My Year At Norwich School

Morgan Hardy, who is now in her first year in the Norwich School Sixth Form, tells us about her last year, which included taking her GCSES, as part of the Senior School:

“My last year at Norwich School started, as it has since I joined the school, in the beautiful surroundings of the Cathedral Close. It was busy, really busy, I was excited, my friends were buzzing and there was an energy amongst my peers.

We started the year with a welcome assembly in the cathedral, although a familiar place to me, it never fails to leave me full of wonder and awe.

Already there was an enthusiastic atmosphere brewing, as the annual House Music Festival, where every member of school comes together to sing in St Andrew’s Hall, approached.  Each House is pitted against each other, to win the coveted title of ‘Best House Song’. Aside from Sports Day this is the main House event of the year and brings all eight Houses in the school together. Ensembles, orchestras and choirs could showcase their talent and show off the skills they had learned.

House Music Festival in St Andrew's Hall

House Music Festival in St Andrew's Hall

 Everyone was talking about “Who in our house (Nelson) could sing, could play the piano, did we have a conductor in our ranks?”

Then there was the school committees, this year I had been chosen to be on the head of the school food committee. I believe one of the most important aspects of school life is most definitely……our tummies!

Opportunities were rife this year. But this year I knew I needed to really focus on my exams. I was determined to plan my revision and stick to it. I would spend Sunday mornings on my most dreaded subject… Physics! There- I’d made a start.

It wasn’t long until I realised there weren’t enough hours in the day to be involved with every event. I made a decision to spend more time focused on revision this year, mixed in with a little R&R. This was accompanied by involvement in one of many clubs and society’s; my choices included the Pop Choir, the prestigious Chapel Choir, as well as the green group - a society that helps educate pupils on all matters ecological.

Before I knew it Christmas was upon us and mock exams were imminent.

Our carol service took place in the cathedral, lit with candles held by over a 1000 people; it really was a sight to see, parents, children and staff all together as one.

Norwich School Carol Service

Norwich School Carol Service

It’s difficult, no it’s impossible, to forget the staff panto, which really ended the term on a high note. Seeing my chemistry teacher dressed as snow white, singing at the top of her voice was priceless.

Over the holiday I spent almost every day brushing up on my old text books, there was so much to review and so many presents to wrap! 

Mocks turned out well, but there was room for improvement. My teachers offered advice and support, afterschool clinics became part of my daily routine.

The start of 2017 also saw a singing exam, a public speaking competition and the start of the new rowing season as well as working with the Hamlet charity - a really worthy cause.  Female rowing is really growing at the school. The new girls’ rowing team was beginning to come together, we were growing into a formidable force on the water!

The public speaking competition went well, a win in the Regional Finals! Could this be a 2017 roll? Next, we had to speak at Magdalene College Cambridge! What a great day we had, and returned feeing proud to have represented the city of Norwich so well.

As the weather became warmer my revision was really hotting up too, study leave was as busy as I had ever been, I felt productive and confident around the forthcoming exams.

The time for my first exam came around, then a second, then a third until finally all 23 exams had been taken. 

Gala Night, the epic finale of Gather 17

Gala Night, the epic finale of Gather 17

After the exam period is over, the school embarks on its end of year creative arts festival Gather. The festival saw the school put on 10 different performances, celebrating the many talents of pupils here. The festival came to a climax with our Gala Night. The event had an almost ‘festival’ feel to it, with a stage and crowds all in the Lower Close playing fields. There was dancing, singing and acting all hosted by our head of school Benedict Smith. The audience made up of our parents, Governors, teachers and guests, including the Lord Mayor, laughed and sang along. I performed a sketch that I had written for the show and sang Tom Lehrer’s Elements song accompanied by my good friend Jonathan Jolly, Norwich School’s Music scholar. As always he never missed a note!

Several weeks later, results day! I found myself in a huddle with my friends in the school grounds, It was silent, no one wanted to speak, I found myself in tears, I couldn’t speak as I open the envelope.  9 A*s and an A! I felt, excited, euphoric. I had an overwhelming urge to hug my friends, how did they do? Were they all as happy as I was? There were good results all around!  I wanted to thank my teachers, I even want to hug my younger brother for all the support he had given me! 

Hard work, revision and lots of fun along the way; the winning formula. A fitting end to a great year at Norwich School that I’ll never forget.

Morgan celebrating her amazing GCSE results with a friend

Morgan celebrating her amazing GCSE results with a friend

Crypt Gallery Review: Sketch for Survival

At the end of September the school was delighted to host the Sketch for Survival exhibition in our very own Crypt Gallery below the Norwich School Chapel. The exhibition, organised by the Real Africa Trust, aimed to raise awareness about the threats to iconic species in Africa, as well as raise funds for The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Animals Saving Animals charities. The collection of over 150 pieces included work from leading international wildlife artists, such as Katy Jade Dobson and Tom Lazic, as well as celebrities including Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry and cricketer Kevin Peterson. Having visited Norwich, London and Bristol the pieces will be displayed during the Explorers against Extinction event on the evening of the 12th October at the Royal Geographical Society. Each piece is being auctioned to raise profits for the two charities.

While the exhibition was in the Crypt Gallery, Lower 6 Art Scholar Will Wistow wrote the below review of the pieces on show:

The “Sketch for Survival” exhibition which took place in the Crypt Gallery at Norwich School on the 23rd September was an impressive sight indeed. The considerable number of artists and celebrities, from all different aspects of life, who contributed work to the exhibition was overwhelming.  It was, indeed, a moving experience to witness such a diverse collection of styles.

Work by Katy Jade Dobson

Work by Katy Jade Dobson

All the images depicted animals in danger of extinction, with the proceeds of the show supporting conservation efforts for lions, rhinos and elephants. Every piece in this show gives thought to what we gain from these beautiful animals and what we risk to lose: there were heart-warming illustrations from artists such as Gabriel Alborozo and Lucy Cox, whose child-friendly approach brings back the wonder and joy learning about these magical creatures provokes; and there was the astonishing realism in the drawings by Susan Shimeld and Clive Meredith. And then there were the Paul Fearne pieces, whose fascinating technique of carefully eroding rust from metal sheets created an interesting new format to display images and textures. 

Work by Stephen Fry

Work by Stephen Fry

Just as the skill of the artists is to be admired, so is the astonishing generosity from celebrities. From presenters to authors, filmmakers to conservationists, all sorts of prominent figures supported the venture by creating a work of art, with the brief of contributing a 10-minute drawing or painting. A lot of these showed real artistic prowess. The delicate brushstrokes of Dame Judi Dench’s watercolour landscape brought a lovely gentleness to the rooms, while the elegant marks of Stephen Fry’s line drawing of a rhino reflected on the its graceful form.

Work by Kevin Peterson

Work by Kevin Peterson

Of course the main reason for this gallery is not just to admire the wonderful artwork on show, but to raise the vital funds and awareness needed to save these beautiful creatures, which are being quickly wiped from the face of this earth by poachers and loss of habitat. All the proceeds from this gallery are being split between the 'David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’ and 'Animals Saving Animals’ who are making it their mission to stop this. Their aim is to ensure that it is not just drawings that remain in 50 years’ time.

If you wish to find out more about the gallery/auction and how you can contribute to the charities visit:

Norwich School Sport Science Support Programme

With the Norwich School Sport Science Support Programme having recently been launched, we chatted to Alex Daalhuizen to find out more about it:

Hi Alex, for those that don’t know you, can you explain a little bit about yourself and your role at the school…

Hi I’m Alex and I’m the Head of Strength and Conditioning at Norwich School. I’ve been working in S&C for 8 years now, beginning in tennis and swimming having graduated from university with a MSc Strength and Conditioning. Since then I’ve worked in football, with Queens Park Rangers, and in rugby, with Bedford Blues in the Championship, before moving to my first school role at Bedford Modern. Alongside my work at Norwich School I am co-head of Strength and Conditioning at Snow Sport England Alpine Squad and an S&C coach for Leicester Tigers DPP Norfolk.

My role at Norwich School has two parts. In the Lower School I oversee Athletic Development modules in the Lower School PE programme. In the Senior School, I oversee the Sport Science Support Programme, in which I deliver the Athletic Development sessions for individuals, small groups and teams.


What is the Norwich School Sport Science Support Programme?

The Sport Science Support Programme is designed to help individuals in their overall sport, health and wellbeing. The programme’s main areas of focus are Sports Nutrition, Sports Psychology and Athletic Development. The nutrition and psychology parts are delivered primarily as lectures, however we also have group sessions and one to one’s. The nutrition is delivered by our School Sport’s Nutritionist Andrea Carroll-Langan. The Sports Psychology will be launching later this academic year. Whatever level of sport people are playing, everyone need to be able to be effective and confident in their fundamental movement skills. The programme has been developed using the latest research by world-leading experts in youth development to achieve this for every pupil at the school in the long term, whatever their interests and athletic aspirations.


What is Athletic Development?

In Athletic Development we are looking to be able to develop pupils across a broad range of skills; mobility, agility, speed, strength and power. All these are key attributes for health and wellbeing, as well as being the building blocks for sporting performance. It is a long term process with something for everyone, whatever their sporting ambitions, with many transferrable skills. The programme is open to pupils from Lower 4 to Upper 6 and is formulated to take into account the training history, growth and maturation status as well as sporting commitments.


As a pupil how can the programme help me with sport?

The focus is centred around developing fundamental skills, which are highly correlated to many movement patterns you will see across many sports. For example; a squat, a jump and land and a press up, can all be beneficial for a rugby player, a netball player and a dancer. The same can be seen in a change of direction exercise. Our exercise programmes are designed to increase the athletic capabilities of our students, leading to enhanced performance and increased resilience.


Does it cover every sport or is this just for the major sports?  

As mentioned, the programme is aimed at fundamental movement skills which are applicable across a range of activities. As pupil’s move through the school, and start to think about focusing more on one or more sports (generally in 6th form), the programme can become more specific and specialised as appropriate, to be tailored to the individual’s needs.


Can you give us an insight into a session and what we might expect?

As part of the programme we’ve developed a movement syllabus which covers seven basic movement patterns: squat, push, lunge, pull, lift, hinge and brace. The programme is a tiered one so those beginning will start at level 1, which will be an introduction to all these movements. Once students have mastered one level, they move to the next and so on. As students move through the levels the technical and physical aspects of the exercises increase. These are all specifically designed, taking into account, age, sex and maturation, and allow students to move at their own pace. We’ll look for three key things through an individual’s movements before allowing them to take the next step on the tier; Range of Movement, Control and Shape.


If I’m aspiring to be a high level sportsperson, how can you help me?

We already work with several pupils who are excelling at one or more sports. I work carefully with their specific coaches to develop a specialised training programme, as well as using testing batteries to assess and monitor their performance and progression. In these instances we have more detailed cross over with the nutrition and psychology aspects of the programme. They also have the opportunity to be part of the school established Young Norfolk Sports Academy.


What makes sport at Norwich School special in your eyes?

First of all the school has a broad range of technically great coaches, who I have the pleasure of working with, across the huge variety of sports that the school offers. The depth and breadth of Norwich School’s sports programme really stands out. We also have hugely ambitious pupils who love to get involved, which is so rewarding.

The Athletic Development programme itself gives a unique opportunity for young sportspeople to get an insight into a high level of coaching, the level and detail of which they’re unlikely to be able to experience again.


And finally, when you aren’t coaching strength and conditioning at school, what do you do for fun?

When I’m not working I play hockey at Norwich City Hockey Club and love cycling and surfing. Outside of that I’ve done quite of bit of travelling.

Reading A Little Deeper

Last week maths teacher Dr Richardson’s assembly focussed on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis, Chapter 18. The story itself is a bleak story of two cities so badly behaved that they were destroyed by God, but are there lessons to be learnt from stories like this that go beyond the text itself? A fantastic ‘thought for the day’:


This morning’s reading is taken from Genesis chapter 18

‘God told Abraham that he intended to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, because their inhabitants were guilty of terrible crimes. Abraham pleaded on their behalf, and God agreed that if he found 10 good people there, he would not destroy them.

Two angels went to Sodom and stayed with Abraham’s nephew Lot. There they saw the wickedness of the people, and soon they said to Lot “Are there any other members of your family here. You must tell them to leave at once or they will die when the city is destroyed. Run as fast as you can and on no account look behind you.”

By the time the sun had risen, Lot and his family had reached Zoar. Then the Lord rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gommorah, so that they and their people and the surrounding plain and everything that grew and moved upon it were totally destroyed. Feeling the heat and hearing the noise, Lot’s wife turned to look behind her, and was turned into a pillar of salt.

The next morning, Abraham rose early and looked towards the plain. Instead of the two great cities, he saw a column of thick smoke rising from the plain.’


So there you have it. Sodom and Gomorrah. Two cities whose people were so naughty that God lost patience with them and destroyed them by sending fire and brimstone down from heaven. Let that be a lesson for you.

Now, could I have a show of hands if you think that this is a true story. Anyone?

It is the job of archaeologists to look for physical evidence of places and events mentioned in historical documents such as the Bible. The first recorded expedition to search for the city of Sodom was in 1847. This, and subsequent attempts, proved fruitless, and as a result, the archaeological community took the view that Sodom and Gomorrah never existed. The Bible states that Sodom was the biggest city in the region at the time. If such a city existed and was destroyed, then there should be evidence left behind. The means of destruction also posed a problem. Fire coming down from heaven sounds like a volcano or possibly a meteorite. But there are no meteorite craters in the Middle East. There are also no volcanoes, and it’s not an earthquake zone. So, without a plausible murder weapon, or a body, most historical detectives have found God not guilty of this crime, and declared that Sodom and Gomorrah never existed.

But in 2005, a new investigation was started, led by Dr. Steven Collins, an American professor who had spent 30 years investigating sites in the Holy Land. He decided to look for Sodom after reading the biblical account of the story again and coming to the conclusion that everyone had been looking in the wrong place. Years of experience had taught Dr Collins that whatever you may think of the Bible as an accurate historical source, one aspect that always stands up to any scrutiny is its geographical accuracy. Any statements of location, such as ‘West of the Jordan’, or ‘south of Jericho’ invariably prove to be correct. The pillar of salt angle had meant that previous searches had focussed on the Dead Sea area, where pillars of salt actually exist. However, the Bible says that Sodom and Gomorrah lay in a valley to the east of Bethel. So Dr. Collins went to Bethel, headed east, and found a valley with a number of abandoned archaeological digs.

The pottery at one site tells us that it was occupied continuously up until the middle Bronze Age, but then completely abandoned for over 700 years. There is considerable debate about dates of early biblical events, but the middle Bronze Age is in the right ballpark for the destruction of Sodom. So far so good. But then amongst the Bronze Age fragments, pieces of what appeared to be glazed pottery were found. This is pottery which has been intensely heated on one side, so as to turn it into glass. The technology to do this didn’t appear until much later, and so this placed a large question mark over the dating of the site. Dr. Collins took some of the glazed pottery back to America to get it analysed. The results posed as many questions as they answered. The material that coated one side of these ancient fragments was identified as Trinitite, a material only discovered in the 1950’s and previously only found at nuclear test sites. It is formed when sand is exposed to temperatures of around 2000˚C, and the thin nature of the coating suggested this intense heat only lasted for a few minutes, perhaps even seconds. On further investigation in subsequent years, Trinitite has been found all over the site, always forming in a thin layer on only one side of each object. At the same time, human remains were also being discovered all over the dig site. And these were not neatly buried. These were people who had died in the streets and in their homes, much like at Pompeii.

By now, as you can imagine, Dr. Collins really thought he was on to something. A city of about the right size, in the right place, occupied and abandoned at about the right time, and seemingly the victim of a nuclear bomb, or something equally cataclysmic. The next challenge was to explain how such an event could occur. Whether countries in the Middle East have weapons of mass destruction is notoriously hard to prove, but we can be fairly sure that they didn’t have them 4000 years ago. Failing that, then a meteor strike would seem the only other explanation. However, the absence of a meteor crater confirms that didn’t happen. So what did happen? Dr. Collins’s theory is that Sodom was destroyed by an event similar to one which occurred in Siberia in 1908.

Known as the Tunguska event, an explosion flattened some 80 million trees over an area of 2000 km2. Witnesses over 40km away reported seeing a blinding flash of light in the sky followed by an intense blast of heat. Scientists now believe that this event was caused by a meteor that exploded in the atmosphere, releasing 1000 times more energy than the Hiroshima bomb. And yet there is no crater, and no fragments of the meteor have ever been found. Such an event is known as an airburst.

So is this what is described in Chapter 18 of Genesis? Was Sodom destroyed by a meteorite that exploded overhead, causing devastation greater than a nuclear bomb? It would certainly explain why the largest city in the region was suddenly abandoned for 700 years. And you could easily imagine how such an event could be interpreted as an act of God.

Like any theory based on fragments of evidence 4000 years old, it has not been universally accepted, but it certainly makes for a good story.

It seems that so often, faith and science are opposed to each other, with advances in scientific understanding being used as evidence to disprove the existence of God. Debates such as evolution and the creation of the universe are often seen in terms of Science vs God. What I like about this story is that science has been used to investigate the possibility that a Bible story 4000 years old, and long thought to have been a work of fiction, may actually have happened after all. And yet, before the geologists, chemists and astrophysicists got involved, how was the possible site of Sodom discovered? By reading the Bible more carefully. Maybe there’s a lesson there.

A Special School Moment

School Chaplain Reverend Child is contributing to the ‘Opinion’ section of the EDP throughout the year, along with other members of the local clergy, with a ‘Thought for the Day’. His pieces will come from the perspective of a chaplain, as his first contribution below demonstrates well, describing a Norwich School scene from our first day back after the summer holidays:

The man was smartly dressed, greeting everyone with a smile and a nod as they went past. Everything in his manner was assured, aware, informed.

The boy was lost, in every way. He was drowning in a new school uniform that was several sizes too big. Mouth open, face blank, he turned like a faulty compass, too confused to take a step forward in any direction. He was the complete opposite of the man he was standing next to.

The boy might have stayed there all day if the man hadn’t noticed him and come to his assistance, asking a few simple questions, gathering some clues about who he was and where he was supposed to be. The man called over a much older boy, a prefect, and gave him a charge – ‘Make sure he gets to the right place.’

This was a brief scene on the first day of term at the school where I work as a chaplain. The man was the head teacher, and the boy was one of many new pupils. It was quickly over, but this encounter between the most powerful and the least powerful person in the school stayed with me, perhaps because it was a cameo of the school’s Christian values. At its heart, Christianity is all about the powerful stooping to help the powerless. The Samaritan in the famous parable is ‘good’ because he stops to help the one in distress. Jesus spent his time with people at the bottom of the pile, to the puzzlement of those with social standing. The grand story of salvation is about a high and holy God descending to the lowly regions of the world.

I suspect the new pupil will remember the help he received that morning for some time. The head teacher, in contrast, may hardly have noticed the moment, one of many in the whirl of September’s start up activity. But lending a helping hand is no less valuable when it happens automatically. What, after all, would the world look like if we all helped people at the bottom of the pile without giving it a second thought?

Setting Up The New Season

Ahead of the new season 1st XI Girls Hockey coach Rob Sorrell sat down with his captain, Lauren Rowe, and vice-captain, Aoife Lowe-Davies, to talk through their ambitions for the coming months. After a strong campaign last year, and having won the Rugby School Preseason Tournament Trophy scoring 23 goals and conceding just 1, the squad are clearly excited for the real competition to begin:

Question: Are you excited for the new season?

Lauren: Yes definitely, we have a lot of potential as a squad this season with lots of new talent to add to the experienced members of the team. I have confidence in every player in the squad and their abilities and I believe that we have a positive season ahead of us.

Aoife: Yes I am very excited for the season as our start has been so promising. Not only were there many positives that came out of our pre-season tournament but the team have already shown great enthusiasm in training. The younger players have got to know the team which allows us to now build further.

Q: Did you have a productive and enjoyable pre-season? What did you enjoy the most?

Aoife: With two intense training days and a tournament, the squad were prepared for a tough few days but we are now in a much better position than when we were before. In our tournament, we used what we had practiced in training in our matches which led to many successes, one being our goal scoring potential. However we did also come away with a lot to work on as we were aware that we weren’t put under a huge amount of pressure defensively. We also spent a day in Cambridge which allowed the team to relax before the tournament. The most enjoyable part of pre-season was seeing our confidence grow as our success built on the pitch which was due to preparation in training.

Lauren: I think the team really benefitted from pre-season this year both on and off the pitch, with two full days of training, a team building day in Cambridge and a tournament at Rugby School. This allowed us to get many hours of practice in before the season started so we can hit the ground running when it comes to it, hopefully faster than our competitors. My favourite part of pre-season was the tournament at Rugby school because we played some brilliant hockey, and it showed we have so much potential to be a successful team this year.

The 1st XI posing before winning the Rugby School preseason tournament Trophy

The 1st XI posing before winning the Rugby School preseason tournament Trophy

Q: As captains, what do you think makes a good 1st XI player?

Lauren: I believe a 1st XI player should be hard working, committed and passionate wanting to bring something to the 1st Team to make us the best team we can be. They need to understand the game, learn new tactics and strategies quickly and be able to put them into place on the pitch for us to gain the advantage. They should have the desire to train hard and improve their own skills and playing ability, whilst being resilient and wanting to win every time we step on the pitch to play a game.

Aoife: One of the most important attributes of a 1st XI player is commitment to training and the squad in general. Turning up to training sessions and then giving 100% comes from the players’ determination to improve and be a better player than they are, which will then improve the performance of the whole team. A positive attitude on and off the pitch is also valued as this not only encourages the performance of the individual but also the players around them. This will give the team the want to win which I know isn’t always achievable but it is always a goal. Lastly, something which some players can struggle with is aggression. Being aggressive on the pitch puts more pressure on the opposition and allows us to be more of a threat when we’re attacking.

Q: Who do you believe your biggest rivals to be?

Aoife: Due to our disappointing result last year, I believe our biggest rivals are Langley. This season I feel we definitely have the potential to beat them and we will have had lots of practice before we play them.

Lauren: I think our biggest rivals this year will be Langley as their team has improved vastly in the past couple of years and are now starting to challenge us. After a tough game last season, we know this year will be a really exciting game for both teams and they are certainly going to test our capabilities.

Aoife and Lauren before the 4-1 first game of the season victory over The Leys

Aoife and Lauren before the 4-1 first game of the season victory over The Leys

Q: How will you judge whether the season has been a success?

Lauren: This year we are competing in the East Schools League, the Investec National Schools Championship and the Independent Schools Hockey Cup for the first time. We will take each stage of the competitions one at a time making sure we set small achievable goals for ourselves. Obviously triumph in any or all of these competitions would make this season successful, but also improving our performance throughout the season and winning friendly fixtures will quantify a success.

Aoife: Winning matches isn’t the only way we can judge success. Success can be judged by our performance as a team as we progress through the season. Working on set plays and improving our standard of hockey to where we want to be rather than comparing ourselves to other teams. We have a limited time to establish ourselves as a team so focusing on our own performance is important.

Q: Where lies your biggest challenge this year in order for you to achieve the team goals?

Lauren: I think our biggest challenge this year will be adapting our game depending on the matches we are playing, from full 70 minute games to tournament hockey, where we have limited game time to get the results we need to progress in the competition. The team will need knowledge of game management and tactics in order to be effective in doing this. In previous years, we have been successful in one or the other but if this year we can master both we will definitely have a successful season.

Aoife: I think our biggest challenge this year will be getting organised with our formation on the pitch in time for our important matches. This will come from players being able to understand and read the game to know what to do in different situations. Through practice in training and matches, I’m sure this will come very quickly to the team for us to achieve our goals.

The Head Master's address to the school community at prizegiving

On Friday 8th September the school came together to celebrate the 2016/2017 academic year at prizegiving. The Head Master was one of those to address the school community in the Cathedral, his speech can be seen below:

Mr Chairman, Bishop Graham and Mrs James, My Sheriff, Sheriff’s Lady, My Lord Mayor, Lord Mayor’s Consort, Prime Warden, Members of the Worshipful Company of Dyers, Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the School. It is a pleasure to add my welcome to our celebratory ceremony in this wonderful space, especially as it gives us a chance to share with parents and other guests a building which we are able to enjoy daily as a school community.

An occasion indeed! However, you will forgive me if a mere Head Master is intimidated by the collective might behind me. There are some fearsome reputations and not a little bling back there, a situation made worse by the fact that I cannot see their reaction to what I am saying. My response is to conjure images of them in less scary settings, like the Ridiculus spell in Harry Potter. I take myself back to the Bishop trampling around in a bowl of custard and the Lord Mayor on a zipwire during his celebrations. There might have been an even better one; when the Lord Mayor attended our Gala Night in the summer, he was so taken with the Abba medley that I thought he might soon be on the tables. I have not got anything on the Sheriff, but this evening is yet young.

I have always been struck by the quality of our leaders in Norfolk and have no doubt that part of their strength comes from their refusal to take themselves too seriously. We are lucky to have them in office and with us here this evening; thank you to you all and your consorts. I can honestly say that I have never heard the Bishop speak badly in secular or religious setting and I know we are in for a treat when he addresses us later.

At occasions such as these in recent years, I always end up saying something to the effect that we live in interesting times. Yet you would have to concede that it is relevant now. I recall stories of bankers hiding their professions in polite conversation after the crash of 2008 for fear of hostile reaction. It sometimes feels that those involved with independent schools might be on the same path, such is the media agenda to report on this sector being responsible for so many educational and societal woes.

I find it frustrating that the independent sector is portrayed as if actively trying somehow to entrench social immobility or at least being complicit in its existence. I doubt there is anyone here who is in favour of entitlement, unmerited privilege, of benefits which are not deserved. Indeed, the pupils here tonight will take a very dim view of being told that their prizes tonight are not just rewards for their considerable endeavours.

What always strikes me in schools of any sort is that the vast majority of adults working in them are driven by a simple commitment to do the best for the pupils in their care. Teachers are, of course professionals, but for me teaching is a vocation and there are different situations in which to follow it. We are all aware of how fortunate we are to be involved with this school: our setting is unique and our independence allows us to choose the curricula and activities which best suit our pupils; our independence allows us to make decisions on educational rather than political grounds, including proper resourcing.

We understand that such an involvement carries responsibilities, not least because we function as a charity. We have a duty to be involved with the local community as a beacon of good practice in the local area and further afield. The benefits of such collaborations are mutual and we wish to actively create such contact. We must do all we can to be accessible to families of all types through the provision of means-tested assistance and the sharing of our facilities. And perhaps most important of all, we must educate the young people who attend this school in such a way that they can use the skills and values acquired here to lead and serve the 21st century world into which they move from the Close. I do want to give our pupils a competitive advantage, just not in the way the media suggest: I don’t want them to get the university place or job just because they went to Norwich School. I want them to get that place or role because they are demonstrably the best candidates, because they will improve the situation around them, whatever it is, based on the quality and range of experiences they have enjoyed in their time with us. If we have got it right, they will all be engines for societal improvement.

Prizegiving 3.jpg

Now, for the important part of this section, the report on different aspects of the 2016/17 year, I shall now hand over to the real leaders of the school, the red gown team, led by this year’s Head of School, Phoebe Crane.

Thank you, red gowns. I should like to close by drawing your attention to the magnificent staff body sitting behind me, both teachers and non-teachers. I pick them out because they are the people who make possible all the pupil achievements you have just heard about right across the spectrum of school activity. So often their commitment goes beyond the professional as to be in the vocational. Please join me in thanking them.

Norwich School Tennis Star Gains World Ranking

Ahead of the new school year, young tennis player Monica Raviraj has written about her experiences this summer which have taken her from Edinburgh to Harare, Zimbabwe. Having spent a full six weeks playing and training Monica can now count herself as the world number 1626, aged just 15:

I started my campaign to gain an International World Ranking the day the Trinity term finished. My first international summer tennis tournament was on 7th July in Edinburgh. I played well to get through the first 2 qualifying rounds, but in the 3rd round I wasn’t able to beat a strong player, but still qualified as a 'Lucky Loser' into the main draw. In the first round, I played really well and won my match against a fellow top Brit. By winning that match and reaching the round of 16, I earned my first international ranking points! In the second, I struggled against a tough player and lost. Nevertheless, I was delighted to achieve my first World Ranking of 2027. This is a great starting point for my tennis career and receiving a ranking at the age of just 15 in the U18 category was a great achievement for me.

The following week, I travelled to Bournemouth to compete in another weeklong ITF tournament.  I played 3 rounds in the qualifying draw and won all 3 rounds to qualify for the Main Draw. But again I was drawn up against a strong player on the fourth day. I played a very good first set, but in the end I couldn't cross the line. However, I was still happy that I managed to give the top U16 British player a hard game.

Monica Raviraj ITF Junior Cup.jpg

The third week of the summer holidays, I continued my travel to Belfast where I was prequalified for the main draw. As usual in the first round of the main draw, I competed against an older and stronger Italian player who was seeded number 4. However, this time I managed to reverse the result and I won my match in 3 sets. In the second round, I played against a difficult player from Ireland. I lost in 3 sets, but managed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the doubles. From this tournament, I gained ranking points from both singles and doubles which count towards my ranking!

Week 4 on July 29th, I travelled to Harare, Zimbabwe for 3 weeks of back to back tournaments. I was due to sign in and play a match on July 30th but due to flight delay, I missed my connection flight to Harare and was unable to sign in. Instead, I used that week for practice with my coach. The conditions were demanding, and that’s where my fitness levels were key. There, it was a different altitude which really tested my cardio-vascular fitness. I guess all my hard work in the school gym with Mr Daalhuizen had finally started to pay off.

Week 5 at Harare, I competed in the second tournament. I won all my qualifying round matches and was through to the Main draw.  I played against a player from India, unfortunately, it wasn't great day at the office for me and I lost the match. It was long and mentally challenging as my opponent was more used to those type of conditions and she was more consistent, and that’s where I fell short.

Week 6 I was still in Harare and entered a Grade 3 tournament consisting of much stronger and older players. I played well in my first and second round matches, but in the 3rd round, I couldn't play to my strengths and lost my singles match! I was gutted as I knew I had a great chance of earning a lot of points which could’ve pushed me into the top 1000! I was devastated but I had to concentrate on what I could improve on in time to play doubles. I partnered with a player from India. I won my first round doubles match and progressed to the quarterfinals. Me and my partner took it as a challenge and played very well. In the end we lost in the third set tie breaker! It was a very close match, but on the bright side, I had earned points from the doubles category.

After a long 6 weeks of continuous summer tour, I returned home on Sunday the 20th August. I will have a few days rest and make time to catch up with school work before I return back.

I am very proud that I earned my first world ranking and at the moment I am world number 1626. I’ve got a tough year ahead with both academic and tennis to balance, but I look forward to catch up with my friends and also catch up with my fellow YNSA athletes and hear about all their successes.