Site and Facilities.
The school moved to its present site in 1882 and the original school building, School House, survives. The site now comprises over 50 acres of buildings and playing fields, which enable all teaching, games and activities to take place on the one site. In the last decade there has been a very substantial building programme. This programme originally involved the extension of the Science Department and Design and Technology Centre, the laying of an Astroturf pitch and three squash courts, and the substantial redevelopment of School House. In 2002 a new hall/theatre, the Bushell Hall, was built, which can accommodate a theatre audience of 600 and an assembly for 1000. At the same time, the old hall was transformed into a library and IT rooms. In 2003, a new pavilion, the Alan Lee Pavilion, was completed. In September 2005 a new teaching area, the George Hill Building, was unveiled to provide 16 new classrooms and an extensive social space. The Junior School, which has grown considerably in recent years, has been extended and entirely refurbished. A new music school was unveiled in September 2009 – The David Turnbull Music School. In September 2015 a new four-floor, state-of-the-art Sixth Form Centre, the Cooper Building opened. It was designed to transform the Sixth Form teaching and learning and incorporating the latest multimedia technology. Throughout the school there are excellent IT facilities for staff and pupils.
At the beginning of the Senior School, all pupils take at least one year of Latin and Spanish. In the second year French and German are optional subjects. English Language and Literature, Mathematics, a Modern Foreign Language, Physics, Chemistry and Biology remain compulsory subjects to GCSE. Three other subjects are chosen from a wide range of options.
The size of the Sixth Form enables the school to offer a very wide range of subjects and combinations. These subjects are Art and Design - Fine Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Classical Civilisation, Design & Technology, Drama & Theatre Studies, Economics, English Literature, French, Geography, German, History, Latin, Mathematics (and Further Mathematics), Music, Photography, Physical Education, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Religious Studies (Philosophy and Ethics) and Spanish. There is also a substantial programme of Enrichment for all pupils in the Sixth Form, ranging from Mandarin Chinese to Cookery.
In 2016 we recorded another great year of A Level results with 85 per cent of all grade achieved at A* to B grades and over a third of pupils gaining three A* or A grades or more. We were named the Top Independent School in 2015 for A and AS Levels in the West Midlands by the Birmingham Post. At GCSE, a record breaking 79% per cent of pupils were awarded A* to A grades in 2016 and 70 pupils achieved an incredible 8 or more A* to A grades.
Games are an integral part of the school curriculum and all pupils in the school are involved. PE is compulsory until Year 11 and all pupils in the school have a games afternoon. The school has a very strong tradition in the major team games for both boys and girls, but also offers a very wide range of other options. The principal team games are rugby, cricket, hockey (for both boys and girls) and netball. The school also has teams in tennis, athletics, swimming, clay-pigeon shooting, cross-country, badminton, basketball and fencing to name but a few. In recent years the school has organised very extensive tours for pupils of differing ages: in 2015 our 1st XI cricket team toured Barbados, and this summer our senior rugby players are touring South Africa while our girls hockey and netball teams are visiting Singapore and Malaysia. Individual and team national success is a regular feature of Solihull sporting life.
Music and Drama.
The school has a very strong tradition in music and drama, which has been enhanced since the building of the Bushell Hall and the David Turnbull Music School. Over a third of all pupils learn a musical instrument and there are over 25 different musical groups in the Senior School. This ranges from orchestras, bands and choirs to piano, string and wind ensembles. Several of these groups are very successful in competition at local festivals. There are many opportunities for pupils to perform at concerts, both formal and informal, throughout the year. A busy programme of masterclasses is given by visiting professional musicians. There is also an excellent Chapel Choir that performs during the school week and at the chapel services each Sunday. Each term the choir sings Evensong in a cathedral (including an annual visit to St Paul’s in London) and performs on BBC Radio 4’s Daily Service. In 2015 the school joined the Steinway Initiative, purchasing three new Steinway grand pianos.
The drama and music departments come together each year for the staging of an ambitious musical, which always involves a large number of pupils. There are two major dramatic performances each year: a school musical (Phantom of the Opera 2013, Spamalot 2014, Les Misérables 2015, Carousel 2016) and a school play (Macbeth 2013, Blood Wedding 2014, His Dark Materials (Part 1) 2015). In addition, there are several smaller productions in the course of the year.
Outdoor pursuits play a major part in the school’s life. In the Third Form pupils take part in an outdoor activities programme called Terriers. In the Shell Form every pupil spends a week at the school’s mountain cottage in Snowdonia. From the Shell Form pupils are able to participate in the CCF, which has an Army and an RAF section, and from the end of the Fourth Form, they can pursue the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. There are approximately 80 pupils in the CCF and 160 are involved at different stages of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, with 20 Gold Awards achieved in 2015. The school has a popular Mountain Club and organises biennial major expeditions: Chile in 2009, Alaska in 2011, Cambodia in 2013, and Ladakh India in 2015.