Old Greshamians were welcomed back to talk to pupils about their career paths

It’s always so positive to welcome back Old Greshamians to talk about their career path to current pupils.
OG Calvin Chan ARAeS I-CEng F (2013 – 15) returned for Gresham’s STEAM week to give insight about his professional role with NATS – the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services. It was a superb opportunity to learn more about NATS, ask questions and find out about the variance of job roles and careers they offer

Furthermore, Year 13 pupils were treated to an insightful talk from OG Camilla Foster C&E (2000 – 10) on her pathway to becoming a qualified, practising dentist. The message along with her hard work and study was ‘you can achieve and reach your goal’.

Queens’ Tallis ‘Midnight in Paris’ Ball

On Thursday 16th November, 88 members of the Upper Sixth attended the Tallis Queens’ ‘Midnight in Paris’ Ball. This was a Black-Tie three-course sit down meal complete with games – guess the HSM from the baby photo competition – and some very questionable karaoke. The pupils were in great fettle and good time was hopefully had by all!

Well done to Oakeley who have won Sixth Form Inter-House Debating

Sixth Form Inter-House Debating has concluded this term. Oakeley prevailed over Howson’s in one semi-final tie, and Woodlands saw off Edinburgh in the other. 

The final was held in Big School with Oakeley – Kitty R, Mojuba A and Eva O’D – proposing and Woodlands – Guy P, Beowulf O’D and Nik P – opposing the motion ‘This House believes that the United Nations is no longer fit for purpose and should be scrapped and replaced.’

The debate contrasted the recent intervention failures of the UN and the veto dominance of the Permanent Members of the Security Council with the UN’s humanitarian and cultural successes. The debate hinged on whether replacement or reform was the best option for the UN’s future. 

Both terms were strong, but the winners were declared to be Oakeley who were awarded the Marsham Trophy (presented in 1986) by Headmaster Douglas Robb.   

Pupils have been practising the ancient Chinese art of calligraphy

For well over a century Western art has been influenced by the ancient Chinese art of calligraphy. This week, Year 9 Mandarin learners have been dipping their pens into this skill with amazing results. Pupils have practiced calligraphy with chosen poems written by Li Qingzhao (1084 – ca. 1155), one of the greatest poets in Chinese history. Pupils were engaged, competent and successful with this task.

Although this is many of the pupils’ first contact with Chinese calligraphy, they have quickly made an introduction to extremely advanced skills. This includes how to hold the brush correctly, applying their brush movement using the correct amount of ink and to beginning to express links between harmony of motion, semantic content and ‘artistic’ expression. When rendering strokes with one’s brush, one will experience the basic movements of Tai Chi and the delicate balance of Yin and Yang.

James Dyson donates £35 million to create a state-of-the-art Prep School for Gresham’s

  • Donation funds purchase and restoration of Grade II listed Holt Hall, set in 85 acres, and building of new state-of-the-art facilities for pupils aged seven to 13
  • James Dyson has now donated more than £50 million to Gresham’s School, which provided him with a full bursary after the death of his father, a teacher there, in 1956
  • The Dyson STEAM Building at Gresham’s opened in 2022, following a previous £18.75 million donation; the new Prep School will open in September 2026

The James Dyson Foundation today announces a new £35 million donation to Gresham’s School. It will create a state-of-the-art Prep School with a brand new building incorporating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) facilities for pupils aged seven to 13.

James Dyson boarded at Gresham’s from the age of nine, attending the school from 1956 to 1965. He has always acknowledged his deep gratitude to the school and its then Headmaster, the late Logie Bruce-Lockhart. The school gave James’s family support so that he and his brother could continue their education for free at Gresham’s after the untimely death of their father, Alec Dyson, aged 43, who taught Classics there.

James Dyson, Founder of Dyson and Gresham’s alumnus, said:

“Holt Hall is a magnificent setting and when it came up for sale we had the extraordinary opportunity to rescue this Victorian hall, to provide a new setting for a cutting-edge Prep School for Gresham’s pupils. As the son of a Gresham’s teacher, I had the free run of Gresham’s grounds and playing fields in the school holidays – but the arcadian park of Holt Hall was out of bounds.

The architecture and design of the new wing – with a mirrored external surface – will reflect the ancient woodland, allowing it to blend into its stunning setting. We will also restore the Victorian building and protect the surrounding ancient woodland for Gresham’s pupils to discover and learn in, adding state-of-the-art facilities.

It is so important to inspire young people through problem-solving and discovery. I’m forever grateful for the generosity Gresham’s showed me when my father – who was Head of Classics at the school – died when I was nine. Logie Bruce-Lockhart, the Headmaster, allowed my brother and me to continue our studies with a bursary, when it would otherwise have been impossible. I’m so pleased to be able to support the school and to see it shaping incredible young people who go on and flourish.”

The £35 million donation will enable a much-needed restoration of the adjoining Holt Hall and the surrounding 85 acres of grounds which are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, increasing the area of the school grounds by a third.

The plans for the new Prep School include:

  • A sustainable, naturally ventilated, mirrored new building adjacent to Holt Hall – inspired by Dyson’s research building (D9) in Malmesbury, Wiltshire – that reflects nearby ancient woodland. The new building will have:
    • High tech equipment and STEAM facilities.
    • Solar panels on the roof.
    • Heating and cooling via a ground source heat pump.
    • An irrigation system using recycled rainwater.
  • Careful restoration of Grade II Listed Holt Hall which will become the heart of Gresham’s new Prep School.
  • Investment into an ancient woodland management plan.
  • Removal of invasive plant species protecting the site long-term.
  • Preservation of the walled garden.
  • Installation of a Field Studies Centre and outreach programmes for local schools, including outdoor activities at Holt Hall and residential stays.

Douglas Robb, Gresham’s Headmaster, said:

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rescue Holt Hall and breathe new life into its grounds. We are enormously grateful for the generous donation of Sir James Dyson and the James Dyson Foundation. The natural setting of Holt Hall and its ancient woodland will be the new home for Gresham’s Prep School – currently a superb school limited by its cramped location at a crossroads. No land will be sold off during this development and we will repurpose the Prep School’s existing site to expand the Senior School facilities. I am particularly grateful that Sir James has chosen to further enhance the school’s facilities and build on the tremendous success of the Dyson STEAM Building.”

From left: Michael Goff (Chairman), James Dyson, Douglas Robb (Headmaster). Credit: Dyson.

On average Gresham’s provides £2.5m worth of bursaries and financial support a year, benefitting 200 pupils. 1,000 children from local schools have made use of the school’s existing Dyson STEAM Building, which opened last year, in workshops provided by the school and there are plans for local children to use the new Prep School campus.

The new Prep School and restoration of Holt Hall will be designed by architects WilkinsonEyre. WilkinsonEyre have a long relationship with Dyson, with Sir James Dyson and the late Chris Wilkinson developing Dyson’s Malmesbury & Hullavington campus, the Dyson Institute’s undergraduate village, and the Dyson STEAM Building at Gresham’s together.

Dyson STEAM Building at Gresham’s. Credit: Dyson.

All photography copyright Dyson.

House Music 2023

House Music was a celebration of all things musical. Judge Ash Soan was amazed by the variety of instrumentalists, the quality of singers, and the energy emanating from Unison. Particularly impressive were Arkell, making a bold statement at the start of Instrumental, signifying their arrival to the competition with a bold Samba number. Jazz, funk, soul and pop music entertained the packed sports hall, with Woodlands being victorious in the Instrumental section. Part Song invited the vocalists to sing in close harmony, with little or no accompaniment. A wonderful display of vocal expression, with Oakeley winning this category. Unison promotes the true house spirit, with mashups, TikTok dance moves and a united house, Queens’ were the winners with a fantastic performance from ‘Fame’. Queens’ were the overall competition winners, with all house making exceptional contributions to the spectacle of the annual House Music competition.  

National Theatre Live trip to “Skylight”

The cultural appreciation trips offered by the English department are back, and when the NT Live comes to town it can mean only one thing: a trip to McDonald’s and the cinema! Our pupils were lucky enough to experience the David Hare play “Skylight” which was being screened locally this week as part of the National Theatre Live series. This play had it all: the stunning acting skills of Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan, the direction of Stephen Daldry, a deep social commentary, and a lot of humour. It is fantastic to see our pupils taking such a keen interest in the world of theatre outside of the classroom. Our next trip is going to be the screening of “Dear England” in January and is open to all pupils in Year 11-13.

The U14 boys’ rugby team have made it through to round 4 of the U14 National Cup

The U14 boys’ rugby team travelled to Samuel Whitbread Academy for Round 3 of the U14 National Cup. The boys were keen to maintain their unbeaten run but knew this would be the toughest test of the season so far. Gresham’s started the match slowly and conceded a try within the first two minutes. This disappointing start shocked the boys into action, and they went ahead quite soon afterwards with a try and conversion from Henry K. At half time, the match was evenly poised, with both teams playing some excellent rugby. Gresham’s started the second half in dominant fashion and extended their lead with another try from Henry K. Gresham’s showed patience in defence and plenty of flair in attack and with ten minutes to go, Henry K completed his hattrick and converted for a 19-5 lead. This is how the game finished and at the final whistle, the boys celebrated a hard-fought win and look forward to hearing about who they will face in the Fourth Round. There were some excellent performances across the team, Sam T was a nuisance at the breakdown, Ollie J carried strongly, Henry P was solid at full back, but Player of the Match was Charlie C for his exceptional work rate, breaking the gain line on multiple occasions and for his steal at the breakdown and incredible off-load for Henry’s second try. An impressive team performance, bring on Round 4.

Well done to Victoria for undertaking her Extended Essay in her third language – French!

The Yr 13 IB Extended Essays are all well underway with some very interesting topics being analysed this year. The Modern Languages Department would like to give a special mention to Victoria, who is undertaking her Extended Essay in her 3rd language – French! There is no extra consideration given to this fact and this has meant that she is the first pupil in a long time to accept the challenge. We wish her every success as she writes about to what extent the linguistic variation in the film ‘Intouchables’ highlights the differences between the social classes in Paris.

Chapel was decorated with light in celebration of Diwali

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Rev Dr Martin Luther King

Diwali is primarily a Hindu festival celebrated by adherents of other faiths too as a Festival of Lights. It celebrates the story of Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom after defeating the demon king Ravana, with the lights symbolising the candles the kingdom lit to lead the two home. In recognition of this and all festivals of light, there was a beautiful display of lights within the chapel: a light suspended from the beams, complemented by swirls of smoke created by a smoke machine for pupils and staff to lie beneath complementing the significance of light for them – victory of light over darkness, good over evil or perhaps knowledge over ignorance. Visitors enjoyed a selection of “Diwali doughnuts” to represent the community aspect of the holiday. Some chose to sit quietly in contemplation for a while and others used the occasion to discuss their spirituality with others. Thank you to all who attended!

The chapel was also lit by flickering candles each side of the aisle and visitors were invited to share the light by lighting tealights with tapers.