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.
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.
We have fairly galloped through September, helped by the wonderful weather that month brought. Autumn seems now to be with us, but as I look out on the first puddles on the playground, I can reflect on how very well the return to school has gone. Your children have quickly settled to their learning, they have adapted very well to a school that has to be slightly different, and I continue to enjoy observing our pupils at work and at play. That play at break time, without football dominating, has been wonderfully imaginative. Working in a school is extremely rewarding when the pupils are so visibly enjoying themselves and so purposeful in the classroom.
We are now looking forward to Harvest Festival, elements of which we are planning to film, to marking Remembrance Day, to a recital, and to some of the big events of the second half of term. I am sad that we cannot invite you to these events as we usually would, but this Newsletter gives you a glimpse of life at school; visual testament to children enjoying life and learning at St Christopher’s.
During the week you received a letter from Mr Melton about the importance of reading. We are very grateful for what you are doing at home to encourage reading. It makes such a difference to every child’s learning as well as developing a habit which will bring lifetime joy.
Yesterday morning we held our Harvest Festival Service remotely. In normal circumstances we would walk the children to St Philip’s Church, a line of red stretching along New Church Road. Our service this morning was far removed from our usual rendition of We Plough the Fields and Scatter and we could not enjoy the wonders of a local church. Nonetheless, Intermediate Choir sang Picture of Autumn robustly, Reception showed great gusto in their rendition of Big Red Combine Harvester, Chamber Choir sang Alive in Me beautifully, and Year 5 & 6 Choir led us in the aforementioned hymn.
Above all the occasion enabled us to think with gratitude of all the good things we have. We are very privileged to have in our lives good food, comfortable homes, friendship, and love. This is a time when I ask our pupils to give thought to all those who do not have those things. It is important to do so.
I am delighted that our support for Off The Fence has been so embraced by parents – thank you. The appeal remains open until Monday evening, so there is still time to contribute. Thank you also for your patience as we do our very best to give variety to your children at school. I am only sorry that we are unable to invite you to live events which show how engaged they are and how much they are enjoying school. They will be ready for Half Term. I wish them and you a very happy one.
Though sports fixtures are presently not possible and, very sadly, we cannot welcome parents to drama productions, recitals, or services, there is a very full and rich programme of co-curricular activities taking place in and outside school. Wednesday afternoon sees every child in Year 4 to Year 8 engaged in sport, our Year 3 are rehearsing for their drama performance. Choirs are preparing for a short Harvest Festival Service, and activities within year groups are being enjoyed by pupils of all ages. Yesterday I enjoyed watching girls and boys in Year 7 enjoying some cricket practice together. I could not resist joining in, only to be dismissed first ball by a pupil in Year 6. Where possible, major events will be filmed and made available remotely to parents, a result of the very admirable work done by Mr Holt.
I am fortunate enough to look out on the playground from my study and at break times I enjoy hearing the sounds of your children at play and watching the imaginative games they are devising. Our pupils have adapted remarkably well to a new way of doing things and seem very happy around the school. I have also enjoyed observing some very purposeful learning as I walk around the back court and pop into classrooms. Of course school is different this term, all schools are different at present, but any visitor would be struck by the joyful approach to learning of our pupils and by the noticeable bond which exists between teachers and their pupils. Many things remain just the same.