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Private Independent Day School for Boys 3 - 13 & Girls 3 - 7, Flexi-Boarding for Boys 8 - 13

School Confirmations at Christ Church - 24th May 2024

The atmosphere in the Cathedral yesterday was a joyous one.

We had our annual School Confirmation at which four of our pupils were confirmed. It was a particular pleasure to see Bishop David Jennings, formerly Bishop of Warrington, as he was only asked to take the Confirmation Service at 10.00 pm the night before. This was because the Bishop who was supposed to be conducting the service, went down with Covid on the eve of the event. Bishop David performed the service with energy and warmth and it was a truly wonderful occasion. The whole School sang four hymns and several responses with real energy, and burst into unprompted applause at the end of the service when the boys processed down the Cathedral holding candles symbolising the fact that Jesus, whom they had committed to follow, was the light of the world. It was a memorable moment and a great thing that these boys were confirmed in front of their parents and their friends.

I was away this week at the Choir Schools Association Conference, which was held at Windsor. As I am sure you all know from having watched the funerals of The Duke of Edinburgh and The Late Queen, St George’s Chapel is at the heart of Windsor Castle and has a very fine choir. It was a great pleasure to visit again, that wonderful chapel built by King Edward IV in the 15th Century, as a fitting place of worship for the Castle and as a chapel for the most important order of chivalry, the Order of the Garter. We were shown around the chapel in the evening when it was empty, and it was the first time I had been there since the burial of Her Late Majesty. The chapel in which she, The Duke of Edinburgh, and her parents, George VI and Queen Elizabeth are buried, is strikingly modest – a simple stone marking the grave. The light in the chapel was exquisite – a moment that none of the people who were there will probably forget.

The Conference was extremely productive. We had a most interesting talk about the transformative nature of AI and the speed with which it has advanced recently. The opportunities that AI provides for the world of education are extraordinary. It is now so sophisticated that it can even allow classes to interview historic or fictional figures, by using the internet to understand the nature of what such a person might have thought, what they would have looked like and how they might have spoken. It is immensely exciting. There are clearly two things that we must understand, firstly how education will be positively reshaped by the extraordinary power of AI, and, secondly, how we avoid becoming servants to the machines and in doing so, become completely emasculated – a much more far-reaching emasculation than our servitude to the sat nav which has removed many people’s abilities to navigate for themselves. We will have to find a way to ensure that children, and indeed adults, retain the ability to think in the face of machines which will be able to do thinking rather more effectively than we can.

During half term, I will be going with the Worcester Choir to York. I told the School that the choir was going to sing in the Minster, a building that could probably fit Worcester College Chapel ten times over and so the choir would have to sing with real energy to fill the vast spaces of that great building. In fact, I told the boys that it was the biggest mediaeval building in the country and that it had more mediaeval stained glass than any other building north of the Alps. I was speaking to the boys of Christ Church Cathedral School and should have known that it would not end there. A hand shot up! “Sir!” “Yes?” “Which then is the building which has most mediaeval windows south of the Alps?” There is no end to our pupils’ thirst for knowledge. Sadly, I did not have that answer prepared but I have subsequently done the research and I have to now reveal that I was not quite accurate. I now know that York Minster has the largest collection of stained glass in Northern Europe with 128 windows, but the building with the most stained glass in the world is Chartres Cathedral which is, as I am certain a geographer will tell you, north of the Alps - with 167 windows. Having said this, the Great East Window at York is the largest expanse of mediaeval glass anywhere, whether north or south of the Alps! I realise now I need to check my sources more carefully before making any claims in front of the School!