The Ipswich School Blog

Views and thoughts from the Ipswich School community


Inspiring talk about the Holocaust

On Tuesday 17 January, John Dobai, a speaker for the Holocaust Educational Trust, came in to tell us what he and his family went through during the war, as Hungarians of a Jewish heritage.

The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," and were a threat to the so-called German racial community. Their hostility to Jews became increasingly radical and when war broke out they began to adopt a policy of genocide, not just in Germany but in the countries they invaded.  As an ally of Germany, Hungary was affected too, though in a slightly different way and the Hungarian perspective that John brought was particularly interesting.

John’s father had served in the Hungarian army during WW1 but despite this was sent by the pro-Nazi Hungarian government to a forced labour camp. John himself, despite having converted to Roman Catholicism along with his parents, experienced considerable anti-Semitism.  He ended up being sent with his mother to an apartment block specifically designated for Jews.  Conditions were appalling, and John recalled the harrowing tale of what happened to one of his classmates when he left the confines of what were effectively Jewish ghettos.

The deportation of Hungarian Jews, including John’s aunts and cousins, to Auschwitz-Birkenau took place in May 1944. The operation in Hungary was carried out one region at a time, with Budapest intended to be the final location ‘cleansed’ of Jews.  Luckily, through a combination of luck, tenacity and perseverance, John and his family survived.

John and his mother were moved to a different are of confinement in the capital city, and this time John’s father was able to join them as he had left the labour camp as the Russian invasion over-ran it. Having heard of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who was handing out papers to protect Jews, John’s father successfully got a hold of some of the documents which effectively gave them protection as Swedish citizens. This meant that John and his family could move into a house protected by the Swedish government, which effectively saved their lives.

The talk was fascinating, and really opened our eyes to what life was like in Nazi-dominated Europe for a person of Jewish descent. The experience of John Dobai brought to light the harshness of life thousands of Jews had to lead throughout the war. His story was so inspiring, full of hardship and loss, and it was hard to comprehend how a young boy of 11 managed to come out of it alive.

We would like to give a big thank you to Nik Sharma and Ellie Dunning for organising the lecture as part of the Academic Excellence series of events, and of course, to Mr Dobai for coming and talking to us about his experiences.

Caitlin Livingstone, Abby Henderson and Lucy Penn, Year 12

The restoration of the Armillary Sphere Sundial in Ipswich Arboretum

In Memory of Ipswich School Headmaster Dr John Blatchly MBE

On Thursday 5 January, the Mayor of Ipswich, Councillor Roger Fern, revealed a newly restored sundial in Christchurch Park, dedicated to the memory of the late Headmaster of Ipswich School, Dr John Blatchly.

In the ceremony attended by Dr Blatchly’s widow and son, the Mayor stated the sundial was a “remarkable installation, celebrating John’s life and all the contributions he made to the town and the life of Ipswich.”

Councillor Fern was also a headmaster at an Ipswich primary school and would often speak with Dr Blatchly, who would say “As one headmaster to another…” and would then provide a useful piece of information. As he cut the ribbon, the Mayor repeated this phrase, and told the crowd that Dr Blatchly was “a lovely man and a lovely human being.”

The sundial was restored thanks to funding from a number of local organisations, including the Friends of Christchurch Park, Coes, Ipswich Borough Council, Ipswich School, Suffolk County Council, The Friends of the Ipswich Museums, The Ipswich and Suffolk Club, The Ipswich Society, The Lord Belstead Charitable Settlement, as well as a number of individual donations.

The original sundial was located in the Rock Gardens in the Lower Arboretum back in the early twentieth century.  It was removed from the gardens when they were being redesigned, and was then displayed in the gardens of Christchurch Mansion until it became neglected, and needed repairing, with much of the stonework and ironwork missing. It was languishing at the back of the Mansion until the Friends of Christchurch Park announced, last summer, their intention to restore it and put it back on display in the Park.

Dating back to the Middle Ages, armillary spheres consist of a set of rings, which represent the cosmos with the Earth at its centre. You can tell the time by looking at the shadow cast by the longitudinal ring which faces south. The solar time in Ipswich is 4 minutes and 30 seconds ahead of that in Greenwich, and so there will always be slight differences in the time on the sundial and the time on your watch, especially when British Summer Time is in operation - an hour will need to be added to the time on the sundial.

Singing with the Swingles

Shortly before half term students and parents alike were wowed by Ipswich School's incredible Festival of Music. With performances ranging from the classic Festival Evensong to the world famous acapella group The Swingles.

The Festival kicked off with a bang, with Joe Stilgoe bringing jazz and flair to Great School concert hall. Described by audience members as “so musically clever” and “amazing,” he helped many people survive what was otherwise a wet and miserable Thursday.

The next day, The Swingles brought the house down, applying their world famous acapella style to music ranging from Philippine lullabies to The Beatles. Joining them on stage for two pieces, the Chapel Choir and the Prep Super Singers sang “Air on a G String,” and “Narnia.”

On Saturday, the Solem Quartet performed Haydn, Mendelssohn and Bartok, before taking up a post at Liverpool University as Quartet in Residence.

Sunday saw not one but two concerts, with the Family concert in the afternoon, with a mix of film soundtracks and traditional childhood songs, with a performance of Paddington’s First Concert, followed by the Festival Evensong. With music sung by the Chapel Choir, and with a stirring sermon by Reverend Crompton-Battersby, this was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the Festival so far.

Next, the Big Band Night brought jazz and funk to Great School. Featuring performances from the Big Band, and the Ipswich Musicians’ Union Big Band, the evening was “relaxed and enjoyable,” and with both bands uniting at the end of the show, leaving a lasting impression on the audience.

The Festival closed with a performance from the Royal College of Music Strings, with the Ipswich School Chamber Orchestra. Preforming Vivaldi and Schubert, to name but a few, they ended the Festival with style.

As well as all of the musical mastery, The Festival offered many amazing opportunities for pupils all around Suffolk. With workshops with the Swingles and the Royal College of Music Strings on offeror primary and secondary schools, and STOMP workshops for pupils at school, the 7th Festival of Music may be the best one yet.

Ben Althen, Year 9

The start of a new year - the view from Year 12

It’s that time again.  Shops are packed with piles of new stationery and enough school uniform seemingly to clothe the whole of Ipswich, and (most importantly) I can finally get my hands on a pumpkin spice latté.

Despite the unseasonal weather, autumn has officially arrived in the shops, offices and schools of Ipswich, same as it does every year. But for me this one’s just a little different. I’ve finally left the hard-work and revision of GCSEs behind and moved on to…the even harder work and revision of A Levels! Obviously it’s a big step-up, but I’ve got to admit the change from Middle School to Sixth Form’s been exciting. No more school uniform for starters and of course the endless supply of tea and coffee in the Sixth Form Centre.

Best of all I’m loving being able to focus on just the subjects I enjoy most. For me these are: French, English, PRE and Latin. As you can probably guess I’m really into languages, so the fact that I can now study two at a higher level, have additional conversation lessons in French and take up Spanish for Enrichment has left me in my element. It’s going to be challenging though, as I quickly found out in my first French lesson when we were immediately told to introduce ourselves to the class in French. Feeling as though I’d forgotten all my French over the summer I began: “I take French, English and PRE” to which my teacher responded “Take? Like I take ketchup on my chips?!” Apparently I have a lot to learn, but to be honest, I can’t wait!

Our year has lost a few familiar faces, but has also gained many unfamiliar ones. It’s been really nice to start getting to know all the new people and watch as friendships made early on in the school are now complemented by new ones. Across the school as a whole it’s always nice to see a new band of Year 7s navigating their way round the school with the help of their trusty homework diary maps…and it's kind of crazy to think it’s been five years since I was in their place. It sounds cliché, but time has flown.


Ipswich School celebrates royal history and Music School opening

Ipswich School celebrated its long history on Friday 18 March with a special Chapel Service to mark the re-affirmation of the school’s Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1566.

Ipswich School’s thoroughly modern approach to education is set within the context of a rich historical legacy.

We are proud to be continuing a six hundred year old tradition. The Royal Charter, which was originally granted to the school by King Henry VIII, makes Ipswich School a royal school.  As a royal school the Chapel Choir, who sang during the service in the school’s Chapel, wear red cassocks, and the school’s Visitor is the reigning monarch.

Ipswich School was first granted a Royal Charter by Henry VIII, but this document has not survived and was quite probably mislaid or accidentally destroyed at some time in the distant past.

Elizabeth I reaffirmed the Royal Charter in 18 March 1566 (450 years ago to the day) by Letters Patent – a legal document monarchs used to grant an office or a right. Elizabeth I’s Royal Charter confirmed that Ipswich School was a royal school Additionally, as a royal school our Chapel Choir wear red cassocks.

The musical history of the school was underlined on the same day, when celebrated cellist and Principal of the Birmingham Conservatoire, Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, officially opened the new Music School on the Henley Road site.

Music is a cornerstone of life at Ipswich School and the campaign for a new music school to house Ipswich School’s Britten Faculty of Music was launched in June 2012. The new building includes teaching and practice rooms – two main rehearsal rooms, a technical suite and eight practice rooms. A concert hall, recording studio and four further practice rooms are planned as the final part of the development.

It is the school’s intention for this new facility to become one of East Anglia’s main musical hubs, attracting performers from Suffolk and beyond.

See East Anglian Daily Times coverage of the Music School here.