Happy New Year! How great it’s been to welcome pupils, families and staff back to School at the start of what looks set to be a really exciting term. The children have bounced in through the door of the Chantry and Hall House, and it’s clear that they are eager to get stuck-in to the learning and fun that awaits at ECS this term. Remember that everything you need to know to help you plan for the Lent term is in the blue pocket calendar which came home last term, and that the calendar is also available on our (smart new!) website. Communications/information from School will continue to come via the Parent Portal, and you are now able to download the School App for your smartphone/tablet to make things even easier. The rolling News section of our website is also a good source of pictures and reports from the term’s exciting events.
I wonder what your New Year’s resolutions are? That’s a question I asked the Prep School in our first Morning Worship Assembly of 2018. A good number of our 7 to 13 year olds seem to have picked a resolution or two, and an impressive number of them tell me that they are still going strong! I confess that some of my own (fairly predictable and certainly annual) resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. There is, though, one that I am persevering with: I have resolved not to look at a screen in the morning until I am up and ready for the day. The omni-presence of the mobile phone in all of our lives means that there is a common tendency nowadays to reach for it first thing in the morning and to put it down last thing at night. I talk a good deal about ‘manufacturing stillness’ in a pupil’s day, and was interested to learn of Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s new book ‘Relax, Eat, Move, Sleep’, which uses this idea of enforcing (or manufacturing) stillness as one of his recommended Four Pillars to a ‘longer, healthier life’. I can’t guarantee that the ECS focus on wellbeing and mindfulness will necessarily lead to a longer life, but I can confidently say that we place real value on promoting, encouraging and facilitating positive mental health, good life choices, and a healthy sense of balance and perspective.
The Prep School gathers together every morning in the Cathedral Chapter House, where we light a candle, say a prayer, and take some time for stillness and reflection before the busyness of the day begins. Our new Wellbeing Programme for our Upper Years pupils was introduced in September: ECS pupils aged 10-13 take part each week in a carousel of Wellbeing Sessions – Emotional Wellbeing (delivered by form tutors each week), Digital Wellbeing (focusing on making well-informed and good decisions on-line), and Health and Wellbeing (which contains modules in Health and Fitness, Sports Nutrition, and Sports Psychology). The whole School meets for services in the Cathedral (either in the Nave or, for a more intimate feel, in the Quire), and since September 2017 pastoral contact time for pupils and their form tutors has doubled. To ensure a close attention to the wellbeing and workload of our Choristers, the Chorister Tutor role was established in September 2016. Mrs Fitzpatrick, our 3-13 Worship Coordinator, is a trained and qualified mindfulness coach for children, and oversees opportunities for the delivery of Mindfulness and Meditation across the School. As I have said before, ECS is a place where people matter and where the development of character is held in high regard: opportunities to develop good physical and mental health are absolutely central to our focus on educating the whole child.