Outstanding digital art portfolios, accurate Latin translation, brilliant conversions of decimals and fractions, thoughtful holiday book reviews, diaries, Computing projects, a wonderful house made of sweets, creative writing entries for the Year 7 book – such are examples of work that has been commended over a week when our pupils of all ages have settled incredibly well to remote learning. Within this Newsletter there is photographic evidence of the creative, the musical, the physical, the culinary, and much, much more. No doubt your children are trying things that are new, as their Head of School for the Lent Term advised in her excellent speech; no doubt they are enjoying old hobbies which provide a healthy balance away from screens. I have been very impressed by their purposeful approach and by their fortitude at a time when I know they would far prefer to be actually in school.
We are very pleased to have some children in school and I have been equally impressed by the way they have settled in a learning environment very different from the one with which they are more familiar.
It has been a most extraordinary start to the Lent Term and I would like to thank you as parents for supporting the teachers at St Christopher’s in their determination to ensure that learning remains joyful and interesting and that our pupils’ progress continues apace through these rather dark January days.
Last Friday, you should have a received a copy of the latest edition of The Seeker, our termly Newsletter.
It was lovely to see your children arrive at school this morning in their Christmas Jumpers, ready for the celebrations which the final day of the Michaelmas Term brings. Prizes have been awarded, achievements have been celebrated in Final Assembly, classroom decorations have been judged with 3G winning a closely contested competition, Years 7 and 8 have wished their Reception and Year 1 buddies a happy Christmas via Zoom, and we are all looking forward to Christmas lunch.
This final Newsletter of the year includes links to several items on our YouTube channel: the Jerusalema Dance Challenge, the two Nativity plays, and the staff's treatment of Mariah Carey's seasonal favourite. I am pleased that we have been able to share so much video content with you this term, at a time when we cannot invite you to school to take part in events with us. Our Carol Service from All Saints will be shared with you later this afternoon. Please do take some time to sit down and watch it with your family; I hope next year’s service will take place in more conventional circumstances.
It has been a very different term. However, I think we can all be grateful for the progress made by pupils in the classroom and for the joy that has been so evident in so much the children have done and achieved. Your children have been incredible in the very positive approach they have brought to all that the school has done and so too have you, their parents. I wish you all comfort, love, and joy as we approach the festive season and your children a Christmas full of wonder.
Examinations are a reality of school, not one which children necessarily relish, but one far less daunting in fact than in perception. I was very impressed by the purposeful and calm way in which our pupils approached them and I am sure that many will benefit from the affirmation which these tests bring. However, I am equally hopeful that mistakes will have been made from which your children will learn. We can now look forward to Advent and to the festive season which comes with it. Christmas will not be quite the same this year, but we will certainly be celebrating its approach, focusing on its true importance but also enjoying some of the fripperies.
There has been a focus on Art this week. On Thursday Mrs Lomax led Assembly and showed to the school some of the highly creative art work the children have been engaged with. A large number entered our poster design challenge aimed to raise awareness amongst the children of individual responsibility during this very unusual time. Many used their creativity to draw attention to sensible health measures such as hand washing and social distancing. A large number also participated in ‘The Big Draw’, focusing this year on the beauty of nature and the dangers of climate change. The resulting art showed how important this issue is to children. There is art within from all age groups. I do hope that you enjoy it.
Our Christmas trees arrived today. On Monday, our pupils will arrive and depart from school with lights sparkling. Chamber Choir are rehearsing for our Carol Service, the youngest children for their Nativities, and staff for a slightly less polished version of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. Pupils are also enjoying practising a dance of South African origins, called ‘Jerusalema’. In Forms, every pupil will join in a filmed dance next Wednesday; they’re rather good at it. We hope to make recordings available to parents of these festive activities.
Dancing, singing, and a wide range of sports and active learning have perhaps been more important to our pupils than at any time; a rich co-curricular diet to compliment the very good learning which continues in the classroom. I continue to take great pleasure from seeing pupils’ commended work and from witnessing purposeful learning every day in the classroom.
As we move towards the end of a term which has presented its challenges for all – pupils, teachers and you, our parents – I cannot help but feel a little proud of how our community has risen to those challenges. Throughout we have been bolstered by the joy of watching our pupils enjoying their classroom learning, their play, and all that has happened outside the classroom.
Finally, I would like to commend the charity initiatives of Louis Ebenezer, one of our three Heads of School.
Wednesday afforded the school the opportunity to join the nation in remembering those who made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice, and enabled us all to remember how fortunate we are to live at a time and in a part of the world which has enjoyed 75 years of peace and relative prosperity. It was not always thus and, sadly, nor is it thus in some parts of the world today. It is also a time to be grateful to and for members of our armed services who give so much. I was very pleased that our pupils so embraced the day and gained so much from it, from the youngest who focused on the peace and love about which they sung, to the oldest who can consider the pity of war.
A rich range of activities continues on Wednesday afternoons at a variety of venues and I am very pleased that your children continue to enjoy the co-curricular opportunities which give such balance to our curriculum. There are pictures within of them enjoying the autumnal sunshine with which we have been blessed this week. Commendations continue to flood in, and the recent 2nd Marks suggest that in the classroom diligent learning continues.
I wish that I could invite you into the school. You would see happy children enjoying their learning and the school life that is such an important part of childhood. Recent news has given the ray of hope which the nation needs and I am optimistic that the Lent Term will see a relaxation of restrictions.
I would like to wish those in our community who will celebrate Diwali tomorrow a happy and prosperous New Year. As with Christmas, celebrations will have to be different this year, but we will find ways to celebrate.