As Half Term rapidly approaches, it is worth reflecting on the beginning of the academic year and all that has happened since the gates opened for the start of term on Thursday, 30th August. Our new Reception classes have settled remarkably well, as have other children new to the school, many children have taken great joy from their learning, there has been a full programme of sports fixtures and activities, presentations, celebrations, trips galore, recitals and services. Life at St Christopher’s is never dull and the school is always busy. Your children will be ready for their half term when the gates close next Tuesday evening and staff will be too.

Today we have been celebrating ‘World Smile Day’ and some of our senior pupils handed out stickers during breaks to those who were making others smile. It is but a small part of a reward system we have which places kindness and generosity of spirit at the very heart of school life. More than anything else, I want a culture of kindness to be embedded at St Christopher’s and I believe that it is. Our ‘Random Act of Kindness’ wristbands, our Citizenship awards and our Buddy system are visual reminders of this culture.

If you think you’re not good at something, you won’t be, and so I was delighted on going into Year 1 classrooms this afternoon to see the children thoroughly enjoying their numeracy classes. I commented to them that I love Mathematics and they were quick to reply that they do too. For my generation and yours it became almost acceptable to say, ‘I’m no good at Maths’, thereby making success almost impossible. I do hope that the notion that it is okay to be no good at Maths is not one we will pass on to this generation. They would quickly correct such defeatism in Singapore or Shanghai and I would like that to be the case here.

Harvest Festival is one of my favourite services. I thoroughly enjoy watching the children leave the school, a wave of red blazers, I am very grateful that so many parents join us at St Philip’s Church and I count us very lucky to have the support and friendship of Father Robert (Chaplain to Brighton College) who engages so very well with the children and leaves us all with rather a warm feeling.

On Thursday morning, Alison Boyce from the Clock Tower Sanctuary addressed the School inAssembly. She talked about the work that her wonderful charity does for the homeless in our city, particularly those aged 16 to 25. She was taken aback by the sensitivity and the intelligence of the questions asked and highly impressed by the confidence and courtesy of your children. I am always very proud of the warm and friendly welcome our pupils give to visitors. It is important, also, that they are aware of the world outside St Christopher’s and that they understand that there are some things which we all have which others don’t. As Harvest Festival approaches it is a time for the school to be grateful for ‘All good things around us’.