Bedford High School for Girls - any knowledge or experience?(58 Posts)
Was interested as they do the IB, and also close to grandparents if they end up boarding.
Rather late (!) joining thread and hoping still some searchers.. but am considering sending DD to BGS. Originally all planned for BHSG (DD born 2005) 2009 came and the rest is history..
However BGS a levels this year 2013 have crashed and burned: 34% A*/A compared to BS 53.96%, BMS 56.23% ( even Kimbolton managed 46.23%)
contrast with 2011: BHSG 55.89% and DAHS 50.42%
So is this a temporary blip whilst things settle or has the heart been ripped out?
There were apparently a lot of BGS girls at the recent Bedford Modern 6th form day according to a friend of mine. I have also heard of two more BGS girls that have suddenly appeared mid-term at another Bedford school so I guess the 'settling in' is still going on.
Sparrow12 makes some valid points, although your precise knowledge of the funding figures does raise slight suspicion, but perhaps you are just well informed.
With regard to the scholarship debate, surely the figures are irrelevant? The principle of the scholarship i suspect is more important to most parents than the amount of money you save on fees. A sense of genuine achievement in obtaining a scholarship should be there as a target for all children, whether it be for music, art, sport or academic subjects.
Our daughter was at bgs junior and her teacher was excellent. Our move away was prompted by the fact that the ethos of the merged school did not fit with our view of how we felt the school should be run. When we decided to go for private education, part of that was prize givings, house names taken from inspirational characters, scholarships etc. bgs does not offer any of this. In addition the campus for the junior school is just simply inadequate, with Large class sizes and children having to constantly cross a busy road to use amenities at the main site.
As I said in my previous post we we looking for a more traditional education and bgs does not offer this (in my view). I do agree the the unfortunate marketing decisions and house names have masked some of the positive About the school.
We moved. Most Oxbridge offers are now in. 70-80 girls in coed 6th at Berko, 7 girls got offers, including dd. Congrats to girls(s) with offer at BGS too, but I prefer percentages at Berko.
The individual teaching we have experienced (Y9+) has been a combination of good and excellent. At this level, individual teachers work very hard to get the best out of the girls. My daughter's year group, (y11) for the most part, is cohesive, positive and hard-working. The girls seem to look out for each other and pastoral care is good. As things are turning out, after all the excitement of open days etc, the school looks unlikely to lose many of the brightest or most hard working girls to other schools for sixth form at the end of the year - over and above the turnover one would normally expect to see - this will be a good test of how well the merger is succeeding.
The marketing at bgs is very poor, and many misguided decisions have been taken, including "own goals" such as the ridiculous house names and the silly decision not to feature your own pupils on the advertising - and there are no doubt parents who think these sorts of issues are indeed "all you need to know" about a school - they are certainly not at all helpful. However there are signs that things are improving - and the clearest indication will be how many children - of the sort you need in order to keep the standards up - decide, by the start of april term that it is not the school for them.
The scholarship/ bursary issue is a bit of a red herring - scholarships were never more than eg £500/£250 - to spend on something educational. The total annual scholarship (as opposed to bursary) fund at bedford high school for entry into the senior school was around £1,500, split between three or four children each year. The demise of the traditional prize giving day is something I regret, but I know lots of parents would disagree with me, as the same pupils always seemed to win all the prizes.
I read all comments with interest and with the benefit of a parent who has had two daughters who were at Bedford High school who transferred from Bedford high.
We first chose Bedford High prior to the merger because the head teacher ran a warm and friendly school with a great traditional ethos. We moved to bgs for many reasons but not least because that same head from bedford high was offered the headship at the new merged junior school. Sadly she gave up the ghost and has moved to a state school (lucky state school). Along with some other great Bedford High teachers who moved on after the merger.
If you are a parent thinking of sending your daughter to this school, I am sure there will be many positives, but for me some simple facts speak volumes:
1 one of the house names your daughter could be in is "Chanel" yes that's right "Chanel" (feel free to google Miss Chanel's credentials as a role model)
2. When moving from the bgs junior to bgs senior they have now stopped scholarships in order to increase bursary places (bums on seats is the name of the game).
3. Last year two friends had children who sat the bms and bgs entrance exams. Both did not get in to bms but did get into bgs
4. Looking at the posts above it clearly looks like a worried head teacher is monitoring the forum and positing responses, speaks volumes!
5. As per other comments, supply teachers were patchy and complaints were met with usual "salesy Spiel about how it is not always easy to predict these situations etc etc"
6. This school has a great poster campaign and advertising in all the papers, with a classy picture of a young girl in the uniform pictured in the school looking like she is on a wondrous educational journey. Sadly the girl in the picture is not a pupil at the school. You would think with hundreds of girls at the school they could have found one to appear in the advert?
We moved our daughters to a school outside of Bedford and are very happy. If you are looking for more traditional education for your daughter then I would say this is not the school for you. The sales pitch you get on the open day is all about "being progressive and holistic", that's all great stuff, but we wanted a more traditional approach.
Thanks for the additional information and sorry that I have fuelled the flames of a rather heated debate!
It is good to hear these very frank views and experiences and we will continue to investigate and spend as much time las we can looking at both BSG and BM before we make a final decision.
As I said before I do know a few people with girls at BSG and they are very happy with it. Likewise I have friends with daughters at BSM who also sing its praises.
Hannah 1976 - to watch your child become desperately unhappy at school is very difficult as a parent. I thought mumsnet was a forum for us all to share our experiences and opinions. I am not trying to tarnish a schools image and am certainly not telling fibs or spreading fictitious rumours ! Sadly,I am merely stating the facts of my dd's awful year. I hope your dd remains happy and if anything goes wrong during her school years that you are able to express your opinion without being accused of being bitter or worse still a liar.
Hannah 1976 - It is incredibly childish and trivial to suggest that the basis of the critical comments comes from resentment about the merger. People speak as they find and they are speaking volumes. The fact is that Northampton Girls School never advertised in Bedford and is now running a bus there. Only a bunch of dimwits would claim not to know which teachers were absent and make proactive arrangements. These are simple things at the basis of any efficient organisation.
Oh dear! What an awful response which does little to enhance the profile of parents who send their girls to BGS. Just because people have had a completely different experience at your beloved school you call them bitter liars who blame the school for their poor education choices! Im so pleased you are thoroughly happy with your choice of this exceedingly wonderful without blemish school, but why come on here and put down everyone else who has opposing views and experiences? In fact come to think of it, are you the headmistress? As I have said before on this thread Im always highly sceptical of anyone who has nothing but praise for their school, in my experience all schools have some problems be they large or small. Have you actually completed a survey that proves that the vast majority of parents adore BGS? This is not what I hear from some of the parents I know.
I am completely impartial as I do not have any children at Bedford Girls and I have never had to remove my children from there. I did not choose the school based on the opinion of trusted friends and acquaintances who do have girls there. I refuse to recount any of their experiences because it would be obvious who these girls are and they are not my children, but suffice to say their views do differ from yours. You are right about one thing, prospective parents must visit the school to form their own opinions but then they should try to get more information away from the school premises, after all looking at some of the posts on here not all in the garden in rosy and maybe some people need to realise that.
I'm actually really upset to read a lot of the comments here. I have a daughter at Bedford Girls' School and I can't praise it highly enough.
I understand that people had a strong affiliation with either Dame Alice or the High School but the level to which this seems to have driven bad feeling and provoked rants on here is truly shocking.
I was not comfortable with the idea of my little girl attending either of the founding schools, although I understand both had their not inconsiderable merits. They just weren't for me. BGS, on the other hand, is the perfect fit for both my daughter and I and she is thriving.
I think it's terrible that grown women come onto a forum like this and seek to ruin the reputation of a school merely because they either resent the merger or have made a mistake in selecting the right school for their child.
The vast majority of pupils and parents absolutely adore BGS and its teachers. It is insulting to suggest that people who elect to send their daughters there are somehow letting their children down by doing so. It's also terrible to read things here which, at best, are ficticious rumours the posters have in all honesty believed and - at worst - down right fibs.
It is a great shame that the future of both the High School and Dame Alice was untennable and it must have very difficult for all those caught up in the merger innitially. However - had either have been financially viable - the merger would never have happened. The debt incurred by the High School for building the Sport and Performing Arts development is notorious and, while it may have been a terrific school, it was run into the ground by poor financial management. Equally, Dame Alice - in my opinion - was too stuffy and stuck in a rut. That doesn't mean it wasn't a good school for those it suited.
For me, BGS has provided me with the perfect opportunity for my daughter to be schooled in a progressive environment which reflects my view of a contemporary girls' education.
A school can't be right for everyone and - as parents - we are all very lucky to be able to afford choice.
I really do think it's unethical to try and damage the reputation of the school purely because it was formed through a merger. If you are that upset that the former schools were unsustainable then the new school is not the one to blame. Instead, it is surely the previous management who bear responsibility?
Either way, I would encourage prospective parents to visit the school and talk to the girls and the staff. I really can't praise it enough. The teaching is excellent, the curriculum is exciting and my daughter just adores attending. I am also very happy to put the record straight about the notion of them 'taking anyone in then asking them to leave' - that's simply not true as are very few negative statements of 'fact' here.
I'm sorry if that's too forthright but, like all parents, I love my children and the notion that I would dream of sending my daughter to the type of school negatively described here is an insult to us both.
As I say, go and see for yourself - that's the only way to really find out if somewhere's for you, isn't it? Much better than believing what a clearly bitter anonymous poster or two write on a forum!
I am one of the parents who withdrew my dd from BGS this summer and it was the best move we have ever made. My dd was desperately unhappy there, despite having many friends, she just hated the school. I now have a different dd, she is happy, flourishing and just loves her new school.
I have a son in his tenth year at Bedford School which has been absolutely fantastic and we were always very happy with Bedford High School. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was a bit of a car crash
year for my daughter in her first year at BGS. I went from a parent
who has never made a complaint in her life to a serial complainer and I was definitely not alone in this. But if my daughter is accosted by drunk men returning from a music lesson , I expect something to be done about it, nothing ever was.
I expect my daughter to have atleast have a teacher turn up to her lessons and do not want to see mobile phone videos of over 20 girls pissing about left to there own devices for an hour. I don't want my daughter taught by people who have absolutely no classroom management skills and when a pupil turned out a light , all 25 girls stood up and pretended to be zombies ( sadly this included my very naughty dd !)
In terms of leadership these problems are just never dealt with. I have many friends at the school who say that nothing has changed and will definitely be looking for alternative sixth forms. In fact at a recent open day at my dd's new school my daughter saw many BGS girls !!!
If you think the facilitIes are good , have you looked around any other private schools ? As the parent of a sporty daughter the facilities were significantly downgraded by the merger with no promise of future investment.
Despite the fact my dd is now boarding I have seen her headteacher more in half a term of us visiting to see sports fixtures that I saw the BGS head in a whole year. In fact , at the only fixture she ever appeared at over half way through the year my dd said,' who's that lady mummy ?' sums it up really !!! There seems to be very little respect for the head from the girls and many parents.
If you choose BGS for your daughter I hope it works for her. I personally wanted more for my daughter and felt she deserved an education that was equivalent to the one her brother receives.
We are considering moving our daughter from a state comprehensive to one of the Bedford schools for 6th form.
I am rather alarmed at some of the comments posted here but am struggling to understand what exactly is wrong with Bedford Girls school
Scarred for life, Truly appalling these are strong comments but not backed up with any facts. Others say they have removed their daughters or know of others who have done so why exactly? Others talk of weak leadership what specific what impact is this having in the school?
Poor facilities they seemed excellent us plebs for the state sector Lovely building, excellent facilities in the classroom, white boards, lots of IT equipment and science equipment meaning the girls did not have to share, the pool may have been built in the 70s but whats wrong with that? It seemed well maintained and fit for purpose wasnt expecting a hotel spa!
One person commented that the issues was around 1200 girls being squeezed into a small space causing high volumes of traffic, bottlenecks and locker crush. Our daughter has the chance to go for a taster day so we can see how this compares with her current school.
Another criticism is around huge class sizes maybe up to 25. Since our daughter will be joining the 6th form I dont see this as an issue since the classes at this level are very small especially for those studying the IB which my daughter is likely to do.
There is also a concern that the school is letting anyone in what does this mean a girl who isnt posh or bright?! Sounds a bit snobbish to me. Certainly the results show little difference to Bedford Modern.
I can see that merging two schools onto one site must have had its challenges and that there will be a period of bedding down.
I would love to hear any additional factual information about what is wrong with the school specifically about the quality of teaching, pastoral care, extra curricular activities etc particularly as it related to the 6th form and IB. Plus we may also send our younger daughter there too for Year 9 onwards so again interested in any facts about class sizes and GCSE teaching.
It would be good to hear some positive stories too I do know parents with daughters at the school and they are pretty positive about it. This is a big and expensive decision for us so would love to hear some more.
This is hearsay but from friends who have DC at Bedford Girls and BMS so suspect it has some basis in fact.
Of children who applied to join the junior schools this September (so 7+), 60% of applicants were offered places at BMS, but 95% of applicants at each of Bedford School and Bedford Girls. If this is the case essentially "selection" at Bedford Girls and Bedford is by ability to pay only. I'd be very interested to know who many children are "encouraged" to leave further up the schools.
As far as I am aware, there are no children joining the free school from the senior school. I believe a teacher has joined though. The only girls I am aware of that have left the senior school are those going to state schools or to Bedford Girls or other private schools. Something the school does realise is it's ability to help girls progress well only for some of them to leave around year 8/9 and pass entrance exams to other schools that may have a wider gcse choice or a 6th form. If Bedford Girls is taking all that sit their entrance exam regardless then that may cause problems for St Andrew's in the long run.
I would have thought what is really decimating St Andrews is the arrival of the new free school.
cheesedoffnow: Rebuilding trust indeed. It seems that Bedford Girls School is taking more or less anyone in the Junior school to bolster numbers and cash (see article in Beds on Sunday re rowing) and at the same time asking those whose results don't come up to scratch much later to leave.
This policy is decimating the numbers at St Andrews school and is in great danger of leaving those who aren't so academic high and dry later on with potentially no alternative
They have also taken quite a few girls from St Andrew's Senior school year 9 this year which isn't helping either. However I do know of girls that took the entrance exam for year 8 and failed to get a place. At a guess it sounds like they are trying to fill empty places they have in their year groups regardless.
I think for maths and science a coed 6th form works well - certainly for eldest dd who is doing maths, further maths and the 3 sciences.
I think the merger caused problems in the final couple of years of Bedford High too. There was a lot of uncertainty for staff too. Our 3 are now at Berko. It is single sex to GCSE then mixed for 6th form and I think it works really well, though I believe it had a few dark years after its own merger. You do need to factor in rail fare and is only practical if your are closish to Milton Keynes or Bletchley. We found academically there was a bit of a gap to catch up -- from being near the top of the top set to middle of third in some subjects but the girls love it ! Me - I like the free bacon rolls for parents at sports fixtures.
I think the problem is that the new school is still not bedded in - so it won't be for 3 or 4 years that the true results of the change will be monitored on the public stage.
I am afraid I have no idea about the IB as we left last year.
Definitely go to the open days. I rather like the new (well, he has been there for 3 or 4 years or so now I think!) headmaster at BMS. He has worked hard at not only improving the academic achievements of the school, but also is keen on ensuring uniforms are worn correctly- something that had fallen by the wayside a little!.
Why not join the BMS facebook page - which gives lots of current snippets about the school and what various children are achieving. This covers sport and academic subjects. One of the girls took part in the paralympics which was a fantastic opportunity.
I am sure that Bedford Girls has the same type of thing - it just gives a bit more info than remembering to look at the website!
Thanks, Fait. We moved to Bedfordshire about 18 months ago - although I grew up in Flitwick - and it's good to have some local insight. To be honest, I've heard really good things about each of the Harpur Trust schools but I am inclined to opt for an all girls' education for my dd - particularly given how positively that seems to impact on results in Maths and Science - so the girls school probably has the edge for me. TBH, this is the only place I've seen really negative feedback about it and I've heard a lot of positive things by word of mouth. I guess the only way to get a real feel for each school is to go to open days at both. Does BMS offer IB? I know the other two do and, while it's years off for me, I'm interested in finding out more.
My son went to BMS - and whilst there some of his friends had siblings that did not get in - which is unheard of at the other two Harpur Trust schools.
I know two children who failed the BMS exam big time who were offered placed at Bedford Boys (and one of the children was really not of academic persuasion).
I also know of two girls who were offered places at Bedford Girls having failed the BMS exam.
BMS only offers places to children who pass the exam. The other two have definitely approached children after the test to offer them places despite not having passed. Perhaps the child who did not get into Bedford Girls had a bad day? The year 7 entry test at BMS last year took a whole day and the children were not only tested academically, but also watched and tested in a group situation, team building and other areas. So it may have been easier for her to shine in that situation.
BMS is a brilliant school, and my son was absolutely gutted to leave. It is definitely not macho. My son had loads of male and female friends and the parents with daughters at the school are very pleased with it. When we were there, the only children that left were those who found it too challenging academically and moved to St Andrews.
I do admit that Bedford Girls team slaughtered our mixed boy/girl team at tennis last year!!!
I went to Bedford High! Was there 1988-1997. Was a bit sad that it has now merged and the site has closed and sorry to hear that some parents aren't happy with the new school.
And they are going to build on the playing fields at Beverley Cresent!
not that I particularly liked playing hockey on a freezing winter's day or was any good at sport
Hi Fait, do you have children at BMS? My friend's daughter didn't get through the girls school assessment but was accepted by BMS and another couple of friends have moved their girls from BMS to the girls school, so I thought the girls school was more selective than the coed?
My dd will be Year 7 in 2014 and I'm looking at both but I'm worried that everyone says there are hardly any girls at BMS and it's a bit macho?
There are now three schools in the consortium - Bedford Modern, Bedford Boys and Bedford Girls. The ONLY ONE that is turning children away (including siblings if they don't reach the standard) is Bedford Modern. The others are pretty much accepting anyone willing to pay. I suspect the results coming out in four or five years time will reflect this.
I would recommend BMS whole heartedly.
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