Guide to Independent Schools

School details

Bristol Grammar

Bristol Grammar School, University Road, Bristol BS8 1SR

Enquiries & application

the Recruitment Office

T:  0117 973 6006

Co-ed, 4-18, Day
Pupils: 1145, Upper sixth 160
Fees: £1998-£3711 per term
Affiliation: HMC, IAPS


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School details

Bristol Grammar

What it's like

Founded in 1532, it is situated close to the university in the cultural and commercial heart of Bristol. Its core consists of handsome Victorian buildings, such as the Great Hall. An on-going development programme has resulted in a very well-stocked school library, a sports hall, art school, music school, technology centre and language centre. Originally a boys' school, it has been fully co-educational since 1980. It enjoys a high reputation academically and examination results are very good. It has played a major part in the educational life of the city, enjoying flourishing local ties and back-up from the community and from Old Bristolians. An exceptional number of activities, including the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme which is well-supported. A very friendly atmosphere throughout and much is done to maintain high standards of pastoral care through the house system and year head/form tutor organisation.

Pupils & entrance

Pupils: Total age range 4-18; 1145 day pupils (703 boys, 442 girls). Junior school 4-11, 228 pupils (152 boys, 76 girls). Senior school 11-18, 917 pupils (551 boys, 366 girls). Entrance: Main entry ages 3, 4, 7, 11, 13 and 16. Own entrance exam used at 11 and 13; for sixth form entry, 6 GCSEs at least grade B (grade A in sixth-form subjects). No special skills or religious requirements.

Scholarships & bursaries

35+ pa scholarships, value from 1000 to full fees, awarded at age 7, 11 and 16; most are academic but also for sport, creative or performing arts and, in the sixth form, for eg maths and science; also honorary scholarships of no monetary value. Financial assistance for pupils whose parents are of limited means; over 9% of pupils have some form of financial support. Parents expected to buy some basic reference books (eg dictionary).

Head & staff

Headmaster: R MacKinnon, previously Headmaster of Bexley Grammar School, Kent. Headmaster of Junior School: P Huckle, previously Deputy Head at Bristol Grammar Senior School. Teaching staff: 98 full time, 14 part time. Annual turnover 5%. Average age 38.

Exam results

GCSE: 134 pupils in Year 11; 99% gained at least grade C in 8+ subjects. A-levels: 158 in upper sixth; 27% passed in 4+ subjects, 73% in 3 subjects.

Pupils' destinations

Almost all sixth form leavers go on to a degree course, 12% to Oxbridge. Students typically take courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, in science and engineering and in humanities and social sciences (including law and languages). Others take courses in art and design or in vocational subjects eg physiotherapy, journalism, business, education, leisure. A few typically go directly into careers.


GCSE, AS and A-levels. 26 AS/A-level subjects, including Greek, Russian, design technology, computer science, IT, sports studies, psychology, theatre studies and the Extended Project; Foundation Studies offers non-examined courses in eg politics, ethics, health issues, survival, cookery, IT and aesthetics. Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level (5 if including 2 maths), 3-4 at A-level; some take a further AS-level in upper sixth. General studies taught but not examined. Key skills integrated in sixth form courses. Languages: French, German, Spanish, Russian, Greek and Latin offered at GCSE and A-level. Exchange links with St Petersburg and Darmstadt. ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject and across the curriculum. 200 computers for pupil use (7+ hours a day), all networked and with email and internet access.

The arts

Music: Up to 50% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams, GCSE and A-level can be taken. Many musical groups including 4 orchestras, 3 choirs, jazz band, chamber groups. Drama and dance: Drama and dance offered. Pupils involved in school productions (eg The Importance of Being Earnest, The Trial, Oliver!) and house/other productions. Art and design: On average, 30 take GCSE, 10 A-level. Pupils regularly proceed to art or design courses.

Sports & activities

Sport: Rugby, hockey, cricket, netball compulsory in early years; choice increases further up the school. Optional: cross-country, golf, squash, badminton, fencing, athletics, football, swimming and tennis. Pupils regularly compete at county, regional and national level. Activities: Pupils take bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award (very large scheme). Community service optional. Over 30 clubs, from cookery and chess to climbing and debating.

School life

Uniform: School uniform worn; a dress code in sixth form. Houses and prefects: Houses offer social, theatrical, sporting opportunities across year groups and provide pastoral care. Prefects, head of school, head of house and house prefects - appointed by the Head in consultation with staff. Religion: Inter-denominational school. No compulsory religious worship. Social: Regular local, area and national debating competitions and joint competitions with neighbouring schools. Language exchanges; trips to France, Russia, Italy and Greece; sports tours (eg New Zealand, Barbados, Australia); overseas expeditions (eg India, Mongolia, Ecuador); links with schools in Russia, Japan and South Africa. Meals self-service. Second-hand uniform shop.


Pupils failing to produce homework on time receive a card for parents to sign; lunch-hour detentions for minor discipline problems; after school and Saturday detentions for major incidents or repeated minor ones.

Association of former pupils

is run by Charles Luker, c/o the school.

Former pupils

Lord Franks (Oxford University; Ambassador to USA); Tom Graveney (cricketer); Robert Lacey (author); Brian Barron (BBC); Fred Wedlock (entertainer); Rt Rev Peter Nott (Bishop of Norwich); John Currie (rugby); Canon G A Ffrench-Beytagh (anti-apartheid); G H Heath-Grace (organist); Dave Prowse, Jeremy Northam, Navinder Chaundri (film actors); Sir Richard Sheppard (architect); David Drew (ballet); Professor John Pople (Nobel prize winner, quantum chemistry); Professor Brian Hoskins (Royal Meteorological Society); Jonathan Gould (soccer); Professor Keith Robbins (Vice Chancellor, University of Wales); Rabinder Singh (barrister); Allen Lane (founder, Penguin Books).