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Bedford High School for Girls - any knowledge or experience?

(60 Posts)
MrsSchadenfreude Fri 04-Feb-11 08:48:06

Was interested as they do the IB, and also close to grandparents if they end up boarding.

mkshopper Fri 07-Sep-12 18:11:18

Hey Proudworkingmum, noticed you said about Bedford Girls School - "they have access to another larger site a couple of miles down the road"

You mean - the lacrosse fields at Beverley Crescent ? Beautiful aren't they.

"Bedford Charity (Harpur trust)" has applied for planning permission to build 205 homes there. Good to see their priorities.

Of course you will have known being a parent, but just in case ....

50shades1 Fri 07-Sep-12 23:07:58

I'm just so relieved that I've removed my dd after seeing mkshoppers information about the harper trust selling off the beautiful high school playing fields in a further effort to cost cut and leave the school with truly appalling facilities. I heard the school sang Jerusalem for the first time ever at the beginning of this term which after my earlier post makes me wonder if the head is a follower of mumsnet !!! Thankfully my dd having amazing time in new school which is infinitely better than BGS in every way. It's a shame the girls of Bedford are so let down when the boys school is so good. I really hope things start to improve for all the girls still there.

mightyproudpapabear Tue 11-Sep-12 19:11:20

We removed our dd part of the way through the year from Bedford Girls' School and are currently being sued by Harpur Trust (and we have paid them over £150,000 in school fees for our dds over the years!!), so not a big fan myself sad. Opted for Berkhamsted smile. 15-19 minutes on train from Bletchley. Fabulously fab school. Youngest dd however complains - "I hate Berko - they make me wear my glasses". Enough said.

50shades1 Tue 11-Sep-12 20:06:24

Glad to hear ,mightyproud, that Berko working for your girls, it does look like a great school. We withdrew our dd with a terms notice, however two other girls were pulled out of her class last term without parents giving any notice as I think they were so pissed off with the school so I suspect the Harpur Trust is very busy trying to sue lots of families !!!

lostinthetunnelcloakroom Tue 11-Sep-12 22:41:51

I was at Dame Alice too and it was lovely - quite traditional, and we sang hymns every day, including Jerusalem. I'm sorry to hear things have gone badly since they had to absorb Bedford High in the merger.

To be fair, Bedford High did used to sell itself partly on its poshness, not only on being academic (their prospectus at one point used to boast about how many of their girls had brothers at Bedford School), so I'm sure there are a good few High School parents who were appalled at the move to the Dame Alice site just because they've always seen Dame Alice as more downmarket.

Having said that, I would never dismiss all criticism as being down to that attitude - if it's the same swimming pool that was there when I was then, like a previous poster said, it's definitely old now! And teachers and management can change (or be mixed up with staff from a merging school) and make a school unrecognisable, which is a terrible shame.

thereinmadnesslies Thu 13-Sep-12 11:03:51

Lost ... I absolutely love your name smile

Sparrows12 Sun 07-Oct-12 07:54:13

Lost - ime very few parents decided between these schools on the basis of perceived "poshness or otherwise". DAHS used to be the school for musicians and the high school was the best place for girls who were into competitive sport, but apart from that it really came down to which suited best in terms of parking and the morning commute. Anyway, it's all ancient history now. The issues here are really little to do with infrastructure and facilities but much more about the need for strong, inspirational leadership - eg the playing school sale has been on the cards for ages - but it is a massive "communication fail" not to have been up front about it with parents, especially when rebuilding trust is so important.

cheesedoffnow Wed 10-Oct-12 10:11:21

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.

fait Wed 10-Oct-12 12:27:49

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.

SelkieFishwick Wed 10-Oct-12 14:32:03

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?

Wigeon Wed 10-Oct-12 14:38:05

I went to Bedford High! smile 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! shock not that I particularly liked playing hockey on a freezing winter's day or was any good at sport

fait Wed 10-Oct-12 15:38:26

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!!!

SelkieFishwick Wed 10-Oct-12 16:43:40

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.

fait Wed 10-Oct-12 17:12:26

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!

mightyproudpapabear Wed 10-Oct-12 18:02:46

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.

mightyproudpapabear Wed 10-Oct-12 19:36:42

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.

FozzieMK Thu 11-Oct-12 15:12:02

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.

Sparrows12 Fri 12-Oct-12 14:21:37

I would have thought what is really decimating St Andrews is the arrival of the new free school.

FozzieMK Sat 13-Oct-12 16:41:29

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.

redskyatnight Sun 14-Oct-12 14:38:58

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.

debbieparry Sun 21-Oct-12 14:05:34

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 what’s wrong with that? It seemed well maintained and fit for purpose – wasn’t 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 don’t 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 isn’t 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.

50shades1 Sun 21-Oct-12 19:25:39

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.

Hannah1976 Mon 22-Oct-12 17:06:44

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!

FozzieMK Tue 23-Oct-12 14:07:23

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! I’m 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 I’m 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.

cheesedoffnow Thu 25-Oct-12 09:47:09

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.

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