The Headmaster's Weekly Routh Address

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 

19 June

Last Updated: 19/06/2017 09:40:05

A lot has happened in the UK since we last came together as a School, much of it upsetting. Most recently of course, the appalling horror of the fire in the Grenfell Tower in London. In the past, we have stood to pay our respects in this assembly when lives have been lost or permanently altered by such tragedies. However, today we will join the rest of the country in observing our minute’s silence at 11:00am this morning. The Chapel bell will toll and wherever you happen to be at that moment, I encourage you to stand in respectful silence and offer your thoughts and prayers for all who have suffered.

Sadly, the fire was not the only tragedy of recent months. Terrorism has again struck in Britain, repeatedly, and awfully close to home. First the attacks on London Bridge, then the Manchester Arena bombing, then the murders at the Borough Markets. For many of you, those will be familiar locations.

And then, although nothing like as traumatic as the atrocities I have just listed, the country has also endured the political upheaval of yet another messy and divisive election campaign, with arguments that have unsettled many. And to cap it all off, we are now in the middle of a heat wave.

So, I hope it is not too hot for you? That you aren’t going to melt in all this heat, both literal and metaphorical? Because, apparently, you are all snowflakes. That’s what the popular media are calling you. The “snowflake generation.” By which they mean that the young adults of the 2010s are supposedly more fragile than young people of previous generations. Less able to deal with any pressure. More prone to taking offence. Too emotionally vulnerable to cope with news that is not what they want to hear, or views that challenge their own. Less resilient.

Let me be clear, snowflakes, this is not intended as a compliment. The term is derogatory.

The good news is, it’s not entirely your fault. Apparently, your parents must share some of the blame. According to sociologists, who love grouping millions of people into convenient stereotypes, the snowflake generation have been brought up by their parents in ways that give them an inflated sense of their own precious uniqueness. Protected from bad news and difficult situations.

Like snowflakes, your generation has allegedly been taught to believe that each of you is perfect, unique and flawless. Raised to think that life revolves around them and their views. Never challenged or put to the test. Hence, the propensity to melt whenever bad things happen and the noise and nastiness of the world all gets too much. Or dissolving when they are confronted with the heat of somebody contradicting or challenging them.

Yours is not the only uncool generation of course. I am the last of the Baby Boomers, those born in huge numbers in the two decades following the Second World War. We allegedly had everything in a time of plenty and have then systematically gone about screwing up the economy, environment, social services anything else on the planet we could get our hands on.

We also produced the next generation, Generation X. Who, despite being arguably the best educated generation are also supposedly so damaged by the behaviour of their Baby Boomer parents, they have become the so-called “lost generation.” Highly sceptical, narcissistic and without direction in life.

Gen X was followed, unsurprisingly, by Gen Y. Born in the 80’s & 90’s, also known as the Millennials. Digital natives who never knew a world without the internet. Savvy, fashion conscious, independent thinkers. Which all sounds very cool, gives them a tendency to think that they are the best thing ever born and accordingly, the world owes them a living.

And then along came you guys. Generation Z to some, the Snowflakes to others. Maybe it is not just your parents who are at fault. Maybe the internet is also to blame for your fragility? If Gen Y were digitally savvy, you are digitally saturated. You are bombarded by unrelenting waves of social media. Which may be fine if it is all rosy good news and smiley face emojis. But not so good if it is a torrent of graphic stories and images about horror on your doorstep. Who wouldn’t feel vulnerable and afraid?

If you have the will to read them, the details of the horrors that have occurred in London, Manchester or the Grenfell Tower are almost too enormous to contemplate. Perhaps, like me, you have been torn between wanting to read each individual victim’s story so as to honour them, yet wanting to click away because each tale seems too unbearable. When tragedy strikes this close to home, it is all too easy to imagine that it might have been you and your loved ones.

But if you are such delicate little snowflakes, why then are you not all emotionally crippled? Why aren’t you all hiding in your rooms this morning, too terrified to face the world? Why aren’t you melting in the face of these appalling stories and the pressure and anxiety and fears they produce?

Because you are not snowflakes. I don’t care what sociologists or mainstream media or internet memes say, it is not my experience that your generation are all meek and timid. You are not fragile little flowers. I think that you are actually quite resilient. Remarkably so. Of course you have been upset and unsettled by all that you have read and seen in recent weeks – who hasn’t? But if attending this School has taught you anything, surely it is that challenges are there to be faced, not avoided. And that the best way to cope with pressure is to confront it, not turn away. And to stand strong together, rather than to retreat into your own little bubble.

The way we learn to cope with the big pressures that life will throw at us is by first tackling the smaller ones. Examinations, sporting contests, auditions, university applications, leadership selections – you will all feel the heat at some stage during your School life. And more besides. Relationships, family pressures, disciplinary issues – there’s plenty to challenge your self-confidence, plenty to stir your fears and anxieties.
We could make much of that go away of course. We could abandon competitions so nobody loses. Stop selecting leaders. Have open book tests. No deadlines. Cancel exams. Close the School when it gets too hot. But how does that prepare you for life after Bromsgrove? For the day you first get rejected from a job application? Or turned down for a date?

If you have found aspects of this past year at Bromsgrove challenging, try to see that as a good thing. You are still here, still going strong. You are resilient.

And if you can cope with the smaller setbacks in your personal life, you can cope with the larger, existential threats that exist in the world. I reject the snowflake label and, as the year draws to a close, I encourage you to take a moment to feel proud of yourselves for your fortitude and your resilience. You are tougher than people give you credit for. Who knows, maybe history will come to know you as the Elastic Generation. Born to be stretched but able to bounce back. Anything but snowflakes.

8 May

Last Updated: 08/05/2017 10:05:04

We have two historic ceremonies to perform this morning.

First is the presentation of the Housman Verse Prize. This competition honours our most famous Old Bromsgrovian, the great poet A E Housman, who once lived in the building we now call Housman Hall and whose poems helped define an age in England. The verse that is carved into the large stone ball outside the Admin Building comes from one of those poems.

Inviting you to make submissions, the Housman Verse Prize each year upholds a School tradition that dates back almost to the time of his death nearly 80 years ago. Congratulations to Abbah Abbah on winning this year's competition.  

The second traditional ceremony this morning is to commission our new School leaders for the year ahead. As the current Monitors head off on Examination Leave in a couple of weeks’ time, the new team take over and assume responsibility for upholding the good order of the School.

The selection of Monitors is no easy task and I thank all who offered nominations through the recent poll. The insights of many academic and pastoral staff have also helped in the selection of the pupils we will make up this morning. Consideration has covered the entirety of your time at School, not just the past few weeks. That is an encouragement for those of you in the Fourth and Fifth Forms to realise that your conduct today will have benefits in the future. That said, nobody is perfect and mistakes made in the past don’t automatically preclude selection in the future, as long as you learn from them.

For those of you new to the School and to this leadership selection process, you need to understand that being a Monitor is a responsibility, not a reward. If the selection criteria were simply to reward good people, most in this room would be appointed. Prizes for being excellent are for prizegiving.

Although it is a job, requiring a certain skill set of leadership abilities, there were many more suitable applicants than there are positions, so selections had to be made. Just because the best two dozen were chosen, doesn’t mean that there aren’t many other people in the Sixth Form who have the potential to lead. Some will be disappointed, but in that disappointment is a chance to show character and resilience. There are more leadership decisions to be made shortly, with respect to Heads of House, House Monitors, Captains of Sport and leads in other School activities. I encourage those who desire to lead to continue to prove their worth.

Like any job, being a School Monitor has a Job Description. It includes upholding the traditions and ethos of the School and that can be a heavy burden. Like me, the people we make up this morning have now become stewards of the School’s 500 year history. They are charged with maintaining standards. Upholding Bromsgrove’s reputation.

So why call them Monitors? Mr McClure, who is the font of all knowledge, tells me that the word monitor comes from Latin and means “to advise and warn”. If you think about the monitors on the dashboard of a car, that makes sense. The speedometer, advising you of your speed. Or the GPS monitor, advising the best route. A fuel gauge, warning of an emptying tank. Or a red light warning of overheating. We appreciate the guidance and, whilst we might be annoyed by a warning that may interrupt what we’re doing, we know that it is flashing to keep us safe in the future.

Those monitors are there to protect and keep you moving forward in the right direction. So are these ones.

They have accepted a request to serve their School and to serve you. For that, we owe them our respect and appreciation. I think it says a lot about our School that the highest honour that we can bestow upon a pupil is the chance to serve others.

In a moment, I will hand over to the Head Boy and Girl to conduct the ceremony. When they announce each name, there is no clapping – pupils walk up in total silence. Witnessed by us all, they will then sign their names in the book that has been used since 1950. Having done that, each will shake my hand, then those of the Head Boy and Girl. At that point, you may show your appreciation and applaud them.

The new Monitors are; Tosin Attah, Madelaine Barber Fray, Tristan Bland, Charlotte Blessing, Elouise Brookes, Anna Da Costa Martins, Joseph Downes, Vinzenz Freigassner, Bipin Gurung, Matthew Hegarty, Claire Humphries, Harry Liversidge, Aled Luckman, Sergy Marchenko, Larua Merritt, William Nadin, Anastasi Ovchinnikova, Katie Palmer-Reid, Oliver Plummer, Abigail Saker, Alex Scott, Lisa Shaw, Edward Shinner, Alex Wong. 

This is the final Assembly before the Fifth Form and Lower Sixth go on exam leave next Monday, and the School begins to go its separate ways. We will not come together again properly until the week of Commemoration, by which time all of the examinations for which you are striving hard now, will be behind you.

As many of you know, I will not wish you luck. If you are relying on luck at this stage of proceedings, either we have failed you or you have let yourselves down. Luck is for the lazy, the unmotivated, the ill-prepared. You are none of those.

Instead, to all who are sitting examinations, I wish you what you deserve. Which, for just about every person in this Arena, is academic success. The reward for a year of dedication and commitment.
All that remains is for you to stay calm and focussed and have faith in yourselves and that success will be yours.

Let us end our gathering with the Grace – please stand.

1 May

Last Updated: 01/05/2017 08:42:10

Good morning on what, for just about everybody on the planet except for you, is a holiday. Which seems grossly unfair, doesn’t it?

The 1st of May, or May Day, is traditionally celebrated throughout Europe and indeed, most of the Northern Hemisphere, as the start of Spring. These are ancient celebrations, many of the rituals that are observed date back to pagan times.

Here in England, village fetes are held. Maypoles are wrapped in ribbons. Occasionally, there is Morris Dancing. If you don’t know what that is, don’t ask. It’s disturbing and will only upset you. At Oxford University, there is a tradition of jumping from bridges into a dangerously shallow river. At St Andrews University, students run into the icy North Sea at dawn, often naked. Perhaps escaping the Morris dancing – who knows.

In Finland, young people are at the centre of festivities too. They celebrated Walpurgis Night last night, eating traditional doughnuts and drinking special alcohol. Which is special because it has no alcohol in it. Apparently.

In Germany its Walpurgisnacht too, with huge bonfires as well as the Maypoles and more drinking and dancing.

For the Italians it is Cantar Maggio, which, perhaps not surprisingly in Italy, is all about food and love, in the form of big seasonal banquets and the singing of romantic songs. The Greeks are similar, with extra emphasis on young love and the rebirth of Spring.

The Spanish get busy decorating a tree or a sculpture in the centre of town, followed by lots of drumming things with sticks and singing loudly. There may be drinking involved there too.

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, May Day is called Irminden. The rituals revolve there around a traditional belief that this is when snakes come out of their burrows and bite workers in the fields. People make symbolic noises to scare the snakes. They also drink a lot, light large bonfires and jump over them.

Meanwhile, next door in Romania its Armindeni, symbolically a day of protection of crops and animals. Lots of waving green branches and men dressing in lilac. Which is getting dangerously close to Morris Dancing. More feasting, usually a lamb is roasted and lots of wine. Possibly why it is also known as ziua bețiv ilor or "drunkards' day.”

So, drinking, carousing, young love, dancing, pyromania and prancing around in funny costumes. You will be relieved to know that we won’t be doing any of that. But that is not why we are not taking a holiday today.

The welcoming Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is not the only reason that May 1st is commemorated around the world. Many more countries, the majority of all nations in the world in fact, recognise today as International Workers Day. Also known as Labour Day. A date chosen in recognition of a tragedy that occurred in Chicago in the year 1886. There had been growing unrest in America, as there had across the world, at the lack of rights for workers, especially in the industrial age when factories were demanding long hours in appalling conditions.

So the labour movement in Chicago held a rally in the central city, a place called Haymarket Square, to protest and call for an eight hour working day. It was a mostly peaceful gathering, speakers up on soapboxes arguing their points. But towards the end of the evening, the police moved in to disperse the crowd and things got violent. Then somebody threw a homemade bomb at the police ranks, which exploded killing seven policemen and four civilians. So you see, urban acts of terror are not new.

Anyway, there was outrage and eight well known anarchists in the city were swiftly arrested and sentenced to death. There was no real evidence that any of them actually had anything to do with the bomb and in the years that followed they became martyrs in the eyes of many. For others, the bombing simply reinforced their hatred of socialism and fear of anarchy and they celebrated the executions.

The Haymarket affair marked a turning of the tide in labour relations though and the rights and protections at work that most of us enjoy today stem from that time. The fact that an eight hour working day is now the norm and the right of unions to protect their members grew out of Haymarket affair. Accordingly, many of the nations in the world acknowledge Labour Day, usually on May 1st.

But it is not for any political reasons that we are working rather than holidaying today. I am not actually sending you down the mines or into the sweatshops.

The real reason has nothing to do with hating Morris dancers or militant anarchists. The real reason is that every day at Bromsgrove is precious. Especially at this time of the year, when examinations loom for many.

There are 52 weeks in the year. Most normal workers get three or four weeks annual holiday. Most schools get 13 weeks holiday. At Bromsgrove, you get NINETEEN. Nineteen weeks holiday a year. Which sounds lovely until you consider that every other pupil that you are competing against academically has a month and a half more to get through the curriculum than you do.

That is not intended to scare you. You know that this School has a long and proud reputation for getting outstanding examination results. You can be very confident that the people seated behind me know what they are doing. Know how to help you succeed. But to do that, you need to be with them.

That’s why every period in their company should be precious to you.
That’s why, wherever we can, we prioritise your learning.
That’s why we aren’t on holiday today.

Having said all that, we do have some respite to look forward to in the form of our traditional Sports Day this afternoon and, assuming the weather remembers that this is supposed to be the first day of Spring, I wish you all well as you compete.

24 April

Last Updated: 24/04/2017 09:29:17

Good morning and welcome back to the Examination Term. NOT the Summer Term. That is a misprint in the calendar. Summer conjures up images of sunbathing, long lazy days, the stirring of the birds and the bees (and not just amongst the birds and the bees, if you know what I mean?). That is NOT where your heads need to be over the coming eight weeks. The majority of you are facing examinations shortly, for many the most important of your life so far. They are the culmination of a year’s hard work, and that must be your only single-minded focus for a while. So leave thoughts of the sun & surf, BBQ’s & beaches, relationships & romance until July. A short few weeks of deferred gratification for the long-lasting benefit of the best examination results you can possibly get.

That said, I know that most of you are studying hard at present and have revised well over the Easter break. Perhaps the most important challenge I can give you this morning is not about the need to study, but how to study.

If you are prone to procrastination, the world has gifted your generation the greatest form of mindless, mind-numbing, time-sapping distraction since the invention of stamp collecting or daytime soap opera. You have to gift of the internet. If a few hours of sustained revision on a topic you find hard and don’t really like much anyway creates an itch, you can always scratch it by hopping online. Your phone or laptop is just there. You were using to study anyway, right?? Just a little break. This Physics is so hard – maybe a quick YouTube surf to clear your mind? A few cat videos. Some Fail compilations.

Well, if that’s you, I’ve got something better for you. Google “Grocery Grab”. Or “Supermarket Challenge.” The premise is fairly simple – the winner of a competition at a local supermarket gets to push a shopping trolley around the aisles for a fixed period of time, loading in whatever they choose. When the time's up, usually about 90 seconds, they keep everything they have grabbed.

What's compelling about these videos is how frustratingly dumb some participants can be! They are in a shop with maximum choice – everything anyone could want to eat or drink lies before them – yet so many seem to blow it. Having wasted nearly an hour of my life watching YouTube clips of grocery grabs, I have come to the conclusion that there are six types of contestant:

The Slow & Unfit – these people waddle or wander down the aisles, seemingly oblivious to the fact that their time is limited. Or they wrestle six big turkeys, each one larger than themselves, into the trolley, only to find it's too heavy for them to push over the line. You find yourself yelling at the screen, “Why did you enter??? Why not just stay in bed?”

The Instant Gratification Junkies – this group head straight for the junk food aisle and set to work piling in armloads of crisps and lollies.

Apart from the fact that these are ridiculously cheap items that they could spend their own money on, they also take up way too much limited trolley space. And of course, it's food of no real value and gone too quickly.

The Sleepwalkers – these folk act as if they were doing their normal weekly shopping. They start in the Fruit & Veg section, umming and ahhhing over the ripest apples, following the same old route they usually take every Sunday They can't seem to see the bigger picture, that this is their huge opportunity to break their regular habits and really score big.

The Indecisive – as with the sleepwalkers, these contestants also seem to have forgotten the significance of the occasion. They waste precious seconds picking stuff up, weighing it in their minds, then putting it back again. By this time, you’re hitting the laptop yelling “Hurry Up - the clock is ticking!!!”

The Crowd-Pleasers – then there are those who are bamboozled by the conflicting demands of others. They stand stationary in the aisle, trying hard to hear what their family and friends are calling out for from the sidelines. You want to silence everyone and just ask “Whose trolley are you filling?”

Not every grocery-grabber is terminally stupid, however. Occasionally, you find one of a special group, who know exactly how to get the best out of the deal.

The Strategists – these people are winners. They know the layout of the shop intimately and have mapped out the optimal route in their minds. They have calculated the high value/low volume items and set themselves targets. You can see by the focused look in their eyes as they grip the trolley handles waiting for the gun, that they laid awake the night before picturing the prize.

You know where I’m going with this. The short time that you have left to revise for your examinations is the same as a grocery grab. Only in your case, the trolley is your brain and the groceries are all the topics you could possibly revise. And here’s the thing: what’s on offer is on offer to all. Each of you starts with the same-sized shopping trolley – your brain. Despite the mistaken belief that some people are born smarter than others, the truth is you are all equipped with exactly the same mental capacity. It’s only grit and determination that differentiates you.

And you each have the same opportunities – the aisles at Bromsgrove are open to all. You each have the same amount of time in front of you too – the speed and energy with which you load your trolley is up to you

And what’s in your trolley at the end reflects who you are and what you value. What you wheel into the exam hall is down to the choices that you make now.

So as you prepare to revise over the next few weeks, I would ask:

Are you sprinting or dawdling?

Or worse still sleepwalking? Carrying on as if this was just another normal School week, doing your prep in the same old way?

And what are you choosing to study? Are you feeding your sweet tooth, reviewing only the easy topics that you already know and which are worth fewer marks? Or are you trying to maintain a balanced diet, eating the greens of harder topics?

Are you spending energy creating the appearance of full-time revision just to please Mum and Dad? Or not studying all, trying to impress others? Or are you trying to feed your own desires?

Perhaps most importantly, have you got a plan? The biggest winners in the Grocery Grabs are the strategists. The ones who went down to the supermarket the day before and checked out all the aisles.

Identified where the highest value areas were and prepared to attack them first. Is that how your revision will go? Are you being deliberate and selective about what you will study, or are you still unfocussed, making it up as you go along?

So, have you got a plan? Because if you can already picture what your full revision trolley looks like, I’m prepared to bet you are already a winner.

Finally, this is also the time of year when we appoint the new Monitor team to lead the School in the year to come. There are many factors that are taken into consideration when making those decisions and your views are important amongst them. Being a Monitor in this School requires certain attributes of character. We look for those who are:
Respected & Reliable
Humble & Approachable
Dedicated & Organised
Optimistic & Positive
Above all, proud of the School and its traditions. 

So when you complete the poll, please think carefully about those qualities and which Lower Sixth pupils you think possess them. You may then select:
Up to six boys, up to six girls but no more than three people from your own House.
The poll will close on Wednesday afternoon.

20 March

Last Updated: 27/03/2017 11:37:18

In the past two years we have taken to our feet twice in this assembly to stand for a minute’s silence in acknowledgement of the senseless loss of life in terror attacks abroad. To show respect and sympathy for those in Paris in 2015 and then again, almost exactly one year ago, in Belgium.

Sadly, this morning I am going to ask you to stand once more. This time, to hold in your hearts and your thoughts those who died or were injured in a terror attack in our own country, in our own capital. And while we are silent, you may like to reflect upon the words of the Prime Minister, who said:

“The location of this attack was no accident. The terrorist chose to strike at the heart of our capital city, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech.

These streets of Westminster — home to the world’s oldest parliament — are ingrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe. And the values our parliament represents — democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law — command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere.

That is why it is a target for those who reject those values.

It is also why any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.”

Please stand.

As some of you will recall, we once used to hold this assembly in Routh Hall. That changed because we were about to start the convertion of that building into a Concert Hall (which is going very well - I think you will all be very pleased with the result when it opens in October). But we also moved here, into the Arena, so that we could all be together at least once in the week. As you may remember, in the old days, half of you had to sit shivering in the Chapel, watching the assembly by video feed, which wasn’t optimal. It is an assembly – we should assemble together. So now we hold Routh in here.

Still called Routh Assembly, but not in Routh Hall. We kept the name, not because of the old venue, but because of the man after which it was named. Out of respect for Robert Gordon Routh, one of the great Headmasters of this School. A very proper and dignified man, but also a leader of great heart and compassion. The man who led Bromsgrove through the tragic years of the First World War and who created many of the traditions that we still observe and honour to this day. Including the standards of etiquette and respectful conduct of this very assembly.

Routh Assembly is unashamedly a formal affair. For the most part, you sit respectfully as you are now. You are attentive (even when I go on a bit) and you show your appreciation of the successes of others with warm yet restrained applause. It is not a football stadium or a concert venue – you don’t whistle or cheer. You show decorum and I appreciate that. You stand when I enter and leave and that is a politeness I never take for granted. I try to show you similar respect by using this opportunity to express my pride in you all and celebrating your accomplishments publicly. And there has been much to celebrate this term.

On various stages, we have enjoyed a wealth of musical performances. Informal concerts in the Old Chapel, atmospheric Jazz Gigs and the Cultures Connect Concert in the Hospitality Suite, the Choir in the Chapel and the return of Senior House Music in the Housman Room.

So too with dramatic productions; a range of offerings from curriculum performances in Big School to the resurrection of House Drama. It was a credit to you all that every House was able to compete with confidence, proving that we are awash, not only with musicality, but also theatricality.

Which was most evident of course, in the spectacular production of Hairspray that opened the term. A celebration not just of musical harmony, but also the harmonious relationships between the wealth of cultures that define this School. Although performing at the Artrix didn’t affect the quality of Hairspray, thankfully it was the last time our major production will be held off-site.

As much as we have enjoyed the many and varied performance venues this term, we eagerly await the opening of our new Routh Concert Hall and the Cobham Theatre later this year. Fitting professional stages on which to showcase the talent that blooms at Bromsgrove.

Other co-curricular commitments thrived too. Our debaters demonstrated their prowess each week. Service activities abound. CAS projects have made a meaningful impact in the community, as have Bromsgrove Service and Badge. The entrepreneurial skills of our Young Enterprise team took them to the Finals. Some of you travelled to St James’ Palace to receive your DofE Gold awards, others have made a start on that journey, being presented with Bronze or Silver back here.

Then there have been sporting triumphs. Legion, across an impressive range of disciplines. From the traditional, with the 1st Rugby XV’s appearance in the Nat West Semi Final and a great showing at the Roslyn Park Sevens last week.Sam Osbourne swimming for England and, of course, National Champion netballers.

Through to equal success in our ever-expanding palette of sport offerings. Our Table Tennis Team were National Finalists and the golfers have also qualifying for the finals of their nationwide competition. Sienna Horton also competing for her country, this time in skiing. From our longstanding annual fixtures to the resurrection of the School horse riding team. Success in so many disciplines, too many to list but each contributing to the fact that Bromsgrove has again been ranked as the fourth best sporting school in the country. Not bad for a School which isn’t a specialist sporting academy.

And of course, throughout this unending procession of co-curricular triumphs, you have maintained your academic focus. As well as the higher profile competitions such as the Physics & Biology Olympiads, many of you have attained personal goals. Some now know that they are bound for Oxbridge.

Others have excellent offers from their favoured universities. It has been a pleasure to have seen over 50 of you individually in my study this term, to commend you on outstanding Attainment and Engagement Grades.

And all this celebrated here, each Monday at Assembly. Gordon Routh would have been proud I think. You have sat respectfully and honoured your peers’ achievements

But as I mentioned at the start, it is not always about sitting. Sometimes the greatest respect we can show in a formal function such as this is to stand. Occasionally that is for sad and solemn reasons as we have done today. But sometimes it is also appropriate to stand out of joyful respect.

Two weeks ago I announced the remarkable achievement of our U15 Netball team, who had become National Champions by winning the Independent Schools Cup.

When I made that announcement, the staff and monitors took to their feet in a standing ovation. Rightly so – we are upstanding for the truly outstanding. But that does not happen very often in Routh and many of you have since told me that you were uncertain as to whether you should or could join in. I thank you for respecting this assembly enough to think that way. I can assure you that if the Common Room and monitors stand, you may too.

I certainly don’t want people jumping to their feet every week, but occasionally an achievement is exceptional enough to warrant it. We stand together, united in respect, either through sadness or joy.

So on that note, before I close my review of the term and invite Mr Hallows to announce a number of further accolades, let me tell you one more thing about that same stellar Netball team. Last week, they competed in another National Final, this time the School Sports Magazine Cup against Lingfield. A Final that they won by an impressive margin of 66-22, making Bromsgrove’s netballers double National Champions in one year. Which is a truly outstanding achievement and I invite the team to come forward to receive their second National Trophy and the School’s admiration and respect.

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