The Headmaster's Weekly Routh Address

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4 December

Last Updated: 07/12/2017 09:13:17

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 4th December 2017

There was a fire in his belly this morning, an intensity and sense of purpose. This game guaranteed a trip to the most exciting sporting event in the entire world, the Texas high school football playoffs, and a chance to make it all the way, to go to State. Anybody who had ever been there knew what a magic feeling that was, how it forever ranked up there with the handful of other magic feelings you might be lucky enough to have in your life, like getting married or having your first child.

After tonight, Bobbie knew the fans would be back in his corner extolling him once again, the young kids excitedly whispering to one another as he walked down the street or through the mall. There he is! That's Bobbie! There he is! He felt good as he walked into the locker room that morning and pulled on his jersey with the number 35 on it. He felt good at the pep rally as he and his teammates sat at the front of the gym in little metal chairs that were adorned with dozens of black and white balloons. The wild cheering of the entire student body, two thousand strong, above him in the bleachers, the sweet hiss of the pom-poms from the cheerleaders, the way the lights dimmed during the playing of the school song, the little gifts of cookies and candy and cakes from the Pepettes - all these things only energized Bobbie Miles even more.

As he sat there, surrounded by all that pulsating frenzy, he could envision sitting in this very same spot a week from now, acknowledging the cheers of the crowd as he picked up the Superstar of the Week award from one of the local television stations for his outstanding performance against the Rebels.

That's right. That's how it would feel again, getting that ball, tucking it under his arm, and going forever like someone in the euphoria of flight. Nothing in the world could ever be like it. No other thing could ever compare, running down that field in the glow of those Friday night lights with your legs pumping so high they seemed to touch the sky and thousands on their feet cheering wildly as the gap between you and everyone else just got wider and wider and wider.

          - From Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream, by H. G. Bissinger

Thought For The Week

Good morning

The passage that you just heard Heidi read comes from a book called Friday Night Lights, a tale about the obsession of American college football for a team in small town Texas. The excerpt is obviously about the hype and drama that accompanies any big sporting fixture. I am sure that many of you will have experienced that same intensity of thoughts and feelings before a big game. Especially those of you in our first teams. Especially at this time of the year, when you may be reaching regional finals. Or even national finals, as our U18 Hockey Girls did last night. They will surely recognise that anticipation and nervous energy as they prepare for a final make-or-break match.

In fact, the reading sums up the pre-match emotion of any sport, not just American Football. Although it is a team sport, the narrator was talking of his own, very personal, visualisation before he took the field. It is no different therefore, for other codes and more individual pursuits as well. Shooters, skiers, golfers, badminton singles – you, too, know what it takes to prepare mentally before you step into the limelight to perform.

But here’s an interesting thing. I could take that same excerpt and, by changing just a handful of words, make it read perfectly convincingly as a prelude to any major theatrical or musical performance as well. If the bleachers became theatre seats, the uniforms became costumes, and the field became a stage, the rest of that reading could just as fittingly describe the moments before the curtain goes up in any play or concert.

An audience would still swell, eager to see a stirring performance. Lights would still focus our attention, places would be taken. Minds would run back over the set pieces that had been rehearsed so often. The tension would build, adrenaline would pump, hours of training would be brought to bear. The outcome would still be uncertain, fans would still be fans and the crowd would still cheer when the players came out. When you think about it, there is very little difference between sport and the performing arts.

Perhaps we make too much of a distinction. In our School prospectus, at your enrolment interviews, on your Personal Statements for university, we separate out sporting and cultural endeavours. Yet consider the similarities.

You engage in both for the joy of mastering a skill. Or a complex combination of skills. Both demand regular training and rehearsal. Both call for harmony between mind and body, hand and eye. Both produce a spectacle, entertainment for an audience or a crowd.

So too, the risks and rewards for the players. Sport will bring you highs and lows, as will singing or acting. A dropped pass or a dropped line, both will leave you feeling equally gutted. Likewise, hitting a perfect shot is as deeply satisfying as hitting a perfect note. Admittedly a lead violinist might not punch the air straight after like a footballer might, but the joy remains as intense.

If both are events designed to watched, why then do we go to a sports ground more readily than a theatre? Especially at this time of the year, when a theatre or concert hall are lot more inviting than a cold and wind-swept sideline? Perhaps because we tend to consume most of our performing arts remotely. We turn to Spotify for our music, Netflix for drama or comedy. Yet there’s a wealth of televised sport as well, but that doesn’t stop us wanting to go to a match and watch it live.

Maybe it is a fear of the unfamiliar. If you don’t understand a television drama, you can change channels. Not so easy in a theatre. But lack of familiarity shouldn’t put us off. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy sporting performances. I still don’t have a clue about penalty corners in Hockey and, even though I grew up in New Zealand, the inner workings of a rugby scrum remain a mystery to me. But I will watch both endlessly, knowing that I am watching a great contest of skill and strategy.

I stopped in for ten minutes to watch the U16 Basketball boys playing Shrewsbury last week and ended up staying an hour. I missed three meetings because I had to hang on and know the result of a game that was nail-biting, won by our boys only in the final seconds. I did get a crash course in some of the more obscure rules from the first team captain while I watched, but even without that I was hooked.

The same is true of Shakespeare or opera. You don’t need to understand every line to be captivated nevertheless.

So, if you are a diehard sports fan who thinks that performing arts is not their thing, I say, think again. The Senior play is upon us this week and I urge those of you who may never have been to one before, to go along. In the new Cobham Theatre, it couldn’t be easier to get to. And with our new booking software, it is simple to get online and chose your own seats. To encourage you further, we have decided to make all pupil tickets free. We want you to savour a different type of entertainment and to honour those performers who have worked just as long and hard for this final performance as any sports team.


D of E
I would like to invite Guy Slater and Lewis Maddox forward to receive their Silver Duke of Edinburgh award.

Girls House Swimming
Congratulations to all girls who took part in the senior house swimming. The results were as follows:

3rd place: Oakley
2nd place: Hazeldene
1st place: Thomas Cookes
I invite the winning captain forward to collect the trophy.

Junior House Table Tennis
In the Boys’ Junior Table Tennis Wendron Gordon won and in the Girls competition Oakley won. I invite both captains to come forward to receive the trophies.

Upper Fourth House Badminton
Well done to all those who competed in the House Badminton tournament. Elmshurst won the Boys’ competition and Oakley emerged winners in the Girls. Both winning captains are invited forward.

Bromsgrove Service
Over 200 of you have been working hard this term in Bromsgrove Service, and two stood out and are commended for their hard work and commitment.

I invite Niya Djingova for her work at the residential homes and Jay Lyu for his work with tennis coaching, to come forward and receive our congratulations.

Well done to Isabella Walters and Dimitri Starikov for their successes in the final of the clay shooting competition.

Congratulations also to Luke Court and Harry Nichols who represented the School last week in the English Speaking Union's Mace Debating competition in Worcester. Although the team did not progress to the regional final, they both spoke with authority on whether e-Sports should be added to the Olympic Games.

And thanks to the Brass Group and various soloists who took to the Routh stage on Tuesday last week in another entertaining lunchtime concert. These are highly commended to all performers of all ages and stages – please speak to Mr McKelvey for more details of how to be involved next term.

Sports Results

The Boys’ Badminton team narrowly lost 9-7 against Magdalen College.

As already mentioned, well done to the U16 Boys’ team for beating Shrewsbury School 61-58 with the last play of the game.

Indoor Hockey
Congratulations to the Senior Boys team who won the County Tournament and now progress to the Midland Finals.

I have already mentioned the great success of the Ua8 Girls last night and there will be more to say about that next week.

In the matches played against Cheltenham College there were good wins for the 1st X1, U15B and U14A teams.

The School won 5 out of the 6 matches played against King Edwards Birmingham, the only loss was for the U15B team who were playing King Edwards’ A team.

The Squash team narrowly lost against Kenilworth in the National Cup.

Well done to the Girls’ and Boys’ Swimming teams who won a prestigious 3-way invitational meet against Marlborough College, Wellington College and Winchester College.

Table Tennis
And the Table Tennis teams rounded off a very successful sporting week, beating Stourport High School.


Best of luck to the Junior Debaters in the inter-house debating competition this afternoon.

Marmite Seminars for all as normal this week. These will be the final sessions of the term. It’s a busy week, but please try to attend - there is a promise of Christmas chocolate.

On Thursday there is a workshop on Palestine-Israel conflict, intended for Politics students mainly but open to all.

This week's Friday debate will be a Christmas Pudding debate. Everyone is welcome for a bit of Christmas cheer and a fun debate!

Would you please now stand as we say the Grace.

27 November

Last Updated: 27/11/2017 09:20:17

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 27th November 2017

The cherry tree myth is the most well-known and longest enduring legend about George Washington. In the original story, when little George was six years old he received a hatchet as a gift. He enthusiastically started chopping at things, but got carried away and hacked down his father’s cherry tree. When his father discovered what he had done, he became angry and confronted him. Young George bravely said, “I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.” Instead of punishing him, Washington’s father embraced his son and rejoiced, saying that his honesty was worth more than a thousand trees.

Ironically, this iconic story about the value of honesty was not true. It was invented by one of Washington’s first biographers, who wanted to provide the grieving public with some positive stories about their first President after his death in 1799.

Thought For The Week
Good morning to you all and a special welcome to Governors from Bromsgrove Mission Hills in Shenzhen, who join us this week.

I have a confession to make this morning. A bit embarrassing, but I need to come clean nevertheless. It is the reason for the reading that you have just heard, and relates to a tale I once told from up here.

I was reminded of this particular story as I watched the large Christmas tree go up on Gordon Green over the weekend. It was a story I shared with you in Routh a few years ago at about this time. A good story actually, with a fitting moral for us all to consider. Those in the Fifth and Sixth Form may remember it. I found it in a book called “It Was On Fire When I Lay Down on It” by Robert Fulghum. It was the story of a man who died a failure. For those who weren’t here back then, a quick recap:
The man’s name was John Pierpont and he came to the end of his days in 1866. He died while working as a government clerk in Washington D.C., with a long string of personal defeats behind him in life.

His life began well enough. He graduated from Yale and he chose education as his profession with some enthusiasm. But he was soon a failure at school teaching, regularly being too easy on his students.

He then turned to the legal world for training, but was an equal failure as a Lawyer. Too generous to his clients, and too concerned about justice to take the cases that brought good fees.

The next career John Pierpont took up was that of dry goods merchant. But he was a failure as a business man. He would not charge enough for his goods to make a profit, and gave credit to readily.
In the meantime, he had been writing poetry, and though it was published, he didn't collect enough royalties to make a living. So he was a failure as a poet.

And so he decided to enter the Church. He went off to Harvard Divinity School, where he was ordained minister of the Hollis Street Church in Boston.

But this was the 1800’s in America and his position for prohibition and against slavery got him offside with the influential members of his congregation, and he was forced to resign. He was a failure as a minister.

Politics then seemed a place where he could make some difference, and he was nominated as the Abolition Party candidate for governor of Massachusetts. He lost.
Undaunted he ran for Congress under the banner of the Free Soil Party. He lost. He was a failure as a politician.

Then the Civil War came along and he volunteered as a chaplain of the 22nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteers.

Two weeks later he quit, having found the task too much of a strain on his health. He was 76 years old. He couldn't even make it as a Chaplain.

Someone found him an obscure job in the back offices of the Treasury Department in Washington, and he finished out the last five years of his life as a menial file clerk. He wasn't very good at that either. His heart was not in it.

So John Pierpont died a failure. He had accomplished nothing he set out to do or be. There's a small memorial stone marking his grave in Mount Auburn cemetery in Cambridge Massachusetts. The words in the granite read

120 years on, we might now insist that he was not in fact a failure at all. His commitments to social justice, his desire to be a loving human being, his active engagement in the great issues of his times, and his faith in the power of the human mind, these are not failures. And much of what he thought of as defeat, became success.

In America, education was reformed, legal processes were improved, credit laws were changed, and above all, slavery was abolished once and for all.

Still, why did I chose to tell you his story? Because in one very important sense John Pierpont was not a failure.

The point was (I said two years ago) that every December, we celebrated his success. We carried in our hearts and minds a life-long memorial to him. In a song. Not a hymn about Jesus or angels or a pop song about Santa Claus.

A terribly simple song about the joy of whizzing through the cold, white, dark of winter's gloom in a sleigh. Pulled by one horse, and with the company of friends, laughing and singing all the way.

No more, no less, Jingle Bells. I told you that the so-called failure, John Pierpont, had written Jingle Bells. And for those of you who were here and remember, I then went on to make the point that John Pierpont’s story should be a shining example to us all.

That to write a song that stands for the simplest joys,
to write a song that three or four hundred million people around the world know,
a song about something they've never done, but can imagine,
a song that every one of us, large and small can sing along to the moment the cord is struck on the piano, could hardly be considered failure.
John Pierpont had actually left a permanent and enduring gift to us all for Christmas.

So there I was, standing outside last Saturday morning watching the tree go up and thinking about that story. But, my memory being as rubbish as it is, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the man’s name. It bugged me.

So, as I didn’t have the book from which I got the story to hand, I went inside and googled it. And here is what I read: “Urban myth about John Pierpont and Jingle Bells.” Wikipedia. It’s not true. Fake news. Headmaster lies to entire School assembly. Somebody call Donald Trump.

To be fair, the stuff about him being a failure was true. But he didn’t write Jingle Bells. Turns out, that was his son, James, who was a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War who actually did quite well for himself in life.

So there’s my confession and my apology. I told you something that wasn’t true. Didn’t do my research, didn’t check my facts. I assumed that because it was printed in a book, it must be true. But of course, validity doesn’t come just because something is written down.

How many of you have been taught the tale from this morning’s reading about George Washington? “I cannot tell a lie father, I did chop down the cherry tree”. Completely untrue. Didn’t happen (as the current American President would say). Another urban myth.

We put great stock in academic honesty. You are taught about the perils of plagiarism, the importance of checking your facts and acknowledging your sources. Making something up, falsifying data or knowingly using the work of another can lose you your entire mark in a publicly examined qualification. You have a duty to check.

You were born into the Information Age and from your earliest days you have been awash in more stories than anyone can possibly remember or process. But the same digital applications that flood you with content also offer the best opportunities to dig for the truth.

Google, Wikis, Facebook, Twitter, online news sites – no one source is infallible, but the ability to cross-check what you read in different places is a powerful antidote to fake news and urban myths. The best way we can prepare you for an information-rich world is to instil in you a healthy scepticism and the good habits of fact checking what you see and hear. Maybe that also includes not automatically accepting anything that I say to you in Routh as well. Scrutinise everything you hear.

I also have a few truths to tell you about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but I will save that bad news for another day.

Firstly, my sincere gratitude and admiration to all the actors, musicians, technical crew, hosts and front of house team who contributed to the enormous success of last week’s official opening of Routh and Cobham. Your talents did you great credit and drew high praise from all who witnessed your performances. You have set a high bar for future shows and we especially look forward to the Senior play in a couple of weeks’ time.

Big Band
During the opening of Routh, the School’s Big Band played the Channel One Suite, the same piece the rest of you heard at the end of House Song. Yesterday, they travelled to Cheltenham to compete in the prestigious National Concert Band Festival where they played that piece, plus the rest of their very challenging repertoire. As a result, I am delighted to announce they received a Gold award and invite George Bingham and Ben Hollingsworth forward to receive our congratulations.

Two other individual achievements of note:

In the inaugural International School Chemistry Competition, similar to the Olympiad but designed for IB students, the majority of Bromsgrove’s entries were placed in the top 50%, but Gian Marco Serra, deserves special mention for placing 4th in the world.

Congratulations also to Alia Derriey, who has been asked to speak at the annual Holocaust Memorial Ceremony as a Youth Champion.

I invite Gian and Alia forward to receive our applause.

Congratulations to the U18 Senior Squad who won the County Championship and now progress to the Regional Finals, along with our U14 and U16 teams.I invite the Captain to collect the trophy on behalf of the team.

Boys Senior House Swimming
It was pleasing to see nearly 150 pupils swimming in the Boys’ senior House gala, displaying excellent encouragement and support of each other.
The results were as follows:
3rd Elmshurst
2nd Wendron-Gordon
1st School
I invite the Captain of the winning team to collect the trophy.

Madagascar Fundraising Calendar
Thank you to all who entered, there were a large number of fantastic photographs from Staff, Senior and Prep School pupils. Unfortunately, that had to be narrowed down to just 12, including submissions from:
Maksym Korotych
Tori Kemp
Evie Stephens-Jones
Paolo Romanengo
Amin Makkawi
Nick Bedov
Those calendars are on sale now, in time for Christmas.

Art Trip
A quick acknowledgement also of our artists who recently visited the Spike Island Art Gallery in Bristol to view the work of South Korean artist, Kim Yong-Ik, and then went on to the Grayson Perry exhibition. A very successful trip by all accounts and it will be exciting to see how your findings inform your own art now.


Well done to both the Boys and Girls’ teams who both beat Repton on Saturday.

Similar congratulations to the U16 team who beat Waseley Hills High School 87-23, and the U18 team who beat Stoke on Trent College 65-51.

Not such good news for the U16 Girls Hockey team, who played really well at the Midland Finals to win their group, but then lost narrowly to Repton School in the Semi-final.
Better news for the U15 Girls Team though, as they beat Sedbergh 4-3 in the third round of the National Cup.

The U15 girls Netball team lost narrowly.


As did the Senior Squash Team.

Out of the 11 games played against Clifton College on Saturday, many were close but in the end the School only managed to win four.

Better luck for our Boys and Girls Swimming teams, who beat Cheltenham College 70-56.

Table Tennis
And finally in Table Tennis, both the Boys and Girls’ teams won their fixtures against Holte School.


Best of luck to our debaters in the Regional Final in Worcester this evening.

Tomorrow, another Lunchtime Concert at 1.15pm in Routh Hall. All are welcome to support the musicians –performances include the Brass Group and some soloists, including two pianists who will have the opportunity to play on the brand new Bosendorfer concert grand piano that now graces the Routh stage.

Lower Fourth Parents' evening tomorrow evening (28th November)

Girls Senior House Swimming on Wednesday.

Junior House Badminton on Thursday lunchtime.

Would you please now stand as we say the Grace.

13 November

Last Updated: 13/11/2017 09:14:29

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 13th November 2017


From Fahrenheit 451
Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so as long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.

Thought for the Week

As I am sure you are aware, next week we officially open the new Performing Arts Facilities, with a VIP evening of dramatic and musical performances. Cobham Theatre is to be formally opened by the current Viscount Cobham and Routh Concert Hall by Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, who is currently the Principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. That will cause some disruption to allow for rehearsals and the like, so to ease the pressure a little, there will be no Routh Assembly next Monday.

That means this will be my last opportunity to give my thanks and good wishes to nearly 200 of you who will be involved in some way. You will officially christen both stages a launch a new era of performing arts in the School – I challenge you all to make that spectacular.

For those who have already attended an event in the refurbished Routh Hall, you will know that we have done our best to retain much of its historic features. Gone are those awful, uncomfortable blue chairs that you used to endure, and the heating, sound and lighting systems are also greatly improved. The magnificent wooden ceiling, stone windows and timber trusses all remain. So too, the oak panelling that lines the very back of the stage alcove.

Retaining that panelling was touch and go. There were some good architectural and acoustic reasons to remove it during the renovation. But in the end, we chose to keep it, primarily because it contains some inscriptions. I have to be honest here and admit that when we made the decision, I couldn’t remember what the inscriptions were. I couldn’t even check, as they were boarded up by that time. All I knew was that there were some names carved into the top of the surround and it felt wrong to remove a tribute to something from the School’s past.

Now the hoardings are down and the panels restored, I took some time recently to find out what it was we had saved. How glad I was. If you are ever up there on the stage (and I hope that many of you will be, either singing in a choir, performing in a band or orchestra, perhaps giving a speech or presentation) have a look.

You will read four names, carved in sequence around the scotia. The first one reads:
O.R Swayne, 1889-1897, Head Monitor and Football Captain.
Fair enough. Quite a feat to be both Head of School and Captain of the 1st XV (Football meant Rugby back then). Still, I thought, that’s possibly not unusual in this School’s history, yet you don’t see other names with similar achievements carved around the place.
Then you read the next name:
A.O. Swayne, 1919 – 1923, Head Monitor and Football Captain.
Ahh – so like father, like son. That makes a bit more sense. Some of you have parents who came to this School. If they excelled in some way and you are now repeating their accomplishments, that would be worthy of note.
But then you read the next inscription:
J.W.R. Swayne, 1920 -1924, Head Monitor and Football Captain.
And then you read the last one:
D.H. Swayne, 1923 -1928, Head Monitor and Football Captain.

A man and each of his three sons, Head of School and Captain of Rugby in their time. Quite remarkable. As an aside, given the recent Remembrance Day commemorations, the father became Colonel Swayne and served in both the Boer War and the First World Wars. Then each of the three Swayne boys were commissioned and served in World War 2. Thankfully, none were killed.

That is a truly extraordinary legacy and certainly one that deserved to be carved for all to see at the back of Routh stage for years to come. I mention it this morning not just because of Remembrance Day, but also in light of the challenge I set you all at the start of the year to get involved in as much as you can while you are at Bromsgrove. The concept of your legacy here seems especially pertinent.

Probably very few of you will end up having your name carved in oak panelling at Bromsgrove, although certainly a few will be recorded on House or School Honours Boards. But history records your time in other ways. I often go back to copies of the old Bromsgrovian magazine when I need to research something. The names and feats of thousands of past pupils are listed there. This year’s magazine is due out before Christmas and many of you will feature in those pages.

But we also live in the so-called Information Age and your successes and involvements will live on in digital form too. I don’t know if Twitter or Facebook or even traditional websites will still exist years from now, but you can be sure that the content that once filled them will still be accessible in the future. There will be some enduring footprint of your time at Bromsgrove School.

More importantly perhaps, your legacy will also live on in the minds and memories of others. I have told you before of how humbled I am when I attend reunions of very old Old Bromsgrovians, who can still remember with great clarity and often great emotion, the personalities of those with whom they went to school. For good and for bad. The sporting heroes, the strong leaders, the bullies and the best friends. All are recalled, never forgotten.

So, after a week of retrospection and in honour of the family Swayne whose names endure on the Routh stage, I encourage you to give some thought to the legacy that you will leave at this School. Will you be remembered as one who only took and never gave? Or a ghost, hovering on the side lines but never committing? Or will those you sit amongst right now one day think back and remember you as one who gave it their all? Someone who left this School a better place than they found it? A fierce and loyal friend? A generous and courageous captain? A resilient human being? Whatever your legacy will be, never forget that you are making it right now.

Biology Olympiad

Seven Upper Sixth Biology students sat the Intermediate Biology Olympiad, a very challenging competition against over 380 other schools worldwide. Five attained prestigious results and I invite them forward to receive their certificates:
Gold: Nikita Bedov
Silver: Edward Mooney
Bronze; Timofei Chernega, Amanda Wu, Emily Williams

Mathematics Olympiad for Girls
Another Olympiad, this time Mathematical and specifically for girls. Ruby Ngan and Nicole Zhou both took part, tackling a selection of challenging problems. Certificates are awarded to both, with special mention to Ruby, who attained a Distinction. Please come forward.

The annual Physical Geography photo competition was open to all year groups in the Senior School and received a fascinating selection of entries. You had the opportunity to photograph any aspect of the physical landscape that inspired you and the results will be displayed outside the Geography department soon.
A number of photos were highly commended, including those from Emily Lyle, Joe Houlcroft, James Bayliss, Seb Perry and Joshua Firminger

I now invite the top 3 winning entries to come forward and receive our congratulations:
First prize goes to Lucia Goodwin for capturing the beauty of Banishead Quarry, Coniston, Lake District.
Second prize to Olly Gittoes for spotting the arêtes and u-shape valleys over The Remarkables mountain range in Otago, South Island of New Zealand from 30,000ft.
Third prize to Ben Humphries who captured the glistening beauty of the glacial Lake Louise in Canada.

The U14 and U16 netball teams competed in the county tournaments after winning their district competitions. The U16s played well to finish runners-up to King’s Worcester.
The U14s however, progressed out of the group round and faced King's in the semi-final. At full time, the score was equal so extra time was played, resulting in one goal win to Bromsgrove. We then faced RGS in the final and were victorious, resulting in our girls being crowned County Champions. Both teams now look forward to the West Midlands finals in January. I invite the U14 captain to come forward and collect the trophy on behalf of the team.

On Friday, Jude Wynter won the Alcester Singers Young Musician Competition, an excellent achievement. I invite Jude to receive his trophy.

Three other people deserve our congratulations today.
Joshua Osborn-Patel, who has been offered a place in the prestigious National Youth Orchestra as a French horn player. This is a fantastic achievement.

Freddie Draycott, who won an individual bronze medal in the fighting category against boys up to two years older, as well as a team silver medal, at the recent European Karate Championships in Sardinia.

Harry Fussell, who was awarded an Arkwright Engineering Scholarship in a selection process designed to identify aspiring engineers who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields.

I invite all three forward to receive our congratulations.

Lunchtime Concert

The Routh Concert Hall stage saw performers from Year 8 to Upper Sixth in some excellent solos on a variety of instruments on Tuesday. The finale was an equally fine performance by the superb Big Band. Another lunchtime concert takes place on Tuesday 28th November and I strongly encourage you to drop in at lunchtime and enjoy some great live music, on your doorstep.

Last Wednesday all Upper Sixth Geographers spent the day investigating the changing urban environments of Birmingham, a fascinating tour looking at the housing styles and demography of the local area. Getting out into the field is essential in that subject and I commend the enthusiasm of all who participated.

A quick round up of last week’s sporting results:

The senior boys’ team narrowly lost to King Edwards Birmingham and on Saturday, the girls’ team lost against Cheltenham Ladies College.


Both the U16 and U18 teams lost their National Cup matches last week.

Cross Country

Well done to both the boys and girls Intermediate teams who finished 7th in the Midlands Finals, with special mention to Natalie Hatfield who finished 2nd in the girls’race.

The Girls U14A team beat Kings High Warwick 1 – 0.
While in the block fixtures played against Clifton College there were good wins for U14B, U15C and U15B.


Well done to the U16 team who beat Fairfax School 24 – 0 in the quarterfinal of the North Midlands Cup.
In the 10 matches played against Sir Thomas Rich’s School, Bromsgrove won 9 and drew 1.


The senior team lost against King Edwards Birmingham but won against Cheltenham College.


Coming up this week, advance notice that the Senior Biology Olympiad takes place in January. That will be the first stage in selecting a team to represent the UK at the 2018 International Biology Olympiad, and we hope that many of our Sixth Form Bromsgrovians take part. If you are interested, please email Mrs Wright.

Tomorrow, the Chamber Choir (who performed magnificently at yesterday’s Remembrance Services by the way) will sing Evensong at Worcester Cathedral. All are welcome to attend. The service begins at 5.30pm and lasts around 45 minutes. A lovely way to end a busy day and in a fabulous historic building like Worcester Cathedral, again, on your doorstep. Do make the trip if you can.

On Tuesday we wish the 1st XV and U15A teams all the best in their National Cup matches, as well as the U16 and U18 Hockey teams in their Midland Zonal rounds.

On Wednesday there will be an IB Information Evening for Fifth Form parents at 7.30 pm.

Also on Wednesday, OB Florence Perramond will be speaking at lunchtime in the LRC. Florence is a former pupil who gained a place to study Business Administration in Switzerland after studying the IB. She then wanted to return to the UK and is now at the prestigious Henley Business School. Florence will lead a 30 minute interactive Q&A Session on how she got into university and made the transition out of secondary school. You will need to bring a laptop or smart phone to session as she will use a live feed. Email Miss Leech for a seat.

Then on Thursday, another short lunchtime briefing, this time by Professor David Higgins, who will hold a presentation on Property and Real Estate. Open to all year groups, and once again, 1.25pm in the LRC. Please email Miss Leech if you would like a seat.

On Thursday evening we hold the Upper Sixth interview evening when a a number of parents and OBs generously come into School to offer mock interview practice to the Upper Sixth.

Friday's debate
will be on the motion that 'This House would pay all elected politicians the median wage in their country'. Starting at 1.25pm in H20 - all are very welcome.

Would you please now stand as we say together the Grace.

6 November

Last Updated: 06/11/2017 17:07:02

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 6th November 2017

Brother & Sister by George Eliot

I cannot choose but think upon the time
When our two lives grew like two buds that kiss
At lightest thrill from the bee's swinging chime,
Because the one so near the other is.

He was the elder and a little man
Of forty inches, bound to show no dread,
And I the girl that puppy-like now ran,
Now lagged behind my brother's larger tread.

I held him wise, and when he talked to me
Of snakes and birds, and which God loved the best,
I thought his knowledge marked the boundary
Where men grew blind, though angels knew the rest.

If he said 'Hush!' I tried to hold my breath;
Wherever he said 'Come!' I stepped in faith.

Thought For The Week

Good morning and welcome back to the second half of the Michaelmas Term, a short but intense run up now until Christmas. I trust that you enjoyed a restful break, presumably in most cases in the company of your family. I certainly did. In fact, my holiday covered the full spectrum, spending time with my mother, my brothers and sisters, my children and, for the first time, my new grandson, born two weeks ago (who is perfect, just by the way).

Like those of you who are boarders, most of my extended family live a long way away. We don’t get together face-to-face as often as we used to, but when we do get together, I’m always struck by how we slip back into certain roles. This time, it reminded me of some psychological research I was involved with years ago. A study into the effects of Birth Order. That is, whether the place you were born into in your family has any effect upon your character, personality and outcomes in life. The thought that you might be meek or bold, brainy or sporty, introvert or extrovert just because of the order of your birth.

The findings weren’t conclusive and many psychologists dismiss the idea completely. Even those who do believe in it are quick to admit it is more of an art than a science. Nevertheless, for those of us who have spent our whole professional career working with young people there certainly seem to be some traits that people exhibit which occur as a result of where they come in their family.

The logic behind it makes sense. Our personalities develop when we are quite young and studies show that they don’t tend to change much once we become adults. So who has the greatest influence on us right from day one? As little babies grow into toddlers and become aware of the world and how it works, who are their most immediate and influential teachers? Mum, Dad, brothers and sisters. So this morning, as you return from some time away with your own family, I invite you to consider whether you think you have been shaped by them

Birth Order theory describes four main personality types. See if you recognise yourself in any of these:

Begin with firstborns, who have an obvious head start on their brothers and sisters. Mainly because they have a few year’s of their parent’s undivided attention before any other brothers or sisters came along. Some studies suggest that if you were firstborn in a family of two or more, you may have had up to 3000 more hours of being read to and played with by your parents than your siblings got, simply because there was no-one else to compete for their attention. Which often gives them an academic advantage. As a result, firstborns are commonly the most academically successful in a family.

But it’s not all good news. If you were the first child that your parents had, chances are they were anxious about every new experience they had as they raised you. Once you have had one child, you tend to worry less when others come along. But first time around, you stress about every little thing – is the baby feeding properly, is the toddler slow to walk and talk, are the school pupil’s grades good enough? That anxiety can be transmitted to the child, who may therefore grow up more worried and anxious than their later brothers and sisters. So firstborns can be perfectionists and worriers, over-achievers who are quite hard on themselves.

Then again, being first also give firstborns a heightened sense of responsibility. They grew up being given extra chores. They are asked to look after their younger siblings, to care for them, entertain them, to watch out for them at school. Those responsibilities make firstborns natural leaders later in life, quick to take charge. However, it can also make them quite bossy.

There is, of course, a special category of firstborn - those of you who are an only child. You are like super-firstborns. Children with the privilege and the burden of having all their parents' support and expectations on their shoulders – forever. You get those same firstborn traits – you are high-achievers, responsible leaders, often more mature for your age than others. But, without having to share toys or attention with siblings, only children can sometimes grow up to be a little selfish, quite private and occasionally, hyper-sensitive.

So what about those of you who came later to the party, who have older siblings? Middle children often exhibit a very different set of behaviours and personality traits.

By the time you arrived, your older sibling already had a head start on you. Often, but certainly not always, second or middle children go on to excel in areas that their older brother or sister never engaged in. If the firstborn was a great scholar, the second child soon realises they will never catch them up or knock them off their perch. So they become the sporting star of the family instead. Or the creative talent. Artists and musicians are often second children. Maybe that’s you?

Middle children can also be the peacemakers of the family, easing the tensions between older and younger siblings. Those skills of negotiation can be a real asset later in life. Many highly successful business people are middle children. Middles tend to be braver too. They see their cautious older sibling try something first and are quick to say “Even though I’m younger, I’ll have a go too.”

It’s not all positive though. Middle children sometimes look at goody-two-shoes firstborn and think “What a sucker. That’s not for me.” They can become the rebellious child, causing their parents more grief than number one ever did.

Then of course, there are those of you who came last in your family. Whether you were number two, three, four or eight, your birth order may have influenced your personality too.

By implication, lastborns are youngest and therefore generally aren't ever able to be the strongest or the smartest in the family. So they develop their own ways of winning attention. They become natural charmers with an outgoing, social personality. Many famous actors and comedians were the baby of the family. They regularly score higher in the "agreeableness" section in personality tests than firstborns.

The youngest is also often very adventurous, free-spirited. More open to unconventional experiences and taking physical risks than their siblings.

The downside of being last? Well, they can quickly learn to use the fact that they are the youngest to get their own way or to get out of responsibilities. Meaning they can be less well-disciplined than their older brothers and sisters.

Does any of that sound like you? If not, no matter. As I said, the whole notion of birth order affecting personality is just a theory. At best, an art, not a science. And plenty of other factors can be of influence – gender, the gap between children, twins, disability, cultural norms. Still, maybe you recognised a little of yourself in what I have said?

There is no right or wrong of course. You may be the captain of your team because you have the natural leadership of a firstborn, or the sporting prowess of being a middle child, or the charisma and interpersonal skills of a lastborn. Each would make you a good captain.

Why does any of this matter? Because you return today to a different sort of family. A close knit community with whom you will live, work and play for another intense half-term. How you react and relate to them is just as significant as any examination grades or sporting scores. And whatever you are in your own family, you have the chance to be someone different here. If you are an only child, here you have 949 other brothers and sisters. You firstborns are now younger than someone else, you lasts now have even younger peers.
The more you understand your own personality, your strengths and your weaknesses and where they all come from, the better able you will be to take your place in this School. And one day, when you have children of your own (or even grandchildren) you may have a greater understanding of what it is that will shape them for good in their future. With that in mind, I wish you all a productive and harmonious Half-Term.

House Rugby

Ducking back to last Half-Term for a moment, we ended with some excellent House Rugby competitions.
In a very competitive Senior Final, Lyttelton emerged winners, beating Lupton 2 tries to 1.
Lyttelton also beat Lupton in the Junior B competition,
And in the main Junior cup competition Walters prevailed over Lupton, 10 points to 5.
So, congratulations to Lupton for being in all three finals, but I invite captains of the winning teams to come forward to receive their trophies.


Congratulations to Vincent Li who was awarded first prize in the recent Birmingham Music Festival, in two categories: Piano solo (Grade 8) and Junior Open Challenge. A fantastic achievement and invite Vincent forward to receive his certificates.


During the Half Term break there were three School trips, one academic, one sporting and one martial:

Upper Sixth Global Politics trip to Northern Ireland

A group of UVI pupils enjoyed a fascinating and informative trip embracing the particularly Northern Irish process of sectarianism. I understand that it quickly became clear to the students that the idea of peace in Northern Ireland was very much a definition open to interpretation. They visited a number of infamous sites and also met up with two protagonists in the conflict who are now both working towards reconciliation. By all accounts a profoundly moving trip.

U15 rugby tour to Ireland
The U15 rugby squad also travelled to Ireland, braving the ravages of Storm Brian to play two fixtures. They lost the first, very close, game 5-0. But after a recovery session on the beach and a tour around the Aviva Stadium, the boys bounced back with a their best performance to win the second match 38 – 19. A great finish to a superb tour for both staff and pupils.

Finally, a group of CCF Cadets visited Nesscliff for a training camp, where they undertook a series of activities including shooting in the indoor range, obstacle course training, skill-at-arms, night navigation and firing on an outdoor range. I commend the enthusiasm that was noted on that trip - well done to you all.

Sport results from the final week of last Half Term:

Hockey U15A Girls drew 1-1 in their match against Dean Close School.
The Squash teams won one of two fixtures played against John Hampden Grammar.

Congratulations to:
Daisy Mai Clements, who scored for the English independent schools football team.
Sam Roberts, who has been selected for the Welsh Exiles U15 team.
Ollie Lawrence, who scored on his Worcester Warriors 1st team debut in the Anglo Welsh cup match.

‘Marmite’ Seminars – This week only there will be seminars for L6th on Monday as usual and BUT 4th and 5th Form on Tuesday ONLY - Wednesday will be University Interview Practice for U6th. Next week normal service will be resumed.

Tuesday Lunchtime informal concert – 1.20pm

The theme for the next issue of Two Zero One is ‘Time’ and the essay prompt is “What will 2050 look like?” Write an essay in response to the prompt or you can email for a different assignment.

Early warning that Junior House Drama competition will be held on January 23rd. This is a competition for Fourth Form only. Please see Miss Bradford for details.

This Saturday we will be hosting a Sixth Form Opening Morning.

Remembrance Day
This week of course we commemorate Remembrance Day nationally, a day with special significance for Bromsgrove School given the number of OB’s who were lost in the wars of last century.
In order for all staff to participate in an act of remembrance, we will hold a Remembrance Day flag pole service on Friday at 10.55am. Wherever you are around the grounds at that time, please observe a respectful silence.

Then we have our own the two Remembrance services this coming Sunday. Attendance is compulsory for all and normal uniform is the order of the day.
Fourth Form Service at 9.50am
Fifth and Sixth Forms at 10.55am

Once again, best wishes to you all for the weeks ahead.

First, Middle, Last or Only child – whatever your upbringing has gifted you, play to those strengths for a productive Half Term.

Would you please now stand as we say together the Grace.

16 October

Last Updated: 16/10/2017 09:41:05

Monday October 16th 2017

Confucius said: “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”

Plato: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

William Shakespeare: “The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.”

Hans Christian Andersen: “Where words fail, music speaks.”

Leopold Stokowski: “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”

Leonard Bernstein: “Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”

Billy Joel: “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”

Bob Marley: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

Albert Einstein: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”

Friedrich Nietzsche:
“Without music, life would be a mistake”

Thought For The Week

No prizes for guessing the thought for the week then. With House Song tomorrow afternoon, your own thoughts are probably there anyway. Not that I have any great authority to talk on the subject of music. Despite Mr McKelvey’s insistence that everybody can sing, I may be the exception that proves the rule. I am to music what Donald Trump is to public speaking. A menace. The same goes for playing any form of musical instrument. The first and only thing I ever learned to play was the recorder, which almost certainly is the instrument of the Devil. Certainly in the hands of a seven year old boy it was. People have been tortured to death with less.

So I can’t sing and I can’t play. But I still try. To make matters worse, I have to try whilst standing amidst a crowd of absolute experts. If you find it difficult, slightly awkward and embarrassing, to really let rip and sing your heart out in Chapel because you are tone deaf like me, trying standing where I have to. In the midst of the Choir. Who sing like angels.

And yet, I still try. I try for the same reason that builders whistle on work sites. For the same reason that toddlers, before they can craft a single coherent word, careen around the house endlessly chanting “la-la-la”. For the same reason that pre-historic tribes drummed on logs around a cooking fire. For the same reason that humans of every creed, colour and religion have used music to start revolutions, inspire troops to battle, calm prisoners, excite the fans, unite nations, conjure up nostalgia, offer hope, impel people to give, compel others to spend. The same reason we reach for it in the most important moments in our relationships, using music to break up or to propose. Even, ultimately, to say farewell at our funeral.

Because music is already in us all. Music is intrinsically part of what it means to be human. Sociologists have proven that every single human society that exists or has ever existed made music. It is as varied, fundamental and necessary to us as language.

That’s why we mourn when prolific artists die. In the last year, Chuck Berry, David Bowie, Tom Petty and many others, eulogised in the media around the world. Why? Because love their music or hate it, they wrote the music we grew up with and lived by. Even if they weren’t particularly great musicians. None of the Beatles could read or write music. My mother could never understand my obsession with Bob Dylan. “He can’t sing” she would complain. And she was right. Yet his music shaped a generation and was the anthem for numerous social revolutions.

Even if they haven’t produced a new album for decades. David Bowie hadn’t released an album for fourteen years when he died last year, yet he was mourned as if he was a current chart topper. Rightly so; like Dylan, he wrote the soundtrack to a generation. We are saddened when prolific musicians die because their music was so interwoven with our lives, especially our childhood, it feels as if part of us was taken away with their passing. That is the beauty of music – you don’t have to be able to make it to enjoy it.

Nevertheless, the thirst for rhythm, the hunger for a beat, the yearning for something that satisfies our emotions is in us all. And if we can be part of making music, we satisfy that primal need. So when you take the stage behind me with your House tomorrow, do so understanding that the intention is not to humiliate or belittle you. Let’s face it, you can’t sing worse than me and you will at least be surrounded by others in the same boat. Neither is the intention to suddenly create opera singers out of you all overnight, although most Houses are already blessed with some sublime musical talent.

No, the intention is merely to let you enjoy what is coded in your DNA. Just sing, and for a few moments, lose yourself in how that feels. Harmony is not some notes scratched on a musical score. It is the flow, the sense of belonging you feel when you are at one with other people. That’s what House Song is really about. Enjoy it.


Bromsgrove Challenge was launched to Year 8 students before the summer holidays as a taster of Service in the Senior School. Pupils were encouraged to undertake several challenges including charitable work, writing a book review and going on a cultural visit. A number are commended for their excellent efforts and I invite the following to come forward and receive prizes:
Anaiya Sunner,
Millie Goulden-Page,
Olivia Chester,
Rose Willetts
Alex Shakes

Inter-House Competitions

A number of inter-House competitions have been contested over recent weeks and we commend all who took part and put themselves on the line for their House.

Junior House Basketball

A good tournament and I particularly enjoyed watching the final match, a nail-biter with the winning basket coming in the dying minute.
Runners up – Wendron Gordon
Winners – Elmshurst
Would Elmshurst’s Captain please come forward to receive the trophy.

House Hockey

Junior House Plate
3rd Thomas Cookes
2nd Mary Windsor
1st Hazeldene

Junior House Trophy
3rd Oakley
2nd Hazeldene
1st Thomas Cookes

Senior House Plate
3rd Thomas Cookes
2nd Oakley
1st Housman Hall

Senior House Cup
3rd Thomas Cookes
2nd Oakley
1st Hazeldene

All four winning captains are invited forward to collect their respective trophies.

House Badminton
Boys A competition
3rd place Walters
2nd place Wendron Gordon
1st place Elmshurst

Boys B competition
3rd place Lupton
2nd place Elmshurst
1st place Lyttelton

Girls A competition
3rd place Thomas Cookes
2nd place Oakley
1st place Mary Windsor

Girls B competition
3rd place Oakley
2nd place Thomas Cookes
1st place Mary Windsor

Again, I invite all four winning captains to collect their trophies.

Kit car

The GP Race Team attended the World Kitcar and F24 finals last weekend, where they took part in 3 races to determine who would be crowned F24 Champions and to re-seed teams ready for next year. I was there to see the team deal with the disappointment of having to pull out of the first race because of crash damage and proud of the way that they worked through the night to make repairs, enabling them to fight again the next day. That paid off, with Bromsgrove’ Chicken ending up as 2nd fastest Kitcar in the world and moving up the overall rankings from 28th to 18th place.

Our congratulations on a successful race season – I invite the team forward to receive the trophy for 2nd place: Will Edwards, Scarlett Bond, Alek Florov, Ellie Chan, Frankie McCaig, Lucy Jenkins, Hamish Sutherland, Nathan Summers, Jeffery Soo, Luke Weller.

Language Awards
Many of you recently participated in a national languages competition run by Vocab Express, the aim of which was to complete a variety of vocabulary learning tasks in a limited amount of time. The top pupils from our entries are invited forward to receive a certificate.
Iain Messore, Elsa Tsia, Yeuk Kwan Fung, Evie Stephens Jones, James Bateman, Lucy Hannah, Lauren McLean, Claudia Bullock, Simi Jolaoso, Rhys Evans, Daniel Grove, 

Silver D of E
Continuing the impressive procession of recent weeks, I invite the following forward to receive our congratulations for obtaining their silver Duke of Edinburgh award:
Thomas Borriello, Archie Batham Read, Tia Hill, Ishwar Puna, Katie Dew, Iain Simmons, William Pearson.

Review of the Week

Informal Concert
Another personal highlight last week was the term’s first Informal Concert on Tuesday. As an audience, we were treated to an eclectic range of music, from Brahms to Prokofiev, traditional Chinese violin to Lionel Richie. If you missed it, you can see it online on YouTube. Always better live though, so look for the music department’s new Twitter feed to ensure you don’t miss the next one.

Battlefields visit

As I foreshadowed last week, the School was represented at the rededication ceremony of OB Leonard Kidd’s grave, which took place in France on the 101st anniversary of his death. Leonard had been a day boy in Gordon House from 1905-1910. We are grateful to Dominic Gardner, Aled Luckman, Alex Spurgin and June Lec for attending and acquitting themselves with fitting decorum and respect; leaving a School tie on Lt Kidd’s grave to reinforce our links.

Sport Results

In matches played against Cheltenham College the Girls’ team won but there was a narrow loss for the boys’ team.

The U16 team lost against Aylesbury, but better news for the U18 team who beat Welbeck.

Indoor Hockey

Well done to the U18 girls’ team who have qualified for the Midland Hockey Finals.


Not such good news for the U14 girls’ hockey though, despite playing good hockey they narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Midlands Zonal round.

Well done to the U15 team who beat Rugby School 3-0 in the second round of the national cup.


The School Golf side lost a close encounter with Malvern College 2-1 with Harry Murphy and Jack Hill securing Bromsgrove’s point.


Congratulations to the U14 Netball team who won the district tournament, scoring an incredible 99 goals and only conceding 4 in their four matches. A superb statistic.

In the matches against Cheltenham Ladies College, the senior team narrowly lost but there was a good win for the intermediate team.


The senior boys’ team beat St Edward school, Oxford 4-1.

Table Tennis

The Table Tennis teams played a number of very competitive games against a strong Littleton Table Tennis Club.


Congratulations to the 1st XV and U15B Boys’ teams who won their national cup matches this week; the U15 team beat Solihull and the 1st XV beat RGS Guildford. We would make special mention of Ollie Lawrence who scored a remarkable 32 out of the 37 points.

On Saturday there were good wins for the U15 A,B,C, 2nds and 1st XV, with a draw to the U16 Bs.


Aspiring writers who wish to develop their craft are invited to attend Creative Writing sessions in H3 during session 2 on Saturday mornings. All genders, genres, abilities and aspirations welcome. If you can’t make the session but are still interested, contact Mr Williams.

As mentioned, we look forward to the House Unison Song competition tomorrow afternoon.
The latest edition of the student magazine Two Zero One will be out on Wednesday. Please see Aled or Alia if you want to get involved in future editions.

The debate this Friday will be a Harry Potter–themed Halloween debate. Everyone is welcome. The debate will start at 1.25 pm in room H20.

And finally from me, my compliments to you all on a superb start to the academic year over this first half term. I wish you all a restful break and look forward to seeing you refreshed and equally enthusiastic in November.

Would you please now stand as we say together the Grace.

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