Headmaster's Weekly Blog

Left or Right?

Dear all









In Monday's assembly we considered the historic attitudes towards people who are left-handed, and why the percentage of left-handers has stayed roughly the same throughout human history. 

If our community is representative of society as a whole, around 10% of students, staff and parents at Brentwood will be left-handed. Remarkably, that figure is believed to have been the same throughout human history, despite the fact that for much of our existence, left-handedness was regarded as unlucky, malicious, or even - in some cultures - a sign of the devil. The word sinister - commonly used today to refer to something evil or dark, comes from the Latin word that originally meant ‘on the left side’. 

Even in the ancient world left was often seen as bad, and right as good. By way of contrast, the Latin word for right is dexter, which is where we get the word dexterous, meaning ‘skill or adroitness in using the hands or body’.

There are many examples of historic anti-left-handedness; in Christianity, Eve, who gets the blame for falling to temptation, is depicted on Adam’s left side, whilst Jesus is shown sitting to the right of god. In Judaism, ancient texts associate the right with strength and godliness and the left with weakness. The left was also associated with uncleanliness in Islamic texts, and eating or drinking with the left hand was frowned upon.

Until the mid to late 20th Century, children who began to write with their left hand were forced to change to their right, sometimes having their left hand tied behind their back just to make sure. 

So why has the proportion of left-handed people remained constant throughout the centuries? Well, it seems to be due to genetics, and the conflicting evolutionary pressures of competition and cooperation: left-handers appear to have a competitive advantage in activities that involve competition or fighting. For example, around 50% of top baseball hitters are left-handed, significantly more than in the general population. This is probably because it gives a surprise advantage to left-handers, as most time spent practising or playing the game will have been against right-handers. In other words, the rarer a trait, the more of an advantage it can be. On the other hand, a bigger part of human evolution has involved co-operation, which has kept right-handers in the majority due to the concept of tool-sharing. This means that most pieces of equipment have always been made for right-handed people because…you guessed it…most people have always been right-handed. Golf is a good example, where only 4% of top golf players are left-handed: when most young children take up the sport, they are likely to pick up right-handed clubs, simply because most sets of golf clubs are made that way. This applies to most tools, which explains - in evolutionary terms - why left-handers haven’t become the majority in a world where cooperation is more common than competition or conflict.

Legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte, who was left-handed (as was Josephine, his Queen), objected to the time-honored military practice of marching on the left side of the road with weapons at the ready in the right hand: it put lefties like him at a strategic disadvantage. Once in power, so the story goes, he ordered his armies to switch sides, and civilians in countries he conquered had to do the same. It’s claimed by some that this is why vehicles in Europe now drive on the right, whereas the British (who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo) still drive on the left. 

And it’s not all bad news for left-handers. No fewer than seven of the US Presidents in the 20th Century were left-handed, as is Barack Obama; Bill Gates is part of the 10% too, as were Marie Curie, Aristotle, and Leonardo Da Vinci, along with a whole host of famous actors and singers. Some have argued that being left-handed is a sign of an innovative, creative, and curious mind, all of which is celebrated on the 13th of August each year - left-handers’ day.

Have a great weekend (whether you're right or left-handed...)

Best wishes

Michael Bond

Tes Independent Senior School of the Year - Shortlisted

We are delighted to announce that Brentwood School has been shortlisted for the Independent Senior School of the Year category in the Tes Schools Awards 2024. 

The TES Schools Awards - dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of education - have been running since 2009. They celebrate the best of education across the UK, and the shortlist - announced earlier today - was compiled by a panel of expert judges, including school leaders and other educational experts.

Jon Severs, Editor of Tes Magazine said, "Congratulations to all the shortlisted entries - the standard was so high this year despite the challenges schools face. It is critical we celebrate excellence and share it widely so we can ensure that the fantastic work happening in education is properly recognised." 

This accolade represents a collective success that belongs to all members of our community - colleagues, pupils, and parents. The awards ceremony will take place on Friday 21st June at the Grosvenor House Hotel when we find out who will be crowned Independent Senior School of the Year.

Best wishes

Michael Bond

Non-uniform day, Thursday 23rd May 2024

Dear all

On Thursday 23rd May, the Senior School is  holding a non-uniform day in aid of the Seva foundation.

Seva foundation is a global nonprofit eye care organisation that works with local communities around the world to develop self-sustaining programs that preserve and restore sight. The foundation trains local eye care providers and develops self-sustaining eye programs around the world. It provides critical eye care to underserved communities, especially women and children. Seva has provided surgeries, glasses, medicine, and other eye care services to 57 million people in more than 20 countries. Seva believes that restoring sight is one of the most effective ways to relieve suffering and reduce poverty. Over a billion people live with unaddressed vision impairments and hundreds of millions more need ongoing eye care. Thankfully, 90% of all vision impairment can be prevented or cured.

Please see this link  if  you would like to find out more about Seva.   

If you’d like your child to take part in the event, donations should be made via this Justgiving page which can also be accessed by scanning the QR code below. The minimum donation is £2. No cash will be collected in line with our cashless bursary systems. 

Once you have made your donation, you will receive a confirmation email which can be forwarded to your child’s form tutor or shown on their school iPad. 

Please note that you can donate completely anonymously if you wish, with no requirement to include pupil details on the JustGiving page. Simply ensure the confirmation email you receive (or screenshot) is forwarded or available as stated above.

If you wish your child to take part, please bear in mind our guidelines for this event:

  • No offensive slogans or icons
  • No hemlines above the knee (except with black opaque tights or leggings underneath)
  • No low-cut tops
  • No crop-tops
  • No full on makeup
  • No acrylic nails
  • No extreme hair styles
  • No high heel shoes
  • Students must remember their ID badge and Passport to Success
  • Year 10 must remember games kit for the afternoon 

Please note that this is an optional fundraising day and there is absolutely no obligation for any student to participate if you or they do not wish to.

Many thanks for your support for this worthy cause.

Kind regards

Laetitia Dearmer-Decup (Acting Head of Charities)


St. Peter's Church Commemoration Evensong, Tonight (Friday 17th May)


You are warmly invited to a very special annual Service of Choral Evensong at St Peter's Church, South Weald as we gather to commemorate our founder, Sir Antony Browne. Sir Antony Browne, who lived at Weald Hall, is buried at St Peter's and for many years our pupils had regular services in this parish church. Each year, we gather in this church to give thanks for our school and for the generosity of our benefactor and celebrate the continuing links we have with this parish. This year, our service will take place tonight at 5.30pm at St Peter's. Parking will be available at the Church and refreshments will be served after the service. I look forward to welcoming you to this Service.

Revd. Dr. Adrian McConnaughie, Chaplain.

Match Day Programme

Open Morning 2024







Our next Whole School Open Morning will take place on Saturday 8th June and this is the perfect opportunity for prospective pupils and their parents to meet our students and teachers and explore our 75-acre grounds.

Tours will start at 10am and must be pre-booked via our website. Refreshments will be served throughout the morning.

Religious Services

Sunday Chapel Service to celebrate Pentecost

You are most warmly invited to join us for a very special Sunday Service in Chapel on Sunday 19th May at 10am as we celebrate Pentecost which marks the birth of the Church. I am delighted that we will have our Junior Choir (Years 3 and 4) with us who will help to lead our worship and singing. The Service will be suitable for all ages and open to all within the wider community of Brentwood School and beyond. Parking will be available on the school site and can be accessed by entering the School through the gates at Middleton Hall Lane. Parking will be in Library Square which is a short walk to Chapel. Refreshments (and cake!) will be served after the service so please do let me know if you are able to join us so that we can cater accordingly. I look forward to welcoming you to this service.

With every blessing

Revd. Adrian McConnaughie, [email protected]

Chapel Services 2023-24

Throughout the year, there are regular Sunday Chapel Services which are open to all within the wider community of Brentwood School. Most of the services begin at 10am and are suitable for people of all ages.

The details of all our services for this academic year can be found in our Service Booklet which is attached. If you are planning to attend, I would appreciate a short email so that I can cater accordingly for those who come. I look forward to welcoming you to our Services.

Revd. Adrian McConnaughie

[email protected]

Muslim Prayer Space

Brentwood is an inclusive school with a Christian Foundation where students and staff of all faiths and none are nurtured.  As part of our commitment to this aim, we have recently established a Muslim prayer space throughout the week for our students to pray and a space each Friday for prayers which are led by one of our members of staff. This has proved to be beneficial for a number of our students to date.

If you would like your son or daughter to have access to this space for prayer at lunchtime then please contact me directly by email and I will pass their details to the staff members who will oversee the day-to-day supervision of these spaces. If you have any queries about this prayer space then do not hesitate to be in touch.

With every blessing and good wish

Revd. Adrian McConnaughie

[email protected]

Year 10 and Lower Sixth Chamber Concert


You are warmly invited to our Year 10 and Lower Sixth Chamber Concert which takes place in the Memorial Hall on Thursday 6th June at 7pm.  We look forward to an intimate evening of music making featuring student performances by our upper school musicians.

Please click on this link for tickets

We hope you will be able to join us.

Ultimate Activity Camps Summer Saver










Ultimate Activity Camps are back this May & summer, offering a wide range of engaging activities designed to inspire. They are thrilled to partner Brentwood School again, using our excellent facilities for these high-quality camps that ensure a memorable summer of adventure.

Their Ofsted registered holiday camps welcome children aged 4-14 to explore over 40 exciting sports, games, and creative activities weekly. Delivered by enthusiastic staff, these camps foster new skills, friendships, and fun for every participant.


  • May – Athletics Academy: 28th & 29th May 2024
  • Summer – Monday 15th July- Friday 23th August 2024 (Survival & Tech: Monday 29th July - Friday 16th August 2024)
  • Book by the day or week
  • Drop off 8:30 - 9:30
  • Collect 16:30 - 17:15
  • Move dates for FREE up until 14 days before

Summer Saver Available now!

  • £53 per day | Saving £4 off the standard rate of £57
  • £235 per week | Saving £25 off the standard rate of £260
  • Offer available until Tuesday 4th June 2024

Refer A Friend – Get a Free Camp Day!

Invite a friend to join your child at camp and earn a free day for every booking at Ultimate Activity Camps or Ultimate Survival. It is that easy! Learn more and claim your free day here.

Booking Information:

Book your dates at Ultimate Activity for any duration, from a single day to a full week. You can change your dates without charge up to 14 days before the camp starts, depending on availability. They accept all childcare vouchers for added convenience.

Afternoon Pick-Up

Congestion remains heavy in the roads around the School, particularly around the afternoon pick-up time. The situation is not helped by too many parents arriving early before the end of school. The result is that traffic unable to access the car park back-ups in Middleton Hall Lane and this blocks the movement of other through traffic. This has an impact on the zebra crossing and we have had some recent worrying near misses on the crossing involving vehicles not able to see the crossing clearly. Rather than arriving early and blocking the flow of traffic please consider dropping-off and picking-up your child at locations away from the school site or picking up your child after 4pm when the traffic will be considerably reduced.

Learning Community Parent Events

Walk With Us - Self-Defence

Brentwood Community Safety Partnership and Essex Police are offering free self-defence classes to combat violence against women and girls.

These sessions will be 60 minutes long and will cover many different aspects, from situational awareness, escapes, de-escalation, pre-emptive and defensive strikes and use of reasonable force.

Any level of fitness or self-defence experience is welcome.

Sessions are free to attend and will be held fortnightly from 8.45-9.45pm at St Martin's Secondary School, Brentwood, CM13 2HG.

Find out more and book for free here.

Blog Archive

Left or Right?, Friday 17th May 2024

Solomon’s Paradox, Friday 10th May 2024

A make-or-break year for democracy?, Friday 3rd May

Planet v Plastics: Earth Day 2024, Friday 26th April 2024

The story of the London Tube Map, Friday 19th April 2024

How to spot a High-Agency person, and why we should all try to become one, Friday 27th March 2024

Hogwarts for do-gooders, Friday 22nd March 2024

From Stealth Bomber to Super Soaker - The Remarkable Story of Lonnie Johnson, Friday 15th March 2024

The Ampersand (&), Friday 8th March 2024

Colonel Mustard, in the Library, with the Candlestick...., Friday 1st March 2024

The Power of Quiet, Friday 16th February 2024

A Brave New World?, Friday 9th February 2024

新年快乐, Friday 2nd February 2024

Miep Gies: A Beacon of Hope, Friday 26th January 2024

Dance like no-one is watching, Friday 20th January 2024

Are you an autotelic person?, Friday 12th January 2024

'God Bless Us, Every One!', Friday 15th December 2023

The Happiest Man Alive, Friday 8th December 2023

Less is more - the Bauhaus Movement, Friday 1st December 2023

The missing Chemists, Friday 24th November 2023

The Friendly Floatees, Friday 17th November 2023 

Skeuomorphism, Friday 10th November 2023

The art of letter-writing, Friday 20th October 2023

Razor and Rules (for life), Friday 13th October 2023

I know why the caged bird sings, Friday 6th October 2023

What's in a name?, Friday 29th September 2023

Healthy Competition, Friday 22nd September 2023

There's no such thing as multitasking (...says Daniel Levitin), Friday 15th September 2023

The Tortoise and the Hare, Friday 8th September 2023

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues, Friday 7th July 2023

‘Regrets on parting with my old dressing gown’, Friday 30th June 2023

Climate Change Protestors, Heroes or Villians, Friday 23rd June 2023

Harald Blatan and the origin of Bluetooth Technology, Friday 16th June 2023

Success lies upstream - we never float there, Friday 9th June 2023

They Birth of Chess Queen, Friday 26th May 2023

They have no need for our help..., Friday 19th May 2023

The Psychology of Monarchy, Friday 12th May 2023

The Real-Life Tony Stark? David Aguilar Amphoux, Friday 5th May 2023

We can't all be pandas- The Ugly Animal Preservation Society, Friday 28th April 2023

'The things we take for granted, someone else is praying for' (Unknown), Friday 21st April 2023

The curious case of the QWERTY keyboard, Friday 31st March 2023

The Story of the 17 Camels and Three Sons, Friday 17th March 2023

The Law of Names, Friday 3rd March 2023

An avoidable disaster? The story of the Space Shuttle Challenger, Friday 10th March 2023

Why we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, Friday 24th February 2023

It has to be Heniz - but why?, Friday 10th February 2023

'Behind the lens' - LGBTQ+ History month (February 2023), Friday 3rd February 2023

Dame Stephanie Shirley: A life well-lived, Friday 27th January 2023

Blue - or Brew - Monday?, Friday 20th January 2023

'One language sets you in a corridor for life; two languages open every door along the way' (Frank Smith, Canadian Psycholinguist), Friday 13th January 2023

The Spirit of Christmas, Friday 16th December 2022

Nikolaustag, Friday 9th December 2022

Making the impossible possible: The story of the Thai cave rescue, Friday 2nd December 2022

The Beautiful Game?, Friday 25th November 2022

The World's Nicest Prisons - madness or common sense?, Friday 18th November 2022

The tragedy of war, Friday 11th November 2022

The twins who saved South Africa, Friday 4th November 2022

The partially-filled coffee cup, Friday 14th October 2022

The Danger of a Single Story, Friday 7th October 2022

Socrates and 'The unexamined life', Friday 30th September 2022

An extraordinary occasion: saying goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II, Friday 23rd September 2022

Her Majesty, Friday 16th September 2022

Her Majesty, Friday 9th September 2022

The man (or woman) in the Arena, Friday 1st July 2022

'Form ever follows function', Friday 24th June 2022

Valuing others, Friday 17th June 2022

'Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common ...celebrate it every day' (Winston Churchill), Friday 10th June 2022

To speak another language it to posses another soul, Friday 27th May 2022

The Power of Forgiveness, Friday 20th May 2022

The Bystander Effect, Friday 13th May 2022

Food, glorious food..., Friday 6th May 2022

Winning or Losing - the two imposters, Friday 29th April 2022

Invest in our planet, Friday 22nd April 2022

A day for fools, Friday 1st April 2022

Standing up for the truth, Friday 25th March 2022

Heroes and Villains, Friday 18th March 2022

What is winning?, Friday 11th March 2022

The Romantic Movement, Friday 4th March 2022

Silent Spring, Friday 25th February 2022

Mary Anning Rocks, Friday 11th February 2022

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted (Aesop), Friday 4th February 2022

Finding hope where there seems to be none, Friday 28th January 2022

Exercise Rattlesnake, Friday 21st January 2022

The Importance of Small Steps, Friday 14th January 2022

The Story of the Two Wolves, Friday 7th January 2022

Brentwood Stories