The Good Schools Guide Review of Bromley High School (GDST), Bromley, BR1 2TW
A selective school, offering a wonderful range of opportunities to widen horizons and develop new interests. Suits academically able girls with lots of drive.
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 & 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 should bring some dynamic education management skills to Bromley. Ms Simpson is ambitious and keen to build on everything she has inherited from the previous head, Lorna Duggleby. She hopes to utilise some of the unused spaces around the school and generally make Bromley High more welcoming and user-friendly. She has already established a new community service programme to help the school integrate with the local community.
Academic results consistently high - 69 per cent A*/A at GCSE 2012 and 86 per cent A*-B at A level, with 63 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. 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.
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. 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 and annual world challenge expeditions both flourishing, along with 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. 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, 2008 saw Bromley celebrating its 125th anniversary with a fantastic concert at the Royal Albert Hall - junior and senior pupils acted, danced and sang in a memorable performance. 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 sixth form common-room and major sports refurbishment, plans for further development of sports facilities including a dance studio, plus dining room upgrading.
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 two head girls and four deputies. 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. Ms Simpson has updated home-school communications to provide clearer information about school dates and events and set up email contact between parents and tutors.
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. Ms Simpson has established a parents’ forum to discuss school issues and foster good working relationship between staff and parents.
Old girls include Margaret Hodge, 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.
A few leave at 16+ to attend co-ed sixth forms or local grammars. Most sixth formers go on to higher education, mainly Russell Group universities, six per cent Oxbridge and four per cent to art college, 2012.
Everyone sitting the 11+ entrance exam is automatically entered for academic scholarships - music and sports scholarships also available in year 7 and year 12. Sixth form scholarships for art, music, sport and academics. Means-tested bursaries, Founders awards, are available for students entering years seven, ten and twelve, worth 50-100 per cent of fees. Assistance with fees also available for existing pupils at the head's discretion.