Ask the Headteacher
Mr Gilmore answers some of the questions he has been asked about the school...
Why is ethos important?
Every school has its own ethos, or character, and for me the ethos of Bexley Grammar School is one of the most fundamentally important parts of everyday school life. Our ethos promotes respect, resilience and the ambition to achieve the very best that you can in whatever you do, inside or outside of the classroom. It is best articulated in the three words which you will see in our literature, on our website and, I believe, feel in our buildings;
Intellect - A pursuit of knowledge
Empathy – An understanding of others around you
Courage – The strength to persevere through challenge
At Bexley Grammar School it's our aim that all of our young people develop these traits during their time with us.
What does the school’s motto mean?
Our latin motto, PRAESTANTIAE STUDERE translates roughly as “to strive for excellence”. In Autumn 2022 OFSTED rated us as Outstanding, and our examination results consistently reflect this, however I feel that the striving for excellence is just as, or more, important than the achievement of it.
Why mention the IB and the Sixth form? IT'S 5 YEARS AWAY!
For me, joining Bexley Grammar School in Year 7 is the start of a seven year relationship between the school, student and parent / carer. This journey will ideally culminate in success through the IBDP, which will then take your child on to a top university or excellent opportunity such as an apprenticeship with a top company. Our track record is enviable - we consistently have very high acceptance rates to Oxbridge and Russell Group universities, and many of our students go on to work with companies such as Commerzbank or KPMG. That is not to sound elitist - our excellent Careers / Sixth Form team consistently finds the right path for the right person, and that path begins in Year 7.
What are the distinguishing highlights about your curriculum?
I firmly believe that our curriculum, from day one of Year 7 until the final day of Year 13, is one continuous highlight. It offers breadth, depth, challenge and diversity.
At Key Stage 3 our students study the fullest range of courses, from the core subjects to curriculum areas such as Latin, Music and Drama, enabling all of our students to express themselves in their areas of particular strength. Their efforts are assessed at the end of Year 8 through our Key Stage 3 Diploma, which gives students a holistic assessment outcome and allows a taste of what will come when they study for the IBDP in later school life.
At Key Stage 4, we proudly offer a strong and robust diet of two languages and three sciences, in addition to English, Maths and a range of optional subjects (all of our students also work towards completing the English Baccalaureate by taking History or Geography). With Music, Drama, Art and DT available on the options menu, we cater for students with diverse skills and interests.
Finally, at Key Stage 5, our curriculum speaks for itself. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is a world-class qualification which ensures learners have competitive literacy, numeracy and linguistic skills whilst also offering the opportunity to drill deep into the subjects that they specialise in at higher level. We are very proud of the opportunities and outcomes that this programme enables our young people and it encapsulates our school's curriculum offer.
You claim to have especially warm relationships between students and staff. Please explain.
Our school is built upon the relationships that flow throughout the buildings and classrooms. Every visitor who I have spoken to, from other Heads to PA members to OFSTED Inspectors, comment on the warmth and care that is so palpable as you walk the corridors. Unfortunately our buildings show their 70 year old age at points in comparison to newer school buildings, but you simply can't buy the time and effort that our SEND team, Safeguarding team, Librarian, School Counsellors, House Leaders and Pastoral Leads invest in our young people, and that comes from decades of working in a 'BGS way'. That in turn is reciprocated by our young people, whose behaviour and attitudes are exemplary. The older they get, the more they lead and instil such attitudes in their peers.
What do you mean by ‘developing compassionate leaders’?
We use the slogan, 'developing compassionate leaders,' because we are nurturing the people who will be left in charge of our planet when we are gone. They need to be intelligent, thinking, considerate and tolerant individuals with the courage to follow their convictions. This is not to say that every student of Bexley Grammar School will become a well-known leader but rather that they will lead their lives with intelligence, empathy and courage.
HOW OLD IS BEXLEY GRAMMAR SCHOOL?
Our school began its journey in 1955, as a small part of a huge corner-plot from Danson Park that was earmarked for the school. Since then we have been able to add and evolve, both to our site and our traditions. We celebrate many of those traditions, such as our annual Speech Day and School Production Gala Night, however we have added to our calendar such inclusive events as the PA Summer Fayre and, most recently, Afro-Caribbean Society Gala Night. We're very proud to have strong, historical links in our staff, student body and Alumni, but also are outward looking in our approach - our history is evolving.
WILL MY DAUGHTER ACHIEVE BETTER IF SHE ATTENDS AN ALL-GIRLS SCHOOL?
This is a commonly asked question and one that I feel can't be answered objectively, as it really depends upon what you believe one does achieve from their secondary school education. Some of these are factual:
- Nationally (and so, of course, locally), girls achieve better attainment grades than boys whether they attend single-sex or mixed-sex schools.
- Attainment data comparisons by school do not take in the breadth and depth of the curriculum being offered. Most measures you will see are based on the 'best 8 subjects' (as Attainment 8 and Progress 8). Our students study a strong, robust GCSE diet which prepares them for an appropriately rigorous Key Stage 5 pathway, and so on for Higher Education or employment. In short, if we wanted to look better in leagues tables we could narrow our offer of 11 GCSEs, including two languages and three sciences, but short change the talented people we have been given the pleasure to work with.
In my view, education is not just about examinations and attainment outcomes. It is about experiences, interactions, relationships and being with the people with whom you will spend your working and personal relationships in the future. It is about developing into adulthood with empathy and understanding of what your peers feel and experience. Gender division itself seems increasingly at odds with the views of wider society and, as I write, I believe that only the UK and Ireland maintain single-sex schools.
Of course attainment outcomes are important and below you'll see comparison from the 2022 outcomes. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions:
*Unvalidated GCSE data by gender for the four grammar schools in Bexley. (This data is also available, school by school, https://www.find-school-performance-data.service.gov.uk/
How do we decide on our order of choices on the CAF?
It really is simple and there is no hidden agenda - please trust as you may hear conflicting advice from different sources. If selective school X e.g. BGS1 is your preferred choice, you must put it first regardless of how far away from it you live. If your child scores in the top 180 or you have a sibling at school X you will get a place. If not, then the Admissions system will give you the school highest on your list for which you meet the criteria. If you live too far from school X e.g. BGS1 but you meet the distance criteria of your second choice school e.g. BGS2, then you will be assigned your second choice. There is no penalty or risk in not getting your second choice because you did not put it first. Similarly, you could live next door to your third choice e.g. BGS3 but if you meet the distance criterion for your second choice school e.g. BGS2, you will be assigned that because it is higher on your list. Simply list the schools in order of your preference and the system does the rest.