The London Breed
by Benjamin Zephaniah

I love this great polluted place
Where pop stars come to live their dreams
Here ravers come for drum and bass
And politicians plan their schemes,
The music of the world is here
This city can play any song
They came to here from everywhere
It’s they that made this city strong.

A world of food displayed on streets
Where all the world can come and dine
On meals that end with bitter sweets
And cultures melt and intertwine,
Two hundred languages give voice
To fifteen thousand changing years
And all religions can rejoice
With exiled souls and pioneers.

In June 1948, the Empire Windrush sailed from the Caribbean to Tilbury Docks near London and its arrival marked the start of mass migration to the UK. Post war Britain was in desperate need of workers but despite their commitment to what they regarded as the mother country, many of those who had left homes in West Indies to work here were very poorly treated. However, black history in the UK began centuries before the arrival of Windrush and indeed those with a whole variety of ethnic backgrounds, have been part of the history of this country for a very long time.

In 250AD, Rome sent a contingent of black legionnaires, drawn from the African part of the empire, to stand guard on Hadrian’s Wall. Several centuries later, the Vikings had influence over northern and eastern Britain. The Normans, descended from Vikings who had settled in France, brought with them their early-French language and during the two world wars, hundreds of thousands of troops who fought alongside the British, came from countries across the world which were part of the British Empire, as it was then.

But in the centuries before that – and indeed before Windrush - the British economy had been transformed by the Atlantic slave trade. Whilst in 1700, most British trade had been with Europe by 1800, 60% of British trade went to Africa and America. Ports such as London, Bristol and Liverpool prospered as a direct result of involvement in the slave trade and other ports, profited from the tobacco trade or cotton…the production of which often used slave labour. The UK’s relationship with people from across the world has not always been one with which we can look back with pride – indeed, most of us would agree our treatment of slaves, directly or indirectly, was abhorrent.

Some of you will have read about the research that the Guardian newspaper has commissioned recently following the discovery that the paper’s founders had links to the slavery. You can read about the connections for yourself, the apology that the paper has issued and the programme of restorative justice to which the Guardian has committed, through an organisation called the Scott Trust.

However, what lessons might there be for us – as we think about history and indeed the future society in which we will play a part?

We might reflect that the history of a country like the UK cannot be considered in isolation – British history is not just British. When we learn about periods such as the industrial revolution, the wealth that was generated as a result of newly invented machines turning raw materials into valuable products, we should also ask where those materials came from, who produced them and how those people were treated.

Or we might reflect on the ethnic makeup of people who live in the UK today, ¾ of whom would describe themselves as white British, but that figure is dropping as the population becomes ever more multicultural
But perhaps the most important question to ask is how we can make our society fair, kind and one in which all feel that they belong? How can we learn from those whose family background is different to our own; how can we better appreciate those who may have a different faith to us and how can we be more inclusive so that all are able to contribute and feel valued.

In the poem by Benjamin Zephaniah that Sophia and George read so well a few moments ago, we were told about a city in which all the world can come and dine, cultures intertwining, religions (plural) rejoicing and hundreds of languages having a voice. What a fantastic place that would be…where all, regardless of background, could feel welcome and included.

In the UK, October is Black History Month, and it is an opportunity to celebrate the stories of black people from around the world who may well link to our own history. This year’s theme is Saluting our Sisters, and the black women who have been at the heart of social justice movements throughout history, fighting oppression and advocating for change. Some have made incredible contributions to the arts, industry, sport, politics, academia, social and health care, and more.

Here, we want to celebrate this through the Bring Your Whole Self to Bromsgrove imitative. Next week you will find posters, literature, and information in the LRC foyer and we will have a visit from Youth Support Worker Jenny Miller who promotes the voices of young black people in the Midlands and Miss Zafar is running a competition in History. If you would like to be involved in this BYWSTB community project, please contact Arianna O and Iruoma O-I.

Today we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of some of our IB2 students who have taken part in the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) program within the IB Diploma. Dr West, Head of CAS, reviewed the portfolios of all IB students and wishes to give special mention to some students in particular for their engagement in CAS and producing outstanding portfolios.

Collectively, these students have engaged in diverse and meaningful projects, including educating peers about water scarcity, Cultures Connect, promoting physical and mental health through sports, creating recycling and upcycling initiatives, offering peer mentoring, supporting charitable organisations, and even fundraising by collectively cycling the distance of America.

CAS encourages teamwork, collaborative thinking, and a sense of responsibility for global issues. Their CAS portfolios serve as a testament to their commitment to personal growth, community service, and global citizenship. Please join me in congratulating these exceptional individuals for their remarkable contributions to CAS:

Clara L
Arina M
Nikolay K
Adryan M

Mattia M
Annika K
Elisabeth K
Sofiia M

After a very successful summer when she represented England in six matches, winning all six, two weeks ago Lili-Rose H won the ISGA Alexander Quinn Invitational Tournament at the Warwickshire. Playing against the country’s best male and female Independent School golfers, she carded rounds of 73, 72 and 71 to win the tournament outright by 6 shots.

Lili was invited to attend an England Golf two-day national selection last weekend and I am pleased to say she has just been offered one of four places on the England women’s national home golf team announced today.

We invite her forward to collect the trophy and also the School Golf championship that she won in the Summer term.

Well done to all of the Lower Fourth who completed the Malvern Hills walk on Wednesday.

Congratulations to Oakley House who completed their 4th annual 5k run yesterday in support of their House charity Help For Heroes. It involved two laps of the School and so far they have raised over £800. Well done girls.

In Mid-week sports fixtures:
• Well done to the Girls’ Hockey U15 team who beat Trent College 3-0.
• And to the U15 Netball team for an impressive 70-10 win against Stockport Grammar School.
• The School Golf team beat Malvern College 2-1 with wins for pairs Lili and Prin, and Tom G with Beau L.
• The Senior boy’s Hockey teams enjoyed success in the warm-up indoor games against Malvern College. Unfortunately, the Senior girls team lost their cup match against Millfield.
• Our Senior boys’ Badminton teams played a very competitive fixture against King Edward Camp Hill with the 1st team losing 8-10 and the 2nd team winning 15-3.
• There was a very competitive swimming gala against King’s School Worcester which ended in a 122 all draw.

On Saturday, there was a great deal of sport played.
• Well done to the first team boys and girls Badminton teams for winning their fixtures against Uppingham School.
• Good wins for our Hockey U14B, U14A, U15B, U15A and 1st teams in fixtures played against Stamford. The 1st X1 had a good 3-0 win. The U15D team beat Rugby School and the U14D also had a good win against Cheltenham College.
• The School Rugby teams won 8 and drew 1 of the 10 fixtures played against Haberdashers Monmouth School. The 1st XV enjoyed a 22-17 victory.
• The Table Tennis team lost 23-22 against Littleton Cheetahs.

The flourishing fiver team will be running the ‘Guess the number of candies in the jar’. The team will be stationed by the small wooden tables in front of the dining hall during lunchtime. To participate, students will be required to pay a nominal entry fee of £1. All the proceeds collected during this event will be directed towards supporting Primrose Hospice.

Marmite More Able Academic Society – engaged, able and interested students are strongly encouraged to come to the following events:
Tuesdays, Webber 1, 1.15pm. Seminars for Lower 6th and IB1s.
Thursdays, Webber 1, 1.15pm. Seminars for all 4th and 5th Formers begin.
Friday 13th October, 5.15pm, Webber. Marmite Movie and Pizza Night. All current and past members welcome.
Wednesday November 8th, trip to Birmingham with Dr Ruben and Mr Beet, 5th Form only.
You have all had emails from Dr Ruben and Mr Beet with more details: get in touch with either if you are interested.

Stephen Page will be speaking in School this week. An Old Bromsgrovian, he is a former Chief Executive of Faber and Faber – one of the world’s most important book publishers. He will be speaking about the recent evolution of publishing his predictions for its future – which will hopefully include more Bromsgrovians!

Thursday evening at 7.30pm. Please contact Mr Dinnen if you would like to attend.

Sustainability Week 2023
• Bake Sale, morning break LRC
• Trashington – In House start making your House entry for the newspaper fashion competition. Over the week bring in Newspaper and create a design that will be displayed in Routh Hall on Friday evening.

• Bring and Buy sale - LRC - books and bric a brac – do you have books that you no longer need or want? Perhaps your study guides for GCSE, please bring them to the LRC and pick up something for yourself.

• The Sustainable Games – enjoy the outdoors at lunchtime with an alternative sports day between the Houses – Sack races, egg and spoon etc on Gordon Green at 1.20pm, come and support your House.

• Bring and Buy Sale continues
• Apple pressing display outside of the Dining Room – taste some School Apple Juice.
• Practical Conservation activity lead by the Worcestershire Wildlife trust, start at 5.15 at the LRC.

• Come and see what the Eco Committee do – we meet at 8.30am in the Library
• Holrold Howe’s sustainability lead will be speaking to us about what they are doing to reduce the School’s Carbon Footprint
• Sustainability Sounds Concert 7.00pm in Routh – enjoy a wonderful evening and bands, groups, soloists and even the staff band play an wide variety of music to life the soul and celebrate music

5. Over the past few weeks you have all been working hard in Houses to prepare for this year’s House Song Competition. The competition takes place next Tuesday the 17th October, here in the Arena. The prizes are for Winner, Runner-Up, Best Creative Performance and Best Conductor. This year’s adjudicator is Mr Charles Price, the Head of Academic Music at the Loughborough Schools' Foundation who is looking forward to visiting and hearing you all perform.

Remember to keep your final week of rehearsals focused, positive and fun! Best of luck to you all – we are all very much looking forward to hearing what you produce on stage next week.


Bromsgrove School is a co-educational, independent school.

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Bromsgrove School, Worcester Road,
Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B61 7DU.


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