History, Ethos and the Future

A Brief History of Bournemouth School

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At nine o’clock on Tuesday, January 22nd, 1901, fifty-four boys assembled in the hall of their brand-new school in Portchester Road, with Dr Fenwick as their headmaster.

In 1903, the Cadet Corps, with 68 members in it, was established. The Cadet Force became a company of the Officer Training Corps in 1908, and remained so until the outbreak of the Second World War, and then all cadet forces within schools became known as Junior Training Corps.

By 1948 the old OTC in Bournemouth School completed its transformation into the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) which has remained so until the present time. (In 1987 we recruited our first girls from Bournemouth School for Girls)

In 1932 the School welcomed its second Headmaster, Mr Parry. In the Spring Term, 1935, it was announced that a new school would be built in East Way, overlooking the new playing fields and the Stour Valley. Bournemouth School on its current site opened its gates exactly at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War. But the pupils who walked into these premises were not, as expected, Bournemouth boys.  Boys from Taunton’s School, Southampton, were the first to cross the threshold into brand-new gleaming corridors and classrooms.  During the war years the school’s buildings served students from both schools, resulting in a relationship between both sets of past students which prevails to this day.

When Mr Bennett, the school’s third headmaster, took office in 1957, there had been virtually no changes in the building or its way of life since the boys had moved to East Way from Portchester Road in 1939. In 1966, work began on the biggest transformation to Bournemouth School since it moved to East Way – the construction of the Sixth Form Block, which was opened in 1968.

During the summer holidays, 1970, Mr Bennett suffered a heart attack prompting his retirement. He was succeeded by Mr Harper who became the School’s fourth Headmaster on 1st May 1971.  In May, 1973, the old School Hall which had been built in 1939 was completely destroyed by fire. Luckily, the fire was contained: it destroyed the hall and the stage, but nothing more.  The present new Hall was ready for use in September 1975.

Mr Harper retired at the end of the Autumn Term, 1981. Mr Kelsall’s appointment as Headmaster in the Summer Term 1982 came as a relief to the School after two terms of uncertainty during which he had been in office as Acting Headmaster.  He had joined the school in the Autumn Term, 1978, as Deputy Headmaster. When Mr Kelsall left the school in 1987, he was the first head to move on to another post: all his predecessors had left only upon retirement.

Colonel Petrie arrived as headmaster in September, 1987, and under his leadership the school made considerable academic progress, and, term by term, year by year, the physical fabric of the school was enlarged and improved.  New Science labs were constructed, and a new Art and Technology block behind the School. Two other projects which had been the brainchildren of Colonel Petrie came to fruition after his departure: the extensions for the music and modern languages departments; and, the Sir David English Sports Hall.

Mr Granger arrived as the school’s seventh headmaster in September, 1996. Through the careful management of limited budgets, Mr Granger was able to continue improvements in the school’s infrastructure. Funding streams including those through acquiring language college status and then becoming a training school were used to improve ICT facilities and, most significantly, build a new teaching block for mathematics and religious education.

Dr Lewis became the school’s eighth headmaster in September 2009. Since that time, the school has become an academy (regaining independence from the local authority), been judged as “outstanding” by Ofsted, and we have welcomed girls into the sixth form. In addition, the school day has been restructured, science laboratories have been refurbished, the music suite has been re-modelled and the ICT infrastructure has been further improved.

Bournemouth School Today - OUR ETHOS

Today, Bournemouth School is an over-subscribed grammar school for boys (with girls in the sixth form) serving Bournemouth and the surrounding area.

The School became an academy on 1st September 2011.  Shortly afterwards, we were inspected by Ofsted and judged to be “outstanding”.

Our Goals

  • To ensure that all students realise their academic potential and through such high levels of achievement are equipped to further their education at the very best universities or embark upon a rewarding career
  • To enable students through a variety of experiences to develop their talents and capabilities to become future leaders and make a valuable contribution to society
  • To establish the school as the leading centre of educational excellence within the region, principally serving academically gifted students from the locality
  • To secure the school’s financial and political sustainability, and its place within the local community

We have the highest expectations of each student’s learning, respect for self and others, sense of community, dress, behaviour and discipline.  We enjoy the support of students, parents and our community in helping to fulfil these expectations.  Our students benefit from working in an atmosphere that is characterised by high expectations, fairness, transparency and mutual respect.  Our community’s ethos is based upon the traditional values of:

  • Hard work 
  • Discipline 
  • Smart Appearance 
  • Respect

We always challenge students to do their best while, at the same time, offering them the support that they need to do really well.  Older students are asked to take leadership responsibilities and operate as role models and mentors for those in lower years.  We place great importance on delivering an all-round education for all of our students.  Every student is given the opportunity to participate in a host of extra-curricular academic, sporting, and cultural events and activities.

As you would expect, academic standards are high, both at GCSE and A level. The vast majority of our students go on to study degree courses at universities and colleges (with an increasing proportion securing places at Russell Group universities), taking the good name of Bournemouth School into the professional and industrial world beyond.

The Future

We are committed to a meritocracy where the best academic education is available to all regardless of their background.

We are working to improve our entrance tests and our relationships with local primary schools and the local community, and to secure the funding to expand our provision to benefit a larger proportion of young people.

We want our entry examinations to be a fair reflection of a student’s innate ability. Through the Grammar School Heads Association, we have worked closely with the main test providers for several years to make tests far less susceptible to coaching. New types of questions are regularly introduced. A broad range of areas are covered by the tests we use: numeric, and verbal reasoning as well as maths and English based on the KS2 curriculum. Test materials are not made commercially available whilst standardised familiarisation materials are made available free of charge on school and test provider websites.

Through recent changes to our Admissions Policy we have clearly signalled our intention to serve principally the Borough of Bournemouth and prioritise developing relationships with the Borough’s primary schools to encourage all able students, but especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to apply for a place at the school. We believe that in so doing our aim of increasing social mobility would be fulfilled. Consequently, we are developing ever closer ties with local primary schools to clearly demonstrate that we are socially inclusive and accessible to all regardless of their background. We visit a number of local primary schools every year to explain the admissions process and answer any parental queries. We have also supported curriculum delivery in a number of local primary schools, with many students visiting our school to use our facilities.

In time, the governing body will consider the possibility of increasing our Year 7 intake.  This will, by no means, be an easy decision; we would not wish our expansion to be to the detriment of our current or future students. We believe that schools that are too large can be perceived as impersonal.  Successful schools, like ours have always been towards the bottom of the list of priorities for investment. The main part of building dates from 1939. Any improvements that have been made have been as a result of careful budgeting, fundraising or successfully applying for grants from charitable foundations. If we were to expand we would also need significant investment in extending and improving our accommodation.

We believe that Bournemouth School is a very special school, with not only its examination results, but also its ethos and traditional values setting it apart from other schools. We are proud of our history and past achievements, and are well-placed to face the challenges of the future.