Dr Challoner's Grammar School
Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
About Dr Challoner's Grammar School
DR CHALLONER’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL
Founded in 1624, Dr Challoner’s is a state academy grammar school with 1350 students (of whom over 400 are in the co-educational Sixth Form). It has around 130 teaching and support staff and draws its intake of 180 boys who join the school in Year 7 from the Chiltern area of Buckinghamshire. Boys take the Buckinghamshire Transfer Test.
Challoner’s students benefit from an exceptional range of learning activities which are pursued to a very high standard. As well as featuring consistently high up in national league tables for GCSE and A Level, the school adds significant value to its students and recently was the top grammar school in England for ‘contextual value added’. Challoner’s was graded as ‘outstanding’ in every category at its last OFSTED inspection and in 2012 became one of the first schools to receive the Exceptional Schools Award following external validation. This was re-awarded in 2016. The school became a National Teaching School in 2013 and is the lead school in the Astra Learning Alliance, committed to developing outstanding practice in the fields of Initial Teacher Training, CPD, leadership, research and development and school to school support. The Astra SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) recruited its first cohort of trainees for September 2016, and was judged to be 'outstanding' when OFSTED inspected in autumn 2018.
We believe that the values, attitudes and learning habits developed by students are just as important as the knowledge and understanding they acquire during their time at school. Teachers, students and governors take part in Learning Reviews and a common language of learning permeates the school. DCGS is an active member of the International Boys Schools Coalition and hosts national conferences on learning as well as supporting many local schools. Professional development is given a high priority and the school runs its own programme of leadership development for staff drawing on best practice from business as well as education.
The curriculum broadly mirrors the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3 while students in Key Stage 4 follow a core curriculum of English (Language and Literature), Mathematics, three Sciences, a Modern Language and a Humanities subject, as well as PE, Religious Studies and Citizenship/PSHEE. Boys make two further choices from a wide range of courses and also undertake an enrichment programme which includes climbing, cookery, ‘app’ development and the opportunity to undertake the HPQ (Higher Project Qualification). In the Sixth Form students follow the innovative Challoner's Baccalaureate, which combines the best of rigorous academic learning with a wide range of other activities. Students complete three or four A Levels selected from a list of over 20 and participate in volunteering, higher level study and team projects as well as completing an EPQ. Around 20 students each year win offers of places at Oxford and Cambridge.
The school has very strong cultural and sporting traditions. There are choirs, an orchestra, a swing band, a jazz band, and at least two major drama productions each year. The main sports are soccer, hockey, rugby, cricket, tennis, cross-country, athletics and basketball. DCGS enjoys a very strong sporting reputation and teams compete strongly at regional and national level. Many clubs and societies flourish while the number and range of educational visits are exceptional. A wide range of international links is maintained through exchange programmes and overseas visits. Close ties exist with Dr Challoner's High School for Girls, through music and drama as well as through social events for students.
Student support, guidance and involvement are key aspects of the school. Great emphasis is placed on developing the school’s ethos of ‘excellence with integrity’ and students are encouraged to accept responsibility for themselves, others and the environment. A system of mentors and prefects supports younger students and provides outstanding opportunities for leadership development. The flourishing competition between the six houses – Foxell, Holman, Newman, Pearson, Rayner and Thorne – is led entirely by senior students.
Significant infrastructure improvements have taken place over recent years. IT provision is extensive and all students from Years 8-11 use their own iPads as a central tool to support their learning across every subject. Sixth Form students routinely use laptops or tablets. The Sports Centre was extended in 2010 to include a cookery room and additional sports facilities, while a large performing arts studio was commissioned in 2011. A new Sixth Form Centre and Library, which provide a genuinely world class facility to help students to bridge the gap between school and university, were opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex in 2013. The school's new Music facilities will open in early 2019.
Staff wellbeing is taken seriously, and the school was one of only 9 organisations in the country to be awarded MIND's Workplace Wellbing Index Gold Award in 2018. The strength of the community of staff helps ensure this is a happy school, and the high quality of interactions with students and colleagues is one of the hallmarks of the school.
The School has an extremely strong Governing Body with a wide range of high level experience in the fields of education, finance and business management. It is highly supportive of the School and students participate in most of its committees and sit as observers on the Full Governing Body.