The Headmaster's Weekly Routh Address

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16th April

Last Updated: 16/04/2018 10:18:19

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 16th April 2018

In a dramatic finish to the Commonwealth Games Men’s Marathon yesterday, the race leader collapsed and had to be taken to hospital. Scotland's Callum Hawkins was leading the marathon by almost two minutes and was close to the finish line when his body gave out underneath him. Temperatures were said to be around 28 degrees Celsius during the race, being held in Australia’s Gold Coast.

The 25-year-old, who finished fourth at the World Championships marathon in London last summer, had looked set for the gold medal. However, with less than two miles to go, he began to sway in distress and then crumpled, legs buckling and falling over on the curb.

He managed to rouse himself, getting to his feet again using the metal barriers lining the course. But he collapsed again shortly afterwards, hitting his head on one of the roadside barriers.

Hawkins regained conscious and was able to sit up while still at the scene of his collapse. He was taken to hospital in an ambulance, where it was later reported that he recovered without lasting injury.

From the Headmaster:

Good morning and welcome back to the Summer Term. Which is, of course, not really the Summer Term but actually more accurately, the Examination Term. Even for those of you not sitting public examinations, it is still the Examination Term. Not Summer. Summer is the word we save for the holidays, when it is OK to lounge around and enjoy the sun and long lazy days of nothingness. Not Summer, Examination – got it?

As for this morning’s reading, my apologies if it brought to mind some rather gruesome images for those of you who saw the end of that marathon yesterday. With so much sport televised these days, it is inevitable that we will occasionally witness some horrible injuries. You might flinch, perhaps turn away, when a close up shot shows a player’s leg breaking in a collision. Or somebody copping a hockey stick in the face. Especially if it is repeated again and again in slow motion.

But watching a runner collapse is a particularly gut-wrenching sight. Consider for a moment why that is. The resulting injury isn’t usually as bad as being mangled in a tackle or wiping out on a ski slope. Normally just a few bumps and grazes. Perhaps, in the case of the Scotsman yesterday, a suspected concussion if they hit their head.

But nothing permanent or particularly grizzly. So why is it so much worse to watch? The legs turning to rubber, the staggering, arms flailing helplessly, mouth drooling, eyes rolling. Why? Because they are doing it to themselves. No opponent, no accident, no misjudged moment. No-one else to blame. A runner collapsing like that is hard to watch because in our heart, we know that he or she just managed to push their body to breaking point. Before their mind gave up.

Which may not sound that remarkable, but those of you who are serious about your sport will understand. More often than not, our minds, our will power if you like, give out long before our body does. When I trained as an outdoor instructor at Outward Bound in NZ, the motto that was drilled into us, day after day, was "Plus est en vous” – “There is more in you " Meaning that your brain pulls the plug well before your body is actually exhausted.

Every day our instructors used to send us out into the mountains or the rivers or the ocean with the challenge “See if you can persevere at this task until your body gives out.” It rarely did. We rarely succeeded.  As determined as we were, almost always our minds gave in first. “Why am I doing this?” “This hurts. This is hard. This is boring.” Or worse. “I should stop now before I fail and embarrass myself.” Leaving us not just with uncompleted challenges, but also future regrets.

No doubt there will have been those who watched Callum Hawkins collapse and thought him a fool. Why put yourself through that? The pain? The undignified ending? But I tell you this. He may have lost the gold medal, but he won enduring respect. And he found his true limit. He ended that race on a stretcher, but he ended it knowing that he gave everything he had. His body gave out before his willpower did and that is something to be admired.

You know where I am going with this. The majority of you have your own marathon to face over these next few short weeks before the summer break. Preparing for public examinations may not tax your body, but it will tax your brain just as intensely. Your intellectual endurance is just as real as your physical. And the will power and mental fortitude required to push yourself on, through long hours of revision and practice papers, is just the same as the lonely miles of a marathon runner.

So, whether you are in the Fourth Form, building the foundations of your GCSEs or in the Fifth Form, sitting your first ever public exams. Whether you are IB or A Level or BTEC, facing important mocks or sitting the real thing, the final high stakes exams that will secure your university offer. Whatever stage of your academic career you face over these remaining few weeks of the School year, I urge you to push a little harder, beyond where your brain would like you to stop.

Its human nature to want to give up before you risk getting hurt. But unlike that marathon runner, persevering with your study just that little while longer isn’t going to cause you to collapse in a heap in front of millions of people. Your brain may feel like rubber for a while, your eyes may roll, maybe there’s even some dribbling going on. But those few extra hours of perseverance may be the difference between what you think you are capable of and what you actually are.

"Plus est en vous” – “There is more in you" This is the term to discover that. I wish you all grit and determination. And lots of rainy days until the last exam finishes.


There are a few presentations for Rugby carried over from last term as the boys were away competing at the Rosslyn Park 7’s during our final assembly:

The Perrey Thompson Trophy is awarded to a player who has made the most significant contribution to rugby during their time at Bromsgrove. This year’s award is presented to: Oliver Gittoes

1st XV Player of the Year:
This player has played with great commitment and skill all season. This Year’s player of the season is: Ollie Lawrence

The captain of Rugby, who has been awarded his School cap, announced School colours.

House Netball:
All House netball results can now be announced:
Senior Cup:
3rd Hazeldene
2nd Oakley
1st Housman Hall
Senior Plate:
3rd Mary Windsor
2nd Thomas Cookes,
1st Oakley,
Junior Cup:
3rd Oakley
2nd Thomas Cookes,
1st Hazeldene,
Junior Plate:
3rd Oakley
2nd Thomas Cookes,
1st Hazeldene,

Bromsgrove Service

Many of you worked hard for Bromsgrove Service during the Lent term and we now recognise those students who went above and beyond in their service activity. I invite Emily Lou and Amy Nolan forward to receive awards for their efforts.

As a result of their success in the regional event last Autumn, the Big Band were invited to participate in the National Concert Band Festival finals. A competition in which they performed alongside the very best bands in the country, and, by all accounts, rose to the occasion.

The adjudicators gave particular praise to:Imogen-Vaughan Hawkins, Ben Hollingworth, Lucy Trigg and George Bingham. Overall, the band achieved a Gold award, a superb result and I invite all the members of the Big Band to come forward now and receive our congratulations.

Still with Music an congratulations to Vincent Li for winning the Advanced category of the European Piano Teachers’ Association Competition over the holidays. Vincent played two works by Bach and Liszt to take the trophy at this prestigious competition.

School Trips
A large number of you enjoyed the benefits of taking part in organised School trips over the Easter break, including: language trips to Spain and Germany, a History Dept. visit to Berlin, cricketers playing a number of matches in Dubai, CCF cadets taking part in a range shooting camp at Bramcote and over 50 Lower Sixth students visited the Lake District to undertake their Gold D of E practice expedition. My compliments to all who represented the School with pride and were ambassadors for our values and ethos.

Congratulations to the Badminton teams that competed in the regional finals. All teams performed beyond expectation, with both the girls and boys U16 teams finishing runners up and just missing out on a place at the national finals.

Congratulations also to Sam Osborne, who has been selected to compete in the World School Games in Morocco. Another fine ambassador - we wish him well.

Our fencers competed in the ‘West Midlands Age Group Foil Competition’ during the break.
Sam Sung finished 2nd in the ‘Under 16 Boys Foil’
Atticus Chen finished 3rd in the ‘Under 18 Boys Foil’
Elsa Tisa finished 5th in the ‘Under 16 Girls Foil’
Tatiana Morikova finished 7th also in the ‘Under 16 Girls Foil’

Extra praise to both Sam and Atticus, who finished in the top 4 of their respective events, qualifying each of them to attend the ‘2018 British Youth Championship National Age Group Final’ in Sheffield in May.

IB1 Mock examinations will be held this week

IB2 Exam Leave commences at the end of the week

Also on Friday, L6 geographers depart on their field trip and there is a Mock Trial day for 5th and 6th formers interested in Law.

On Saturday, we host our GCSE option morning for those pupils joining the Senior School in September.

Then on Sunday, the combined Prep and Senior Choirs will perform Haydn’s famous Nelson Mass in a concert of classical works in Routh Hall. Also featured in the concert are some orchestral works including performances by pianist Jude Wynter and horn player Josh Osborn Patel, as well as the Fourth Form GCSE musicians. All are welcome to support those taking part in this concert which starts at 5.00pm on Sunday afternoon.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

21st March

Last Updated: 22/03/2018 16:21:44

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 12th March 2018

As is our custom, this final Routh Assembly for the Lent Term is dedicated to celebrating outstanding achievements across the spectrum of your life in the School. Notably the great wealth of sporting achievements, with success at the highest levels in so many different codes. But, also, equally high levels of accomplishment in the other three pillars of Bromsgrove: cultural pursuits, service activities, and, of course, the prime reason you are all here, academic achievements.

Questions in the House

Let me start there then. We are used to acknowledging academic ability by way of end-of-year prizes, exceptional university offers or success in external Olympiads. However, it is to the great credit of this year’s Monitor team that they have successfully added an academic challenge to the plethora of inter-House competitions at Bromsgrove.

I commend the Heads of School especially for their leadership in initiating and successfully running the inaugural “Questions In The House” competition and hope that will now become a permanent fixture in our calendar.

I also commend all who participated for their House in the heats and finals. It is no easy thing to put your intellect on show in the pressure of a public quiz and I thought you all acquitted yourselves well. It wasn’t just a test of memory, it was a test of knowledge and its application; something that we should value above all else.

So, congratulations to the first ever winners and I invite the School House team to come forward to receive the trophy and our admiration.

House Debating
Staying with academic pursuits, over the past few weeks we have seen an impressive range of arguments and counter-arguments put forth by all who have competed in the inter-House debating competitions. The standard in Senior House Debating this year was exceptionally high, with each House demonstrating their oratorical skills on topics ranging from vegetarianism to political assassination.

Again, I commend all who participated and again, after a close final, I announce the winners of Senior House debating 2018 are School House. I invite their team of Archie Holder and Grayson Leversha forward to receive the trophy and our congratulations.

House Drama
Moving to things theatrical. A most enjoyable Fourth Form play last week capped off a great term in our new theatre, which included the 2018 Senior House Drama Competition. An inspiring and highly entertaining event which is growing in quality every year. All 11 Houses produced a play and almost 100 students were involved, with Actor and Guildhall Drama School Teacher Mr, Ed Sayer giving a fine adjudication.

Special mention must go to Housman Hall for their magnificent large scale ensemble performance of The Kitchen by Arnold Wesker and a special prize was awarded to Wendron Gordon for their brave and hilarious performance of Civil Rogues.

The runner up prize for best Actor was awarded to Phoebe Fletcher for her performance as Lily Smalls in Under Milk Wood and runner up best play was given to Elmshurst for their extraordinary physical theatre in Metamorphosis by Steven Berkoff.

However, I invite the two ultimate winners forward to be re-presented with their awards this morning.

Timofey Abbasov collects the Best Actor award for his outstanding portrayal of Gregor Samsa in Metamorphosis – Timofey also was awarded the Performing Arts Prize on the evening.

And Madelaine Barber-Fray collects the Best Play award on behalf of Oakley House for their enchanting and detailed performance of “Under Milk Wood”.

It was very good to see so many performers on the Cobham Stage – many of whom had not been in front of an audience before – and I encourage every one of you to take the opportunity to take part in the future.

Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award

Turning now to service and outdoor pursuits, it gives me great pleasure to present the latest batch of Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards. These presentations happen so frequently at Bromsgrove that you may be forgiven for thinking that attaining Gold is a reasonably easy feat. I assure you, it is not. This School’s participation rate in D of E is amongst the highest in the land and the achievement represents three years of hard work, commitment and personal challenge. As the Upper Sixth discover every year, attaining a Gold D of E award is a powerful asset in your university applications and, in the future, on any professional CV. More importantly though, it is a badge of character and I am proud to invite the following people forward to receive theirs this morning:

Matt Hegarty, Luke Court, Anna Da Costa Martins, Meghan McIntosh, Henry Stone, Olivia Turner
Timofei Chernega, Elouise Brookes, Maria Starikova, Vinzenz Freigassner, Lauren Neilson Watts

National Netball Tournament
We begin the sporting awards with a remarkable recent success. To qualify for the National Finals the 1st Netball team won all of their 14 county and regional qualifying matches to represent the West Midlands.

At the National Finals, despite adverse weather conditions of snow, sleet and high winds, the team adapted their game to the conditions, playing smart netball. They won every match in their group, taking them through to the semi-finals where they faced a very strong Worthing College who they overcame 11-8. They then went on to face Queen Elthelburga’s in the final where they fought hard, but ultimately succumbed. All in all though, 22 games won in a row in the English Schools Competition and only 1 loss, to be crowned the 2nd best team in the country. I invite the team forward to receive their silver medals and our congratulations.

The captains of Badminton, who have been awarded their school caps, have colours to announce. (Heather Lam and Tony Qin)

The captain of Basketball, who has been awarded his school cap, has colours to announce. (Alex Wong)

Cross Country

1.2 Relays
Rescheduled because of the snow but worth the wait when they were finally run last week, I commend every person who ran the 1.2’s for their House. The results were:
Girls House Placings:
3rd Thomas Cookes
2nd Hazeldene
1st Oakley
Fastest Lap: Abi Saker

Boys House Placings:
3rd School
2nd Lyttleton
1st Walters
Fastest Lap: Charlie Sapwell

I would like to invite the captains of Oakley and Walters plus Abi and Charlie forward to collect their trophies.

The Halstead cup for the most improved cross-country runner is awarded to Leonid Goldberg.

The captain of Cross Country, who has been awarded her School cap, has colours to announce. (Abi Saker)

More spirited inter-House competition in Football this term, with the results as follows:
3rd Wendron Gordon
2nd Walters
1st Elmshurst

3rd Elmshurst
2nd Wendron Gordon
1st Walters

I invite the captains of the winning teams forward to receive the trophies.

Football 1st XI Player of the Year is awarded to a player who has led by example in both effort and performance. This years’ player of the year award goes to: James Cox

The captain of football, who has been awarded his School cap, has colours to announce. (James Cox)

Inter House Hockey
with the placings as follows:
3rd Lupton
2nd Walters
1st School
I invite the captain of School House to collect the trophy.

Girls Hockey Player of the Year:
A tight contest, with many good candidates in consideration. This year, the award is presented to Claudia Moberley – please come forward.

The John Downey Cup is awarded to a Hockey player who has contributed fully during his time at Bromsgrove. Please come forward - Gabriel Thornton

The captains of Hockey, who have been awarded their School caps, have colours to announce. (Will Randall and Megan Longden)

Netball player of the year:
This year’s netball player of the year goes to someone who not only gives 100% in both training and matches but also has real impact when on court. The deserving recipient is: Rhea Patel.

The captain of Netball, who has been awarded her School cap, has colours to announce. (Imogen Faulconbridge)


The captain of Squash has colours to announce (Jacob)

The captains of Swimming ,who have been awarded their School caps, have colours to announce (Tristan Bland and Rachel Weller)

Table Tennis
Finally, after another remarkable season, I invite Karen Chu forward to receive her School cap for Table Tennis.

To all who have been honoured this morning and to all who achieved their own personal milestones, goals or private ambitions in sport, performance, service or academia this term, I repeat my congratulations.

Remember though, success is relative. There is always someone better than we are and we are always better than someone else is. The important thing is not whether you have a national title that others covet, but whether, in your heart, you are genuinely proud of yourself for what you have achieved. Nobody knows your own situation, your challenges, hopes and aspirations better than you do.

So, as you prepare to leave for Easter, whether to study for vital examinations next term or to take a well-earned break, I encourage you to look inside your own heart and ask “What did you achieve these past three months of which you can be most proud?” What matters is not a trophy, a badge, a certificate. Rather, the risk and stretch and hard graft and dedication that lay behind it. Ultimately, the only accolades, the only pride in your achievements that matter, are your own. And there are plenty amongst you who should feel proud this term.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

12th March 2018

Last Updated: 12/03/2018 11:42:48

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 12th March 2018

Reading: Excerpt from Locksley Hall by Tennyson

Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. 

Thought For The Week

Good morning.

Despite that reference to Spring, you wouldn’t really know it has arrived, not here in Bromsgrove anyway. Meteorologically, the first day of Spring was a fortnight ago, March 1st. Astronomically, the first day is next Tuesday, 20th March, when the equinox occurs. Either way, it remains wet, cool and overcast. Drab and dreary.

Yet Spring will come, as it must, and with it all the stirrings of nature. There are already buds on the trees around the School. The purple crocus along Masters’ Walk are out and the daffodils are poised to bloom. Squirrels are reappearing, so too the woodpeckers. The birds and bees will soon start doing what birds and bees do in the Spring. And so too, I imagine, will some of you. As the poem said, “In the Spring a young man's fancy, lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

Spring is traditionally a time of creation, new beginnings. The warmer weather and longer days are a biological trigger. Lambs are born, leaves sprout on trees, flowers bloom. Birds get loud and raucous, calling for a mate, preening and showing off. Did I say birds? I meant teenagers.

“In the Spring a young man's fancy, lightly turns to thoughts of love.” I get that. I get that in every country, in every culture, since time immemorial, Spring has triggered the same yearning in people as it has in plants and animals. Love will be in the air. I’m not unrealistic. However, for you, there are a few other competing demands before you all start strutting around like peacocks, showing off your plumage and trying to attract a mate.

The first is that this is a school, not a dating agency. Or a nightclub. There are standards of conduct and decorum expected on these grounds, of which you are all aware. Public displays of affection are not acceptable. Keep private things private and away from School. Especially for those of you who board here, the rules about physical relationships are very clear. Please don’t be tempted to put yourselves in situations that might jeopardise your place in the School.

However, the second reason to try and control yourselves when romance blossoms is that it is a major distraction you could do without right now. Spring may be the season of love but it’s also the season of examinations. In three short months the School year will be over and then you can spend the whole summer looking adoringly at each other. In the meantime, every minute spent staring longingly into someone else’s eyes is a minute not spent staring at a textbook. I’m not saying deny nature, just defer it by a few weeks.
No point in denying it. I winced a little recently when I read about the Headmaster of a prestigious school not too far from here, who has publicly threatened to severely punish any pupil who has a boyfriend or girlfriend. He began by saying that he “will not hesitate” to expel pupils that have “any sexual contact” in school. Which, to be fair, is what we say too.

But then he went further, saying "I strongly disapprove of any boyfriend/girlfriend relationships - and it will always affect any university reference I write (meaning - any student in a relationship will definitely get a worse reference from me).”

Then he said "Relationships can start at university - not at School. I will be talking to staff and, as in previous years, I will put together a list of any student with a boyfriend or girlfriend. These students … can expect to find a new school in September.”

Finally, he added: “There are plenty of students that wish to attend this School without the diversion of romance - and these students can replace those students whose focus is on bf/gf relationships." Phew.
I’m right with him on the whole distraction thing. But making a list of couples and then writing them bad UCAS references? Really? That’s a little bit ‘1984’. Not surprisingly, he drew a bit of critical attention in the media. Some commentators said that, in trying to enforce rules against something as natural as teenage relationships, he was behaving like King Canute. King Canute, the 12th Century ruler who famously tried to use his armies to hold back the tide of the ocean.

Which is actually a misrepresentation of the poor old King. His story has not been treated well by history. Today most people refer to him when they are trying to make a point about foolish, arrogant actions. If somebody is stubbornly trying to do something impossible, we may say they are acting like King Canute.
In fact, he was the complete opposite. A man of great humility. He was a supremely powerful ruler and people would flock to his court to praise and honour him. He didn’t enjoy all that flattery (unlike a certain President). So to make it cease, he marched them all down to the seaside, stood at the water’s edge and commanded the tides to stop before his robes got wet. When that didn’t happen, he made the point that his worldly power was nothing compared to that of God, who was the only one that could control the forces of nature. So to be like King Canute is actually to admit there are certain things you can’t control, not the other way around. Not arrogant, humble.

As with the natural elements, so too with human nature. When you try to stop something that is part of our natural human experience, two things happen. First, you drive the behaviour underground. That’s the reason the Irish dance the way they do. Apparently.

The story goes that centuries ago, the Catholic Church in Ireland frowned upon dancing. It was frivolous and lustful and led to immorality. So the clergy forbade it. But the urge to dance is another powerful human desire, just like having relationships. So the people learned to do it without being spotted.

Straight arms, straight face. Stiff upper body and no smiles. Standing behind the bar, or a fence, or a window. Meanwhile, down below, the legs and feet are going nuts. I could be doing Riverdance right now behind this lectern for all you know. And the priest passes by on his bicycle, past the farm boys and girls standing behind the hedgerow at the crossroads, innocently chatting. Thinks “nothing going on here”. Yet behind the hedge, it’s all hips and thighs. You can’t hold back the tide of human expression.

The bigger problem with trying to ban natural human instincts though, is that you never teach people how to manage their impulses themselves. What’s the point of preparing you for academic success at university if we haven’t equipped you with the self-discipline to cope without rules and regulations? The emotional intelligence to be police yourself? Regulate your own desires?

I suppose I could ask the staff to draw up lists of those they suspect may have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Covert CCTV cameras, monitor your phones, pay informants – I don’t know. Then we could haul you in and kick you out. Excise your wickedness from the School. Or, we could set out some expectations of your conduct, explain the reasoning, agree the boundaries between home and School, as wed do. And then get on with the business of helping you thrive as mature, independent young adults. School life then private life. Study then romance. Spring then Summer. Simple really. 


Table Tennis
On Saturday, Jade Ngan and Karen Chu were the first Bromsgrove pupils to participate in the National Table Tennis Team final. They played really well to finish 4th in the country - a superb performance and something of which we should be extremely proud.

I invite both Jade and Karen to come forward and receive their trophies and our congratulations.

LAMDA Results
Well done to the following pupils who have passed their LAMDA examinations, I invite them to receive their certificates:

Anna Connell Acting Grade 4 – MERIT
Isra Suleman Acting Grade 4 – MERIT
Annabel Schulze Acting Grade 4 – DISTINCTION
Theresa Seisl Acting Grade 5 – DISTINCTION

Duke of Edinburgh
Another two D of E Silver Awards have been attained - I invite Christopher Osborne and Freddie Edge to come and receive their Badges.

The U14 Boys played in the Midlands finals and after beating Repton School 2-0 in the semi-final and Uppingham School 6-2 in the final, became Midland’s Champions. They will play in the national final which is held at the Olympic stadium in April. A superb achievement and I invite them to receive their medals.

Cross Country
Good performances at the prestigious Attingham Park Relays against some very strong teams, with Abbie Saker and Charlie Sapwell recording the fastest laps overall in the competition. Our Girls Team did very well to come 3rd overall - I invite them forward to receive their medals.


Well done to all of you, including teachers, who were involved in the charity Dodgeball event during Friday lunchtime, raising money and awareness for Sense UK.

Congratulations to those string players who were amongst 100 performers involved in last Thursday’s String Extravaganza in Routh.

Both the Boys’ and Girls’ teams beat Rugby School on Saturday.

Well done to the Senior Basketball team who beat Stowe 64-61 in overtime. A heart-stopping game I’m told.

Congratulations to the 1st XI, who finished their Football season undefeated. Despite overwhelming pressure throughout their final match they were just unable to score the winning goal. Meanwhile, the U15A had a comfortable 3-0 victory over Hereford Cathedral School.

As already mentioned it has been a busy week for our hockey teams. The U16s played well at the Midlands finals, but unfortunately just missed out on qualifying for the semi-final.

The U15 girls deserve praise for reaching the Independent School’s National semi-final but unfortunately did not convert their chances, loosing narrowly against Reigate Grammar School.

Well done to the Boys U15 A team who beat Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School to qualify for the Independent School’s Cup quarterfinal.

The girls’ teams continued their fine string of performances winning 8 of the matches played against Repton School on Saturday including a good win for the 1st team.

Rugby 7s
The U15 team won their group at the Solihull tournament, winning 5 games but then unfortunately losing in the quarter final against Warwick School.

Table Tennis
The School Team lost a closely fought match that came down to the last game against Prince Henry’s High School.

Our swimming squad competed at St. Pauls School on Thursday evening where Sam Osborne broke the School record in the 50m butterfly, which had stood for 10 years.

On Friday, the squad swam at the Olympic Pool against 144 other schools. The standard was very high and the boys and girls teams finished a credible 15th and 16th respectively.

Today we have our Senior House Debating Final during Head of Year.

Tomorrow there is a Whole School Drugs Awareness day.

Also on Tuesday, there is a teatime concert at 5.30pm in Routh to which all are most welcome. This concert will feature the Year 9 GCSE Music Group, the Saxophone Ensemble and plenty of soloists too.

Wednesday is a big day for the CCF, as the Biennial inspection will be taking place.

Also on Wednesday evening, the IB2 and A level musicians will give a recital as part of their academic study. Please contact Mr McKelvey if you would like to attend this special event.
At 4pm on Thursday, we have an Evensong School Service.

It is Own Clothes Day on Friday in aid of ‘Papyrus’.

The next Marmite Movie of 2018 will also be on Friday evening at 5.15pm. Dr Ruben has already emailed Marmite students – please reply as soon as possible if you will be attending.

Additionally, World Wildlife Day has been rescheduled for this Friday. There is an informative talk in the LRC and a chance to encounter some animals at lunchtime; we are looking forward to this fantastic event.

Also on Friday, the IB2 end-of-course Art Exhibition is taking place from 5.15 to 6.30 in the ADT building.

And on Friday and Saturday, the Drama Department presents the IVth Form Play ‘Grimm Tales’ at 7pm in Cobham Theatre. All members of school are warmly encouraged to attend for an opportunity to revisit the nightmares of their childhood in what promises to be a funny and highly entertaining evening. The play is in just one Act and it is anticipated that it will end at around 8pm. Tickets are free but please book online using the school box office.

Finally, we wish our senior Netball team all the best when they compete in the national finals at Welwyn Garden City on Saturday.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

5th March 2018

Last Updated: 06/03/2018 12:48:18

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 5th March 2018

Thought For The Week

Good morning.

Let me start by commending you all on the maturity and good humour that you demonstrated when last week’s stormy conditions disrupted our normal routines. My particular gratitude to the staff who covered for colleagues who couldn’t make it in to work, admiration for Day pupils who were able to get here safely and chose to do so, and congratulations to every one of the Boarders, who made the best of any challenges that the snow brought. I was especially impressed that so many of you still turned out to Routh on Saturday evening to support your peers in the superb Cultures Connect concert. Amidst the disruptions, I left it a little late to organise a reader for today. So, rather than drop it on one of you at the last minute, let me read it myself. It is a poem, many of you will know it:

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wherever you were and wherever you went outdoors last Friday and over the weekend, you may have seen a sight we do not often see. A sight that is only afforded to us when it snows or perhaps sometimes on a beach or in mud. That is, a view of the paths that people take. A visible record of their route. There for all to see, their footprints in the snow.

It is a fascinating sight, if you take a moment to stop and consider it. Written on the landscape, a record of where people have been, often long after they have been there. The heavily trafficked routes, the paths everyone takes. So well walked that the snow is packed down to ice, or worn away completely.
Those visible trails also identify our shortcuts. Highlight the places where people cut corners as they head with determination to their destination. Perhaps in a hurry to get out of the cold, perhaps late, perhaps just lazy. And there are footprints too, of the odd, lone individual who has walked off on their own path. A single set of prints leading somewhere different. The novelty of a big snowfall is that it not only paints our familiar buildings and grounds in a fresh light, but it also offers a glimpse of where we go within them.

A few months ago, I did an exercise with the Heads of School, helping them consider the reach of their influence. I gave them each a map of the School and asked them to draw, with an unbroken line, the journeys they had made that day, from the moment they woke up or arrived at School. Everywhere they had walked. When we combined them, the maps gave a powerful picture of where they were most commonly seen and which parts of the School they never saw.

Footprints in the snow do the same thing, on a larger scale. We do we go each day? What habits do we follow without thinking? What are our geographic patterns, the traces of our shared lives here? If we’d had a drone on Friday, it would have made a great photo.

One of those independent trails that hived off from the main path and went on a course of its own was made by Miss Scannell. She and I set off for the Prep School when the weather was at its worst. She wanted to avoid the icy paths but still, I was shocked when she strode off in a straight line, diagonally across Gordon Green. Not being brave enough to argue with Miss Scannell though, I followed obediently along behind.
The wind was whipping us, driving sharp ice crystals and drifting snow into our faces. I was hunched forward, concentrating on following Miss Scannell’s footsteps, when I was suddenly reminded of a time when I was mountaineering in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

I have mentioned before that when I left school I took some time off to go mountain climbing. I think I have also told you of my climbing partner, a skinny, lentil-eating hippy called Brian. Anyway, the trek across Gordon Green reminded me of days walking in blizzard conditions across glaciers and up deep snow ridges behind Brian.

In the early days, I was always happy for him to lead. Being the first to walk through fresh snow is hard work. It is called step-plugging and takes effort to punch each new foothold. Much easier to follow on behind, walking in the pre-made holes.

But after a while, it becomes tiresome to follow. Brian was not as tall as me and his stride was shorter. As much as I appreciated not having to break new ground, I soon grew frustrated at having to walk unnaturally, to shorten my pace and waddle like a duck. Plus, I often thought I could see a better route than the one he was taking.

By the end of our time in the Alps, we had settled into just following our own route, punching two lines up a ridge like a broken zipper. Harder work, but ultimately more satisfying to have chosen our own path.

I mention that today because your paths have been much on my mind recently and not just your tracks in the snow. I read some research recently about how people first make decisions about the career paths they end up following. Perhaps worryingly, the single biggest determinant was parental influence. Either doing exactly what your Mum or Dad do, or being directed by them.

That’s not surprising of course; they are the people that know you best and also those from whom you first learn about the concept of working. My father worked at an airport and as a consequence I spent my school years thinking only in those terms when considering a what I might do for a living. It was my main experience of work. At age 17, I was all set to be an air traffic controller. Perhaps I would be today, were it not for a radical Careers Counsellor, who was also a long-haired hippy (there were lots of them around in the Seventies). He politely proofread my carefully handwritten application form, then tore it in half and replaced it with one for Teachers College.

Me, who was ready to bolt out of the school gates at the end of the Sixth Form and never look back. Yet it is thanks to him that I have the most fulfilling job in the world. I could have followed in my father’s footsteps, but how long before that journey became uncomfortable, before I realised they were not my own?

I’m not saying you should ignore your parent’s advice. Nor that you shouldn’t follow them into their field of work if it is of interest to you. But at least consider not just what you want to do, but why.
Just like the snowy footprints around the campus, maybe take a moment to see the multitude of paths that are open to you before you put your head down and follow another person’s trail.

That poem of Robert Frost’s isn’t just famous because of the elegance with which it conjures up the image of someone standing at the edge of a wood, pondering whether to take the well-worn path or the overgrown one. It resonates across the years since it was written because it also speaks of the human condition.

That we all have choices, all the time. And the one thing worse than making the wrong choice is not recognising how many choices you had to begin with.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

There are times when it seems easier to follow in someone else’s footsteps – your parents, an older brother or sister, the course your friends are taking. Especially if you get to the Sixth Form and you’re still not sure what you want to do. Which is perfectly natural by the way.

But if, as the poet say, your decision may ultimately be the one “that has made all the difference,” at least make it your choice. I don’t need to plug the great work that Miss Leech and the Bromsgrove Futures team do – you all know that. But I do encourage you to use their services with a mind that is open to all the choices you may have when you leave this School. There are many paths before you – try to see them all.


Cultures Connect Concert
As I mentioned at the start, Saturday evening saw a magnificent expression of the cultural wealth of the School. I commend every person who had the courage and the pride to take to the stage and share a little of their language, traditions and heritage. I was equally impressed with the genuine respect and encouragement from the audience that packed Routh Hall.

Congratulations also to those who performed in last week’s lunchtime concert, wonderful entertainment from some new performers and old hands alike. There is one more evening concert this term on Tuesday 13th March at 5.30pm and we encourage you to attend.

Obviously there is little to report on the sporting front as all weekend fixtures were cancelled due to the snow. However, well done to:
The Boys’ basketball team who beat Old Swinford Hospital School 61-47.

The first and second netball teams, who beat King Edward VI School, Stratford in both matches.


A reminder to Upper Sixth that a number of photographs are scheduled for period 4 and lunchtime today.

Then at Head of Year, your tutors will be discussing the latest round of AEO grades.

Last week’s weather conditions also led to the Senior House Drama competition being postponed until to this evening at 7pm in Cobham Theatre. It still promises to be a terrifically entertaining and varied evening and all are welcome. Please speak to your Houseparents who will have tickets they can give you.

On Tuesday evening we have the Lower Sixth Parents’ Evening in the Arena.

On Wednesday, we look forward to the final of ‘Questions in the House’ at 4pm in Routh Hall.

Thursday, sees a String Extravaganza Concert at 4.15pm in Routh Hall featuring players from Year 3 to the Upper 6th together on the stage.

On Friday, Old Bromsgrovian Taome Jennings (ex Hz) is returning to speak of her experiences of studying at Exeter University. If you are an UVIth student holding an offer to study at Exeter, or a LVIth considering that university, please email Miss Leech for a seat and early lunch pass. Start time 1.25 pm in the Lecture Theatre.

Also on Friday, there will be a charity dodge ball event to raise funds for Sense UK in the Arena at 1.20pm. £2 to watch and doughnuts on sale for £1.50 during the event. All are welcome to come along and enjoy the fun.

On Sunday in Chapel there will be a short Service for Mothering Sunday at 10.30am. All are welcome to attend – with or without their mums or parents.

Finally , this year’s Research Competition focuses on the legacy of WWI – asking you to identify which development from 1914-1918 has the biggest impact today. The competition takes place on Saturday March 17th between 5-7pm in the LRC. Interested students should email Dr Rimmer to request a place, preferably with two other team members’ names.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

26th February 2018

Last Updated: 26/02/2018 08:28:51

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday, 26th February 2018

Reading: Thomas Cookes (Francesca Mellor)

Excerpt from “The Knowledge Illusion” by Sloman & Fernbach

[A researcher] calculated how much information people have on hand—what the size of their knowledge base is—by assuming they learn at this same rate over the course of a seventy-year lifetime. Every technique he tried led to roughly the same answer: 1 gigabyte. It remains a puny amount. It’s just a tiny fraction of what a modern laptop can retain. Human beings are not warehouses of knowledge.

From one perspective, this is shocking. There is so much to know and, as functioning adults, we know a lot. We watch the news and don’t get hopelessly confused. We engage in conversations about a wide range of topics. We get at least a few answers right when we watch [a quiz show]. We all speak at least one language. Surely we know much more than a fraction of what can be retained by a small machine that can be carried around in a backpack.

But this is only shocking if you believe the human mind works like a computer. The model of the mind as a machine, designed to encode and retain memories, breaks down when you consider the complexity of the world we interact with. It would be futile for memory to be designed to hold tons of information because there’s just too much out there.

Thought For The Week

Good morning.

Here is your starter for 10 this morning. Quick quiz question. Ready?

How many school shootings have there been in America so far this year?

If you are thinking 18, you would be right. And you would be completely wrong. In the immediate aftermath of the latest horrific mass killing, this time at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida two weeks ago, it was reported that the tragedy was the 18th shooting in an American school since New Year’s Day. That truly shocking statistic came from a nonprofit organisation called ‘Everytown for Gun Safety’ which works to prevent gun violence and is most famous for its running tally of school shootings. A reputable watchdog, whose report was quickly picked up and repeated by mainstream media around the world.

18 school shootings in less than two months. A shocking statistic. It seemed just too outrageously awful to be true. After a bit of fact-checking, it turned out not to be. Or not quite, at least. It seems that ‘Everytown for Gun Safety’ uses its own, very broad interpretation of what constitutes a school shooting. In fact, they count any incident where a firearm was discharged anywhere near a school, whether or not anyone was injured. So their tally of 18 school shootings included an accidental discharge by a CCF instructor and a gang shooting in a carpark of a which was school closed for the holidays.

So true, but not true. Fake news, as my friend The Donald would say. Which was not helpful to those who tried to use the statistic to support their argument for greater gun control in the US. Although Mr Trump is going to give guns to all the nation’s teachers, to make schools are “hard targets for crazies”, so I’m sure everything will be just fine now. Nothing could go wrong with that genius plan.

However, back to my quiz question. If you thought the answer was 18, it did at least indicate that you follow the mainstream news and have a reasonable general knowledge. Those of you who had no idea though, should not despair. Even if you hadn’t followed the story, you almost certainly knew enough to have had an educated guess.

Your thinking probably went like this:

• I don’t know the answer but…
• America has a lot of these shootings each year
• But we’re only two months into the year, so it will be a fraction of the yearly toll
• I have only heard of the one shooting in Florida recently
• But then again, he wouldn’t have asked a quiz question like that if the answer was so obvious.
• So, more than one but probably less than 10?
You would have made a reasoned guess.

Of course, if we were in a less formal setting and if it wasn’t a quiz but rather, just a general question that I asked you in passing, the majority of you would probably also have done what is now a natural part of everyday life and looked online. Siri or Alexa - How many school shootings have there been in America so far this year?

The problem is, Siri and Alexa have no chance whatsoever of spotting fake news. If someone put the number 18 online somewhere, especially in lots of places, that will be the answer the internet comes up with. It still takes your general knowledge, your awareness of the world and how it works, to apply logic and likelihood to that answer.

What then is the place of accessing the web when it comes to your use of knowledge?

On one hand, it is useful to be able to confirm answers, to back up points that you want to make, to find evidence for your argument from a million online sources.

On the other hand, there is nothing more tedious and more likely to kill a friendly, face-to face debate than someone who constantly stops to check things on their phone. That is the death of a conversation.

The answer of course, is moderation. Knowing when it is useful to slow down and check your facts online and when it is better to trust your own knowledge, education and common sense. As you heard in the reading, research suggests your brain can hold about a gigabyte of information. Just a drop compared to the oceans of the internet, but still more than enough for you to get by as a fully-functioning member of intelligent society.

The challenge for schools is, how do we teach you that moderation? How do we help you to discern when you should commit things to memory and when it is ok to rely on Wikipedia? Some schools are so fearful of the potential for distraction that smart phones pose to pupils, they ban them onsite completely. Perhaps there’s something in that?

In 2016, the London School of Economics conducted research which concluded that grades improved when phones were removed from the classroom. (I don’t really know why we still call them phones – making a telephone call is about the last thing that most of us do with them these days. Let’s just call them digital devices). Anyway, this comprehensive study covered 130,000 pupils at 91 schools, and the researchers found that following a ban on phone use, the schools’ test scores improved by 6.4 percent.

But I’m not convinced. Surely the issue is what you are doing on the devices in class? If you are updating your status or watching YouTube clips, of course your grades would suffer. But if you have the maturity and self-control to use the infinite information of the internet to aid your understanding of a new topic, that must help. It’s about what you are doing with the device.

Our job is to teach you more than just academic content. We want you to become polite, socially aware, respectful of others. More than that; we want you to be interesting and interested people. That’s why it is not appropriate for you to be glued to your phone as you move around the School grounds. Your social obligations in this community include making eye contact with others, offering a greeting, a smile. Being aware and alert. In the moment. Walking along like a zombie, head down, oblivious to the world, are not manners that will take you far in life and we want to train you out of those poor habits while you are here.

But in a classroom, with the permission of your teacher, why wouldn’t we encourage you to use a digital device to seek answers and conduct research? Again, the challenge is moderation and, as you become older and more responsible for your own progress through the world, self-discipline. I would far rather fight a few battles to help you manage your internal distractions, and your fear of missing out, than let you grow up believing that such temptations didn’t exist.

Here’s a final bonus question then: In a recent survey of over 2,000 students aged between 11 and 15, what was the thing they named as being most likely to put them off doing their homework? The answer wasn’t boredom or an inability to understand the task. The most popular response was YouTube. Almost a quarter of respondents cited YouTube as their biggest distraction.

18% said Snapchat was most to blame for diverting their attention, 12% said Facebook, and 6% said Instagram. Television featured down the bottom somewhere.

The greatest challenge that most of you face in achieving good academic grades is not your intelligence or the size of your brain. You can retain a gigabyte remember – more than enough to get you through all of your examinations. No, your greatest limitation is self-discipline.

As for the knowledge that is stored, not in your virtual memory but in your actual memory, let us celebrate that this afternoon at the first-ever inter-House academic quiz “Questions in the House”. The Monitors have done a superb job of organising an enjoyable and testing competition that celebrates human, rather than digital, recall.

So encourage the resident Masterminds in your House and let’s see what happens when Siri, Alexa and Wiki aren’t around to help out. Best wishes to all of the 55 contestants today. 

Congratulations to our swimmers who competed in the Abingdon individual and team sprints on Thursday. All swimmers competed well, with particular credit going to the U14 boys’ team who were victorious in securing gold.
I invite that team forward to receive their trophy.


It has been a busy week for our equestrian team. On Monday, they competed in the National Schools’ show jumping qualifier against more than a hundred other riders, coming an impressive 4th in the 90cm event.
Then on Thursday they competed in the National Schools dressage competition qualifier, where our preliminary team came 3rd, with only 6 points separating them and the winners. I would commend Victoria Moberley in particular, who did exceptionally well in the novice individuals competition, where she was placed 4th. An impressive team effort; it is great to see increasing numbers representing the School at equestrian sport.

Well done to the Boys’ and Girls’ teams who both beat Cheltenham College 6 – 3.

Cross Country
Congratulations to Natalie Hatfield and Abbie Saker for their selection to represent the West Midlands region in the London Mini Marathon, which is run on the same day as the London marathon.

It was pleasing to see so many athletes running around the School grounds on Saturday afternoon in a league cross-country race. Well done to our highest placed runners: Orla Walker 2nd, Lena Siller 5th, Emily Gittoes 9th and Charles Sapwell 8th.


It was equally pleasing to finally be able to watch some football being played at home on Saturday, with the 1st and 2nd XI’s playing well to win their games against Bedford Modern School. Well done also to the U15’s for their draw.

The U14 A,B,C and U15 A and U15 B teams all registered good wins against Bloxham School.

We hosted an U14 Netball tournament that finished in a 3-way tie with Bromsgrove, Oakham and Redmaids School each having won 4 matches and losing 1. Bromsgrove finished runners-up behind Oakham on goal difference.

The rest of our netball teams played Oakham School in a block fixture and there were good wins for U14 B, U15 A and 1st teams.

As I have already mentioned, we look forward to the first rounds of the “Questions in the House” Competition that will take place in Routh Concert Hall and Cobham Theatre. Fourth Form please go straight there at the beginning of Tutor time, ready for a prompt start.

The next Lunchtime Concert takes place in Routh Concert Hall on Tuesday, all are welcome to attend.

Tomorrow we also host a visit from Nottingham University to talk about studying at this ‘Red Brick’ and Russell Group university, always a popular choice with Bromsgrove pupils. Email Mrs Ashcroft if you would like a seat at 1.25pm in the Lecture Theatre.

As I’m sure you are aware, Wednesday sees our traditional 1.2 relays, run around the School grounds from 4 pm - 5.15 pm.
Then on Thursday you are all warmly encouraged to come and support the Senior House Drama Competition from 7-9pm in Cobham Theatre. Nearly 100 performers from all Houses competing in what promises to be a hugely entertaining and varied programme. Please speak to your Houseparent to book seats for you.

To round off a busy week, on Friday we host another World Wildlife Day. This year's theme is about big cats and their conservation. There will be live animals (presumably not lions) and guest speakers in the LRC at lunchtime for the event. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Finally, the debate topic for next Friday 2nd March is “This House would support a temporary ceasefire in Syria”.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

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