Headmaster’s Headlines

Headmaster’s Headlines

17th May, 2019

“Biology Challenge” is an annual competition open to students around the world and our Shell and V Form students sat the test on 14 March. “Biology Challenge” stimulates students’ curiosity for the natural world and encourages them to take an interest in Biology outside of school.

Biology WinnersAll pupils who sat the test managed to achieve an award! They will receive their certificates later in the summer, but we would like to congratulate them all:
Mohammed – Commended
Max – Commended
Maximilian – Commended
Matthew – Highly Commended
Douglas – Bronze
Neil – Bronze
Robbie – Bronze
Ben – Bronze
Adam – Silver
Freddie – Gold

SAVE THE CHILDREN #StopTheWarOnChildren (presented by Dr Lilley)
Today, children are at more risk in war and conflict zones than at any time in the last 20 years. Every sixth child on earth is now affected by armed conflict. As part of Save the Children’s Stop The War On Children Campaign and their Global Moment of Solidarity on 16 May, Save the Children International are creating a video that pulls together support from all around the world. Save the Children is asking all their offices in countries around the world to participate by providing a short video clip, and in the UK clips will be submitted from Scotland, Wales, London and Manchester. Every video will end their clip with children showing their support doing the ‘Stop! – hand signal’ at a known landmark in their country. The Scottish one, which will be shown next week, shows three young people from Merchiston Castle doing the stop hand gesture to the camera at the foot of Edinburgh Castle. Well done to Farrell, Lyall and Ali and we look forward to seeing the launch of the full video next week.

‘The Right of the Month’ on our journey to become a Rights Respecting School is ‘Freedom of expression’. This is fundamental to a democratic society. It means that we are free to hold opinions and ideas and share them with others without state interference. Freedom of expression comes with responsibilities and can be legitimately restricted in cases of, for example, incitement to violence or to protect the rights and reputations of others or to prevent hate speech (and our Third Form will be able to tell us more about this when we see some clips of their debate on whether hate speech should be a crime in a few weeks’ time).
We hope that in houses the boys will be thinking of ways in which they can promote this important right of freedom of expression and how they might encourage tolerance for viewpoints which differ from their own. Boys should share their ideas with their House staff and with their year group reps who are part of the Rights Respecting Steering Group.
We have already congratulated next year’s Triumvirate, but this week we congratulated the 2019/20 Heads of House and Deputy Heads of House and the Senior Prefects leading the Pupil Learning Council.

Laidlaw South PrefectsLaidlaw South
Head of House – Alexander
Deputy Head of House – Struan

Laidlaw North PrefectsLaidlaw North
Head of House – Muhammad
Deputy Head of House – Finlay

Head of House – Magnus
Deputy Head of House – Tom

Head of House – Archie
Deputy Head of House – James

Chalmers East
Head of House – Alexander
Deputy Head of House – David

Chalmers West
Head of House – Findlay-Broch
Deputy Head of House – Rory

Head of House – Joshua
Deputy Head of House – Henry

Congratulations are also extended to Hamzah and Rory, the Senior Prefects Academic Liaison who will be the leaders and drivers of the Pupil Learning Council from August.

We had a team of pupils at the recent British Colleges and Schools – National Final which hosts the Top 20 Colleges and Schools qualified for the finals. Merchiston won the UK Southern Schools and The UK Northern Schools events qualifying them for these National Finals. Well done to Merchiston Golf Academy Chalmers East pupils – Lasse, Constantin, Daniel and Lyle in their recent tournament.
Having qualified for and competing for the first time in the British Colleges and Schools National event, the boys finished as the leading Scottish school and recorded a top 10 finish against some of the top UK golf colleges. Our youngsters competed incredibly well in the Under 25 age group!
Played over two days at the world renowned Forest of Arden Golf Resort, this European Tour venue certainly proved a test and received rave reviews from all the competitors. The format was; the team’s best three scores from each day were added up giving a final total for the 36 holes. On day 1 and played over the shorter course, Merchiston’s three counting scores were 73, 74,74 – totalling 221.On day 2 and played over the Championship course, Merchiston’s three counting scores were 74,77,78 – totalling 229.
Well done to our boys on another tremendous performance.

In Cricket, the 1XI won against Glenalmond and lost against Loretto. The 2XI won against Fettes and Loretto. The 3XI won against Loretto. The U15A won against Loretto and lost against Dollar Academy. The U15B lost against Loretto. The U14A won against Loretto and Dollar Academy. The U14B won against Loretto. The Pringle 1XI and U12A won against Dollar Academy. The U9 lost and the U10 won against The Compass School.
Last week in Athletics we had another successful meet at Pitreavie Stadium competing against Glenalmond and Strathallan. Congratulations must go to the following boys for notable performances on the day and all achieving above the MCS Standards. These individual performances show their commitment to athletics and will also provide them with a solid platform to kick on for the remainder for the season. Congratulations go to Finlay, Amaan, Arran, Jamie, Adam, Rudi and Daniel.
In Tennis, the U18B lost against Fettes College and Strathallan. The U13 won against George Heriot’s and George Watson’s, but lost to Strathallan in a tie-break set.
In Swimming, we hosted our Annual U12 Prep Schools gala. Our boys won the Plate Competition. There were some excellent performances. Thank you very much to Kaixin and Charlie for their help running the event.
Finally, the boys were reminded again about the use of school facilities. There were reports of two broken tennis nets last week through misuse. If equipment is broken, accidently or not, this must be reported to a member of staff.

Earlier we mentioned that our right of the month this month is ‘Freedom of Expression’. The word ‘Freedom’ is mentioned several times when we look carefully at the UN constitution on the rights of the child, and indeed in the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’.
Freedom’ is a word we all know, but one that we can take for granted. Freedom for us can be quite a simple concept or quite a profound one. At one end of the spectrum, it is having the freedom to choose your own music or your own style of dress. It is the freedom to select your chosen career and path through education. At the other end of the spectrum, it is having the freedom to choose your own religion, your political view or your sexuality. Central to all of this is the freedom to have your own views, free from the influences or interference of others. But as we well know, freedom of expression comes with great responsibility. There are lines that must not be crossed. In having our own views, we must respect the rights and reputations of others.
If you look back at this week’s news, you may have seen the story of the BBC presenter Danny Baker, who lost his job as a result of posting an inappropriate tweet about the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s baby son. He exercised his right to free speech poorly and somebody quite rightly called him out on it. Nelson Mandela once said, ‘‘To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains but to act in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others’’. It is important to remember that we all have rights that must be respected. Ultimately, in doing so, we give one another the freedom to live freely and positively. Human rights ensure everyone has the right to reach their potential. Here at Merchiston we respect every student’s equal rights to allow them the freedom to reach their full potential. You know that you have an important part to play in this. At the same time, let’s not forget those in the world who have been denied their right to freedom, those who live in fear of speaking out or fear of losing their liberty for no good reason. We are fortunate to have the freedom to speak up so let us make sure we use it wisely.

Thank you and congratulations on the achievements we have celebrated this week.

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