The Headmaster’s Blog

Dear HGS Parents,

We live in an age of unparalleled advances in technology, bringing both extraordinary opportunities and untold danger. I awoke this morning to read – on a mobile device – of a fresh ballistic missile launch from North Korea over Japan, and the deeply unsettling news of an improvised explosive device on the London Underground had filtered into the staff room by mid-morning.

Earlier this week, the technology giant Apple launched the iPhone X, which will retail at the top end of the market for over £1,000 and promises to feature facial scanners and even the ability to make an animated monkey that will copy the looks of its bemused owner!

Closer to home, Huddersfield Grammar School will soon become one of only three schools within the family of over sixty Cognita schools worldwide to take part in a pilot of new technology in the classroom, with plans afoot to place state-of-the-art devices in the hands of our teachers as they deliver lessons in the years ahead.

As a school, however, we are conscious of the balance that must be struck between embracing digital innovation and guarding against the complications that can ensue. This is why Huddersfield Grammar School, whilst committed to harnessing technology to aid learning, continues to require its students to keep their personal devices switched off and out of sight as they enjoy the school grounds.

Our students are very fortunate to be spending much of their childhood within the beautiful woodland-style surroundings of the school, and in lessons in which they are inspired daily as they learn about the lives and achievements of their forefathers. We want to provide our pupils with a calm, reflective and wholesome environment in which they can learn the simple art of conversation, discover the pleasures of physical activity, debate, laugh, look up and acknowledge the world that surrounds them. The breadth of our extra-curricular activities programme, which recommenced this week, is designed to offer something for every interest. There is so much to see, do and achieve, and allowing ‘screen time’ for leisure during school hours would be an abdication of our responsibilities as educators.

It is a sad thing indeed that all too many schools across the country do all too little to tackle this issue. Indeed, it is by no means unusual for the communal pleasures of breaks, lunchtimes and even lessons in some other schools to be marred by rows of students sitting together in complete isolation, with heads surreptitiously buried in the virtual world of social networking sites and shared video content.

Not here. There are better things to do…

Our would-be Shakespearian thespians in the Senior School are currently busy at work preparing for a future performance of The Tempest at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, and the all-conquering ‘All Aloud’ choir, which won the Music for Youth Innovation and Inclusion Award last year, has begun rehearsals for its latest challenge: the prestigious Mrs Sunderland Festival, which takes place in February.

This week, our Under-14 footballers beat Royds Hall School 8-1 in an excellent performance characterised by free-flowing passing football. Despite playing up a year, Rahul Handa delivered a stunning hat-trick and Eoghan Sopala scored the goal of the game.

In netball, a record number of 12 HGS pupils took part in the West Yorkshire trials and await further news of their success over the weekend. A further four Under-15 netballers participated in the Kirklees district trials and the Year 11 netball team won its first league game of the season, beating King James School 13-6. Well done to Rosie Wragg, in particular, for her player of the match award!

In the Prep School, Year 6 pupils returned this afternoon from an exciting outdoor learning residential to The Cranedale Centre, a residential field studies centre, whilst our Early Years children made the most of this afternoon’s sunshine at a lovely British Values Tea Party, featuring crowns, cream teas and colouring in!

A huge range of extra-curricular activities are now on offer at HGS – sometimes upwards of 25 on any given day. And not a mobile phone in sight!

I am sure that many of you will share my concerns, both as a parent and an educator, about the addictive nature of mobile devices and how they can impair childhood if used irresponsibly. If this is the case, perhaps the news of our ‘mobile-free zone’ will further encourage you to regulate your children’s use of mobile phones at home, or perhaps even to set the perfect example by regulating your own whilst the children are with you.

Have a wonderful family weekend.

With best wishes,

Mr Mike Seaton