Friday, 30th November 2018
At last, it is Advent. Christmas is almost here and we are reaching the end of term and the end of a year…. I hope that everyone has bought an Advent calendar and that boys and girls are getting ready to open the first door tomorrow. I must say, even at my boys’ increasingly advanced age, Advent calendars are utterly à la mode. May I recommend to you then something I haven’t seen before, a new initiative on the part of our mothership, Christ Church, an online advent calendar. Oxford is a place of doors and Christ Church particularly so. One of the most famous doors in the City is at Christ Church - the Alice door which leads from the Cathedral Garden into the magical world of the Dean’s Garden. Some of the grandest doors in Oxford are in Christ Church as are some of the most modern and, of course, most excitingly, some of the most secret. Follow @ChCh_Oxford or @ChChCathedralOx on Twitter, or like ‘Christ Church, Oxford’ on Facebook (@chchoxford) to open a new door of Christ Church’s advent calendar every day from tomorrow. Each day you will learn something new about the treasures and stories that lie behind the doors, one of which you will recognise instantly.
Of course, doors are a very important symbol in education. Education should, if it is genuine, open doors throughout someone’s life and we hope, very much, that we are enabling our pupils to open as many doors as they can. The abilities and patterns of thought which we are laying down now should allow them choices throughout their lives and the more doors they are able to open the more exciting and fulfilling their lives will be.
And Advent, too, always seems to me an interesting time of year; for us at school it’s a time of report writing and preparing for end of term celebrations but for the Church it is the start of the year, the dawn of new hope, a looking forward to the arrival of the infant Jesus in the world. It is a glorious event which will ensure that there is hope for all people. Even though schools have many endings - terms finish, pupils leave - ultimately education is a beginning, a process which allows people to live lives to the full. As such I hope that all of you will be thinking forward to the preparations that are being made for your children’s future and for the wonderful times ahead.
This morning in the Cathedral, the whole School took part in Pre-Prep and Nursery’s Christingle service. The pupils of Pre-Prep and Nursery all held the Christingles that they had made and, in the glorious surroundings of the Cathedral, listened to Miss Farmer reminding them that Jesus was like a lighthouse casting His beams of light upon the world. As if to echo this, the teachers then lit all the Christingles and the flames cast their warm light on the rows of absorbed faces. How lucky we are at Christ Church that we live out our lives in the context of a message of hope.
Many of you will have enjoyed seeing the Forms 3 and 4 play; this year we were treated to a version of Little Red Riding Hood, much of it set to music. Little Red Riding Hood and her dog, Sniffy, walked happily through a wood peopled (or perhaps I should say “creatured”) by chipmunks, tigers, frogs, squirrels and all manner of different animals. Eventually whom should they meet but the wolf! Despite her suspicions, Little Red Riding Hood did not fully realise what was going on and chatted happily to the wolf, little knowing that he would very soon eat her grandmother whole! The play, despite this gory occurrence, was charm incarnate, with everyone playing their parts with enthusiasm and wearing the costumes which their parents had found and often made for them. Our pupils have very many sides to them but I had rarely seen them looking so exotic. I was struck by the fact that the play was essentially a mini musical. Almost all the action was narrated through song. It was so apparent to me that the boys were completely in their element; here, at CCCS singing is as natural as breathing – a truly joyous feature of the School. I must say if there is ever a temptation to become weighed down by the burdens of office, one is always reminded of the privilege of one’s position when one realises that one’s job involves watching such glorious celebrations of life (and, in the case of Red Riding Hood’s granny, death).
May this Advent open many doors for us all!