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.
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.
As the nation begins a second lockdown, I would like to wish those for whom this creates most difficulties and most worry every comfort. I feel very fortunate that I can come in to work and witness every day the enthusiastic joy of our pupils and the dedication of our teachers, but I am very aware that there are many within our community who are anxious and who have suffered from the consequences of a pandemic which brings with it the uncertainty which we all find discomforting. At such a time, I believe it is helpful for us all to think of others, to care for others and to show charity.
As you will see from the poppy on our masthead, our thoughts are turning towards our annual Act of Remembrance. This is one aspect of school life that will not change despite everything that is happening in our world. Our remembrance of the past puts our current privations into stark context given the sacrifices of our forebears. Video footage of our Remembrance event will be made available on 11th November.
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.
Halloween has become a big event and one which children look forward to with excitement. There is something about Trick or Treating which does not sit easily with me, but I am nonetheless aware that the wonders of Halloween have become a part of childhood. As I write, watching out of my study window various apparitions enter the school gates, it is uplifting to see the excitement which various outfits bring. The School Office is decorated as a witches’ coven and I fear I have no alternative but to don my wizard’s hat for Celebration Assembly.
Mrs Collins provided the first act of the show with a terrific School Assembly on Thursday morning. She shared her knowledge of the links between the classical world and its language and the Harry Potter books; JK Rowling studied Classics at university. It was pleasing to hear the answers of the children to her various challenges, showing that from youngest to very oldest our pupils are able to see the links between Latin and other languages, that they enjoy considering the roots of words, and that the wonders of mythology excite them.
On Thursday we will mark Guy Fawkes’ Night, a rather more British celebration, but today your children deserve some slightly irreverent and unadulterated fun. I hope that they are not too excited when we return them to you this evening, that you have a warm dry and restful weekend, and that England score sufficient points against Italy to win the Rugby Six Nations Tournament which seemed to start a very long time ago.