From the Headmaster
|Angels Dancing on the Head of a Needle
This week brought news of a potential breakthrough with the announcement that the Pfizer vaccine is 90% effective. The UK government has secured 30 million doses of this vaccine and it is hoped that the mammoth task of vaccinating the population will begin as early as 1 December. We still await news from the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine but interim reports on the progress of the Stage 3 trials is most encouraging.
Visiting an A level biology lesson on Tuesday morning, it was fascinating to watch our Lower Sixth Formers become embroiled in a heated debate about the medical and ethical implications of vaccines. To previous generations of students, such considerations might have seemed a little far removed from the classroom. Right now, it is difficult to imagine a more important or relevant topic for debate. I do believe that recent events will inspire the emergence of a generation of epidemiologists and that scientists such as Sarah Gilbert will soon become household names. The struggle to combat serious viruses probably constitutes mankind’s greatest challenge in the twenty-first century.
Students who study Theory of Knowledge within the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme will be familiar with the work of Ben Goldacre. They may have even read his book ‘Bad Science’ or watched one of his TED talks. Goldacre specialises in exposing the misuse of science and statistics by journalists, politicians, conspiracy theorists and pharmaceutical companies. He is a Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University and he has explored topics as disparate as the placebo effect and Andrew Wakefield’s now discredited research on the causal link between the MMR vaccine and the development of autism. His work is accessible and, like Brian Cox and Richard Dawkins, he has been known to pack rock venues and he has achieved some sort of celebrity status. Within the Theory of Knowledge course, students explore the methods used within science to appraise and validate new scientific data and potential discoveries. Peer review, confirmation bias and pseudoscientific claims are all explored within the context of a course that is multidisciplinary, discursive and endlessly enlightening.
It is always sensible to exercise caution when contemplating breakthrough moments. You may remember when scientists at CERN announced back in 2011 that they had ‘broken the speed of light’. They claimed that neutrino particles travelling within the Hadron Collider had travelled 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light and that this served to overturn Einstein’s Law of Special Relativity. In reality, it transpired that this ‘false result’ was due to something as prosaic as a faulty computer cable.The fact that scientists were so ready to abandon the notion that E equals MC squared shows how easily we can be fooled or beguiled by that which is new.
The Hadron Collider
Still, whilst it is our responsibility to encourage children to develop their critical faculties and debunk what Goldacre refers to as ‘bad science’, we should recognise that this breakthrough is potentially almost as momentous as the discovery of penicillin and one feels tremendous gratitude for those who dedicate their lives to science. The spectre of a return to normal life by the Spring enables us to now live with a sense of real optimism and boundless hope. There really is light at the end of the tunnel and we can now dare to believe that 2021 will be a year most unlike 2020.
I was supremely proud of all those members of staff and pupils who participated in our Remembrance Day Service. This year our service had to be a little different, but I do believe that we did our very best to honour those members of this community who lost their lives in conflict. The choir performed beautifully and the CCF were brilliant in every regard. We hope that you enjoy watching the service online.
Spare a thought for our Year 11 and Year 13 students who still face a degree of uncertainty regarding public examinations next summer. OFQUAL are set to make further announcements later this month regarding possible contingencies. The Welsh move to cancel GCSEs and A-level exams might put additional pressure upon Number Ten – especially if Scottish Highers face a similar fate in the coming days. This uncertainty seems incredibly unfair. Young people have been through enough this year and yet we are in the extraordinary position of our Year 13 applying to universities without knowing for sure what it is that they will need to do in order to fulfil the entry requirements.
On a lighter and much happier note, our thoughts are beginning to return to Christmas. The drama department’s trailer for A Christmas Carol is a real tribute to all that is being achieved within the department. I am a firm believer that Christmas should wait until well into December, but I think that on this occasion we have every reason to make an exception.
All best wishes,
Mr Jeremy Quartermain
Headmaster of Rossall School
Message from the Junior Headmaster
The sheer amount of learning that has taken place across Junior School this week, has been amazing. I have been fortunate to spend some time with Year 6, where I have been delighted by their poetry and persuasive writing skills. I am equally aware that our Junior pupils have been working exceptionally hard in order to improve their times tables abilities, through taking part in the TTRockstars ‘Rock Out Battle’ against other schools, as well as each other. The pupils have performed wonderfully well; it is incredible to behold their quick recall speed – I am certain they would provide a challenge to you all!
Remembrance Day was observed impeccably across the Junior School, with the pupils and staff all observing the two minute silence whilst watching the service on screen in their classrooms. I was incredibly proud of the pupils, particularly those who were selected to represent the Junior School as part of the whole School service.
One of the areas hardest hit from the pandemic, has been charities. Despite all the restrictions, we have been looking at ways in which the Junior School can continue to raise funds for needy causes. Today we all wore bright colours for ‘Children in Need’ – I know the children enjoyed bringing a splash of colour to School! I am also delighted that we are also able to offer individual school photographs, one of the only schools I am aware of who has endeavoured to proceed with this process at the current time. We are fortunate to have a fantastic photographer, Miss Walsh, who took all of the pictures of the children. Information cards have been circulated today with all donations going to a local food bank, ‘The Pantry’. We are even in the process of organising our Christmas bauble sale in aid of ‘Brian House’. Teaching the pupils of the importance of altruism from an early age is hugely important and I know that our donations, however small, will all make a big difference.
Have a lovely weekend.
Headmaster of Rossall Junior School
|ROSSALL ACT OF REMEMBRANCE AND
When you go home tell them of us and say: for your tomorrow we gave our today.
Lest we forget.
|LYDIA OFF TO UNI IN THE USA
We are so proud of Rossall Golf Academy student and Rose Sports Captain, Lydia Cryer who has been awarded a golf scholarship to
Indiana University. Well done, Lydia!
|ASSEMBLY – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020
In this week’s assembly, Mr Quartermain takes a look back at Old Rossallian, Rex Crummack who served in the First World War and later competed at the 1920 Olympic Games. Ms Porovic celebrates friendship and commends Year 13 students, Julia Scarpello Parody and Alice Hoggarth for winning this week’s Headmaster’s Awards. There is also a performance from Year 12 student, Xavana Walker, a ‘Ted Talk’ with Spread Eagle, and Mr Newell gives us a sneak preview of the upcoming performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’. We hope you enjoy.
|LIFE FOR THE ROSSALL BOYS DURING WW2
Mrs Lee details the evacuation of the boys to Cumbria and why, on their return to Rossall, they were made to share their School with another from London; an association that turned out to be the most successful wartime pairing of schools. One of the boys, on his return to his own School, was moved to write about the Rossall Spirit: “I am the beauty of our Chapel, our hymns and singing, the sound of the sea at night and the summer sunset behind the Isle. I am the whining wind, the driving rain, the biting sand, the stinging hale; stirred by the tempestuous sea and its charging horses and flying foam. I am the boys, the past and present, the masters, the servants, and all those concerned with my happy home. The traditions and customs, the joy and sadness, the love of this is our School.”
|ROSSALL OUTREACH TEAM DONATES 10 BOXES OF OLD UNIFORM TO SCHOOL IN MALAWI
The Rossall Outreach team have recently organised a donation of new, old stock uniform, from Rosshop to be sent to an orphanage in Malawi. The Friends of Mulanje are an organisation set up in the year 2000 and it now runs 14 centres across the rural Mulanje district of Malawi, distributing 1.1 million meals a year. As well as this, the charity also operates medical and outreach clinics, including a HIV treatment centre providing assistance to local hospitals. The charity also runs a secondary school for over 400 pupils and a skills-based school for tailoring and computing. As well as this, they help children access safe education by fixing or rebuilding old school buildings; supplying uniforms, textbooks and shoes, and by helping to fund children into higher education. The school established a link with this charity when a group of students visited the Nansomba Project, one of the orphanages, in 2010 as part of their World Challenge expedition. This year we have been able to send 10 boxes of uniform to the children in order to help them go to school and we hope to further strengthen this link in the future.
|THE LOCALS HELPING LOCALS APPEAL
As part of our commitment to our local area, as a school community this year we will be helping a charity based in Blackpool; The Locals Helping Locals appeal. This charity is working with Hayley Kirkham from Radio Lancashire and the aim is to help the estimated 10,000+ children in Blackpool who are living below the poverty line. In order to do this, we need your help to collect food for The Locals Helping Locals Christmas appeal. This collection has taken place for the past 5 years and has proven to be a valuable resource for the children in Blackpool that live in poverty. The collection is split between local charities and food banks to ensure that it gets to those who need it most.
From within our school and from our wider school community, we are asking for any donations that can be brought into school. Specifically, we would like non-perishable items such as tinned vegetables or pasta that we can donate to this worthy cause.
Please could any donations be given directly to Mr Bradley, or left in Sports Centre reception by Monday 16th November. This will give us time to sort out the donations and then take them down to the donation centre during the week.Thank you in advance for your support.
The Rossall 6th Form Outreach Team
|WHAT’S ON THIS WEEKEND
See what’s on this weekend at Rossall School.