The Headmaster's Weekly Routh Address

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23 April 2018

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

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 23rd April 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awarded Silver: Shufei Wang, Maria Starikova, Nikita Bedov

Awarded Bronze: Timofei Chernega, Hanting Wang, Dominic Gardner

I invite all six Chemists forward to receive their certificates


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Thursday the 1st XI play the MCC.

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

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

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

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

16th April

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

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 16th April 2018

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

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

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

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

From the Headmaster:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Bromsgrove Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IB1 Mock examinations will be held this week

IB2 Exam Leave commences at the end of the week

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

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

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

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

21st March

Last Updated: 22/03/2018 16:21:44

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 12th March 2018

As is our custom, this final Routh Assembly for the Lent Term is dedicated to celebrating outstanding achievements across the spectrum of your life in the School. Notably the great wealth of sporting achievements, with success at the highest levels in so many different codes. But, also, equally high levels of accomplishment in the other three pillars of Bromsgrove: cultural pursuits, service activities, and, of course, the prime reason you are all here, academic achievements.

Questions in the House

Let me start there then. We are used to acknowledging academic ability by way of end-of-year prizes, exceptional university offers or success in external Olympiads. However, it is to the great credit of this year’s Monitor team that they have successfully added an academic challenge to the plethora of inter-House competitions at Bromsgrove.

I commend the Heads of School especially for their leadership in initiating and successfully running the inaugural “Questions In The House” competition and hope that will now become a permanent fixture in our calendar.

I also commend all who participated for their House in the heats and finals. It is no easy thing to put your intellect on show in the pressure of a public quiz and I thought you all acquitted yourselves well. It wasn’t just a test of memory, it was a test of knowledge and its application; something that we should value above all else.

So, congratulations to the first ever winners and I invite the School House team to come forward to receive the trophy and our admiration.

House Debating
Staying with academic pursuits, over the past few weeks we have seen an impressive range of arguments and counter-arguments put forth by all who have competed in the inter-House debating competitions. The standard in Senior House Debating this year was exceptionally high, with each House demonstrating their oratorical skills on topics ranging from vegetarianism to political assassination.

Again, I commend all who participated and again, after a close final, I announce the winners of Senior House debating 2018 are School House. I invite their team of Archie Holder and Grayson Leversha forward to receive the trophy and our congratulations.

House Drama
Moving to things theatrical. A most enjoyable Fourth Form play last week capped off a great term in our new theatre, which included the 2018 Senior House Drama Competition. An inspiring and highly entertaining event which is growing in quality every year. All 11 Houses produced a play and almost 100 students were involved, with Actor and Guildhall Drama School Teacher Mr, Ed Sayer giving a fine adjudication.

Special mention must go to Housman Hall for their magnificent large scale ensemble performance of The Kitchen by Arnold Wesker and a special prize was awarded to Wendron Gordon for their brave and hilarious performance of Civil Rogues.

The runner up prize for best Actor was awarded to Phoebe Fletcher for her performance as Lily Smalls in Under Milk Wood and runner up best play was given to Elmshurst for their extraordinary physical theatre in Metamorphosis by Steven Berkoff.

However, I invite the two ultimate winners forward to be re-presented with their awards this morning.

Timofey Abbasov collects the Best Actor award for his outstanding portrayal of Gregor Samsa in Metamorphosis – Timofey also was awarded the Performing Arts Prize on the evening.

And Madelaine Barber-Fray collects the Best Play award on behalf of Oakley House for their enchanting and detailed performance of “Under Milk Wood”.

It was very good to see so many performers on the Cobham Stage – many of whom had not been in front of an audience before – and I encourage every one of you to take the opportunity to take part in the future.

Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award

Turning now to service and outdoor pursuits, it gives me great pleasure to present the latest batch of Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards. These presentations happen so frequently at Bromsgrove that you may be forgiven for thinking that attaining Gold is a reasonably easy feat. I assure you, it is not. This School’s participation rate in D of E is amongst the highest in the land and the achievement represents three years of hard work, commitment and personal challenge. As the Upper Sixth discover every year, attaining a Gold D of E award is a powerful asset in your university applications and, in the future, on any professional CV. More importantly though, it is a badge of character and I am proud to invite the following people forward to receive theirs this morning:

Matt Hegarty, Luke Court, Anna Da Costa Martins, Meghan McIntosh, Henry Stone, Olivia Turner
Timofei Chernega, Elouise Brookes, Maria Starikova, Vinzenz Freigassner, Lauren Neilson Watts

National Netball Tournament
We begin the sporting awards with a remarkable recent success. To qualify for the National Finals the 1st Netball team won all of their 14 county and regional qualifying matches to represent the West Midlands.

At the National Finals, despite adverse weather conditions of snow, sleet and high winds, the team adapted their game to the conditions, playing smart netball. They won every match in their group, taking them through to the semi-finals where they faced a very strong Worthing College who they overcame 11-8. They then went on to face Queen Elthelburga’s in the final where they fought hard, but ultimately succumbed. All in all though, 22 games won in a row in the English Schools Competition and only 1 loss, to be crowned the 2nd best team in the country. I invite the team forward to receive their silver medals and our congratulations.

The captains of Badminton, who have been awarded their school caps, have colours to announce. (Heather Lam and Tony Qin)

The captain of Basketball, who has been awarded his school cap, has colours to announce. (Alex Wong)

Cross Country

1.2 Relays
Rescheduled because of the snow but worth the wait when they were finally run last week, I commend every person who ran the 1.2’s for their House. The results were:
Girls House Placings:
3rd Thomas Cookes
2nd Hazeldene
1st Oakley
Fastest Lap: Abi Saker

Boys House Placings:
3rd School
2nd Lyttleton
1st Walters
Fastest Lap: Charlie Sapwell

I would like to invite the captains of Oakley and Walters plus Abi and Charlie forward to collect their trophies.

The Halstead cup for the most improved cross-country runner is awarded to Leonid Goldberg.

The captain of Cross Country, who has been awarded her School cap, has colours to announce. (Abi Saker)

More spirited inter-House competition in Football this term, with the results as follows:
3rd Wendron Gordon
2nd Walters
1st Elmshurst

3rd Elmshurst
2nd Wendron Gordon
1st Walters

I invite the captains of the winning teams forward to receive the trophies.

Football 1st XI Player of the Year is awarded to a player who has led by example in both effort and performance. This years’ player of the year award goes to: James Cox

The captain of football, who has been awarded his School cap, has colours to announce. (James Cox)

Inter House Hockey
with the placings as follows:
3rd Lupton
2nd Walters
1st School
I invite the captain of School House to collect the trophy.

Girls Hockey Player of the Year:
A tight contest, with many good candidates in consideration. This year, the award is presented to Claudia Moberley – please come forward.

The John Downey Cup is awarded to a Hockey player who has contributed fully during his time at Bromsgrove. Please come forward - Gabriel Thornton

The captains of Hockey, who have been awarded their School caps, have colours to announce. (Will Randall and Megan Longden)

Netball player of the year:
This year’s netball player of the year goes to someone who not only gives 100% in both training and matches but also has real impact when on court. The deserving recipient is: Rhea Patel.

The captain of Netball, who has been awarded her School cap, has colours to announce. (Imogen Faulconbridge)


The captain of Squash has colours to announce (Jacob)

The captains of Swimming ,who have been awarded their School caps, have colours to announce (Tristan Bland and Rachel Weller)

Table Tennis
Finally, after another remarkable season, I invite Karen Chu forward to receive her School cap for Table Tennis.

To all who have been honoured this morning and to all who achieved their own personal milestones, goals or private ambitions in sport, performance, service or academia this term, I repeat my congratulations.

Remember though, success is relative. There is always someone better than we are and we are always better than someone else is. The important thing is not whether you have a national title that others covet, but whether, in your heart, you are genuinely proud of yourself for what you have achieved. Nobody knows your own situation, your challenges, hopes and aspirations better than you do.

So, as you prepare to leave for Easter, whether to study for vital examinations next term or to take a well-earned break, I encourage you to look inside your own heart and ask “What did you achieve these past three months of which you can be most proud?” What matters is not a trophy, a badge, a certificate. Rather, the risk and stretch and hard graft and dedication that lay behind it. Ultimately, the only accolades, the only pride in your achievements that matter, are your own. And there are plenty amongst you who should feel proud this term.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

12th March 2018

Last Updated: 12/03/2018 11:42:48

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 12th March 2018

Reading: Excerpt from Locksley Hall by Tennyson

Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. 

Thought For The Week

Good morning.

Despite that reference to Spring, you wouldn’t really know it has arrived, not here in Bromsgrove anyway. Meteorologically, the first day of Spring was a fortnight ago, March 1st. Astronomically, the first day is next Tuesday, 20th March, when the equinox occurs. Either way, it remains wet, cool and overcast. Drab and dreary.

Yet Spring will come, as it must, and with it all the stirrings of nature. There are already buds on the trees around the School. The purple crocus along Masters’ Walk are out and the daffodils are poised to bloom. Squirrels are reappearing, so too the woodpeckers. The birds and bees will soon start doing what birds and bees do in the Spring. And so too, I imagine, will some of you. As the poem said, “In the Spring a young man's fancy, lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

Spring is traditionally a time of creation, new beginnings. The warmer weather and longer days are a biological trigger. Lambs are born, leaves sprout on trees, flowers bloom. Birds get loud and raucous, calling for a mate, preening and showing off. Did I say birds? I meant teenagers.

“In the Spring a young man's fancy, lightly turns to thoughts of love.” I get that. I get that in every country, in every culture, since time immemorial, Spring has triggered the same yearning in people as it has in plants and animals. Love will be in the air. I’m not unrealistic. However, for you, there are a few other competing demands before you all start strutting around like peacocks, showing off your plumage and trying to attract a mate.

The first is that this is a school, not a dating agency. Or a nightclub. There are standards of conduct and decorum expected on these grounds, of which you are all aware. Public displays of affection are not acceptable. Keep private things private and away from School. Especially for those of you who board here, the rules about physical relationships are very clear. Please don’t be tempted to put yourselves in situations that might jeopardise your place in the School.

However, the second reason to try and control yourselves when romance blossoms is that it is a major distraction you could do without right now. Spring may be the season of love but it’s also the season of examinations. In three short months the School year will be over and then you can spend the whole summer looking adoringly at each other. In the meantime, every minute spent staring longingly into someone else’s eyes is a minute not spent staring at a textbook. I’m not saying deny nature, just defer it by a few weeks.
No point in denying it. I winced a little recently when I read about the Headmaster of a prestigious school not too far from here, who has publicly threatened to severely punish any pupil who has a boyfriend or girlfriend. He began by saying that he “will not hesitate” to expel pupils that have “any sexual contact” in school. Which, to be fair, is what we say too.

But then he went further, saying "I strongly disapprove of any boyfriend/girlfriend relationships - and it will always affect any university reference I write (meaning - any student in a relationship will definitely get a worse reference from me).”

Then he said "Relationships can start at university - not at School. I will be talking to staff and, as in previous years, I will put together a list of any student with a boyfriend or girlfriend. These students … can expect to find a new school in September.”

Finally, he added: “There are plenty of students that wish to attend this School without the diversion of romance - and these students can replace those students whose focus is on bf/gf relationships." Phew.
I’m right with him on the whole distraction thing. But making a list of couples and then writing them bad UCAS references? Really? That’s a little bit ‘1984’. Not surprisingly, he drew a bit of critical attention in the media. Some commentators said that, in trying to enforce rules against something as natural as teenage relationships, he was behaving like King Canute. King Canute, the 12th Century ruler who famously tried to use his armies to hold back the tide of the ocean.

Which is actually a misrepresentation of the poor old King. His story has not been treated well by history. Today most people refer to him when they are trying to make a point about foolish, arrogant actions. If somebody is stubbornly trying to do something impossible, we may say they are acting like King Canute.
In fact, he was the complete opposite. A man of great humility. He was a supremely powerful ruler and people would flock to his court to praise and honour him. He didn’t enjoy all that flattery (unlike a certain President). So to make it cease, he marched them all down to the seaside, stood at the water’s edge and commanded the tides to stop before his robes got wet. When that didn’t happen, he made the point that his worldly power was nothing compared to that of God, who was the only one that could control the forces of nature. So to be like King Canute is actually to admit there are certain things you can’t control, not the other way around. Not arrogant, humble.

As with the natural elements, so too with human nature. When you try to stop something that is part of our natural human experience, two things happen. First, you drive the behaviour underground. That’s the reason the Irish dance the way they do. Apparently.

The story goes that centuries ago, the Catholic Church in Ireland frowned upon dancing. It was frivolous and lustful and led to immorality. So the clergy forbade it. But the urge to dance is another powerful human desire, just like having relationships. So the people learned to do it without being spotted.

Straight arms, straight face. Stiff upper body and no smiles. Standing behind the bar, or a fence, or a window. Meanwhile, down below, the legs and feet are going nuts. I could be doing Riverdance right now behind this lectern for all you know. And the priest passes by on his bicycle, past the farm boys and girls standing behind the hedgerow at the crossroads, innocently chatting. Thinks “nothing going on here”. Yet behind the hedge, it’s all hips and thighs. You can’t hold back the tide of human expression.

The bigger problem with trying to ban natural human instincts though, is that you never teach people how to manage their impulses themselves. What’s the point of preparing you for academic success at university if we haven’t equipped you with the self-discipline to cope without rules and regulations? The emotional intelligence to be police yourself? Regulate your own desires?

I suppose I could ask the staff to draw up lists of those they suspect may have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Covert CCTV cameras, monitor your phones, pay informants – I don’t know. Then we could haul you in and kick you out. Excise your wickedness from the School. Or, we could set out some expectations of your conduct, explain the reasoning, agree the boundaries between home and School, as wed do. And then get on with the business of helping you thrive as mature, independent young adults. School life then private life. Study then romance. Spring then Summer. Simple really. 


Table Tennis
On Saturday, Jade Ngan and Karen Chu were the first Bromsgrove pupils to participate in the National Table Tennis Team final. They played really well to finish 4th in the country - a superb performance and something of which we should be extremely proud.

I invite both Jade and Karen to come forward and receive their trophies and our congratulations.

LAMDA Results
Well done to the following pupils who have passed their LAMDA examinations, I invite them to receive their certificates:

Anna Connell Acting Grade 4 – MERIT
Isra Suleman Acting Grade 4 – MERIT
Annabel Schulze Acting Grade 4 – DISTINCTION
Theresa Seisl Acting Grade 5 – DISTINCTION

Duke of Edinburgh
Another two D of E Silver Awards have been attained - I invite Christopher Osborne and Freddie Edge to come and receive their Badges.

The U14 Boys played in the Midlands finals and after beating Repton School 2-0 in the semi-final and Uppingham School 6-2 in the final, became Midland’s Champions. They will play in the national final which is held at the Olympic stadium in April. A superb achievement and I invite them to receive their medals.

Cross Country
Good performances at the prestigious Attingham Park Relays against some very strong teams, with Abbie Saker and Charlie Sapwell recording the fastest laps overall in the competition. Our Girls Team did very well to come 3rd overall - I invite them forward to receive their medals.


Well done to all of you, including teachers, who were involved in the charity Dodgeball event during Friday lunchtime, raising money and awareness for Sense UK.

Congratulations to those string players who were amongst 100 performers involved in last Thursday’s String Extravaganza in Routh.

Both the Boys’ and Girls’ teams beat Rugby School on Saturday.

Well done to the Senior Basketball team who beat Stowe 64-61 in overtime. A heart-stopping game I’m told.

Congratulations to the 1st XI, who finished their Football season undefeated. Despite overwhelming pressure throughout their final match they were just unable to score the winning goal. Meanwhile, the U15A had a comfortable 3-0 victory over Hereford Cathedral School.

As already mentioned it has been a busy week for our hockey teams. The U16s played well at the Midlands finals, but unfortunately just missed out on qualifying for the semi-final.

The U15 girls deserve praise for reaching the Independent School’s National semi-final but unfortunately did not convert their chances, loosing narrowly against Reigate Grammar School.

Well done to the Boys U15 A team who beat Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School to qualify for the Independent School’s Cup quarterfinal.

The girls’ teams continued their fine string of performances winning 8 of the matches played against Repton School on Saturday including a good win for the 1st team.

Rugby 7s
The U15 team won their group at the Solihull tournament, winning 5 games but then unfortunately losing in the quarter final against Warwick School.

Table Tennis
The School Team lost a closely fought match that came down to the last game against Prince Henry’s High School.

Our swimming squad competed at St. Pauls School on Thursday evening where Sam Osborne broke the School record in the 50m butterfly, which had stood for 10 years.

On Friday, the squad swam at the Olympic Pool against 144 other schools. The standard was very high and the boys and girls teams finished a credible 15th and 16th respectively.

Today we have our Senior House Debating Final during Head of Year.

Tomorrow there is a Whole School Drugs Awareness day.

Also on Tuesday, there is a teatime concert at 5.30pm in Routh to which all are most welcome. This concert will feature the Year 9 GCSE Music Group, the Saxophone Ensemble and plenty of soloists too.

Wednesday is a big day for the CCF, as the Biennial inspection will be taking place.

Also on Wednesday evening, the IB2 and A level musicians will give a recital as part of their academic study. Please contact Mr McKelvey if you would like to attend this special event.
At 4pm on Thursday, we have an Evensong School Service.

It is Own Clothes Day on Friday in aid of ‘Papyrus’.

The next Marmite Movie of 2018 will also be on Friday evening at 5.15pm. Dr Ruben has already emailed Marmite students – please reply as soon as possible if you will be attending.

Additionally, World Wildlife Day has been rescheduled for this Friday. There is an informative talk in the LRC and a chance to encounter some animals at lunchtime; we are looking forward to this fantastic event.

Also on Friday, the IB2 end-of-course Art Exhibition is taking place from 5.15 to 6.30 in the ADT building.

And on Friday and Saturday, the Drama Department presents the IVth Form Play ‘Grimm Tales’ at 7pm in Cobham Theatre. All members of school are warmly encouraged to attend for an opportunity to revisit the nightmares of their childhood in what promises to be a funny and highly entertaining evening. The play is in just one Act and it is anticipated that it will end at around 8pm. Tickets are free but please book online using the school box office.

Finally, we wish our senior Netball team all the best when they compete in the national finals at Welwyn Garden City on Saturday.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

5th March 2018

Last Updated: 06/03/2018 12:48:18

Headmaster’s Routh Assembly Address
Monday 5th March 2018

Thought For The Week

Good morning.

Let me start by commending you all on the maturity and good humour that you demonstrated when last week’s stormy conditions disrupted our normal routines. My particular gratitude to the staff who covered for colleagues who couldn’t make it in to work, admiration for Day pupils who were able to get here safely and chose to do so, and congratulations to every one of the Boarders, who made the best of any challenges that the snow brought. I was especially impressed that so many of you still turned out to Routh on Saturday evening to support your peers in the superb Cultures Connect concert. Amidst the disruptions, I left it a little late to organise a reader for today. So, rather than drop it on one of you at the last minute, let me read it myself. It is a poem, many of you will know it:

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wherever you were and wherever you went outdoors last Friday and over the weekend, you may have seen a sight we do not often see. A sight that is only afforded to us when it snows or perhaps sometimes on a beach or in mud. That is, a view of the paths that people take. A visible record of their route. There for all to see, their footprints in the snow.

It is a fascinating sight, if you take a moment to stop and consider it. Written on the landscape, a record of where people have been, often long after they have been there. The heavily trafficked routes, the paths everyone takes. So well walked that the snow is packed down to ice, or worn away completely.
Those visible trails also identify our shortcuts. Highlight the places where people cut corners as they head with determination to their destination. Perhaps in a hurry to get out of the cold, perhaps late, perhaps just lazy. And there are footprints too, of the odd, lone individual who has walked off on their own path. A single set of prints leading somewhere different. The novelty of a big snowfall is that it not only paints our familiar buildings and grounds in a fresh light, but it also offers a glimpse of where we go within them.

A few months ago, I did an exercise with the Heads of School, helping them consider the reach of their influence. I gave them each a map of the School and asked them to draw, with an unbroken line, the journeys they had made that day, from the moment they woke up or arrived at School. Everywhere they had walked. When we combined them, the maps gave a powerful picture of where they were most commonly seen and which parts of the School they never saw.

Footprints in the snow do the same thing, on a larger scale. We do we go each day? What habits do we follow without thinking? What are our geographic patterns, the traces of our shared lives here? If we’d had a drone on Friday, it would have made a great photo.

One of those independent trails that hived off from the main path and went on a course of its own was made by Miss Scannell. She and I set off for the Prep School when the weather was at its worst. She wanted to avoid the icy paths but still, I was shocked when she strode off in a straight line, diagonally across Gordon Green. Not being brave enough to argue with Miss Scannell though, I followed obediently along behind.
The wind was whipping us, driving sharp ice crystals and drifting snow into our faces. I was hunched forward, concentrating on following Miss Scannell’s footsteps, when I was suddenly reminded of a time when I was mountaineering in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

I have mentioned before that when I left school I took some time off to go mountain climbing. I think I have also told you of my climbing partner, a skinny, lentil-eating hippy called Brian. Anyway, the trek across Gordon Green reminded me of days walking in blizzard conditions across glaciers and up deep snow ridges behind Brian.

In the early days, I was always happy for him to lead. Being the first to walk through fresh snow is hard work. It is called step-plugging and takes effort to punch each new foothold. Much easier to follow on behind, walking in the pre-made holes.

But after a while, it becomes tiresome to follow. Brian was not as tall as me and his stride was shorter. As much as I appreciated not having to break new ground, I soon grew frustrated at having to walk unnaturally, to shorten my pace and waddle like a duck. Plus, I often thought I could see a better route than the one he was taking.

By the end of our time in the Alps, we had settled into just following our own route, punching two lines up a ridge like a broken zipper. Harder work, but ultimately more satisfying to have chosen our own path.

I mention that today because your paths have been much on my mind recently and not just your tracks in the snow. I read some research recently about how people first make decisions about the career paths they end up following. Perhaps worryingly, the single biggest determinant was parental influence. Either doing exactly what your Mum or Dad do, or being directed by them.

That’s not surprising of course; they are the people that know you best and also those from whom you first learn about the concept of working. My father worked at an airport and as a consequence I spent my school years thinking only in those terms when considering a what I might do for a living. It was my main experience of work. At age 17, I was all set to be an air traffic controller. Perhaps I would be today, were it not for a radical Careers Counsellor, who was also a long-haired hippy (there were lots of them around in the Seventies). He politely proofread my carefully handwritten application form, then tore it in half and replaced it with one for Teachers College.

Me, who was ready to bolt out of the school gates at the end of the Sixth Form and never look back. Yet it is thanks to him that I have the most fulfilling job in the world. I could have followed in my father’s footsteps, but how long before that journey became uncomfortable, before I realised they were not my own?

I’m not saying you should ignore your parent’s advice. Nor that you shouldn’t follow them into their field of work if it is of interest to you. But at least consider not just what you want to do, but why.
Just like the snowy footprints around the campus, maybe take a moment to see the multitude of paths that are open to you before you put your head down and follow another person’s trail.

That poem of Robert Frost’s isn’t just famous because of the elegance with which it conjures up the image of someone standing at the edge of a wood, pondering whether to take the well-worn path or the overgrown one. It resonates across the years since it was written because it also speaks of the human condition.

That we all have choices, all the time. And the one thing worse than making the wrong choice is not recognising how many choices you had to begin with.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

There are times when it seems easier to follow in someone else’s footsteps – your parents, an older brother or sister, the course your friends are taking. Especially if you get to the Sixth Form and you’re still not sure what you want to do. Which is perfectly natural by the way.

But if, as the poet say, your decision may ultimately be the one “that has made all the difference,” at least make it your choice. I don’t need to plug the great work that Miss Leech and the Bromsgrove Futures team do – you all know that. But I do encourage you to use their services with a mind that is open to all the choices you may have when you leave this School. There are many paths before you – try to see them all.


Cultures Connect Concert
As I mentioned at the start, Saturday evening saw a magnificent expression of the cultural wealth of the School. I commend every person who had the courage and the pride to take to the stage and share a little of their language, traditions and heritage. I was equally impressed with the genuine respect and encouragement from the audience that packed Routh Hall.

Congratulations also to those who performed in last week’s lunchtime concert, wonderful entertainment from some new performers and old hands alike. There is one more evening concert this term on Tuesday 13th March at 5.30pm and we encourage you to attend.

Obviously there is little to report on the sporting front as all weekend fixtures were cancelled due to the snow. However, well done to:
The Boys’ basketball team who beat Old Swinford Hospital School 61-47.

The first and second netball teams, who beat King Edward VI School, Stratford in both matches.


A reminder to Upper Sixth that a number of photographs are scheduled for period 4 and lunchtime today.

Then at Head of Year, your tutors will be discussing the latest round of AEO grades.

Last week’s weather conditions also led to the Senior House Drama competition being postponed until to this evening at 7pm in Cobham Theatre. It still promises to be a terrifically entertaining and varied evening and all are welcome. Please speak to your Houseparents who will have tickets they can give you.

On Tuesday evening we have the Lower Sixth Parents’ Evening in the Arena.

On Wednesday, we look forward to the final of ‘Questions in the House’ at 4pm in Routh Hall.

Thursday, sees a String Extravaganza Concert at 4.15pm in Routh Hall featuring players from Year 3 to the Upper 6th together on the stage.

On Friday, Old Bromsgrovian Taome Jennings (ex Hz) is returning to speak of her experiences of studying at Exeter University. If you are an UVIth student holding an offer to study at Exeter, or a LVIth considering that university, please email Miss Leech for a seat and early lunch pass. Start time 1.25 pm in the Lecture Theatre.

Also on Friday, there will be a charity dodge ball event to raise funds for Sense UK in the Arena at 1.20pm. £2 to watch and doughnuts on sale for £1.50 during the event. All are welcome to come along and enjoy the fun.

On Sunday in Chapel there will be a short Service for Mothering Sunday at 10.30am. All are welcome to attend – with or without their mums or parents.

Finally , this year’s Research Competition focuses on the legacy of WWI – asking you to identify which development from 1914-1918 has the biggest impact today. The competition takes place on Saturday March 17th between 5-7pm in the LRC. Interested students should email Dr Rimmer to request a place, preferably with two other team members’ names.

Would you please stand as we say together the Grace.

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