enjoyed, producing a lovely range of concerts; everyone is encouraged to learn an instrument or join a choir. International tours for the various choirs and orchestras and a yearly middle school music tour to Paris. Art work is of a very high standard, some talented GCSE students do really well, textiles and photography recently introduced as A level choices for budding artists.
Background and Atmosphere
Originally founded in 1883. In 1982 moved to its present 25 acre site, complete with woodland and a lake. Cool, calm atmosphere pervades the corridors, which are lined with noticeboards announcing forthcoming events and successes. One area is dedicated to the school's history and a gallery of portraits.
General impression is of a busy and active school. School tells us the uniform is 'not dreary and maroon any more – we have a smart new grey blazer and maroon/grey check pleated skirt for the seniors and a pretty maroon/grey check tunic for the juniors – the girls and parents love this new uniform'.
Recent £1m refurbishments include sixth form common room, dining room and swimming facilities.
Pastoral Care and Discipline
All pupils have a personal tutor whom parents can contact at any time to discuss pastoral or academic matters. Democratic elections run for the selection of a head girl, two deputies and senior prefects. Sixth form girls can train as peer counsellors and access to a professional counsellor on a drop in basis or by appointment. Older girls are encouraged to mentor younger pupils and gain work and life experience by helping in the junior school. Updated home-school communications.
Pupils and Parents
Predominantly local families, however some travel from all over Kent and south London. Parents mainly hard-working types from the professional classes, small social and ethnic mix. Dedicated parents organise the active PTA, running fund-raising events and the school bookshop. Parents’ forum discusses school issues and aims foster good working relationship between staff and parents.
Old girls include Margaret Hodge, Susanna White, Prof Joan Walsh; Richmal Compton was once a member of the teaching staff.
11+ competitive entrance exams involving creative writing, non-verbal and verbal reasoning, an interview and reference from junior school. Sixth form entrance requirement is a minimum of six GCSEs A*-B grade.
Some 30 per cent leave at 16+ to attend co-ed sixth forms or local grammars. Most sixth formers go on to higher education, mainly good universities; one to Oxbridge in 2013; others to a range to study eg medicine, maths, music, art, ancient history and architecture.
Everyone sitting the 11+ entrance exam is automatically entered for academic scholarships - music and sports scholarships also available in year 7, for year 9 entry and year 12. Sixth form scholarships for art, music, sport and academics. Means-tested bursaries, Founders awards, are available up to 100 per cent of fees.
A selective school, offering a wonderful range of opportunities to widen horizons and develop new interests. Suits academically able girls with lots of drive.