Evgeny Kissin concert in Oxford 21st September 2023

The trip to Oxford was very fun, although the journey to Oxford was long. When we arrived in Oxford, we walked a short distance to the Ashmolean Museum where we looked at various ancient painting and artefacts from a wide range of cultures. I really enjoyed the Japanese exhibit because it had old samurai armour and two katanas which was really interesting. However, my favourite exhibit was the one with old violins and guitar. After supper, we walked around Oxford and explored the famous landmarks before arriving to Oxford Town Hall for the concert. The first half of the concert was Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto which was amazing. The pianist was Evgeny Kissin. The second half of the concert was devoted to Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. Hearing the orchestra play was certainly a great experience.


Jaswanth Panathala Venkata 10H

Focus on Education

When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple. I wanted a house with stairs in it and I wanted a four-door station wagon. When I was asked what I wanted to be, I told adults that I wanted to be a paediatrician but now, I think that one of the most useless questions an adult can ask: is what do you want to be when you grow up? …as if growing up is finite, as if at some point you become something and that’s the end.

So far in my life I’ve been a lawyer, the vice president of a charity which helps young people build meaningful careers and, until recently, I was the First Lady of the United States of America. That’s not officially a job but it gave me a platform like nothing I had had before.

I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey and, sharing my story, I hope to create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why. I’ve been lucky enough to walk into stone castles, urban classrooms and Iowa kitchens, just trying to be myself just trying to connect. For every door that’s opened to me, I’ve tried to open doors for others. Let’s try to invite one another in. Maybe then, we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions and let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe then we can better embrace the ways we are the same.

The above is taken from Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Was it an alarm, a knock on the bedroom door or daylight coming through the curtains? I wonder what got you up this morning.

If you haven’t read the book, I would highly recommend it – I think there is at least one copy in the learning hub – just one out of the 17 million that have been sold across the world. And I suspect the 17 million people who have bought them will have been interested to understand more about the woman who was not only America’s First Lady – the term used to describe the wife of the US President, but the woman who has continued to have a high profile and who some have said, could become America’s President herself one day.

However, what struck me in particular was Obama’s clear motivation to make things better – particularly as regards education and healthcare for those in the US and across the world who can’t take for granted having access to good schooling and medical treatment when they or their families need it. Even though Michelle Obama could presumably put up her proverbial feet and enjoy a comfortable life, something inside her drives her on to make things better. Indeed, in Becoming, she asks the question: Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be? Perhaps that gives us an indication of what gets Michelle Obama up in the morning.

So when I ask, what gets us up in the morning, I’m not really talking about whether it is the smell of toast or someone reminding you that you’re going to be late if you don’t come out from under the duvet, I am talking about self-motivation – that something inside which drives us on to achieve and to take the opportunities we have to be the best versions of us. Why do we bother, why do we break sweat to do those things that we find challenging, rather than just getting by and leaving those things that are difficult, until tomorrow?

What motivates one person is not what necessarily motivates someone else. When, aged 13, I started at Big School I was only able to do so because my parents were given financial support. For years, I was desperate to try to show that it – or indeed I – was worth it, and later, I discovered a love of History, and my motivation was to get the grades to study the subject at university.

You may be similar and many of you will be all too aware of the sacrifices that families have made and continue to make for you to be here. There may be members of Year 11 who were disappointed with grades achieved at the end of last term but are now all too clear of what is needed to study subjects in the sixth form and the motivation will be to put things right. Others will be working hard to gain entry into the university of their choice …. and/or indeed to perform highly in other areas.

For many years, I had holiday jobs in shops, supermarkets and cafes. I didn’t find it the most fulfilling way to spend time, indeed the time passed by very slowly, and apart from the interaction with customers which I did enjoy, the jobs were a means to an end – a way to earn money. Most of us will come to the point where we need to earn a living to support ourselves and our families and there is absolutely nothing wrong in having an honest occupation which does just that. However, my wish for everyone is that we find a path in life which is fulfilling in other ways, which brings challenge and satisfaction and where we feel we are having a positive impact – a role for which we are happy to get out of bed in the mornings.

In the meantime, remember what Michelle Obama suggested – that for adults to wonder what a young person will become in life is a rather narrow question– because we will hopefully continue to grow and contribute to the world in a whole host of ways, not just in the job we take when we graduate. And to make that broad contribution through careers that are likely to vary over a lifetime, to contribute to our families and in society as a whole, we will need to have developed skills in a broad range of areas, and they come in part, from involving ourselves as fully as possible in school.

So, find that motivation to be the best we can in as many areas as we can; enjoy doing well but also enjoy getting better in those areas we find challenging; enjoy further developing old interests and taking opportunities that are new. Time at HGS passes all too quickly so even when it starts to get darker and colder, know the reasons for getting out of bed in the morning.

Stay well and safe.

Be kind to yourself and others.

Best wishes,

Dr Bird

Wellbeing Advice

Sixth Form Open Evening

Our Sixth Form Open Evening takes place between 4:30 and 6:30 pm on 26/10/23. Come and visit our bespoke Sixth Form Centre and excellent facilities. Find out about our wide-ranging academic and extra-curricular programmes by meeting our specialist staff. All Welcome!


Sixth Form Football Squad

The Sixth Form Football Squad had their first game of the season against Camp Hill Boys. The team suffered a narrow 4-3 defeat in an exciting game.

Senior Prefect Team 2023-2024

Congratulations to our Senior Prefect Team for 2023-2024. We wish them all the best for the year ahead as they embark on their duties.


LAMDA Results

Our latest LAMDA results are below, these are excellent performances from the LAMDA Exams taken at the Birmingham Public Centre in July 2023. Congratulations to all involved and to Mrs Reynolds our LAMDA teacher.


Focus on Education September 2023

Once upon a time, in a medium sized county where rugby was the dominant religion and there were more sheep than people, an unremarkable young boy grew up and went to school. It was the 1970’s and 1980’s, an embarrassing couple of decades, now banished from the history books because nothing eventful happened during those drab years other than some appalling hairstyles which were a crime against humanity. The young boy’s name was Simon and the school he went to is immaterial, other than to say that it was a fairly average school. Which is much worse than being a bad school. At least bad schools are ultimately fixed or closed. Average schools just trudge along the well-worn paths of the status quo, fearful of any deviation that may plunge them into a dark and scary land called Tomorrow. Average schools are usually led by average Headmasters and staffed by average teachers. Well-intentioned souls who nevertheless shy away from taking a tilt at excellence, content enough with each new day bringing neither calamity nor risk.

To be fair, young Simon enjoyed his time in his average school. Nonetheless, he suffered there, although he did not realise it until years later. Not through ill-treatment; Simon was far from perfect and undoubtedly deserved the many punishments that were dished out. To this day, he regrets the incident with the Bunsen burner and the dissected rabbit, which drove his Biology teacher to almost abandon his profession. Nor did he suffer through undue pressure or unrealistic expectations pushing him to breaking point. Far from it. Fanciful notions of excellence were unheard of in the 1970’s and 1980’s. No, the nature of his abuse was mediocrity. Of the institutional variety. A prevailing ethos that ‘near enough was good enough’. As a result, he was shielded from the crushing disappointments of failing to get A grades, losing tournament finals, or forgetting his lines on opening night. Not because such opportunities didn’t exist, but because nobody really expected him to partake.

Our story takes place even before the era of the snowflake generation. This is simply a tale of colourless indifference, set in a time of low aspiration. Not that our young protagonist brought much rigour to the party himself. His English teacher once wrote in a school report “Simon will succeed in spite of himself.” Yet teenagers are not wired to make life hard for themselves, that’s the job of their parents and teachers. At that age, high standards work best when they are expected by others. Don’t get the violins out just yet though, for there is a happy ending.

In his final year of school, just as a life of unchallenging monotony was looming, an inspiring teacher tore up young Simon’s carefully handwritten application for a horribly mundane job in front of his eyes and replaced it with a university prospectus. So shocked was he at this show of faith, it didn’t occur to him that he might not be good enough to go there. He just dutifully left and did what was expected. That led to 32 years in a rich and fulfilling career, which sees him, today, proud to work in a School that is anything but average. I may have missed out on an inspiring secondary education, but I did learn a lasting lesson in those distinctly average years. Namely, that expectations are self-fulfilling. Young people will, invariably, rise or fall to the expectations that are held of them. Show a child that you think they are likely to fail, and they will happily oblige. Demonstrate that you genuinely think they will succeed, and the same is true. Most of us go into new situations alert for cues as to what might be expected of us. What might be considered the norm. Show young people that you genuinely anticipate they will be proficient, or engaged, or respectful, or any other admirable quality and, in my experience, they will be. Sadly, the same is true of signals, even subliminal ones, that you think they will struggle, rebel, misbehave, or aren’t good enough. That’s why we don’t spend an undue amount of time at HGS lecturing young people about the things they can’t, shouldn’t, or must not do. That speaks of an expectation that they will transgress. From Year 7 to Year 13, the messages are of high expectation, not low. Spoken and subliminal. We try to show to every child that we automatically presume good intent on their part. That we expect extraordinary feats from them. That we are convinced they possess a unique flair. This is what our values system of HGS CARES is all about. They rarely let us down.

As for the now-not-so-young Simon, he is eternally grateful for the power of aspiration, remains terrified of mediocrity, employs the best teachers, and always encourages the Science Department to lock up their Bunsen burners.

Stay well and safe.

Be kind to yourself and others.

Best wishes,

Dr Bird

10 – 16 September Broad Street Closure, Birmingham : Disruption to Bus and Tram services

Please see the below information from Transport for West Midlands:

Broad Street roadworks 10-16 September 2023

From 6pm Sunday 10 September until 6am Saturday 16 September 2023, Broad Street will be closed to all vehicles to allow remedial repairs to take place to the carriageway by Midland Metro Alliance.

During these repairs, the road will be closed in both directions to all traffic.

Bus services will be diverted and trams will terminate and start at the Library by Centenary Square and not serve the route to and from Edgbaston Village.

Pedestrian access will be maintained and businesses along Broad Street will remain open during the works

Bus Service Diversions:

Diversions will be in place for all buses on the following routes: 9, 12, 12a, 13, 13a, 23, 24, 126, X8, 10 and X10

Please refer to our dedicated webpage www.tfwm.org.uk/westside and check with National Express West Midlands Buses via www.nxbus.co.uk

for more information

West Midlands Metro

Tram services will start and terminate at the Library in Centenary Square with no service to and from Edgbaston Village.

Timetables can be found at


Metro tickets will be valid on all National Express services between Colmore Row and Edgbaston Village.

Travel Advice

You will still be able to get to where you need to go, but please consider the following:

  • Plan ahead and leave more time for your journey. If you travel, you’ll need more time for your journey to take account of changes and diversions.
  • Think about your options. There will be changes to bus stops and routes.
  • If travelling by bus please be aware that diversions will be in place
  • If travelling by Metro please be aware that the Metro will terminate at Library and will not call at Edgbaston Village during the works

Thank you for cascading this information for us.

Transport for West Midlands would like all young people to travel out on the network and get where they need to go easily, safely and cheaply.

Any queries then please do not hesitate to contact us on education@tfwm.org.uk

Open Evening

Our next Open Evening will be between 5pm and 8pm on Thursday 14th September 2023. All welcome!