I expect the fact that you’re reading this introductory page to our website probably means you are new to Bootham School. I am too! This is my first year as Head.
I also imagine that what you may be looking for in a school could well be the same kind of things as I was when Bootham grabbed my attention and refused to let go: a combination of factors adding up to an education which truly offers far more than just a narrow set of academic achievements. Indeed, I have seen a clear change in the priorities of the large number of parents I have met during the more recent years of my twelve as a Head.
They continue to value - of course - the central importance of academic success, but they are also increasingly interested in schools which promote the development of strong individual character, of resilience, of a wider outlook on the world, of those things that bring the deepest happiness and flourishing in life, not just at school. They are increasingly looking to invest in an education that is led by strong, positive and enduring values; that can help their child discover what aspects of personality or talent make her or him unique, develop a compassionate and positive outlook towards others; that explores the importance and immense personal benefits of using those characteristics to make the world around them a better place.
All this is what Bootham School is all about: getting the very best – intellectually, personally, spiritually - from the young people it is privileged to care for, and setting them on a road of lifelong flourishing and fulfillment, to the benefit of society as well as themselves. It is a lovely, unique and successful school, with an atmosphere all of its own. So much of this arises from Bootham’s Quaker heritage, which provides the ethos, environment and framework of enduring values, practices and approaches that underpin an education which fully addresses the real needs of modern young people, and makes ours such a happy and thriving community.
While aspects of our life might at first glance seem a little unusual – no formal uniform above Year 9; addressing teachers by their names not their titles; assemblies based around silence; unusual names for year groups - the way it works is not. In believing that there is ‘that of God in everyone’ (and allowing each to interpret that as seems right to them) our life is founded on building the sort of respectful and nurturing relationships which mark the school out. Such an approach cares for each individual - whether pupil or staff - as a unique, equally valued and truly valuable life, to be developed in all its aspects to be the best life that it can be. We do this together, as a community.
We believe this to be the basis for real success – academic and personal, short term and lifelong - and try to enshrine it in everything we do. We believe passionately that this is what real education is all about, and with great conviction that Bootham's Quaker ethos has never been more relevant than it is today. Don’t just take my word for it! This is what the findings of our most recent school inspection say:
Pupils of all ages absorb the school’s Quaker ethos which embodies the key spiritual principles of unity, peace and tolerance within a framework where ‘that of God’ in everyone is sought out and addressed. In doing so, pupils, including the youngest, develop into kind, compassionate human beings with a keen sense of service and duty to others and a firm moral compass. From the central Quaker tenet of looking for the best in each individual, they gain self-awareness and from the school’s emphasis on celebrating and cherishing individuality, they gain high levels of self-confidence and self-esteem, whilst remaining strongly empathetic to others.
Is this what you’re looking for in a school? I hope that you are intrigued by what you read here and on the rest of this website, as I was when I first found myself delving into the reality behind the very fine reputation which Bootham has in the wider educational community.
Come and visit us, either on an Open Day or for a personal visit; preferably both! You will be welcomed warmly and, hopefully, begin to understand more of what makes a Bootham education such a good answer to what parents are looking for to help their children truly flourish in all respects in a challenging world. If so, I look forward to meeting you!