The Billericay School
The school's windmill logo is based upon Billericay Post Mill, which stood on Bell Hill for 200 years before collapsing in a storm in November 1928.
|Motto||Caring about success|
|Established||1938 (predecessor institution 1878)|
|Headteacher||Mrs Susan Hammond|
|Chair of Governors||Mr Colin Breathwick|
|DfE URN||136861 Tables|
|Ofsted||Reports Pre-academy reports|
|Staff||125 teaching, 104 non-teaching|
|Houses||Scott, Keller, Edison, Curie and Newton.|
|Colours||Black and gold|
|Website||The Billericay School|
The Billericay School is an academy secondary school and sixth form college located in Billericay, England. The school is led by headmistress Sue Hammond and has an enrollment of 1695. As part of the Billericay Education Consortium the school forms part of a grouping considered to provide the best teacher training in the country according to the Good Teacher Training Guide. According to Ofsted the school is an: "an over-subscribed Mathematics and Computing specialist school mainly serving the town of Billericay but also drawing students from Basildon and nearby areas". In its most recent Ofsted inspection the school received an 'outstanding' grading.
As a comprehensive school admission is primarily dictated by residing in/proximity to the catchment area as well as the presence of siblings at the school. However, the school is able to operate some academic selection and 10% of applicants are chosen based on aptitude in ICT which is one of the school's specialisms.
The 2013 admissions document lists a number of criteria to determine priority in the event of over-subscription for places:
- Relevant looked-after children as defined in Section 22 of the Children Act 1989
- Children residing in the school’s defined catchment area
- Children with a sibling attending the school
- Medical grounds, supported by a doctor’s certificate.
- Distance from the home to school (based on straight line measurement) with those living nearer being accorded the higher priority.
Further information relating to admissions can be found on the school's website.
The 2012 Governor's report lists a number of academic achievements at GCSE and A-level.
- 84% of GCSE students at the school gained 5 A*-C grades in any subjects.
- 100% of GCSE students gained a A*-C grade pass in ICT
- 78% of GCSE students gained a A*-C grade pass in Mathematics
- 78* of GCSE students gained at least 2 A*-C grade passes in Science
- The mean average points total for a GCSE student was 452 which is equivalent to 10 GCSEs at grade 'B'.
- At A-level the mean points total per student was 874.2 which is approximately equivalent to ABBb
- 47.2% of grades at A-level were either 'A' or 'B'
- 25 A* grades were achieved at A-level
|League Table Measure||2012||2013|
|5 A*-C (inc English and Maths)||57%||73%|
|English Bacc %||6%||25%|
|Average A/AS- level points||874.7|
2009/10 leavers data showed that 73% of A-level leavers go onto another educational destination, 70 students went onto higher education and 9 of these students went on to Russell Group universities.
|1938–1949||Percy George White|
The school was formally opened in 1938 by admiral Sir Vernon Haggard using a ceremonial silver key handed to him by the first headmaster P.G. White. However, a predecessor institution called Great Burstead Board School opened on 13 February 1878. This school was situated just across from Laindon Road and P.G. White who was Billericay School's first headmaster was appointed head of the senior mixed department here in 1923. The Billericay School was built as by the 1930s the school was struggling to cope with a growing enrollment and plans were drawn up for a new school big enough to cater for Billericay’s growing population.
Costing £22,400 Billericay School opened its doors in 1937 a year before its 'official' opening. Air raid shelters were built almost immediately to protect students from Luftwaffe planes travelling to London on bombing raids during World War II. The school was built upon the site of an Iron Age foundry where prior to the building of the school a cornfield and a farm was located.
P.G. White served a headmaster until 1949 when he died suddenly on holiday shortly before he was due to retire. Arthur Lingard became headmaster in 1949 and oversaw the school's transformation to a comprehensive on 1 September 1968 and the building of the school’s sixth form centre which occurred in the 1960s. During the 1970s exchanges began with international schools including an annual trip to the Einstein Gymnasium in Reutlingen in Germany - an exchange programme that continues to this day. The Parents’ Guild (later Friends of Billericay School) was also formed in this decade. Robert Goodier became headmaster in 1991 and oversaw the move away from LEA governance to self-governance.
The school's Music Studio was finished in 1991 and the decade saw a period of success for the Music Department under the headship of Mr John Stevenson including appearances at the London TV Arts Festival and on the BBC's Blue Peter. Sue Hammond became the first female head of the school in 1997 a year that the school was awarded its third Schools Curriculum Award by Princess Anne. In 1999 the RBLC was opened. In March 2002 the school was the subject of a channel 5 documentary concerning a school reunion for pupils who attended the school between 1980 and 1982.
The School achieved Maths and Computing College status in 2003 allowing some use of selection based on aptitude in these subjects. It was thought that this status would generate an additional £1 million worth of funding, but a government policy on foundation schools reduced this sum significantly. The school has since converted to academy status, but continues to have Maths and Computing as a specialism.
The 2000s saw long-running attempts to sell disused land adjacent to the school in order to fund a series of improvements Development was initially refused but was appealed. In 2009 approval was gained to develop 51 new homes upon a six acre plot.
Changes were made in the 2005/06 academic year which cut the lunch break from 1 hour to 45 mins so that the school day finished at 3.00pm rather than 3.15pm. In January 2007 the school was at scene of a BBC London news report after a gas explosion scare in nearby South Green, down Southend Road. The school was used to house those evacuated from the surrounding area. No explosion from the acetylene and oxygen cylinders occurred but one man suffered burns from the fire. The scare scene was 3 houses away from the South Green Memorial Hall.
In 2009 it was proposed that the a Billericay Community Trust be formed in order to increase standards at the school. This would involve a partnership with the multinational technology corporation Dell, something that the Essex branch of the National Union of Teachers has objected to. In 2010 The School suffered from austerity measure budget cuts and was one of several schools in Essex which lost out on money promised under the Building Schools for the Future programme.
In 2011 the school received media attention when a local newspaper called the Billericay Gazette printed indiscreet Twitter comments made by Charlotte Berry who was a Deputy Headteacher at the school. Responding to the incident headmistress Sue Hammond stated: The member of staff’s Twitter account appears to have been individually targeted, accessing conversations with friends unconnected with the school and taken completely out of context. The school is saddened that the decision has been taken to print these individual unrelated comments, however indiscreet, in a newspaper medium to an audience for whom they were not intended". There was further controversy that year when the school's sixth-form prom ended after some students were allegedly found taking drugs.
The school converted to academy status on 1 July 2011. Becoming an academy school gives the school greater budgetary autonomy and control over its curriculum.In 2013 the school received national media attention after banning male students from having pompadour style haircuts. The measure was criticized as draconian by some parents. One parent told the Daily Mail newspaper: "I can understand banning some extreme haircuts but this is just ridiculous. This haircut has been about since the 50s and it didn't even shock people then".
As of May 2013 the school has A,C,D,E,F and V blocks. A B Block used to exist on the greenery, next to the car park, where the footpath now leads from the main gate to 'F' Block. B block was a two storey wooden structure housing metal and woodworking classrooms on the ground floor and art, pottery, home economics and technical drawing classrooms, on the first floor. It was demolished on the last day of term 1989.
A Block contains mostly Maths classes and R.E classes along with humanities and Geography. This was the original building from when the school was first opened.
C block is the biggest block at the school. It contains mainly Science classrooms. The main wing of the block is a 3 stories high with roughly 1 and a half of these rooms as Science labs. This block also contains the RBLC (Resource Based Learning Centre) more commonly known as the library, which houses over 30,000 books. It also contains (on the top floor) R.E, Media and Biology science rooms and on the ground floor there are Drama Studios, Music rooms, Student Services and the important sick bay.
D Block is the new languages block which was completed in the spring of 2013.
E Block is a raising of the school-leaving age (Rosla) building built to house the additional students capacity needed when the school leaving age was raised to a compulsory 16. This block contains the Art classrooms and the Food Technology and Textiles rooms and also houses Child Development.
F block opened for the first time in September 1988. The original F Block contained the, then CDT Department (downstairs) and the Business Studies Department (upstairs). Later, there was a major rebuild to the front of F Block, enlarging it to take the ever expanding school administrations. At the same time the Head Teacher's office was moved from C block (now the Withdrawal unit) to a new room in the new F Block.As ICT (IT then) expanded, the Business Studies rooms, F7 and F10 became computer rooms. Recently F12 has been converted to house a number of PCs as has F1 with the addition of 30 PCs to augment the DT graphics lessons.
In 2004, a V block was created. It is thought that this refers to the concept of the block being a 'village' community. The V block was built to house the English department, whilst we awaited the new build block. There was a small fire in one of the D block demountables, but the fire itself did not contribute to the installation of V block. However, 2 of the 5 buildings still remain which were not touched by the fire. V block houses the school's English department.
Sixth-form students (years 12 and 13) are located in an exclusive area of the school and have their own study areas and common room. Although the unit does not have its own classrooms and so shares these with the rest of the school. However, many sixth form classes take place in converted rooms that are much smaller than ordinary classrooms (such as A9, A24 and C13) and therefore can be classified as 'for' the sixth form exclusively. The sixth form elects a sixth form committee which aims to raise money for the end of year prom held annually, and performs other duties within the 6th form. A group of year 12 students are voted on to a Sixth-Form committee by their peers every year. The members of the committee arrange Sixth-Form events, decide amongst themselves how the Sixth-Form area is used and decide how the Sixth-Form fund is used and what the money is spent on. The committee is also responsible for arranging the Year 13 Prom.Every year students who have left the school are invited back for an awards evening to present their A-level certificates.
School records show that a house system has been adopted at three periods during the school's history. During the 1930s the house names were Effingham (Red), Raleigh (Blue), Grenville (Green) and Drake (Yellow). In 1969 a house system was introduced with the names of houses referencing historical figures – Fitzwalter, de Vere, Audley and Christopher Martin. The current houses are:
|House Name||Head of House||Named After|
|Curie||Mr P Fifield||Marie Curie|
|Edison||Mr G Howells||Thomas Edison|
|Keller||Miss Griffiths ||Helen Keller|
|Newton||Mrs L Cripps ||Isaac Newton|
|Scott||Mr J Stokes ||Captain Scott|
Notable former pupils and visitors
Locally it is well known as the secondary school that the comedian Lee Evans attended The sixth form was visited in May 2006 by the former MP Tony Benn who delivered a speech on politics to sixth form students. Other guests who have visited the school include survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp Leon Greenman and Josef Perl. Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited the school in 1980 to present then headmaster Arthur Lingard with a medal recognizing the school's achievements. However, Thatcher had to leave early as the SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy later the same day.
Annually John Baron MP, a Conservative Party politician and MP for Billericay, comes to debate with students on political issues of a local, national and international nature. Other alumni include Michael Todd the former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, and Josh Dubovie, a singer who has been selected to represent the UK at the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest. One pupil Charlie Wernham has had success on ITV's Britain's Got Talent. British model David Gandy is also a former pupil as is the actor Mike Edmonds an Ewok in Return of the Jedi.
School life and Awards
The school's music department has appeared on Blue Peter. and has received recognition from the British Naturalists’ Association for ecological work at Mill Meadows. The school is active in local public speaking competitions. and has organised a trip to Argentina in order to do community work. A magazine, run and published in the school library under the title of Reviewz Books, reviewed new and classic fiction and has had interviews with authors such as Stephen Fry, Sheila Norton, Iain Banks and Sharon Osbourne. The magazine was edited by Barnaby Walter (founder editor), Rebecca Bedding (deputy editor) and Frankie Burt (co-editor). It was merged in 2008 with the Speak Up website initiative which now features reviews, articles and blog posts from current and past Billericay School students. It can be found at www.billericayschool.net/speakup
FOBS or Friends of Billericay School is a charity which raises money for the school. Most of their income comes from various evening events, usually with singers or comedians, and the '200 Club', a monthly prize draw. The latest funding drive was used to fund the school receiving 'maths and computing college' status, and the organisation has recently raised enough funds to purchase a new school minibus. The schools council is called Backchat. The house captains form a group known as Student Voice.These two groups debate with both students and the Head to work towards a better life within the school.
The school awards a number of prizes to exceptional students each year:
- James Dorrington Award - The James Dorrington Award for Sport is an annual award given to a student who has excelled at sport in the past academic year. The award is named after a former student James Dorrington student who died on 1 January 2002 following the diagnosis of a brain tumour.
- Jack Barren Award - The Jack Barren Award is given to a pupil for outstanding contribution to the life of the school. The prize was first awarded in 2000 and is named after a former govonor of the school who served for thirty-nine years.
- Kent, S. (2003), Images of England: The Billericay School , Tempus Publications, p20
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- The percentage of students gaining 5 A*-C grades in Maths, English, two science subjects, a language and either history or geography
- "Secondary school league tables in Essex". BBC News. 23 April 2013.
- A measure of how well pupils are helped to progress from their starting point. A score above 1,000 is better than the national average
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- The Billericay School Website Home Page
- Images of England: The Billericay School by Sylvia Kent, Tempus PublicationsISBN 0-7524-3083-1, p 123
- Kent, S. (2003), Images of England: The Billericay School, Tempus Publications
- Billericay School
- Sixth Form Twitter
- Speak Up! Magazine
- Speak Up! Magazine Twitter
- Billericay School Alumni Linkedin