Our term’s just ended (yes, I know it’s early, but we do go back quite early too – says she, desperately trying to fend off accusations of having an easy life) and the last week or so has been very Christmassy. Nothing more so than the finish – a very traditional Carol Service, involving King James’ Bible readings and “Adeste Fideles” rather than “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, in a local church.

I guess it seems a bit odd for so multi-faith and multi-racial a school as ours to have something so overtly Christian. However, it never seems to be an issue – the very few kids who have an objection to attending stay in school, but the vast majority come along and join in with gusto. This year the walk up to the church was enlivened by a discussion between two Year 7s on the role of religion in life; one was a Hindu and one an atheist. The kids volunteering to do the readings are of all faiths and none, too – I’m not surprised any more to see a girl in a hijab standing up at the lectern reading about the annunciation. And despite being a devout atheist myself, I must confess I enjoy it too. (Don’t tell Professor Dawkins). Everyone singing together is great (even if I can’t reach the high notes) and it’s one of the rituals that mark the school year, along with more secular festivals such as our annual inter-form dance competition (called, bewilderingly, for some reason lost in the mists of time, “Karaoke”), the termly concerts, the Dance Production in March and the singing of “Jerusalem” at our final assembly in the summer (which is the cue for many leavers – staff and pupils – to break down in tears).

Primary schools almost always have these high points marking out the year, but secondary schools don’t always, and I think it’s a shame. A school having its own calendar of “festivals” builds a sense of community and of continuity, and if they’re a bit eccentric, so much the better! Most of our pupils are fortunate in having a reasonably settled home life, but for kids who don’t, having such comforting routines in school is probably even more important.

So – holidays! I have a whole list of things that I intend to get done (tidying the house, defrosting freezer – not to mention some preparation work for a meeting just after we get back, and all the setting up for the January external exams). This year, I will be a sensible, mature person and get this all done at the beginning, I’m sure….

Happy Christmas everyone!

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