Nottingham High School and Public Benefit

As an independent school we have an obligation each year to report on our public benefit – in other words the contribution that our school makes to the wider community.  I am very grateful to our Assistant Head Kieron Heath who has pulled the following information together and which we will now keep on our school website.  Independent schools are often seen as ‘islands of privilege’ so publishing this is designed to show just how much we do to work with our local community in Nottingham.  I reproduce the report in full here (forgive the length but we do so much!):

The charitable objective for our School is to advance education and training, by the provision and conduct of a primary and secondary school in or near the City of Nottingham. The principal object is met by the provision of an educational environment that will develop to the full the talents of able children.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Policy

The School is committed to broadening access by offering to eligible parents means-tested financial support with the payment of school fees.  Such support is known as a Bursary and these may be awarded in the form of a discount of up to 100% on tuition fees payable, depending on the financial, compassionate or other pertinent circumstances of applicants.

Bursaries may be made available to parents of pupils entering Year 7.

The school is a non-profit making charitable institution and has only limited resources to assist those parents who for whatever reason are unexpectedly unable to meet their obligations to pay fees for their child’s education.

Parents with a child at the School whose financial circumstances suddenly change may write to the Headmaster, explaining their situation. In some circumstances Governors in the absolute exercise of their discretion may authorise the Head of Finance & Operations to waive fees wholly or in part or to advance assistance from the Bursary Fund ahead of budgeted income from that resource.

Consistent with the school’s philosophy as much help as possible will be given to the family concerned in identifying potential sources of advice assistance and funding. The School will support the family’s applications to other grant-making bodies and this has enabled several families to access additional financial assistance from external sources.

AwarenessInformation provided by the School alerting the parents of potential pupils to the possibility of gaining means-tested financial support with the payment of schools fees is included in:

  • The School prospectus
  • The School website
  • Open Days and Taster Days
  • Exhibitions designed to market the School

Planning

The School operates a monthly payment scheme to assist those parents who wish to spread payment for School Fees over the year to better match their income streams.

Other

The School offers a number of non means-tested scholarships at entry to Year 7 each year, by means of a modest reduction in the tuition fees based on academic potential as evidenced by the Entrance Examination. Where appropriate, a recipient of a scholarship may also benefit from means-tested assistance from the Bursary Fund.

Assistance provided

The School provided, or was instrumental in providing, the total financial assistance shown in the following table from the various methods described above.

2014/15 2013/14
Value of assistance £000 Pupils % of fees receivable % of pupils in School £000 Pupils % of fees receivable % of pupils in School
High School Bursary 969       108       8.4             11.1               873          103             7.7                10.5
External assistance * 12 n/a      47       2 0.4 0.2
Total means-tested assistance 981       108       8.5 11.1           920          105             8.1

               10.7

 

* The operation of the School’s Bursary Fund enabled some bursary holders to access additional financial assistance from other sources.

In addition, other financial assistance totalling £103,000 was provided to 86 pupils (2014: £101,000 to 86 pupils) in the form of Scholarships.

The total means-tested assistance was provided at the levels shown in the following table.

School only Total means-tested
2014/15 2013/14 2014/15 2013/14
Percentage of fee remission Number % Number % Number % Number %
0 – 50% 31 28.7          31      30.1 29 26.9          29      28.2
50 – 75% 25 23.1          22      21.4 25 23.1          20      19.4
75 – 99% 38 35.2          39     37.8 38 35.2       41      39.8
100% 14 13.0             11        10.7 16 14.8          13      12.6
108 100.0          103    100.0 108 100.0          103    100.0

 

Furthermore, a significant number of families take advantage of the School’s scheme to spread payment for fees over the year.

Future plans

The School will continue to provide such support in order to ensure that the education at the School can be made available where parents are of more modest means.

The School’s Development Office has a key role to enhance relationships with alumni and other stakeholders with a view to generating additional funds to support further Bursary provision.

 Working with others in the community:

Nottingham High School is committed to working with our local and wider communities.  A number of the community partnership projects are outlined in greater detail on the ‘Schools Together’ website: http://www.schoolstogether.org/

Working with other Primary Schools:

  • Community Action: Provision of regular volunteers for placements in local state primary schools for members of our Community Action scheme to act as classroom assistants.
  • Provision of outdoor residential education opportunity in Derbyshire for Year 5 pupils from two local state primaries, funded, organised and staffed by our Community Action group.
  • Classics: Member of staff has joined the Latin Hub in Nottingham which is being set up to support Latin teaching in primary schools in Nottinghamshire and the surrounding area. This is a group involving NTU, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham County Council.
  • DT: Young Engineers going to local junior school fairs. Have built robots for junior school pupils to engage with.  Providing positive role models to junior schools of high tech skills of our pupils.
  • English: Partnership with Forest Fields Primary School: use of NHS teachers to provide sessions for FF pupils, invitations to FF pupils to visit NHS for author visits coordinated and hosted by our library.
  • Junior Book Slam, approx. 200 local primary children attended last year. Berridge, Jesse Gray, Robert Mellors and Edna G Olds Schools have attended.
  • PE and Games: Participate in and host numerous fixtures with local primary schools.
  • Host Primary Schools Cricket Festival.
  • Provide cricket coaching in a number of local primary schools.
  • Enter and support a wide variety of City and County Schools sports competitions and festivals.
  • Host Primary Schools tag rugby competition.
  • Host Primary Schools cross country competition.
  • Coordination of collection of Sainsbury’s Active Vouchers to donate to local Primary School.
  • Maths: Host Nottingham High School Junior Mathematics Challenge for Year 5 pupils. Six local primary school attended last year.
  • Science: Primary school teacher training. Member of Science staff to provide INSET for KS1 and KS2 teachers, in delivery of Science, offered to local Nottingham primary schools.
  • Hosted the ‘Kitchen Sink Show’, local primary schools attended, around 100 children. Claremont and Robert Mellors School attended this last year.
  • Hosting primary school Physics Competition.

 Working with other Secondary Schools:

  • Art: Nottingham Society of Artist- annual exhibition
  • Life Drawing classes – open to all
  • CCF: Partnership with local state maintained secondary, Arnold Hill School, to help establish a CCF unit as part of the CEP (Cadet Expansion Programme).
  • Chemistry: Hosted colleague from Rushcliffe School for day to share ideas and good practice.
  • Classics: Members of Nottingham & Birmingham and Midlands Classical Associations and EMACT.
  • Member of staff is the Schools Rep on the Nottingham Classics Association committee.
  • Member of staff co-ordinates the EMACT Poster Competition. We take part in the EMACT Latin & Greek Reading Competition each year and host the regional competition some years.
  • We take 6th form students to the EMACT 6th form conference annually and have hosted the event recently.
  • We have provided training and resources to support those teaching Latin at the Nottingham Free School and Rushcliffe School in the last couple of years.
  • DofE: Hosting of Awards ceremony and meetings for Nottingham City Schools. Provision of assessors for local state school.
  • DT: Centre of excellence for high tech activities. Sharing good practice with visiting teachers from other schools developing their high tech skills and looking at developing their entries in national competitions. Link with NUAST to mentor them in VEX robotics work.
  • Economics: Working with Emanuel School and Becket School Economics Departments to share ideas/best practice.
  • English: Participation/contributions to A-level English Language Teacher’s Network (University of Nottingham—other schools include Arnold Hill Academy, Toot Hill, Redhill Academy, Rushcliffe.)
  • Partnership with Djanogly Academy – Year 7 ‘Poetry Slam’, working with our library.
  • Higher Education: Undertake a number of mock interviews for prospective Oxbridge candidates from local state schools.
  • Host an Oxbridge information evening , to which we invite all local schools – about 300 booked from outside schools for this year’s meeting.
  • Host a fair for overseas study with 21 foreign universities manning stands.  All local schools were invited.
  • MFL: Partnerships with overseas secondary schools in France and Germany to facilitate exchange visits.
  • Model United Nations: Students work in collaboration with students from other schools, taking part in the Model United Nations Conferences, discussing and raising awareness of global issues.
  • Music: Composition workshop open to pupils from any secondary school in the area.
  • PE and Games: Participate in wide variety of fixtures and competitions.
  • As an MCC Foundation Hub Programme we provide a high quality coaching programme to children from 20 local state secondary schools who are without the level of cricket provision typical of schools from the independent sector.
  • Physics: Part of an Ogden Trust Group with other local schools and both Nottingham universities competing in competitions at all age groups / attending lectures. Other schools include Trinity, Kimberly School, Nottingham Girls High School, Chilwell, Arnold Hill
  • RS: Links through the Face to Faith video conferencing with different international schools. Possibility for collaborative work with some other schools: TichoNet, Tel Aviv, Israel; Chinmaya International Residential School, Tamil Nadu, India; City Montessori School, Lucknow, India; SIES Altiero Spinelli, Torino, Italy; Taras Shevchenko Gymnasium, Ukraine; Okhtyrka Gymnasium, Ukraine

Teacher Training:

  • Regular PGCE students from local universities including Nottingham and Nottingham Trent.
  • Contact with local university PGCE students requiring assistance with data collection and questionnaires.
  • Links with ISTIP, hosting regular meetings and training for NQTs across the region.

 Working with Universities (aside from teacher training):

  • Governor links are assured through both Nottingham Trent and the University of Nottingham being represented on our Board of Governors.
  • We have regular communication with a number of universities through our access to Higher Education and Careers programmes.
  • A Psychology teacher is working closely with Loughborough University and Brunel University Sport Psychology team and PE staff whilst currently completing a PhD.
  • A number of university students have used our laser cutting and 3D printing facilities.
  • Links with and visits to the University of Nottingham Chemistry Department (eg Spectroscopy Masterclass visits).
  • Links with University of Nottingham Economics Department.
  • Drama Department has initiated link with Nottingham Trent University and their set design students.

Further educational provision across the local and wider community:

A number of staff are involved with the coordination and marking of public examination work and published educational work.

Chemistry:
·       AQA GCSE Chemistry Senior Examiner on CH1 and CH2
·       Question writer for BMAT, IMAT and UCAM tests administered by Cambridge Assessment
Classics:
·       Examiner for OCR – Team leader on a GCSE Language Paper
·       Examiner for OCR – AS Latin Language paper
·       Examiner for OCR – GCSE Latin Language paper
·       Examiner for OCR – AS Classical Civilisation Paper
Computing:
·       COMP 1 Examiner AQA
Drama:
·       GCSE AQA Unit 2 Moderator
·       GCSE AQA Unit 1 Senior Examiner
Economics:
·       Exam marking for AQA Economics
·       Writing of text books and magazine articles for A-level students
Maths:
·       Edexcel Reviewer
·       AQA Examiner
·       Reviewer of maths texts for Mathematical Gazette
 
Music:
·       Examiner for Pearson
·       Examiner for AQA
PE and Games:
·       Moderator Cambridge IGCSE
Physics:
·       Examiner for AQA
Politics:
·       Examiner for Edexcel Government and Politics
RS:
·       Examiner for AQA

Members of staff at Nottingham High School contribute to the development of other schools as governors:

  • Bleasby Primary
  • Farnsfield Junior School
  • Greenwich Free School
  • Joseph Whittaker School

 A Chemisty teacher is involved with HMC Teacher Training fair.

A Chemistry teacher is involved with Easter revision courses for A-Level students at Nottingham University run by Sutton Trust.

A Music teacher works with Cantamus, currently ranked 3rd in the world of youth choirs and based in Mansfield.

A Music teacher is a member of the Music Masters and Mistresses Association.

A Music teacher is on committee of the Nottingham Young Musician of the Year Competition.

Several music teachers are involved with music-making in the community (accompanying, conducting etc).

Members of the Drama Department provide National Youth Theatre tuition and coordinate LAMDA tuition.

A Classics teacher has led several training sessions for teachers on examining at ARLT Summer Schools and Refresher Days and also at events run by the Birmingham Classical Association at the University of Birmingham.

Our librarian speaks to local History Societies, such as the Lowdham Local History Society, about history of the School.

Within Design and Technology, some national award winning A level projects have had significant community benefits.  For example, Care Home Fall Detection and Flood Detection systems.

Links with Royal Society of Chemistry.

A number of staff are involved with contributions to organising community sport:

  • Chairman City Schools Athletics Association
  • Regional ESAA Track and Field Secretary
  • Organising committee Nottinghamshire County Games
  • Two Nottinghamshire AA committee members
  • ESAA Cross Country Secretary
  • England Girls’ Rounders U16 coach
  • Manager of MCC Hub Programme hosted at NHS – state school cricket development programme
  • Organiser of local charity swimathons
  • County Hockey Cups organiser U14 and U16
  • Hockey JAC/JPC selector

 An English teacher sat as a judge for the BBC Radio 2 ‘500 words’ Creative Writing competition

Our library reaches a wider community through blogging about School History, Books, Reading and Literacy initiatives and News.

Through the Library online Book of Remembrance, interaction and information sharing with families and organisations involved in research into War Records such as www.aircrewremembered.com.

The librarian was involved with liaising with Development Director of Nottingham bid for UNESCO City of Literature re: information on DH Lawrence, Geoffrey Trease, etc and future collaborations.

A member of staff has strong links with Trent Vineyard – Arches Charity and Soup Run in Nottingham.

A member of staff is involved with Riding for the Disabled.

Further work with our local community:

Holiday Club:

Held annually using the School facilities, this is open to children across the city during parts of both the Easter and Summer Holiday periods.  Up to 200 children a week attend each week whilst the club is running.

Community Action:

Pupils from Year 9 upwards have the opportunity to get involved with our Community Action group.

  • Hosting of annual Christmas events for senior citizens within the Nottingham community.
  • Regular provision of volunteers to the St Ann’s Allotments community project.
  • Provision of regular volunteers for placements in local state primary schools for members of our Community Action scheme to act as classroom assistants.
  • Provision of outdoor residential education opportunity in Derbyshire for Year 5 pupils from two local state primaries, funded, organised and staffed by our Community Action group.
  • Members of Community Action undertake a weekly volunteering commitment within their local community.
  • Strong links with local branch of the NSPCC, through which fund raising and collections of Christmas and Easter presents for children in our local community has taken place

Combined Cadet Force (CCF):

  • Support for Nottingham City Remembrance parade at St. Mary’s Church and the parade through the City.
  • Provision of resources, such as use of range facilities, to local ATC unit.
  • Planned support and partnership with Arnold Hill School as outlined above.

Scouting:

  • Helping local scout and guide groups to develop craft and design based activities.
  • Scouting impacts on public benefit from our own Scout Troop and Explorer Scout Unit – DoE service volunteering that our Scouts are involved with.
  • Hosting of Scouts DoE and Scout leaders meetings and award presentation meetings.

 Support for the Arts in and around the Nottingham community:

  • School Plays and Concerts are available to the local community as an audience.
  • The Arts Society is unique locally in encouraging large numbers of students to attend a wide range of theatrical and musical events.
  • The Drama Department facilitates the Nottingham Shakespeare Society open-book performance.
  • Drama GCSE and A level students support local theatre with regular theatre visits.
  • The English Department organise curriculum visits to local theatres and cinemas.
  • Music is very strong in the School and choirs and musical groups have performed at a wide variety of local venues, from Oakfield School to the Royal Concert Hall.

Further Community Links:

The School has had close links with a number of city centre churches, particularly St. Mary’s where the School was founded and is the venue for our annual Founder’s Day Service.  A member of staff is director of music at St. Mary’s and links have been further strengthened since a retired Deputy Head from the School took up a senior position at St. Mary’s.  The carol concert and further musical events take place in the church.

The School plays an active role in supporting our immediate community in and around the Arboretum area of Nottingham, working with the City Council to improve traffic flow in the area and promoting good behaviour and a social conscience within the community.

The provision of an extensive school bus service significantly reduces the need for car journeys to and from the School.

 Charity Fund Raising:

 Charities are supported through our School House system, which each House selecting one or two charities annually to support.  Money is raised through sponsored events such as bike rides, runs, cake sales, non-uniform days and Tutor Set collections.

This year the House charities are:

  • Coopers’: Teenage Cancer Trust
  • Maples’: Berega Hospital, Tanzania
  • Mellers’: Nottingham Women’s Refuge and Framework
  • Whites’: Aegis Trust

Whole School charity events are very much encouraged and supported.  This year money has been raised for the BBC Children in Need appeal and UNICEF.

Further to this, the links between our Community Action Group and our local NSPCC branch have led to charity collections at our School productions which has raised money to support their transport funds to assist in getting children to and from their centre.

Our librarian organised a sponsored ‘readathon’ for children’s charities.

Students and staff are involved annually in the Marie Curie Cancer Charity collection in Nottingham City centre.

In recent years our senior expeditions to Tanzania and Bolivia have involved raising money and practical help in building classrooms in areas of need.

We are always looking for new ways to develop our links with our local community so please do contact me if you are interested in forming such links.

 

 

Independent Schools in Crisis?

Recently the Times ran a front page article suggesting that independent schools across the country are in crisis. This came as a huge surprise to me as the head of Nottingham High School as we have just had record numbers sit for entry next September to our school.  Many more families are currently expressing interest in independent education as the austerity cuts start to hit state education and with ever-growing class sizes. In fact, numbers of pupils at UK independent schools has never been higher and overall across all independent schools our exam results remain unparalleled. Nationally, nearly a third of pupils received A or A*s at GCSE in 2015 compared with just 7% in state schools (in fact the figure for the High School in recent years is just shy of 80%), and half of A Level entries were awarded A or A*, again a picture more than matched in most years by the High School.  At A Level pupils are four times more likely to achieve one top grade than in state-maintained schools.

Commentators often bemoan the fact that independent schools are so good that our pupils dominate the most successful universities and careers. How can this be when we are busy failing and going out of business?

Lord Lucas, the owner of the Good Schools Guide, is correct in saying that the best state schools are improving, but that improvement is not across the board. Many parents are not able to find a state school of the standard they want for their child and independent schools offer consistent excellence in teaching, co-curricular activities and preparation for university. Notably, 99.7% of them also work in partnership with state schools to increase opportunities for all pupils.

I have to say though that I find this constant sniping to suggest that there is a ‘battle’ between state and independent schools very distasteful.  We work with many schools across the city in a spirit of collaboration which both our own pupils and many in city schools benefit from greatly.  We open many of our sporting events and facilities to students across the city.  We have a programme whereby one of our coaches provides cricket training in city primary schools.  We support all of the local city championships in many sports and help run some of these.  We invite primary aged children in to our school for a wide variety of educational experiences.  I welcome the improvements that we are seeing in education across the city.  Yes, this increases our competition but that is no bad thing as it removes complacency and after all anyone who believes in the power of a good education must surely want this to spread beyond their own school.  I want education in Nottingham to be superb for all children and we stand prepared to help in any ways we can.

There is often lazy journalism that equates all independent schools with privilege.  This too is nonsense.  We had nearly 100 families this year apply for bursary places at our school.  We will be supporting with completely free places a good number of children from some of the most deprived areas of the city.  The parents of these children can see beyond the terminology of battles and elitism to strive to give their children the best possible opportunity.  We are probably more diverse than some of the state schools in the leafier suburbs.

I urge schools of all types to work together to give the young people of this generation the best possible education.  We need schools to meet the needs of all children and with rising birth-rates and smaller budgets there is more need than ever for schools to work together creatively and collaboratively.  I do not want to ‘battle’ with local state schools, I want to reach out to them to see how we can work together to improve education in all of our schools.  I am certain that many state school heads would want the same.

A few more interesting statistics (with thanks for these to HMC, the association for the Heads of leading independent schools):

 

Exam results

  • A-level.  In 2015, of all A*/A grades achieved, 49% were in independent schools, compared to 26% nationally.
  • A-level.  Independent school pupils are four times more likely to achieve at least one top grade than state school pupils.
  • GSCE.  In 2015, one third of independent school entries were awarded A*, compared to 7% nationally.

Teachers’ subject expertise

  • Oxbridge graduates.  Since 2003, 6,000 state school secondary teachers have been appointed with Oxbridge degrees (increasing the proportion in the state school workforce from 3% to 5%). The equivalent workforce figure for independent schools is stable at c.17%.

Attainment value added

  • Sixth form. In the sixth form, DFE figures show that 37% of state schools add value compared to 94% of independent schools.
  • Sixth form.  Across all sixth forms the added value average for independent schools is 0.16 and that for state schools -0.09.
  • 16-year-olds.  New research from Durham University shows that once prior attainment, socio-economic background and gender are taken into account, pupils aged 16 in independent schools have gained the equivalent of two additional years of schooling compared to their state school peers.

University entry

  • Russell Group access.  Among children born in 1970 those attending independent schools were c.2.5 times more likely to gain a degree from a Russell group university than their state school peers with the same A-level results.
  • Overall prospects.  2015 was the best-ever year for university entry for schools in independent schools.
  • Offer rates.  The offer rate for university applicants from top independent schools has increased steadily since 2011 and outpaced the equivalent figures state schools.
  • Degree classifications.  82% of independent school pupils gain a First or 2:1 degree compared to 73% of state school students.

Strategically important subjects

  • Maths and science.  Independent school candidates comprise one fifth of all A-level entries but achieve nearly one third of all A* grades.
  • Modern Foreign Languages (MFL). In 2015, 24% of such entries came from independent school candidates who, between them, secured 42% of the A* grades.
  • MFL.  In 2015, independent school pupils were five times more likely to apply to university for MFL than all UCAS applicants combined.

Sport music and drama

  • Overall achievement in sport.  Sir Michael Wilshaw commented recently that ‘overall, independent schools are producing far more elite athletes across a range of sports than we would expect… This indicates that these schools are more effective at recognising, supporting and nurturing sporting talent than maintained schools and academies’.
  • Olympians. 41% of London 2012 medallists were from independent schools.
  • Rugby.  Ofsted reports 61% of premiership players and 20 members of England’s 31-man 2015 Rugby World Cup squad came from independent schools.
  • Sports fields.  The Conservatives sold off 10,000 state school playing fields during 1979-97. Labour added a further 200 to this total between 1997 and 2010.

Soft skills

  • Assisted Places holders.  Sutton Trust research into assisted places holders (1980-97) has found that these pupils displayed much more self-discipline, self-reliance, ambition, curiosity, communication skills, cultural sophistication and self-confidence than their state school peers with similar levels of attainment. Nottingham High School was fully involved in this scheme.

Social Mobility

  • Parental profile.   40% of independent school pupils’ parents did not themselves go to an independent school.
  • Ethnic minorities.  29% of pupils at independent schools are from ethnic minorities – more than the average across the state sector.

Salaries added value

  • First 36 months of employment.  When social and income background, prior attainment, ethnicity and region are accounted for, independent school pupils achieve a 6.8% (£1,500) salary premium over their state school peers.

Career-long earnings.  When family background and prior educational attainment are allowed for, independent school pupils will have earned £58,000 more than their state school peers by the age of 42.

Dispelling some myths…

Each year we conduct some telephone interviews amongst those parents who have enquired about the High School but who have not gone onto apply for places.  Clearly we are looking to see if there are any lessons for the future and are particularly interested in those factors which we can influence.  I am pleased to say that most of those we survey have been impressed with the school and it is often due to their own circumstances, financial or otherwise, why they do not chose the School for their son.

Every time we undertake this research though it shows that there are some misconceptions that people have and I thought it would make for an interesting blog post to address these.

Misconception 1: Pressure: There are people who look at our fantastic academic success as a school and perceive there to be a great deal of pressure on pupils.  This is absolutely not the picture I recognise as I walk around the School.  The High School is all about developing boys with all round personality.  This is why we put such emphasis on our activities and clubs and just today we have held an activities day for all of our students – Year 7 visited the Zoo, Year 8 undertook lessons in life skills such as DIY, cooking, sewing and ironing, Year 9 made their own short movies.  All of these as well as the regular activities such as scouts, Duke of Edinburgh, cadets as well as all the music, sport and drama mean that boys enjoy a rich variety of experience.  Whilst all of us here at the School have high aspirations they are very much individualised, each boy is encouraged to do his best but we understand that what this will be will vary from individual to individual.  Boys enjoy their lessons, there are really positive relations with the staff and if you talk to any of our students they will tell you that this really is not a pressured environment.  Some parents feel that their son might be overwhelmed by the pressure of academic and sporting achievements expected – this could not be further from the truth.  Boys are encouraged to do their best but we believe that they must become self-motivated and that they should enjoy their learning.  They will never be pushed to achieve what they are not capable of.  Whilst our sporting programme is strong, boys only ever play with those of similar ability which is why we are so proud of putting out D teams on occasion as well as providing opportunities for the most able.

It is though pleasing to note that our survey also showed that our staff are friendly, inspirational and welcoming and our pupils are seen to be polite and mature but equally importantly warm in their welcome and confident.  Not all boys arrive here with confidence but this is built through our regular activities programme so that by the time that boys leave us they are well-rounded, quietly confident but not arrogant young men.  This quiet, understated confidence is important to us.  Parents were impressed with the facilities, the clubs and the learning was seen to be fun and interesting – just what we aim for.

Misconception 2: The nature of our bursary fund.  We do produce a Frequently Asked Questions sheet about our bursary fund but there are some misconceptions here.  Help is available towards fees and this can range from a small amount of assistance for middle-earners through to full fees.  There are also funds which we can use to support bursary boys going on school trips.  Despite our best efforts not all those who enquire to the School are aware of our bursary scheme but I would encourage every parent to read the FAQs sheet on our website as this talks you through the whole scheme and allows you to see if it applies to you.  We do also include all of the curriculum trips, sports fixtures and even entrance to all our plays and concerts within our published fees structure.  Again this is not the case in all independent schools.

Misconception 3: Lack of local friends: We are aware that some families do not choose us because their sons want to stay near their local friends.  This is understandable but I would say that you do not have to lose your local friends just because you join the High School.  Here you will make new friends but there is still plenty of time in the week when boys can stay in touch with their local friends.  Many of the boys here are still involved in activities in their local area and would say that they get the best of both worlds with friends made through the High School alongside those they have in their local areas.  For those that use the school buses that too is an opportunity to chat with their friends as well as meeting girls from the Girls High School!  In Year 7 we set no homework in the first couple of weeks and this is partly to allow boys to go to see any friends from their old school that they may be missing as they start at their new one.

Misconception 4: Nature of results in comparison to other schools.  Schools are increasingly good at marketing themselves and can be very selective about what results they publish.  At the High School we believe in being very transparent about this which is why we publish on our website a full set of GCSE and A Level results both for this year and the last few which includes every exam taken in every subject.  We do put our results in for League Table purposes again because we want to be transparent in our dealings with those considering our schools.  It is a pity that there is not a standard way that all schools have to publish their results to enable parents to see the differences between schools.

Misconception 5: Social Mix. Many people feel that independent schools are full of the privileged rich.  At the High School over 10% of our intake receive bursaries but more importantly even than that is the fact that we have a real socially diverse mix of families who have chosen our school.  Many parents are making significant sacrifices in order to afford the fees and thus we really do have a mix of all backgrounds.  Our parents are more likely to be taxi drivers than hedge-fund managers!  There will be many state schools in leafy suburbs where there is less of a genuine social mix as parents have had to pay a premium on their house price to afford to live in the catchment areas of the best schools.  We have a map of where all our pupils live and it covers the full city and county area and shows visually the diversity of areas where our pupils come from.

In conclusion, it is fascinating to try to understand the complicated decision making process in choosing schools.  We prefer it when parents and boys come to visit us as that way they can get a better feel of what to expect.  Above all if they come on a school day they can see the enjoyment on the faces of the boys they will encounter, they can talk with them about any of their concerns and they can really start to understand our ethos. It really is a friendly, welcoming place with a soft heart and an enjoyable place both to work and to come to school.