Returning to BGS this September felt quite different from my arrival last year. Then, I was just starting to get to know the School, our pupils and their families, the staff, and the Old Bristolians who make up the BGS family. I have begun this second academic year feeling very much at home here – both in the city of Bristol and within the BGS community. Having spent time talking with many of you over the past twelve months, I feel I have come to know the School well, and that we have clearly established the direction in which it is heading.
I greatly enjoyed my first year as Headmaster of BGS and was delighted it was rounded off by some excellent exam results from our pupils at A level, Pre-U and GCSE. My pride is not in the strings of top grades, impressive as they are, but for the individuals behind every grade, whose hard work and determination enabled them to achieve their very best. I am also proud of how much else they accomplished, as we aim at BGS to provide an exceptional and rounded education in its broadest sense to all those who come here.
This academic year is barely a month old and already I have been impressed by the opportunities our pupils have been offered, and thrilled by their positive response to them. Importantly, I am pleased by how much our work with others outside BGS – raising money for UK and international charities, or through working with and for our local communities – is valued across the School. While we are very proud of what we already do, there is a real appetite to do more. There is a deep understanding that the privilege of a BGS education is accompanied by a responsibility to give back, to be a force for good beyond the school gates.
We are only a few weeks into term but already the determination to have a wider impact is shining through. One such example was #FutureClimateFriday. Timed to coincide with the international Climate Strike, Future Climate Friday was a day to allow our pupils to make their voices heard, through activities such as letter-writing to MPs, and also to learn how they could take action – from joining in with simple steps such as a car free journey to school and a meat-free lunch, to hearing from one of our four UN-accredited Climate Change teachers what more they can do protect our planet’s future. I was delighted to see how whole-heartedly our pupils and staff embraced the day and its messages.
Next week a group of BGS pupils will head to the M-Shed to take part in the Climate Challenge, organised by the Bristol Education Partnership (BEP). BGS is proud to be a founding member of the BEP – a citywide collaborative arrangement between state and independent schools, the University of Bristol, University of the West of England and Bristol City Council to improve the outcomes of children and young people in the city. The Climate Challenge will see young people from all of the partner schools working together with a range of organisations based in the city (Soil Association, Sustrans, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Avon Wildlife Trust, Geneco, Resource Futures and Sustainable Hive) to design impactful projects that they can carry out in their schools and communities to address the crisis. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.
There are lots of other exciting initiatives already underway too. Our Sixth-form mathematicians are working with Year 11 pupils at Hanham Woods Academy as they move towards GCSEs. In November the MacKinnon Theatre will host a screening of ‘Changing Worlds in the Atlas Mountains’ – a short film about the work of the charity Education for All Morocco which BGS has supported for over ten years. All proceeds from the event will go to support Education for All – if you’d like to come along you can book a ticket here.
This is just a flavour of a few of the things happening now at Bristol Grammar School. As the year progresses, this blog will host thoughts from across the BGS community on life at the School, education and more. Do visit again to find out more about BGS and where we are going.
Jaideep Barot, Headmaster