Latin Prayer – Autumn Term 2020
21st September 2020
Good morning everyone, please sit down. One of the things that I did over the lockdown was to get an online subscription to The Times newspaper. Not being able to go to the stores and with a bit of extra time on my hands I really enjoyed being able to browse through the articles in a leisurely manner. One slightly destructive habit I have got myself into is that I tend to read the comments at the end of the article. In the hard copy of the paper you obviously don’t get the comments but online anyone with an opinion can share it with the world. And they do. And it gets my blood pressure up with clockwork consistency – which I appreciate is unnecessary. Perhaps I do it to remind myself that I am a pretty decent and reasonable human being.
Yesterday there was an article in The Sunday Times by one of my favourite journalists and authors, a chap called Matthew Syed, who himself was an Olympic Table Tennis player. He is first and foremost a sports writer but his opinion pieces are more frequent and he has some really excellent ideas. Yesterday he wrote about how we need to get used to living with uncertainty and I thought that was something very relevant to us today. There are so many things we do not yet know: like how long restrictions will stay in place, when we can play sport as normal, when a vaccine will be available and what will happen with public exams.
He made two points really. Firstly, that uncertainty is okay. We live in an age where we have so much information at our fingertips that we sometimes imagine that all that knowledge and information gives us control over a situation. Currently we do not know the answers and we do not have all the information and that is unnerving and unsettling. That is understandable too but we need to accept that we cannot control everything. Our own experience at school over these past 6 months is that when we pull together and we think hard about how we are going to do things, we generally come up with good solutions and answers. You can take confidence from your own experiences over these past 6 months: not always easy but you have come through well. You have much to be proud of.
His second point was that we need to be cautious about expressing too much certainty. I get so wound up by the comments at the end of the articles because they tend to start with the word ‘obviously’ as if the answers are obvious to them and anyone who doesn’t see it like them is wrong and probably stupid. That kind of attitude is divisive and destructive. Guard against certainty in the face of so much uncertainty. Keep an open mind. By all means, express an opinion, but have the humility to understand that you do not have all the answers. Be open to the ideas of others and accept that we may not know it all. That makes for a far more constructive and enlightening – and kinder – environment.
I am very pleased to be able to start Latin Prayer today by congratulating Mr and Mrs Barnsbrook on the arrival of their son who they have called Otis. I am sure it won’t be long before he is introduced to the Old House boys, but please could we give them a round of applause.
Thank you for your ongoing submissions to the Review Committee. We meet on Thursday evenings and this last week the main topic of conversation was a return to competitive sports fixtures with teams from outside the school. We have deliberately been cautious in that regard and I am aware that some schools have been playing block fixtures against other schools from the start of term. I am very pleased we haven’t as it has given us a chance to assess the situation and, to be honest, we’ve had a great time with more relaxed Saturdays over the past few weeks.
Whilst we remain cautious about big block fixtures, this week we will begin to play some competitive sport again. On Wednesday the 1st XI cricket team play against the MCC. I cannot remember a cricket match ever having been played at school in September but nonetheless this is a terrific opportunity for the boys to get some cricket in the late summer. Good luck to the team and I hope many of you will take the opportunity to watch some of that game on Wednesday afternoon.
At the end of the week, the girls will have a series of fixtures with Taunton School. This has been very carefully thought through and we will play according to the guidelines given to us by England Hockey. The games have also been spread out with regards to timing so please be assured that every precaution will be taken to keep you and your coaches safe. Parents who come to watch will be asked to watch from outside the astros on the grassy banks rather than in the space between the pitches.
I am sure that the year 11s and 13s are pleased that the exams are out the way. Well done for the effort you made and enjoy getting back into a good routine again this week.
A few months ago, Tom Yeadon, in Year 13, entered an essay competition for a chance to win a scholarship and place on the Oxbridge Summer 2-week course to be held in July 2021. He entered an essay in to the “biology” topic, under the title “To what extent is human behaviour genetically determined?” Last week he received an email, informing him that out of the tens of thousands of applicants across the world, he has won a place! Very well done, Tom!
The Garden Café
A big thank you to Mr Olive and the Community Partnership team for hosting an excellent opening to the Blundell’s Garden Café. The Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils were the first clients and the smoothies and flapjacks were very much appreciated. I’m not so sure about the curly kale smoothie to be honest, and I gather sales in that flavour were a bit slow, but the rest seemed to be pretty popular. Do look out for the next opening.
Saturday saw another busy and varied day of sports. There was athletics, swimming, hockey and cricket on offer and the reports from staff again highlighted your enthusiasm and engagement. A big thank you again to Miss Youngs for organising another enjoyable swimming gala and this time it was the turn of the Year 7s and the Year 10s.
On Saturday morning, it was the Year 7 Swimming Gala. Though it must have been a very nerve-wracking event for the new Year 7s, they approached this gala with enthusiasm and determination, and it was good to see so many swimmers keen to represent their respective houses. The standard of swimming was very high indeed and there was also a lot of individual effort with several swimmers having to 'double up' in relays to help their teams - it was a gala where determination and resilience were certainly most visible. Congratulations to all those who took part - they should all be very proud of themselves and their effort!
- 1st - Amory - 38 points
- 2nd - Mayfield - 36 points
- 3rd - Gornhay - 25 points
- 4th - Beale - 21 points
Year 10 Girls:
- 1st: Petergate
- 2nd: FH
- 3rd: OH
Now that the exams are out of the way, our Monitors assume their roles in earnest this week and in your year group assemblies over the next few weeks we will be introducing the team to you. I know that the Monitors will be well known to the majority of pupils in the senior school but I appreciate that with so many new pupils in the school there will be quite a few of you who do not know who the monitors are, especially in the younger years. It is important that pupils know who the monitors are as they are both your representatives as well as being people you can go to for advice or help.
I am going to hand over to Joe and Maddy to say a few words to you.
The Week Ahead
Tuesday – The first Blundell’s Association event of the year happens on Tuesday with a Tour of the School Gardens with Mr Flower, our Head Gardener. The Blundell’s Association is an organisation set up for the benefit of your parents and many social events happen on a regular basis. Obviously there is not as much we can currently do with the restrictions in place but an outdoor tour around the school is one we can do safely. So, if you see a group of parents out and about on Tuesday you will know what they are here for.
Wednesday – On Wednesday the Year 8s have the Steve Mault Project Exhibition. To those of you higher up the school you will remember that as the School House Project or the Summer Project. We have named it after Steve Mault who was a Maths Teacher here and who died last year after a long illness. Mr Mault was the person behind the Roots and Wings Programme and he also initiated the Project that allows Year 7 pupils to make a project of their choosing to present in the first few weeks of Year 8. Unfortunately, this year the exhibition will not be open to parents but I am sure many staff will come around to take a look at your creations.
14th September 2020
Good morning everyone. I hope you have enjoyed the good weather over the weekend – I think we’re in for a few more days of sunshine in the days ahead.
This week our Year 11 and 13’ write a series of practice exams. These were the ones you would have written late in the Summer Term and we felt that you needed to have the opportunity to go through the revision and the practice of writing the exams at least once before January. If you were to revise for an exam for the first time early in 2021 then you would be revising almost 15 months-worth of work at once – now I hope that you will have been forced to create a good set of notes and to mentally prepare yourself for exam-writing. This week will also give you a taste of what exams are like and there is no question that practice and rehearsal will give you experience that will help you in the end. I appreciate that it is not much fun – but it is good and it is the right thing to do. This is all part of a process and as I have said to you often before, we are not so much worried about the outcomes of these exams but we do want you to make the most of the opportunity.
Feedback from Review Meeting
- Chapel only one year group in at a time. Pay attention to whether you are therefore Week A or Week B.
- There was a request for the Gym to be made available again and Mr Saunders will be addressing this with senior pupils this week. Please remember to use the email@example.com email address if you have questions or suggestions that you would like to raise.
Sport on Saturday
The Year 12 Swimming Gala took place on a glorious sunny, warm afternoon on Saturday. It was well supported with four of the five houses supplying two teams per event - it was great to see so many pupils prepared to represent their house, regardless of their ability in the water! There was a very happy and supportive atmosphere on poolside and it was lovely to see so many of the pupils really engaging and enjoying the event.
The Girls' Houses tied!
The victorious Boys' House was Petergate, who won by just one point over OH with FH placed third.
The Year 11s enjoyed an afternoon of athletics. I have not heard any results yet but I know there were some excellent individual achievements and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the relays at the end of the afternoon.
On Saturday the Year 13 boys took part in a five-a-side competition. They played a mini league with each match lasting 5 minutes before a playoff semi-final and final. The competition was played in great spirit, with ‘Kazakhstan’, ‘the bathtub boys’, ‘This is America’ and ‘FH’ making the semi-finals. The final was a tense match between ‘FH’ and ‘This is America’, the latter were dominant throughout the game but could not convert their chances. With a 0-0 score line at full time, the match went to an additional three minutes. Despite controlling possession, ‘This is America’ conceded directly from a Hal Baker corner in the final minute to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The winners were ‘FH’ who should be praised for their tenacity throughout and undoubtedly saved by Luca Craven-Frankpitt’s goalkeeping. Special thanks to Dr Balsdon and Mr Naylor for their excellent refereeing.
The girls also had a football tournament and Mr Holman asked me to thank those of you who participated for your fantastic attitude and effort throughout the afternoon.
In perfect cricket weather there was plenty of action on Big Field and Mayfield on Saturday. Although the cricket was not of the highest standard (mainly the Year 10s), house cricket proved popular with the boys. The Year 9 event was won by Petergate and the Year 10 competition was won by FH. It was great to see some pupils playing their first games of cricket and I certainly hope it was an enjoyable occasion for all of you.
The Year 7s had a fun softball game, while the Year 8s enjoyed a game on Big Field.
THANK YOU to all the staff for their tremendous enthusiasm and commitment to the cause. I think it was a great day out and it seems people really enjoyed themselves.
Speech and Drama
A number of pupils took their Speech and Drama exams remotely over the Summer. Certificates will be delivered to you via your houses. Congratulations to the following on their outstanding achievements:
- Henry Squires – Grade 2 Speech & Drama with Distinction
- Leo Brookman – Grade 2 Speech & Drama with Distinction
- Daisy Parker – Grade 5 Speech & Drama with Distinction
- Ash Richardson – Grade 5 Speech & Drama with Distinction
- Guy Brown – Grade 5 Acting with Distinction
- Eve Nugent – Grade 6 Verse Speaking with Distinction
- Ben Wright – Grade 6 Acting with Distinction
- Scarlett Walshe – Grade 6 Acting with Distinction
- Misha Pemberthy – Grade 7 Acting with Distinction
This week some of the music programme restarts and I would like to thank Dr Leaman and the music department for the deep thought and hard work that has gone into making that possible.
Full Colours for Music: Laura Smith
Every once in a while, a musician comes along who inspires and leads in every aspect of their music making. Such a pupil is valuable beyond words to the complexities of a Music Department and helps other pupils in the school get the very most out of their music making. Laura Smith is one such pupil and she has made an immeasurable contribution to music at Blundell’s since she joined us from the prep school in Year 7.
Not only has Laura earned her Grade 8 Distinction in violin, she is also a Grade 8 standard singer and a very fine pianist. She has been a lynchpin in every classical ensemble in the school and has been such a wonderful role model over the years, often licking her elders into shape in Orchestra, String Orchestra, Senior Choir, Chamber Choir and other vocal and instrumental ensembles. She has taken leading roles in Carol Services and Spring Concerts, played beautiful solos in Scholars’ Concerts and seized every opportunity available. She was also involved in the London Chamber Orchestra project when she was in Year 8, performing in Cadogan Hall in London, as well as being part of the Chamber Choir when they reached the final of the National Choral Competition and sang in London’s Festival Theatre. And, of course, she was key to the success of the concert in Carnegie Hall in New York.
Last year she helped and led Gorton House to success in the House Music competition and outside of school she has always been an ambassador of the highest integrity to Blundell’s and music-making. Musical, dedicated, passionate and loyal, Laura is, without a shadow of a doubt, fully deserving of her Full Colours for Instrumental and Choral music.
School Garden – From Mr Olive
Mr Olive would like to thank all those who responded to his message about Community Partnerships last week in Latin Prayer. There are now 25 members of the Blundell’s Community Partnerships Team ready and keen to lead, organise and run a range of events over the coming months.
Their first venture is to open the Garden Café this coming Wednesday and they would like to invite Year 9 to come along at morning break at 10.30 am and SH after Roots and Wings from 4.00 pm to 4.30 pm. A selection of Smoothies will be available. Each one costs £1.50 and all proceeds will be split between covering costs, further development of the Café and local charities. In time the Garden Café will be open at various times throughout the week for you all to use and enjoy.
Usually we would have appointed our School Monitors just after Half-Term in the Summer Term and the Heads of School would have been announced at Speech Day. It is, today, my great pleasure to announce the School Monitors for this academic year and these pupils will take up their responsibilities from today.
I met with each of them individually on Saturday to invite them to become Monitors and in our conversation I made it very clear that for each one I have appointed them not for a specific skillset or for what they are capable of – they have been chosen as flagbearers for what we stand for as a school. I believe that they have the character that I believe symbolises what it means to be a Blundellian. I have given them license to use this honour which we now bestow on them, to make the school a better place. I know that if they live out the values that I believe them to possess that this school will be a better place for it.
There are of course many of you in all year groups who have strong values too and I want you to live them out as best you can as well – and your contribution is no less valuable or meaningful – but to this group in particular I have challenged them to lead out of who they are in order to enrich our community.
It gives me great pleasure to announce the Monitors for 2020. I am not going to ask them to come up on stage today but in the coming weeks I hope to introduce them to you properly by making use of the various year group assemblies that we have. After I have announced the list I would ask you to join me in congratulating them.
The Heads of School are Maddie Cotton and Joe du’Gay.
The Deputy Heads of School will be Honor Jones, Mariia Karpova, Will Bucknell and Misha Pemberthy.
The School Monitors are Zoe Dare, Holly Nugent, Laura Smith and Mia Butterfield and, on the boys’ side, Duncan Johnson-Ferguson, Toby Peyton-Jones, Ed Carter and Harry List.
Well done to all of you.
7th September 2020
Welcome back everyone and I hope you enjoyed a bit of a breather after the first few days back. I quite like the fact that the first week is so short: it gives us a chance to catch up with our friends. To welcome new pupils, and just to get used to things again. It means we can start this second week properly and this week I anticipate we will quickly get back into our routines again.
This week in Latin Prayer will be a bit shorter as, of course, there is not that much to report back on from the past week. However, there is one slot that for the next few weeks I will feed back to you on as a regular first item.
As we explained last week, there are heaps of regulations around the school that we need to be mindful of. One-way systems, dining hall timings, facemasks etc etc. I invited you to use the firstname.lastname@example.org email address to ask questions and to make some suggestions. Usually, the Senior Leadership Team will meet on Thursday evening to discuss the things that have come into that email account. On this occasion we met on Saturday to see if there were any more immediate changes that we could make in response to the questions that were raised:
A question was asked about whether there could be a bit more leeway for pupils within a bubble to visit each other’s dormitories and for day pupils to go into boarders’ rooms when they were invited to do so. Houseparents will clarify this a bit more depending on your individual house layout but in principle we think that is very sensible. So thank you for that question and the answer is ‘yes, you can mix more in your houses within your bubbles.’ It is a good example of a practical question where we have started off cautiously but where we are happy to be a bit more relaxed once we see how things go.
There has been a question about musicians being able to use the music school to practice before and after school and that is one I hope to find a resolution to in the next few days with Dr Leaman.
And finally, I’m afraid that we cannot provide cushions for every pupil in chapel. Thanks for asking though.
I hope that you have found the policy around facemasks to be an appropriately light touch but I must remind you that clearly, sharing facemasks is not a sensible thing to do.
Please keep using the email@example.com
It was so good to see so many of you engaged in sport on Saturday afternoon. I would like to thank all those staff who helped to organise and run what was a really excellent afternoon of games. Well done to all of you for the enthusiastic manner in which you got stuck in.
I do have one sporting announcement to make and that is to congratulate Ellie Sproul, Alice Lamb, Kitty Dart, Maddy Cotton along with OB Betty Stone who helped ISCA U18s to beat Beeston Hockey Club 3-2 in the U18 T2 National Club Finals. This was last year’s competition - they played that final in Nottingham yesterday.
Mr Olive is going to speak to you about his role in community partnerships and how you can get involved.
I wanted to take the opportunity today to congratulate the following pupils in Year 12 who have earned academic status following the GCSE results over the Summer. Academic Status gives recognition to pupils who have achieved a grade average over 8. They are the following and they include 5 new pupils to the school:
Mr Mead has asked me to make some announcement for Chemistry:
During the Summer Term the Year 8 pupils took part in an extra-curricular project looking at the wonders of space. The following pupils won the following awards after nominations from their various subject teachers:
Jenny Donald – Flight Director – for consistently high attainment across all disciplines
Mandy Chong – Ground Controller – for consistently high effort across all disciplines
Eric Gu – flight Dynamic Officer – for creativity and thinking out of the box
Nico Whyte – Spacecraft Communicator – for outstanding achievement
They can collect their prizes and certificates from Mr Mead.
And still on Chemistry…
During the summer term our U6 Chemists took part in the Lower Sixth Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. This competition aims to stretch and challenge students interested in chemistry, and provides an excellent experience for anyone considering taking their studies further. Set by an experienced team of teachers and university chemists, it is designed to be accessible to Year 12 students but will take them significantly beyond the syllabus and encourage them to think about science in the way they would at university.
There were a total of 6387 entries into this year's competition. A total of 40 students won Roentgenium awards (0.6%), 541 students won Gold awards (Top 9%), 1110 students won Silver awards (Top 25%) and 2198 students won Copper awards (Top 60%).
Students at Blundell’s won the following awards:
ACADEMIC FULL COLOURS to HARRY LIST
Harry is the most talented academic we have had at Blundell’s for a considerable number of years. He is a man who backs his ability with an impressive work ethic and this has resulted in his achieving at the highest national levels in a wide range of subjects. It might be easy to forget that, at Harry’s academic level, the complexity of the problems demand discipline, hard work and staying power to solve. As an observer, it might be easy to think that it was just something that someone like Harry would find easy. This is not the case; he works exceptionally hard in order to prepare himself for the next challenge. He trains with the focus and determination of an elite athlete preparing themselves for the highest levels of competition.
Harry’s academic achievements are national in their standard. He is competing with the very best in the country and frequently with students two or three years older than himself. While age is not necessarily an advantage, the experience that it brings certainly is, making his achievements all the more impressive.
Winning a top Gold award in the Physics Olympiad led to an invitation to the second round as one of the top 50 physicists in the country. It also meant that he was invited to take part in the British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad competition. An impressive score here resulted in an invitation to the BAAO training camp for the very best in Great Britain. Harry’s intellect and ability meant that he became the youngest of the four selected from the camp to represent the UK at the international competition in Columbia. The others were all Year 13 while Harry was then in Year 12. He has spent much of the summer training to represent his country although Covid means that the competition has moved online.
His path in Chemistry has been similar. A top gold in the first round of the Olympiad led to an invitation to another training camp and a place as a reserve for the UK Chemistry Olympiad team. This places him in the top six chemists in the country. Again, this achievement while a year younger than those against whom he was competing.
Harry’s Mathematics is not weak either. Round 2 of the Maths Olympiad placed him in the top twenty mathematicians in the UK and his fast mathematical problem solving skills led to second place in the Bebras Computational Thinking National final in Oxford last year.
To sum up, this remarkable young man has won national competitions which have placed him in the top two Sixth Formers in a branch of mathematics, in the top six British Chemists and the top four Astrophysicists. All this while in the Lower Sixth. We wish him the very best as he represents his country later this month.
It would be easy for such an intellect to become arrogant, but Harry is untainted by any trace of this. He is unassuming about his achievements, modest in success, and generous in his support of others. He wears his considerable intellect lightly and remains patient while preparing for the A levels whose standards he has already far exceeded.
If the achievements already listed were not enough, he won the Boys’ Russell last year and is an outstanding swimmer described by Miss Youngs as “just phenomenal”. Helpful with the team, he trains hard and undertakes the toughest events. His performance in the relay vs King’s Taunton pulled Blundell’s to victory despite the team having been half a length behind when Harry entered the water.
It is very clear that Harry is exceptional and fully deserving of the first Full Colours of the year for his intellect, tenacity and character. Many would be extremely proud to have accomplished just one of his achievements of the last three years.
I will announce Monitors next week.
Year 13 to stay behind to meet with Mr Baily.