News

News

The highlight of my week this week was the Year 5 play, Elf: The Musical, pictured above. The children brought the sparkle of Christmas magic to the short days of January. The children sang beautifully, delivered their lines clearly and navigated a wonderfully ambitious staging arrangement. They should be very proud of their performance. I would also like to say thank you to Mrs Griffiths for her vision and all of the hard work that goes into staging a year group production. It was also heartwarming to be able to invite Year 5 parents into the hall to watch the play live. It has been two years since school performances have been performed in front of live audiences and it is my sincere hope that this term we will be able to return to live audiences at all school events.

Switching gears now from the arts to technology. Yesterday at school, we lost our internet connection for an entire afternoon and it was…wonderful. After the initial shock, of course. It made me think about technology use in general. At St Christopher’s technology is simply the new pencil case, it is a tool for teaching and learning. We monitor how technology is used in lessons and aim for the right balance. Technology also allows teachers to ‘show, not tell’ which is the ideal learning scenario; teachers present a puzzle and the children then solve it using their innate curiosity, rather than simply being told to write down or remember the solution.

Technology is a very useful tool. Nonetheless, I think we can all use a break from technology on a regular basis and the opportunities to read a book, tell a story, paint a picture, bake a cake, walk a dog, plant a seed, or even knit a jumper are all mindful and creative things adults and children can do when cast adrift from the internet, even for a few hours. I invite all St Christopher’s families to have an tech-free afternoon on a regular basis.

Ms E Lyle, Head

Happy New Year! As we begin the year 2022, I have been thinking about exploration and discovery, and the hope they bring to all of us. Just knowing that new and exciting things are possible allows us to imagine a better future. In the past few years, we have seen: unprecedented cooperation across countries to create advances in medical technology related to the fight against covid; Army Officer Preet Chandi being the first woman of colour to complete a solo expedition across Antarctica; the largest fossilised ichthyosaur was found in a Rutland reservoir; a new primate skull was found in Ethiopia, which is shedding more light on the evolution of humans; a badger dug up a hoard of Roman coins, the largest hoard ever discovered in Spain (this discovery was brought to my attention by Drake Badgers House); and the James Webb telescope launched on Christmas day on its mission to study the beginnings of our universe.

One of the most delightful aspects of working with children is that they are discovering new things every day. Children see new discoveries and achievements as a normal part of every day, which is wonderful! The joy of discovery starts in childhood and is nurtured through school in well developed lessons taught by teachers who have huge enthusiasm for subjects in which they are highly qualified specialists. Lessons at St Christopher’s are designed to allow children to explore topics and make learning discoveries for themselves. This week, I have seen Year 2 discovering the patterns of number bonds, Year 5 polishing their drama performance of Elf: The Musical, Year 8 enjoying the challenge of trying to see both sides of a debate, and Year 6 drawing the conclusion that the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism inspired the creators Star Wars universe.

I love to learn about new discoveries and new accomplishments and I am very lucky to be in a school where exploration and discovery is embedded in every lesson. New discoveries and new accomplishments tickle our brains, show us what is possible, and give us hope for the future. I wonder what discoveries and accomplishments 2022 holds?

Notes and Reminders
Currently our covid situation at school looks very reassuring and our infection rate is very low. Today, we have four children out isolating which is 1 % of the school. I want to thank you for your support with our covid precautions and I will continue to keep you updated as the term progresses. Please note that a positive LFT result does not now require a PCR test to confirm infection and the isolation period can begin right away.

As is traditional, the first Assembly of term was led by the Head of School for the term. Otto, our Head of School for Lent 2022, made a splendid speech about the importance of friends and family, especially when things don’t go your way.

Ms E Lyle, Head

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.

 

At this time of year, I think most people reflect on the previous 12 months and I am no exception. Last year at this time I was in a different school and part of a different school community. A lot has changed for me in the past year. I have joined St Christopher’s, joined a wonderful new school community, and I couldn’t be happier!

Every day this term I have discovered another thing to love about our school: sparky and intelligent children, kind and helpful buddies, dedicated and caring teachers, tireless support staff, unique traditions like the staff Christmas song and the House flags that fly every Friday, and the three cheers thank you to the kitchen staff at the end of a term. I am sure there are many more that I have yet to see. I heard the School Hymn sung for the very first time this morning, albeit in a pre-recorded version!

I know that for some families this past year has included many changes too, and there will be a lot to reflect on. What do you reflect on at this time of year? What are your wishes for the year ahead? At this time of year, the nights draw in and we naturally spend time with friends and family, giving thanks for both. At a time like this, the plight of child refugees in our city seems more desperate than ever, and it was heartwarming to see how quickly our school community rose to the challenge of offering support. A huge selection of board games and warm coats have been collected, and literally hundreds of colourful, inspiring, and hopeful messages were produced by the children yesterday, following an appeal from Miss Smart. It is perhaps not stretching things too far to consider Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus as strangers who found themselves vulnerable and in need, in a place where they knew nobody.

To offer others community is one of the greatest things human beings can do for each other. I thank the school for their support of others in the situation above, and I thank the children, staff, and parents of St Christopher’s for helping me feel so welcome in my first term.

Wishing you a wonderful, joy-filled holiday and happy new year.

Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head

 

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.