Headmaster’s Headlines

Headmaster’s Headlines

27th June, 2018

First, Happy, Happy Birthday Philip and Jamie! Maybe Philip and Jamie were a tad disappointed that Headmaster’s Assembly this week was moved from Tuesday to Wednesday! I don’t think so and I hope that Philip and Jamie had a wonderful day!

And of course, Wednesday morning was my final, final Headmaster’s Assembly! As I said to the School, the script only ran to three pages, so in other words it was a short one!

Merchiston headmaster learning pipesFirst, Piping. Playing the pipes and drums is very challenging! Certainly with the pipes, there are so many things happening at once! I can vouch for this because in my first year the boys in the Pipe Band challenged me to make a sound!
But in all seriousness, it is a wonderful activity for a Scottish school. Sometimes, the pace of life at Merchiston is too busy, for in a perfect world I would like it if our pipers and drummers practised every morning at 7.45 am which happens in many a school. This means that as a piper and a drummer one is technically correct as one also performs. And in this activity there are numerous external competitions, so recently we participated in the Scottish Schools CCF Piping Merchiston Willand Drumming Competition. Will was awarded second prize in the Junior Piping Competition. The contestants must be fourteen or under on the day of the competition and they had to play a four-parted 2/4 march, Will played Donald Maclean’s ‘Farewell to Oban’. He gained second prize in a field of 20 players. So this means that Will is technically very, very accurate and proficient, in addition to being a performer. Well done to Will!

Secondly, moving to debating. Recently, some of our pupils and Ms Cunningham, our debating guru, and Mr Douglas, took Charles, Ben, James, Brodan, Freddie and John to an outstanding prep school in Yorkshire called Aysgarth. It is a prep school for boys. We are beginning to make really good links with this school and Monty in our Fourth Form came to us from Aysgarth, and we have two Aysgarth pupils joining us in September! Our pupils took a lead on training and then operating an in house competition of Aysgarth’s final year students. The Aysgarth’s winners were so delighted with the new Merchiston Cup we awarded and with the participation certificates for all 32 Aysgarth boys. But what I really like is the feedback from the Head of English at Aysgarth:
Merchiston boys“Thank you so so much for coming along with your debating team to Aysgarth last Friday. It really was a wonderfully educational day for me and all our boys. The format of the day was just perfect, ensuring all the boys were equally involved all throughout the whole competition, whether that was taking part in the initial two rounds or making up the audience and question panel in the final. It also meant that no boy could dip under the radar and that in itself was, for me, a key element of the day. It was heartening to see those who are usually rather more reticent stepping up to the plate and having a go. And even more heartening to see some of those very boys make it to the final! Your team were brilliant. A very refreshing change to the usual classroom dynamic. Our boys certainly enjoyed being coached by a supremely capable group of ‘teachers’ closer to their own age! It would be wonderful if this could become an annual event in the calendar; the Form 4 boys who got to take part in this year’s event have been evangelical in their recounts of the day with their own contemporaries.”

Merchiston CraigThird, moving to the Arts, it was a pleasure to award Arts Honours for contribution to Music to Craig. In his Sixth Form career at Merchiston, Craig has granted the Merchiston musical world a huge amount.



Merchiston boysMoving to sport, and Sports Roundup, the 1XI won against St Laurence’s, Brisbane. Thomas scored 52 off 44 balls. The 1XI also recorded an excellent victory against MCC. Max scored an excellent 68 runs. The 1XI lost against George Watson’s. Congratulations to Harry who had his first five wicket haul off the last ball of his final spell at the School. He recorded figures of 5-28 off 8 overs. The 2XI, U14As, U14Bs and U15Bs won against George Watson’s. The U15As lost. The Pringle 1XI lost against Ardvreck and Carlton Cricket Club. The Pringle 2XI won against Ardvreck. The U9s and U10s lost against St Mary’s. The U11As won and the U11Bs lost against Stewart’s Melville. So, congratulations to Nick who got a hat trick in his match for the U11As, and Thomas for his half century. In this photo, I encouraged Nick to imagine that he will be like Thomas!
Merchiston boys

In tennis, the U13s were crowned Scottish Schools Cup Winners after they won against Williamwood High School, Strathallan and George Watson’s. Well done to Euan, Lance, Forbes and Ruaridh.


Merchiston boysAnd then golf! Our Junior golfers finished off their season with a second place in the UK National Finals; the last ranking event of the year. The team of Daniel, Juan and Will have now secured the Order of Merit award as the ISGA’s No1 Junior Golf School in the UK. The 1V also secured a victory against the Merchistonians in their annual match at Muirfield. So congratulations to Daniel, Juan and Will.

Merchiston boysAnd then athletics! The senior games was a great success and it was marvellous to see the clan teams competing so well against each other. I enjoyed presenting the prizes on my last athletics afternoon. There were three new School records set; Rufus broke MK MacKenzie’s O17 100m record. MacKenzie set the record in 2008 with a time of 11.0s but Rufus managed to become the first ever Merchiston boy to run under 11s by setting a new record of 10.8s. Amaan also had a wonderful day at The Games by setting two new School records, U15 100m and 200m. 11.8 was the U15 100m record which was set in 1989 by J Bragg. Amaan ran superbly in his heat to set a new record of 11.3s. He also ran an outstanding race against Arran in the final of the 200m and managed to beat Arran’s record of 24.6s by running in with a time of 24.1. So congratulations to Amaan and Arran.

And finally, I announced the clan points:
Redford – 128
Dreghorn – 157
Spylaw – 221
Pentland – 237

Merchiston benchFirst, benches! Readers of Headmasters Headlines will know that Barbara and I really like benches! We have three new benches; one to celebrate the birth of Prince Louis; the second, Ready Ay Ready; the third outside the Harvey Hub; and there will actually be a fourth one outside Gibson House to mirror Will’s Bench. I cajoled the School to enjoy sitting on them, talking to each other and listening to each other!


Merchiston bench Merchiston bench Merchiston bench

Secondly, we have received a framed certificate from the World Leading Schools Association to demonstrate that Merchiston is now a member of the WLSA family. This is a huge accolade and readers should feel free to follow the link to see how few Schools belong to WLSA. Thirdly, readers will remember one of my favourite phrases, namely, “We must continue to emphasise the primacy of the classroom and that academic work is at the heart of the total curriculum”, but actually, all good schools should also concentrate on the co-curricular programme. And what an amazing spell we are in! Last week saw the Second Form depart on their Summer trip to Northumberland, which was a roaring success. So much is achieved on that trip in one day. Over the weekend, Pringle had the final camping weekend to Abernethy and the J4/J5 year group completed their residential trip to PGL Dalguise. The Celebration of Sport Dinner was held in the marque on Friday night and I was delighted to hear of the prizewinners and the wonderful reflection on trust from Robin Meidzybrodzki.

The Gold and Silver Duke of Edinburgh qualifying Expeditions departed at the start of this week and Chalmers East had a successful trip to Alton Towers on Monday. Well done to all the pupils in Pringle who successfully completed their annual Sponsored Walk. The U15 cricket team is currently away in Nottingham competing in the annual Cricket Festival with Glenalmond, King’s Bruton and Nottingham High School. There have been a whole number of trips organised by staff to celebrate the end of this academic year, and we look forward to various celebrations including all three of the School Prizegivings. There are a number of trips departing over the Summer break, including the CCF Camp, Bisley and the Rugby Tour to South Africa. As ever, I reminded the School, and not just for the members of the School trips, but as ever, wherever and whenever, I urged them to please remember to represent their values and the values of their family and School.

And finally, finally! I indicated to the School that they would be absolutely delighted that this would be my last Headmaster’s Assembly! The Headmaster’s Assembly has been one of my ways of leading the School throughout my time here at Merchiston. Alongside Mrs Hunter, and all the staff, and fellow students, we have tried to deliver the best for each pupil and give each pupil the opportunities to find those hidden nuggets of ability so that each pupil has the chance to taste success in his chosen avenues of excellence. I know that members of the School love those corny phrases so here are just few of them:

* Attitude is altitude
* No-one forgets the stamp of style
* The well of resilience
* Bouncebackability to bounce forwards
* Stop competing with others. Start competing with yourself. Set out to achieve your PB.
* Jump on that Number 10 bus of opportunity!
* Difficult is worth doing!
* Manners maketh man
* Magno Beneficio (good service)
* Legends
* Koinonia (teamwork with the community)
* Look after each other!
* Try your hardest!
* Make the most of your talents!
* If it is to be, it is up to me
* The world can be your oyster
* Today, I enjoyed my learning! Today I enjoyed doing activities! Today I had fun!
* Be the best version of yourself you can possibly be!
* Do what you do do well.

Now, everyone will have to blame my father for my likes in music! In those days, living in Kenya, Town and Country was big. I used to hear a lot of Jim Reeves and great songs like “Distant Drums”. I also used to hear my father listening to this one! I have often thought that he, as fathers do, was trying to urge me to listen to the message in the lyrics. And I know that you appreciate my understanding and appreciation of modern music, so here is the aforementioned Ned Miller’s 1965 (a mere 53 years ago!) “Do what you do do well”.

At the end of a Headmaster’s Assembly we invite those whom we have already congratulated to leave the Memorial Hall first as we applaud them. It was very gracious of the School and staff to invite me to do the same.

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