At the end of yet another busy year at the 4BR contesting comprehensive school (we don’t go private at 4BR) the Headmaster has written his reports on the 20 pupils in the top band class.
Not a vintage year, but a pleasing one as the major prizes for achievement were spread out a bit and we welcomed three new pupils – two of which were from overseas to help meet our ethnic diversity targets in Manger and Florida (although for some school governors, Beaumaris also counted as a foreigner too)
They replaced the underachievers of Treize Etoiles, BTM and Virtuosi GUS, who drop down a stream to learn woodwork for a year, although each remains on the reserve list for a place back in the top class.
No absolute star pupil or class swot, whilst the school canteen is serving more IKEA meatballs and even the odd hot dog and burger.
Exams sat ranged from the European Baccalaureate and the various National Curriculum tests to the British Open and the whole range of subjects set by regional governors and local exam boards.
Class sizes remain at 20 this year, but there are a few bands knocking on the door for entry – even if fees for school trips are set to rise again thanks to the cruel government education minister...
In alphabetical order then, and with a range of marks that equate as follows:
A - Excellent
B+ Very Good
B Above Expectations
B - Met Expectations
C+ Below Expectations but improving
C Below Expectations and no real improvement made
C - Disappointing
D In need of extra tuition
Overall Mark: B+-
Class Position at end of 2011: 14th (+ 27)
Regional Championships: 2nd (Wales)
Senior Cup: 3rd
National Finals: 4th
Qualified for the National Finals for the first time since 2002 and claimed a place in the Grand Shield at Blackpool.
Best ever London result saw them pre-qualify for the 2012 Nationals Finals, whilst euphonium player Glen Van Looy won the ‘Best Instrumentalist Award at each contest.
The first Welsh speaking pupil at the school after a year in which they also became a member of the secret sixth form ‘Taffia’.
Delivered a persuasive essay on a virtuoso violinist at Swansea, showed they understood the mysteries of physics and glass blowing at Blackpool, and just had enough breath left to sneak up on the inside to pre-book their B&B accommodation for next year’s London away day school trip.
Not yet in a position to take the Open exam paper, so still has a bit to prove in 2012 if they are not to be seen as one term interloper.
Overall Mark: B-
Class Position at end of 2011: 2nd (+1)
Regional Championships: 5th (Yorkshire)
English National: 1st
British Open: 2nd
Failed to qualify for the National Finals for the first time since 2000, but won the English National title to qualify for the 2012 European Championships in Rotterdam.
Came runner up at the British Open and ended year in their highest ranking spot since 2006.
The failure to tickle the invigilator’s fancy at Bradford with their academic approach was a major disappointment in the Queensbury household – with no London excursion for the first time in over a decade.
Produced two exemplary music history exam papers in Preston on Elgar and Mozart to ensure they tackle the European Baccalaureate in 2012, and kept busy raking in the pocket money on their concert travels too.
A big year beckons for Master Dyke as they seek to become head boy for the first time since 2006. Even if they fall short you can’t quite see the social workers knocking on the door asking questions about the parental control though.
Brass Band of Central Florida
Overall Mark: B
Class Position at end of 2011: 13th (+ 68)
North American National Championships: DNC
US Open: 3rd
Brass in Concert: 2nd
Florida did not compete in the North American Brass Band Championship and came third at the US Open in Chicago. Their UK tour included their second appearance at the Brass in Concert Championship, where they claimed second place.
Ended the year in their highest ever ranking position of 13th – also the highest ever ranking of an American band.
Reports that the sixth form common room was to become a temporary home for a member of the ‘Mickey Mouse’ Club from Florida was initially met with sniggers from the back of the arts & drama class preparing for the Brass in Concert exam.
However, the class clowns had the smiles wiped off their faces when a mix of swing time razzmatazz and hot shoe hoofing wowed the examiners. As a one off exam paper it was a cracker.
Whether or not our American pupil will show an aptitude for the more stringent examinations of contest life is debatable though, but for the time being they sit proudly, chewing gum and exuding new world charm close to the front row of the class.
Brighouse & Rastrick
Overall Mark: A-
Class Position at end of 2011: 5th (+ 2)
Regional Championships: 1st (Yorkshire)
English National: 3rd
Whit Friday: 1st (Saddleworth)
British Open: 5th
National Finals: 1st
Retained the Yorkshire Area and National Championship titles under the baton of Professor David King, as well as winning the overall Whit Friday title.
Claimed a podium finish at the English National Championship, and a top sixth finish at the British Open. Ended the year ranked 5th – up two places in the rankings.
The home life in West Riding is certainly colourful, exciting and full of surprises when their Australian tutor wields the domestic baton, even if there are a few kitchen sink arguments with siblings along the way.
Their ability to let the imagination run riot in descriptive writing classes saw then produce two remarkable test papers in Bradford and London (and fill their piggy bank with the Whit Friday ‘Bob-a Job’).
However, they were a little more reserved in their Religious Education exam in Birmingham and they could count themselves lucky that the invigilators at Preston didn’t punish their laxity in not doing enough homework on their supposed specialised subject.
A place on the prestigious school hat trick honours board beckons in 2012 though....
Carlton Main Frickley
Overall Mark: B+
Class Position at end of 2011: 9th (+2)
Regional Championships: 3rd (Yorkshire)
British Open: 3rd
National Finals: 6th
Brass in Concert: 9th
Pre-qualified for the National Finals, but claimed their second successive podium finish at the Area contest. Did not compete at the English National but recorded their best finish since 1972 at the British Open and a top six finish at London.
Came 9th at Brass in Concert, but still rose to their highest 4BR ranking.
More celebratory coal and whippet sandwiches in the South Elmsall household, as the free school dinners colliery kid continues to shine in school exams.
A fine Bradford test paper bloodied a few noses of the more well off local Yorkshire tykes, but it was their understanding of a ginger cleric that had their father crying tears of joy.
No real miner’s breathing problems at London either, although their attempt to make a mark in the school entertainment revue was as dated as George Formby.
They have the ability to continue to move up in the class rankings though.
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2011: 16th (- 4)
Regional Championships: 2nd (Scotland)
West Lothian Challenge: 1st
British Open: 14th
National Finals: 10th
Scottish Open: 2nd
Failed to claim a hat trick of wins at the Scottish Championship, but regained the West Lothian Entertainment title directed by Paul Lovatt-Cooper.
Managed a low midfield finish at the British Open and claimed a top ten place at the National Finals for second time in three years, although they lost their Scottish Open title.
An academic year that didn’t quite live up to expectations for Scottish undertaker’s lad.
Not quite ‘doomed’ as their old Home Guard grandfather used to wail, but they will have to look over their shoulder if they are not to be chucked out of the Birmingham Open exam.
Didn’t quite come up with all the facts on the Paganini essay, but certainly enjoyed the visit from their showy entertainment tutor from England.
Just had enough breath in the lungs to deliver a flash, bang, wallop storyline in London, but were lucky the examiners argued amongst themselves in Perth. Need to show a bit more consistency in 2012 away from home.
Overall Mark: A-
Class Position at end of 2011: 1st (No change)
Regional Championships: 1st (Wales)
European Championships: 2nd
British Open: 1st
National Finals: 3rd
Regained the Welsh Area title, but lost their European crown in Montreux. Won their fifth British Open title since 2000 in Birmingham and claimed a fifth successive podium finish at the Royal Albert Hall.
Stayed as the world’s top ranked band for a fifth year in a row.
No longer the school bully, but still the big kid in the yard their rivals fear getting a bashing off.
Sorted out who was top dog in the emerging cosa nostra ‘taffia’ in Swansea with bit a display of Italian Welshness that had the examiner paying homage to it being the best bit of work he had to mark in his long career.
Stuffed themselves to bursting point for the European Baccalaureate exam and couldn’t see off a slimmer more flexible Nordic challenger as a result, whilst they had a momentary attack of exam nerves when trying to catch their breath in London.
Very high expectations for 2012 as always from the well off parents of the school’s Head Boy.
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2011: 20th (- 7)
Butlins Mineworkers: 2nd
Regional Championships: 3rd (Midlands)
British Open: 7th
Did not retain their Butlins Mineworkers Championship title and failed to qualify for the National Finals at the Midlands Area for the first time in five years.
Did not compete at the English Nationals but claimed their third successive seventh place finish at the British Open. Ended the year in their lowest ranking position since 2005.
The one lad who tends to spend more time outside the Headmaster’s office than any other. Not a bad kid, but one heck of a frustrating pupil to discipline – and now sat in the chair nearest the exit door in the class.
Didn’t do enough homework to stay top of the old two part Miner’s exam against pupils from the lower streams, and certainly didn’t do any swotting on their Italian musical history either.
That said, they showed their talent in just missing out on a good grade mention by the headmaster at the Birmingham prize giving day.
If they can start doing some quality homework 2012 will be OK – if not then its bye –bye classmates.
Overall Mark: A-
Class Position at end of 2011: 11th (-1)
Norwegian Nationals: 1st
Grenland Festival: 1st
Unbeaten all year.
Regained the Norwegian National title in Bergen under David King for a record 12th time, went on to win the domestic Grenland Festival and the SIDDIS Entertainment title directed by Reid Gilje.
Watch out – the pupils from the well off Nordic parents are starting to make a permanent mark in school – led by the noveu-riche lad from Bergen with the double barreled surname.
Sophisticated, even a touch arrogant, they were full of confidence in their exam taking abilities.
Had plenty to boast about too, especially as the state of their home economy means mum and dad can afford to bring in the very best of English based Aussie tutors.
As a result, two brilliant essays were given to top their National exam board, showed off their general musical knowledge in Grenland and rounded off the year by taking the lead role in the Nordic school review.
Now they have to show if they can really mix it against the best pupils at the European Baccalaureate in Rotterdam.
Exchange Communications Whitburn
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2011: 18th (No change)
Regional Championships: 1st (Scotland)
Land O' Burns: 2nd
West Lothian: Semi final
Grand Shield: 12th
Brass in the Park: 1st
Doctor Martin Entertainment: 1st
National Finals: 14th
Scottish Open: 3rd
Won the Scottish Championship for the first time since 2008, but suffered losses at the domestic Land O’ Burns and West Lothian Challenge contests.
Big prize money returns at Brass in the Park and Doctor Martin Entertainment contests, but failed to qualify for the British Open.
Came 14th at London and was a podium finisher at the Scottish Open. Ended the season ranked 18th for a third consecutive year.
Didn’t live up to the early exam promise, although there were some encouraging signs that they are beginning to find their feet once again with the bigger boys in the school yard – although they did suffer a bloody nose or two from a wee tartan rival for thinking they had the right to deserve first helpings in a couple of domestic dinner queues.
A little unlucky their well planned Titan essay didn’t quite find favour with the Blackpool examiners, but the parents will know their lad will have to work harder and smarter in 2012 if they are not to lose their long held place on the school register.
The main objective for doing that will be to ensure they sit the Birmingham exam paper in September.
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2011: 6th (- 2)
Regional Championships: 2nd (North West)
Whit Friday: 2nd (Tameside)
English National: 4th
European Championship: 6th
British Open: 11th
National Finals: 2nd
Brass in Concert: 6th
Pre-qualified for the National Finals, they came runner-up at the North West Area contest for the third year in a row and second overall on the Tameside Whit Friday circuit.
Failed to retain English National title and came outside the top 10 at British Open for the third time in four years.
They did claim their best finish at the Nationals since 2003 to pre-qualify for the 2012 contest, and finished in the top six at Brass in Concert. Dropped two places in the 4BR rankings.
An academic year of consolidation for the pupil whose Swiss sugar daddy finally left the family home over Christmas.
No class topping exploits this year, although mum will be pleased that her offspring showed a steely desire to keep in with the big boys despite still being second best on the local Italian exam in Blackpool.
Gave an inventive own choice answer at the European Baccalaureate, and was unlucky the examiners didn’t understand its colourful language at Preston.
Filled their piggy bank round the pubs on Whit Friday, but cleric inspired religion wasn’t a favourite subject at Birmingham, although their breathless approach to the exam paper in London was.
Fluffed a few lines at the end of year panto at Gateshead, although 2012 holds the promise of further solidity despite the single parent status.
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2011: 3rd (- 1)
Regional Championships: 1st (North West)
Whit Friday: 1st (Tameside)
English National: 2nd
British Open: 4th
National Finals: 7th
Brass in Concert: 4th
Won the North West Area title for a record sixth successive year and regained the Tameside Whit Friday title. Runner up at the English National at Preston and was 4th at the British Open.
Outside the top six at London for a second successive year, but came in the top six at Brass in Concert for a fifth year in a row and matched that by remaining in the top three of 4BR rankings.
Still one of the biggest bruisers in the school, but lost a bit of physical fitness in the PE gym as the year wore on.
Their essay on Italian violinists of the 19th century was one of the best of the lot according to the examiner and they filled their student account with much needed funds from their Whit Friday pub job.
Showed a colourful and exciting side to their personality in the twin Preston exams, but flattered to deceive with their appreciation of all things priestly and struggled for breath when tested in London.
Their end of year school revue appearance was a curious mixture too, so 2012 may be a year in which they need to get back in major exam winning trim again.
Overall Mark: C-
Class Position at end of 2011: 7th (- 2)
Regional Championships: 4th (Yorkshire)
British Open: 9th
Brass in Concert: 5th
Failed to qualify for the National Finals for a third time in succession at the Yorkshire Area, and came 9th for a second year in a row at the British Open.
Came 5th at Brass in Concert – their lowest finish ever at the event and dropped in the rankings for the third successive year to 7th.
Despite the gloomy exam results, Grimethorpe’s parents may well be looking forward to better exam results after year in which they sent their entertainment protege out to all corners of the globe with their anniversary ‘Miner’s Revue’ to raise school fees.
Fell short of emulating their older brother’s seminal 1992 essay with their take of the history of virtuoso violinists, and declined an invite to the Preston double exam.
Uncomfortable with the priesthood given the family background and made the mistake of relying on copying some old material at the end of year entertainment revue.
Mum and Dad will have to insist on fewer late nights out and more boring exam swotting if young Grimethorpe is to become a top A grade student once more.
Hepworth (Cookson Homes)
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2011: 19th (No change)
Regional Championships: 2nd (Yorkshire)
Whit Friday: 4th (Saddleworth)
English National: 5th
British Open: 15th
National Finals: 9th
Qualified for the National Finals for the third time in five years at the Yorkshire Area and came 4th overall on the Tameside Whit Friday circuit. A low 15th place at Masters was followed by 5th place at English National.
Lost British Open status after a seven year stay, but posted their best finish at the National Finals. Ranked 19th for a second year in a row.
Young Hepworth will need to put on a bit of examination weight if they are to carry on troubling the bigger lads in the school yard in 2012.
There were tantalising glimpses of their best exam abilities in Bradford where they bloodied a plenty of noses and Preston, although they totally misread the question on star signs at Kettering and lacked security in their knowledge of ginger priests at Birmingham.
Still a crafty hard worker in gaining extra pub pocket money and showed that they understood good breathing techniques at London too, but the loss of their seat on the school bus to take the Open test will need to be addressed if they are to keep their name on the school register next year.
Overall Mark: B-
Class Position at end of 2011: 8th (+ 1)
Regional Championships: 5th (North West)
Whit Friday: 3rd (Tameside)
English National: 6th
British Open: 10th
Brass in Concert: 1st
Failed to qualify for the National Finals for the second time in three years at the North West Area contest, but came third overall on the Tameside Whit Friday circuit.
6th place at the English Nationals was followed by a top ten finish at British Open and their fourth victory at Brass in Concert – their first since 1997. Ended year down one place in 4BR rankings.
A year of exam underachievement was heading for a few stern words from the newly housed parents, but the telling off was averted by the reappearance of a favourite old grandfather figure who made things as happy as a Werther’s Original advert.
The disastrous local essay writing competition in Blackpool led to the loss of their beanpole tutor and even a combination of former teachers couldn’t see them get their heads around the questions set for the Preston and British Open exams.
They invested their piggy bank pub winnings to team up with the brass band world’s version of Bruce Forsyth – and lo and behold, the old magic returned as he held the school revue examiners in the palm of his hand with his combination of brilliant showmanship and bad jokes.
A knighthood beckons for him in 2012 – but only if young Leyland can start performing just as well on the more academic exam papers.
Overall Mark: A-
Class Position at end of 2011: 10th (+19)
Norwegian National: 2nd
European Championship: 1st
Failed to retain the National title in Bergen, coming runner up to Eikanger, but became only the second Norwegian band to win the European Championship title with victory in Montruex.
Couldn’t quite retain the SIDDIS Entertainment title in Stavanger - losing out to Eikanger again, but ended the year in their highest ever ranking position of 10th – a climb of 19 places from 2011.
The third Norwegian pupil to enroll at the school – after they built on their domestic exam ‘double-first’ in 2011 to top the European Baccalaureate in Montreux under the direction of their inspirational tutor.
Those two fantastically descriptive papers on Latin and old jazz more than made up for the disappointment of just being beaten to the top marks by their old class rival in Bergen.
The parents indulged their off spring but they returned to show they still had the desire to be top Nordic dog even if they just missed out with their ‘Ibsenesque’ revue at the Stavanger prom.
2012 holds the promise of more outstanding exam results both at home and abroad.
Overall Mark: B-
Class Position at end of 2011: 15th (- 1)
Regional Championships: 1st (North of England)
Grand Shield: 1st
English National: 8th
Doctor Martin Entertainment: 2nd
British Open: 13th
National Finals: 13th
Brass in Concert: 7th
Reg Vardy claimed the North of England Area title for a record 33rd time, and the Grand Shield for a second to return to the British Open after three years away.
Came 8th at the English National but failed to retain their Doctor Martin title, whilst they were 13th at both Symphony Hall and the Royal Albert Hall.
Took up a late invitation to maintain their ever present record at Brass in Concert and finished the year down one place in the 4BR rankings.
The parents with the flash cars will be pleased that their investment in their lad is paying dividends as they maintain a solid place on the school register.
Showed the local lads in Darlington who was still top dog, and delivered a classy essay on Titan to come top of the Blackpool qualifying exam board and return to sit the Birmingham Open exam.
A little unlucky their hard working answers didn’t appeal to the invigilators in Preston, but showed that they had a decent understanding of both religious and psychological soulful matters later in the year.
Their part in the end of year revue was a touch old hat, but was popular with the pensioners in the school hall. 2012 holds the promise of a possible move by a seat or two towards the front of the class.
Overall Mark: C-
Class Position at end of 2011: 12th (- 4)
Regional Championships: 6th (Yorkshire)
Whit Friday: 5th (Saddleworth)
English National: 7th
British Open: 12th
National Finals: 15th
Brass in Concert: 11th
Came 6th at the Yorkshire Area, their lowest finish since 2007, but was already pre-qualified for the National Finals. Ended 5th overall on the Saddleworth Whit Friday circuit and came 7th at the English National contest.
12th place at the British Open was followed 15th at London – the first time outside the top six for three years.
Came 11th in their third consecutive appearance at Brass in Concert and ended the year down four places in the rankings.
The hard working pupil from the poor Yorkshire home had a bit of an exam year to forget – despite a solid local answer in Bradford and two papers full of the right facts in Preston.
Worked their way around the pubs to keep the school fees paid, and produced a fair appreciation of their priestly knowledge to the invigilators in Birmingham.
They were never at ease with the showy explanation needed on soulful psychology in London, whilst their postcard album of round the world snapshots as part of the end of term revue was greeted with the sound of brushweed rolling across the school stage.
More hard work in store for 2012, but they are due a bit of good fortune too.
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2011: 17th (- 2)
Norwegian National: 3rd
Claimed their best result at the Norwegian National since 2008 and came runner up to Eikanger at the Grenland Festival.
Fell back a place to come 3rd at the SIDDIS Entertainment contest and ended the year down two places in the 4BR rankings.
The oil rich kid continues to slip slide down the school register, but the rate of acceleration towards the exit door has been checked somewhat with improved domestic exam performances.
Put in two very good papers on reincarnation and cockney singers in the Blitz to cling to the coat tails of their rival Nordic bruisers in Bergen, and showed their command of both secular and religious matters on the Grenland exam.
Opted to deliver a command performance of Tolstoy’s ‘War & Peace’ in a bid to wow the entertainment examiners on their home patch, but ended up third in line for the medals of honour.
That may be a place they get accustomed to in the next year at home at least, even if they should keep their name on the register at school as a result.
Overall Mark: B+
Class Position at end of 2011: 4th (+ 2)
Welsh Open: 1st
Regional Championships: 3rd (Wales)
All England Masters: 1st
European Championship: 3rd
Welsh Eisteddfod: 1st
British Open: 6th
National Finals: 5th
Brass in Concert: 3rd
Retained Welsh Open, but beaten in defence of Area title, although they still qualified for National Finals. Came 3rd at European Championship to equal their best ever finish, and won first Masters title after coming runner up in 2011.
Retained Welsh Eisteddfod, but beaten in defence of British Open, although they came 5th at London – their best return since 2004. Ended year coming 3rd at Brass in Concert – their best ever result at the contest, and moving up two places in rankings.
Not quite the swotty know all of 2011, but still showed that their hard up parent’s weekly subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica (as well as the Morning Star) has paid off.
Was able to bully the smaller kids at home and on their knowledge of astrology at the Masters exam, but did suffer a crack or two on the conk from an ambitious North Walian student during the year.
Revealed a darker side to their interests at the European Baccalaureate with an essay on the Marquis de Sade, and despite their atheist tendencies, they also put in quality papers on both the priesthood and psychological soul searching.
Impressed with their song and dance routine at the school revue, even if the examiners only gave it a certificate of merit. Just how good an all round student they are will be seen in 2012.