The Jubilee service on Speech Day reassured those of us who had worried that Covid had laid waste College’s strong tradition of hymn singing; the walls of Chapel really did seem to bend a little as the thunderous sound of the National Anthem closed the service of thanksgiving. All of which tells us that Chapel is still embraced by Cheltonians and remains one of their points of security and familiarity in an increasingly demanding educational world.
Continuing enthusiasm for Chapel can be seen in the willingness of pupils to volunteer to give a Chapel talk. This year a record number of 35 pupil talks were scheduled, and some of the themes included ‘Perspective Vulnerability’, ‘Cheerfulness’, ‘Serenity’, ‘Luck’,‘Communication’,‘Optimism’,‘Loneliness’, ‘Intimacy’, ‘Self-esteem’ and ‘Humour’. This year’s two winners of The Jackson-Matthews Prize for the best Chapel address were Madeleine Winston-Davis who, on the cusp of the Christmas holiday gave a seasonal talk on the topic of ‘Gifts’, and Rory Maddinson who addressed the issue of toxic masculinity on ‘International Men’s Day’. Their respective talks are printed here.
It was a delight to be back in Chapel for a Christmas Eve service, even though the size of the congregation was highly restricted. Those unable to attend could at least enjoy the Christmas carols and anthems streamed live on YouTube. During the last year, a state-of-the-art audio-visual system has been installed in Chapel which will allow the live streaming not just of services, but of lectures concerts and organ recitals.
In May we welcomed the Bishop of Gloucester who confirmed 20 pupils into the Church of England; very pleasingly five of those confirmed were brothers and sisters from just two families. The service had an ecumenical dimension; six Roman Catholic pupils, who were to be confirmed a week later in St Gregory’s parish church, sat together with their Anglican brothers and sisters. Visiting preachers have returned this year. Father Mark Catherall, formerly Chaplain in the Royal Marines preached on Remembrance Sunday. Out of the many fine sermons, we should note the following three: Reverend Tom Cook’s (Cheltenham) impassioned address on whether Christians should tear down statues; Venerable Robert Jones (Worcester) bravely singing a solo from the pulpit; and Reverend Richard Horner (Rugby School), memorably making us all laugh by somehow linking the Kingdom of God with his adoption of an ant at Twycross Zoo.
Dr Adam Dunning
Rory Maddinson on ‘International Men’s Day’
What does it mean to be a man? How should we view masculinity? What are some of the main challenges facing men today? These are just some of the questions I hope to answer in my talk on International Men’s Day today.
Some of you may be wondering why I feel that I can stand up here in front of you and represent the views and struggles of men. After all, in many ways I don’t fit the traditional image of a man. My College rugby career was short-lived (I now do Group Two recreational swimming) and the last time I went in the gym was to ask a friend if they’d seen my Year 1 Mechanics textbook. Yet, I feel that, on a deeper level, beyond the basic stereotypes of what a man should be like, I understand and have experienced some of the central issues facing men today.
The main challenge that I want to focus on and talk to you about today is toxic masculinity. ‘Toxic masculinity’ is quite a complex phrase. It’s something you could probably drop in an English essay alongside ‘juxtapose’ and ‘oxymoron’ to sound intelligent. However, toxic masculinity is also critical to understanding some of the issues many of you in this Chapel have faced and will continue to face in your lives. So, let’s unpack toxic masculinity. When we talk about toxic water or toxic food, we are not suggesting that all water or all food is toxic. It’s the same with toxic masculinity.
It is a term that recognises that there are good parts to masculinity, what we define as manly attributes, but also parts that are damaging and corrupting. Toxic masculinity involves cultural and societal pressures for men to behave in a certain way, the results of which harm both the man and the people around him.
So, what are these ‘toxic’ elements of masculinity? For me, it primarily comes under three categories: domination, homophobia, and emotional repression. Let’s go through those one by one. Domination: the need for a man to assert their physical strength over another, often through violence. Homophobia: the view that not liking women means that you are somehow less of a man. Emotional repression: the belief that men don’t cry; that men should be ‘lone wolves’. Each one of these characteristics that make up traditional masculinity is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. If left unchecked, it can lead to domestic abuse, hate speech and even to suicide.
The impacts of toxic masculinity are very real and very present in our society. According to the World Health Organisation, there were 800,000 known suicides last year. 75% of these suicides were men. That means approximately 600,000 men took their lives. Moreover, a survey in 2020 found that 50% of men over the age of 25 cannot name either a close friend or best friend. Imagine the loneliness, the isolation, inherent in that statement.
If these statistics are not enough to convince you of the importance of tackling toxic masculinity, I’d encourage you all to think about your personal lives. When was the last time you hugged a male friend of yours? When was the last time you sat down with another man and had a genuine, truthful, honest conversation about your mental health or about your personal achievements?
As I look around this Chapel today I see a man who has problems at home and challenges at school, who feels suffocated and unable to speak out. I see a man who hasn’t seen his family in a month, who hasn’t had a proper hug since his mum said goodbye at the airport. I see a man who knows no other way of expressing his emotions than punching a wall. I see all these people; these people are real. They are my family. They are my friends. They are me. I have heard all these stories from men I know in Christowe, in College, and in my wider life. They are all fundamentally linked to this issue of toxic masculinity. When writing this talk I thought back to my own time in Third Form. What would I want to hear as I sat there in Chapel where you are now? I wish someone had told the 14-year-old me: traditional masculinity is overrated; a man can express emotion through ways other than anger; a man can hug his friends; a man can cry.
To finish, what do I want you to take away from this today? If you only remember one thing, remember this: the only way to combat toxic masculinity is to recognise it within yourself and within others. Embrace the positives of masculinity: the desire to provide for others, to be devoted to your work, to excel in sports, and reject the negatives: domination, homophobia, emotional repression. On International Men’s Day, I urge you to take up the challenge to be a truly good man. Thank you.
Madeleine Winston-Davis on ‘Gifts’
Gifts can serve a number of important roles, especially around the time of Christmas.
To Christians, giving presents at Christmas is symbolic of the tributes made to baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men, who journeyed many miles following a star, to present Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Gift giving is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping to define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Yet I’m sure we can all think of times where presents have failed to do any of these things. Most of us are actually terrible at giving gifts; in fact about 25% of people will return more than half of their Christmas presents. So how do we get less terrible? Since Christmas never seems too far away, I thought I’d draw upon a tip list for gift giving.
Don’t be a selfish giver: research shows that givers are obsessed with the reaction on a person’s face as they unwrap their present. It is undeniable that when a person is excited or surprised about their present it makes you feel good. Typically, over-the-top presents seem amazing because initially they gauge the best reaction. However, it turns out recipients often want something that is far more practical, such as a simple coffee machine they can actually use or something that makes them smile.
That said, purely ‘practical gifts’ can lack sentimental value. For example, a few Christmases ago, my dad chose to ignore mum’s very detailed wish list for Christmas/ 50th birthday and instead went rogue, investing in a set of waterproof car seat covers. Needless to say, though well used, they were not well received.
You could even give experiences rather than ‘stuff ’. Where material presents inevitably expire or become forgotten, experiences build memories; memories which most probably have a greater intrinsic value than most material gifts.
Paradoxically, one of the most meaningful gifts I ever received, I actually had to return. In 2019, I was fortune enough to travel to India to work in The Tandigudi Good Will Home; a school for children aged five to 11 who were either orphaned or had been sent away because their family could not afford to keep them at home. I became very fond of a young girl called Navit who was about nine years old. On my final night she tried to give me a present as a thank you and token to remember her by. She presented to me a little pink plastic horse, which I later discovered was the only toy she had ever received. Of course, I felt far too guilty to accept her gift, so I ended up pretending to take it and then hid it under her pillow when she had gone to sleep. With no family, no home and very few possessions, this little girl’s selfless and kind act of giving me her only toy, resonated with me and proved that a gift’s greatest value is not dependent on its price or extravagance.
To conclude, gifts are fundamental when expressing your love and appreciation for someone. As clichéd as it sounds, it really is the thought that counts.
What a difference a year makes! Even though we have of course had some disruption this year, being able to have in-person Library inductions back in September for all our Third Form and Upper College pupils, attending author events with The Prep at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October, having Third Form pupils in for English, EAL and Geography lessons throughout the year, and seeing the Library full of pupils whilst they revise for their GCSE and A Levels makes our heart sing! The Library is well and truly back open!
One of the greatest additions to our team this year has been to take on four pupil library assistants through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. The four pupils have been a real help, even creating their own display of book recommendations. They have shelved hundreds of books between them and have shown real commitment and diligence to their work here. We are aiming to carry on the scheme this coming year with a new bunch of helpers being trained up by this year’s pupils.
The Reading Diploma has been going well with teachers and pupils gaining badges and ties for reaching different levels. We have also launched a Foundation Diploma that crosses over from The Prep into College, and I will be working closely with our Prep librarian to encourage our younger pupils to read those books.
In celebration of Cultures Week we created a display of ‘Around the World in 80 Books’. Pupils were invited to come and take part in activities relating to books written in different languages and then translated into English. The display was picked up by a number of schools and librarians who have used it in their own libraries.
Back in January, once again in collaboration with The Prep, we hosted the wonderful author, Tom Palmer. I cannot tell you how amazing it felt to have a real-life author event back in College and the whole of our Third Form spent an hour listening to Tom’s brilliant talk and were involved in his Q and A session. Tom spoke of his writing techniques and what inspired him to write. He also gave us a sneaky look at his next book Resist which is due out in August.
The link between College and The Prep continued in April when I was asked to be a judge for The Prep’s Year 5 ‘500 Word Competition’. Just like last year, it was a great pleasure to be involved. The stories were of such a high standard, I couldn’t believe what well-written stories could be produced by nine- and 10-year-olds. We had a lovely celebration together at the start of May where the winners were announced.
We have lots of plans afoot for the coming months, including an extension of the Library into one of our side rooms. We are very excited about the project which will give our already beautiful space some more work areas alongside some cosy seating for those who just want to come and read.
Most of all we are looking forward to continuing our work of promoting reading across College and The Prep, providing all the wonderful resources that we have on offer here in the Library.
Ms Laura Jones
As she moves over to the The Prep as Librarian, we wish to express sincere thanks to Ms Laura Jones for her tremendous work in the Chatfeild-Roberts Library. Ms Jones’ regular Library Newsletter has encouraged a love of reading by recommending books and events, as have creative displays such as Around the World in 80 Books, which supported Cultures’ Week by celebrating books written by wonderful authors from around the world. Over the past two years, Ms Jones has worked with different groups such as Diversity Soc and Pride and
Allies to increase the diversity of our collection. A wider range of book choices has been included to College’s Reading
Diploma and the Foundation Level has been added to link up the reading programme with The Prep. Groups of Third Form pupils have enjoyed reading sessions in the library which will be even more beautiful once the refurbishment is completed. Passionate, committed, endlessly accommodating to last minute requests and open to new ideas, Laura has been a joy to work with and we are hugely appreciative of all she has done. Knowing she will not be far away, we wish her well in her new role over the road at The Prep, where she will be sprinkling her magic.
Dr Mary Plint and Miss Jane Brodigan
It has been a busy year in Archives with several projects approaching completion.
One of the biggest has been to repackage our first series of historic pupil files. These files date from 1916-1960. The many thousands of records have had their damaging rusted paperclips removed to be replaced with inert equivalents and have been repackaged in archival-standard protective enclosures to help them survive for the next hundred years.
Many of these early report cards include a ‘mug-shot’ of the pupil. As photographs are produced using a range of chemicals which react slowly over time, it is important to keep their temperature and relative humidity as stable as possible. The addition of protective enclosures and placing in archival quality boxes within one of our archive stores (where environmental conditions are constantly monitored) is one way to achieve this best possible care.
This work is part of a wider project to refurbish one of our archive stores to make the best use of the space available by installing new shelving.
Much of the work of preserving College’s and The Prep’s history happens behind the scenes, but one area we are pleased to share with the rest of College community is the new permanent display in the Anne Cadbury Resource Room. The timeline of ordinary and extraordinary moments in College history is all here: moving to our first building, constructing our new Chapel, evacuation to Shrewsbury, becoming co-educational, the first computers and College’s response to the pandemic. There is some future-proof space for our next chapters!
Miss Hannah Dale
Cheltenham Education Partnerships
Our enhanced partnership with All Saints’ Academy, Cheltenham remains at the heart of our partnership work. This year, for the first time, the two Common Rooms came together for a joint inset on best practice in teaching and learning. Another new activity introduced this year was the Year 10 public speaking competition which saw teams from both College and the Academy competing in Chapel. The standard from both schools was extremely high.
As they approached their Oxbridge admission, Year 13 students from the Academy received advice and interview preparation from College staff, whilst Year 12 Business students from both schools took part in the Mini MBA competition. As in previous years, Year 11 pupils continued to receive at College GCSE exam focused tutorial sessions in English, Maths and Physics.
College was a founding member of the Cheltenham Education Partnership (CEP) and through this grouping of secondary schools, Cheltenham Festivals, GCHQ and the University of Gloucestershire (UOG), our pupils and staff continue to receive and provide educational enrichments. College staff continue to deliver the Latin programme for pupils in the state sector. An innovation this year was the introduction of CEP Literary Society delivered by Dr Luke Davidson which offered the ‘salon discussion experience’ for English literature pupils across the partnership.
The Religious Studies departments in both College and All Saint’s collaborated in organising a CEP Conference on Crime, Prisons and Punishment at which the key-note speaker was the Bishop of Gloucester. The keynote CEP event was the Changemakers Conference held at the UOG in June. This Conference, which brought together 120 pupils from the CEP schools, focused on Sustainability and sought to enable the pupils to take action against climate change.
Dr Adam Dunning
Understandably, the effects of Covid hit our Community Action Programme for both Fourth Form and Lower Sixth pupils yet again but much was still achieved.
Though a smaller group of pupils took part this year, our outdoor projects have been very successful.
One placement involved refurbishing outdoor seating at Cheltenham General Hospital, the other was based at the churchyard of St Mary’s in Prestbury where volunteers initially plotted and catalogued gravestones (supervised by Head of History Miss Jo Doidge-Harrison!) and then did some grounds maintenance.
In February, pupils headed off to The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal for a full day of volunteering. Everyone worked hard tidying up areas along the canal in readiness for visitors in the spring.
The Summer Term saw pupils involved in outdoor projects around College from helping the grounds team with colourful planting to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee to refurbishing wooden benches in The Prep. Pupils also went off to the
Gloucestershire Animal Welfare Association & Cheltenham Animal Shelter where they helped the team get ready for their popular open day and they organised fundraising activities for the charity too.
The Lower Sixth programme was able to continue mostly uninterrupted apart from two placements based within care homes.
To resolve this, one group met via a virtual link every week. The students organised quizzes, bingo, a virtual tour of College and a super Zoom Christmas party to keep residents entertained! Down to the enthusiasm of the students involved, this was hugely successful.
During periods of care home lockdown, the second group turned their hands to making ‘crafty’ gifts (including a few chocolate treats!) to deliver to residents of the care home. Once visitors were able to return, the group planted a lovely, scented lilac tree for residents on Earth Day and were set a project to design and build a Platinum Jubilee themed miniature sensory garden on site, as part of a competition.
The most popular choice for volunteering was based within local schools; primary, secondary and those for children with special needs. These placements accounted for over half of the 70 pupils involved.
Generally, these weren’t too badly affected by Covid and pupils have enjoyed their experiences which have included: helping to teach sports in after-school clubs; assisting teachers in language, history and maths lessons; and helping primary pupils with reading. These have all been rewarding roles in which our pupils have been able to watch their young pupils’ progress throughout the year!
Again, Dr Jamie Copeland-Jordan led a loyal crew in re-developing the outside areas of St Peter’s Church in
Leckhampton. This included learning the complexities of dry-stone walling, the removal of caterpillars from trees and the refurbishment of some lovely old memorial benches – a task which has gone down well with the families who provided them many years ago!
Cotswold Riding for the Disabled Association have benefitted from having two very experienced riders volunteer this year, and two local charity shops have welcomed committed pupils, who helped them to sort and organise stock, create eye-catching window displays and serve customers.
Mrs Emma Hindle
Clearly it has been a really challenging year again for our international pupils, and my thanks go to our EAL staff and the International Prefects who chair our International Committee. More than ever, we have needed a strong voice and a united front.
We enjoyed a highly successful and enjoyable international induction programme in early September 2021, hosted this year by College Lawn for girls and Boyne House for boys.
I was ably supported by a super team of volunteers from different Houses and year groups.
Three specific events in the calendar really stand out, namely the mid-Autumn Festival in the Chinese lunar calendar in September, Chinese New Year in February, and the International Dinner in March. The latter provided an opportunity to celebrate diversity and to also recognise the support offered by our International Prefects in the form of gifts and verbal recognition. Renee Cheung, William Wong and Katariina Visnap have been excellent ambassadors for Internationalism and Inclusion at College during the year, and I am grateful to them for their continued support.
Bill Ko has represented Internationalism with aplomb as Head Boy, and we could hardly wish for a greater leader and representative of the school community.
There have been many notable achievements made by our international representation at College this academic year, yet personally I am very proud to celebrate the number of excellent offers to overseas universities. In particular, Avani Singhania’s myriad offers to US universities really stands out, including highly coveted scholarships to California College of the Arts, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Parsons School of Design, New York. Particularly noteworthy also is Bill Ko’s 60% scholarship to the New England Conservatory, Boston and a 60% scholarship to Juilliard, New York. Jasper Chiang has been offered scholarships to McGill in Montreal, the University of Toronto and to the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and Kelly Ting the University of Toronto International Scholar Award and Scholar at the Faculty of Arts and Science scholarship also.
At the time of writing, we are about to send out the joining instructions for our incoming international pupils, whilst gearing up for our next induction programme hosted this coming year by Leconfield and Ashmead. We hope for calmer times on the international stage both politically and environmentally as we commence a new academic year at College.
Mr Nick Nelson
Pride and Allies
This year College built on last year’s successful launch of the Pride and Allies Group with a number of events. After meeting in the Autumn Term to codify what pupils wanted group meetings to be like, a regular format of discussion of news topics and hot-button issues was agreed – and that there should always be cake at every meeting!
In the Spring Term Ms Laura Jones, College Librarian, chaired a meeting that focused on the wide range of LGBTQ+ books in a variety of genres that are available to be checked out, alongside a broad discussion of representation in media such as books and films.
The Summer Term saw a large group of staff and pupils attend Cheltenham Pride in Pittville Park, where all enjoyed picnic food, a broad selection of funfair stalls and activities, and an unforgettable dog show! The year then drew to a close with a final meeting that focused on the potential difficulties faced by elite athletes in coming out, and the steps taken in sports to address preconceptions about LGBTQ+ sportsmen and women.
My thanks to all staff and pupils who have attended sessions this year – we look forward to more meetings next year!
Mr Andrew Hollingbury
Led by the inimitable Alvina Chan, Adena Soeranggayoedha and Sam Havern, Diversity Soc kicked off the year with a poster campaign to launch ‘Celebrating Cultures’ Week which took place in the Autumn Term. As part of Cultures’Week, the team also prepared a Model United Nations House event with guest delegations from Cheltenham Ladies’ College (CLC). Presented by the Sami people (CLC), the participating country delegations debated the Resolution that oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Arctic must be immediately stopped due to its negative impacts on the Sami people of the Artic region. In the Spring Term, the team worked hard to create a Floreat session on Neurodiversity and contributed to staff learning on de-colonising the curriculum.
Miss Jane Brodigan
Residential School for Children with Special Needs, Bradet, Romania
Though we have not been able to visit for another year, the children of Bradet have been in our thoughts and we were relieved to hear that they have remained well through Covid. We very much hope that the Christmas presents
will make it through customs and that we’ll be able to visit again in June 2023. Nearly 83,000 refugees from Ukraine have entered Romania and more than 6,000 have been welcomed into Brasov, the town local to Bradet. College was pleased to be able to forward funds to a local NGO working with our amazing counterpart Razvan Cicorschi to support this work.
Miss Jane Brodigan
Gogar Primary, Kenya
In addition to fundraising £6,000 for books for local schools’ libraries and craft material for the school for children with special needs, College has pledged to fund the fitting of electric lights to enable evening study and secure doors. This will begin with three classrooms and roll out to cover more classrooms in due course.
Miss Jane Brodigan
Shamrock School, Nepal
College continues to support the Shamrock School in Pokhara, Nepal with regular donations and fundraising. This year the College Variety Show raised over £6,000 which has gone to directly support the efforts of the children and their boarding expenses. Despite the legacy of Covid and frequent interruptions to their lessons the children have flourished, and this year’s leavers scored exceptional grades. Our support for them will need to be ongoing as many challenges remain. Ultimately the school hopes to leave their rented premises and build on a more secure location. A parcel of land has already been secured and the support of key donors is now being sought. College hopes to resume the invaluable visits of both pupils and staff who have made the Shamrock journey. Visiting the school is an amazing experience and highly recommended.
Mr Dominic Faulkner
College is delighted to continue supporting Ernest Mwangi Kimani through his studies at the University of Nairobi. He has written an update on how he’s doing: