News

News

Last week my reflections page was given over to the Year 8 English and Geography trip to Dorset. The children tell me they had a wonderful time and they enjoyed spending time together and learning more about the unique geography of the area. The teachers who accompanied the trip commented to me about the children’s excellent behaviour and enthusiasm despite the chilly weather. In fact, during their visit to the Tank Museum, the Year 8s’ behaviour and intelligent questioning were praised by three different museum staff.

This past week I was delighted and charmed by the Reception and Year 1 Nativity plays. Costumes were carefully arranged, lines were delivered clearly and songs were sung with gusto. There was even an impromptu dance by the stars in the Reception play. I have great respect and admiration for the teachers and staff who skillfully get the best from our youngest pupils in these productions. Years 1,2 and 3 were treated to a Beauty and the Beast pantomime performance on Wednesday at the Pavilion Theatre in Worthing. A picture of Reception’s Nativity can be seen above. Year 1’s Nativity took place this afternoon and will feature in the final Newsletter of term next Thursday lunchtime.

In school, alongside lessons, the children have been decorating their classrooms and House Trees. My spies tell me that Drake Badgers are pulling out all the stops; I can’t wait to see them all for judging next week. On Monday, 7L did a very well-researched Assembly to the whole school on Christmas traditions around the world. We learned that KFC is a Christmas Day tradition in Japan, even though it is not a public holiday; that Orthodox Christians celebrate in January; and that fried carp replaces roast turkey in Austria.

Our sponsored Christmas Holiday Readathon was launched yesterday, and Head Librarian Freddie spoke about it in Assembly this morning. Reading is so important for children, and the chance to combine this with raising money for our local charities is an excellent idea. As I sign off my penultimate reflections of the year, a reminder that Christmas jumpers need to come out of the wardrobe for next Tuesday, and my best wishes to those in our community who are celebrating Hanukkah this week; a festival of lights is certainly welcome as the days get ever darker.

 

 

Greetings from Dorset, by Year 8

 

Ms Lyle has given us the challenge of taking over her section of the Newsletter this week. We weren’t sure if we’d have enough news to fill the front page but, as we write on Thursday evening, it seems a lot longer ago than 7am this morning that we left school! Our trip combines English and History, and the first stage of our journey was to Bovington Tank Museum. We had an uneventful journey through some lovely scenery in the winter sunshine, although many of us were too busy to look out of the windows. With the exception of Chrome Books for our data analysis, this is a Strictly No Gadgets trip, but we barely noticed as sketchbooks, Rubik’s Cubes, and even Top Trumps (you’re never too old) kept us busy.

A breakfast stop allowed us to choose the petrol for our own engines, with those sipping their Costa lattes looking down their noses at those in the McDonald’s queue. In no time at all we were in Dorset; Mr Holt told us to watch for a badger on the signs of roadside pubs to mean we were close. Bovington Tank Museum is huge and, well, rather tanky, with a huge collection from the sole remaining British Mark I to modern ones where some details about them are still top secret. We had guides through the section on The Trenches, which was a mixture of really sad and some really disgusting facts. Don’t want to cough your own lungs up in a chlorine gas attack? Start weeing on an old sock when you hear the alarm! We then had a lesson all about how WW1 saw huge advances in medical technology to treat the injuries the soldiers received. This had opportunities for dressing up and roleplay; pictures next week! A quick visit to the gift shop and we were away again. Three members of the museum staff told our teachers how impressed they were with our knowledge and manners, which meant bedtime was pushed back to 9.45pm!

The driveway at Leeson House was designed for coaches with four horses rather than sixty seats, but our driver, Tim, only needed two goes to get us in. Leeson House has an amazing history, with evidence of a Roman building on the site, weird wood carving that Mr Melton said was “positively rococo, my dears”, and secret tunnels under the garden from WW2. We unloaded our bags and met Pete and Mark, who were in charge of our stay. Ms Laatz FINALLY let us know who was in each dormitory, and we had a fire drill. Leeson House used to be a school, and what was their Hall is now a Games Room, with pool, table tennis, and comfy chairs. It was great just to be able to socialise as a whole year group like this.

After dinner, we went on a Night Walk, which was a mixture of looking at the stars in a light pollution free area, tales of smugglers and ghosts, and an amazing true story from WW2. We got back and were allowed to make ourselves a hot drink, which some people found nearly as difficult as making their own bed in the dorms. We discussed the day so that we could send our ideas back to school for this article, and then went up to our dorms hoping the weather forecast for Friday’s Geography field work didn’t come true. By the time you read this, you’ll know the answer; we’re sure we will have had fun anyway!

Love from the Year 8s.

This week I was handed an article from The Times magazine about the education system in Estonia. Despite relatively low spending on education, Estonia has the best education system in Europe according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This tiny, former Soviet state outperforms the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, the US, Canada, Japan, and South Korea. The article highlighted some of the ways Estonia has achieved this impressive status and I wanted to know more. The journalist was focused on state funded schools in Europe but I am always happy to read about best practice. Additionally, as a lifelong educationalist, I was curious to see if there was anything I could glean that would benefit St Christopher’s.

Here are the main points:
Headteachers have a very high level of autonomy and teachers are trusted professionals.
Pupils are active participants in their learning.
Technology is woven into teaching and learning, it is a tool not an end in itself.
An even balance of tradition and innovation.
An emphasis on problem-solving, critical thinking, values, citizenship, entrepreneurship and digital competence.

I was pleased to see that the points above are embedded at St Christopher’s, too. We are a forward-thinking school that develops the whole child and our students are very successful indeed. Our teachers are warm and collaborative professionals who encourage children to be active learners. We embrace technology to support teaching and learning. At St Christopher's we know technology in any form is a means to an end; a pencil is just a piece of wood and graphite, but it can be used to sketch a portrait, label a diagram, write your first phonics or even your first novel. New technology simply enables greater exploration and creativity in the hands of the curious. St Christopher’s also strikes the right balance of tradition and innovation. Our traditional Remembrance celebration this year was simultaneously beamed into each classroom at exactly 11am, enabling all students to participate in this traditional Assembly in a very modern way.

If St Christopher’s could be measured on the PISA scale, I’m positive we would be up there with the best in the world.

Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head

Next week is Anti-Bullying week at St Christopher’s and we have been building up to it with assemblies and positive messages over the course of this week. The theme is ‘One Kind Word’ and Form Tutors will be speaking to the children about this in greater detail throughout the course of the week. Odd Socks Day will be on Friday 26th and I look forward to seeing a variety of colours and patterns!

This week I saw Years 1 and 2 for an Assembly where we read Everyone’s Different by Todd Parr, and we discussed the ways we are different. In fact, one page says “It is ok to wear glasses?” and one of the Year 1 children said, “Ms Lyle, YOU were wearing glasses when you read that page!” What a wonderful observation. On Thursday, 6G did an insightful Assembly for the whole school on Differences and being yourself. It was full of positive messages from the children of 6G.

At St Christopher’s we believe that the first step in combating bullying is embracing differences. Every person is unique and special and we celebrate this in our lessons, assemblies and theme weeks like Anti-Bullying week. In addition, it is important to me that we build children’s self esteem by encouraging them to try new things and meet challenges head-on and unafraid, because they know they have the resilience to handle success and setbacks. Happy, secure children are much less likely to be unkind to others. Finally, all adults at St Christopher’s evince kindness and acceptance of differences. Our school has a warm, inclusive culture that is, in my experience, very special. We also allow children to make age-appropriate mistakes, make it right with a heartfelt apology, and move on. Remember the marbles in the jar?

It is not always enough to tell children to be kind to one another. Bullying is a complex issue and it requires a robust solution. At St Christopher’s we take a multi-faceted approach to tackling bullying; we embrace differences, build children’s self esteem and resilience, and encourage the behaviours we want to see. I do believe that children must be allowed to learn from their mistakes but all of our pupils know that repeated unkind behaviour will not be tolerated at St Christopher’s.

Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head

 

I have been captivated by news coverage of the United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow this week. World leaders are working hard to balance the interests of their individual countries with the needs of the planet. A daunting task. It has generated discussion in my house and I would guess that many of you are having conversations at home, too. In my experience, children are natural crusaders for the planet and children need to see tangible actions that aim to make things better. As world leaders work on promises, I propose our St Christopher’s community works together on actions.

What can our families do to reduce their negative impact on the planet? I think we all know the answers by now. Drive less, recycle more, waste less (of everything), eat lower on the food chain, lower our food miles, compost if you have the room, and motivate others to do these things as well.

Many St Christopher’s families already walk, bike or scoot to school. In conversation with the children this week, I have also heard about composting, electric cars, meat-free meals, staying away from single-use plastics, thinking about where our food comes from and food miles. I know we are all trying to do our bit and, this week, inspired by the Climate Conference, I urge families to try to do a bit more. By working together, I know we can make a big difference. What will your action be?

A few additional messages:

Exams are on the horizon for Upper School, and they are well underway with their preparation and revision, both in lessons and at home. Exams become part of life as you prepare to move on to Senior School, and we aim to get our children into good habits via the process of internal exams such as these. Children should sees these assessments as an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them, using the Growth Mindset. High attainment will always be celebrated, but developing new skills by learning from past errors is an equal reason to be pleased with yourself. Form Tutors have spoken about the importance of a good night’s sleep, a proper breakfast even if you have a tummy full of butterflies, and restricting screen time in the hours before bed. All of this will stand them in good stead for Common Entrance, GCSEs, A Levels, and beyond.

We were hoping to be able to relax more of our Covid protocols after Half Term, but owing to several factors we have taken the decision to remain cautious.Therefore, we are continuing with our Covid 19 restrictions for at least the next two weeks but are reviewing regularly. It is our sincere hope that we can all be together for the Carol Service at the end of term.

Happy Diwali to all who celebrated this week; it was great to see fireworks over Brighton last night.

Bonfire night tonight! Enjoy and stay safe.