WHAT IT’S LIKE
Founded in 1858, it lies on the south-west edge of Exmoor, 10 miles from
Barnstaple, on a 100-acre site with its own 9-hole golf course. The school is
contained in handsome 19th-century buildings with many modern additions,
including an IT centre, performing arts complex, indoor swimming pool and
all-weather pitch. It is an Anglican foundation and Christian teaching and
principles underlie much of its life. It is fully co-educational, having
accepted girls throughout since 1980. It has developed a strong sense of
community and there is much emphasis on everyone participating in the life of
the school. The need for success is also emphasised. A sound general education
is provided and examination results are good. There are very active music, drama
and art departments. Sports and games flourish for both boys and girls;
standards are high and there are numerous county and some international
representatives. The CCF contingent is flourishing and outdoor pursuits are
popular. There is an impressive record in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 3–18; 700 pupils, 596 day (319 boys, 277
girls), 104 boarding (61 boys, 43 girls). Senior department 11–18, 485 pupils
(260 boys, 225 girls).
Entrance: Main entry ages 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 16. Common Entrance and own
exam used; for sixth-form entry, 5 GCSEs at least grade C (grade B in sixth-form
subjects). No special skills or religious requirements. 50% of intake at 11 from
state schools; many from own prep (enquiries to the West Buckland Preparatory
School, tel 01598 760629).
Scholarships, bursaries & extras Approx 12 pa academic scholarships,
value up to 50% of fees, awarded at 11, 13 and 16. Also music and all-rounder
scholarships available. Variable number of bursaries, depending on financial
circumstances. Parents not expected to buy textbooks; lunches extra (£9.75 per
week); bus travel free in senior school.
Head & staff
Headmaster: John Vick, in post since 1997. Educated at Cambridge
University (history). Previously Deputy Headmaster at Woodbridge School.
Teaching staff: 58 full time, 13 part time. Annual turnover under 5%.
Average age 40.
GCSE: In 2003, 69 pupils in Year 11: 84% gain at least grade C in 8+
subjects; (average 10 subjects). Average GCSE score 61 (60 over 5 years).
A-levels: 57 in upper sixth: 93% pass in 3+ subjects. Average final point
score achieved by upper sixth formers 356.
University & college entrance Over 96% of 2003 sixth-form leavers
went on to a degree course (25% after a gap year). 4% took courses in medicine &
veterinary science, 15% in science & engineering, 23% in humanities & social
sciences, 10% in vocational subjects.
Curriculum GCSE, AS and A-levels. 21 AS-level subjects, 18 A-level.
Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level;
in addition, AS and A-level general studies optional. 40% take science A-levels;
30% arts/humanities; 30% both. Key skills: IT taught as discrete unit, plus
portfolio through subjects.
Vocational: Work experience available.
Special provision: 3 specialist ESL staff.
Languages: French, German and Spanish offered to GCSE and A-level.
Regular exchanges to France, Germany and Spain. Overseas pupils attend 3 weeks
to 2 years.
ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject (2 lessons/week to Year 12) and
across the curriculum; most pupils take RSA Clait. GCSE and AS-level ICT
offered. 120+ computers for pupil use 9am–5pm (those in library until 8pm),
majority networked and with e-mail access; sixth form have internet access in
library; school intranet has websites of interest to staff and pupils.
Increasing number of pupils with own laptops and palmtops (2 machines support
Psion downloads and printing).
Music: 40% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams can
be taken. Many musical groups including orchestras, choir, chapel choir, jazz
bands, string group. Music technology a feature.
Drama: Majority of pupils are involved in school productions.
Art & design: On average, 35+ take GSCE, 8 A-level. Design and technology
offered to AS-level.
Sport & activities
Sport: Rugby, cricket, cross-country, hockey, netball, swimming, tennis,
athletics, rounders. Optional: large choice for all pupils, including riding,
judo, football, squash, golf. BAGA exams may be taken. Regular county
representatives (rugby, cricket, tennis, cross-country, squash, athletics).
Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award; large numbers involved, often with emphasis on countryside, conservation
etc. CCF compulsory in Years 9–10, optional thereafter. Community service
optional. Up to 30 clubs, eg art, bridge, chess, Christian Union, computing,
debating, drama, astronomy.
Uniform: School uniform worn, alternative suit for sixth form.
Houses & prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects, head boy and girl, head
of house and house prefects – appointed.
Religion: Anglican tradition but other denominations and religions
welcome. Services are held throughout the week including Sundays (many at East
Buckland church). Lively voluntary Christian Union in lunch hour.
Social: No regular events organised with local schools. Annual ski
training and mountain expeditions; annual exchanges with schools in
France/Germany. Upper sixth allowed to bring own car, bike or motorbike to
school. Meals self-service. School shops selling tuck, basic equipment and
uniform. Sixth form allowed tobacco or alcohol in restricted location.
Discipline Pupils failing to produce homework once might expect to
have to complete it in extra work (Saturday detention for more serious
offences); those caught using drugs on the premises could expect to be
Boarding Sixth form have own study bedroom; remainder in bedrooms for
2–6, according to age. Accommodation is single-sex. Resident qualified nurse.
Central dining room. Exeats to suit individual needs. Visits to local town (10
miles away) allowed weekly at 13+; special bus runs on Saturdays.
Former pupils R F Delderfield (playwright and novelist); Brian Aldiss
(science fiction writer); John Ashworth (Director LSE); Victor Ubogu and Stephen
Ojomoh (England and Bath rugby players); Jonathan Edwards (Olympic gold
medallist); Charlotte Read (GB fencer).