Hi newdud congratulations to you and your DS. I have a DS at Wilsons year 7 who is enjoying his time at the school.
The school has a great way of settling the boys within weeks of starting in September whilst the ensuring that they become independent. DS had a couple of detentions first couple of weeks for forgetting sports kit / forgotten home work. Now packs his school bag in the evening to ensure that he is set in the morning.
Homework is manageable in that in any given evening he has at most two/three pieces to complete. He has managed to organise himself such that he completes the homework as and when its set. In addition year 7 and 8 boys have now moved into the recently completed new block which means that boys now stay in their form rooms for lessons. there are many lunch time and after school clubs running most days and school encourages the extracurricular to ensure a balance.
In all honestly, have not heard off or DS experienced any form of bullying except the usual boisterous teasing amongst peers and a very healthy camaraderie amongst classmates, that is not to say it does not exist we just have not come across it.
Testing: they are tested often to ensure boys have understood topics covered in class. I would not worry as most boys are also coming form small state primary school and would not have covered humanities and languages or the general increase in work load.
DS genuinely loves the school and is already taking about staying for 6th form... long way away
hope this helps