School Chaplaincy delivers weekly services and assemblies

During these strange times when we have not been able to meet together in person as we would like, the School Chaplaincy has been bringing us together online. All pupils across the three schools have been enjoying online Chapel services or assemblies at least once a week, with pupils and staff keen to participate with readings, beautiful musical performances and fascinating talks.

Some of the highlights so far this half term have included; services being delivered from ‘behind the scenes’ parts of the Chapel including the bell ringing chamber, delicious illustrations using ice cream and chocolate that have made our mouths water and our Chaplain soaking himself in fizzy drinks to help us reflect upon the importance of sharing our worries and anxieties.

The Senior School Chapel services have included organ music and congregational singing from Mr Jones. A produced Chapel Service has also been created, featuring performances from our outstanding pupils, so far including Louis HC on the organ and Iris C singing. This week, sees our Bagpipe teacher piping in a special recording recognising Burns Week.  

Maths department receive prizes from Oxford Educational

Following the well-publicised sponsorship success of Moonball by Waboba, encouraged by Year 10 student Ed Jay (Edjaycent), the Maths department contacted their calculator supplier to see if there was any merchandise that they could supply free of charge to award as class prizes. The response was swift and impressive! James Lewis of Oxford Educational who, as many of you will know, recently celebrated 30 years in the business, packed up a variety of Casio goodies ranging from laptop bags, memory sticks, geometry sets to the much sort after class posters.
Mr Curtis and the department very much look forward to the first set of awards prior to half term. More partnerships are under discussion but for now we send our thanks to James and his colleagues at Oxford Educational.

Fundraising for School Charity on track to reach yearly target

Despite the obvious complications, fundraising for the Senior School Charity, The Treehouse, Holt is going very well. To date, £3,450 has been raised of the £6000 target which is a fabulous effort. Various events have taken place since the start of the Michaelmas term, including our annual Christmas jumper day, the Christmas Tree festival, House Music and the Gresham’s Girls and Guys singles, which alone raised £882. You may also be aware that Mr Cox, Mrs Flower and Mr Burnett have committed to running a minimum of 5k each day throughout the month of January in a bid to raise £500 for The Treehouse.  

Father Jack Branford recaps the success of the Christmas Tree festival from last term:

“Back in December the Chapel was filled with over forty Christmas Trees, all beautifully decorated by members of our school community, for the first ever Gresham’s Christmas Tree Festival. Every year group or House bubble from all three Gresham’s Schools decorated a tree, with the OG Club and support staff also joining in the fun. The trees looked stunning and created a beautiful backdrop for our Carol services and other Christmas events. Symbolically, the event also brought the whole Gresham’s family together under one roof at Christmas at a time when we haven’t been able to meet together as we would all like.   

The festival also raised over £1000 for two local charities – The Treehouse in Holt and the Buckingham Emergency Food Appeal (BEFA). At the end of the festival the trees were sold off in aid of these charities with the few remaining trees distributed to other good causes in Holt and Kelling.” 


Pupils and staff enjoy the ‘Daily Pause’

During this time of national lockdown, our Chaplain, Father Jack Branford, has initiated the ‘Daily Pause’. This wonderful idea derives from our Headmaster, Mr Robb, who shared just how much he values a few moments of quiet reflection whilst listening to a good piece of music.

The mental health benefits of taking a few moments to relax and reflect are well documented and, in lockdown, this is perhaps more important than ever. Every weekday morning, Fr. Jack sends a poem for the day accompanied by a piece of music, via email. This gives our pupils and staff a chance to enjoy a few moments of calm.

We are very grateful to Fr. Jack for making this contribution every day, a vital part of keeping Gresham’s happy and healthy during this time of online learning and working.


School shop selling branded ‘Obble’ hats

Following on from our fundraising last term for The OddBalls Foundation, our School shop is currently stocking some lovely branded ‘Obble’ hats. If you could like to purchase one, they are available to click and collect by emailing [email protected]


Pupils and OG enjoy Rifle Team success

Congratulations to pupils Toby, Tristan and Alex as well as OG Ben Danziger who have been selected for the 2021 Great Britain Under 19 Rifle Team. This is a twelve strong squad which will eventually be reduced to a touring team of eight. In a usual year the team would tour South Africa for three weeks in March and April but for 2021 the tour will be to the Scottish Open Championships and will take place in mid-June. Mrs Liberman will also be accompanying the team on the tour as she has been appointed as the team Adjutant. We wish them all every success.

We must also congratulate Fergus Robson on his selection to the Great Britain Cadet Rifle Team (The Athelings) for 2021. This is a 26 strong squad which will eventually be reduced to a touring team of 18. In a usual year the team would tour Canada for four weeks in August but for 2021 the tour will be to the Jersey Summer Championships and will take place in August. We wish Fergus every success with his selection to the final team.


First ever online debate takes place

For the first time in the recorded 121 year history of the Gresham’s Debating Society, an online debate took place. Oakeley proposed and Woodlands opposed the motion: ‘This House would rather be male than female’. The motion was released only half an hour before the debate which made the quality of proceedings even more remarkable. After a strong performance from both, victory went to Woodlands but a very strong Oakeley performance leaves them with a very strong chance of progressing to the next round.

Following on from this, the second week of debating saw a second online debate in the Year 10 and 11 Inter-House Debating Competition on the motion This House believes that small is beautiful with Queens’ proposing and Farfield opposing. This was a fast-paced and very entertaining debate which explored the beauty of oak trees, skies, electrons, boxing and cows – and much else besides. There were many excellent points of information and quick thinking from all six speakers. The fixture was won by Queens’ who performed superbly well as a team, but praise should also go to Farfield for some excellent points of information and their strong delivery.

OG Ben Youngs participates in our Leadership podcast

OG Ben Youngs joined Year 10 pupil Max on our Gresham’s Leadership podcast, a series which has also seen pupils interview a photographer and designer, an architect and women in leadership. Max spoke to Ben about his time at England and the Lions, to give an insight into how leadership works in the elite sport. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Sport, fitness and wellbeing activities

It can be challenging to stay fit and active during a national lockdown, especially during the winter months. Usually, our pupils get a large amount of time for sports and fitness during the week, so staff have put together a fantastic programme of activities for pupils to take part in. The sessions cover a large range of sports, skill types and abilities.

Staff from the Senior School have put together an excellent timetable of activities, ranging from morning Yoga and HIIT to improving Rugby, Netball and Cricket skills. Pupils can follow along with video tutorials or take part in live sessions throughout the week. These sessions are so positive for our pupils’ health and wellbeing, encouraging them to spend some important time away from the screen each day.

Our Prep School are currently running the ‘Lockdown Exercise Challenge’ which helps our younger pupils to stay active whilst competing for the most points for their tutor group. Any physical activity that they complete each day is worth one, two or three points depending on the effort level involved. Each week, pupils will submit their points and awards will be given to the tutor groups and individuals with the highest number of points.

Prep pupils have also been set the challenge of ‘Around the World Fitness’. All miles that pupils complete, whether this be through walking, running, riding, cycling or swimming, will be added together to move the grasshopper as far across the world as possible.

For our Pre-Prep children who are learning online, physical activity is built into their day. Our teachers are leading dance classes and even our Outdoor Wild Learning School (OWLS) for the children to enjoy at home. Children of key workers have been keeping active with their usual PE, dance and pilates classes at school.


Swipin Thru History question and answer session

The return to online learning resulted in an exciting and unexpected opportunity for Gresham’s students. Lower Sixth A level historians, who are studying the Wars of the Roses, were treated to a 90 minute question and answer session with actor Thomas Dennis and historian and author Mike Ingram.

The session reviewed the extraordinary political events of 1450 to 1461 and students came up with ten questions to explore in the discussion. Issues explored were whether Richard of York should have been more ruthless in the 1450s, the importance of characters such as Queen Margaret of Anjou and Edward of Westminster as well as what motivated aristocratic killing in this era. This was a fascinating opportunity to discuss the early history of the Wars of the Roses with two experts in the field.