Frank Chalk was looking at school mottoes, and I wondered about my old school, Bromsgrove County High School, whose motto was "Abeunt Studia In Mores". Despite the fact that Latin was compulsory for the first two years, everyone from the Head down seemed a bit vague about the exact meaning - "Study Forms Character" was the best guess. It makes Jack a dull boy, that's for sure.
When the old grammar went comprehensive it changed name to North Bromsgrove High School, went downhill faster than Franz Klammer and is now in special measures. The school profile makes for depressing reading.
So I wondered if it had a new motto and what it might be.
"In Pursuit Of Excellence (As It Disappears Round The Corner)"
"Exclusions R Us"
To my surprise, the motto is unchanged (it's the .gif at the top left). The school website can't spell 'absence' or 'activities', however. The site looks like it's come from one of those 'web-in-a-box' kits, as it contains lots of drop-down links to unpopulated template pages.
The school magazine seems to have dumbed down a fair bit from the old 'Boar', a few copies of which lurk obscurely in the corners of bookshelves. I'll try and dig them out, but I'm pretty sure Mr David or "Killer" Drury wouldn't have been too impressed with :
• Ant or Dec ?
• Pretty Women or Bridget Jones ?
• Pink or Blue ?
• Romance or Thriller ?
• George Clooney or Kevin Costner ?
The old house system has changed, too. Whatever happened to Appleby, Hibbins and Co ? No longer will the houses be named after Victorian heads with 36 years service. Instead we have Red, Green, Blue and Yellow, though the houses will get new names when the school is completely rebuilt under a PFI initiative. After all, the buildings are all of forty-five years old.
Current favourites for the new names ? Rooney House, Big Brother House, Hard House, In Da House ?
It's not all doom and gloom, though. The links with a school in Gambia are a great idea, and the insights of a Gambian pupil, Abdoulie Drammeh, are spot-on.
The other surprising thing is that the students in the UK have almost more rights than the teachers, which is also very different from my country. There are less sanctions here if a student does not pull his or her weight.There is less pressure for students to learn from their mistakes and correct them.
In my view, there needs to be some rules governing the attitudes of students towards their teachers. I’m not really saying that students’ rights should be abolished, but at least there is a need for some kind of encouragement to make students respect their teachers.
In The Gambia, students are very respectful to their teachers. They do their assignments and they pay attention in class when the teacher is talking.
I think this difference arises because the British are much more developed than The Gambia. This makes the English students feel that they don’t need to work extra hard because they can survive whatever they do. The Gambian students would want to work extra hard to be the best among all the other students to have a chance of getting employment.
You said it, Abdoulie.
The school hasn't run out of good material yet, either.
Harry Hutton reports that "Pippa von Humbolt-Parker (second from left; 19 'A's) plans to spend her gap year in the Congo, teaching Pygmies to bungee jump".
What did you do in your gap year, Head Boy 2004 Andrew Hazell ?
I spent eight months serving with the TA (Territorial Army) in Afghanistan. I am currently reading BA (Hons) War Studies at Wolverhampton University. Recently I have started an officer training course with the TA and am hoping to join the Regular Army as an officer after Uni.
Eight months soldiering in Afghanistan. That's a pretty impressive gap year CV.