What it's like
Founded in 1552, Bedford School lies in 50 acres of peaceful and extensive grounds in the centre of Bedford. It has good, modern facilities, including a state-of-the-art music school, purpose-built library, large sports hall, indoor pool, observatory and planetarium. It provides continuous education for boys from 7, with a mix of full boarders, weekly boarders and local day boys. Strong academically, with very good examination results; the International Baccalaureate is offered as an alternative to A-levels. It aims to encourage boys to develop their talents, discover new interests and prepare for the world beyond school. It is strong in sport, music and drama. There is also an extensive range of extra-curricular activities on offer, including CCF, Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, community service unit and outdoor pursuits. It enjoys strong local support.
Pupils & entrance
Pupils: Age range 7-18; 1113 boys (853 day, 260 boarding). Senior department 13-18, 675 boys. Entrance: Main entry ages 7-11, 13 and 16. Own entrance assessment used. For sixth-form entry, exam and/or interview plus 6 GCSEs at least grade C (grade B in sixth-form subjects). No special skills or religious requirements. Many senior pupils from own junior (enquiries to the Admissions Secretary, Bedford Preparatory School, same address).
Scholarships & bursaries
Scholarships (academic, sporting, music), at entry at 11, 13 and 16, value 10% of fees. Other help is means-tested.
60% live within 30 miles, 15% live overseas.
Head & staff
Head Master: John S Moule, in post from September 2008. Educated at a comprehensive school, sixth-form college and Oxford University (history). Previously Vice Master at the school, Housemaster and Head of History at Stowe and taught history and politics at Dean Close. Teaching staff: 126 full time, 15 part time. Annual turnover 10%. Average age 43.
GCSE: 126 in fifth form; 99% gain at least grade C in 5+ subjects. A-levels: 140 in upper sixth, gaining an average final point score of 395. Pupils taking the IB gained an average of 35 IB points.
99% of sixth-form leavers go on to a degree course (several after a gap year), 6% to Oxbridge. 33% take courses in sciences (including medicine), 5% in engineering, 17% in business and administration, 13% in social sciences, 16% in languages and humanities, 8% in arts and education and 8% go on to study in Europe.
GCSE, AS and A-levels and IB Diploma. 22 AS/A-level subjects. Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level. Key skills taught (but not examined) and addressed within the curriculum. Languages: French, German, Spanish and Latin offered at GCSE, AS and A-level and IB. Regular exchanges to France, Germany and Spain. ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject and across the curriculum. 500 computers for pupil use (6+ hours a day), all networked and with email and internet access.
Music: 65% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams can be taken. Musical groups including 3 orchestras, dance, school bands, chamber groups. Drama: Drama offered at GCSE, AS and A-level. Many pupils are involved in school productions and majority in house/other productions. Art and Design: On average, 40 take GCSE, 13 A-level. Design, pottery, photography also offered. Regular exhibitions of students' work and of outside artists.
Sports & activities
Sport: Rugby, hockey, cricket and rowing are main sports. Also athletics, badminton, basketball, canoeing, clay-pigeon shooting, croquet, cross-country, fives, fencing, shooting, soccer, squash, swimming, table tennis, tennis, sub-aqua, volleyball, water polo, weight training, golf, mountaineering. Regional and occasionally national champions Indoor hockey (U16, U18); national and county representatives at various sports. Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award. CCF and community service both optional for 4 years at age 14. Wide range of alternative activities for sixth form. 50+ clubs eg computing, charities, bridge, all academic activities, mountaineering, wine appreciation, music, photography, printing, public speaking, Young Enterprise, all sports.
Uniform: School uniform worn. Houses and prefects: Competitive houses. Prefects, head boy, head of house and house prefects appointed by the Head with housemasters. Various advisory committees. Religion: Christian school. Social: Joint debates, choral productions, theatrical productions, dances with sister schools. Numerous organised trips abroad. Pupils allowed to bring own car, bike or motorbike to school with permission. Canteen system for meals. School shop.
Any pupil failing to produce homework once might expect an academic warning; mild anti-social behaviour would lead to an interview with the Under Master and a conduct detention, serious disciplinary breaches would involve the Vice Master and could result in either suspension or expulsion. The School aims to inculcate self-discipline by fostering a sense of judgement and personal accountability, combined with respect and responsibility for others, within a framework of clear guidelines governing essential matters of routine; minimal need for, and minimal resort to, punishment.
Most upper sixth have own study bedroom. Senior pupils in houses of 30-50, parallel to day houses. Pastoral support offered by house parents, assistant housemaster, non-resident tutors and matrons. Central dining halls. Additional cooking facilities for boys in boarding houses. Flexible weekend leave, including 2 full-weekend exeats per term plus half term. Visits to local town allowed.
Association of former pupils
is run by The Old Bedfordians Club, 2 Burnaby Road, Bedford MK40 2TT. Tel. 01234 362262
Lord (Paddy) Ashdown (former Liberal Democrat leader); Lord Naseby (Conservative politician); Alastair Cook (cricketer); Andy Gomarsall (rugby player); John Fowles (author); Simon Murray (cricketer); Al Murray (comedian).