I have been extremely impressed by the behaviour, the concentration and the cheerfulness of those children who are learning remotely in school and I form the impression that this is the case with those learning at home. I do hope that the structure which this learning is providing is helping our pupils as they show such fortitude in circumstances which require strength of character. Teachers are also hugely grateful for the support you are giving in helping your children make the most of a whole different way of learning. My most important priority, shared by your children's teachers, is to ensure that that our pupils continue to make very good progress and to thoroughly enjoy learning and also that they have time away from their screens to exercise, to play and to show their creative flair and imagination. The pages of this Newsletter give evidence of some of the excellent work being done, academic, creative and physical.
The many very kind and generous communications I have received suggest that, in the main, the start to remote learning has been a very positive one, though there has inevitably been the odd technical glitch, to which we have tried to respond quickly. In these very unsettling times, please do keep safe and look after yourselves. I wish you all a very good weekend and those who are working at the weekend every strength and comfort.
Yesterday, I received this message from Reverend Rosie, the new Chaplain to Brighton College. It touched me and so I thought I would share it with you:
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. And the people began to think differently.’’ (Kitty O’Meara)
I was also drawn to the story of Noah's stoicism in the face of the flood, which contains a couple of passages that seem to me very relevant at the moment. It may seem at present that "the dove can find no rest for the sole of her foot", and is unlikely to for some time. Noah is later reassured by God that "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease". This is perhaps a Biblical paraphrase of "Keep calm and carry on", which is exactly what St Christopher's intends to do. Lessons will still be taught, a wide variety of learning will take place, and pupils and teachers will continue to work together to maintain the high standards we prize.
It is my sincere belief that our school community will find itself even stronger for weathering this particular storm.
As I write, the playground basks in sunshine, a welcome relief after the rain we have had and which I thought would never stop. It is entertaining to see the children, attired in their colourful World Book Day costumes playing basketball – a judge has just managed what I believe is called a slam dunk and James Bond is controlling mid court. The Upper School children are thoroughly enjoying the work they are doing with Nicky Singer, and their Pre-Prep counterparts are having a lot of fun with their own visiting author, Sophy Henn.
It saddens me enormously that so many events and activities our pupils were looking forward to have been cancelled owing to the rapid spread of coronavirus in Europe and in this country; a situation which is developing and changing by the day. However, I have found it uplifting that the children have been so understanding. We have made the decisions we have in the belief that this is the right thing to do for our pupils. I hope that we are steering the right course, but I would like to apologise for the inevitable frustrations and disappointment that our decisions may cause to you, your children and families.
You will see from this Newsletter how much we are still doing, while the adjustments to our end of term programme have drawn very firmly to my attention what a rich schedule of events and activities the teachers at St Christopher’s organise for our pupils. I do hope that the sunshine we are enjoying today lasts through the weekend and that you are able to enjoy it with your families.
Yesterday, I taught a lesson on Henry VIII’s Break from Rome; not quite as well as I would have liked to, because I discovered last night that my resources had been thrown away by my wife. Nonetheless, it was a welcome change, and I was hugely impressed by the knowledge and the very pertinent questions asked by pupils who are only just thirteen. Our Year 8 pupils have been incredibly impressive in their management of disappointments resulting from events wehave had to cancel, just as their approach to work in which they show real engagement and interest gives me great pleasure.
I cannot write with conviction that this has been the happiest of weeks for teachers, pupils, or you as parents, but as I look out of my window the enthusiastic play of children does help keep things in perspective; as did the enthusiasm of Year 5 and 6 pupils this morning as their achievements were celebrated in a small Celebration Assembly for just thoseyears. Amongst the announcements made were Internal Scholarships for Year 7. Next week I will be able to announce further External Scholarships, other than Academic ones. I am confident that we will be celebrating a very impressive number for a relatively small Prep School whose pupils go on to the very best and therefore most competitive Public Schools in and beyond Sussex. However, all should remember that the child who gives of their very best is always the real winner, Scholarship or not.
It was good to see many Year 4 parents at last night’s performance of The Peach Adventure ; drama is such an important outlet for your children, and I am glad that this was an event that we were able to present under the currentcircumstances. My thanks to all who made it possible, bringing a little much needed cheer to the week.