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A thousand wishes...

...to London's South Bank, where I rendezvous with my three (allegedly) grown up children to see 'Dune II' at the iMax. Before the film there was time to enjoy lunch and then take a wander through the cacauphony of activity that heaves and scurries around the Royal Festival Hall on a weekend afternoon. Multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi faceted, the piazzas beside the Thames are back to their best and busiest, a feast for the senses.

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Reading for Year 7-11 Assembly 6/3/2024 - Roads

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.
Pursuing it with eager feet,
until it joins some larger way
where many parts and errands meet
and wither then? I cannot say.”

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SDS blog10

A time to draw breath

It always happens in early February, just before the half term holiday. The batches of Christmas and New Year exams for Years 11 and 13 have just disappeared over the horizon, and the next pressure points are not quite on the academic radar. There is the feeling of both students and staff collectively inhaling before the acceleration into the final lap for the senior school. Lots of our Year 13 boys and girls are very excited, having received their offers of places at prestigious universities from across the UK. The Year 12 application deadline has just passed and this year there are 470 applicants for places at Bishop’s – and whatever their current school, all of those aspiring Year 11 students are also looking to see what the future may hold. It is extraordinary to consider that it is just over three years since we welcomed our first girls into the sixth form here; there are currently 230 female applicants for Year 12 in Autumn 2024.

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It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen

…and so begins George Orwell’s novel that gives such a bleak view of the future, Nineteen Eighty-Four. I remember reading the book when I was in my O level years in the ‘70’s and emerging with the requisite sense of dread that views of dystopian worlds should cause. I also remember thinking, when 1984 came along, that perhaps Orwell was so far ahead of his time that this stuff still hadn’t happened. And now I wonder once again, forty years on from the signature date, just how dystopian have we become?

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Lessons from a scandal

The ITV drama ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office’ will surely pass into history as one of the most influential pieces of programming of modern times. For those who have been living in a very, very deep cave – or who may be reading this several years down the line the 4 part series tells the story of an unfolding tragedy. Nearly 1,000 sub post masters and mistresses prosecuted, ruined and jailed by a lethal combination of corporate negligence, acute reputational sensitivity and mendacity. For over two decades this group of people were on the receiving end of mis-justice, and their suffering has been extreme. Over 60 have died without having their names cleared, and several have taken their own lives due to the imposed stress and shame. Inaction by the authorities, made worse by the Post Office and Fujitsu (the IT contractor behind the faulty Horizon software platform), has resulted in what is described as the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history. It took a powerful piece of drama to shine a spotlight on the whole affair and galvanise action, and even though the wheels of justice seem at last to be turning in the right direction there is still no guarantee of a successful resolution for those who have been wrongfully persecuted. The other side of the coin is that no-one has really been held accountable – or (I guess) ever will be. This must be one of the worst examples of faceless and monolithic corporate wrong doing; everyone appears sorry, but no-one is to blame.

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Reading for Year 7-11 Assembly

A couple of years ago towards the end of the Michaelmas Term, I gave a short impromptu lesson in Geology to Year 11 in the Dining Hall – I was covering for an absent colleague, and somewhat exceptionally my charges had been set no work. Year 11 are occasionally a little restive. It’s not very Christmassy, I know, but I want to talk a bit more about Geology this morning – and hopefully, through an allegory, you’ll see the relevance in just a few short minute’s time.

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Chaplains Christmas Blog

As I write, Bishop’s is sprouting (if you pardon the pun!) Christmas decorations. Reception are showcasing Christmas trees, the DT department has lights festooned from the rafters, sparkling lights have spilled out of the Golding Study room into the stairwell at the top of the Chapel block and Mrs Paden and Mrs Grayer have gone to town in their office with a charming nativity crib scene complete with an elephant on a skateboard. Obviously.....

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Taking the temperature…

Winter is here. In school I have been forced to don scarf, thermal jacket and fieldwork hat so that I can endure my daily morning gate duty without hypothermia reducing me to a quivering wreck! The boys are industrially scraping overnight ice from the table tennis tables before games can begin each morning, and even the Dean’s cat has been compelled to walk around to keep warm instead of simply waiting for his breakfast supplied by sixth form students. We are just two weeks shy of the Christmas Break, and the grip of the season tightens daily.

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