students playing sports

The Head’s reflections on the week

Posted: 5th May 2023

Students sat on the beach

With concerts and plays in front of an audience, and whole school events like World Book Day firmly back in the calendar, the final stage of a return to pre-Covid life is residential trips. Upper School very bravely spent a night under canvas in October, and Year 8 were lucky with their weather in Dorset later that term. The Summer Term is now upon us and lots of residential trips await us as the sun starts to shine. Years 5 and 6 are off to Windmill Hill activity centre next week; Year 7 spend a week at Chateâu de Broutel in early June; and Year 8 look forward to a return to Dorset on the Leavers’ Trip when Scholarship and Common Entrance are finally over.

Residential trips enhance the children’s classroom learning, such as by speaking French in France, or seeing a geomorphology in front of you rather than in a textbook. Residential trips enable children to develop working as a team, building a raft or in an Escape Room. Residential trips are most importantly about fun, and extra time spent with friends. When we ask our Leavers each year for their fondest memories of their time at St Christopher’s, residential trips are very often mentioned.

Residential trips are an enormously important part of growing up. The first ones can be daunting, but the ability to thrive away from your immediate family is a skill that needs to be acquired. Having to make choices for themselves, having to take responsibility for aspects of their lives normally done for them, and developing resilience in the face of some nervous moments, are all hugely important in a child’s development. It goes without saying that residential trips are meticulously planned in terms of the care and safety of your children, and that our staff are in loco parentis on these occasions, but the challenge of making your own bed, choosing a balanced breakfast, and returning home with all the items of clothing you packed is one that our older children should be equal to.

Away from school, children’s relationships with their peers can develop in new ways, too. New friendships are made from sharing a dormitory; leadership skills can be discovered and displayed; and problem solving skills come to the fore in new ways. Someone who finds algebra a struggle may have the perfect solution to stop their group’s raft sinking, or get their fire alight, for example. It is common for teachers to return, invariably exhausted, from these events saying, “It was fantastic, I saw a totally new side to the pupils.” Residential trips see teachers and pupils interacting outside of the classroom or sports field, and this encourages them to learn more about each other as they find themselves in new environments, and discover common ground.

With all this in mind, I am pleased to be able to share the video of the Ski Trip with you – they clearly had a great time on the slopes and indeed in the disco!

I wish you a happy Coronation weekend in the sunshine; I hear much from the children about street parties and other celebrations planned!

Ms Elizabeth Lyle, Head

Categories: Head's Reflections