Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 24th May 2021
Recording of Routh Address
(we apologise for the poor quality of this recording)
Good morning and welcome to what, I sincerely hope, will be the very last time I have to deliver Routh from an empty room and via a screen. When we return after Half Term, it will be back to assemblies in person, still by year groups at first but hopefully, by the end of the term, all together once again, as we should be.
In honour of a welcome end to this unnatural medium, I promise to be brief this morning. I spoke to you last week of the traits we were seeking as we went about appointing the new School Monitor team and today, I am pleased to share with you the names of those selected.
I mentioned that those decisions are never easy because this School has a strong culture of leadership and service already.
We were helped by your views and the insights of many academic and pastoral staff in the polls we sent out, and consideration was given to the entirety of each candidate’s time at School, not just the past year. That should be 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.
I also said that being a Monitor is a responsibility, not a reward. If the selection criteria were simply to acknowledge good people, most of the Lower Sixth would have been appointed. Prizes for excellence are for prizegiving. However, even though Monitorship is a job to be undertaken, there were still 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 your 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, and these gentlemen behind me, the new Monitors 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, once told 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 how fast you are going. Or a GPS monitor, advising the best route to take. A fuel gauge, warning of an emptying tank. Or a red-light warning of overheating. Monitors give good guidance, advice that we appreciate. Even if we may be annoyed by a warning that interrupts 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 the ones I am about to announce. 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.
Those of you who were in the Senior School pre-pandemic will know that we usually observe a formal and time-honoured ritual when we make up new Monitors. The School sits in silence at during a Routh Assembly, as each person comes forward and signs their name into an ancient register. In doing so, they make a very public commitment to you all.
Unfortunately, we were in lockdown when the current set of Monitors were appointed last year, and they haven’t yet had the opportunity to perform that ritual. We are aiming to include it in the Upper Sixth Prizegiving assembly at the end of this week.
Likewise, we will aim to have the new Monitor Team sign the register in front of a live assembly in the next Half Term. For now, though, I am pleased to acknowledge them all by name:
Sebastien Adams L
Ellen Ashton Hz
James Bayliss L
Joelle Booth O
Matthew Burke WG
Alex Collin WG
Hamish Cross Ws
Sophia Eaton OH
Freddie Fallows L
Daniel Goodwin E
Toby Hill Ly
Zoe Law OH
Rafaela Nascimento O
Elisabeth Rieger HH
Arsenii Steshenko WG
Fenella Stone Hz
Lilly Sturz HH
Iris Tang TC
King Sum Tong HH
Guy Wagstaff E
Chantal Wong O
Brookie York OH
One final thing from me. As we enter this final week of the first half of the Summer Term, we are tantalisingly close to the School being back to normal. Day Houses are operational once more, mask-wearing is no longer essential, sport is starting up, trips and expeditions are again heading out. Yet we are not quite there.
The cancellation of examinations means that Fifth and Sixth Formers are not on Study Leave. And even though we have created new programmes to fill that space, giving you an added advantage in your studies, there are still a few gaps in your day. My strong advice is that you use them wisely.
Fifth Form, if you have aspirations of leadership in the future, like our new Monitors, now is the time to show your character and commitment. A great deal of effort has gone into starting your Sixth Form courses early, make the most of the opportunity.
Upper Sixth, the final half term of your School career is going to be strikingly similar to the experience you will have when you start university in September. Don’t let free time equal wasted time. Don’t mistake the choice to attend electives with the need not to. And don’t forget that you are still the School’s seniors – others look to you.
For all of you, Fourth to Sixth Form, see these final five weeks of a disrupted year not as encouragement to ease up, but as an opportunity to ramp up. To get back the pace and performance for which this School is famous. As the grey cloud of the pandemic finally starts to fade, it is time to recolour your Bromsgrove lives.