National Express West Midlands Strike Update

We will continue to be as understanding and compassionate as we can with regard to punctuality and absence from school as the Bus Strike continues. We will continue to run Hybrid Lessons indefinitely as the strike continues so that those students unable to attend due to the Bus Strike can join lessons remotely and not miss their classes. Please continue to make alternative plans for travel to and from school if your child usually uses the NXWM Bus Network. Please continue to alert school to your child’s absence due to the Bus Strike via Schoolcomms.

We will update you as much as we can if and when we hear of any further developments.

Thank you for your continued support.

Year 8 trip to Thinktank

On Wednesday 8th March 2023, 30 Year 8 students headed to Thinktank.

Thinktank is an education museum dedicated to science and learning. It has different categories of science to explore over its three floors. The staff are friendly and encourage feedback and questions to challenge the mind. These staff presented their information in exciting ways such as in the planetarium which is a dome shaped 4K theatre where we explored how cells worked. We were also given two workshops about the exploration of the universe using electromagnetic waves, and types of energy present within.

The experience was fun, light-hearted and relaxed.


The Museum on the first floor offers a history on mechanics and the industrial revolution.  On the second floor there are exhibits about the environment and the body and, on the third floor, the focus is on physics, space and robotics.

To conclude, Thinktank is highly educational, and educates in a fun, relaxed manner that can really help you, whether adult, pupil or child to better understand our world of science.

Thank you to Mr Hussain and Mr Jones for providing us with the opportunity.

Cullan Kavanagh 8N



Lessons from Auschwitz Project (LFA)

On 9th February 2023, we were lucky enough to be chosen for a trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps in Poland. This trip was a huge eye-opener into the experiences of Jewish prisoners within these camps during the Second World War. One thing that particularly struck us was the wide range of emotions we felt during this trip as well as what we actually saw.

Though the emotional aspect was particularly high in the camp, there was still a lot to look at on the online courses. We had activities to do on the online learning platform for LFA. The one that I remember best had numerous case studies of Jewish people from different areas of Europe. One was a Jewish football team from Hungary, another a married couple from Czechoslovakia. It was astonishing to see the individuality of these people since Holocaust victims are typically viewed collectively. That message of individuality was pushed greatly throughout the project. Every person had a story, a family, and a home.

Similarly, the individuality was again shown when we got to hear the account of Holocaust survivor Eva Clark. Although Eva was born shortly before the end of the Second World War in Treblinka, another camp, her story was full of emotion as she recounted the hardships faced by her mother and father, the latter of whom did not live to see Eva. Despite this, the part that struck me in particular was when Eva and her mother returned to Czechoslovakia to find their entire family, besides one aunt, was gone. The idea of that loneliness made me feel a great deal of sorrow for Eva’s family, and I have immense respect for her since she remained composed throughout her story, which was both touching and slightly disturbing in places.

There was lots to see in the camps during the trip itself. Auschwitz I was a museum with pictures and artefacts from the Holocaust. There were clothes, suitcases and dishes from Jewish people all piled up behind glass walls. The most upsetting part of the trip was within Auschwitz I: ‘the hair room’. Though it is not actually called this, the room containing locks of Jewish women’s hair that was shaven from their heads before they entered the gas chambers almost brought me to tears. It made the suffering a bit too real. The model of the gas chambers with little people cramped inside was also disturbing. In another building, of which there were 27, there were pictures of victims with names and dates lining the walls. Looking at their faces was incredibly intense, not least because we saw pictures with women’s shaven heads right after the hair room. The book of names was, in my opinion, the most interesting part of Auschwitz I. The book was about 2-3 metres long with massive pages, each with hundreds of names of Holocaust victims. We were each asked to look within the book and choose one name. Mine was Samuel Wasserman. Not only was his name the first I saw, but since my name is Sami it was easy for me to remember. I still remember his name over a month later. That exercise once again delivered the key message of individuality. Walking through the gas chambers in complete silence was another emotional experience, as I could imagine the hundreds of people that once stood where I did for those mere 2 minutes, except I wasn’t screaming for my life.

Though there was no souvenirs of Jewish victims, Auschwitz II – Birkenau showed the conditions in which Jewish people lived. One thing that still haunts me is the room in which prisoners used to go to the toilet. From the centre of the room to the end ran a concrete cuboid with holes in the top of it. These were their toilets. They were given 2 minutes every morning and night in there. It was humiliating and insanitary. The bedrooms were also disgusting, with long bunk beds that would hold 8-9 people a bunk. Many died from cold since there weren’t enough blankets and many would release urine or stool on those below them, worsening the conditions that were already ripe for disease. The food was also minimal in portion size and nutrition, causing more death.

One positive emotion I hold from the experience is gratitude. I did not enjoy myself on that trip, and I’m not sure anyone would say they would. However, I got to represent the school, go to a unique and important place, and learn things that most don’t. I was also given the chance to read a poem aloud in front of everyone. Usually I’d be scared of someone laughing or judging me, but everyone quietly listened and appreciated the words of the poem. This proved to me that the people on this trip were chosen for a reason, and I’m glad to have been amongst them. The final part of the trip where everyone lit a candle and placed it at a memorial further emphasised the message behind this trip: stand together since hatred divides. There were many different backgrounds in the camp that day, yet we were treated as equals. This message of equality, as well as the individuality of Holocaust survivors, were my two key takeaways from LFA. It’s an experience we will always hold dear.

By Sami Zahid 12DGR & Zain Choudhrey 12IBE

Model of a gas chamber in Auschwitz I

Toilets in Auschwitz II

Pictures of female victims in Auschwitz I

Book of names

National Express West Midlands strike on Monday 20 March 2023

As promised we write to provide an update with the limited information we have available to us at this time. You may be aware that NXWM bus drivers have voted for an indefinite strike commencing at 0001 on Monday 20 March 2023. This means that there will be no NXWM buses running that day, and potentially on subsequent days until the dispute is resolved.


The key points are these:


  1. NXWM run about 97% of the buses in the West Midlands (so almost the entirety of the bus network will not run).


  1. No other bus operator (including The Green Bus) is on strike: their services will operate as normal.


  1. The Green Bus expect their services to be extremely busy on Monday, and they may well not have sufficient capacity to satisfy demand.


  1. Pupils who are not currently a customer may use their services by purchasing a ticket on the myTrip app – this is the only payment method we accept –


  1. They will give priority to their annual season ticketholders as much as they can, but this will not be easy to achieve on the way to school.


We will be as understanding and compassionate as we can with regard to lateness, punctuality and absence from school during this time. It is not of our or your making. We will run hybrid lessons on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week so that those students unable to attend at the start of the week due to the Bus strike can join lessons remotely and not miss their classes. Depending how long the strike is in operation for we will review the situation. However please make alternative plans for travel to and from school if your child usually uses the bus network operated by NXWM. Please alert school to your child’s absence due to the Bus strike via Schoolcomms.


Although it’s NXWM’s job to update you on their services, that’s unlikely to happen. We will update you as much as we can if and when we hear of developments.

160th Anniversary Celebration

King Edward VI Handsworth Grammar School has been celebrating its 160th Anniversary for the past year. The school is technically the oldest Grammar school in Birmingham with a long history of achievement and success. As part of our planning and decision making we liaised with students, staff, governors and trustees as well as specialist companies like Limelight Studios.

As part of our celebrations we have:

  • Enjoyed a celebration lunch for all staff and students.
  • Enjoyed a Birthday Cake.
  • Installed a flag pole which proudly flies the school flag.
  • Installed time capsules representing each year group which are to be opened in 40 years’ time.
  • We have commissioned handmade, bespoke new furniture for Big School which include a table, chairs and lecterns.
  • We have commissioned as a centre piece our new stained-glass window.

The stained-glass window was designed and created by Derek Hunt of Limelight Studios who met with our students and staff as well as taking on board all the suggestions and ideas put forward by School Council et al. The contemporary design is a celebration of the inspirational values of Handsworth Grammar School and captures the school’s long history of teaching students in a caring and uplifting environment, within the local community. The window demonstrates how the school is in and of the community. The central inscription is an excerpt from the poem “Biko the Greatness” by Benjamin Zephaniah who was born in Birmingham and raised in Handsworth.

“The Greatness that inspired educators to become liberators And a nation of children to become great themselves”.

The imagery in the window represents Birmingham through the sky line and Bull, the NHS, our multicultural students both female and male, Remote Learning, Sport, Music, Academic Success, our history and traditions from the Bridge Trust to the King Edward VI Foundation and the poppies represent the blossoming of intellect and knowledge as well as referencing the Fallen Heroes from War.

The window has been made traditionally using handmade techniques including coloured antique glass and lead, with supporting saddle bars and copper ties. All the detailed imagery was hand painted onto the glass and kiln fired. The design is uplifting and celebrates the history and significance of Handsworth Grammar School.

The dedication ceremony took place on Thursday 16th March 2023 and was led by Reverend Dr Robert Stephen, Chair of Governors. I would like to express my deep gratitude to our Charity Trustees who funded this project.

Dr SN Bird.







Aston Cup Final 2023

The 2023 U13 Aston Cup Final was played between Handsworth Grammar School for boys and Hamstead Hall. Hamstead Hall piled on the pressure early but HGS prevailed, once the game had settled and nerves had gone Arijus Ahmadian (8G) put HGS 1-0 up, this was quickly followed by a second from Aldin Catibusic (8G) to make it 2-0. After the half time whistle Hamstead Hall got one back before a quick reply from Jayvon Ongoro-Darby (8W) to make it 3-1. Hamstead hall were determined to find a way back into the match which resulted in a goal from a corner to make the score 3-2. Shortly after the final whistle was sounded which made HGS the Aston Cup Champions beating Hamstead Hall 3-2.


Plans for 15/3/23 & 16/3/23

We have taken the decision to maintain our plan of action for both 15/3/23 and 16/3/23 as was communicated last week on the 8/3/23. This means that School will be open on 15/3/23 for Year 7, 9, 11 and 13 students as well as vulnerable and SEND students. The remaining year groups will be working remotely. On 16/3/23 we will maintain our plans for remote learning for all year groups. School will be open for vulnerable and SEND students only.

This decision has been taken despite the possibility of bus strikes this week being minimised as well as bus strikes possibly taking place next week. All our plans are in place so that all students will be able to follow their normal timetable on 16/3/23. This gives our students, parents and staff some stability and continuity in what is an increasingly complex situation. School will be open as normal for all students on 17/3/23 as planned.

We will continue to update you as we have more information.

Thank you for your continued support.

Potential Bus Strikes

We have been notified that the bus strikes which are due to begin on Thursday 16th March are going to be going on for an indefinite period of time. Please factor this into your planning for your child’s travel to and from school from 17th March onwards. We will do everything we can as a school to support you and your son.

Please see the following link for more information:



School Closure 10/03/23

HGS will be closed today, Friday 10th March 2023, and switching to remote learning due to inclement weather.

School Closure 9/3/23

Due to inclement weather school will close today at 12:30 pm. School will be open tomorrow as normal unless we notify you otherwise.