The Headmaster's Weekly Routh Address

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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.

30th April 2018

Last Updated: 30/04/2018 12:12:49

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 30th April 2018

An article from the Telegraph last week read:

'Best Female Chef' award is sexist, chefs say, as they complain 'this isn't like sport'
A female chef of the year award is sexist, chefs have complained.
The World's Best Female Chef accolade, which was won this year by British chef Clare Smyth, is awarded by The World's Best 50 Restaurants, but there is no equivalent prize given out to male chefs.

Pip Lacey, former head chef at the restaurant Murano, said: "I don't get why we have to segregate the award - it's a bit odd.” "I don't see why you can't compete with men, why there's not just one category.

"It's not like how in sport you are competing at a different physical level, I don't think cooking is like that."

The chef added: "It's like we weren't considered in the years before. Now it seems to be going backwards. Every female young chef is being asked about females in the kitchen and it is getting boring.”

"We never think of it like that. We never think there's loads of men in this profession."

Good morning
It’s hard to know quite what to think about what has just been read out to you. It appeared in the Telegraph last week. A top chef competition is not exactly up there with historic agreements to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, mass murder on the streets of Toronto, Bill Cosby being found guilty of rape or even President Trump’s latest rantings on Twitter. Yet it is possibly a story with more direct relevance to our lives in Bromsgrove because of its underlying assumptions.

Who knows quite what the intentions of the journalist were. Maybe to highlight another example of casual sexism, hiding in plain sight. “Look at these talented women, they can cook well in a professional kitchen, just like men do. Aren’t they clever little things?” Or perhaps it was a suggestion of reverse sexism? An unusual twist; this time it’s not women discriminated against, but men who can’t compete.

More likely, though, the writer was probably highlighting the possibility that, in trying to level the playing field for women, the organisers of this female-only competition had actually ended up reinforcing gender stereotypes. By excluding men, they reinforced a perception that women need special treatment in order to gain parity.

Other than where physical differences actually play a significant part in winning, such as some sporting competitions, I can think of no realm of human activity where there is a good reason for women and men not to compete directly. Think of our own situation; House Song, House Music, Questions in the House, inter-House debating, CCF, D of E, eligibility for end of year prizes, Monitor selection, the list goes on. Other than sports, there is no reason to segregate boys and girls (and even there we should possibly consider some co-ed options).

Maybe the story managed to see the light of day simply because it was topical. Gender equality and the treatment of women has dominated news cycles over the past year. Rightly so. We should desire to live in a fair and just society, where all people are treated equally. Not limited or discriminated because of their gender or any other aspect of their makeup or character.

However, is there a danger in becoming so focussed on the issue, we may lose sight of the end goal? As the chef quoted in the article said, perhaps with some exasperation,

“Every female young chef is being asked about females in the kitchen and it is getting boring. We never think of it like that. We never think there's loads of men in this profession.”

That’s the way it should be, if we were living in a truly equal society. It should not occur anybody to focus on women making it in that profession or any other.

The feminist movement of the last century made enormous strides, raising the status of women in many parts of the world. Not for a moment do I suggest that the challenge is over, or that equality is now assured. However, a huge amount has been achieved and we must be careful not to keep drawing attention to what should now be seen as normal. Running female-only culinary competitions is a case in point. It is no longer extraordinary that women can become top chefs – let us not focus upon it as though it is.

That should be true in all professions. The American educator, Drew Gilpin Faust, said recently “I’m not the woman president of Harvard. I am the president of Harvard.” In my own home country, our recently elected Prime Minister is pregnant, soon to give birth while in office. That story made headlines around the world. Which is somewhat flattering in the way that it makes NZ look like a liberal and progressive nation. However, in another sense, it really shouldn’t be a story either. Every day, millions of women give birth and then later return to busy jobs and important careers. Media obsession about the Prime Minister’s situation perhaps doesn’t help the cause of normalising female equality.

Which is not to say that you shouldn’t think about it. Your generation especially, with more options available to you than any before. However, when you do think about it, I encourage you to get your language right and your facts straight. Media focus on the treatment of women recently hasn’t helped in that regard. There is a sloppiness in the use of terms like misogyny, sexism, chauvinism and sexual harassment.

Misogyny is a hatred of women. The man who mowed down 16 pedestrians in Toronto last week allegedly had a hatred of women. Eight of the ten he killed were female and he apparently targeted them. That is reprehensible. Like any other hatred, it is to be despised.

But it is not sexism. Or at least, sexism is not always misogyny. Sexism is referring to the bodies, behaviour, or feelings of a particular gender in a negative way.

That doesn’t require hate. Far from it. What that requires is ignorance. Some of the tweets and past actions and statements of President Trump are very public examples of sexist thinking.

Which is slightly different again from chauvinism. A male chauvinist is a man who believes that women are naturally less important, intelligent, or able than men, and so does not treat them equally. If North Korea really does find peace with the South and opens itself up to the world, the chauvinism with which it represses women and girls will come under the spotlight.

And misogyny, sexism and chauvinism are not the same as sexual harassment. What Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein did may have involved elements of all three, but first and foremost, it was a crime. Their conduct can’t be written off as a bit of old-fashioned sexist behaviour from a different age.

So if you want to voice your opinion about gender equality, get your terms right. And your facts as well.

Some of you will be aware that from the start of this month, all big companies in Great Britain were required to report their gender pay gap. That is, the difference in pay received by men and women in their organisation. Fair enough. If we want economic equality for women in this country, we should certainly use measures like difference in pay. However, we also need to understand what the data tells us.

Some people who have seen Bromsgrove School’s report think it is a shocking indictment on us all, with a large gap shown between the pay of men and women at this School. However, there are actually two statistics reported. One shows the average pay of all women working at the School, regardless of their job or position, compared to the same average for men. In a large boarding School like ours, we hire not just teachers and administrators, but also many caterers, cleaners and domestic staff. Those jobs have a lower rate of pay and are predominantly done by women. Therefore, their average is lower.

The second statistic though, is the one that compares like for like. Where men and women do the same job, teaching for instance, the pay is exactly the same. As you would expect and as it should be.

There remains the question as to why it is that mainly women fill the majority of lower paid jobs. Service roles still tend to fall to women in many areas of society today and the reasons why are something that we should rightly continue to question. But if you want to voice an opinion on matters of gender pay equality, make sure that you understand the numbers you are seeing.

There is a difference between equity and equality. Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful. Equality is treating everyone the same. Equality aims to promote fairness, but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same help.

UNICEF says gender equality "means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike."

Sometimes promoting equality is as simple as just not feeling the need to refer to gender in a news story or, indeed, your own private conversations.

Leaders Award
Well done to Anastasia Korovina and Amanda Wu on their completion of the ‘Routes into Languages’ Leaders Award.
I invite them forward to receive their certificates.

I invite the following pupils to come and receive certificates for passing their Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams.
Jozef Ruben, Trombone Grade 5
Lucy Trigg, Singing Grade 6 with Merit
Imogen Vaughan-Hawkins, Piano Grade 6 and Singing Grade 6 with Merit
Elyzia Wong, Percussion Grade 7 with Distinction
George Bingham, Percussion Grade 8 Distinction and Singing Grade 8 Merit
Tristan Hall, Piano Grade 8 Merit
Sophie Roy, Piano Grade 8 Merit
Xaver Freigassner, Singing Grade 8

Young Enterprise
Well done to Ki Moments, this year’s Young Enterprise team, who achieved fantastic success at the Area competition last week, winning four awards, adding to the School’s impressive record over the last few years.

Their awards included Best Finance, Best Product, Best Trade Stand and these individual awards contributed to them being awarded Best Overall Company. They now progress to the Regional competition this Thursday. We congratulate them for their achievements so far and wish them luck for the next stage. I invite the team to come up and collect their awards.

Boys Senior House Tennis
3rd Lupton
2nd Housman Hall
1st Elmshurst

The 1st XI competed well to secure a draw against a very strong MCC team.
Unfortunately on Saturday a fantastic 75 from Alex Hinkley couldn’t stop a very impressive Millfield team beating them by 85 runs.
The U15A team lost by 3 runs against King Edward.
The U15 girls’ team competed in their first match of the season, playing well but narrowly losing to Malvern College.
Then on Sunday the first team won both T20 matches to progress to the next round with an all-important Home draw.

Well done to Tatiana Morikova and Ada Tylova who both fenced in the U19 Warwick Age Group Epee event.
Tatiana finished in 2nd place having defeated Ada in the semi-final 15-7, leaving Ada in 3rd place.

Special praise must go to the U14 Boys Hockey team who competed in the National Finals at the Olympic Park in London. They played some fantastic Hockey, narrowly losing 2-1 against Perse School and drawing against St. Georges and Sherborne School. These results mean that the boys are now ranked in the top 6 teams in the country.

The boys U15 Tennis team beat Hereford Cathedral School 12-0.
Well done also to the girls tennis teams on their impressive performances against Clifton College.


Today we have the annual Sports Day - all details have been published via houses.

Marmite students are encouraged to check their emails and reply to Dr Ruben if they wish to attend the Movie and Pizza Night on Friday this week, or are interested in writing for the School Magazines.

And finally a reminder that during next week’s Routh assembly we have two important traditions to observe.

First, the reading of the Housman verse prize and then the signing in of the new school monitors. Both are particularly formal events and I thank you in advance for your respect and understanding of their significance.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

23 April 2018

Last Updated: 23/04/2018 15:49:55

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 23rd April 2018

Of this leader, one of his peers once said:
“Courage and willpower can make miracles. I know of no better example than what that man has accomplished.”

Another said he was:
“…an attractive and interesting personality…a most cheerful person…a born optimist and overflowed with energy.”

Those he led said:
“He had a quick brain, and he could visualise things ahead, and as far as he could, he safeguarded every eventuality that was likely to occur.”
“He was so young at heart that he appeared to be younger than any of us.”
“I always found him rising to his best and inspiring confidence when things were at their blackest.”
“He was a tower of strength and endurance and he never panicked in an emergency.”
“No matter what turned up, he was always ready to alter his plans and make fresh ones, and in the meantime laughed and joked and enjoyed a joke with anyone, and in that way, kept everyone’s spirits up.”

Good morning
These quotes all relate to arguably one of the finest leaders in recent history, the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. It is timely to consider leadership qualities like his; optimism, courage, resilience, a sense of humour, as it is that time of the term when we appoint the new Monitor Team for the coming year. So, after much deliberation, it is my pleasure to announce that the following people have been selected:
Douglas Mawson
Rosa Parks
Diana Spencer
Luis Urzúa
Malala Yousafzai

Ok, actually three of those people are dead, one has been shot and the other is unavailable because he is thousands of feet underground down a mine. Which is why, later today, I am going to be seeking your input to help identify who, amongst this year’s Lower Sixth, may have similar attributes and who may actually be available to lead the School next year. But in case you didn’t recognise the names I just listed, let me tell you why I think they are role models for the type of person I think makes an effective Monitor.

Diana Spencer, aka Princess Diana was the first wife of Prince Charles. She was killed in a car crash before you were born, but I would be surprised if you did not know of Lady Di. Hers was a life full of challenge and controversy once she married into the British Royal family. However, she undoubtedly showed leadership in her role and its hallmark was compassion. Most famously on one occasion almost exactly 31 years ago today.

It was 1989 and the AIDS virus had just emerged. A new, frightening disease with no cure, rampaging through communities, with people ignorant and therefore extremely fearful of it. Many believed that you could catch AIDS from touching someone who had it, or even sitting on the same toilet seat. Sufferers were shunned. 50% of people polled in the US believed that those with AIDS should be quarantined in special institutions.

Imagine the media frenzy then, when Princess Diana, visiting the first unit in the UK dedicated to treating people with HIV and AIDS, quite spontaneously, removed her gloves and shook the bare hand of a patient. The image went global and her single act of compassion changed people’s perceptions of the disease forever.

Then there is Malala Yousafzai; I have spoken of her before. You will recall she was a young girl who grew up in northwest Pakistan, where the Taliban banned girls from attending school. At such a young age, your age in fact, she had already become a vocal supporter of female education. Which is why a Taliban gunman saw fit to shoot her three times in the head in an assassination attempt.

She survived, and the attack provoked worldwide outrage. More importantly though, she refused to be silenced. Since her recovery, Malala became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, addressed the UN, met world leaders, and fights today for women’s rights to education. Her courage and confidence to speak out surely has been an inspiration.

Equally inspiring was Rosa Parks, the African American woman who, in 1955, in racially segregated Alabama, refused to give up her seat in the ‘coloured section’ of a bus to a white passenger when ordered to do so by the driver. Her passive resistance saw her arrested, she lost her job and received death threats for many years. Significantly, she was not some firebrand radical or a political activist before this happened. Just an ordinary working class woman going home on a bus.

However, through her actions she became a powerful symbol of the modern civil rights movement. An international icon. The United States Congress called her ‘the first lady of human rights’. Arguably, the strength of Rosa Parks’ convictions about equity and fair treatment changed America.

Some of the other leaders I named are perhaps not so well known today. Unless you have an interest in the bygone era of polar exploration, you probably won’t have heard of Douglas Mawson. You may know of Roald Amundsen, Capt. Robert Scott or Ernest Shackelton, all great leaders themselves. But Mawson is often forgotten, even though his feats were equally impressive.

He was an Australian (much as I hate to admit it) whose capacity for work and whose perseverance when the going got tough was extraordinary. If you ever want to read a powerful tale of human endurance, I recommend ‘The Home of the Blizzard’, in which Douglas Mawson describes trekking to the extreme edge of the Antarctic ice shelf with two of his men and a team of six sled dogs, only to lose them all when they fall into a crevasse.

The journey home, unaided, undernourished and alone, took Mawson three months, often only making progress of a mile a day before exhaustion and appalling weather forced him to halt and pitch his tent. He arrived back at his hut barely alive, only to see his ship sailing away, his crew having given him up for dead. He lived another year in that hut before a summer rescue party found him. His fortitude and mental stamina was remarkable.

As for Luis Urzúa, I’d be surprised if anyone recognised that name. In 2010, the collapse of a copper mine in northern Chile trapped 33 men 700 metres underground. They were eventually rescued after a massive worldwide effort that involved thousands of volunteers, the military and even NASA. But it took 69 days to reach them. Two and a half months, trapped deep underground, with nothing but stale air, liquid nourishment piped from above, and their abiding fear.

That all 33 men were finally winched alive to safety was due almost entirely to their foreman, Luis Urzúa. As soon as the mine collapsed, he recognised the seriousness and took charge, organising the men for survival and helping them cope mentally with the situation. Cold and dark, that rockfall became their home, where he worked tirelessly to encourage the others, putting his own needs second and repressing his fears.  Luis Urzúa was the last man to be rescued, cool and calm under pressure as he had been throughout. In the days that followed the rescue, the world heard of the undying affection of his men, grateful for the way that Luis had cared for them and kept their spirits up. As a leader, he understood the power of camaraderie.

I’m rather hoping next year none of you plummet down a mine or crevasse, get imprisoned, catch a fatal disease, or have someone attempt to assassinate you. Nevertheless, the leadership traits required by our School Monitors are all amongst you anyway. Lady Diana’s compassion. Malala Yousafzai’s courage. Rosa Park’s conviction. Douglas Mawson’s capacity. Luis Urzúa’s camaraderie.

And you will have your own criteria too, no less important. By all means, nominate people that you admire. However, remember this as you do. Being a School Monitor is a job. It is not a prize for being a good citizen or an award for diligence. There are too many good and diligent pupils in the Lower Sixth for that to occur. There will be reward for their contributions and achievements, but it will come in other forms. Prizes, colours and caps, scholarships, testimonials, trophies, all will be acknowledged in their final year.

For now though, we seek the best people for a challenging job. There will be many who will have the skills and the character to be a Monitor, we have the challenging task of choosing those most suited. Which is why I am not the slightest bit interested in a balance of boys and girls, or an even spread between IB, A Level and BTEC. I am not even looking for representation from all Houses.

We are seeking compassion, courage, capacity, conviction, camaraderie. And if that’s too much alliteration, throw in humility, optimism, a sense of humour and above all, pride in the School. If that sounds like someone you know, I encourage you to nominate them this afternoon.

Chemistry Olympiad Certificates.
There were over 6500 entries this year and these students were in the top 25 – 30 % of entries.

Awarded Silver: Shufei Wang, Maria Starikova, Nikita Bedov

Awarded Bronze: Timofei Chernega, Hanting Wang, Dominic Gardner

I invite all six Chemists forward to receive their certificates


Let me commend all who participated in last evening’s Hayden Nelson Mass performance in Routh. It was an extremely professional performance, technically challenging yet perfectly executed – well done to all.

Still on the subject of precision, our congratulations to Issy Walters who finished 2nd in the Schools Clay Shooting Challenge, shooting an impressive 46/50.

And commendation also to Freddie Draycott who has been selected to represent England in the Wadokai Karate World Championships in the UK in August.

The athletics season started well with all teams competing well at the Ryland Centre on Saturday. There were good individual wins for:
Junior Boys – Andrew Wong - Shot
Intermediate Boys – Sam Roberts – Hurdles,
Kieran Valley - Discus
Senior Boys – Harry Liversidge – Hurdles,
George Elliot - Javelin
Junior Girls – Lucy Trigg – Hurdles,
Ellen Ashton - Shot
Intermediate Girls – Beth Lloyd – 100 and 200 m,
Lena Siller – 800 m,
Orla Walker – 1500 m,
Hannah Sahota – Hurdles,
Olivia Corcoran – Long Jump,
Emily Gittoes–Triple Jump & Relay
Senior Girls – Liv Turner – 1500 m,
Hannah Huang – Hurdles,
Maria Starikova – Discus,
Rili Domuschieva – 800 m

The cricket teams played Clifton College and there were some very good results, especially by the junior teams. The U14B’s won by 7 wickets, the U14A’s by 70 runs, the U15B’s by 100 runs, the U15A’s by 110 runs and the 3rd XI by 70 runs.

Table tennis
Well done to Vladimir Averin, Jade Ngan and Karen Chu who had qualified and played in the National Table Tennis Finals, but special congratulations must go to Jade Ngan who is now ranked in the top 16 in the country.

Both the Boys’ tennis teams had a good start to the season with both teams winning their matches against Rugby School 6 – 3.
The Girls’ teams also played Rugby School with good wins for the U14A, U15C, U15A and U16A teams.

This week sees the start of external exams and it goes without saying that we expect the highest standards of conduct around the campus as many seniors sit these vital test. Make sure that you move between lessons quietly so as not to disturb and also be respectful in the Houses of the pressures that seniors are under. Remember, that will be you one day soon.

We wish the U14 boys all the best as they play in the Hockey national finals today.

Marmite Gifted and Talented students are reminded to check their emails from Dr Ruben. Remember that you need to attend the remaining two weeks of seminars if possible, if they wish to join the Oxbridge trip later this term.

On Tuesday, there will be a Law Society Law Applications Session, held at 1.20pm in Futures. This is an opportunity to meet with U6 students who are holding offers to study Law and to find out how they decided on their course and university. Including how they wrote their personal statement and some top tips.

Also on Tuesday, there is a lunchtime talk by Nottingham Trent University - 1.20pm Lecture Theatre. Nottingham Trent is a popular choice with Bromsgrove students and the speaker will tell you about their degrees and why you should apply to them. Email Miss Leech for a seat.

This Thursday the 1st XI play the MCC.

Also on Thursday, if you would like the opportunity to make a difference by doing some voluntary work, Dr Rimmer will be giving out information about the charity Sense. This will include the chance to help give a young person who is visually impaired a great holiday experience this summer. 1.30pm in Futures on Thursday 26th April. Again, please email Miss Leech for a seat.

Still on the subject of service, donations from Own Clothes Day on Friday will go to aid of the Birmingham Homeless Outreach Charity.

Please note Sports Day is next Monday, not on the traditional Bank Holiday.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

16th April

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

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 16th April 2018

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

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

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

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

From the Headmaster:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Bromsgrove Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IB1 Mock examinations will be held this week

IB2 Exam Leave commences at the end of the week

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

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

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

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

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