Headmaster’s Newsletter – 4 December 2020

Dear Parents,

As we come to the last week of term I want to thank everyone for a splendidly successful term in spite of all the difficulties that have had to be endured.  We have tried to make school normal, so far as possible, for the children and almost all activities have been in place.  The only deep regret is that we have been unable to hold our Wednesday Assemblies and that swimming has been curtailed.  I am most grateful for the support and patience of all our parents during the past months of continuing changes in government directives. Despite the welcome news of the vaccine it will still be some time before we can cast aside the multitude of restrictions we are subjected to.

We are now very much in Christmas play season. Small School performed ‘A Wriggly Nativity’ on Thursday with great enthusiasm and vitality.  It is always astonishing how much the children can remember at such a young age. Thank you to all of the team in Small School and in particular to Miss Göbel who worked so hard to bring the wonderful show to life.  It is Middle School’s turn on Monday and Lower School on Tuesday. We hope to be able to share the films of the shows with you in the week before Christmas and in addition our Choral Scholars are preparing a special Christmas music treat for you to enjoy during the festive season.

As you well know our staff is full of people who have a passion for what they teach and as you would expect their lives do also exist beyond the classroom. Miss Wakefield, one half of our inspirational drama team, was recently commissioned to write a short play for the BBC as part of the Sparks series on iPlayer. It is part a collection of ten ‘Alan Bennett’ style talking heads monologues for a teenage audience and is titled ’The Main Part.’ I would encourage you to take eight minutes of your time to watch it.


The boys and girls in Transitus have been working hard to complete their Design Technology projects making chickens, cushions and masks before the end of term. Miss Nwume tells me that although some are safely at school until Monday, most went home to their new families today and a lot of letters to Father Christmas asking for sewing machines for Christmas! 

Arrangements for the end of term will be different from normal as we are unable to have our traditional Carol Service in St Columba’s.  We will be marking the end of term in different ways throughout the school. Wednesday will be a half day and children should be collected from their own buildings at the following times:

Small School12.00
Lower School12.00
Middle School12.15
Upper Kappa/Delta12.30
Upper Beta/Gamma12.40
Upper Senior School12.30
Upper Transitus12.30
Lower Sixth12.45
Upper Sixth12.45

As many of you prepare to travel to see friends and families over the Christmas period, I want to share the most recent published guidance on the “Test to Release for International Travel” scheme.  Some of the information that has been circulated thus far has been ambiguous so this guidance should explain what is needed in order to be back in school for the first day on Tuesday 5 January. Please take particular care as the test can only be carried out on the 5th full day of isolation. Even if you arrive at 1.00am in the morning, the first day will not begin for 23 hours, which may almost make the quarantine period 6 days before you can be tested.  Currently there is no guarantee how long the test will take to be processed, but early indications seem to suggest that the authorised test sites will process results between 24 and 48 hours. It is inevitable that the system will be under strain at this busy time and this should be borne in mind. In the light of the need for us to ensure that unnecessary absences are avoided at the start of term, it would be prudent to check the latest government guidance. This is particularly important if you will need to quarantine or self-isolate when you are back. If a pupil will need to quarantine on your return, you should inform mebefore you depart so that we can make a note of the relevant quarantine dates. Following on from this advice it will be clear that at present, with great regret, we can make no plans for ski courses in Glion in the first half of next term.  

Best wishes, 

Richard Townend