Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

Monday 6th November 

"Remember, remember, The fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and plot.
I know no reason Why Gunpowder and Treason
Should ever be forgot."

No one could straighten nails as well as my Dad. We’d be working together outside and Dad would be carefully straightening a nail so that we could reuse it. I’d say, don’t worry Dad, I’ve got a thousand new nails, just take one of those. But he’d say, no son. You keep those for what you need. Dad always tried to reuse materials because he hated waste; he hated to think that time was wasted or that he had wasted an opportunity…

I don’t think anyone knows who wrote the poem Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot which you may well have heard recited over the last few days, just as you may well have heard or seen fireworks. Hindu families will be celebrating Diwali next weekend, and the festival of lights often includes fireworks but, for some, last weekend was an opportunity to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. The gunpowder plot was a plan by a small group of young Roman Catholic extremists to blow up the House of Lords, together with King James I and the entire Protestant government during the opening of Parliament on 5th November 1605. Roman Catholics at that time were persecuted for their faith, and hoped that the Gunpowder Plot would trigger a change in regime to allow them the freedom to practise their religion. The plot was thwarted, Guy Fawkes was captured and the others in the group fled – including Robert Catesby who returned to Coughton Court, the stately home just the other side of Redditch.

But why is it that so many of us remember the poem, Gunpowder Treason and Plot; why is it so familiar to us when we hear it spoken on the radio or on TV at this time of year? Some things seem to stick in our minds without effort whilst others are so hard to commit to memory.

As we know, GCSEs, A levels, IB and BTEC test our knowledge and understanding in the subjects we have chosen. The approach will vary from subject to subject but every Senior School pupil will be studying for assessments that will, when they come, test, whether we can recall and apply what we have learnt through the course, regardless of whether we will continue to use that knowledge in whatever we choose to do next…and we will each be finding ways studying, including committing facts to memory, that work most effectively for us.

The couple of sentences about straightening nails so that they could be reused, and avoiding waste more generally were spoken at my wife’s uncle’s funeral this time last week. Bill died of cancer at the age of 89 and his son Dan, my wife’s cousin, spoke those words, and a lot more, at the start of the service…no notes, no script, just words about his father which were sincere and heartfelt. Dan runs a successful business, is good at what he does and profoundly dyslexic… and his way of performing under the testing conditions of his Dad’s funeral was not to write down his eulogy and try to read it, but to commit his thoughts to memory and just speak them.

I hope that through our education here, we learn how we learn best, as well as learning which subjects best play to our strengths. Some of us hear material time and again and it sticks in our memory – rather like the gunpowder treason and plot poem; we might devise mnemonic’s of the kind Roman Men Invented Very Unusual Xray Guns…MRS GREN…or My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pumpkins (hopefully those three examples might mean something in a science context) We might find that colourful diagrams of very condensed summaries are helpful and most of us find that drafting essay plans or tackling past questions test whether we can apply our knowledge. The more time that we put into our work, the more we grapple with challenging topics, learn from mistakes and particularly engage with feedback, the better we will grasp the material and develop a secure, lasting understanding…but occasionally, however hard we try and having tried all the various approaches, it doesn’t seem to stick. What should we do then?

 hope the answer is that we keep going, but seek help and advice - particularly given that we have teachers who have seen pupil after pupil succeed. We might well seek those teachers out at the end of a lesson, or at lunchtime or go along to Saturday support sessions. Hearing pearls of wisdom from a member of staff might sometimes make everything clear or it might well be that they suggest that we try working in a slightly different way – a way that works a bit better for us.

So, as we begin the second half of term, having had our first set of grades, all of us will have an idea, I hope, of where our strengths and weaknesses lie. Many of us are performing really well, others will simply need to work harder and more carefully…but there will be some who are doing their absolute best and the results are not yet coming. If that is you, keep going; don’t give up and do be prepared to try a different approach. Use all the resources at your disposal including the help of your teachers who do of course want you to fulfil your potential and remember remember that we don’t all work in the same way – but we do need to find the way that works for us. 

Both Design Technology Race cars attended the international finals at Glorius Goodwood for the final day of the season. Both the senior and junior teams performed amazingly and only a technical hitch on the last two laps for Team Chicken meant that we just missed a double podium place with both teams. The result was third place Kitcar for the senior team and sixth place for the juniors. This is first time that Bromsgrove School has been on the podium at the finals for several years.

All Houses, boys and girls, day and boarding, should feel very proud of how well they worked together, conducted themselves and supported other houses at House Song…and indeed proud of the quality of the music you produced. It would be easy to underestimate how challenging it is to pull off an event of this scale and standard, which an audience of well over 1000 really enjoyed. Very well done to everyone.
Thank you to everyone who took part in Sustainability Week. The Eco-committee arranged a variety of events and were delighted to see so many people taking part and enjoying the events and presentations throughout the School.

The fiercely competed games in the EcOlympics were a highlight and the results were:
1st Lupton; 2nd Housman; 3rd Elmshurt

The Sustainability Sounds concert was a spectacular, student led evening covering a wide range of musical genres. Thank you to everyone who took part and made this evening such a success. From a sustainability perspective it was a wonderful showcase for the concept of enjoying an experience as opposed to a material possession.

Finally, thank you to all who participated in the sustainable fashion Trashington competition. 

L4th House Badminton
Boys': Competition: 1st WG; 2nd Elmshurst; 3rd School
Girls': Competition:  1st Mary Windsor; 2nd TC; 3rd Oakley

Junior House Rugby
Cup competition:    Winners – Lyttelton; Runners Up - School
Plate Competition:  Winners – Lyttelton; Runners Up - Walters

Sports matches played in the week before half term.
In the first league match of the newly formatted HMC Golf Foursomes, we beat Repton School 2-1.
The senior Basketball team won a thrilling game 86-83 against Shrewsbury School.
The 1st X1 boys Hockey team beat Malvern College 5-3.
The 1st XV continued their fine form beating Northampton School for Boys 8-3 in the National Cup.
The U14 boys Badminton team beat Sir Thomas Rich’s School 4-2 whilst the U16 team lost to the same opposition.
Well done to the U14 girls’ hockey team who beat Kings School, Worcester 2-1 and to the 1st team Netball who played really well to beat a strong Epsom College team 38-34.
Also congratulations to our swimmers on their victory against Bloxham School.

There are mock examinations for the Upper Sixth A Level and BTEC students today and tomorrow.[

Upper Fourth Parents Consultation Evening tomorrow.

Eco-Committee meets on a Friday 8.30am in the LRC – all are welcome.

There is a lunchtime concert in Routh Hall on Friday at 1.20 pm – all are very much welcome.

On Friday we commemorate Remembrance Day with our flagpole ceremony at 11.00 am. Also a reminder of the two Remembrance Services on Sunday morning.


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