Our traditions and heritage are very important to us at Loughborough Grammar School. Our Sixth Form satirical magazine, Vox, opined in a recent edition that our ‘veneration’ of Thomas Burton as our founder might go a little too far. Nevertheless, we are proud of our status as one of the oldest schools in the United Kingdom. The date of our foundation is believed to be 1495, and 2020 therefore sees our 525th birthday. Naturally, we have no idea of precisely when pupils first turned up at the rudimentary school room located in Loughborough Parish Church, so we have decided to mark this anniversary throughout the calendar year. A group of staff and senior pupils have been planning commemorative events for well over a year, and we will send a copy of our full programme electronically to all parents with my end of term letter. So what are we seeking to achieve?
Firstly, we wish to impress on our current pupils their place in this continuity of 525 years. The intent of the early trustees of the charity now known as the Loughborough Schools Foundation was, according to papers from 1553
“to mayntain a fre scole in Lughborowe … in which there bee seven score (140) Scollers and above browght up in learning of Gramer ”
Our curriculum these days is mercifully more varied than the limited diet of five centuries ago, but what has not changed is that we are still unmistakeably a school for academically ambitious boys. A series of lectures given by alumni and eminent speakers with Loughborough connections will help to nurture our intellectual life during 2020. We are most fortunate that Lord Sebastian Coe, probably the most famous graduate of Loughborough University, and now its Chancellor, will be part of this series, talking about his life in athletics and politics.
Returning to our history, it was only once the School had moved out to our current spacious site in 1852 that it was able to start developing the broad and balanced education that we deliver today. (Interestingly, Lord Coe benefitted from our beautiful campus during his time at the University, using our playing fields for his training runs.) Our programme of events for the 525 celebrations attempts to cater for all interests in recognition of how the breadth that LGS promotes enables boys to thrive and excel across such a wide range of endeavour. You will have received an email this week, for example, advertising tickets to performances of Les Misérables, a considerable undertaking. This is an explicit link to our Quincentenary celebrations of 1995 when the whole school was taken to watch the musical in London following a Service of Thanksgiving in the morning at St Paul’s Cathedral.
In addition, there will be sporting events, such as an Alumni Rugby Day and an LSF takeover of the local parkrun at Dishley so that we can give back to others. Indeed, we are looking during the coming year to engage as much as possible with the local community. LGS is proud to have been the town’s school throughout our distinguished history, and it is of great importance to us that we continue to serve the townspeople of Loughborough and its surrounding area, and that boys understand their responsibilities to their community. We have therefore thought about how to include local people. John Weitzel, Archivist and former Deputy Head, has designed a ‘Loughborough Grammar School’ town trail linking our historic and current sites, and he will curate an exhibition about our history in the town library as well as inviting the public in to a Heritage Weekend in September.
2020 will also be a time to look forward. LGS was a free school for the majority of its history until Grammar and Direct Grant schools were abolished in the 1970s. Since we have been a fee-paying school, we have no longer been able to educate all of the brightest and best of Loughborough. The Governors are committed therefore over the coming years to further build up our Bursary Fund to provide more places for ambitious young men and women who would otherwise be unable to access an LSF education. In doing so, we will ensure that the charitable intent of our founding fathers can be fulfilled, so that, as Canon G W Briggs wrote in our school hymn ‘our harvest may be garnered by ages yet unknown’.
This same hymn speaks of the ‘cloud unseen of witness’ provided by the 100 generations who have come before us in this ancient school. I believe that our 525 programme will encourage students to reflect on their role in maintaining our traditions whilst updating our values for the modern age. I really look forward to seeing you and your sons at some of our events.