Dear Parent and OW
I’m going to roll back just before half-term and share with you some highlights of a musical feast.
I am currently Vice-Chairman of the Grammar School Heads’ Association (for my sins). Heads receive an annual invite from the Friends of Grammar Schools to a reception in the House of Commons. This year, RGS was invited to provide the background music for the reception, so I leapt at the opportunity. Many thanks to our quintet, comprising Will Rose, Jethro Reading, Varun Dinesh, Hugh Laughton and Kian Pourkarimi, fortified by the direction of Mr Venvell. I received many positive comments about the music – ‘the best ever’, said one Headmaster. Whether he meant it or says the same every year I accepted the compliment with pride and, of course, agreed.
This was the night before our Autumn Recital – an evening of first rate solos, ensembles and choral music. Music and sport are similar in a school context, as the high performing senior players are very often manifesting themselves in the lower school. So, for example, watching and listening to our 70 strong Junior Choir and Second Wind Band leads to older boys being skilled practitioners and team players in the form of the latest incarnation of our senior a cappella group ‘Singers Limited’. Going back a stage further, I was delighted to be invited to a concert given by Chiltern Music Academy, in which 250 children from local prep, primary schools and Year 7s from grammar schools and upper schools played together a piece composed by Andy Rogers, the Principal. It was an exhilarating experience and a really high-quality, musical performance. Of course, Team Venvell (Messrs and Mrs) were in the thick of it along with a number of our own
boys who supported and coached some of the ensembles. There are far too many comments in the press, often supported by musicians who should know better, that music is dying in state secondary schools. I’m sorry to disappoint them, but it’s alive and kicking at RGS.
A most successful trip to America took place – here is Mrs Forster’s report:
Over October half term the Biology Geography Trip to the Western USA travelled to San Francisco, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. We took 30 boys, and also visited the Hoover Dam, the Atomic Testing Centre, and Alcatraz and saw a Cirque de Soleil show. Each and every boy was amazing. They all embraced every element of the trip, and they were curious, positive and perfectly polite throughout; it was an absolute pleasure to travel with them. The boys were given guided talks at various different points, and the RGS staff supplemented this with outside teaching at almost every opportunity. It is all credit to your sons that they embrace learning whenever they can. Thank you for your support in making this trip possible.
I have just returned back to my Headmasterly ‘pad’ in School House, a bright Autumn day, having watched our U15 (29-13) and 1st XV (26-23) teams win in the second round of the Nat West trophy. Both tense games, but well deserved wins in both cases. Here’s to the next round.
Mr Honeyben, our Head of Rugby and 1st XV coach has written a short piece for me about our team’s performance at the prestigious St Joseph’s Festival.
A young 1st team squad took part in St. Joseph’s rugby festival during half term. The players showed superb effort and commitment during an intense weekend, finishing third in their group on the first day, which sent them into the plate competition on the Sunday.
After drawing a competitive and exciting game against Hurst School in the morning, RGS were narrowly beaten in their second game of the day, meaning they just missed out on the Plate final. It was a valuable experience for this team, who will be able to use this as part of their development moving forward.
You will recall that the Eton Fives Association gave us a grant to replace the roof of the Fives courts. We held an opening ceremony this afternoon for that and we were delighted that a number of dignitaries from the Fives world, including the EFA and their charitable trust were able to join us. My thanks to Mr Silvey, Master in Charge of Eton Fives, for his enthusiasm in leading a burgeoning sport.
Our Upper Sixth students are looking ahead to their university life through the preparation of their personal statements. A useful guide, on the BBC website, can be found here. I would urge parents to support staff here in chivvying their son along with his personal statement – experience tells me that some boys have a habit of waiting until the last minute before submitting them to school and then become impatient for a response, perhaps not aware that there is a back-log caused by many boys doing the same. Forty or so boys have been sitting University Admissions Tests today – I trust all went well and we look forward to hearing some good news in the coming weeks.
The new gates to Fraser Youens, the Quad, School House and Chadwick Street are now in operation.
Pedestrian Gates from Chadwick Street and Hamilton Road will be locked at 08:45, after which students will need to press the buzzer to gain access. Sixth Formers will have a lanyard and badge so that they can have some freedom during the lunch hour.
Parents are requested to use the visitors’ gate (to the right of the vehicle exit gate) and then sign in at Reception. Arrangements will be made for events. There will inevitably be some inconvenience as we bed in the new arrangements, but I trust that you all appreciate my view that the school’s site was far too open.
MESSAGE TO OWs
We are now sending the ‘Headmaster’s Letter’ to OWs. I write a ‘catch all’ letter, never more than two sides, every ten days or so to parents but also designed with staff, governors and, now, OWs in mind. We very much hope that you will enjoy reading news from where you were once educated.
Please do join us if you can on Friday 10th November for our annual Remembrance Service. Hopefully the sun will indeed shine on the righteous and we will be able to hold the service outdoors. The service, consisting of a short address, hymn accompanied by school orchestra, readings and a two-minute silence, commences at 10:45, with coffee in the Queen’s Hall afterwards. I hope that all boys will wear a poppy in the coming days.