One of the ways in which Divisions (Houses) form their identities and demonstrate their pride for their Division is through the many Inter-Divisional competitions held at Pangbourne.
The competitions are a great way of bringing the Pangbourne community together and generate excellent team spirit between the Divisions, with the students participating in a friendly, but competitive, manner.
The competitions are a fantastic way in which the Upper Sixth are able to demonstrate and improve upon their leadership skills as they are tasked with organising their Division, through rehearsals and preparation schedules, ahead of each event.
The Headmaster’s Cup
This prestigious trophy is awarded on Founders’ Day (last day of the school year) to the Division which earns the most Merits throughout the academic year.
Merits are usually awarded to pupils for academic excellence (ie. High standard of class or prep [homework]), excellent test results or sustained effort in a particular subject area.
At the end of each term, academic distinction prizes are awarded to students who exceed the Merit target set within their year. Emails are sent out every week detailing how many Merits have been earned by each Division and who has earned them, with a running tally provided and inspiring pupils to earn more Merits for their Division.
The Inter-Divisional Debating competition is split into Intermediate (Forms 3 and 4) and Senior (Form 5 and the Sixth Form) events.
The Upper Sixth are given a motion (eg. ‘This House believes that Britain should recognise the individual’s right to choose an assisted death’) 10 days before each competition, both of which take place in the Lent term, and are tasked with choosing three suitable candidates to represent their Division.
Each Divisional team is made up of three students – two boys and one girl from their Sister Division across each year group. The event is held in the Nancye Harding Recital Hall in front of an audience of staff and pupils, and is usually chaired by either the Headmaster or the Deputy Head Academic.
From the teams of three, one person gives an introduction detailing whether they are for or against the motion, the second student explains why the team is for or against a motion, and the final pupil summarises their argument. The Chair then has the tricky decision of choosing the best speaker of the evening and the winning Division.
The Inter-Divisional Music competition is one of the most hotly-contested events at the College and an undoubted highlight of the Pangbourne calendar.
The competition is split into Instrumental, Vocal and Divisional Song, with all compositions chosen by and organised by the Upper Sixth. The Instrumental and Vocal competition sees the girls’ Divisions join up with their Brother Divisions to perform together, while the Divisional Song is contested by all six Divisions, with points awarded to the girls’ Divisions contributing towards their Brother Division’s total. Crucially, every single pupil is involved in the competition giving the event an inclusive feel.
An independent adjudicator judges the performances and awards winners in each category before announcing the overall victorious Division in front of a large and captivated audience of parents, staff and students.
Examples of past Instrumental performances include versions of Aretha Franklin’s Respect and Ben l’Oncle Soul’s Seven Nation Army, with memorable Vocal performances including arrangements of Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive and Christina Aguilera’s Say Something, while Divisional Songs in previous competitions have included Adele’s You Make Me Feel My Love and Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Miserables.
The Parade Cup is awarded at the end of the academic year to the Division which has earned the most points from the monthly College Sundays.
Each Division is marked on appearance, dressing (accuracy of students’ drills), saluting and hair (girls’ hair must be pinned up properly and boys’ hair must be a certain length and not go over their collars).
Those judging the Divisions on their parade etiquette include the Headmaster, the College Sunday Guest of Honour, the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) and the Chief Cadet Captains (Head Boy and Girl).
The students take pride in their parade etiquette to win their Division points, polishing their shoes and encouraging each other to do their very best on the day. There are updates at every end of term assembly detailing how well the Divisions are doing in the Parade Cup to ensure students keep striving to do better at each College Sunday and develop their sense of pride in their respected Division.
100% Race – the 100% Race is the traditional cross country running event whereby all the pupils, a good number of staff and even parents run around the perimeter of the main campus. The route is just under three miles in the Senior race and slightly shorter for the Intermediate competitors, with a variety of terrains and inclines and declines testing the racers throughout.
The Inter-Divisional Athletics is Pangbourne’s big ‘Sports Day’ event. The majority of pupils are involved in at least one event and it is a firm highlight of the Pangbourne calendar in the Summer term.
Other sporting Inter-Divisional competitions are the ergo, hockey, rugby, riding, netball, basketball, tennis, cricket and swimming.
The Junior House (Dunbar – Forms 1 and 2) is split into four Watches and compete in almost all of the same competitions, apart from debating, rugby and the ergo competition, as the senior school, but on different dates.
The winning Division in the music competition becomes the proud owner of the Mozart Bust for that academic year and there is a Sports Cup for the Division which earns the most House points in the sporting competitions in the year. The overall winning Division is announced in the final assembly of the academic year which is a source of great pride to the victors.