Royal Grammar School


All things bright and beautiful!

All things bright and beautiful!

So starts the famous harvest hymn, still sung in churches and some schools up and down the land at this time of year (not in the RGS Senior School as it happens). But we seem to have had many things both bright and beautiful going on here at school in the past week, and there are more to look forward to.

I didn't write a blog on Friday, partly because I knew what a great weekend was coming up. On Friday night we greeted some 140 Old Novocastrians to their annual dinner here. The youngest left in 2015, the oldest in 1941. As always, our former students were great fun: properly irreverent and yet hugely affectionate towards their old school. It's such a heart-warming evening every year.

There followed an extraordinary weekend of sport, little of it actually at school! The first XV and under 15 rugby teams were both away at national festivals, the under 15s winning the Langley Festival (the first school ever to retain the trophy!) Two younger teams did well in regional rugby tournaments, the under 12s winning the Tait 10's at Barnard Castle and the under 13s winning the Jim Pollock Festival here.

Meanwhile, our senior and under 13 girls' hockey teams keep marching forward in major competitions: the senior first team won the county round of the National Schools Cup last week to reach the North East semi-final; the under 13s are through to the third round of the Independent Schools Cup; and the under 11s (Junior School) are through to the National Finals for the first time!

But it's not all sport! Tonight our sizable cast of Year 10 and 11 actors are performing in the National Schools Shakespeare Festival at Northern Stage, doing their 30 minute version of A Winter's Tale. Tuesday will see the Senior School House Music Competition and Thursday the Junior School's competition.

How do they cram it all in? I often wonder myself! But it's a positive and committed kind of busy-ness that actually contributes to well-being and fulfillment and prevents us from concentrating entirely on the academic. Moreover, what our boys and girls learn outside the classrooom undoubtedly supports achievement within it. For example, the under 15 rugby team lost an early game to St. Peters and were written off by most observers. The fact they've come back to win the entire Langley Festival is a testament to their resilience, their ability not to let their heads go down, but to battle their way back. Truly a learning experience and an example to all.

On Friday we shall reach half-term and it will be an opportunity, as I always say, for a well-earned rest (apart from a busy 89 Year 11 students going to Battlefields, and the 11 already in China).

Friends outside education like to pull my leg and say "Another holiday? Already?" They can't resist it, but the recipe is a successful one. Huge commitment, a hectic schedule, unfailingly high expectations and frequently spectacular achievement: then time to recuperate.

It works for us. More specifically, it works for children at RGS.

Bernard Trafford