The Headmaster's Weekly Routh Address

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17 September

Last Updated: 18/09/2018 14:15:24

ROUTH ASSEMBLY – 17/09/2018

Routh Assembly was given by the Deputy Head Pastoral, Mr McClure. 

In the Headmaster’s absence – he is in the Far East this week – you will be pleased to hear that my message this morning is very brief. I have had the opportunity to speak to two sections of the School during the last week. The Fifth Form heard about British Values (such as democracy, mutual respect and rule of law) in their Head of Year session, whilst in Thursday’s Chapel, this term’s alphabetical theme advanced to the letter B, which saw me addressing the Fourth and Fifth formers about the community-minded character traits of bees. The chance to reflect on a bit of sociology ties in rather topically with September 15th, which was on Saturday. Since 2007, the United Nations have identified this date each year as International Day of Democracy, with this year’s theme being ‘Democracy under strain: solutions for a changing world.’

It aims to be an opportunity to, in the words of the current UN Secretary General, ‘look for ways to invigorate democracy and seek answers to the systemic challenges it faces’. At present, that includes economic and political inequalities, making democracies more inclusive, innovative and responsive to emerging challenges such as migration and climate change. The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also provides an opportunity to highlight the values of freedom and respect for human rights as essential elements of democracy.

Quite heavy stuff for a Monday morning you may think, and certainly some optimistic aims, but also a timely reminder that we can take nothing for granted and can always improve. No functioning democracy is perfect: the original concept had its flaws in ancient Athens and others still exist in the political system of, for example, Britain today. In 1947, a year before the Declaration of Human Rights, Sir Winston Churchill told the House of Commons that: ‘No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.’

Likewise, there is no perfect school but, as I said in here on the first day of term, you have a privileged opportunity to play your part in a diverse community. ‘Peaceful, just and inclusive societies and institutions … where people feel safe as they go about their lives … can deliver quality education, care, fair policies and inclusive protection.’ Not my words, but those from one of the UN’s so-called Sustainable Development Goals on democracy, yet I hope you can see their relevance to a school like Bromsgrove. Mutual respect of others, whatever their background, nationality, religion, gender or even opinion will see you thrive in a community like this. Follow your own dreams, but not in a selfish way which demeans or undermines others who are equally entitled to theirs. Respect the rules, quirks and traditions which make this the School what it is and you will find it presenting opportunities which you can grasp fully. Support others in what may not be areas of your own personal strengths in your classes, year groups, Houses, and you will find that you gain the same respect you are giving. But look to be self-centred, cliquey or aloof and you may struggle to find genuine self-fulfilment.

So let us celebrate together some of the achievements of this last week:
Yesterday, the Greenpower GP racing team headed to Castle Combe for the last heat of the season before the Finals at Rockingham next month. Race 1 was a huge success and the team powered to victory with a record-breaking 37 miles. A collision in the 2nd race saw us drop down the pecking order but, on the back of the 1st race, we won the day as fastest kit car. I invite the following on stage to collect their 1st place Kit Car trophy and medals: Hamish Sutherland, Jeffery Soo, Aggie Warner, Freya Tweddell, Polly Dakin

Our congratulations go to William Hobbs who won the Under 15 County Squash championship on Saturday.

Unfortunately the Golf team lost 2½ - ½ to Malvern College in the first round of the ISGA tournament

The U16 Basketball team won their first match of the season 54-49 against Sir Thomas Rich’s School

There was a great start to the badminton season with all three Bromsgrove teams beating Oundle convincingly on Saturday

The girls’ hockey matches against Oundle were much more closely fought – well done to the U15As drawing 1-1 and the U16As winning 3-2

And completing a huge block fixture list against Oundle, the rugby teams had a good day, winning 9 and drawing 2 of the 14 matches, including a 24-12 away win for the First XV.

Previewing next week

Marmite Society seminars for Gifted and Talented students begin this week. The first is for Lower Sixth today at 12.50pm. Seminars for Fourth and Fifth Formers are on Tuesday and Wednesday lunchtimes. Please check your emails for further details, and reply to Dr Ruben if you will be attending. Everyone is welcome.

On Tuesday 25th September we are delighted to welcome Harrison Clark Rickerbys Solicitors. They will be hosting a day of workshops on corporate, insolvency, family, property, litigation and employment law. In the afternoon you will take part in a mock trial, where you will prepare your case and present in a court of law with a real judge. The day is open to any 5/L6/U6 formers interested in a career in law. You must be able to commit to the full day, which will run from 9am to 4pm. Please see Miss Leech for more information and email her if you are interested. Places are limited to 30 students and are given on a first come, first served basis.

Have you thought about the opportunities open to you with a career in the Armed Forces? Come along to our Armed Forces Careers Information Evening on Wednesday 26 September. The seminar will take place in the LRC between 6 and 8pm. It is an informal evening with representatives from the Army Officer recruiting team, the Army medical team, the RAF, the Navy and the MERCIANS with a weaponry stand. The evening is also open to parents. (Please note you must be a UK or Commonwealth citizen to join the UK Armed Forces.) Please email Miss Leech to register your interest.

The School’s annual research competition is now open for entrant registration and this year forms part of our World War One commemoration events. Teams should identify a development that took place during the war years that still has impact today, and be prepared to argue why their chosen development is the most significant one. Ideas could be from any area of life: arts, sciences, languages, justice, industry, politics, trade, or economics. The presentations will take place on Friday Nov 16th, when the winning prize will be awarded. Students should register their interest by emailing Dr Rimmer.

And of course, we have our Sixth form production of Othello performed in Cobham theatre on Thursday and Friday evening. I recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to see a high quality production, whether you are a frequent audience member at plays or not.

The Director of Music is pleased to announce the theme for this year’s Unison Song Competition is ‘memories’.

10 September 2018

Last Updated: 10/09/2018 10:38:08

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 10th September 2018

Dialogue from “Back To The Future II” at the point in the film when Marty and Doc notice the cops taking an unconscious Jennifer away.

Doc: They're taking her home, to your future home! We'll arrive shortly thereafter, get her out of there, and go back to 1985.

Marty: You mean, I'm gonna see where I live? I'm gonna see myself as an old man?

Doc: No, no, no, Marty. That could result in a [gasps] Great Scott! Jennifer could conceivably encounter her future self! The consequences of that could be disastrous!

Marty: Doc, what do you mean?

Doc: I foresee two possibilities
1. Coming face to face with herself 30 years older would put her into shock and she'd simply pass out. Or,
2. The encounter could create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the spacetime continuum and destroy the entire universe!
Granted, that's a worst-case scenario. The destruction might in fact be very localised, limited to merely our own galaxy.

Good morning and thank you to Scarlett and Lauren for that little throwback. I don’t know how many of you have seen the ‘Back To The Future’ movies? Iconic in a time well before you were born. The 1980’s to be exact.

They came to mind, that scene in particular, over the weekend, as we hosted a reunion for those who attended Bromsgrove in the Eighties. Many, I think, felt that they had gone back in time and seen their younger selves.

The Eighties was a particularly significant decade for this School. A time of great change, and all for the better. The end of fagging and douls, which was the practice of younger pupils being treated as servants to seniors. The end, too, of beatings with the cane and all forms of corporal punishment.

They were also the years in which girls were first enrolled at Bromsgrove. Mary Windsor was opened and shortly after, Oakley House. I spoke with a number of women, now in their 50’s, who recounted what it was like to be amongst the pioneering females in a School that had known only boys for the previous five hundred years. It was poignant to share with them the news that we had just announced the opening of another girl’s House, Ottilie House, in two years’ time. Many of them had gone to the old Ottilie Hild junior school, which is, today, our Pre-Prep, and they approved of the choice of name.

The Eighties also saw Bromsgrove become arguably the first school in the UK to actively welcome and recruit international pupils. There is no question that we are more relevant, tolerant and culturally richer today as a result of the 53 nationalities represented in the Arena this morning.

Back to the reunion, which was a joyful and emotional event. The Head Boy and Girl did a fine job of reading excerpts from the Bromsgrovian magazines of the day, evoking countless memories, many smiles, one or two tears. Mr McClure gave a well-crafted address that further helped to take the OB’s back in time to their School days. Many of you then took them on a tour, visiting old haunts, sometimes surprising them with modern additions to the School they had known. After which, we all shared a lunch, and their stories poured out.

As is always the case at our reunions, whether for alumni in their twenties or their nineties, I was moved by how vividly (and usually fondly) they remembered their teachers. In particular, the advice that those teachers had given, which had stuck with them. What was especially nice with this generation was that many of their old teachers are still alive and a number were able to attend the reunion as well.

Given that I stand up here each Monday and try to offer you some things to think about in the week ahead, I was particularly interested to ask these past pupils, which bits advice had proved most useful. What words of wisdom had helped them most?

There was no single, simple response. In most cases, good advice had been very specific to the individual. There is an old saying “When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears.” Meaning that only when we are receptive to advice is it useful. Equally, when we are receptive, there will always be someone wise to turn to.

If the best advice you could receive is that which is specific to your own unique life, I guess that would come from your future self. Counsellors trying to help people deal with problems in their lives today, sometimes encourage people to write a letter to themselves when they were younger.
But of course, such letters can never be delivered. As Doc warned Marty in ‘Back to the Future’, you can’t go back and speak to your younger self. Not just because you might put a rip in the space/time continuum, but also because if you did listen to your future self’s advice, you wouldn’t become your future self, so you wouldn’t go back and give that advice (work that one out).

Therefore, you are stuck with us trying to share with you the things we have learned. Learned from having been young once ourselves, however improbable that may seem to you. And learned from working with young adults throughout our professional careers. If we share advice with you, it is based on two things:
what we have seen and believe to be true, and
our shared desire to see you flourish and become the best version of yourself that you can be.
The advice given will vary, as will your willingness to take it. Accept it or not, that is your prerogative, but don’t ever doubt its sincerity. Perhaps though, there is a single piece of ancient wisdom that is applicable to you all. A story I am fond of, whose origins date back to an old parable from Turkey.

A dervish, which was a type of travelling monk, arrives at a village after a long and tiring journey and asks if there is someone who can give him food and a place to sleep. Villagers say that they are poor people and their houses are small. They direct him instead to the farm of someone called Şakir.

The monk walks to the farm, encountering locals along the way, who tell him that Şakir is the richest person in these lands. The second richest, they say, is another farm owner called Haddad.

Finally, the traveller reaches the farm of Şakir, where he is welcomed and treated well. Both Şakir and his family are generous people and offer warm hospitality.

When the time to leave comes, the traveller says to Şakir, "You should be thankful to the Creator for all this wealth." Şakir replies: "Nothing stays as it is. Sometimes what you see is not the reality. This shall pass."

The monk takes his leave and travels on, pondering on these words. A few years later, he comes again to that village. Remembering Şakir’s hospitality, he decides to visit him. However, when he asks about Şakir, the villagers reply, "He became very poor and now works for Haddad."
So the monk goes to the farm of Haddad and finds Şakir, who now wears old clothes and looks much older. In a flood three years ago his farm was ruined, so he came to serve Haddad.
Şakir now hosts the traveller in his humble house and shares his what little food. Before he bids farewell, the monk tells Şakir about how upset he has become over what happened, but Şakir says, "Do not be upset. Remember, this, too, shall pass."

Seven years go by and the monk travels again through these lands. This time, he learns that Haddad died a few years ago and left all his property to his loyal servant and best friend Şakir. Şakir now owns huge lands and many cattle, and is the richest person in the region once more. When the monk finds Şakir, he tells how happy he is to see his friend well. Şakir again says, "This, too, shall pass."

More years pass and the travelling monk again looks for Şakir. This time, the villagers show him a hill, atop which is Şakir's grave. On his grave stone is inscribed, "This, too, shall pass." As he pays his respects and leaves the monk thinks to himself, "What is about death that will pass?" The next year though, when he comes back to visit Şakir's grave, he finds neither it nor the hill exist. Both have been washed away in a flood and no trace now remains of Şakir.

Around that time, the Sultan of the country called his wisest ministers together and commanded that they compose for him a single sentence that will guide him accurately in every decision he has to make as a ruler. A sentence that will give him hope when he despairs and humility when he is too content and pleased with himself. His ministers can think of no such universal truth and, in desperation, they seek out the travelling monk. Who, of course, gives them the gift that he himself received from his friend Şakir. Namely, the simple sentence “This, too, shall pass.”

So, if you are struggling to adapt to early starts, late nights of Prep, weekends full of School commitments, new subjects that are proving complicated or challenging, persevere. Remind yourself that in the span of your life, the academic year is short and this, too, shall pass.

At the same time, if you are feeling pleased to be back on the sports field or in the choir or the CCF, if you are enjoying your new status in this School, or just relishing life in the House with your mates, do not take it for granted. Love every day of your life at Bromsgrove this year, for this, too, shall pass.


Congratulations to the following who have passed their Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams
Joelle Booth, Music Theory, Grade 5
Konstantin Chistyakov, Tuned Percussion, Grade 5
Isabella Lloyd, Singing, Grade 5
Jessica Rai, Singing, Grade 5
Steven Tang, Clarinet, Grade 5
Jessica Whitlock, Singing, Grade 5
Sebastian Harrison, Trumpet, Grade 6
Sophia Meadows, Trumpet, Grade 6
Lisa Bradburn, Singing, Grade 8

Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award

I invite the following pupils on stage to receive their Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Seb Atkinson, Edwin Wagstaff, Gabby Brown, Catrin Carter, Kitty Luscombe, Lauren Court, Scarlett Bond, Maddie Cooper, Callum Lee, Abigail Hughes, William Bellamy, Jamie Cox, Rorie Dodworth, Ben Humphries, Lucy Lyu, Harry Dodworth, Jonathan Burke, Joshua Osborn- Patel, Freddie Harvey-Gilson, Helen Wu, Haohao Wu, Catrina Ranger, Orla Walker, Francesca Davis, Michael Jiang, Shams Ali Baig, Alexander Berrow, Emma Dolan, Georgia Doohan-Smith, Katie Burke, Jack Stokes, Tom Reynolds, James Bradley.

Tennis County Championships
Congratulations to Stuart Shannon who was named the Herefordshire & Worcestershire LTA Boys Player of the Year for 2018. In the county championships, he paired up with Izzy O'Connor in the mixed event and it was great to see them winning the U14 mixed doubles county title.

A generally pleasing start to the season for our girls’ hockey teams. In the matches played against Oakham School the U16As won 3 -1, and the U16B, U15A, U15B and U14B all had drawn matches. The 1st X1 played really well, dominating the match but unfortunately could not convert their chances and ended drawing 0 -0.

Well done to our U14A, U15A, U16A and 2nd XVs who performed extremely well in the quadrangular festival against Whitgift, Sedbergh and Warwick Schools.
In the stand alone matches against Warwick there was a good win for the U14C team. The 1st XV had a slow start and were 17 nil down at half time. However, they played much better in the second half eventually losing 27-11.

Congratulations go to Ellie Chan and Emily Lyle for their entries to the Warwick University Sustainable Development essay competition. Both girls reached the final and Ellie was awarded highly commended.

We look forward to the whole school photograph that will take place tomorrow and House photographs on Thursday – details have been sent to Houses.

The Geography department are currently running their annual photo competition. The theme is "Physical Geography in my life" and entrants are invited to choose a recent photograph they have taken and write no more than 200 words to describe the physical geography they have captured. Closing date Friday 28th September. Speak to a member of the Geography department for more information.

Two Zero One, our successful and now award-winning, I might add, magazine is looking for creative thinkers - artists, writers, graphic designers - to showcase their thoughts and talents again this year.
The essay prompt for the upcoming issue is 'Define Success'. Email contributions to Alia or Vivianne by September 17th if you would like to be featured.

Tickets are now on sale for the Sixth Form production of “Othello”, which will be performed in Cobham Theatre on the 20th - 21st of September at 7pm. This promises to be a very exciting evening, with Shakespeare’s classic play of love, jealousy and revenge having been reworked and relocated to a series of pubs, nightclubs and casinos in the 1940s. It features a live jazz band and singers and will run for just 80 minutes without an interval. All are very welcome and you are actively encouraged to come along and support what promises to be a great evening, but please reserve your tickets – which are free - via the School online box office as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

The Head of Gifted and Talented, Dr Ruben, offers elite, university-style seminars on Monday (LVIth), Tuesday and Wednesday (IVth and Vth) lunchtimes.

Subjects for discussion this term will include: Frankenstein, cloning and scientific ethics, The Matrix, the paintings of Norman Rockwell, The Martian, Entropy, The Architecture of the Paris Metro, and Instagram. Seminars start during Week 3 of this term: you can email your interest to Dr Ruben at

The moot for this week’s Friday debate is “This House would endorse Nike’s association with Colin Kaepernick.”

Finally, I am very pleased to announce a new activity to be offered this year, that of Rowing. This will be starting next Saturday morning, 15th September, there is still time for experienced and novice rowers alike to join the activity.

3 September 2018

Last Updated: 04/09/2018 16:02:01

In the Headmaster's absence, Routh Assembly was led by Mr McClure 

Firstly, there is no denying that I am not the person you were expecting to speak to you this morning in this assembly. In normal circumstances, it would of course be the Headmaster addressing you now, and he sends his sincere apologies that something else has unavoidably required him to be away from School today. However, that in itself is perhaps a reminder that no one person in this Arena is bigger than the institution which we can all be proud to represent this morning – the show must go on, as they say. In this case, as Deputy Head, I am required to deputise, and I shall share with you a few thoughts which I hope are pertinent to the start of a new School year.

The most obvious place to begin is with a welcome, particularly to those of you who formally join us for the first time today. You are individually now a part of a great school with an excellent reputation in so many areas; a school which, large though it is, cannot accommodate the many other pupils who would have liked to have gained a place to sit with you in this Arena today; a school which has a proud historical timeline but which does not use that context to stifle the requirements and facilities for a modern education; a school where friendships, talents and team-work can be developed at an individual, small group, House community or whole-school level. For those of you returning, I hope that sounds like a fair reflection of the school you already know. So … welcome back all. I appreciate that summer holidays are great while they last, and I hope you all had a good break, but today should be a moment for excitement, inevitably a few nerves for some, but mostly a recognition of the privilege we all have to be in the position we find ourselves this morning.

But with that privilege comes responsibility. I am certainly not encouraging you to feel smug, superior, or in any way entitled – that is not the Bromsgrove way, because that is not the world for which we are aiming to prepare you. So by all means be confident in your talents and right to be here, but display that with humility rather than arrogance; be ambitious in setting your targets, but not with a ruthlessness that robs you of the compassion to share the journey with others; show curiosity to stretch yourselves beyond your comfort zone with the opportunities available here – it will enrich your own experience, but also develop your respect for the talents of others in various fields; in that respect, whatever your vision for your own future, it will be grounded by the tolerance that we are all different but can work together for a common cause.

Some of you will have recognised that I have just added some narrative to the stated core values of Bromsgrove School which you will see published around the School in our Mission Statement. In four couplets, those values look to encapsulate the fine balance between you all aiming to make the very most of yourselves, but also to enrich the lives of others in your community. There is nothing controversial in them, merely a hope that this community is largely based on common sense and civil decency and respect. That is a responsibility for all of us to uphold this year.

At the end of the summer term, I talked to the new School monitors about our role as stewards of whatever is positive about Bromsgrove School. That includes our history going back to 1553, perhaps even earlier. That date may now be something you associate more with the café latte or panini you purchase at Café 1553, but our daily lives at Bromsgrove are full of references to our past which are now part of our school vocabulary and traditions. Consider all of our buildings named after real people who have walked this site: from Thomas Cookes and his wife Mary Windsor in the late 17th century to Lyttelton and Cobham reflecting our association with the aristocratic family still based at Hagley Hall; from one of our first Foundation Scholars and arguably most famous Old Bromsgrovian, Housman, to his Victorian Headmaster Millington; from wartime Headmasters Routh and Walters to Hayward, the name of a teaching couple I was privileged to work with when I first arrived here.

So, whether you are beginning your first or fifth year here today, do yourself and your families proud of course, but also look to add your mark to the legacy of a School which has touched the lives of thousands over the centuries. What can you add to the academic or cultural patchwork that leaves today’s Bromsgrove a little bit richer for the benefit of future generations and the pride of current Old Bromsgrovians? In reality, your experience and memories from these few years will form the basis of your reflection of the place for the many future years you will be Old Bromsgrovians, so please do make the most of the present.

And what of the present? Sir Thomas Cookes’ funding of an education for 12 poor local boys has transformed into this gathering of 960 pupils and well over 100 teaching staff, with 53 of the world’s nationalities represented in this hall. Make the most of that opportunity in itself – you will not experience it again unless you end up living or working in one of the world’s large cosmopolitan cities; this really is a protected microcosm in rural Worcestershire where you can look to target an ideal of unity in diversity. Please be prepared to play your part in respecting and practising that ideal, which comes with certain standards and expectations. We work hard; we look smart; we behave in a respectful, courteous and business-like way; we expect others to do the same. I’m afraid if you wish to wear what you like, how you like it, chomping on gum or attached to your mobile phone as you walk around the campus, with minimal regard for the learning environment of others, let alone your own progress, then this is not the right school for you and I am likely to make your acquaintance. Our aim is to treat you like young adults, but we will intervene if your behaviour or self-discipline does not match those expectations. I will state publicly now that I would much rather greet you all with a smile or ‘hello’ as we meet, or witness you participating positively in a variety of pursuits throughout the year, some of which may even be celebrated in an assembly such as this one. Ultimately the choice comes down to you.

I am sure I speak for the members of a fine Common Room behind me in suggesting that they would rather do the same. You are truly fortunate to have such excellent allies in your pursuit of your academic goals, willing to go above and beyond if you play your part in forging the positive working relationships between pupils and staff which we foster here. On your behalf, I formally welcome seventeen new staff to our community and hope that they feel settled here quickly, with your support of course, whether you meet them in the classroom, House or extra-curricular spheres.

As a matter of course, we start each week in here with the Headmaster leading this assembly. It is called Routh Assembly because it used to take place in Routh Hall before the School outgrew that space, and is an opportunity to meet as one, to reflect on a theme as one, and to share in the news of the week just gone and preview the events of the week ahead.

Reviewing the summer, the obvious place to start is with public examination results.
• For those returning in the Lower 6th Form, you may take pride that your GCSE results rank amongst the very highest achieved by Bromsgrovians:
• Over 41% achieved an A* or 9 grade, the highest proportion of the top grade in the School’s history, despite the context of national uncertainty over the qualification reforms.
• Five pupils gained a clean sweep of straight A*/9 grades, with a further seven only dropping one grade.
• At A level, just under 80% of the year group scored 144 UCAS points, equivalent to 3 A grades, with 56% of the exams taken graded at A* or A grades
• Of the BTEC entries in Sport and Business Studies, 14 achieved Distinction and 30 a starred Distinction
• The largest IB cohort to date averaged over 38 points, equivalent to 4 A* grades at A level, with two students just 1 point shy of the maximum 45 points.
• And, perhaps the most important statistic, 80% of pupils secured their first choice university place, a high proportion of which are Russell Group institutions.

Whether you are Lower Fourth or Upper Sixth, that gives you a measure of the academic standards to which we aspire, if not higher.

Not that Bromsgrove School sits idly during the summer. The campus was alive with another successful summer school and holiday activities, many staffed by colleagues and former pupils. In terms of facilities, School House has been lifted by some sympathetic renovation and refurnishing, whilst Webber House has been completed to welcome our first few students on the International Foundation Programme which we are running in conjunction with the University of London. Practically speaking, the accommodation in Webber House will also provide a temporary home for some Elmshurst pupils this year whilst Elmshurst begins the latest cycle of refurbishment of our boarding houses. We should be grateful that the Bursar and her Estates and Grounds staff continue to work tirelessly for our benefit, particularly in the windows of opportunity which our absence on holiday provides.

Off campus, there were three significant trips that took place during the summer holidays.

• The CCF cadets gained a great deal of experience from their adventures at the annual camp.
• The Gold Duke of Edinburgh trip to Snowdonia was again very successful with students passing their expedition section; they can now focus on completing the other sections so they can look forward to gaining their Gold award successfully this year.
• In July, 18 students travelled to Madagascar for a truly unique experience. I’m told the biodiversity in Madagascar is something that should be witnessed by every biologist, as more than 90% of species are endemic to the island. The students enjoyed camping in a remote Mahamavo dry forest and scuba diving in the Indian ocean to see the local reef systems. Whilst undoubtedly enhancing their biological understanding and helping with the conservation efforts, the additional cultural appreciation and life skills gained on such an expedition were a priceless bonus.

Some other individual enterprises and achievements to share:

• Mulan Yang and Vivianne Wei travelled to Yang Yuan county in northern China to teach two weeks of free English lessons for 40 students in the fifth grade. A fundraising movie night with the Prep School last term funded this initiative and Mulan and Vivianne selflessly gave their time in what must have been such a rewarding experience, epitomising our ideals of Service here at Bromsgrove.
• Josh Osborn Patel is to be congratulated for appearing as one of the 10 French horn players in the vast National Youth Orchestra this summer in their annual concert at the BBC Proms held at the Royal Albert Hall in London - a tremendous achievement.
• A large number of Bromsgrove pupils have represented counties or academies this summer. Special mention must go to Sienna Horton who captained England U16 Hockey; Joe Miskowski played cricket for the Midlands in the Bunbury Festival; Morgan French played for Wales U18 in an international rugby tournament in South Africa; Freddie Draycott finished 4th in the World Karate Championships, and Natalie Hatfield has qualified to represent Great Britain in the Laser Run World Championships in Dublin.
• I think that all those just mentioned deserve a round of applause.

And now on to some presentations:

• At the beginning of the summer, the School magazine ‘201’ was nominated for 2 national prizes at the Shine Media Awards. Congratulations to Anya Butler who was commended for being runner up in the Best Original Illustration and Artwork category. In addition, the prestigious award for the most outstanding pupil, and Shine Scholar 2018, was presented to the editor of 201, Alia Derriey.
I invite Alia on stage to receive her awards.
• It was good to see so many pupils on campus last week for hockey and rugby pre-season training, including a full Lower Charford of training fixtures on Saturday. It is very unusual to mention School cricket in the Michaelmas term, but yesterday was a very special occasion for our U15 team. They qualified in June for the national T20 finals - the best 4 teams in the country - an outstanding achievement. Unfortunately, they lost a high quality semi-final against Sedbergh School, but I invite the team on stage to receive our applause and their 3rd place medals.

And finally, on to a preview of this week:

• Auditions for the next senior main school production - which is Grease, the musical - are almost completed. Over 100 students have now put themselves forward to be part of the company. However, anyone who has only just arrived at the school, and who has not yet had a chance to audition, is very warmly encouraged to meet Mr. McKelvey and Mr Norton at 1.15pm today in the Drama Studio next to Cobham theatre.
• Likewise, if there is anyone at all in Year 11 or above who has not auditioned and who would like the chance ‘to be part of the adventure’, this lunchtime is your last chance. 1.15pm in Cobham.
• No previous experience necessary. Why not give it a go – I am sure it will be a lot of fun.

• New joiners to the school are warmly invited to come to the first Chapel Choir rehearsal on Wednesday lunchtime at 12.50pm in the Chapel.

• On Friday, all staff and pupils will have their individual photographs taken – details will be communicated through Houses.

• Friday also sees the first School Service of the year – the day will run with lessons 1-5 as normal, with the School Service in lesson 6 and Activities/Games following that at 4.15pm. Again, details will be published for reference in Houses.

• Saturday will be a busy day on campus: we welcome back Old Bromsgrovians from the 1980s for their reunion, along with a large number of hockey, netball and rugby fixtures. Boarders will finish the day with a Street Food event for their supper.

I am almost done. Please do consider some of my earlier thoughts. We are first and foremost a school, and accordingly your first priority is to strive for the best academic grades you can achieve. But alongside this, we also offer the chance of a wider education in a community which has much to offer us all, individually and collectively. I wish you all a busy, interesting and ultimately a fulfilling term. It will be a long and tiring stretch until the Christmas break – start today with the intention of fostering the positive friendships and relationships with your peers which will offer you the support we all need as fatigue gradually sets in. And by that I mean real friendships, not the virtual ones perpetuated by social media – I wonder how many of you are trying the latest trend of Scroll-Free September? It sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me, and I know there are a couple of hundred new people in this room who would appreciate real life conversation as we start the new academic year.

In that vein, and as is customary at the end of a Routh Assembly, please stand as we all say together the Grace:

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, for ever more. Amen.

18 June 2018

Last Updated: 18/06/2018 13:40:58

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 18th June 2018

An excerpt from ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’:
“He remembered that first tremendous ordeal of taking prep; a September sunset more than half a century ago; Big Hall full of lusty barbarians ready to pounce on him as their legitimate prey. His youth, fresh-complexioned, high-collared, and side-whiskered (odd fashions people followed in those days), at the mercy of five hundred unprincipled ruffians to whom the baiting of new masters was a fine art, an exciting sport, and something of a tradition. Decent little beggars individually, but, as a mob, just pitiless and implacable. The sudden hush as he took his place at the desk on the dais; the scowl he assumed to cover his inward nervousness; the tall clock ticking behind him, and the smells of ink and varnish; the last blood-red rays slanting in slabs through the stained-glass windows. Someone dropped a desk lid. Quickly, he must take everyone by surprise; he must show that

"Colley, sir."

"Very well, Colley, you have a hundred lines."

No trouble at all after that. He had won his first round.

Good morning.
There have been a few one-year memorials recently and it is sobering to look back and think where we were 12 months ago. This time last year, Britain was preoccupied with terror and disaster. The Manchester Arena bombing and the London Bridge stabbings had just happened, as had the Grenfell Tower disaster. Our news was awash with fear and anger.

A year on, those tragedies are not forgotten, but new outrages now occupy us. The #MeToo movement has spread worldwide, calling out abusive behaviour, mainly by men against women. The 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage has also put a spotlight on gender inequality. Racism and religious discrimination have also been challenged and condemned recently, even at the core of our democracy.

Witness the anti-Semitism allegations aimed at political parties or the vile comments when Bromsgrove’s own MP, Sajid Javid, was appointed as the first Muslim Home Secretary. This country is facing up to some unacceptable beliefs and, rightly, condemning them. Not just in Britain in fact, but also throughout the world. Many countries are calling time on behaviour that discriminates. All of which is good.

However, it will not spread deeper unless we understand why such beliefs take root in the first place. Stopping the effects of prejudice and privilege from hurting people is one thing, stopping such thoughts from even occurring in our minds at all, is another. So, why do we make judgements about others based on a group to which they belong? Why do we feel the need to categorise? Even if those categories don’t appear to cause harm?

Sexist behaviour that leads to discrimination or, worse still, violence against women, may now be outlawed. Racist behaviour the leads to unfair privilege or worse still, hate crime, may now be illegal. But so-called “casual” sexism and “casual” racism will continue if we don’t understand why it happens.

By casual, I mean things we do or say, almost subconsciously, which show a bias or judgement towards people based on stereotypes or prejudices. That might include jokes, off-hand comments, or excluding people from social situations. Or that great British excuse, “It’s just banter.”

Most people in this day and age, especially your generation, would never stand up and say that men, or white people, or Christians, are superior to everyone else. Yet many may not think twice about mimicking an accent. Or asking a boy to fix a computer. Or assuming someone has a large family because they are Catholic. The World Cup is about to kick off. As it progresses, how many of you may make some comment about all Germans being naturally brilliant at football (or all English being rubbish)? Is that wrong? Is it hurtful? Possibly not. Is that racist? If it assumes superiority or inferiority for an entire race of people, probably, yes.

Those of you who are flying somewhere at the end of term, going home or on holiday, will undoubtedly hear the pilot’s voice come over the PA, advising you about the flight ahead. If you are a seasoned traveller, you might just ignore it. However, if that voice were a female one, who amongst you might feel a little flicker of surprise that the pilot is a woman? Comment on it maybe? If so, is that sexist?
If you suddenly unbuckled your seatbelt and ran for the emergency exit screaming “Who let a woman into the cockpit?” undoubtedly. But is it sexist just being surprised at discovering a woman in a largely male-dominated occupation? Maybe not, especially if you are pleased by it. However, it may be a sign of stereotypical thinking.

Stereotyping is an innately human thing to do. It is part of how we have survived and thrived on the planet. To stay safe and to flourish, our ancestors needed to know what they could trust. What would hurt them, what would help them? So we became good at recognising patterns and grouping things. Red things in nature are often poisonous. Based on that pattern, if you found an unfamiliar red berry, probably best not to eat it. I haven’t seen this crocodile before, but the last one I saw ate my uncle, so I’m going to class all crocodiles as dangerous and steer clear. Unsurprisingly, our brains then evolved to take the same approach with people. After all, other humans are more unpredictable than anything else on Earth. When we come across someone new, we need to know what threat he or she might present. If they appear the same as us, we feel we have a better idea of how they will act. If not, what known category do they fit into?

Young males carrying weapons go into the “probably dangerous” category in our minds. Old women with baskets, not so much. As our societies became more complex, so did our stereotypes. People who share my looks, my skin colour, my language, my religion, are easier to predict. They are safer. Those who are different to me, I’m more uncertain about, so I will treat them with greater caution. Grouping, seeing patterns, making assumptions based on similarities, these processes all became hardwired in our brains. They are part of your DNA. Which is all well and good if we were still roaming the savannah trying to stay alive, but not so essential in the modern world, where the biggest threats you face are running out of charge on your phone or not having enough milk in your latte.

Yet our brains go on merrily stereotyping, making us wary of people who are different than us, even though modern science, history and philosophy tell us that, actually, we are all pretty much the same. That diversity is not only ok, it is actually quite healthy. The fact is, relying on stereotypes about other people is now just lazy thinking. It may even cause us to make wrong assumptions that end up harming our own chances in life. Those of you who can avoid stereotyping entire groups of people, who can see past clichés, are more likely to thrive and develop as human beings. And more likely not to end up in some superficial mould yourself.

Which leads me to my final point. The reason for this morning’s reading coming from the literary classic, “Goodbye Mr Chips.” A famous work of modern fiction, which tells the tale of a crusty old boarding school master, Mr Chips. A teacher who is as devoted to his pupils as they are to him.

We don’t just perpetuate stereotypes about gender or race or religion. We also fall for clichés about people’s professions. All pilots are men. All accountants are boring. All politicians are untrustworthy. All teachers are…? What? What are the stereotypes about teachers? Good and bad?

If you want to spot stereotypes in any culture, look no further than TV and the movies. Our drama reflects our culture. Unfortunately, it also reinforces it. So, what are your stereotypes of teachers? The zany Jack Black from School of Rock? The staffroom clichés of Glee?
Inspirational, like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society? Or immoral, like those in Bad Teacher or Bad Education? Or worse, Walter White in Breaking Bad? (I’m hoping he is not sitting behind me). The fantasy stereotypes of the staff at Hogwarts? Is Dumbledore back there? Or maybe the lovable but crusty old Mr Chips?

So many dramatic depictions of school life are based on an adversarial relationship between teachers and their pupils. Us and them. This is war. Teachers repressing pupils. Pupils undermining teachers. We should all count our blessings that is not our reality. Certainly not at Bromsgrove. This is a place of mutual respect and co-operation. Where your teacher is your advocate, not your arch-enemy. If you stereotype your teachers, whether it be the rebel or the tyrant or the mad professor or the sucker who can be easily distracted into telling stories all period, you are missing the point that they are as individual as you are.
More importantly, they share exactly the same goal here – your success. The end of the academic year is almost upon us and my challenge to you, as we prepare to part company for a while, is to see those who have taught you this year for who they are. It may come as a shock, but this lot will not all crawl under rocks and hibernate for the summer. They all have families, friends, hobbies and interests as varied as yours. Diverse, unique personal lives outside of this School that make them the dynamic, interesting, and successful educators they become during term time. So, as the term ends, I’m not saying you have to thank your teachers, although that would be nice. But I am saying you should respect what they have done for your benefit over the past 12 months. Appreciate that they have treated each of you as individuals, without stereotypes of nationality, gender, religion or ability. Have taken the time to get to know who you are as unique and talented human beings. Which is exactly what they are as well.


The Chicken
The DTGP race team attended the Goodwood heat recently, competing successfully in two races against over 100 other cars and guaranteeing themselves a spot in the world finals in October. They took first place in the Kitcar category once again and were also awarded a BMW sponsored award for best presented team which was a great way to finish the weekend. The team members are invited to come forward to collect their trophies:
Captain Hamish Sutherland, Luke Weller, Jeffery Soo, Polly Dakin, Aggie Warner, Michael Malam, Howard Goldstraw, Freya Tweddell.

WWI Writing
To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One and to honour the memory of the Old Bromsgrovians who died in the Great War, pupils from Years 8 and the Lower Fourth took part in a prestigious competition which involved responding creatively to material in the School’s Archives. Diaries, poems, letters and stories were all submitted and the following entries were highly commended: Rosie Willetts, Maxim Edger, Luke Bond, Charles Costello, Mayaz Shabab, Aggie Warner and Keira Sedheva.
Today we present awards to the three runners-up, who each receive an ornamental Tommy statuette from the Commonwealth War Grave Commission and to the two winning entries, who will be travelling to the Battlefields in October, to visit sites in Belgium and France, all with a significant connection to Bromsgrove School.I invite forward the runners up:Will Evans, Sara Maria Popescu, Poppy Summers
And the two winning entries:Ellen Ashton, Seb Harrison

U15 County Cricket Champions
Last Friday the U15s continued their progression in the national T20 competition with a close win over Malvern, making them the county champions for 2018. The U15s will now play Newcastle Under Lyme and the winners of that match will be in a national quarterfinal.

There was great success for our Tennis players at the recent County Championships. This morning invite forward the following players to receive trophies for winning the doubles competitions:
Girls U14 doubles: Isabelle O`Conner & Lucy McLoughlin
Boys U14 doubles: Stuart Shannon & Cameron Owen
Girls U16doubles: Borislava Mekushina & Claudia Bullock

Lower Fourth

It was very pleasing to hear the many positive comments regarding the LIV in their participation on camp and the lifeskills course last week. I certainly enjoyed my own opportunity to watch how you performed, both individually and in groups. Well done on taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded to you at the end of a busy year.

Congratulations to all of these musicians for their recent successes, especially the evening recital last week, given by music scholars in the Upper and Lower Fourth.

We also congratulate Vincent Li, who has achieved the prestigious ATCL Diploma in Piano Performance from Trinity College London, and Emily Evans, who has been appointed Organ Scholar of St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, west Wales - this is a very great honour indeed and one that Emily richly deserves.

Alia Derriey has been shortlisted as a finalist for an award from the Shine National Media Awards for her work with 201 magazine. Alia and Aled Luckman will be going to a ceremony in London at the start of July and we wish Alia well. Last month, Alia also won a prestigious national essay prize, the English and Media Centre’s Close Reading Competition where she was judged the best among some of the country’s most talented Sixth Form essayists by prominent academic Professor John Mullan of University College London.

Sign Language
Well done also to those Senior School sign language students helped with the Lower Fourth PCSHE week by teaching them basic introductions.


Congratulations to all who were selected for Herefordshire and Worcestershire county schools athletics team to compete in the prestigious Mason Trophy at Alexander Stadium.

The School won 3 out of the 4 matches played against Solihull School. Sadly though, Friday evening saw the 1st team knocked out of the U18 national T20 cup to a strong Shrewsbury team.

Well done to the girls’ Tennis teams with all 6 teams beating Malvern College.
A special mention must go to the boys’ 1st Tennis team as on Saturday they beat Cheltenham College 6-3 which meant they have gone undefeated all season.

Good luck to those sitting ABRSM music exams next Monday and Tuesday, and we also wish the Big Band well as they prepare for their set at the Upton Jazz Festival this coming weekend.

Anyone wishing to enter the Forward Poetry Student Critics competition should contact Mr Dinnen before the end of term.

Finally, the debating motion for next Friday is “This House would support an enforced policy of diversity amongst its members”.

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

7 May 2018

Last Updated: 07/05/2018 10:44:48

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 7th May 2018

Good morning.
As you are aware, 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 study was in what is now Thomas Cookes and Hazeldene. His poems helped define an age in England, a verse from one of them is carved into the large stone ball outside the Admin Building.

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. I invite Mr Dinnen to introduce this year’s winning entry.

This year’s theme was ‘the land of lost content’, a phrase take from Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, XL, and was accompanied by a landscape photograph of the Shropshire hills also inspired by the same line of poetry. The winning composition, entitled A Shropshire Tree, was by Aled Luckman, who now reads his poem to the School.

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, 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 pay particular tribute the care and thorough research that senior staff have put in to selecting the people we will make up this morning. Consideration has covered the entirety of your time at School, not just the past few weeks. That is 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.

When we sought your input into the selection process a couple of weeks ago, I reminded you not to think of Monitorship as a reward. If that were the criteria, most in this room would be appointed. Prizes for being excellent are for prizegiving.

I also reminded you that although being a Monitor required a certain skill set of leadership abilities, there were many more suitable applicants than there were positions, so selections had to be made. Just because the best two dozen were chosen, doesn’t mean that there aren’t many others in the 6th Form who have the potential to lead.

Naturally, some will be disappointed, but in that disappointment is a chance to show character and resilience. There are a number of other significant leadership decisions yet to made, especially in the Houses, and I encourage those who desire to lead in this way to prove themselves worthy over the coming days.

Like any job, being a School Monitor has a Job Description. It includes upholding the traditions and ethos of the School and that is 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.

We will have tasks for them to do, on top of the normal pressures of the Sixth Form, but they are not slaves.

They will require things of you, in the House, the Chapel, Dining Hall, this Arena, throughout the School. But neither are they slave drivers.

The people who are about to come forward and publicly sign their pledge, are servants.
Servants to you, servants to me and servants to the School. The difference between slaves and servants is the choice to serve.

These people have accepted a request to serve their School and for that we owe them our respect. 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, our new Monitors will then sign their names in the book that has been used since 1950. Once that is completed, each will receive their badge of office, shake my hand, then those of the Head Boy and Girl.
Congratulations to:
Timofey Abbasov
Archie Batham-Read
Lisa Bradburn
Kieran Brinn
Hannah Brock
Anya Butler
Heidi Collie
Alia Derriey
Lily-Rose Faulkner-Schütt
Lilly-May Fowke
Tristan Hall
Archie Holder
Anna Huang
Andrii Iermolaiev
Hannah Jones
Katharina Knopp
Grayson Leversha
Emily Lyle
George Marshall
Peter Olley
Paolo Romanengo
Charles Sapwell
Benjamin Turner
24. Lydia Wright  

Examination Encouragement
This is the final Assembly for the 5th Form before you go on exam leave. By the time you re-join us, just before Commem, all of the examinations for which you are currently striving hard, will be behind you.

As many of you know, I refuse to 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. If examination success were a matter of luck, why bother putting in long hours of disciplined revision? Why bother wrestling with concepts that you find challenging? What is all this delayed gratification during sunny weather about?

Luck is for the lazy, the unmotivated, the ill-prepared. You are none of those.

Instead, to all who are sitting GCSE examinations, I wish you what you deserve. Which, for just about every person in this Arena, is academic success.

The same goes for those sitting IB now, those facing A Level finals in a fortnight, those finishing BTEC modules. And indeed, for the Lower 6th and the Fourth Forms facing internal School Mocks.

I wish you all what you deserve, what you have worked for, what you have earned. 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.

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