These are just some of the questions that the Headmaster gets asked by visiting parents.
What is Bromsgrove's standing in the 21st century?
Official views tend to accord, right down to the adjectives. The Good Schools Guide proclaims that Bromsgrove "inhabits the academic stratosphere", enjoys "oustanding leadership" and "outstanding sport", while official inpectors OFSTED rate both Senior and Prep School as "outstanding." If you believe in league tables, then Bromsgrove is in the top ten (sometimes top five) of all British coeducational boarding/day schools. The School's facilities are exceptional.
The ultimate measure, though, is not league tables or the buildings: it's whether young people want to be here and then, whether they become adults who make a difference for the better. They do. As well as the twelve hundred British pupils, three hundred others from thirty five nations now attend Bromsgrove, while Bromsgrove Thailand, opened in 2005, thrives in Bangkok. Internationally, nationally and locally, Bromsgrove School burns bright.
What kind of pupils enjoy Bromsgrove?
We don't do public school cliches: no swagger and no arrogance. If we may quote the Good Schools Guide again: "pupils are bright and articulate .. refreshingly lacking in false sophistication and have an endearing straightforwardness and pride in their School." That, we believe, is a fair assessment. Inclusivity, diversity, compassion and commitment to achieving potential are common denominators. We offer staggering breadth and expect our pupils to respond with enthusiasm and a will to succeed. The uniform is worn with pride, not disdain, and the piccolo player is as valued as the tennis ace. (Better still, play piccolo and tennis).
Do you have to be very strong academically to get in?
The School is selective, yes, but provided pupils are committed to the ethos, they do not have to be Einstein or Picasso in order to thrive at Bromsgrove. Lots of schools way below us in the dreaded league tables are actually far more selective at entry, but our value added scores are exceptional. There are easier Schools to come to than Bromsgrove, but we exist to broaden horizons, not pad out comfort zones.
No: the School's history is very unusual. An ancient chantry school founded some time in the Middle Ages, Bromsgrove was re-established as a Tudor grammar school between 1548 and 1553. The endowment of Sir Thomas Cookes in 1693 produced the first buildings on the present site and also the historic link with Worcester College, Oxford. At the foundation of the Headmasters' Conference in 1869, Bromsgrove was one of the original fourteen members. During the Second World War the School moved to Wales while the buildings were used by British Government Departments. Throughout all of this, however, Bromsgrove was a relatively small, albeit highly successful, school. It was only towards the end of the twentieth century that rapid growth in numbers and an extensive new building programme began.
Absolutely not. Bromsgrove is now one of the country's larger independent schools but it has grown because so many people want what it offers. Crucially, the House system ensures that a warm and secure micro-environment exists for every pupil within the larger community, and the ethos of respect and inclusion is reiterated constantly. Paradoxically perhaps, given the sporting as well as academic reputation of the School, Bromsgrove is a gentle giant.
There is no Harry Potter bell tower. No sweeping driveway through undulating fields (the entrances are, frankly, unprepossesing). Indeed, no single iconic building (perhaps there are too many now) screams Bromsgrove School. Despite the millions of pounds invested in recent years, Bromsgrove keeps one hundred acres of secrets from a casual visitor, hidden like a vast walled garden. The buildings are low and set back from nearby roads. An aerial photograph shows that half of central Bromsgrove is taken up by the ancient School and its grounds, but you would never know it from street level.