Top of the Class – There has been a lot of discussion in the village recently about the transformation of Bramhall High School under the watchful eye of new Head Lynne Fox so ILovebramhall.com packed up our pencil case and went back to school to interview Lynne and senior leader Simon Stonehouse.
Lynne joined as the new school Head during the Easter half term in 2016. Simon is a well known figure at the school with years of service behind him and many people will know him from his other role as Head of Music, organising hugely successful concerts and musicals at BHS. Lynne and Simon together with their colleagues, governors, parents and pupils have created something of a renaissance at our local comprehensive, so we asked them to explain exactly what’s got everyone talking?
Lynne told us
“We’ve taken our time to build the right team at BHS, a team who are willing to do so much for the school, which means that we can give the right amount of our time to support each and every pupil”
Stirring words indeed from the Head, but what does that really mean for the pupils themselves? Simon added
“Our academic achievement is strong as you would expect from the school, but we are focussed on developing pupils as a whole so that when they leave, whether for College, University, full time work or a Modern Apprenticeship, our 16 year olds are ready for the world”
And these words ring true, with high attendance figures and pupils engaged with a wide range of extra curricular activities too across arts, music, science, sports, fashion and high participation numbers in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. The updated ‘House’ system with pupils split into four competing Houses (just like in Harry Potter but sadly there is no Gryffindor…) awards points to pupils for academic and extra curricular achievement, has been well received and is just another reason why pupils actually want to be in school.
A wide range of overseas study opportunities are a big plus for BHS allowing pupils to broaden their minds and their horizons, with school trips to the battlefields of Normandy, the upper glaciers of Switzerland, and visits to important historical cities such as Krakow, Berlin and Barcelona to name but a few. In July 2017 alone, 250 pupils and staff were involved in overseas trips so BHS certainly makes its mark on the wider world.
Undoubtably a good number of changes have been rung by Lynne and her team, so how did she do her own homework before she joined?
“It was important for me to live in the village for a while first, to ask questions and get to know the local community. Then I took the best learnings from my experience at other schools and applied only the techniques I thought were right for BHS“
“Lynne leads by example, she stands outside the school every morning come rain or shine to welcome the pupils, and this hands on approach has gained her a great deal of respect within the whole school”
“But you can’t do this on your own, its a whole school effort every day made easier by the fact that our staff and pupils love being part of the school”
The school is proud of its connection to the local community, with high levels of pupil participation in a wide range of events from the annual Duck Race, to adding ‘pupil power’ to put up tables and chairs for important local charity events such as the Big Bramhall Tea Party. And the school is also committed to fund raising for national and international charities too, with the pupils given the responsibility for choosing which causes to support. BHS pupils recently raised £1500 for the Manchester Fund, taking just two days from concept to delivery of their own fundraising plan.
Certainly parents of pupils would agree that the school is making great progress. Ofsted’s latest report stated that the school’s ‘Parent View’ score was ‘unprecedented’ With five feeder schools and a growing catchment area, parents are now actively choosing BHS over other schools and local estate agents are receiving specific enquiries from buyers about the school.
“Positive word of mouth between local parents is doing a better job for us than any form of marketing which is fantastic, and means we are getting it right”
Looking back our own experiences at school, and it’s safe to say that none of the ILoveBramhall.com team could claim to have been Head Boy or Girl material; the phrase “V. poor, see me” written in red ink seems to spring to mind. So we asked Lynne and Simon to sum up how they would like to feel if they bumped into their ex-pupils in years to come.
“That we had achieved the best outcomes for them academically and that we would be pleased to know them as individuals when we met them again”
Full marks all round in our opinion!