have just finished signing over 170 Headmaster’s Commendations reflecting the terrific work our pupils of all ages are doing in a wide and disparate range of subjects and topics. Doing so was confirmation of the engagement I am seeing in remote lessons I am presently observing. This morning I felt very privileged to observe a Geography lesson on the proposed third runway at Heathrow in which the children showed impressive knowledge of the detail of the proposal, as well as the ability to question and challenge the accuracy of a short film marketing the project.

There has also been a focus on pupil wellbeing this week. Nothing, of course, is more important to us at St Christopher’s, but if the response of the children is anything to go by (echoed by the engagement that they are showing with their learning), then I feel reassured in my belief that our pupils are managing the disappointments which lockdown brings with considerable fortitude.

I would like to draw your attention to the Family Quiz, being organised for you by the Parents’ Association next Friday. It should be great fun and I hope that lots of parents will want to join in and participate. I will join at the beginning and leave before I can be embarrassed by gaps in my knowledge.

A Newsletter can convey only so much of all that is being done, but I hope that this one will give you a glimpse of what I have seen this week and that it lifts your spirits. I hope also that a decent showing by England’s cricketers and rugby players will buoy us all, just as Brighton and Hove Albion’s tremendous midweek win against Liverpool gave many of us joy on Wednesday night.

I don’t think any of us will be sad at the passing of January, as we edge towards February Half Term and the brighter prospects which spring will bring. I am delighted that we are able to support a good number of children in school, but very aware that both your children and you will be disappointed by the recent announcement of the Prime Minister that schools are unlikely to open before 8th March.

I remain buoyed, however, by the very positive approach that our pupils are taking to their remote learning. The photographs we receive suggest that they are showing initiative and fortitude by taking up new things at home, and excellent examples of work continue to be sent to me by teachers.

I know that what the children are missing most is that day to day contact which they have in normal times, and so we are trying to facilitate that through a number of initiatives which we hope will gather pace.

One such initiative is our Cook Along With… YouTube sessions which have proved so popular with parents and children. Some of last week’s impressive results can be seen below. At a time when we cannot break bread together in the traditional sense, it is good to see a love of cooking connecting our community, albeit remotely. Mrs McKinnon and family present this week’s episode.

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.

Rarely has there been a time when reading is more comforting or more important for children. A good book can be totally absorbing and take us away from day to day concerns. It provides an escape for us all and an important one for children at this time; to paraphrase the American Professor of Literature Mason Cooley, “Reading can take you to amazing places when you have nowhere else to go”.

NeNo doubt our pupils are missing most the day to day contact they have with their friends when school is open and we are looking into further ways we can support more informal remote meetings. Anything that can be done from home to enable contact between your child and his or her peers can only be a good thing. I have been very pleased to hear that some of our older pupils are using various platforms to keep in contact, with themed remote gatherings which are both imaginative and fun. You will be receiving more information from the school next week. I am grateful to the Parents’ Association for funding a presentation by Alicia Drummond on parenting during lockdown and hope this will be helpful.

Routines are also very important at the moment and I continue to be most impressed by the self-discipline shown by your children, who have responded extremely well to a very different way of learning. Teachers continue to forward to me some excellent work which suggests real engagement in learning across the age groups.

I wish you all a restful weekend.

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.