scary mum wrote:
Actually, found a moment now.
I think it is a good school, with the results improving year on year. Like any school, there are good teachers & not so good teachers, but most do an excellent job. It has a slightly shabby air to it, but I believe they are about to spend a lot of money on the facilities. I have found the sports to be a little limited, but that may be because the sports that my sons enjoy are not particularly well supported at the school. Rugby & netball seem to be the main sports, but my overall feeling is that it isn't a particularly sporty school. Maybe those involved would probably disagree, but I get the impression that there isn't a huge breadth of sport. Drama and music are becoming more popular & I believe drama GCSE is now available. If your DC has a particular sport that they are interested I would really ask a lot of questions. I was told that dance was big at BGS - they have one (very good) dance show each year & that is about it.
I have found the pastoral care to be really excellent, they tackle issues head on & stamp on them very effectively (unlike another school I have been involved with where anything that didn't happen on their premises was not of concern to them). The support given to my DCs when they have had problems has been excellent. Communication is improving, although not perfect and the website is awful!
If you are looking for a school which is like a free private school, as some of the GSs in Bucks appear to be, this isn't the school for you. There is a diverse ethnic mix, which I think is positive, but some can find it a negative and children of Asian origin are the biggest group in the school - I am not saying anything negative here, and don't wish to start a debate, but it is a fact. There are some years where there has been an imbalance of girls vs boys with fewer girls, but I don't know if this has happened recently.
The only real negative for me is there isn't a great community feel to it. I think this may be because so many pupils travel from quite a distance, so do not stay for after school activities, or attend functions. It means that few parents get involved in school life & I have been surprised how few parents attend information evenings such as KS3 or KS4 information evenings, and I do get the impression that some parents want to post their children in at one end (from afar) and receive a well educated adult out at the other end. I think this makes fundraising for the school difficult (whether for new buildings, equipment, or whatever).
The school has recently started to push quite a few expensive trips (New Zealand, Malaysia, ski trips to the US), and personally I wish they wouldn't. Some of their other trips are better value (short trips to Europe), and no-one is made to feel bad if they don't go, but if you have 2 or 3 children it would be a very expensive business to take part in all that is on offer.
Overall, I would recommend it, my DCs have been very happy there. Just don't expect a posh, shiny GS, expect a down to earth, friendly, practical sort of place. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Hershel.
Thank you so much for such an informative post. You are right, the website is just rubbish. I tried to navigate around it to get the information and it has to be one of the worst. However, I did find (when found!), the content useful. I did like the fact that kids are not forced to do three sciences unlike some of the other grammars. Not all kids are suited to three sciences. I understand your point about the community feel. But isnt that in a lot of schools where kids are commuting from lots of different areas? Thank you again, I feel I know Burnham much better now!
Anyone know anything about Hershel?
Thank everyone for your replies.