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Competition in a wealth of activities, including debating, creative writing, the Christmas card contest and golf, is spurred on by the house system. This comprises Elgar (after the composer), Ottley (to mark the school’s 2007 merger with Alice Ottley School), Wylde (after a 16th-century benefactor) and the exotically named Whiteladies (named after a building that used to house a nunnery, complete with its secret tunnel to the cathedral). Pupils, looking back, told us first day nervousness had quickly disappeared because the teachers were 'really supportive'...

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What the school says...

An education at RGS Worcester is inclusive, challenging and academically stimulating. In the Senior School, we offer an outstanding education for boys and girls aged 11 18 years with an extensive range of opportunities both in their studies and in their co-curricular experience of school life.

Our aim is to deliver excellence in all areas starting with high quality teaching and exceptional pastoral care. RGS Worcester, as one of the oldest schools in the country, combines a sense of history, community and place in the City of Worcester with state of the art facilities, spacious grounds and a determination to see each child achieve their full potential. We are pleased that our pupils attain the qualifications necessary to go on to the leading universities in the UK and abroad, and are particularly proud that they develop the personal qualities of working together, respecting one another and their community and being open and friendly towards others.

While the website should give you a flavour, only a visit can give you a real sense of the welcoming atmosphere, positive relationship between pupils and staff and our purposeful approach. We strongly encourage you to come and see us, either on a formal open day or even on an ordinary school day. You will have the opportunity to speak to staff and, in particular, to meet some of our pupils who look forward to showing you their school and all that they enjoy here.

John Pitt
Headmaster
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What the parents say...

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Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

Sports

Rowing

Fencing

What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since 2014, John Pitt, an individual in the prime of his middle years. Educated Dulwich College, he studied history at Cambridge and remained in Fenland in order to gain his teaching qualification. He started his career at Whitgift where he became head of sixth form, before moving to Portsmouth Grammar as deputy head (academic). He then returned to Whitgift for eight years as second master – posts which quite clearly have prepared him comprehensively for leadership. Conspicuously devoid of the ego and the swagger that is demonstrated by some of the boorish beasts in the headmaster jungle, he has in his demeanour something of a top-ranking surgeon about him as he dissects our questions, steepling his fingers in thought.

Astute, crisp and quietly proud of all that his school is, and promises to be. Ask him about the advances that RGS has made post-2015 and he describes a pattern of progress that is highlighted by a more focused academic and pastoral approach in which pupils are given far more individual support. He has instigated 'lots of work' across the estate so that everything looks well cared for, being of the view that this has a positive impact on both atmosphere and performance.

More personally he cites the major difference between his first term and his ninth as being the growth of trust, so that staff, parents and pupils know that the school and he 'can make things happen'. As time passes and more sixth formers leave he can savour July days in the knowledge that 'they have been a part of me and I a part of them'. This could all sound rather schmaltzy and redolent of a gravelly-voiced film trailer, but the depth of his conviction is clear.

Any notion of achieving any sort of work/life balance in the swirls of term time is swept away as he insists that he has 'to live the life of a head.' And so, along with teaching history to year 8 he blends, for example, weekend time on the touchline with taking his three young children to their activities. Being married to Anna, a prep school teacher who understands the breadth of school life, is undoubtedly a great help. In the holidays, he likes sailing and exploring the Malvern Hills, whilst favourite authors are CJ Sansom and Graham Swift. One of Swift’s later novels is titled, rather aptly for prospective parents, Wish You Were Here. He would like to be thought of as a head who is known to be 'committed and friendly'. Parents describe him as 'inspirational, approachable and respected' – an enviable adjectival triangle that sums him up so well.

Academic matters

To find a summary of the school’s recent academic record do ask for a copy of the Academic Highlights document which, in admirably lucid fashion, details all the subject-by-subject statistics that parents and their children could wish to know. At A level in 2018, 35 per cent A*/A grades and 72 per cent A*-B. At GCSE, 53 per cent A*-A/9-7.

Offers 24 A level subjects plus the EPQ. As in any school there is a quest for refinements to produce still better results (even running to an ‘in your face’ notice in the chemistry department that details recent top grade attainments). The school has clearly explained the mystifying changes to the GCSE grading system and A level reforms. Consequently, despite one member of staff’s observation that 'exam boards have been barren in their guidance', the school is confident that it will manage this period of change successfully. It is revisiting post-16 provision and is now accredited to offer a BTec level 3 diploma in sport, with the possibility of adding on engineering in the near future.

Both the head and senior staff lay equal stress on assisting those who find aspects of study difficult. The head of learning support leads a team of five teachers, support being given via small group and individual tuition. Some 15 per cent of students benefit from this over varying periods of time. School runs exam clinics from December onwards for both GCSE and A level students.

Active careers department organises the Annual Careers and Higher Education Expo (with 110 exhibitors the largest in Worcestershire), 30 careers lectures and numerous work placements. A 'significant sea-change' in careers provision targets pupils from year 7 upwards, with initiatives such as the Enterprise and Employment scheme, which runs in conjunction with Worcester University’s Business School.

Games, options, the arts

Girls' and boys' sport both of a high calibre, underpinned by school’s Charter for Sport with its expectation that players are ‘resolute, gracious, selfless and willing.’ Main sports are hockey, netball and rounders for girls and rugby, football and cricket for boys. The focus is clearly not just on first teams. Rowing is conspicuously strong as are cross-country and fencing; a year 7 girl recently finished as Great Britain’s top-ranked U17 épéeist cadet and was also ranked second in the under 20 listings. On a wider scale, much sporting interest develops through the rivalry between the school and King’s Worcester that has as its twin showdowns The Superball, with netball played at Worcester University’s indoor arena, and a rugby clash at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium. Wonderfully, these local contests attract up to 5,000 spectators.

The chamber choir recently sang evensong at Christ Church Oxford whilst the annual choral concert, featuring all three RGS Worcester schools in Worcester Cathedral, is a centre-piece of the year. There is a big band, a senior jazz ensemble, any number of instrumentalists at tea-time recitals and a senior piano concert. The music department also provided the band for last year’s big show, Guys and Dolls. Drama clearly benefits from the GCSE and A level programmes of study; recent spectaculars have also included Romeo and Juliet and Alice’s Adventures in Grammarland. The department recently visited New York to take part in a series of stage workshops, observe auditions and to see a Broadway production of The Color Purple’.

Competition in a wealth of activities, including debating, creative writing, the Christmas card contest and golf, is spurred on by the house system. This comprises Elgar (after the composer), Ottley (to mark the school’s 2007 merger with Alice Ottley School), Wylde (after a 16th-century benefactor) and the exotically named Whiteladies (named after a building that used to house a nunnery, complete with its secret tunnel to the cathedral). There is a CCF and an equally flourishing debating society whose year culminates with a black-tie dinner (presumably with some discussion over which course should be eaten first) and the Billingham Society for academic enrichment. This is named after a former pupil who became NASA’s chief of the extra-terrestrial research division. It is open to everyone but scholars must attend. Last year, twilight discussions included Lovenomics: Can the Head Rule the Heart?’ (yes) and Science or Religion? (both).

Background and atmosphere

In busarland some scroogey financiers are of the opinion that lawns and flowers, hedges and fresh scrunch on the drive are ‘vanity projects’ that matter little when compared to the ‘core business’. However if the school cares about everything then it is likely that students will follow its lead, and parents on tour will feel that they are on some kind of National Trust trail. The highlights here consist of a number of Georgian and Victorian buildings (school dates back to the seventh century and will celebrate its 150th anniversary on its present site in 2018) such as Britannia House, where head has initial meetings with parents.

Conversely, there are the odd post-war architectural examples that can be classified as carbuncley. An extension to the art department, for instance, resembles an ugly UFO or a giant lunar capsule from a moon landing and adjoins some tennis courts, with their park-like surfaces and saggy nets, that took us back to the age of wooden rackets and green flash plimsolls. Pleasingly plans, are afoot for their refurbishment. Elsewhere, however, things are far more impressive. We especially enjoyed our visit to a year 9 art class which had been given the task of interpreting Vivaldi’s most famous concerto in painted form, using colour to depict the mood and shape of the four seasons in a target-time of 53 minutes. In the language lab year 8s were testing year 7s. The fitness suite, which the sixth form can access during non-contact time, is packed with modern muscle-building machinery.

Ask, too, to see the library, situated in the early Victorian Eld Hall. Most school libraries are just full of volume-filled shelves and workstations but here, in central position, is a giant, gold- lettered honours board in gratitude to those staff who have served the school for 25 years or more. RGS Worcester inspires loyalty, as demonstrated recently when four members of staff retired with a combined teaching tally of 130 years. And on this board current staff who have reached their quarter-centuries are also named….. a typical touch of style. Then there is Joe’s Café for sixth form coffee and snacks - a spacious L-shaped facility, well in advance of normal Starbucks décor, that features Chesterfield sofas and framed prints on the walls and is mercifully free of the table-football and pool tables that some schools seem to think are necessary to create a ‘relaxed atmosphere’.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

Pupils, looking back, told us first day nervousness had quickly disappeared because the teachers were 'really supportive' and, in modern management-speak, 'always ready to go the extra mile'. This had made them 'way more organised'. They admitted to a degree of pressure, sparked by the school wanting to 'push our potential', but said that much of it was caused by trying to balance their academic and extracurricular lives. Apparently, though, staff are quite understanding if requests are occasionally made to miss clubs so that academic deadlines can be met. No doubt the splendid pastoral team that comprises a deputy head, section heads, heads of year and the school counsellor will in future be put under more strain as the pressures of teenage life sharpen. More progress can be made in the development of student-mentoring and personalised records of achievement. There will always be the heavy expectation that every year will result in higher league table positions.

Pupils and parents

The actress Lauren Bacall was of the opinion that 'character, character is all that matters', and although that is momentarily irrelevant when examination result envelopes are torn open each August, it is in the personalities of its pupils that the heart of a school can be found. We were toured by the head girl and boy (both of whom were sitting on Oxbridge offers) who demonstrated the sort of easy affability, wit and willingness to talk that eludes many adults. Equally at lunch, representatives of different years waited to be given permission to start their meal and were the best of company, speaking with a sustained enthusiasm about their school and the multiplicity of opportunity that it offers.

Ideally, they would like a swimming pool on site (although it’s only a few minutes away) but spoke enthusiastically about the influence of the school council that has led to a more varied menu and ended the monotony of cod goujons and chips each Friday. In response to our question for some nouns to summarise what the school has given them they answered 'guidance', 'confidence' and 'independence'. The most impressive statement, from a lower sixth girl, was 'school is about who you become'.

Parents were enthusiastic in their praise, citing the school’s flair for communication, with teachers trusted to reply to emails rapidly, and the efficiency of the parent portal. The reception is fantastic'; 'Learning support has been amazing'; and 'Teenagers can be themselves… the little things get noticed'. The only negatives that they were aware of came from families who didn’t 'get involved'. The Parents’ Association runs a Summer Ball and Octoberfest’ – a Germanic event with beer, sausages and an oompah band.

Entrance

At 11+, English, mathematics and verbal reasoning exams. Around 70 to 80 pupils transfer from the two prep schools – RGS The Grange and RGS Springfield - who, along with their senior partner, constitute the RGS family of schools. A further 40 to 50 pupils join from other schools.

For sixth form entry, six grade Bs (or numerical equivalents) at GCSE.

Exit

Around 20 per cent leave after GCSEs. Five to Oxbridge in 2018, plus three medics. Russell Group institutions are predictably popular, but for the future, the school predicts that there will be a somewhat wider destination list as the reality of student debt bites. Already, for example, some are exploring options at foreign universities - one off to study in the USA in 2018.

Money matters

A range of scholarships (academic, music, sport, art and DT and textiles) are available at 11+, 13+ and 16+. Means-tested bursaries of up to 100 per cent.

Our view

Our dominant feeling is that RGSW does what it does with a vision and a panache that not many can match. There is a Swedish word – 'lagom’- which translates as ‘just right – a state of perfect balance’. This school is nearly there.

Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

We have limited provision for children with very mild learning disabilities eg dyslexia, dyspraxia. We have a full time SEN teacher who can provide up to one hour per week of out-of-class one to one support. At present we offer a range of Challenges for especially able students eg Maths Challenge, Physics Challenge. There is currently an accelerated maths programme where the top set take their GCSE examination a year early.

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

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