Torquay Boys’ Grammar School wins national award for performance

Torquay Boys’ Grammar School has been recognised nationally for its excellent results in 2018 based on data from the Department for Education and Ofsted, analysed by SSAT, the Schools, Students and Teachers network.

Torquay Boys’ Grammar School was found to be among the best performing secondary schools in the country, receiving an award for being in the top 10% of schools nationally for progress. The SSAT Educational Outcomes database compares all state-funded schools in England and the highest
performing schools for a range of key measures are awarded SSAT Educational Outcomes Awards.

Torquay Boys’ Grammar School will be presented with their award during the summer term at a ceremony attended by winners from across the region.

Sue Williamson, Chief Executive of SSAT said: “I am delighted that Torquay Boys’ Grammar School has won an Educational Outcomes Awards. This recognises one important aspect of the school’s work but at SSAT we believe an outstanding school has deep social justice at the heart of its plan; it subjects that plan to constant challenge and innovation; and it liberates teachers to perform brilliantly in the classroom. SSAT is pleased to recognise the quality of leadership and the hard work of all staff to ensure the success of every child. A big thank you and well done
to students, parents, staff and governors.”


Torquay Boys’ Grammar School Oxbridge and US success

Ten TBGS students are celebrating receiving conditional offers from Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard this year. Four of the students received offers from Cambridge for Maths, Architecture, and Engineering (2). Six students received offers from Oxford for Medicine, Economics & Management, PPE, Experimental Psychology, Archaeology & Anthropology, and History.

Justin Chan is our 5th students to receive an unconditional offer from Harvard (with a full scholarship of nearly 300,000 USD). He also secured an offer from Cambridge to study Mathematics but will have to decline this!

Here he is pictured with Mr Bainbridge and James Bedford who came into school just before Christmas; he is currently in his third year at Harvard. 

During his studies at Harvard, he has experienced many opportunities including as part of the Harvard College Consulting Group (, a Harvard non-profit student group that advises influential businesses and companies on strategic decisions using quantitative and qualitative analysis. These include companies such as Microsoft, Pepsi, and Paramount, among many others.

He also set up an induction programme (FYRE – First-Year Retreat and Experience) for new students joining the University who come from low-income, or are the first-generation in their family to attend College ( James also spent time in Singapore, during the summer holiday as an Intern, gaining valuable work experience.

Of the group of ten current students, seven are studying the International Baccalaureate and three are studying A-levels. We again have two female students gaining offers: Laura Green has received her offer to study Politics, Philosophy & Economics, whilst Molly Acheson has an offer to study Archaeology & Anthropology, both from Oxford.

We are thrilled with the number of students receiving Oxford and Cambridge offers this year, across such a range of subjects. They are all very deserving and reflect the students’ outstanding work both throughout their time at TBGS, and during the very tough selection process.

We have a rigorous support programme which prepares students for each element of the application process including: support with personal statements; an overnight visit to the Oxford open day; entrance test preparation; interview technique workshops; mock interviews and various subject extension groups.

We have also been grateful to some of our past students, who have returned from their current study at Oxford and Cambridge, to offer support to prospective students. Credit must also go to the staff that have worked with the students and ensured they can compete successfully at the highest of levels.

Pleasingly, we continue to see great success with our potential Medical students, again this year. They have received much support from Mrs Kilpatrick and Dr Bethune, who have run a Medical Society, where students have received many lunchtime sessions covering various medical topics and issues, have experienced MMI mock interviews from Plymouth University, lectures from practising doctors, as well as undertaking work experience organised independently and via the support of Dr Stites.

Luke Gribbin, in particular, is worth a special mention. Luke achieved one of the Highest ever UKCAT scores with 3550 out of 3600: to put that into context, a very good score is usually around 2800 and an outstanding score would be around 3200; very few people achieve anything higher than this. The highest ever score is 3560, which is only one 10-point increment higher.

He also ranked in the top 2% of people sitting the BMAT exam. As a result, he has been interviewed at all four of his choices and already received offers from Oxford, Birmingham and Newcastle (whilst waiting on Bristol).

Aside from Oxbridge, there are many other top establishments that students have gained conditional places from. 138 students have applied to University and many have already received offers from all five of their choices.

8 of the successful candidates: Laura Green (PPE), Ted Wynne (Architecture), Justin Chan (Liberal Arts), Luke Gribbin (Medicine), Molly Acheson (Archaeology & Anthropology), Allèn Tomy (Economics & Management), Domokos Szarka (Experimental Psychology), Kyle Dearson (Engineering), Alex Still (History). Ewan Gribbin (not pictured, Engineering).

Science Fair

This years Science Fair is almost upon us with a variety of demonstrations and experiments, the fair will be open to the public between 4pm until 6.30pm on Tuesday 12th February. We hope to see you there.

Do you hear the people sing?

Click on the What’s On tab above for tickets to the 2019 TBGS musical. This year, we are staging the very popular Les Misérables, the story of Jean Valjean on a journey of redemption, persistently hunted by a police inspector, Javert, against the background of revolutionary France, where a group of young idealists attempt a coup at a street barricade. If you are enjoying the BBC adaptation, or tried to get tickets for the tour to Plymouth, the TBGS show might just be for you!

It has been a decade since we first staged Les Misérables and we are planning a really special production with new staging, a huge cast and some spine-tingling musical performances. The show will run from Tuesday 5th to Friday 8th March, 7.30pm in the Cavanna Centenary Hall. As in previous years, tickets are priced at £6 for adults, £3 for students Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and £8 and £4 for Friday. Tickets can be purchased from the online shop, which you can access via the What’s On tab above.

In addition, this year we have an exclusive opportunity on offer: a dinner-and-dine package for you toenjoy. On Friday 8th March you could be welcomed, should you choose, in the sixth-form centre at 6pm for a delicious two-course tavern-style rustic French meal with welcome drink, with the added benefit of reserved seating at the front of the hall, and a complimentary programme. This is priced at £18 for adults, £14 for secondary-age students and £11 for primary-age students, and includes your ticket for the main show. The venue has limited space so book early!

Each evening there will be the usual bar, raffle and ice creams, along with a French market offering Chocolat Chaud, Crêpes et Pain au Chocolat.

Autumn Concert 2018

What a Symphony!

This year’s autumn concert, on 13th November, was real treat for the ears, with more students than ever, performing to a packed Centenary Hall.

There was such an impressive range of music styles on offer, including some classical favourites, (this year, for the first time, from a combined Boys’ and Girls’ Grammar School Orchestra), alongside some home-grown compositions from class rock bands.

Pete Alderson’s solo marimba playing was incredible, and the preview performance from this year’s musical (Les Misérables, 5-8th March) spine-tingling. The evening culminated in an amazing performance by all the students who had performed throughout, coming together for a uplifting rendition of Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.

The concert once again showcased the inspiring talents of such wide range of students, and was testament to the hard work and commitment of the music department.


Former TBGS Student Sam Skinner Shines for Scotland

Sam Skinner, on his debut, was deeply impressive.

Exeter Chiefs lock Sam Skinner was named man of the match on his international debut. The 23-year-old made several telling ball carries and was a prominent presence in the line-out before finishing the match on the blind-side flank.

Gregor Townsend, Scotland Head Coach, said “He did very well. The game he plays for his club and the type of player he is suits what we want to do – a decision-maker, someone that is fit, with skills that can move the ball, can carry and get around the park.” [retrieved 10 November 2018]

Celebration Evening Upper School 2018

Dare to be Celebrated

On November 1st, we welcomed prize winners from year 12 and 13, with their families, to an evening of celebration.

Prizes were awarded for subject excellence in year 11 and 12, along with prizes for progress at GCSE, Aude Sapere (or excellence and contribution to the school), along with special school and memorial cup prizes.

Heads of Department specifically selected books to award to subject prize winners, to stretch their thinking in the field in which they excel. The Progress and Aude Sapere prizes were a unique glass paperweight designed and individually engraved by OurGlass, Cockington, featuring a school blue and celebration gold design; hopefully these will be a memorable and personal keepsake.

The evening began with drinks reception accompanied with jazz piano by Ashley Scott, who was awarded the music prize for year 11, followed by a spine-tingling rendition of Who Am I by Luke Gribbin, from the upcoming school musical Les Misérables, which is already shaping up to be a very exciting production. Luke was awarded C. D. Sears Musician of the Year award.

Thanks must go to the Vice-Chair of Governors, Christine Western, for awarding the prizes. She warmly congratulated all students on their successes, hard work and determination.

Mr Lawrence, speaking at the evening, shared his firm belief that student successes are a product of three parties, parents, the teachers and, of course, the students themselves. The evening was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate success with all parties.



Inspire young violinists and own a piece of TBGS musical history at the same time

A TBGS alumni would like to sell a beautiful violin made by a former TBGS teacher and has very generously offered to donate the proceeds of the sale to the Music Department, in order to inspire the next generation of TBGS violinists.

The donation would allow the department to purchase a range of good quality instruments, to be made available on loan to disadvantaged students, and to fund taster events for those interested.

Young students often give up because they aren’t able to produce a good enough sound on a cheap violin.  Enabling them to play better quality instruments would help them to persevere and develop the life-long love of the instrument that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy.

The maker, John Cottrill taught at TBGS between 1917 and 1934, and made this violin in 1924 during his time here.  He was a skilled enough luthier to be included in Henley’s Dictionary of Violin Makers.

I’ve played the violin and found it to have a good tone, despite being un-played for some time, particularly in the lower and upper registers.  As with any string instrument, this would improve with regular playing.  It would be perfect for an intermediate to advanced student, or for an amateur player looking to upgrade. It would be fantastic if it ended up in the hands of a TBGS student!

The violin has recently been refurbished, and is for sale for £3000, with the £2000 remaining after refurbishment costs coming to the school.

Below are some notes on the violin from a respected local luthier.  The image is of a different John Cottrill violin.

“The violin has a hand written label:

 Hand made on True Tone Principles by  

 J.Cottrill Torquay Zeta   1924

J Cottrill made violins between 1923 and 1936. Rather than numbering his instruments he gave each a letter of the Greek alphabet, Zeta being the sixth.   

The general quality of craftsmanship of this instrument, and the selection of tonewoods, is excellent. The back of this instrument is of two pieces of maple with fine regular flame. The ribs are of the same maple. The pegbox and scroll are of maple with a similar fine figure. The scroll is neat, 

symetrical and well proportioned. The belly of this violin is carved from fine grained spruce. The f holes are neatly carved, quite upright, with the lower wings fluted. Both plates are neatly inlaid with a single line of purfling set close to the edges. The beestings are elegant. This violin is finished with a soft warm orange­brown varnish over a golden ground, which is in very good condition with some fine craquelure.” 

If you are interested in purchasing this instrument and would like to view and play it, please contact me Chris Eastman (Head of Music):

TBGS SWAT Model UN for Primary Schools

TBGS SWAT Model UN for Primary Schools

After the successful Model UN simulation during the last academic year where the whole school debated the issue of Climate Change, we decided that the opportunity should be provided to students in our local primary schools as the Model UN simulation allows young people to gain a broader awareness of the world and to learn key life skills such as communication.

Four of our local primary schools sent a team of year 5 and 6 students to participate in the simulation and it was a fantastic experience for all involved. The simulation was led by a team TBGS students ranging from year 9 to year 13 who supported the young students every step of the way and as a result, a fascinating and challenging debate occurred!

At the end of the debate, a resolution was found to solve the issue of climate change with each country represented by the primary schools willing to work together and compromise. We look forward to running another Model UN simulation next year!


Torbay Art Show 2018

Torbay Art Show Raises £7k For School

The inaugural Torbay Art Show exceeded everyone’s expectations and raised a phenomenal amount of money towards the refurbishment of Torquay Boys’ Grammar School Sixth Form Centre. Over 1,000 people visited the event with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Headteacher, Mr Lawrence, said of the event, ‘It was wonderful to see so many people at Torquay Boys’ Grammar School for the Torbay Art Show last weekend. Our Cavanna Centenary Hall was transformed into a fantastic exhibition space for the high-quality art on show from around 70 artists, as well as our own very talented students. The feedback on the show has been exceptionally positive and I would to thank the sponsors for their support and, in particular, the Parents’ Association for all of their hard work which enabled the show to take place.’

The Centre, a hub for the sixth form students, offers a unique area where study and socialising work alongside each other. The investment will see the Centre taking on a brighter, more spacious appearance with computer and study rooms for unsupervised learning and a new café style area where students can socialise and relax. The new Centre will lend itself to the wider Torbay Community as a venue for meetings, clubs and other activities.

This event exists due to the support of some prominent local businesses, including main sponsor Cavanna Homes, Tolchards, St. David’s Equine and Artizan Gallery. We would like to extend our thanks to all the sponsors who have embraced our idea and supported us with their generous investments. Thanks also go to the numerous companies that donated to the raffle.

For those who weren’t able to make the show, there are still works of art available from the art-hub which can be accessed at if you’re quick!

© Guy Newman. 12.10.2018. Keith Miller, MD of Cavanna Homes who sponsored the Art Show at Torquay Boys Grammar with L-R Lisa Creswell, PTA Organiser & Peter Lawrence, Head Teacher.