The Headmaster's Weekly Routh Address

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22 January

Last Updated: 22/01/2018 10:52:18

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 22nd January 2018

Reading - From the diary of Anne Frank:

5th April 1944
“I want to go on living even after my death!
And that’s why I am so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s in me.
When I write I can shake off all my cares; my sorrow disappears; my spirits are revived.”

15th July 15 1944:
“It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death.
I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions.

And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more.

In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I’ll be able to realize them.”

Thought For The Week

Those words from the diary of Anne Frank serve as a reminder that next Saturday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A memorial acknowledged around the world every year on 27 January. That being the date in 1945 when the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by the Red Army.

Holocaust is just a word, but it carries an awful weight. An ancient word, from the Greek, ‘Holos’ meaning ‘whole’ and ‘kaustos’ meaning ‘burnt.’ Since the Middle Ages, it has been used to mean destruction or slaughter on a mass scale. Yet since the Second World War, the word Holocaust has been preserved almost exclusively to describe the attempt by the Nazis to eradicate the entire Jewish race. Another word for that is genocide. The deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group.

Nazi perpetrators had other words to describe it and we should not forget that their so-called “Final Solution” also included the destruction of the Romani people, wiping out those with mental and physical disabilities and eradicating all who were homosexual.

Nor should we forget that, sadly, International Holocaust Remembrance Day recalls not only the six million Jews and millions of others killed in Nazi persecution, but also millions more murdered in subsequent genocides. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the world’s peoples formed the United Nations and vowed never again to allow the attempted eradication of an entire group. Yet tragically, in the years that followed, genocide has been attempted; in every decade and on nearly every continent.

Dismal though it may be, wars seem to be an inevitable part of humanity’s existence on this Earth. They bring great suffering and senseless destruction, yet we somehow rationalise their necessity by saying that we must protect our lands, our interests, our religions or our friends. We take up arms to defend things.

That is all well and good, but how do you go one step further and justify the deliberate slaying of an entire race of people? And more importantly, even if you can justify it to yourself, how do you make that happen? One person with a weapon; a knife, a gun, a bomb, even a missile, might kill a few others. Even many others. But one person alone cannot wipe out an entire race. To do that, you need help. So how does that happen?

Like so much else in humanity’s history, good and bad, it is started with words.

Genocide is not done with gas or guns, starvation or stealth fighters, napalm or nuclear bombs. They are just its tools. Genocide is done with words. Written, spoken, printed, chanted, tattooed in slogans, sprayed on walls, dropped on leaflets. I guess in this day and age, also tweeted and texted. Subversive or stirring. Offensive or inspiring. Words which are hollow and cunningly deceptive or brutally honest and deeply resonating. It is words that inspire the best in us and it is words that unleash the worst that we can be. As Lord Byron once wrote: “A drop of ink may make a million think.”

There has been a resurgence of interest in one of the great wordsmiths of the Second World War recently. Perhaps you have watched the movies? ‘Churchill’, ‘Darkest Hour’, ‘Dunkirk’. Even the series ‘The Crown’ features Winston Churchill’s stirring speeches. His words inspired the British people in their darkest days.

Meanwhile, in Europe, another great orator also roused his people’s passions. A leader who wrote "I know that men are won over less by the written than by the spoken word, that every great movement on this earth owes its growth to great orators and not to great writers." I’m not so sure I agree, for plenty of written words have also caused nations to rise up. Witness the Bible and the Quran.

Nevertheless, in more than 5,000 persuasive speeches, the man who penned those words bewitched his audiences, promising them that his empire would reign for a thousand years. One of the world's most influential orators, he created the largest German political party ever, conquered a dozen nations, and convinced his followers to slaughter nearly 21 million people during his brutal 12-year reign. Adolf Hitler understood the power of words.

Hitler understood it and so too have others who were able to make the unthinkable sound reasonable. In the Seventies, Pol Pot used words to convince the Khmer Rouge to murder 3 million Cambodians. In the Nineties, the Hutu government used words to persuade soldiers and civilians to wipe out 70% of the Tutsi people. That same decade, Serbian commanders found the right words to permit the so-called ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Bosnia. And even into the 2000’s, the government of Sudan has plucked the right words to encourage the eradication of all non-Arab tribes. No matter the language or dialect, every vocabulary contains the mix of words that can seemingly justify the unjustifiable.

The great modern writer Paulo Coelho said: “Of all the weapons of destruction that man could invent, the most terrible - and the most powerful - was the word. Daggers and spears left traces of blood; arrows could be seen at a distance. Poisons were detected in the end and avoided. But the word managed to destroy without leaving clues.”

Perhaps, but words do leave clues as well. We have heard that this morning, in the diary of a young woman, whose prose lives on to teach us lessons from the past. If you haven’t read Anne Franks’ diary, you should. And we should be thankful for her vocabulary.

I have spoken to you before about my belief in the power of your vocabulary. You are living in an information age. Daily, you run the risk of drowning in words. More ideas, written and spoken, flow across your personal screens each day than the wisest people of old ever read or heard in their entire lifetime. Which ones sway you? Which do you chose to believe? To repeat?

Two things matter most. The weight you give those words and which ones you chose to utter yourself. Hitler’s spoken words had atrocious effect. The written words of Anne Frank live on, just as she had hoped, to remind us of those atrocities.

Those were momentous times in the history of the world, yet they had their beginnings amongst ordinary people, in the same way as you send and receive words today. The theme of this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day is the power of words. As we remember that bleak time in human history, I implore you to arm yourselves with a rich vocabulary and then use your words wisely and well.

Let me leave the last words to writer Suzy Kassem: “We cannot control the way people interpret our ideas or thoughts, but we can control the words and tones we choose to convey them. Peace is built on understanding, and wars are built on misunderstandings. Never underestimate the power of a single word, and never recklessly throw around words. One wrong word, or misinterpreted word, can change the meaning of an entire sentence - and even start a war. And one right word, or one kind word, can grant you the heavens and open doors.”


Oxbridge Places:
Continuing our recent encouragement of your academic aspirations, some proud news with regard to this year’s university offers. For many of you, your academic ambitions involve aspiring to study a competitive course at a top class university and this month the vast majority of the Upper Sixth have had confirmation of offers in the universities of their choice. Whilst there are a many outstanding universities in both the UK and internationally, Oxford and Cambridge are often seen to be the pinnacle and an offer to study at either is, in itself, a considerable achievement. Therefore, I invite forward for our congratulations:
Henry Stone Classical Archaeology & Ancient History, Magdalen, Oxford
Natasha Durie Human, Social & Political Sciences, Murray Edwards, Cambridge
Roger Youyang Zhao Engineering, Magdalene, Cambridge
Nikita Bedov Natural Sciences (Biological), Pembroke, Cambridge


The first lunchtime concert of 2018 was held last Friday, featuring a fantastic variety of performances from Prep and Senior school including the school’s Wind Band, which opened the concert. Congratulations to all who took part. The next lunchtime concert is on the 30th January.

Cross Country:

It was good to see so many of our runners competing in the County Championships in Sanders Park or in the League match at Welbeck College. There were many impressive performances in very testing conditions.

Won 2 lost 2 matches vs strong Bristol Grammar School opposition. Playing their first match the U15A team won 7-0 (hat trick for Roman Gurung) whilst the 1st X1 fought hard for a 2-1 victory.

Hockey Indoor:
The U14 Girls team played in the County Indoor festival they played well winning all three games
The U15 Boys team, beat Rugby School 3-1 in the first round of the National Cup.
In the matches played on Saturday vs Bristol Grammar School, Bristol managed to get the better of the results but there were good wins for the U14B and U16A teams.

There was some very good netball played against a strong Rugby School with good wins for five of our teams, including an impressive 54-48 victory by the 1sts.


Well done to the U16 Boys who beat Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School 17-11 in the Semi-Final of the North Midlands Cup.

AEO grades published today – treat these with the attention they deserve. A quick glance before ignoring them not only disrespects the people who awarded them, it also overlooks your opportunity to know where and how to improve academically.

Marmite Gifted and Talented seminars for LVIth will recommence today. All seminars are at 12.50pm, at 5 Conway Road. Lunch is provided. If you would like to start attending, or want to return to seminars, please email Dr Ruben.

Tuesday Vth Form Mock examinations results published. Again, I encourage you to review them carefully.

All the best to those students sitting the 16+ scholarships this week.

This Tuesday evening at 7.00pm, students will compete in the Fourth Form House Drama Competition. Come and support your House in Cobham Theatre - please speak to your Houseparent for allocation of tickets.

I would also like to announce the launch of this year’s Senior House Drama competition for the Fifth and Sixth Form, which will take place on Thursday 1st March. Each House needs to organise a representative for this event and that person should get in touch with Mr Norton or Ms Bradford by email before the end of this week. Again, your Houseparents will have further details.

This week sees the annual Music Scholars’ Recital on Thursday in Routh Hall – we anticipate a good audience, but support from the Houses would be a bonus to witness our best young musicians gracing Routh stage in solo performances. All are welcome for a 7.00pm start.

Finally, a reminder that the Sixth Form course information morning will be held on Saturday 27th January. This is an important event for all of you in the Fifth Form as you plan your future choices. Remember also that we are joined by a number of prospective families so please do your best to make them welcome.

Would you please now stand as we say the Grace.

15 January

Last Updated: 15/01/2018 10:23:09

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 15th January 2018

Quotes from great sportswomen:
“I believe we have a journey. I was once a small girl from Sheffield, dealing with bullies and normal teenage insecurities, but I always believed. And when you do that, life can get unbelievable”
Jessica Ennis-Hill, Olympic Champion

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.”
Mia Hamm, Soccer Champion

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.”
Serena Williams, Tennis Champion

“My motto has always been that you can’t say, ‘Oh, it won’t happen to me.’ You have to say, ‘That can happen to me.’ So always be aware that things can happen.”
Venus Williams Tennis Champion

“My coach said you run like a girl. I said, if he ran a little faster, he could too.”
Mia Hamm

Thought For The Week

Good morning.
As you will have guessed, I wish to make reference to sport this morning. A fitting moment to do so, given the highly successful start to the new season in so many codes last week. In fact, let me review the past week now, just to make the point.


Saturday saw an impressive number of girls playing Badminton, some representing the School for the first time. The overall result may have favoured Malvern St James, but the commitment of our teams was heartening.


Our rising basketball stars in the U14A team beat Alcester Grammar School 48-24, gaining inspiration no doubt from the example set by the senior team.


Then, last week, the football season began and positively so, against opponents St Edwards, Oxford. A draw for the 3rd XI, a win for the 2nd XI, and a comprehensive 5-2 win for the 1st team that included a hat trick from Joe Downes.


The boys’ teams started their season with a block fixture against Repton School and plenty of promise being shown early on, with good wins for most teams.

Also an outstanding start in the regular Netball season for all of our teams. In our tri-angular fixture against Cheltenham College and Malvern College, we lost only two of the 22 matches played.


Both the senior squash teams won against Stowe 5-0

Table Tennis
Both teams played superbly, with the girls making it through to the National B qualifier and the boys winning to be named Zonal champions and now moving on to the National A qualifier. A superb achievement.
So, a very promising start to the season in all codes. Undoubtedly though, the highlight last week was the inclusion of our U18 Girls Hockey team in the Finals of the National Indoor competition. It was our privilege to host the tournament in this Arena, so many of us were able to attend and watch all four games.

As an aside, I would like to commend all who did so and thank you for the hospitality you extended to teams from 20 other schools who competed here over the weekend. I was quietly proud to hear visiting coaches and players speaking with awe about our facilities and, more importantly, about the warmth of your hosting. Well done.

For those who did come and watch, you will have seen a Bromsgrove team who had achieved remarkably well just to have made it into such a prestigious final.

They were up against the nation’s elite Hockey Schools, many of whom unashamedly attract top players by offering large financial scholarships. That is not our way. We play the cards we are dealt, grow our own talent. Our girls got there on their own merits. I doubt that there are many of us in the Arena this morning who could claim to be amongst the ten best of anything in the country.

Theirs is a very young squad for an U18 competition and that can only bode well for the next few years, as their talents and teamwork strengthen even further. If the levels of determination, sacrifice and unselfish play that we witnessed continue, I have no doubt they will be back in the National Finals again. Well done, ladies.

Yet those girls are just the vanguard of the largest number of female sportswomen this School has ever known.

There is currently an 85% participation rate of girls playing sport at this School. Last year, our sportswomen played nearly 600 fixtures.

In traditional codes, like Hockey, Tennis and Netball - don’t forget that we were crowned double national champions in Netball last year. But also in sports that were once the sole domain of males: athletics, swimming, volleyball, basketball, squash, football equestrian, triathlon, table tennis. Indeed, it warmed my little New Zealand heart to see a squad of girls training for rugby with Miss Popescu on Friday afternoon.

You may think that is normal – I certainly did. But Ruth Holdaway, who is chief executive of Women in Sport, spoke recently about the disengagement of girls in sport over the past decade. Apparently, research conducted by her organisation shows that girls begin to lose interest in sport when they are as young as six.
She said “For girls, around the age of six or seven they are starting to drop out of sport. What is particularly interesting is that this is the same time that boys start doing more.”

“What seems to be happening is up until that age, boys and girls feel the same - they just run around, they don’t think about what they are doing, they will explore, they will climb. But there is something going on around that age that boys start to understand sport is something they should be doing, they can do, they get recognised for, and they get encouraged to do.”

She went on to say that teachers should not make any assumptions about which sports girls - or boys - would like to play. She said, “It is all part of the same issue - if the boys get to play football and cricket and the girls play rounders and have a dance class - you are not offering girls the same opportunities."
Well, that may be the case elsewhere, but thankfully not at Bromsgrove. I think the girls in this School could very easily reassure her that they have just as many opportunities as boys and you prove every week that you are just as successful.

It doesn’t hurt us to reflect regularly on issues of equity though. There has been much in the media in recent months about gender disparity. Rightly so, for the debate has shone a light on practices in some parts of society that are, frankly, shameful. Harassment of women by men in power, unequal pay for men and women doing same work, casual sexism and the use of biased language, all deserve to be called out. It is right that we should take stock.

But in all of this heightened awareness, one other story caught my attention recently which felt like a step too far. This time, it was a former Government Advisor speaking to the annual conference of the Girls School Association last month. Her message was also about matters of gender equity in schools, but her advice was more vexing. Put simply, she advocates that teachers should not refer to pupils as “girls" or "ladies” because, she says, it is patronising and means that they are “constantly reminded of their gender.”

The same, she said, was true for the words “boys” or “gentlemen”. She added: “I don’t think it is useful to be constantly reminded of your gender all the time and all the stereotypes that go with it.” Her speech went on to say that using the term “girls” can evoke a sense that they have to do everything perfectly which can “create a lot of anxiety” in children and teenagers. Meanwhile, the term “boys” carries connotations of “being macho, not talking about your feelings, being told to man up”.

I felt quite affronted when I read this, because I, like many others in the Common Room, will regularly greet you as girls, boys, ladies or gentlemen. I certainly mean no offence by it. I wondered how, in fact, I might be causing any with such an innocent and obvious greeting. Concerned, I read on and here is what she said next. She told the headteachers: “If your narrative is saying girls don’t get angry, or boys don’t cry, or girls aren’t allowed to do this, or boys aren’t allowed to do this, then that is potentially going to have an impact on their well-being”.

My narrative. I’m not sure when we stopped saying “what you believe” and started saying “your narrative.” However, that is the flaw in her argument right there. Because those stereotypes are most definitely not my narrative. Actually, when I say “Hello girls” I’m thinking more about the attributes of my daughter when she was your age. Who certainly does know how to get angry. Who feels no pressure to conform.
Who was a Hockey goalie when she was at school, drove the tractor back at home, could debate the leg off a chair and who is about as far from a meek and biddable stereotype of a helpless female as you could possibly get.

Likewise, when I call you “ladies” I’m thinking of my wife, who is strong and resourceful, independent and capable, every bit my equal. Who finds no conflict in being feminine and feisty, compassionate and confident. I’m thinking of the women I work with, who are far from shrinking violets and whom I hold in equal esteem to my male colleagues. And I’m thinking of examples like the U18 Hockey team, who played with as much spirit and commitment as any male sportsman would. Just as competitive, just as tenacious, just as upset to lose. When I said “Well done, ladies” earlier, those were the images I had in mind. That is my “narrative.”

I could say “Good morning Bromsgrovians” every time I pass you in the grounds I suppose. That narrative is equally admiring of you all, but it’s a bit of a mouthful. I think I will stick to an acknowledgement that conveys my respect for both sexes. For the sporting week that has just passed is surely proof enough that we value our young women exactly the same as our young men.

This School is daily proof that girls can be, and are, every bit as capable as boys. On the sports field. And on the stage. And in the classroom. And in a CCF squad or a debating team or a Science Olympiad. There is equity in this place for the simple reason that it is not your gender which defines you, but your actions, your values and your beliefs. Or your “narrative” if you prefer.

So well done to you all, girls and boys, ladies and gentlemen, sportsmen and sportswomen, for a great start to your season and for demonstrating the mutual respect that helps make this place unique.


I would like to invite the following on stage to receive Associated Board of Royal School Music certificates
Emily Evans, Organ grade 5 with Distinction
Isobel Scott, Piano grade 5 with Merit
Elyzia Wong, Violin grade 6 with Merit
Isabel Kemp, Piano grade 7 with Merit


All the best to those students who will be sitting the Drama, Music and Art Scholarships this week.

UIVth Parents evening on Wednesday

With a rapidly evolving world and the ever so distant future blending into present: What will 2050 look like? This is the prompt for 201’s next issue, the theme of which is Time. Accepting a wide variety of contributions up until 26th January. Email Aled or Alia to get involved or come to our meetings on Wednesdays at 1:20 in the library.

There will be a lunchtime concert this Friday in Routh – all are welcome to attend this short concert featuring the Windband and some soloists. Come along – 1.15pm start time.

National Citizen Service will be hosting a stand on Friday lunchtime (19th January) to tell you about their Easter programme. Pop along from to find out more in the LRC Foyer.

Would you please now stand as we say the Grace.

8 January 2018

Last Updated: 08/01/2018 09:50:43

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address

Monday 8th January 2018


A quotation from Emil Zatopek:
“One day the factory sports coach, who was very strict, pointed at four boys, including me, and ordered us to run in a race. I protested that I was weak and not fit to run, but the coach sent me for a physical examination and the doctor said that I was perfectly well. So I had to run, and when I got started I felt I wanted to win. But I only came in second. That was the way it started.

When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter either. Then, willpower will be no problem.”

Thought For The Week

Good morning - it is a pleasure to see the School together once again. I trust that your Christmas break was relaxing and that you have started the New Year with a good dose of enthusiasm and optimism. To those of you for whom returning to Bromsgrove has been a chilly shock, spare a thought for the ten new GAP tutors who join us this week from Australia. Over the weekend, Sydney experienced the highest temperature ever recorded there: 47.1C.

As we start the new term, let me loop back to my final message at the end of the last one. At Mark Reading, I made two points that I would ask you to keep in the forefront of your minds as we recommence today. The first was that, beyond all else, this School is an academic institution. We will celebrate every sporting star, every talented performer, every giver of service that ever walks through our gates.
But if any one of you leaves without the best academic qualification of which you were capable, those successes count for nothing. Some of you may not feel that your future relies on Mathematics, French or Physics right now, but sometimes athletes suffer injury, performers don’t make it, dreams aren’t always realised. Your backstop must always be a solid academic qualification. We will offer you every opportunity we can, but no matter your co-curricular talents, our greatest priority must be your academic education.

However, that is easier said than done. Academic success is hard, whether you are striving to change a D to a C or an A to an A*. Ultimately, no matter how much support we offer, the weight sits on your shoulders. This term, most of you will start to feel that pressure ramp up and it will be your willpower and preparation, not some mystical notion of “natural ability” that will see you through.

The Fifth Form have important Mocks this week, the Sixth Form in a few weeks’ time. For the Fourth Form, academic demands increase during Lent as well. To achieve your best, there is no easy route, no shortcut. Perseverance and sheer hard grind are the only options. Which is why I shared the quotes from Emil Zatopek in this morning’s reading. For he was a great example of what willpower can do.

Unless you are a passionate runner or you hail from Czechoslovakia, his name may not mean much to you. He was born to a poor Czech family in 1922 and became an apprentice in a shoe factory during the Nazi occupation of his country. As you heard in the reading, one day the foreman ordered him to run in a race. He protested; said he had never run before. Tried to wiggle out of it, claiming to be sick. Still, he was made to race. He ran awkwardly, body leaning forward, shoulders heaving, head lolling from side to side. But he came second. That was enough to change Zatopek’s life.

He would go on to run in that same ungainly manner for the rest of his days. It was ugly to watch, but it worked. It brought him eighteen World Records and he won 261 of his 334 races.

How did he do that? Willpower and practice. Unrelenting practice. Unlike you, in your academic studies, he had no coaches, no books, no tutoring. He worked it out himself. In fact, Emil Zatopek is credited with being the inventor of ‘interval training’ which I’m sure many of you are now familiar with. His friends thought he was insane as he trained intensively in his lunch breaks and after work. He would do all-out 400m runs, interspersed with short breathers. Sometimes up to fifty or sixty at a time. He would wear Army boots to make training harder. Or run through the snow or sand. He would attach weights on pulleys to his legs and run, knees raised high, on the same spot. On wash days, he would pile all the dirty laundry in the bath and jog up and down on it for hours.

In doing so, he trained not only his muscles but his mind. As you heard in the reading, he later said: “When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical.”

The result of all this practice, this willpower? In 1948, at the first Olympics after the war, the unknown Emil Zatopek scorched through the 10,000m field, leaving the world’s best runners in his wake. But that was nothing compared to what he did at the next Games.

In the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki he won both his specialist distance races, the 5,000m and the 10,000m. He was so exhausted after the epic finish in the 5,000m that he went back to his room to recover. While he was resting, he got word that his wife, Dana, had won the women’s javelin event. At which point he said, only half-jokingly: “At present the score of the contest in the Zapotek family is 2-1. This result is too close. To restore some prestige, I will try to improve on it in the marathon.” And he left his room and headed to the track.

Emil Zapotek had never run a marathon in his life, let alone competed in one at the Olympics. Straight after running two other distance events. Yet at the halfway stage, he was up on the shoulder of the leader, the current record holder and favourite to win, Englishman Jim Peters. Emil, who had also taught himself 8 languages including English, asked Peters if he thought the pace was about right. Peters was shocked that he was even there but tried to be wily and said he thought it was too slow. To his amazement, Zapotek accelerated away from him. He didn’t see him again until he reached the stadium. In second place. By which time, Zatopek had already done a victory lap and was busy signing autographs.

So if you need some inspiration for the commitment and hard work necessary for these coming Mocks – Emil Zapotek. No excuses, no shortcuts. Just relentless practice. We are an academic institution, you are scholars. Willpower and relentless practice are all you need to prove that.

I mentioned one other thing at Mark Reading last term. As you went off to be with your families, I reminded you that Bromsgrove is also a family, with all the obligations and assurances that implies. Our individual successes are made possible by all of the people with whom we share our days. Boarder or Day pupil, you come to this place for the next six weeks to be uplifted and strengthened by those you see around you here this morning. In turn, you have a responsibility to uplift and strengthen them. No man is an island, as the poet wrote, and your fate is interwoven with all around you. Classmates, teammates, Housemates – every one of your peers has a hand in your chances.

So too the Common Room. The educators who sit behind me here this morning are your greatest allies. Don’t forget that over the coming weeks. The expectations they hold of you, the standards they enforce, are not for their benefit, but for yours. They already have university degrees. They already have fulfilling careers. They are already held in regard by society. Their purpose is to help you attain the same.

Therefore, as the rituals and routines of our Bromsgrove lives recommence this week, take the opportunity to remind yourselves of your interconnectedness. Realise that all boats rise with the tide. The better anybody does in this School, the better you do. I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. For me, actions speak louder than words. But I do believe that new beginnings offer opportunities to change old habits. Especially bad habits that inhibit you. You as an individual or us as a family.

So leave any bickering or bad blood you may have held last term back there. If you judged another person harshly in 2017, there is no need to reprise that in 2018. If blame or jealousy or contempt coloured your relationship with someone then, now is the chance to abandon that path, rather than mindlessly returning to it.

I said before Christmas that families are forever. So too, your Bromsgrove family. Use this new term to build on the relationships that will set you up for life. Avoid falling back into weary patterns that you can only end up regretting.

Apply that same logic inwardly as well. If others thought you a little arrogant last year, return this term with humility. You don’t need to boast that you “are, like, a genius”. Just prove it by being one.
If you nursed regrets over the holiday about opportunities missed last term, shrug them off and start anew. Unless it changes your behaviour, regret is a wasted emotion.

If there was a gap last term between who you are and who you say you are, this is the term to close it. This term many decisions will be made, based upon what is seen of your character and quality.

University placements, team selections, scholarships, awards, next year’s Monitor appointments. Your role in the Bromsgrove family is determined more by what you do, than what you say you do. Actions speak louder than words. Let this be the term where your actions define you best. I wish you all well.


Duke of Edinburgh Award
I would like to invite the following on stage to receive their Silver award:Christian Parris, Shawni McColgan, James Gill, Zed Beaumont, Lauren Watts


As mentioned, IB2 and GCSE Mock examinations take place all week.

There will be Marmite seminars for IVth and Vth Form ONLY this week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, 12.50pm. The course is entitled ‘Great Writing’. If you’d like to start attending, or want to return to seminars please email Dr Ruben. The first Lower VIth Form seminar will be on Monday 22nd January, continuing with the course Nature and Culture.

Finally, we host the National Indoor Hockey finals this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. As you are aware, our U18 team qualified for this prestigious event. The team play their matches at:
Saturday 12.30pm and 4.35pm;
Sunday 10.10am and 13.05pm
Remember, this is your family and their success is your success – please come along and support them.

Would you please now stand as we say the Grace.

15 December 2017

Last Updated: 15/12/2017 10:51:36


Monday December 11th 2017

Mark Reading

Good morning and welcome to our Mark Reading Ceremony for this Michaelmas Term. Before I announce the GCSE subject prizes and various other awards, let me commend you all on a superb term. Particular praise to those newly arrived in the L4th, who have settled so well into School life. It seems a while ago now that the entire year group walked the Malvern Hills in pursuit of their Bromsgrove Badge. You were impressive then and have remained so since. You have come to understand Bromsgrove’s high standards of expectation and most of you are already meeting and exceeding them.

It has also been pleasing to witness so many of our students from all year levels continuing to give of their time and talents to the local community as part of Bromsgrove Service. Last week’s Tea and Carols was a particular highlight.

Service also from all those committed to the CCF this term and to the Duke of Edinburgh, which has been equally impressive. More of that shortly as we present a remarkable number of Gold awards.

Success has been evident in the Performing Arts too. As well as the wonderful performances that were woven together for the Grand Opening of Routh & Cobham, there has been a feast of other offerings. From the uplifting union of this year’s House Song, to individual recitals, all have played their part. Triumphs too, with the Chapel choir gracing Worcester Cathedral and the Big Band’s success at Cheltenham. Then of course, we were treated to the spectacle of The Pierglass. This year’s senior play was a first in many respects; first on the Cobham Theatre stage, first written and directed by our own Director. Most importantly though, it was a play about the way in which theatre mirrors life and we thank the remarkable troupe of actors who brought us that truth in such a humorous and convincing manner.

Debating has continued to flourish this term – well done to every person who has taken to their feet to defend or rebut a motion so far this year.

And as is to be expected at Bromsgrove, our sporting reputation stands strong after the first term. Expected, but never taken for granted. We congratulate every one of you who has worn the School’s colours this term with commitment and pride. There have been so many triumphs this season I will not risk singling out any one team or code.

Suffice to say, your success has meant that we remain in a number of regional and national competitions which will conclude after Christmas.

In the midst of this wealth of co-curricular commitment, the School has maintained excellent academic performance, as is witnessed in the fine set of reports that have just been issued. AEO grades continue to help identify more precisely your individual areas of excellence and of opportunity for growth. Never forget that, whatever other triumphs we may enjoy as a School, we are first and foremost an academic institution.

For all that, you have still found time for the best of House life. No more so than at this festive time of year, when the decoration of your studies and the traditions of your respective Christmas parties over recent weeks have been a tribute to the spirit and comradery which exists in each of your Houses. And the intrusion of the weekend’s snow fall served only to highlight the best of boarding life. I pay tribute to all of the residential staff who made your care and well-being their priority, that weekend and every other.

So you may close this term and head into the Christmas break feeling proud of your achievements. But what are we to do with all that success?

There is plenty of nonsense in the news these days, much of it reported upon just to get a rise from people. Usually, I let it wash over me. But a one story this past term really got under my skin. It was about a prestigious school that I won’t name, but which is similar to us in many ways. Proud heritage, highly academically successful, quite traditional.

But in October, The Telegraph reported that this school had decided to abandon one of those traditions. After 452 years, this year they were not going to hold their annual prizegiving. In a letter announcing the decision to scrap its annual whole-school prizegiving, parents were told the event will be replaced by smaller ceremonies, attended exclusively by prize winners and their parents. The Head wrote: "We felt it was not right for pupils who were not prize winners to sit through an event where prize winners are being singled out and applauded." Sorry?

The article went on to report the demoralising news that a recent poll found 57 per cent of British primary schools now hold "non-competitive" sports days which do not recognise winners.

Presumably these same people do not watch any sport on TV, do not support favourite teams. They never watch Strictly Come Dancing or Big Brother or The Apprentice. They don’t vote in elections for fear of a winner.

Do we seriously think that shielding children from the pain of losing or coming second is going to adequately prepare them for life? You are accused of being the snowflake generation, but its policies like that which will make you fragile and unable to cope. I refuse to believe that the awards and commendations that we are about to make – in front of you all – are going to leave you broken and crumbling. My experience, of this School and of you in particular, is that you are actually extremely proud of the achievements of your peers, your friends. Those in your year or your House or your team.

At every Routh, there is warmth and generosity in your applause. Smiles on your faces as your mates are acknowledged. If you feel any twinge of envy, that surely just serves to spur you to do better next term. So we will not be abandoning recognition of those who succeed. They worked hard for their awards. You know it and you show it.
So to Mark Reading and we begin with awards for the best performances at GCSE.

English Language Alia Derriey
English Literature Holly Heslop
Classical Civilisation Holly Heslop
English as a Second Language Ka Chung (Adrian) Tse
Religious Studies Jonathan Green
Mathematics Samuel Osborne
Biology Samuel Osborne
French June Iec
Geography Benjamin Turner
Spanish Timofey Abbasov
ArtTextiles Isabella Breithaupt, Lily-Rose Faulkner-Schütt
German Lily-Rose Faulkner-Schütt
Business Studies Rufus Hulbert
Economics Eltham (Zewei) Lin
Chemistry Harry Whitfield
Physics Tristan Hall
Latin Tristan Hall
PE Jules Gwinnutt
Design & Technology
Graphic Products:  Emily Lou 
Resistant Materials: Henry Fussell
Drama Holly Nichols
History Iain Simmons
Music Christiana Lloyd
Dual Science Yuet Yee (Ruby) Ngan

To Performing Arts and after the spectacular opening of Routh and Cobham, a quick follow up from both drama and music.

Then more good news for the Big Band. After their success in Cheltenham a few weeks’ ago, they have now been invited to participate in the main finals event for the National Concert Band Festival at the Royal Northern College of Music in April 2018. That deserves our applause.

Junior House Debating
The standard of debating in the Junior Inter-House Debating competition this year was outstanding; participants delivered some thoughtfully researched and well-presented speeches. After some excellent debates in the finals of the competition, this year’s winners of the Junior Inter-House Debating competition are Thomas Cookes House.

A prize is also awarded to the best speaker in the final debates. This year, this individual prize is presented to Letitia de Belgique.

County Table tennis
The Boys Table Tennis teams both competed in the County tournament in Evesham last month. The U16 boys performed well to win one of their matches but narrowly lost to the eventual winners, finishing with a silver medal, which is a great achievement for a young team.

The U18’s however managed to win the tournament by beating Prince Henry’s to progress through to the Zonal round after Christmas. Well done to Murat Shafigullin, Vladimir Averin, Linus Tsao and Alvin Choi.

The Girls Table Tennis Team also competed in the County round with the U16 and U18 girls also winning their tournaments. The U18 girls now progress onto the Zonal round with high hopes for Karen Chu and Jade Ngan.

Indoor Hockey
Congratulations to the U18 Girls Indoor Hockey team who have qualified for the national finals that will be held in this arena on the first weekend back in January.

At the Midlands finals, they drew with Repton and then beat Kings Warwick, Oakham and Abbotsholme to qualify for the Semi Final against Malvern College. A very close fought game was decided by penalty strokes. Bromsgrove kept their calm to win the Penalty shootout 2-0, thus qualifying for the national finals.

Siviter Smith trophy
The 1st XV Boys beat King Edwards Birmingham 48-12 to retain the Siviter-Smith cup.

Duke of Edinburgh Award
It gives me great pleasure to invite the following forward to receive their Gold awards.
Lisa Shaw
Megan Longden
Claire Humphries
Ed Shinner
Dominic Gardner
Aled Luckman
Alex Spurgin
Katie Palmer-Reid
Holly Peplow
Dan Moore
Talia Mitchell
Elouise Brookes
Edward Hubscher
Liam Holland-Bunch
Ben Payne
Evan Stokes
Rachel Weller
Will Randall
Abi Saker
Hayden Owen
Max Butterfield

Final Address
And so to Christmas. Given all that I have mentioned above, I trust that you will have a restful and rejuvenating holiday. But I also trust that wherever you head off to today, it will be to join your family.

That may not be the most exciting prospect for some of you of course. Maybe you would rather be skiing with your friends or chilled out in your room watching a non-stop box-set marathon. Maybe you would rather be studying throughout the holiday. Or not.

Either way, I know that some of you may cringe a bit at the thought of a family Christmas. The slightly old-fashioned rituals that your Mum insists upon. Your Dad being embarrassingly happy. The Queen’s Speech. Opening presents in order. Paper hats at Christmas lunch.

Or may it’s the wrinkled old great aunt that you only ever see once a year, who still pinches your cheek as if you were five and says “Haven’t you grown since last Christmas?” To which you should say “No, I think you have shrunk.” Or the uncle who drinks too much and thinks that the jokes in the Christmas crackers are funny. Or the annoying cousin who – naturally – had a better year at school, got more marks, more tries, more medals, more friends. Family gatherings can be tiresome I know. You know the saying: “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family”. I spoke to you earlier in the term about the quirks of birth order. Whether you are the first, middle, last or only child, you are, nevertheless, part of a family.

I will be heading home to see my family, especially the newest addition (who, if I haven’t mentioned it, is perfect). There will be hordes of others there too. Nieces, nephews, aunties, uncles. My brothers and sisters. Our mother, who’s in her seventies but acts like she’s twenty. My children, who are in their twenties, but act like they’re 10 when it comes to Christmas. Because that’s what Christmas does. It draws you back to where you started. And to the people who started there with you. Your Mum and Dad. Brothers and sisters. The extended family too. That special grandparent. The Aunty who isn’t actually related to you but might as well be because she has always been in your life. They are all family and therefore they are always part of us.

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family. They are the ones who were there at the start and will be there at the end. They shared what no one else will share, were made from the same clay as you.

You may fight like cat and dog with your brother or sister now, may get furious with your Mum or be embarrassed by your Dad. But in a very few years, that will change. In fact, the disputes you have with your family members when you are young actually becomes part of the glue that binds you so tightly together as you get older.

You share more than DNA with your parents and siblings. You share experiences, holidays, private jokes and private sufferings, equal pain and equal joy. Ironically, as teenagers, you are all in the process of drawing away from your families right now. Forming your own identities. Owning your own ideas and opinions. Music and friendship choices that differ from your parents. You are separating yourself from the tight controls that you knew as a child. In the case of the Upper Sixth, you are literally getting ready to split away, as you receive university offers and start to think about moving out of your family home. Yet you will never really leave. All that I have just spoken of is with you for life. This childhood and adolescence is part of your fabric, you will carry it with you for life. And when all else may fail, your family will always be there for you.

Christmas is, of course, the time of gift giving. No doubt you have already faced the dilemmas of what to get for whom?
The best advice I can offer any one of you wondering what you could give to their families this Christmas is time.

In the pressured world in which we all live, with the thousand competing demands upon us, it is a sign of how important we think someone is when we chose to spend time exclusively with them.

In fact, I would go one step further. I think there is something even more precious than your time. And that is your attention. You occupy a world which pulls at your mind every minute of every day. Digital media in particular has made us highly distractable, unable to concentrate as once we may have. It’s not just you, it’s not a failing of young people. I am equally guilty as, I imagine are most of my colleagues.

We have become like Pavlov’s dogs – we can’t help but respond now to the ping of an email, text or tweet. Even if you show good manners and continue talking to someone when you feel the vibration of a new message or post coming, your mind wanders – who is it, what’s it about, is it more interesting than this conversation I’m having right now?

So I encourage you, whatever smelly thing you buy for your Mum this Christmas, whatever laddish gift you get for Dad, whatever you try and re-gift to your aunties and uncles and cousins. Give your family something truly precious and increasingly rare in this day and age. Honour them with the gift of your undivided time and attention for a few days this Christmas. Because your family is where you were born, its where you grew up, it will be there when you die.

The famous Italian politician of the 1800’s, Giuseppe Mazzini, once said: “The family is the country of the heart.” My Christmas wish to you all as you leave this, your Bromsgrove family for a wee while, is that you go back to your other family. To the family that is your country. And that you take with you the most valuable gift that you can possibly give to them. Your love and attention.

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

4 December

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

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 4th December 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Thought For The Week

Good morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sports Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Would you please now stand as we say the Grace.

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