The Headmaster's Weekly Routh Address

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11 February

Last Updated: 11/02/2019 15:20:45

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 11th February 2019

Reading: Excerpt from Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
With a badly broken leg, mountaineer Joe Simpson was being lowered down a steep, icy slope by his climbing partner when he went over the edge of a cliff in the dark. Hanging in mid-air in his harness on the end of the rope, he could not see or hear his friend. He describes what happened next:

“My torch beam died. The cold had killed the batteries. I saw stars in a dark gap above me. … Some moved, little winking moves, on and off, on and off, floating the brightest sparks of light down on me. Then, what I had waited for pounced on me.

The stars went out and I fell. Like something come alive, the rope lashed violently against my face and I fell silently, endlessly into the nothingness, as if dreaming of falling. I fell fast, faster than thought, and my stomach protested at the swooping speed of it. I swept down, and from far above I saw myself falling and felt nothing. No thoughts and all my fears gone. So this is it!

The acceleration took me again, mercifully fast, too fast for the scream which died above me…”

Good morning
As Mr Noble noted in his Chapel address last week, human beings are born with only two fears. The fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. All our other fears, we learn along the way. Whether that is the common ones, like claustrophobia or arachnophobia - the fear of spiders - that many of you may have. Or others that you may not suffer personally but can at least understand, like bacteriophobia, which, unsurprisingly, is a fear of germs. Or dentophobia which is, you guessed it, a fear of dentists.

Or even the truly weird ones, that just make no sense at all, like barophobia, which is a fear of gravity. I am not entirely sure how you can exist with a fear of gravity, but there you go. Or anatidaephobia. The fear that, wherever you are in the world, a duck is watching you. Not biting or attacking you. Just watching you. There are hundreds of others, just Google ‘unusual phobias’. Hours of fun.

The fear of falling is primal though, hard-wired into us all. Which is probably why it is the most common recurring dream or nightmare that people experience. Admittedly, gravity plays a part in falling; maybe that’s what barophobia is all about. Regardless, we all fear falling.

Most people fall throughout their lifetime, but I have become something of a master of it. I have turned accidentally hitting the ground into an art form. Just like you, I did all the usual tripping and stumbling as I learned to walk. But then, I elevated it to a new level. My first award-winning fall was out of the top of a very tall Pine tree in our garden when I was five. I wasn’t supposed to be up there – my brothers and I had been warned that it was dangerous. However, there was no hiding the fact that I’d climbed it after I took the express route down. I hit every branch on the way, tore a large gash in my thigh that required 18 stiches and landed, knocked out, at the feet of my unsuspecting father, who was raking up leaves.

That was my first trip to the hospital, but by no means my last. Since then, my falling career has included slipping, sliding and plummeting off rooves, scaffolding, ladders, trampolines, a power pylon, the tray of a truck, the bucket of a tractor, rock faces, sea cliffs, mountain ledges, the backs of horses and even an elephant. In Sri Lanka, I once fell off an elephant. That is not an easy thing to do. Elephants are big, you have to work hard to fall off one. But gravity has never been my friend.

Like the mountaineer Joe Simpson you heard about in the reading, I have also fallen into a crevasse. Unlike him, I wounded nothing other than my pride and, after an exhausting 20 minutes of panicky ice climbing, I emerged into the daylight unscathed.

That has not always been the case though. You perhaps will not be surprised to learn that I have had a few injuries from falling.

I once fell off the top of a waterfall in the dark and broke both big toes simultaneously when I finally hit the rocks in a pool below. If that sounds as if I landed like a ballerina, I did not. I am many things when hurtling towards the ground at speed, but graceful is not one of them.

I raise all this because I was thinking about falling last Wednesday as I watched the boys U18 Basketball Team play their fierce rivals, Alcester Grammar School in what was one of the best games on court that I have witnessed in years. Nail-biting, point for point throughout all four quarters, two perfectly matched sides who played extremely hard but with real sportsmanship.

There is falling involved in most sports of course. When I did karate as a young man, we spent the first two months just being taught how to hit the ground, in the expectation that it would happen often (and it did).
Not that I needed much help with that, I was getting pretty expert by then. In hockey, players trip and slip. Gymnasts miss their landings and tumble. Cyclists crash. Rugby has a premeditated fall, called the tackle. To fall in basketball though, is usually quite spectacular. That’s because it usually comes as the result of a player giving 100% commitment to what they are doing and zero thought to what happens if it all goes badly wrong. Getting airborne for a basket, ducking and weaving down the court through opposition players, leaping for a rebound, a basketball player is not usually planning for high speed contact with the floor.

And the court surface is hard. Hitting a grass pitch or 4G astro is nothing compared to face-planting a solid wooden floor. When a basketballer drops, it hurts. Falls hurt most when you’re not expecting them. If you know you are going down, there is at least a chance to prepare. To brace and land the right way. Watch a cat fall – they instinctively twist to land on their feet.

For a basketballer who is suddenly body-checked in mid-air, arms above their head, concentrating on the hoop not the ground, there is little they can do to break their fall. I know that feeling. You have a moment of remarkable mental clarity when you realise “This is not going to end well.” And then, boom.

However, it is what happens next that is significant. No matter how dramatic the fall, basketballer players tend to get straight back up. In fact, more often than not, someone else pulls them up. Sometimes a teammate, very often though, the person who knocked them down.

I’m sure you can see the obvious lessons there for any stumble or fall you have in life. Especially the unforeseen ones. An unexpectedly bad test result. Painful surprise at not being selected for a team or a prize. Sudden humiliation at saying something really dumb or doing something monumentally embarrassing online.

We all fall occasionally in life and we all fear it happening. You must not let that fear inhibit you though. A basketball team that stands frozen to the spot throughout the whole game in case they trip is unlikely to score, let alone win. Likewise, those who go down and stay down are out of the game.

So too in everyday life. If you stumble academically for a moment, if a friend drops you, if your spirits fall suddenly, if something you had hoped for comes crashing down, you must get straight back up. Tell yourself that you will think about it later, assess the damage in a while. Right now though, get straight back in the game. Momentum is everything. Don’t give yourself time to dwell on your misfortune, box on.

Likewise, if you see someone else in your life take a fall, in their studies, in their relationships, if their mood or confidence suddenly drops, reach out and pull them up.
Especially if you were the one who knocked them down in the first place. Be a bigger person and get them back on their feet.

Winter can be a gloomy time and if you have slipped, tripped or fallen a little over these past two months, my encouragement is to take some time over the coming break to find your feet again. Remember that people drown, not by falling in a river, but by allowing themselves to stay submerged in it.

House Music

This year’s House music competitions took place last Thursday, presenting an outstanding array of talent. Before I acknowledge the performers, let me also praise those of you who turned out to support your House and your friends with enthusiasm and encouragement.

No fewer than 93 musicians competed in the ensemble section, with every House represented in the first final of the day. Truly superb performances from all, with:
Elmshurst - Highly commended
Oakley runners up, and
Housman and Wendron-Gordon named joint winners.
I invite the House music captains from each of those four Houses come forward to be re-presented with their certificates and the trophy.

In the evening we returned to Routh once again to hear soloists battle it out in two categories: Intermediate and Advanced. Each finalist had progressed from the first round last week at which 36 musicians auditioned, making it a hotly contested evening of superb musical performances.

The awards went to:
Highly commended were trumpeters Jake Wingfield (School) and Andy Chia (WG);
Runner up was vocalist Lily-Rose Faulkner-Schuett (Hazeldene) and
Winner, drummer Johnson Shi (Elmshurst)

Highly commended, Eleanor Dunn (Hazeldene) and Max Wong (Elmshurst);
Runner up, on the French horn, Josh Osborn-Patel (Lupton) and,
Joint winner’s, two outstanding pianists, Vincent Li (Lyttelton) and Jude Wynter (Walters)

I might also point out that Jude has recently received the prestigious LTCL – the Licentiate of Trinity College London’s - diploma for piano.

I invite those nine remarkable musicians to come forward and accept your prizes and our congratulations.


The U14 team, who narrowly lost in the national semi-final against Wirral Grammar School on Friday, played extremely well to win the invitational tournament on Saturday, winning their group then playing their best netball to beat Kings High Warwick 15-5 in the final.
I invite the team forward to receive their medals and collect the trophy.

Year 10 EAL classes presented Chinese New Year to youngsters in the Pre-Prep last Tuesday, retelling the story of Nian and teaching the children how to write their names in Chinese. I thank you all for that act of service and the sharing of your culture


Both the 1st and 2nd Girls’ teams secured victory over Cheltenham Ladies College.


As I have already mentioned, our U18 Boys team played one of the best matches in recent memory, to triumph over a very strong Alcester Grammar School team.

Cross Country
Well done to our runners who performed well at the prestigious King Henry VIII relays last week. Saturday also saw excellent runs from Seb Purvis 1st, Will Hobbs 4th Orla Walker 5th in the Worksop College match.

Congratulations to Daisy-Mai Clements, who has been selected for the ISFA U16 national football team to play Kent in March.

In the matches played against Oundle School, the U16 B won 3-1 and the U16A team drew 1-1.

In cup matches this week, the U14 team unfortunately missed out on qualification for the Midland Finals. However, the U15s beat King Edwards and the boys 1st XI had an excellent victory against Caldey Grange School.

Meanwhile, the 1st Girls’ team run came to an end, losing in a good game against Canford School.

In midweek matches our 5 Senior teams all beat Shrewsbury School and out of the 13 matches played against Uppingham School, there were victories for 9 of our teams.

The U16 Boys’ Squash team of Aman Laroiya, William Hobbs, Daniel Grove, Michael Malam and Leo Mellor played in the national Plate semi-final. They came second in their group, losing to St Aiden’s, but beating Tytherington. They now wait to see if they are successful in reaching the National plate finals through a ‘wild card’.

All Fourth and Fifth Form have their School Eucharist Service tomorrow during period 1.

The Debate this week will be a teacher vs. student challenge, featuring Mr Williams and Miss Zafar arguing the moot that “This House Believes Gender Equality is the Final Barrier to Society’s Development”. Tomorrow (rather than Friday), 1:25pm in H20; those interested in speaking please email Archie today. All are welcome.

Finally, just in case you needed any reminding, Half Term break commences at the end of period 6 on Friday. I commend you all on your endurance and optimism over the past six weeks and wish break to recharge your batteries. If you are travelling, do so safely, if you are revising for mocks, do so with self-discipline and whatever else you do, spend more time off-line than on.

Please stand as we say the Grace together.

4th February 2018

Last Updated: 04/02/2019 11:28:14

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 4th February 2019

In ancient times, a ferocious monster named Nian lurked in the dark ocean, surfacing every New Year’s Eve to terrorise Chinese settlements. To avoid death, each year the villagers would escape to remote mountains beforehand.

One year though, as they were packing to flee, a strange old beggar arrived, asking for shelter. None would help him, except for an elderly granny, who took him in and gave him food. She warned of Nian’s approach though, and encouraged the beggar to leave with her. However, he declined, requesting a night in her house in return for expelling the beast. She reluctantly agreed, but then fled to the hills.

At midnight, Nian came ashore and passed through the darkened village, making straight for the old woman’s hut, curious that its doors and windows were pasted with red papers and many candles burned inside. Just as Nian swooped on the door though, loud explosions rang out and the beggar burst forth in a red gown, roaring with laughter. Nian was gravely frightened and disappeared back into the ocean.

The next day, the villagers returned and were amazed to find no destruction and the beggar still alive. When they learned that his exploding bamboo firecrackers, glowing candles and many red adornments had defeated the monster, they vowed to protect themselves the same way in the future. Hence, every Chinese New Year's Eve, the tradition of pasting and gifting red paper, lighting candles, and setting off fireworks to ward off all evil spirits, allowing families to stay up together to welcome in the New Year.

Good morning and xin nian kuai le to those of you who will commemorate Chinese New Year tomorrow. Arguably the most important Chinese celebration, also known as the Spring Festival, with festivities running through to the Lantern Festival in 15 days time (during Half Term in fact).

Although it is called Chinese New Year, the day will not only be a public holiday in Mainland China, but also in countries with significant Chinese populations, including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and even Japan. And in hundreds of other nations, including the UK, there will be Chinese New Year commemorations.

I know that some Houses are making special acknowledgement this week and you can expect to see the Dining Hall in festive mode as well. I thank all of those responsible for sharing their culture with us this week.
As you heard when Mulan told the tale of Nian the sea monster, Chinese New Year is a festival that is centuries old. One that is now an amalgam of many layers of myths and tradition. The myths may be less relevant to some people today, but the traditions endure for many. Just as with Western New Year rituals, Chinese New Year remains a time to focus on happiness and good fortune for friends and family in the year ahead.

The evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for families to gather for an annual reunion dinner and right now, millions of Chinese will be travelling by rail, road and air to be with their parents and grandparents. I take this opportunity to acknowledge those of you who won’t be able to be with your families tonight but hope that there will still be red envelopes waiting when you reunite over Half Term.

It is also traditional at this time to thoroughly cleanse your house, to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for incoming good luck. Again, the story Mulan shared explains why windows and doors might be decorated with red colour paper and couplets with themes of good fortune, wealth, or longevity. Also why firecrackers may be lit and red paper envelopes gifted.

As you know, I am especially proud of the wealth of nationalities that make up this School. Bromsgrove is stronger and more relevant than many schools because of that rich cultural mix. Some of you do not quite realise it right now, but I assure you that your future horizons will be broader and your opportunities greater for having lived, worked and played alongside people from so many other cultures besides your own. If you are wise, you will take the chance to learn of other people’s ways while you’re here. Not just their traditions but also their values. Ultimately, you may not agree, believe or even like their ways, but you will at least better understand them.

As well as broadening your education, the diversity of your peers might just save you some awkwardness in the future. Let me share a quick story to illustrate; I apologise to those who have heard it before. In 1999, when I was Deputy Head of a large boarding school in NZ, I was invited to visit some schools in the Nagaizumi prefecture in Japan. Although I had taught a few Japanese students, it is fair to say that I knew very little of their culture.

I arrived in Tokyo without any real preparation, the first time I had travelled to a non-English speaking country. The taxi ride to the train station was tricky – lots of pointing and trying to do charades impressions of a train. When I finally got there, I was starting to realise that my complete lack of even basic Japanese words was going to be a challenge. However, I had been a geography teacher and, in my arrogance, I thought that if I could just find a map of the railways I would be fine – how hard could it be? Which is how I found myself going machigatta michi (that’s “the wrong way.”) on the Shinkansen (that’s the bullet train) At 220kmph.

When I finally got to my destination in Nagaizumi Cho, I was billeted at a prestigious Japanese boarding school. Once again, there was a significant language barrier. To this day, I still don’t really know what I ate that night. At last though, I found myself alone in a private room at the end of a corridor in one of the dormitories. It was small but very nice. The only slight issue was that there was no bed. Eventually, I realised that I was supposed to lie on the tatami matting on the floor. It was hot, so with just a sheet to cover me, I settled down to sleep. I awoke at 5:00am to utter pandemonium.

Now to put it in context, this was May 1999, about the time that most of you were busy being born. For the month before my visit, the world’s media had been exclusively focussed upon reporting the horrors of the Columbine School massacre.

We called it a massacre back then because the concept of a “school shooting” hadn’t entered our heads, let alone our vocabularies. It was one of the first such atrocities and people were reeling with the horror of it, unable to comprehend how anyone could roam the halls of a school killing children with automatic weapons.

So when I awoke, still groggy with sleep in a foreign place, to a huge commotion outside my door – running footsteps, shouting and screaming, I was probably sub-consciously primed to think the worst. Then the shooting started. One or two shots at first, then rapid fire. Machine guns. More running along the corridor outside my room and yelling in a language I could not begin to understand. All the while, I am lying completely defenceless on the floor in an empty room with a cotton sheet to shield me from the bullets. I have done some fairly hairy things in my life and I don’t scare easily. I promise you, I was terrified that morning.

Eventually, deciding it was better to die on my feet, I opened the door ever so slowly and peeked out, expecting to see carnage. Instead, I saw my host, smiling and carrying a large pot of green tea.

He eventually managed to explain, through a mixture of sign language and broken English, that he hoped I hadn’t been disturbed by the early morning rituals of the day’s festival. Which revolved around children knocking on doors before dawn and running away, after having let off fire crackers to scare off the demons.

Had I had any awareness of Japanese culture, any understanding of the role of festivals and fireworks, I perhaps could have saved myself ten minutes of terror.

You live in the most globally interconnected era in history. We talk of the global village, an increasingly borderless world. Most of you will travel freely around the planet in your lifetime. Many of you already have; you are better travelled than your parents or grandparents. Your generation can now visit any nation with ease, readily experience the cultures they cradle.

Maybe you will become so entranced or embraced by a culture other than your own, that you will move and settle into it in the future. Maybe you will remain a visitor only, richer for what you have witnessed. Even if you aren’t adventurous and never leave these shores though, it is almost certain that you will live with cultures other than your own.

Which is why I truly believe that a little understanding gained here, now, at Bromsgrove, will be of enormous benefit when that time comes. I wish you all, the eyes to see that, and the confidence to be curious, not ignorant or judgemental, about the lives your peers live.


I am very pleased to report that three of our fencers competed in the ‘West Midlands Age Group Epee competition’. Elsa Tsia finished 5th in the Under 16 girls event, just outside the medals.

Artim Veprev was fencing in the Under 18 boys where, despite winning all his pool fights and being seeded first in the quarterfinals, he also finished 5th.

Better luck for Tatiana Morikova though, fencing well all day finishing in 3rd place in the Under 18 girls competition.

All qualify for a place in the British Youth Championships Finals.  

Bromsgrove has retained the North Midlands U16 Cup after a hard fought 24-3 victory over local rivals Solihull at Stourbridge RFC. Both teams played some excellent rugby in bitterly cold conditions. A very pleasing conclusion to what has been a positive season for the team.

Table Tennis
Fifteen of our pupils competed in the Worcestershire Individual table tennis competition on Sunday. All performed well, with three winning their age group: Mill Sibunruang won the U19 girls, Jade Ngan finished 1st in the U16 girls  and Darren Hui won the U16 boys.

Success also at the County Badminton championships, with three of our teams winning their age groups. I invite the U14 and U16 Boys' teams and the U14 Girls’ teams to receive their medals.

All of our swimmers swam well at the Abingdon sprints. Well done to the Girls’ U16 Swim team who won their age group against very strong competition. The team are invited to come and receive our congratulations and the trophy.

Fourth Form House Drama
Over 85 students took part in the 2019 IV Form House Drama competition last Tuesday and I commend every one of you who performed. That took courage, especially for those who took part less because they love drama and more because they love their House.  The evening was most impressive. A slick presentation of teamwork, talent and excellent stagecraft from all involved.

In the Best Actor award, Jake Wingfield took runner up for his superb performance as Sherlock Holmes, whilst the winner was one of our new Drama Scholars, Jess Whitlock, for her lead in “Daisy Pulls It Off!”

A well-deserved special award was presented to Oakley house for their large-scale ensemble staging of “Animal Farm”.

For Best Play, Walters House were runners up for their stylish and high-energy excerpt from “Bugsy Malone”.

Meanwhile the winners were clearly a very popular choice with audience and fellow competitors; Wendron Gordon delivering a mesmerising and scarily convincing piece of physical theatre, an excerpt from the psychiatric ward in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Very well deserved winners and, once again, I congratulate all performers and thank Mr Norton on your behalf.


In national cup matches, congratulations to the Boys’ U16 team who beat King Edwards School 3-0 and the Girls’ 1st XI who beat Cheltenham Ladies College 1 – 0.


Well done to the U16 Boys who defeated Waseley Hills High School 62 – 54. At the county finals, the U14 team finished 4th overall.

Congratulations also to the Netball 1st team who continue their excellent season, winning their cup quarter final game against Guildford High School.
Meanwhile, in midweek matches, the U14A defeated Solihull School.

In matches played against Cheltenham College there was a good win for the boys and a narrow loss for the girls.

Cross Country
At the Rugby School league match, there were good runs from our 31 runners but special mention must go to Natalie Hatfield who came 1st in the open race and Seb Purvis 1st; Will Hobbs 2nd and Callum Wilkinson 5th in the U16 Boys race.

The junior team lost narrowly 3-2 against King Edwards Birmingham.

Table Tennis

The table tennis teams played a very competitive fixture against Alcester Grammar School, eventually winning 13-11.

There was much excitement and musicality in Routh last week, with four days of auditions for the solo competition of House Music. The standard was extremely high and the decisions tough, but congratulations to all who entered, particularly those who have got through to the final.

Ensemble rehearsals take place this week, please make sure you are aware of your time and are fully prepared for your sound check. The Ensemble Competition takes place this Thursday at 4pm, followed by the Solo Competition at 7.00pm in Routh Hall. Please come and support your House and peers in both competitions. This year the adjudicator is Susan Collier a violin professor at the Junior Royal Academy of Music and is Head of Strings at Haileybury College.

The first Friday Debate this term, led by Archie Holder and Josh Chung, has the moot "This House Supports Trump's Border Wall" . If you are interested in debating, please email Archie so that he can balance teams. You are also more than welcome just to come and watch. The action takes place in H20 at 1:25pm this Friday.

Finally, tomorrow there will be a lecture from OB Justine Lynch, who is a Chartered UK and European trademark attorney; that is, an Intellectual Property lawyer specialising in trademarks and branding protection. 1.25-2.00pm in the lecture theatre, email Miss Leech for a seat.

Please stand as we say the Grace together.

28 January 2019

Last Updated: 28/01/2019 15:41:57

Today's Routh Assembly was taken by Mr McClure in the Head's absence. 

From an address to a Women’s Institute branch at the celebration of its centenary, 24th January 2019:

Reflecting on a century of change, it is clear that the qualities of the Women’s Institute endure. The continued emphasis on patience, friendship, a strong community focus, and considering the needs of others are as important today as they were when the group was founded all those years ago. Of course, every generation faces fresh challenges and opportunities.

As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture. To me, these approaches are timeless, and I commend them to everyone.

Some of you may have recognised those words, or at least heard about them in the news over the last few days. I admit that I couched the introductory line somewhat to disguise the speaker. The Women’s Institute group being addressed was the Sandringham branch, who were meeting in their customary village hall in the English county of Norfolk. It is indeed their centenary year, and the person addressing them was an elderly lady who has been a member of the branch for 76 of those 100 years. After such a lengthy association, she has fittingly been the branch’s President for the last 17 years, following her mother in that role. Like many of the other ladies at the meeting, she is a well-known stalwart of the local community; unlike the other ladies, she also just happens to be Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms.

I am fully aware that not everyone in this room may necessarily share my own loyalty to the monarchy, naturally enough if this is not your home country, but when a world figure as famous as the Queen speaks, her words are worthy of some scrutiny.

Despite her position, the Queen is famously guarded on making any public comment which could be deemed political, yet it is clear that her many years in the role have made her an astute operator in capturing the public’s opinion. Let’s not forget that her annual televised speech to the nation topped the Christmas Day viewing figures once again last year, and that a line such as ‘reflecting on a century of change’ has a good deal of personal authenticity coming from a lady in her tenth decade. So the fact that the Queen delivered such a speech without fanfare to a small community-based group was shrewd – the views she expressed would certainly not have caused any controversy amongst a group founded on such principles and which, we are told, then proceeded to enjoy an afternoon tea and a live game of the quiz show Pointless (the Queen’s team won, if you’re interested).

However, the press have leapt on the Queen’s words and portrayed them as a matriarchal piece of advice to a country embroiled in the current political quagmire that is Brexit. There may indeed be some truth in such speculation, but pure common sense can be applied to so much more, for that is what the Queen has reminded us. Politics can be an easy target at such times – there can be few countries in the modern world that cannot point to some political in-fighting that can turn as bitterly personal as it is political, or the odd scandal or ego that highlights how power can blind individuals to the legitimacy or responsibility of their actions. Such events fill the news channels and indeed the exam specifications which many of you study in your courses.

And it is not just Politics. History too tells of the terrible human price which can be paid when mankind does not respect another’s point of view or loses sight of the bigger picture. Later today, four of our senior pupils will represent us a school at a service in Bromsgrove to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. I would fear doing no justice to the Holocaust’s victims and their families in trying to encapsulate the unspeakable evil they suffered in a few words this morning. It is easy to look back with hindsight and shake our heads in disbelief at such atrocities and wonder how they could ever have happened in a supposedly civilised world. The greater the length of time past, the easier it is to desensitise ourselves to such events. My own academic subject is a case in point. For all the beauty and legacy of the Romans’ language and literature, I do often remind my pupils that the Roman Empire was inspired and maintained by a brutal military regime guilty of some acts of genocide. Anachronisms aside, history has treated figures like Julius Caesar kindly – he would be considered a monster if judged today.

As the voices of Holocaust survivors become fewer with age, we live in an era when some statistics suggest that 1 in 10 still question if it ever occurred. In December, a survey across the 12 EU countries in which 96% of Europe’s Jewish population live found that 90% of the Jewish people surveyed felt that anti-semitism is growing in their country. Holocaust Memorial Day adopts a different theme each year: this year’s is ‘torn from home’. It certainly prompts people of my generation to remember that, whilst the Holocaust may be before our time, we have lived through and witnessed genocide being allowed to happen in Cambodia (with over 1.5 million of the population killed 40 years ago by the tyrant Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge regime) and in Rwanda (where 25 years ago up to 1 million were killed, including 70% of the Tutsi population). The mass wave of refugees from such situations is all too familiar to us today as we witness the continuing displacement of people from areas such as Syria.

All those torn from home will have experienced the loss of safety or normality which we are likely to take for granted. Previous years’ themes of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust summarise actions which can counter discrimination, whatever the context, such as: the power of words; don’t stand by; communities together; stand up to hatred; the dignity of difference.

Which, in honesty, is not too dissimilar from the Queen’s words ‘speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture.’ Think of the opportunity you have in this school every day to do just that, to live and work in a community which is so diverse beyond the scientific realms of genetics and anthro-pometry: day pupils, boarders, such a range of talents, nationalities, religions and aspirations. You all get the chance to interact with different groups of people in your different classes, teams, ensembles, activities and Houses, which all provide lessons in life. Some of those lessons will come from mistakes, for it remains fair to say that many issues that come my way are down to individuals not necessarily thinking of the consequences of their actions on others in our community setting, but that is what education is about.

This school can provide some of the constancy, the common ground or safe home, for you to practise such positive traits whilst still pursuing your personal goals. Through the changes it has inevitably seen over the many years of its history, the values we try to maintain in this school – community, high standards, respect for each other – are as timeless as those principles of the WI which the Queen honoured last week. Your school motto: Deo, Regi, Vicino (For God, For King, For Neighbour) reminds you of that duty of service to others as well as yourself. The more of you who are ambassadors and role-models to that cause as you go out into the world from Bromsgrove, the better a place it will be. In the words of Her Majesty: ‘consider the needs of others … speak well of each other … seek out the common ground … these approaches are timeless … I commend them to everyone.’

We move on to some achievements and presentations:

The following students have competed in the British Physics Olympiad, achieving some great results:
George Marshall – Commendation
Ruby Ngan & Tristan Hall – Bronze
Andrii Iermolaiev – Gold (as one of the top 100 participants, Andrii has been invited to compete in the next round of the British Physics Olympiad).

Senior House Badminton
In the Senior Girls’ Competition:
Runners up: Mary Windsor
Winners: Oakley

And in the Senior Boys’ competition:
Runners up: Elmshurst
Winners: Housman Hall

Senior House Table Tennis

In the Girls’ Competition:
Runners up: Oakley
Winners: Mary Windsor

And in the Boys’ Competition:
Runners up: Housman Hall
Winners: Elmshurst


Following on from last week’s music presentations, I congratulate Josh Lawson on achieving his Grade 8 Saxophone with merit, and invite him forward to receive his certificate.

A review of last week:
• Six students attended the regional finals of the Oxford University Union Debating Competition in Birmingham last week. The team of Archie Holder, Grayson Leversha, Joshua Chung, Akseli Ilmanen, Justus Krauel and Jagveer Uppal spoke convincingly on whether euthanasia should be legalised, and whether Parliaments need female MP quotas. Despite not progressing to the national finals, all six should be very proud of their achievement.

• Congratulations to all Fifth and Sixth Form Music Scholars who took part in last Thursday evening’s solo recital – a super display of talent from some of Bromsgrove School’s finest, and often busiest, pupils.

• The Senior Basketball team unfortunately lost their match against Stowe School, but well done to both the Boys’ and Girls’ Badminton teams who beat Repton School on Saturday.

• Congratulations to both the 1st and U14 netball teams who have been crowned regional champions in the Sister and Sport National Cup last week. The 1st team beat Bramcote College 61-30 and the U14 team beat RGS, Worcester 40-39 in a nail-biting match. Both teams now look forward to playing in the national semi-finals of the cup.

• Due to the West Midland finals, we only played 5 games against RGS Worcester. Well done to the U14C, U14B, U15B and 3rd team who won their fixtures.

• And the congratulations continue, as both our 1st and U14 netball teams were crowned West Midlands Champions yesterday. Both teams won all of their 6 pool matches, cruised through their semi finals and both went on to beat RGS, Worcester in competitive finals. They now look forward to the National Finals in March. I would like to invite both teams forward to receive their trophies and medals.

• 26 of our Senior footballers went to St George’s Park, the home of England Football Teams for an intensive 2 day programme and match over the weekend – a great success by all accounts.

• In boys’ Hockey, Repton got the better of the results on Saturday but there were good wins for the U15A and U14C teams, and draws for the U14B and U15C teams. My respect to all of you that battled on despite the driving wind and rain which also tested those of us spectating.

• And last Friday we hosted our Invitational Swimming gala at Perdiswell Leisure Centre. 80 teams competed for the titles. All swimmers performed well but our best performance of the day came from the U15 boys 4 x 50 medley team who attained bronze.

A Preview of the week ahead:
• The School Forum meets at lunchtime today in the Cookes Room

• The Fourth Form House Drama Competition will take place tomorrow evening at 7.00pm in Cobham Theatre. Over 85 students from Lower and Upper Fourth Forms have been rehearsing intensively for the past three weeks. The competition will be adjudicated by the current Head of Drama at Warwick School and former Head of Drama at Bromsgrove, Mr Mike Perry. It promises to be a very entertaining evening with a diverse series of theatrical excerpts ranging all the way from Bugsy Malone to Animal Farm.
All students from any year group are warmly encouraged to come and support your House. Do please tell your Houseparents if you intend to come; they will give you details of ticket allocations. We expect the event to finish just after 8.45pm.

• Today is the official start of preparations for the Senior School House Drama Competition. This will take place on Thursday 14th March. Please could all Houses arrange for a representative from the Fifth or Sixth Form to contact Mr Norton via email as soon as possible, but certainly before the end of next week. He will give you further details.

• Thank you to all Houses who have entered the ensemble and solo music competition. We have had 38 entries for the solo competition in total, which is fantastic. All solo entries will be auditioned every day this week starting tomorrow. Please check your time with your House parent or Miss McCanlis. It is great to see so many Houses practising for the ensemble competition too, but please make sure you check if rooms are available in advance with Mrs Hinde at Routh reception. Keep your rehearsals positive and when all can attend, and do remember that other school commitments should still be kept. A schedule will be going out to Houseparents and House music reps for an ensemble sound check in the week. Finalists of the solo competition will be announced by email at the weekend. Best of luck to you all.

• This Wednesday the 1st netball team face Guildford High School in the national quarter final of the Independent Schools' Cup. The match is taking place at 12.30pm in the Arena, so any support over lunchtime would be greatly appreciated by the team.

• Any Lower Sixth pupil who is interested in being considered as one of our 2 pupils to represent the school on the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ course this year, at the end of March, should email the Chaplain.

I wish you all a most productive week. Please stand as we say 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 evermore. Amen.

21 January 2019

Last Updated: 21/01/2019 10:13:58

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 21st January 2019

Reading: Excerpt from ‘Seasons at Eagle Pond’ by Donald Hall
"They seem tentative and awkward at first, then in a hastening host, a whole brief army falls, white militia paratrooping out of the close sky over various textures, making them one.

Snow is white and gray, part and whole, infinitely various yet infinitely repetitious, soft and hard, frozen and melting, a creaking underfoot and a soundlessness.

But first of all it is the reversion of many into one. It is substance, almost the idea of substance, that turns grass, driveway, hayfield, old garden, log pile, Saab, watering trough, collapsed barn, and stonewall into the one white."

Good morning
The magnificent Bob Dylan once sang “You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” He was speaking metaphorically, but it is equally true that you don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that snow is in the air this week.

For many of you, that may be a bit of a yawn. Those who come from colder countries may wonder what all the fuss is about. Those like me, who are from warmer climates, might still be delighted when those first flurries settle on the School though.

In the five years I have been here, last Winter was the first and only real snowfall of any note in Bromsgrove. Admittedly, it caused disruption. Some of you who live locally could not get in. Neither could staff nor, perhaps more importantly, food deliveries. Boilers failed, pipes burst, floors got wet, it was hard to get around. And yet.
And yet it was magical. The School was transformed, became a different place than the one with which is usually so familiar. Bromsgrove seemed reinvented. Even the High Street looked pretty.

Those who live in snow all year round may not be so bewitched by it. The Inuit people of the Arctic are reputed to have 52 words for the stuff. For those of us who live where snow comes and then goes though, a big fall is memorable. And symbolic.

In a past life, when I once taught English Literature, I remember teaching the allusions to snow in great writing. Sometimes it is used to symbolise purity and innocence. Shakespeare called Cymbeline “as chaste as unsunned snow.” He also gave us the common phrase “pure as the driven snow.”

Elsewhere though, snow is a signifier of austerity and menace. It heralds danger or a bitter threat ahead. I am possibly the only person on the planet never to have watched an episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ but even I know that dark refrain, uttered by Lord Stark, “Winter is coming.” Michael Gove knows it too; he used it just last week as an ominous warning about Brexit.

In a wonderful novel called ‘Ethan Frome’, Edith Wharton wrote: "But at sunset the clouds gathered again, bringing an earlier night, and the snow began to fall straight and steadily from a sky without wind…..It seemed to be a part of the thickening darkness, to be the winter night itself descending on us layer by layer." Like this morning’s eclipse, snow is darkness. Later in the book, the main character, Zeena, sits outside in the cold: “the pale light reflected from the banks of snow, making her face look more than usually drawn and bloodless.” Snow as a marker for death.

In the novel ‘An American Childhood’, an equally sombre image: “the world outside was dangerously cold, and the big snow held the houses down and the people in.”

So snow can read as purity or as danger, but there is a third symbolism in literature and films; that of deceit. Snow hides reality. It masks the way things really are. The reading you just heard talked about the way that snow covered everything on the ground equally, the collapsed barn, the old garden, the trough. Made it one. Hid the decay and corruption. Snow lulls us into thinking normality no longer exists.

The great American writer, Truman Capote, worked the same theme: “It snowed all week. Wheels and footsteps moved soundlessly on the street, as if the business of living continued secretly behind a pale but impenetrable curtain.” Snow as a pale but impenetrable curtain. Only it is not impenetrable, is it? Because it melts away eventually, and then all is revealed.

I invite you to think on that symbol this week because there is an analogy there that is relevant to your everyday life. Snow creates an anonymity. Or at least, the illusion of anonymity. In the same way as snow falls and hides the real world, hides what is actually still out there, so too, are there places in your lives where you may be deceived into thinking you are anonymous. Thinking that your actions are unnoticed.

Crowds are one. Occasionally, people in crowds get carried away. Do things they would not normally do if they were in a more intimate setting. Maybe you have seen the video that has gone viral in America over the weekend, in which a group of young men your age, on a school trip to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, surround a Native American man who is playing traditional music, then start mocking and humiliating him. It is hard to watch and they are easy to detest. You wonder, are they actually that racist, that bigoted normally? Does their school condone their actions?

The apparent anonymity of the crowd gives one particularly obnoxious boy the courage to physically confront the elderly performer. I wondered, would he have been so bold had he known that his face would soon become the subject of network news bulletins, global disgust and internet memes?

And that is the other realm where the illusion of being anonymous persists, isn’t it? Even today, well into the digital age, even amongst your generation, who are the most tech savvy people that ever lived, there is still a persistent failure to understand that what you do and say online is not private. That you are never, ever anonymous. The veil that seems to protect you on the internet is just like snow – it can always melt away.

I wrote an article a few years ago that got a bit of critical attention in the media, probably because it was entitled “Why I love Text Bullying.”  Possibly not the expected sentiments of a School Head, but I was being slightly sarcastic. My point was that in the past, pre-digital age (there was such a time) as a Deputy Head I used to have to deal with disciplinary incidents that often came down to “he said/she said”. That is, sometimes the only evidence that a pupil had been hurtful or offensive was the word of the victim.

Today though, there is often a digital footprint. The smoking gun of a text or a digital message. There is no arguing about who said what. It is depressing to sit down with an angry parent who is affronted that you would dare accuse their child of something horrible, only to pass a phone or a screenshot across the desk to them. To show them the search history, or that the IP address of their child’s device matches an offensive message.

It’s not just young people of course. Barely a month goes by without a news story involving some suspect in a crime being picked up and having their phone or computer seized, only for Police to find searches for “How to build a meth lab” or “Best place to dispose of a body near me.” Even the fact that the GPS in their smart watch places them at the scene of the crime seems to have escaped their master plan.

I’m not suggesting that you become smart criminals and I certainly would be happier if you simply weren’t nasty to one another, online or anywhere else. What I am saying is that, like a blanket of snow, the illusion that how you conduct yourself online will forever stay hidden is just that – an illusion. Snow melts, the landscape returns. Post something regrettable in the depths of night, in your empty room, to a virtual audience who are invisible, but always remember that the next morning, you will once again walk amongst them. What seems secret behind a “pale but impenetrable curtain” never is.


Following their success in the Senior Mathematics Challenge, Ruby Ngan and Jay Lyu both scored exceptionally well in the Kangaroo and British Mathematical Olympiad challenges. I invite both forward to receive our congratulations and their certificates.

I also have Music examination success to announce. They will receive their certificates in the mail but invite forward for our congratulations:
Hannah Lawson grade 7 flute
Keira Sehdeva   grade 8 violin


Congratulations to members of Brass Group and the Boys Choir, as well as many soloists, who took part in Saturday’s coffee concert at St John’s Church in Bromsgrove to raise money for the church. All performed brilliantly to a good audience of local residents.

Congratulations to the following who have been selected to play representative county cricket for 2019:
U14: Archie Greaves Hall, Jack Warner, Elliot Evans, Fred Hanson.
U15: Olly Davidson, Freddie Fallows, Tom Cosh.
U16: Mo Talukder, Jo Miszkowski, Rhys Evans, Ed Clews, Emily Clarke.
U17: Alex Hinkley, Dan Meredith, Henry Marshall, Awais Mohammed, George Marshall.
Jasper Davidson has been selected for Scotland U19’s.

Midweek Sport

Well done to the U15 Boys team who beat Warwick School 2 – 0 and the 1st XI who beat King Edward Stratford 4 -1 in national cup matches this week.

The 3rd team lost a close encounter against Old Swinford Hospital School’s 1st team.

Well done to the U16A Rugby team who beat King Edward School in the semi-final of the area cup.

Meanwhile in the NatWest national competition, the U15As played Rugby School for a place in the quarter finals. The game brought out determination and character from each of them, but sadly ended in a loss. However, those who have watched you play throughout the season know you have made a great deal of progress gentlemen, and you can be rightly proud of what you have achieved this season.

Our swimming teams competed against Warwick School, Kings High Warwick and Harrow, with the U18, U16 and U14 Girls teams winning their matches.

Cross Country
Our runners competed in a league match at Welbeck and the County Championships, where 6 Bromsgrovians were placed in the top 10.

Saturday Sport

So to the weekend, when over half of you sitting in assembly today represented the School in netball, hockey, badminton, squash and football matches against Rugby School, in a total of 55 fixtures. Both schools won 27 fixtures each with one drawn. A superb afternoon of sport; congratulations to all who played. I am especially pleased to report that both the Girls and Boys Table Tennis teams won their respective zonal competitions.

IB2 mocks finish today, 16+ scholarships examinations and interviews take place this week, and we host the UIVth parents evening on Wednesday.

For those considering playing professional sport or looking at a career within sport, there will be an informal presentation on Wednesday, given by Mr White, who played rugby professionally and now works here. 1.25pm in the Lecture Theatre to hear him speak about his career in sport and what to look for when choosing courses.

Thursday evening at 7.00pm we hold the annual recital given by Fifth and Sixth Form Music Scholars – all are welcome to attend, and no ticket is required; just turn up at Routh and take your seat by 6.55pm.

The latest edition of the pupil's magazine Two Zero One is out now, print copies in House or the library. Remember contributions to the upcoming issue on the theme "Independence" are due to Alia or Vivianne by Friday 1st March.

Please stand as we say the Grace together.

14th January 2019

Last Updated: 14/01/2019 10:28:33

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address

Monday 14th January 2019

Excerpt from ‘Embracing Ignorance’ by Eric Robertson:
When I picture ignorance, I think of comedy. I think of Homer Simpson. I think of babies in high chairs slopping their food all over their faces. No one cares. They’re ignorant, and no one cares. What I don’t think of when I think of ignorance are experts and problem solvers. It turns out that might be an ignorant point of view.

On the surface, ignorance is defined as the act of unknowing, of being unaware, of existing in a chronic state of unlearnedness. This may at first seem to be opposed to a state of expertise and advanced problem-solving, and perhaps it is—if we consider ignorance a static state of being. But, ignorance itself may be something to explore, to celebrate perhaps.

The late Dr. Lewis Thomas certainly celebrated ignorance when he coined the quote: “The greatest of all the accomplishments of 20th century science has been the discovery of human ignorance.”

Good morning

If the history of the School over the past few decades is anything to go by, most of you seated in front of me today are University bound. Those seated behind have already been there, the result of which, at least in some part, has been a rewarding career and a deeper understanding of the world. For those of you yet to go, bettering yourself and your prospects if life will no doubt be a significant motivation. Some of you may take a GAP year first of course. Others may enter apprenticeship or training schemes that allow you to earn while you learn. Some may have your courses underwritten by the military, or sponsors or a scholarship. Nevertheless, most of you will go to university at some stage.

For the Upper Sixth, I imagine that prospect is at the front of your minds right now. Your UCAS is complete, your applications are in, you now await offers from the universities that you are hoping for.

Some of you have already had the relief of a response or two. An offer doesn’t mean you are accepted of course; there is still the small matter of actually sitting the exams and getting the required grades.  Nevertheless, you have something tangible upon which to focus.

Those offers should be the cause of real pride, especially those who applied to some of the world’s most prestigious universities. Bromsgrove is a British School and many of you come here seeking a specifically British education, so it is no surprise that we have traditionally held offers to Oxford and Cambridge in high esteem, for they are often considered the pinnacle of academia in the UK.

Yet they are by no means the only great universities in the country, or indeed, in the world. This year, we are delighted at the growing number of Sixth Formers gaining entry to America’s top universities.

So far, those amongst you have had offers from Tufts, Boston, UCLA, Chicago, Cornell and Columbia. Others are in the process of applying to Harvard and CalArts. So too for the leading institutions in many other countries, with offers this year from the universities of Toronto, Maastricht, Bocconi, Madrid and Hong Kong.

Those of you not in Upper Sixth may think this irrelevant to you right now, but I promise you it is not. The journey for today’s Upper Sixth to get into any of more than 200 universities for which they have applied, started long ago. Fourth and Fifth form, you are already walking that path. You would do well to talk to seniors in your House about where they find themselves today. To learn from the things they did or didn’t do, what worked, or didn’t.

No matter how successful this year’s applications have been though, there is one American university to which no Bromsgrovian, today or in the past, has ever applied for or been accepted to.

It is a specialist institution actually, housed in the medical school of the University of Arizona. Known as the Institute of Ignorance. It was set up in the 1990’s by two eminent American surgeons, husband and wife, Charles and Marylis Witte. Both had been teaching at the university’s medical school for many years when they started to become frustrated with the way that young doctors were being taught. The courses were much like those that many of you will experience at university, no matter what you choose to study. Focussed on teaching what we know. The truth. The facts. Our expertise.

The problem for the Witte’s though, was that, as highly experienced specialists at the top of their game, they both knew that there was much, much more that the medical profession didn’t know. And nobody was talking about it. The Witte’s worried that they were giving young doctors a false sense of security by ignoring what they simply did not know. So, they set up the Institute of Ignorance. A place to embrace error and focus on failure.

Just like other universities, the Institute funded Visiting Scholars, but with a difference. Experts from all over the world were invited to lecture, but they were not allowed to talk about their area of expertise. Instead, they could only give classes on what they didn’t know. The things they hadn’t figured out. The things that frustrated them. Their suspicions about what they may be getting wrong. They were known as Distinguished Ignoramii.

Not everyone was happy about this new curriculum. One major donor to the university threatened to withdraw his financial support, saying he wasn’t paying to fund ignorance. But the Witte’s stuck to their guns. They believed that if we don’t embrace our ignorance, don’t openly admit it and seek to shine a light on what we don’t know, we will never get any smarter. I listened to Charles speak once, who at that stage was considered to be one of the top surgeons in America, and he said that he longed for the day that he was made redundant.

He said “I am very skilled with a scalpel, but all I really do, every day, is open people up, cut out things I don’t understand and throw them in a bucket. We are still so ignorant about disease. Once we understand it properly, we will be able to beat it at its own game, using natural biology and chemistry, not the trauma of a sharp knife.”

I have never been to Arizona and I am certainly not a doctor. But I learned a lot from the Witte’s. One thing I still use regularly is their famous ‘Ignorance Map’. You should Google it. It proposes that there are six types of ignorance. The main ones are:
The Known Unknowns – all the things you know you don’t know
The Unknown Unknowns – all the things you don’t know you don’t know
The Unknown Knowns – all the things you don’t know you know.
Errors – all the things you think you know but don’t
There are also:
Taboos - which are dangerous or forbidden things to know, and
Denials - which are things too painful to know, so you chose not to. However, it is those first four that I would suggest are the most helpful to you now.

Helpful in this, the most important academic term. People think that the Summer Term is the most academic, but by that stage, the die is cast. Examinations, especially for Fifth and Sixth Form, are upon you then and all you can do is sit them. Now is the term to be improving your knowledge. Now is when you make the greatest gains in your understanding. Now is the term to confront your own ignorance.

The first step of which is accepting that ignorance alone is not a bad thing. Mind you, it’s not a good thing either. They say that ignorance is bliss, but actually, ignorance is voluntary misfortune. Simply accepting ignorance without challenging it is just you making a personal choice to suffer.

In the Middle Ages, in a time when only the nobility were educated, ignorance may have been your unlucky fate. In the Information Age though, ignorance is a choice, plain and simple. And if you just accept it, claiming that you “can’t do Maths” or “don’t have a science brain”, then it is no more than a dumb choice on your part. No point blaming nature or your DNA. Neuroscience now proves that actually, we all have the same capacity to learn Maths, or speak another language or make art. Scanning the brain has shown the only difference is between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. Stupidity is a lack of intellectual capability. And very few of you are actually stupid. Really.

Most of you are ignorant though. About some things. As are we all. And acknowledging your ignorance, shining a light and focussing on it, is the way you become enlightened. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging your ignorance about a subject. Only those who do not know the difference between ignorance and stupidity are ashamed of not knowing something. Ashamed of asking a question, seeking clarification. The only stupid question in a classroom is the one you do not ask.

I said last week that Mock exams were the best gift we could give to many of you this term. They are, because they will draw a map of your ignorance. When you get your papers back, do not see them merely as a reassurance of what you know and can do. Or worse still, a reassurance of what you can’t do. If you simply glance at the mark on the front cover and then consign the paper to the depths of your locker, then you really are stupid.

See your marked papers in any assessment, Mocks, tests, assignments, Prep, as a guide to what you don’t yet know. We all shy away from red crosses on a paper, but actually, they mark the treasure on that map. They signal your Known Unknowns. Saturday morning clinics expose your Unknown Unknowns. The surprise of seeing a few guessed answers were right are your Unknown Knowns. And every error that is identified ensures that you don’t make the same mistake twice, especially when it matters.

So this term, all of you but especially those sitting final public examinations in the Summer, treasure the mistakes you make and don’t be scared to acknowledge what you don’t know or understand. As Confucius said “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

I am pleased to invite the following forward to receive Music certificates:
Kalea Booth Violin grade 8
Christiana Lloyd Singing grade 8
Isobel Scott Theory of music grade 5
Rose Willetts Singing grade 5
Imogen Vaughan-Hawkins Singing grade 7
Ian Chan Theory of Music grade 5
Archie Batham-Read Trumpet grade 8
Johnson Shi Drum kit grade 5
Daniel Kwok Decant Recorder grade 5
Seb Harrison Theory of Music grade 5


In high quality fixture, the senior team drew 6-6 against Abingdon School.

It was a good start of the season for the football teams, with the School winning 2 and drawing 1 out of the 4 games played against St Edward’s Oxford. The 1st XI played well to win 4-1.


The boys’ hockey teams started their regular season with some very good results against Bloxham. There were draws for the U14C and U16B teams and wins for the U14B, U14A, U15B, U15A, U16A, 2nd XI and 1st XI who won 3-1.

Well done to all of our netball teams, whose opening matches for the Lent Term saw the School wining 12 out of the 14 games played against Cheltenham College.

Vth form mock examinations finish later today and the IB2 Mocks commence this week.

Today, Old Bromsgrovian Ellie Robinson will be talking to students about her apprenticeship with Cushman and Wakefield. Many students want to go to university and for some, there are other options. Ellie applied for this competitive apprenticeship where she is earning and learning at the same time. She will still gain a degree in Chartered Surveying, but she will also be in the world of work gaining a variety of skills. If you would like to hear more, please come to Futures at 1.30pm today for an informal chat.

We wish the Brass group well when they play a coffee concert in St Johns Church next Saturday morning.

Finally, as the second issue of Two Zero One is currently underway, the team asks you to reflect on the theme of independence for the next issue. Specifically, the prompt is "Loneliness: the price of independence?", but unrelated contributions are welcome too. Email them to Alia or Vivianne before Friday 1st March to be featured and feel welcome to come join their meeting on Wednesday lunchtime, 1:20 in the Library.

Please stand as we say the Grace together.

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