West Buckland School
|Motto||Read and Reap|
|Founder||Joseph Lloyd Brereton|
|DfE URN||113606 Tables|
|Alumni||Old West Bucklands|
West Buckland School is an English public school located in North Devon between the villages of West Buckland and East Buckland, on the edge of Exmoor, 9 miles (12.9 km) east of Barnstaple. It comprises a senior school including a sixth form, preparatory school and a nursery. The current headmaster since 1997 is John Vick, who is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.
There are approximately 720 pupils, of whom around 100 board; 40% of boarders are from abroad. The day pupils are drawn from a wide area of North Devon and Somerset and many use daily the large school busses provided in collaboration with local coach operators.
West Buckland School was founded as the "Devon County School" in 1858 by Rev. J.L. Brereton, Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral and Rector of West Buckland, to provide a public school education for sons of farmers and the middle class. The foundation stone of the Gothic style buildings was laid in October 1860 by Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue, KG, (d.1861), of Castle Hill, Filleigh, Filleigh, who had provided land and other support for the school. Marble busts of both men, sculpted by E.B. Stephens in 1861, are displayed on the staircase of the Memorial Hall.
Under the first headmaster, J.H. Thompson, numbers rose to 150 by 1876 and then declined as a consequence of agricultural depression and competition from other schools.
In the winter of 1912/13 the school was renamed West Buckland School.
During the 1950s it received increasing support from the Devon County Educational authority and became a direct grant school. In 1976, when direct grants were abolished, it became a fully independent school.
 Current status
West Buckland leads the North Devon schools examination league table. On 30 August 2008 the Western Morning News reported the school's best ever GCSE results and produced a table placing the school sixth out of the twenty-one independent schools in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset on the basis of points per candidate. The paper also reported A level results in August 2008 as "impressive", noting that over 70% of students achieved 'A' or 'B' grades.
 Current expansion and development
The school is expanding rapidly in numbers and facilities. In 2008 the Jonathan Edwards Sports Centre was opened behind the 19th-century complex. In 2010 the school unveiled a combination of buildings containing Art & Design and Design & Technology workshops, a new theatre, which replaces the old theatre, together with assembly space for the prep school and a new quadrangle.
The four houses of West Buckland School are (in brackets their house colours):
- Brereton (Purple and Black )
- Courtenay (Red Earls of Devon. and White ), named after the influential family of the
- Fortescue (Yellow and Black )
- Grenville (Blue George Grenville (1712–1770), prime minister and maternal grandfather of Earl Fortescue the founder. The family had no historical connection to Devon. However, there was also an important and very ancient North Devon family, of no relationship, called variously Greville, Granville, Grenville, Greenfield etc., formerly lords of the manor of Bideford, and holding the title Earl of Bath in the 17th century, today represented in a cadet line by Baron Grenfell. This latter family would seem to continue the Devon family theme of Courtenay and Fortescue. and White ), probably named after the family of
Numerous inter-house competitions are held throughout the school year in music, drama and sport, culminating in Sports' Day on the final day of the summer term. Points are awarded depending on how well houses do in each competition and whichever house has amassed the largest number of points after Sports' Day wins the coveted Southcomb Shield.
An extract from West Buckland School 1858-1958. The First Hundred Years. A Review of a Century recorded by Friends and Pupils.
On July 31, 1917, there fell in action, E. H. Southcomb, then a Lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment. He was for many years a very cheerful member of the Brereton House, no great athlete but always ready to play his part to the best of his ability. On leaving West Buckland he went, by his father's wish, to Shrewsbury for two years, and then entered a bank, where he remained till war broke out. On his death it was found that he had left a legacy (£10 10s. 0d.) to the Sports Fund of his first school, and somewhat late it has at last been decided to perpetuate his memory by a Shield which will be held by the House which obtains the chief athletic cups in the School year, which starts in September. For this purpose, each of the Challenge Cups carries a definite mark. The allocation of marks for each cup was not an easy matter and even now the values may require re-adjustment in 1924. The Headmaster formed a committee consisting of Messrs. Corless, Taylor and Walton, and the list as issued by them will hold good at any rate till July, 1924. The winning House will hold the shield, which will be hung over their dining tables, and will also take the right of the line on ceremonial parades.
The order of the houses in the overall points standings at the end of the year determines which row of tables each house sits at for the following year in the dining hall (the Karslake).
The house system provides a continuity of pastoral care throughout a pupil's school career, as well as creating opportunities for leadership qualities to be demonstrated.
Brereton are the current champions (2011-2012).
The houses have each won the Southcomb Shield (first competed for in 1924) the following number of times:
Brereton: 23 Grenville: 23 Fortescue: 21 Courtenay: 21
There are four main boarding houses at West Buckland:
- Bamfylde - situated on the preparatory school site, and catering for girls aged 5 to 16. Named after the family of Barons Poltimore, long lords of the manor of nearby North Molton.
- Boyer House - for boys aged 5–17
- The Gables - for sixth form girls aged 16 to 18
- School House - for sixth form boys aged 16 to 18
Each of the boarding houses has its own houseparent.
Annual Day Fees (Aug 2008): £12,800, Annual Boarding Fees: £18,675.
Prefect duties, which include care of younger students, are awarded to senior pupils within each house. The Head and Deputy Head of School are selected from the Senior Prefects. The prefect team typically consists of around 20 members of the upper sixth. They are split into five teams, each having responsibility for one day of the working week. There are also dedicated boarding prefects.
Aside from being Senior Prefects, sixth form members of each house have the opportunity to be Link Prefects. This is where two members of the sixth form are allocated to one tutor group within the house. They will generally visit the group once a week, usually on a Thursday. This provides a direct link between the pupils and staff and allows the younger members of the house to be able to chat to older members of the house who they perhaps wouldn't have an opportunity to otherwise talk to.
There is also a peer counselling service called Familiar Faces. This is staffed by members of Year 11 who voluntarily train as counsellors. The Familiar Faces take it in turns to be available to talk to other members of the school in complete confidence in a private location. This is an extremely useful and comforting service, especially if pupils feel that they are unable to express their concerns to their parents or to staff.
Langholme is West Buckland's preparatory school, providing for 5 to 11 year olds; a nursery is also on site. Accommodation for Langholme pupils is provided in the Bamfylde boarding house.
 Notable former pupils
The Old West Buckland Association provides regular newsletters to former pupils. It also organises sports matches between current school teams and teams of 'old boys' and 'old girls', as well as organising a number of social events.
Notable alumni include:
- Jonathan Edwards (born 1966), triple jump world record holder, Olympic Games gold medalist and broadcaster
- Bertie Hill (1927–2005), equestrian, Olympic Games gold medalist.
- Harold Hilton (1869–1942), golfer, won The Open Championship twice and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame
- Tim Wonnacott (born 1953), antiques expert and television presenter
- Brian Aldiss (born 1925), author of science fiction and general fiction
- R. F. Delderfield (1912–1972), playwright and novelist, To Serve Them All My Days was closely based on West Buckland School
- Victor Ubogu (born 1964), former Bath and England rugby player
- Stephen Ojomoh (born 1970), former Bath and England rugby player
- Harold Gimblett (1914–1978), former Somerset and England cricket player
- John Rae (1931–2006), novelist, educator, former headmaster of Westminster School
- Sir John Ashworth (born 1940), former Director of the London School of Economics
- John Clarke (born 1953), current Dean of Wells
- Sir Anthony Tippet (1928–2006), former Chief of Fleet Support of the Royal Navy and General Manager of Great Ormond Street Hospital
 Speech Day
On the third Saturday in September each year, the school holds its Speech Day and prize-giving ceremony. Pupils who have achieved excellence in academic, sporting and other fields are rewarded for their efforts and for their contribution to the school's success. Successful former pupils are often invited to make speeches, alongside a customary speech by the serving headmaster of the school.
The school has a wide range of sports facilities, including a sports centre, named after athlete and former pupil Jonathan Edwards.
 The Exmoor Runs
Every year the school holds the Exmoor Runs, essentially a cross-country run across Exmoor. The Senior Boys' Run is reputed to be the longest compulsory school cross-country run in the country, with a walk of eight miles to the start and a run of ten miles back to the finish (the school). Senior girls are required to walk six and to run seven and a half miles. Junior boys walk out five miles and run back five and a half, while Junior girls run the same as the Junior boys.
- Coates, Berwick: West Buckland School: The Millennium Book (Halsgrove, 2000)
- Edmunds, Jon.: A history of West Buckland School (Aycliffe Press, 1983)
- Honey, J.R. de S.: Tom Brown's Universe, The Development of the Victorian Public School (pp 47–103) (Millington, 1977)
- West Buckland School website
- Old West Buckland Association
- Independent Schools Inspectorate report, 2004