THIS IS BRADFORD GRAMMAR SCHOOL

End of term assembly: A New Hope

19th December 2016

Not quite the usual blog but rather some extracts from my end of term Christmas assembly which included carols, readings and even a karaoke sing along to a Shakin Stevens festive classic ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’. A little taste of the end of term at BGS.

This has been a busy and brilliant term. Let’s remind ourselves where we have come from and where we started the year.

Summer was characterised by expeditions to Borneo, sports tours to Australia and Romania, stunning A Level results, the best in West Yorkshire looking at UCAS points, and record breaking GCSEs, again reported as the best in our region; oh and I can’t pass on without mentioning two OBs, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee and their Olympic medal success.

Quite a start to the year. So how do you follow that?

The answer is by just being ourselves. By going about our usual business, rolling sleeves up and following our motto ‘Hoc Age’ – getting on with it and getting stuck in.

It’s been a rollercoaster through a rich and enjoyable autumn term. There has been a residential fieldtrip for A Level geographers to Lancaster university and surrounds and a Classics trip to Naples that inspired many pupils. Our rowers competed at Vecht in the Netherlands and Hockey players visited the same country where there is no better place to find high quality opposition.

Sutton Park was the venue for the British School Orienteering Championships and our athletes ran their hearts out. Many went on the annual and important History Battlefields trip which took on extra significance this year with our Somme commemorations. And let’s not forget the Spanish trip to Madrid.

Additionally, there have been many day visits to York, Manchester, Cambridge, alongside various theatres, subject-oriented masterclasses, museums, science lectures, art galleries … as ever, the list goes on.

Meanwhile, back at base at BGS we’ve enjoyed the Religious Studies Department’s ‘Faiths in the City’ day and Kate Malone’s Ceramics session in Art. Volunteering in support of the Barnardo’s Young Carers Scheme, Chellow Heights Special School and Age UK continue to be hugely important to us all at BGS and working relationships with local primary school children are progressing too.

Before I draw breath I’ll also mention a Year 8 CCF taster afternoon, multiple subject-related quiz competitions and intellectual Olympiad events, the Manningham Youth Talks programme and collaborative art-based activities at Cartwright Hall with Oasis Academy next door.

I know I’m not even scratching the surface of all that has been going on, and has been going on right up to the end of term. We had Science Club, Japanese Club, Drama Club, Amnesty International and Junior Debating all happening at lunch time today, the last day of a long and full term.

And it has been full.

Monday whole school celebration assemblies have allowed me to sing the praises of our various sports teams including the senior netball, rugby and hockey squads, all of whom won their games last weekend. There’s strength in depth too and I’ve witnessed amazing character, talent and team spirit displayed by all BGS pupils, irrespective of sport or age.

I’ve stood on stage this past term and happily given out tankards and goblets to winning rowing crews, medals to orienteers, praised the progression of sports squads and individual athletes to the regional and national rounds of prestigious competitions. Again, that list…

Macbeth was fantastic and the music recitals have been lovely including the recent Chamber and festive concerts and the absolutely beautiful Nine Lessons and Carols Service at the Cathedral.

It’s been busy on the OB circuit too.

WW1 Commemorations, which represent a very special project, have been ongoing and it has been a very positive development to now have form groups participating in these. In France we laid a memorial stone to remember the Bradford Pals regiment and those OBs who fought bravely amongst their ranks.

We also enjoyed some not so old ‘Old Bradfordian’ events at riverside bars and venues in London and also at the Carlton Club for the annual Old Bradfordians London Club Dinner at which our Deputy Headmaster and OB Louis d’Arcy spoke alongside former Headmaster Stephen Davidson. All of this good natured camaraderie is waiting for pupils once they’ve graduated from BGS.

So, just take a step back and let the impression of it sink in. There is spirit here – real character. All I’ve described, and all I’ve not had the time to mention, such as the busy daily routine in BGS classrooms, labs, on the fields and in the Library, inspire us all to achieve such fabulous results and far more importantly to learn and grow emotionally and intellectually.

Do you see what I see?

I see a school at ease with itself. But making the most of every opportunity. Assembly themes have included: new beginnings, identity and belonging, democracy, diversity and tolerance, compassion and now, hope. Hope.

The Christmas symbols of hope: a star, a baby, the giving and receiving of gifts, evergreen plants like holly and the fir tree, candles and tree lights, ripe red or plump white mistletoe berries – a mish-mash of pre-Christian and Christian symbols of rebirth, life, the turning of the year and hope. These of course reflect universal understandings about the nature of things, the eternal cycle of life and death, elemental truths.

Heidi and I took our children Katy and Ben to Bolton Abbey last Sunday to meet the real Father Christmas. Outside Santa’s Grotto there was a fir tree on which you are encouraged to hang hand written labels containing a ‘Christmas wish’.

Katy and Ben, in similar fashion to just about everyone else, wished for a special present on Christmas Day. Katy who has been ‘very good’ this year wished for a sewing machine so she can sit with Heidi and be arty and crafty together, working up to making dresses etc. just like her mum.

Ben wished for a sheep. I don’t know why he wished for a sheep. He’s two. He’s also inconsistent because when, a little later, Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas he loudly shouted ‘choo-choo’ … and then ‘train’. This lasted for some time. Santa was very patient.

One label on the tree however, written in a child’s hand, read: “I wish for my dad to be well enough to have Christmas dinner at home with us”. This was an arresting statement. A reminder about that which matters most in life, namely each other. So, what would your wish be? Would you look up, look around, look to the horizon to Syria or the Yemen maybe? Would you make a wish for others?

To my mind it is absolutely okay to wish for something for ourselves at Christmas; but I know that at BGS we do not forget those less fortunate than ourselves. We hope for a bright future for all. Hope. An apt theme upon which to conclude our first term of
the year “.