The news has been dominated by education this week and I am delighted that all has been so positive. Indeed, as daffodils begin to flower and the early signs of approaching spring are with us, there is a chink of light in what has in so many ways been a grey February. That said, your children continue to commit wholeheartedly to lessons and to work done at home, as the long list of Commendations within shows.
I would like to congratulate Vinsson in 8H on his award of a Music Scholarship to Harrow, Saffron in 8L on her award of Sport and Music Scholarships to Roedean, and Massi in 8L on her award of Drama and Music Scholarships to Bede’s. They join Alice in 8H, who won an Art Scholarship to Brighton College, and Max in 8H, who won a Music Scholarship to Brighton College. Sports Scholarships, All-Rounder, and Academic Scholarships are yet to come, no doubt, with assessments and exams over the coming weeks and months.
We are very proud to achieve such a good spread of awards in the performing and creative arts.
My colleagues and I are thoroughly looking forward to Monday 8th March and to seeing the pupils in person again. There is also the strong indication that as we move in to the Summer Term, restrictions will be lifted further and we can look forward to a gradual return to the normality we so crave. Open Mornings will continue to operate remotely, however. Those of you who are local to the school might see that The Hovarian has an insert about our forthcoming Open Morning on Saturday 13th March. I would be grateful if you could share this information with anyone you think might be interested in our school.
An icy blast from the east brings to an end the first half of a term in which our school community has come together wonderfully well to overcome the pressures which lockdown has brought. Learning has continued apace, teachers have honed their remote teaching, and the lessons I have watched recently suggest that your children continue to enjoy their learning. I am very conscious that this is in large part the result of dedicated and professional staff but equally aware that we are beholden to you, our parents, for the support you have given your children in establishing those habits and routines which have been so very important over the past six weeks. Thank you.
I hope that Half Term will bring a welcome break from screens and the opportunity for our pupils to spend time outside, time reading, and time enjoying play. They have earned that. I hope that they might also enjoy some of the creative co-curricular challenges they have been given. One such challenge has been the creation of Valentine’s Cards for NHS workers which has been so appreciated by those who work at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals. Some of the designs can be found below.
To clarify, our first day back is Monday 22nd, rather than Tuesday 23rd, due to the additional INSET day taken at the start of this term to prepare for Remote Learning. My heartfelt wish is that your children can return to school and classroom learning as soon as possible after Half Term. Before then, I wish you and your families a restful and warm break.
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.
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.
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.