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  • Gumley House School FCJ
    St John's Road
    Isleworth
    TW7 6XF
  • Head: Caroline Braggs
  • T 020 8568 8692
  • F 020 8758 2674
  • E general@gumley.hounslow.sch.uk
  • W www.gumley.hounslow.sch.uk
  • A state school for girls aged from 11 to 18.
  • Boarding: No
  • Local authority: Hounslow
  • Pupils: 1110; sixth formers: 170 (including 15 boys)
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Open days: Early July, late September and early October.
  • Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
  • Ofsted:
    • Latest Overall effectiveness Good 1
      • Outcomes for children and learners Good 1
      • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment Good 1
      • Effectiveness of leadership and management Good 1
    • 1 Full inspection 2nd April 2014
  • Previous Ofsted grade: Outstanding on 19th October 2006
  • Ofsted report: View the Ofsted report

What says..

Chasing league tables is not Gumley’s style.  Head explains that ‘academic excellence is of paramount importance, but in tandem with the development of a young person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.’  She elaborates, ‘We do not lose sight of the person while aiming high academically. The school still follows the guidelines laid down by Marie Madeleine, as the head explains, 'She always said...

 

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What the parents say...

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2015 Good Schools Guide Awards

  • Best performance by Girls taking English Language & Lit at an English Comprehensive School (ELQ Band C)

What The Good Schools Guide says

Headteacher

Since 2016, Caroline Braggs BA PGCE MA NPQH (50s), previously deputy head. Read theology at Heythrop College, London University, gaining her PGCE at the Institute of Education and MA at University of Surrey. Has taught at three other Catholic schools before but is delighted to be the head here as ‘Gumley is the place I want to be.’
When Idi Amin expelled all Asians from Uganda in 1972, Ms Braggs and her family packed their worldly possessions into two suitcases and ended up as refugees in Birmingham. She was just six at the time. Ms Braggs comes from a family of strong and practical women and her can-do attitude makes her a powerful role model. She believes that what this school does best is ‘Educating the whole person. Gumley empowers the students to take their place in society. It teaches them to pick themselves up and be resilient when faced with challenges in the outside world. We prepare them for the future, for a global and a changing world.’ As a refugee, she knows first-hand that versatility and adaptability are vital when facing life’s challenges.
Ms Braggs attends all school events with gusto, regularly staying late into the evening. Pupils appreciate her dependability and her friendliness. One girl commented, ‘Everybody finds Ms Braggs very easy to talk to. She listens to what we say’.
Any smidgeon of spare time is spent at the theatre, travelling (she is a frequent visitor to Madeira) and relaxing with extended family. ‘My nieces and godchildren are my life,’ she beams.

Academic matters

Very decent results. In 2017, at A level, 83 per cent of grades A*- C, with 23 per cent A*- A. At GCSE, 31 per cent A*- A /9-7, 83 per cent A*- C/9-4. Around 26 subjects offered at A Level. Currently, English, maths, sociology and chemistry are popular sixth form choices. Part of a consortium with Gunnersbury and St. Mark’s, so those favouring less conventional subjects such as classical civilisation can study them at their sister schools. Conversely, their pupils venture over here for media studies and economics. Compulsory RE at GCSE. Parents feel that teaching is ‘generally very good throughout’, though one mother we spoke to felt homework ‘could be more structured and meaningful.’ The school disagrees with her view, telling us that ‘our research and knowledge does not highlight homework as a general problem.’

Gumley has a language specialism. French, Italian, Spanish and Mandarin offered, as well as Latin for the most able. Annual language festival celebrates the diverse languages spoken by pupils. School also has partnerships with schools in Africa, China and India, reflecting its international make-up.

SEND provision considered to be excellent. Three fully qualified teachers and nine learning support assistants. Gumley can support the milder end of physical and learning difficulties, including ASD, dyslexia and speech and language needs. Everyone is screened for literacy levels at the start of year 7. Those requiring help are offered extra tuition, in-class support and reading clubs. Wheelchair access throughout.

Head feels pressure on staff is worse than ever, and that recruitment and retention of teachers is a problem here, as it is nationally. Pupils rate their teachers highly as ‘they listen to us and care for us. They want us to do well.’ One girl we spoke to praised her teachers’ speedy responses to emails, often well into the evening. Many teachers go well beyond what is expected.

Chasing league tables is not Gumley’s style. Head explains that ‘academic excellence is of paramount importance, but in tandem with the development of a young person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.’ She elaborates, ‘We do not lose sight of the person while aiming high academically. Education is not just about maths, science and so on. It’s about making someone fully human and able to take their place in society.’

Games, options, the arts

Sporty pupils are not short of opportunities here. Athletics, cricket, football, badminton, netball, rounders, gym and dance all offered. Excellent outdoor and indoor sports facilities, including eight tennis courts, five netball courts, a gym and dance/drama studios. Well-used Astro-pitch. Athletics at park across the road. Gumley has secured numerous titles within the borough and at London Youth Games.

Music is an integral part of Gumley life. Keen singers and instrumentalists are spoilt for choice, with a gospel choir, chamber choir, orchestra, string ensemble and woodwind ensemble. Christmas and summer concerts are described by parents as ‘exciting’ and ‘impressive’. Recent choir tour to Brussels Cathedral. Music department encourages pupils to try out different genres of music, one day experimenting with edgy rhythms on the drum kit, the next day performing traditional choral music. Enthusiastic staff choir.

Energetic drama productions ranging from Shakespeare to West End-style musicals. Pupils become fully immersed in the productions, including watching professional adaptations as preparation. ‘It’s the whole caboodle with drama,’ states head. High profile drama festival to which parents and carers are invited, as well as local primary school children. Annual poetry festival involves pupils writing their own poems. Gumley boasts its own poet laureate. Local and national poets and artists are invited in to inspire pupils.

Annual art exhibition. One talented pupil won the Young Brit at Arts Award, beating off competition from over 2000 competitors. ‘Our art is outstanding,’ explains the head, and the masterpieces adorning the walls support this. ‘We are a school that allows exploration of all types of art,’ she explains.

Impressive range of after-school clubs, all free of charge, including maths, STEM, eco, Latin, as well as eleven sports clubs, and music clubs including Gumley Glee. Trips abroad include annual language exchanges with schools in Spain, Italy, France and China; geographers head to Iceland; history and politics pupils to New York and Washington. Head joins the pilgrimage to Lourdes. For those looking to challenge themselves physically, there is ski-ing in Austria and a water sports week in France. Something to tempt all tastes.

School is good at encouraging the girls to think about careers from year 7 on, to look beyond the school gates and to be adventurous in their choices. Gumley also has a business and enterprise specialism and has developed close links with a range of businesses. Lots of industry workshops and work experience organised by school, including with British Airways, GSK and Merrill Lynch. Alumni, including bankers, engineers, scientists and film directors, give career talks to the pupils. They give their time for free, hoping to egg on the next generation. The phrase goes ‘once a Gumley girl, always a Gumley girl.’

Background and atmosphere

Founded in 1841 by Marie Madeleine D’Houet, an aristocrat in post-revolutionary France. Inspired by the spirit of Ignatius of Loyola, she established her own religious order – the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ). In setting up Gumley, she hoped to empower local women. Part of a group of four schools in England under the trusteeship of the FCJ; the others are in the Wirral, Liverpool and London. School motto is ‘Vive Ut Vivas’ (‘Live that you may have life’). Head sees foundress as an inspirational figure as ‘she did not put a ceiling on herself. I want the pupils to realise that the power to determine their path in life is in their hands.’ The school still follows the guidelines laid down by Marie Madeleine, as the head explains, 'She always said to the Sisters that they should never tell a child off publicly. Take them aside and do it quietly. Never speak to a child as though their feelings do not matter’. Head stresses that being gentle is not about being weak; her mantra is the same as the foundress’: ‘strong in action and gentle in manner’.

A Catholic school (now an academy) for girls with a handful of sixth form boys, who choose Gumley for specific subjects such as economics, government and politics, and media. Boys are fully integrated, including a deputy head boy. Some non-Catholics attend who join in fully with spiritual element of school. Head is certain that ‘they enrich the community. Though they don’t have to participate, they often want to.’ Respect for different backgrounds and faiths is fundamental to the school. Head firmly believes that the two most important commandments are to love God and to love your neighbour, and that these should be seen in action around the school.

Education is based on gospel and FCJ values with a focus on excellence, companionship, dignity, gentleness, justice and hope. The pupils themselves feel Gumley ‘teaches us to be virtuous and hopeful.’ Bethany, the chapel in the grounds, can be used for quiet reflection throughout the day, and is particularly well-frequented in exam season, given its location bang next to the exam hall. Also used for a weekly mass (school has its own chaplain). Retreats implemented across all year groups, so pupils have time for quiet reflection away from the hustle and bustle of school life.

Gumley pupils are keen on fundraising. Substantial sums raised for variety of charities, both high-profile and local, especially those supporting children, the elderly, homelessness and Catholics. Pupils venture out into the community, visiting hospitals and offering story-telling sessions to local primaries. ‘We teach them to put faith into action, through the understanding of linking charity work with the curriculum,’ explains head.
Spacious campus. The central Queen Anne house is set in ten acres of pretty grounds. Lawns are punctuated with numerous picnic tables, which are well-populated in the summer term. A large canopy covering an outside eating area lends an attractive Mediterranean touch to this corner of Isleworth.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

Pupils, parents and teachers all rave about the outstanding pastoral care. ‘We strive for pastoral excellence,’ explains head. Pastoral team is made up of two pastoral managers, two on-site counsellors and a teacher responsible for inclusion. One person oversees the smooth transition from year 6 to 7, and parents are impressed by this ‘great induction and inclusion programme’. All pupils are in a tutor group. School will not economise on pastoral care and pays for staff supervision ‘so they do not take difficult issues home with them’. The wellbeing of the whole community is central here.

Pupils are taught how to protect themselves, particularly online, and to think of the implications of present action on their prospects. Gumley emphasises the importance of learning to communicate with people from every walk of life. The head believes that ‘if you can communicate with all sorts of people, you will fly’.

Discipline taken seriously. Low truancy rates. Rare to expel a pupil, generally only for extreme behaviour. School does all it can to support those who are pushing the boundaries but sometimes a parting of the ways is inevitable. Forgiveness and reconciliation are part of the Gumley ethos. ‘Girls and boys are not known by their failings,’ says head. Success is celebrated, including through awards for achievement, progress, perseverance and contribution to school life. Gumley favours the carrot over the stick.

Food considered to be fine and there is a choice on offer, though sizeable minority prefers to bring in packed lunch from home. One parent we spoke to felt ‘there could be healthier food options at the canteen’. Breakfast for early birds from 8am onwards.

Pupils and parents

School composition is predominantly Catholic. Wide mix of nationalities with over 65 languages spoken at home, notably Portuguese and Polish. Three or four pupils arrive per year with minimal English, and support is offered to those whose English is not up to scratch. Broad ethnic and social mix.

Parents feel communication from school is generally good. However, one mother commented that the school would benefit from ‘a report system that better informs parents of students’ grades and progress.’ School says it is ‘stumped’ by this parental comment as monitoring reports are sent home every eight weeks.

Entrance

Open mornings and evenings in the autumn term for prospective pupils. Non-selective academically in year 7, when 210 are admitted. Governing body in charge of admissions. Catholics taken before other faiths; all families are expected to support the Catholic aims and ethos of the school. Majority from Hounslow, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham deaneries. Priority given to siblings, children whose parents work at the school and those living closest.

Pupils entering the school in the sixth form need English and maths level 5 and three different subjects at a minimum of level 5. For those wanting to study the A level, pupils need a minimum of level 6 in that subject at GCSE. No faith requirement for those arriving for the final two years.

Exit

Some depart after GCSEs, either to sample co-ed, or because they want to take vocational courses, or for geographical reasons. Of those who stay the overwhelming majority opts for university. Recent university courses chosen include English, modern languages, politics, psychology, children’s nursing, dance, medical genetics and hair and make up for film. Edinburgh, Nottingham, Sussex and London among the list of recent destinations. One or two to Oxbridge each year. Some choose art foundation courses, such as Central St. Martins. Others prefer apprenticeships, including in the civil service and in engineering, which often translate into real jobs on completion.

Money matters

Gumley asks for voluntary contributions to the school development fund. Recently it has been used to help cover the upgrade of the security system, keep text books up to date, build a new roof, replace windows and make improvements to the music suite.

Our view

Head wants pupils to be the best they can be. ‘It’s not the career, it’s not the job, it’s who you are that matters.’ Gumley pupils are well-equipped to face the challenges of the twenty-first century.

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Special Education Needs

We have wheelchair access to all areas of the curriculum and to 90% of the facilities/sites.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia Y
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia Y
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class
HI - Hearing Impairment Y
Hospital School
Mental health Y
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty Y
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment Y
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty Y
PD - Physical Disability Y
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health Y
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication Y
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment Y

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