What it's like
Founded in London in 1827, the former Royal Merchant Navy School educated children of those lost at sea. It moved from London to its present site in 1921 and has been co-educational since 1995. The original neo-Renaissance mansion (home of John Walter II, founder of The Times) forms the centre of the college. It is complemented by more modern buildings and facilities, including a swimming pool, theatre and music school. The whole is set in 250 acres of parkland and woods, including a 50-acre lake. The school consists of a senior school, prep and pre-prep schools and a nursery (providing care and education from age 3 months). A relatively small school, pupils come from a range of abilities and backgrounds. There are ample opportunities for outdoor sports and activities.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Total age range 3 months-18 yrs; 494 pupils, 422 day (304 boys, 118 girls), 72 boarding (42 boys, 30 girls). Junior department, 0-11, 171 day pupils (100 boys, 71 girls). Senior department 11-18, 323 pupils (246 boys, 77 girls). Entrance: Main entry ages 5, 7, 11, 13 and 16. Common Entrance at 13. For sixth-form entry, 5 GCSEs at least grade C (usually grade B in sixth-form subjects). All religious denominations welcome. Many senior pupils come from its own prep department.
Scholarships & bursaries
Scholarships typically awarded at age 11, 13 and 16, value 10% of fees: academic, all-rounders, CDT, sport, art, music, drama, HM Forces. Bursaries based on financial need; separate funds for merchant navy employees; some 30% of pupils receive bursaries.
Head & staff
Headmaster: S G G Aiano, in post since 1998. Educated at St Benedict's and Cambridge University (English literature). Previously Housemaster at Dean Close and Head of Drama at Ampleforth. Teaching staff: 45 full time.
GCSE: 47 pupils in fifth; 91 gained at least grade C in 5+ subjects (83% of pupils included English, maths, a science, a humanity and a modern language). A-levels: 27 in upper sixth, gaining an average final point score of 290.
90% of sixth-form leavers go on to a degree course. Others typically go on to art, drama and other non-degree courses, or into the armed services and merchant navy.
GCSE, AS and A-level. 23 AS/A-level subjects offered. Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level (general studies not offered). Special provision: Language support unit for dyslexic pupils; specialist EFL teachers. Languages: French and Spanish offered at GCSE, AS and A-level. ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject and across the curriculum. Laptops encouraged across the curriculum
Music: Music offered at GCSE and A-level. Musical groups include dance and jazz bands, choir, string group, brass ensemble. Drama: Theatre studies offered at GCSE and A-level; LAMDA exams are also taken. Many pupils are involved in school productions (eg Grease, Little Shop of Horrors). Art and design: Art, textiles and photography offered at GCSE and A-level.
Sports & activities
Rugby, football, cricket, athletics, hockey, netball are main games; some 10 further options including tennis, basketball, canoeing, riding. Also CCF; Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Up to 100 activities and clubs, eg debating, computing, chess, music, hovercrafting, and outdoor activities (expeditions to eg Brazil, New York).
Uniform: School uniform worn; own suits in sixth form. Houses and prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects appointed by the Headmaster. Religion: Regular chapel (C of E), but all denominations welcomed. Social: Social programme with other local schools. Activity club travel; ski and sailing trips. Pupils allowed to bring own bike to school, sixth form may bring car. Central cafeteria. School shop. Limited alcohol (beer/lager) for 17+ in sixth-form club.
Pupils failing to produce homework once might expect a verbal warning and renewed deadline (further failure would result in detention); those caught smoking cannabis could expect dismissal.
Most sixth form can have their own study bedroom, other boarders share (2-4).Weekly boarding available.
Association of former pupils
Mrs S Cherry, Secretary, Bearwood Old Royals, c/o the College.
Francis Scarfe (poet/novelist); Philip Jacobs (textile designer); Lt Cdr R B Stannard VC; Tim Hatley (costume/stage designer); Peter Molyneaux (computer games entrepreneur).