From the Headmaster - December 2018
Posted by MM - Wednesday 5 December 2018
It is almost a calendar month now since more than one thousand members of our school community gathered in the main hall for the Act of Remembrance to honour those who gave their lives in the Great War and in conflicts since. Rosie Forbes from Year 13 played the Last Post and we heard Charlotte Atkins read Wilfred Owen’s ever-moving poem, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’. This service is always a remarkable event at STRS: the past meets the present in an atmosphere of stillness and silence. We think particularly of those past Richians who gave their lives, and see the hopes for the future reflected in the young faces of our pupils in front of us.
Still on the theme of remembrance, we were delighted that two Year 10 pupils, Alex Price and Guy Cornish, accompanied by Ms Judith Case (LRC Manager), were able to take part in the First World War Centenary Battlefields Tour in October. The trip was organised by Equity and University College London under an initiative set up by David Cameron’s government to make sure that all young people have an understanding of the meaning and considerable sacrifice of the First World War.
The trip was guided by historical experts, an excellent Battlefield Guide and active soldiers. Along with teachers and students from different schools in the region, they visited many of the iconic sites, including allied and German cemeteries, the trenches at Beaumont Hamel in the Newfoundland Memorial Park, the immense memorial to the missing at Thiepval and the Menin Gate. During the trip, they searched for the graves and memorials of fallen Richians, whose names appear on our war memorial. They were all found, and time was spent remembering these young, brave men, many of whom were not much older than Guy and Alex. In the words of Binyon’s poem, ‘At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.’
Both boys are now charged with the Legacy 110 task, which is the mission of the project. Each student passes on what he has learned to 110 people. If all of the students who participate manage to achieve this, then the lessons of the First World War reach the same number of people as died. Guy will present a talk describing the trip in an assembly for Year 7, and Alex has created a documentary combining his thoughts and feelings with images which he filmed on location. Both presentations will be available to a wider audience online through the school website.
Our Sixth Form historians have also been involved in capturing the past through a series of interviews with a local Korean War veteran who was captured at the battle of Imjin. Pupils are recording and then transcribing interviews, with the ultimate purpose of establishing the first dedicated English Korean War archive at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.
While these activities emphasise our commitment to providing the widest possible range of learning experiences for our pupils, we have of course been working hard in lessons on a daily basis. Year 11 pupils have just completed two weeks of Trial GCSE exams, and are now on a week’s Work Experience placement. When they return, I urge them all to attend very carefully to the exam feedback they will receive: it is certainly the most crucial part of the process. For other pupils, 2nd Order grades will be published on 19th December.
In my last email, I referred to some negative press coverage and indicated that I cannot agree with the sentiment that all publicity is good publicity. Whilst my perspective remains the same, you may have seen that we have been in the news again. This time, for being one of the 16 grammar schools nationally who have been awarded a share of the £50 million for expansion. This relates to the increase in our admission number that we consulted on widely a couple of years ago and there are no plans to take more than the current 150 pupils per year. We aim to construct a small new teaching block to accommodate the additional numbers. We will continue to do all we can to help encourage bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds gain access to the School. I am particularly grateful to the governors for taking a lead on our widening access programme and Debbie Brake for directing the work of our Teaching School Alliance to share good practice across the county and beyond.
As I write this email, the hall is filled with the fantastic sounds of our school musical reaching its final stages of rehearsal. School of Rock runs from 12th – 14th December. It promises to be a memorable performance, with the addition of a few surprise appearances! Our annual Carol Services this year take place on Monday 17th December at St. Catharine’s Church, Gloucester, and on Thursday 20th December at Holy Trinity, Longlevens, both at 7.30 pm. I warmly invite you all to attend these joyous occasions, where we celebrate the creative talents of our pupils and prepare ourselves for a well-deserved Christmas holiday.