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Headmaster’s Blog

In order to provide the content for our new website (take a look as per the notice below: I hope you like it), I’ve been doing a lot of writing recently, which also means I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.

Now that we are half-way through Advent, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Cathedral recently, too; at Evensongs, (fabulous) concerts, and School Eucharists. And so it is that I’ve done quite a lot of thinking about our ancient links with the Cathedral; about what it means to be a 900 year-old school in the 21st century in the middle of a bustling and growing city; about the spiritual life of the School.  Given the time of year and the reason we are all about to enjoy a 3-week holiday – and the reason that 40 of our pupils and several of our staff will return to School between the morning of the 22nd and the afternoon of the 25th December – I thought I would reproduce below the one or two paragraphs which focus on that under-pinning and deeply-rooted spiritual aspect of life at ECS.

‘The School has its origins in Christian worship, and to this day the magnificent Cathedral continues to play a central role in the lives of the pupils and staff at ECS.

We seek to foster a gently-Christian environment in which the values of love, tolerance, acceptance, gentleness and compassion are endorsed and modelled through our daily interactions and in our decision-making.

We welcome children of all faiths and none: whatever one’s religious leanings, there is a spirituality to be found in collective stillness; in gathering together in quiet; in being mindful together.  We want our pupils to be mindful of, and grateful for, those around them; to be aware of themselves and of their impact on others; and, through Faith or a more general appreciation of spirituality, to have a sense of wonder and awe at the thought that they are part of something greater and more timeless than themselves.

The Prep School meets together in the Cathedral Chapter House several times a week for our Morning Worship Assemblies and for our whole-school Hymn Practice (the Pre-Prep hold their Morning Worship sessions in Hall House). Whether it’s an assembly led by the Headmaster, the Head of Upper/Lower Years, a visiting speaker or a member of the clergy, there is always time for reflection, the lighting of a candle, a spiritual, moral, social or cultural message, and the saying of prayers before the busyness of the day begins.

The School’s Worship Coordinator is Mrs Fitzpatrick.  She brings together the pupils of the Worship Group, works alongside the Cathedral clergy to organise our 3 or 4 Cathedral services each term, oversees the planning of our charity fund-raising, and is responsible for delivering opportunities for Mindfulness and Meditation across the School. She is a qualified Mindfulness teacher (Paws b), is a residential member of staff, and is part of the boarding house duty team.  Mrs Fitzpatrick works alongside the Canon Precentor of the Cathedral to prepare pupils for Confirmation, and is always pleased to hear from families interested in finding out more.’

Well done to everybody for making it through to the end of the longest term in such good spirits. In the last week we’ve enjoyed four significant concerts by our Choristers, eaten Christmas lunch in school, been treated to 3 different Nativity productions, waved off (and welcomed back) a Nursery trip to Pennywell Farm, held our sports awards assembly in the Prep, received a visit from Father Christmas in the Pre-Prep, handed out popcorn at the Lower Years movie afternoon, teamed up with Wellington School for an Upper Years sports and fitness collaboration, been featured on the front page of the Western Morning News, and rehearsed hard for Friday’s whole-school Carol Service in the Cathedral, which will feature music from hundreds of singers, the orchestra, the percussion ensemble, the Choristers, and readings by pupils from Year 2 up to Year 8.

It has been a busy week and a busy term, and I offer you all my very best wishes for a very Happy Christmas.

15 December 2017
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