Latin Prayer – Spring Term 2021

22nd March 2021

Unbelievable to think that we are just 4 sleeps away from the Easter holidays! Let us make sure that we make the most of these next few days. It will go quickly but as with all things, let us ensure that we finish well.

In a moment I am going to invite Joe and Maddy onto the stage to address you on a topic that I know has caused much debate and discussion amongst you. I am heartened that the tragic death of Sarah Everard has provoked such a strong response. I do wonder how she would feel about how her death has become such a major centre of attention. Perhaps she would be pleased that attention has been brought to the safety of women in general and I think that she may well have welcomed a wider conversation around the more destructive elements of men’s attitudes towards women. Not knowing her at all, I can only imagine that she would not have been comfortable about how the media have exploited this tragedy to divide and polarise men and women.

Having said that, we should all grieve the fact that it takes a tragedy like this to cast a light on a matter that is not unique or new. You may also be aware of a website that was set up independently of Sarah Everard’s death called Everyone’s Included and it focuses on ‘rape culture’: a culture in which sex is exploitative, selfish and, too often, violent. You may also have seen the various stories in the press relating to independent schools in general and some very specifically with regards to the unhealthy and often toxic attitudes of young men towards women. This is a matter of huge significance and we cannot ignore it or pay lip service to it.

I think that the great danger of situations like this is that the focus is on apportioning blame. I believe that often the error that comes with such emotive and sensitive issues is that it seems to be designed to polarise people. You are either for us or against us. Mistrust deepens, anger escalates, and opinions become more deeply entrenched. The situation ends up being worse than it was before.

However, just because something is difficult does not mean we can ignore it. It is hard and it is complicated, but this is a challenge we should all embrace with enthusiasm – because better relationships are an unequivocal win-win outcome.

What would better look like? I imagine that it would involve greater respect for one another. I think it would result in people being more compassionate and thoughtful, perhaps more humble, less arrogant, less concerned about who is right and who is wrong, less focus on being right and more on doing right. I think we would hope that men and women would understand each other better – not just men understanding women, but also women understanding men. This is not easy stuff, but it matters.

The press and social media have designed a situation that maximises the anger and the indignation and that sets out victims and perpetrators. It uses generalisations and stereotypes to highlight our differences. We need to rise above that. I have said this before, there is far more that binds us together than that separates us.

One of the most powerful images that I remember growing up in post-apartheid South Africa – a country where racism was entrenched in law – was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This brought together the victims and the perpetrators of human rights abuses and atrocities. The image I have is that of Archbishop Desmond Tutu presenting these huge books which faithfully recorded the accounts of the hearings. The victims and the perpetrators were able to look each other in the eye and to speak about their experiences. Often the perpetrator had no concept of the horror and harm they had caused but just as often, the victim had no concept of the circumstances in which the other lived. People could speak of their fear and their shame, but ultimately they spoke about how to move forward. Now South Africa is still a country living with the consequences of apartheid and it is no paradise, but for those people who participated in those hearings, they had the chance to move forward.

I hope that Sarah Everard’s death is something that will be a catalyst for moving things forward too. That it does not become a banner for anger, hatred and division but rather one for hope, grace and forgiveness. For a desire to greater understanding and for reconciliation. If that is what it becomes for us at Blundell’s than I would be tremendously grateful and, I believe, her tragic death will become a symbol for something powerfully good.

Maddy and Joe

Maddy: In light of the recent murder of Sarah Everard, we feel it is important to address the issues raised. We know that a lot of discussion has been sparked because of this and many have felt upset and distressed or even attacked. Therefore, we aim to promote wide scale change for an accepting and safer community, not only within school but also through your personal influence on society. We hope that the values you learn during your time here at Blundell’s will stay with you as you venture out into the real world and make it a better place for us all.

We will begin this awareness with in-house discussions given by the monitor team. They will be addressing such issues as everyday sexism and the idea of toxic masculinity. We aim to spark this conversation that we hope will incite further discussion to address the underlying problems and the damage it does to both men and women. In order for this theme to be continued throughout school life we need all your support and engagement. We feel strongly that this process as a whole is not designed to polarise but merely to unite and to find common ground.

Joe: The story of Sarah Everard has most definitely sparked a lot of emotion around school in the last week, with lots of people engaging in conversation. However, as a young man growing up, it struck me that we perhaps fail to talk about these issues enough. Through discussion of the difference in gender experience we can develop compassion and empathy for one another. Particularly for men in seeing the way they can ally with women. As a sixth form, we feel it is important, therefore, to encourage such conversation. In order to tackle the root cause of such tragedies as we must come together to learn together and see each other’s perspectives as the next generation coming through.

It seems vital then, that we help people growing up to not get lost in the pressure or idea of what it means to be a man or woman. But talk openly with peers and adults about the common ground of good. To reject historical stereotypes of what men and women ought to be and find values of compassion and reconciliation to make long term progress as a community. Through these discussions we hope that people can feel comfortable to talk to each other across genders. So as to gain further insight into others’ perspectives and the responsibilities we all have to make people feel happier and safer.

If anyone has any questions or would like to talk more privately then please do come to talk to us or the other monitors if that feels more comfortable.

Full Colours: Honor Jones

Honor Jones is an exceptional all-rounder who has taken every opportunity the school has provided to develop not only her personal qualities but her leadership skills. Not only achieving a huge amount personally, but also inspiring and developing others.

Her commitment and dedication to Outdoor Pursuits through the Combined Cadet Force, Ten Tors, all three awards of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, in Sailing completing stage 4 and becoming an assistance sailing instructor, an overseas expedition to Peru, has been unfailing along with other commitments, competing for the Kayak Racing Squad, along with all the unseen endless hours of commitment as a Head of House and Deputy Head of School, working tirelessly for all students and various charity initiatives. Quite unbelievable that so much has been achieved alongside her academic studies. All these activities have a central focus ‘that of helping others’ often at great personal sacrifice.

She regularly displays true Blundell’s grit, having the ability to switch from an enthusiastic motivator to a patient kind listener as the situation requires. This determined but balanced attitude has proven on many occasions to be infectious, motivating her group in some of the harshest conditions in remote locations. Though an extremely focused individual she regularly displays compassion and empathy, ensuring the needs of her fellow Blundellian’s are also met, in turn raising their self-belief and confidence. These qualities are vital in the outdoor environment where teams are often several miles from safety, the need for a calm but motivational presence is essential for success.

Her support to students in CCF continues, being actively involved in teaching and mentoring junior cadets. She completed a BTech Level 2 Diploma in Teamwork and Personal Development in the Community. She was also the calm presence in an extremely determined Ten Tors team completing the 35-mile challenge. She takes great pride in her uniform and is always immaculate, setting a very high standard for others to follow. This dedication was rewarded with promotion to Cadet Sergeant Major.

The majority of Outdoor Pursuits activities require students to forgo a great deal of their free time, with regular Sundays, half terms and weeks during the holidays, the amount of personal sacrifice and hours dedication has been remarkable. Even more so this year having balanced school academic commitments alongside all her outdoor and sporting activities during various lockdowns. Her ongoing commitment to Outdoor Pursuits and the whole school community has remained unfailing.

Therefore, for her enduring commitment and dedication to the whole school community whether in school, on expeditions, in a kayak, on a yacht or in House, Honor Jones is fully deserving of Full Colours for Outdoor Pursuits.

Full Colours: Toby Peyton-Jones

As a true all round Blundellian, Toby Peyton-Jones contributes to many aspects of school life, not just in sport, but also as a School Monitor, Head of Corps in CCF, and in his role as a Peer Listener. Throughout his time in CCF he has developed his leadership qualities, adapting his style accordingly to each group or individual. Having completed the Junior Leaders ILM course he has recently passed his BTec Diploma in Teamwork and Personal Development in the Community. These courses have without doubt shaped his leadership style, giving him the confidence to make decisions and formulate plans quickly. He was also the standout leader during his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award Expedition. Last week he completed his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award after he undertook a residential in Snowdonia walking routes normally accustomed to a seasoned Mountain Leader. He worked in an outdoor adventure centre this summer, supporting adults and children with special needs on kayaking and climbing days employing all of his communication and problem-solving skills. He was a support leader on the National Citizen Service residential camps and Captained the 35-mile Ten Tors Team and trained for the 45-mile race last spring. He exhibits all the attributes future employers search for in their graduate employees: resilience, creativity, empathy, flexibility and motivation. Toby inspires peers and juniors alike, impresses his coaches and creates opportunities for himself and his team.

As joint Captain of the Kayak Squad Toby is a consistent leader, pre-empting tasks that need doing, volunteering to go the extra mile, supporting juniors before they knew they needed support, and putting the Squad first. Despite his exceptional talent in the boat he is also very keen to help junior paddlers learn to kayak, and is a reliable, safe and inspiring partner in a crew of two. We are hopeful for the 2021 race series, and Toby is a strong contender and will make the most out of any opportunity we get. Toby is now an exceptional paddler, regularly equalling the statistics of the school’s two most successful paddlers who both went on to compete for GB in various disciplines.

As a strong hockey player, Toby played for the 1st XI in year 11. He made the tricky decision to prioritise kayaking in year 12 in order to compete in the DW but has been able to manage his time and continue playing hockey at high levels with his club ISCA. He has played hockey for the county at various age groups and played in the England Hockey U16 National Club Finals with ISCA.

For his great contribution to the School and especially for his service to the CCF, Kayaking and Ten Tors, Toby is thoroughly deserving of Full Colours for Outdoor Pursuits.

Announcements

Harry List: In the Physics Olympiad competition sat last term, Harry was awarded a Top Gold, placing him in the top 50 pupils in the country. This led him to be invited to enter the 3-hour British Astronomy & Astrophysics Olympiad paper at the end of February with the other high scorers. To give you an idea of how hard this paper is, of those top pupils invited, the average score was 33%. Harry scored more than twice this, and so was awarded a gold award for placing in the top 7 pupils in the country. In what form the International competition will go ahead this year is still uncertain, but Harry is well placed to be invited to represent the UK again.

On Thursday evening the Blundell’s Performer of the Year competition will be live streamed at 7.00 pm.

Year 13s to stay behind for a brief presentation from Mrs Taylor-Ross.

 

15th March 2021

Welcome back to school everyone. It is an entirely unique situation where after having been back at school for one week we’re already beginning to feel like we are due a holiday. We are into Week 10 of the term so perhaps it should not be surprising but I hope you are feeling energised by just being back at school.

I know that last week was a really big ask for you in Year 13 and also for the Year 11s. It was tough and I am sure that it is now behind you and I very much hope that as you get your results back this week that they will be a good reflection of the effort you have put in. These next two weeks of school remain important and you will still be doing very meaningful work, like coursework, but I also hope that it will be a bit gentler and you will be able to enjoy being together, enjoy participating in sports and other activities, and just make the most of being at school. Understandably, some of you have asked why we had exams immediately after returning from such a long break – and it is a fair question and one we considered carefully – we could have started them this week and used last week to revise, or we could have started on Wednesday and finished tomorrow. To tell you the truth, we wanted to get them done so that (a) they wouldn’t be hanging over you for longer than was absolutely necessary and (b) we wanted to give you as much time before the holiday to enjoy school and not worry about the assessments for a while. We can put them out of our minds for a few weeks.

Some of you may also be questioning why we wrote exams at all and besides the fact that we are required to provide evidence for your grades, there is another important element to it. I often talk about the importance of processes. I have told you in the past that we have to focus on what we can control not what we can’t control. We take great pride here at Blundell’s in not taking shortcuts even when it might appear easier to do so. I believe very strongly that the process of education is not just about the grade – it is about learning how to learn – and were we simply to give you grades at the end of the year that did not reflect your effort and your abilities and if they were not worked for then they would be utterly meaningless and you would not have learnt anything. To me, the process matters more than the outcome – and I say that in the confidence that if we get our processes right the outcomes will take care of themselves. I will also say that the learning process does not simply have results as a singular outcome. There are many lessons that we learn from preparing for and writing exams that help you to develop characteristics, and qualities and skills that I hope will stand you in good stead for way beyond July 2021. We want you to become good at learning – to know how to learn, to have the stamina and discipline that learning requires, and the poise and composure to execute under pressure. Those things all matter and that is why we go through this process – because we want you to succeed in life. Long term, lasting and sustainable success does not come from taking shortcuts, it comes from honing our processes. I am tremendously proud that we as a school prioritise good processes because they prepare you for long term success – and I am proud of you for sticking at it when it would be easier to take the low road in the hope that grades will be handed to you on a plate. They won’t – and what you get at the end of the year will be richly deserved.

We are busy making plans for next term and we are optimistic that we will be able to get on with many of the things we would expect to do in a summer term. The date the government have said that all restrictions will be lifted is the 21st of June – two weeks before the end of term – so that means we should be able to end the term off with the usual things like swimming galas, sports days, house barbeques, Speech Day and the Leavers Ball. Of course, nothing is yet certain, but we are going to stay positive.

It remains really important that you remain considerate and thoughtful about other people when it comes to basic things like facemasks and social distancing. Even if you do not think those things are important – and they are – please be respectful of what makes other people feel safe and less anxious. It is important that we do not drop our guard now. It is tempting with there finally being good news, but we need to remain disciplined and patient in keeping to the protocols. The last thing any of us want is to have to send bubbles home to self-isolate.

Colours: Academic – Misha Pemberthy

With utter dedication to his academic studies, full involvement in countless areas of school life, and exceptional leadership qualities, Misha’s development at Blundell’s has been outstanding. Having joined the school in Year 9 on a Major Scholarship, he subsequently gained excellent GCSE grades and Sixth Form Academic Status.

No opportunity will pass Misha by if it means he can be challenged in his learning and by advancing his knowledge. He is always full of enthusiasm, fascination, and optimism, and his academic and personal record is flawless.

Misha’s interest in in politics is deep and sincere, and he combines a remarkable understanding of both political history and political theory with a proactive desire to play an active role in politics on a school, local, and even national level. He has attended Question & Answer sessions with heavyweight politicians such as Tony Blair and David Milliband, and he also achieved the highly impressive feat of speaking at the recent Liberal Democrats Party Conference, arguing passionately and eloquently in front of 1100 people in favour of the motion on Universal Basic Income.

As an exemplary student and a hugely capable young politician, Misha’s passion for the subject knows no bounds. He shows a wide appreciation of the world and how to relate the theoretical aspects of the study of politics to real life situations. He is incredibly well read and has an unerring grasp of current affairs, while his knowledge and understanding of British and American politics is truly extraordinary. Confident, willing and respectful, he is comfortable debating and discussing a point, being sufficiently open minded to appreciate that others hold different views and opinions.

Misha also has a keen enthusiasm and an aptitude for history and is always looking to push himself beyond the curriculum. In completing an independent project on the science and history of the Manhattan Project, he showed impressive research skills, analysing the different scientific leaps that were so critical for the development of the atomic bomb, while also retaining a keen focus on the wider political and military constraints under which the Project was operating.

Misha is also an extremely good mathematician, understanding why and how mathematical processes work to a level far above the average Year 13 student. Such an impressive academic, he uses very strong mathematical and problem-solving skills to also perform at the top level consistently in physics. His Gold Award in the Senior Maths Challenge and his Silver award in the Physics Olympiad were notable results in very competitive competitions. Misha does not see education split into silos of subjects but perceives it all as one intermixed challenge that he loves to solve. Being so capable in all that he does, he frequently draws cross-curricular links with the material he studies, such as exploring the benefits of superconductivity for helping national infrastructure.

Misha has recently obtained an offer from the University of Oxford, to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. PPE at Oxford is a famously well-trodden path for those who go onto achieve great success in national politics and it is, without a doubt, one of the most sought-after courses at Oxford; competition for places is fierce, even by Oxbridge standards, and this makes his achievement all the more noteworthy.

With such admirable personal qualities and all the attributes of a scholar, Misha is completely deserving of his Full Academic Colours.

Colours for Rugby – Boris Ames, Joe Blackburn, Alex Curtis, Rocco Hartley, Ollie Lowe, Wilf McCarthy, Tom Reynolds, Harrison Sime

In this most unusual of years, we have all had to make many personal sacrifices and we have all had to adopt a new normal. Unfortunately, for the majority of us that has meant giving up many of the things we most enjoy. Within the rugby community this has meant missing an entire season. In fact, for the Year 13 players, they have missed out on playing at Rosslyn Park for the last 2 years. Playing in the U18 Cup at Rosslyn is the pinnacle of a journey that starts in Year 7 and is often the culmination of several years of incredibly hard work and endeavour.

Many amongst you have missed playing our traditional rugby matches. But it is the senior members of the community that have felt this absence most acutely, because it was their last chance to compete with their friends, to represent the school and to pull on their school rugby jersey for the final time.

It is a shame, but there was nothing that we as a school could have done differently. However, it is within my power as the Head to at least recognise those members of Year 13 who deserve a special mention for their past performances and for all they have contributed to the school’s rugby programme. An acknowledgement of the service to the game over their time at school, if you like. With that in mind, I would like to award the following pupils with their full colours for rugby...

Announcements

There is an important meeting for all those going to Madagascar immediately after Latin Prayer. Please make sure you get your covid card from your tutor and then head straight to Biology 5 please to meet with Mr Olive.

The Garden Café will be open this Friday for smoothies, cakes, hot chocolate and soup. It will be open to all at breaktime, lunchtime and from 3.30 pm. Please come along to enjoy a tasty snack, chat with friends and relax in the garden, come rain or shine! The menu includes items that are free and some that have a small cost. Cash or contactless.

Conclusion

It was this very week a year ago when the school first closed for the Coronavirus. You may recall that the weather was brilliant throughout the Easter holidays and that went into the Summer Term. At that point we had not yet familiar with terms like social distancing and bubbles, facemasks and one-way systems. We had already been introduced to Microsoft Teams but we would have had no idea of how big a part Teams would be playing in our lives and the term ‘You’re on Mute’ certainly wasn’t part of our everyday speak. We have come a long, long way together and you are doing so well. We have two weeks to enjoy before the holiday, let’s make sure we make the most of them.

NEWS & EVENTS


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Blundell's School,
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