Friday, 26th May 2017
Somehow May has passed without us having had any time to notice it. It seems like yesterday that term started and yet here we are, already at half term. It has been wonderful that it has ended in such a beautiful week and Oxford could not have looked more magnificent, all its gardens lush from the rain of previous weeks. I hope that our pupils have been able to appreciate this unique place; I am certain that at one level they will most certainly have done so.
The end of May means, of course, Common Entrance and mock exams and I will take this opportunity to impress upon everyone the importance of a decent programme of revision, particularly those in Forms 8 and 7. The first important thing is to recognise that the exams coming up are important and worth doing well. Equally it is possible for all the boys taking these exams to do well, so it is worth the effort for this reason as well. Half term is an opportunity to find time, away from the business of term time, to embed the knowledge that one has and to plug the gaps which exist. The first thing I would do is to write a list of what needs to be achieved. Having done that, a plan can be made, assigning various subjects to various times so that when one sits down to revise, one knows exactly what one is going to do, as one of my most extraordinary friends often says to me, "Procrastination is the thief of time!". The other advantage of this is that one knows that one has covered all bases and that everything that needs to be done has been given its due time. I would then suggest that the best routine is to get up at a decent time every morning, say at about 8 o'clock. Breakfast can be eaten and then some revision can be done. One wants to balance working for a decent amount of time with a few mini breaks to refocus the mind. If most of the morning can be spent in revision then one will have achieved a good deal. If needed, further sessions can be done at other times in the day. The important thing though is that the boys should return back to school having done some decent revision, had some good recreation and had some decent rest so that they are prepared, so that their minds have been relaxed and so that they have plenty of energy. When revising, it is always important to work actively. Simply reading through a book is not enough; notes should be made, spider charts designed, questions selected for someone else to answer, someone else asking them questions, lists made, lists used for testing. Things like this will help the material to be absorbed. The other factor is that everyone should have a special place where revision is done, a desk or base where material can be spread out and books and papers left between sessions. It should be quiet and neat. It is good to take revision seriously because it will ensure that people do well now but furthermore, from the perspective of senior school, a pupil who already knows how to revise and to prepare for exams is way ahead of the game and will almost inevitably do well at GCSEs. From my perspective it was the biggest discriminator in terms of how people did at GCSEs. The boys in Forms 7 and 8 had two very helpful sessions from a company called "Elevate" who provided excellent and accessible revision advice and handed out some useful guides. Your sons should have these and they should be of great help. All very best wishes. If taken seriously, of course, revision can actually be enjoyable.....
Last weekend was, of course, a triumph; the House Music Competition was a delight as ever, a feast of musical achievement beyond imagination. It was so lovely that the adjudicator, the Head of Music at Uppingham, was so positive about the standard and of the supportive attitude of the pupils towards one another. He was very struck by the way in which they listened to each others' performances. The Art Exhibition too was breath taking – so much lovely art is being done in the school and it was wonderful to see it all displayed together. If you didn't have an opportunity to see it, do please pop into the Walton Hall where much of it is still adorning the walls.
I am greatly looking forward to the Summer Ball in Christ Church organised by the Parents' Association. Two years ago it was a huge success and most enjoyable. The Ball begins in one of the College's beautiful gardens, moves to the Hall itself and then there is dancing in the Cellar. It really is a night to remember and I hope that as many parents as possible will sign up. Lots of tickets have already gone but there are still some left. Hannah and I would love to see you there.
This weekend Miss Green is getting married to her fiancé, conveniently named Mr Green. Mr Green is well known to the pupils of the school for his participation in Arts days, for his musicianship, for his juggling and for his general charming bonhomie. Her pupils put on a lovely celebration over on the meadows and the whole school joins me in wishing them a truly lovely day tomorrow. It will be interesting to see when she returns after half term, how she has changed. I suspect she will be as energetic and inventive as ever.
May 2017 will not be quickly forgotten of course because of the horrendous act of terrorism in Manchester which affected so many young people and families. There seem to be strong forces of destruction and evil abroad in the world at the moment and it seems to me to be so important to foster societies like ours at CCCS where people from so many walks of life and countries live together in great harmony. Though the school is overtly Anglican in foundation and teaching, it accommodates people of so many different faiths and belief systems and it is a great privilege for me to work in a place where the pupils have such an enriching experience of the world. I passionately believe that good will prevail but Good, like the gardens of Oxford, requires tending and nurturing with the greatest of care. We should never be complacent about or take for granted the positive and enhancing places such as our school – they are very precious.