Be careful what you wish for...
How many times have you heard people say, “I can’t wait for the weekend” or currently, “I can’t wait until Christmas”? I suspect most people hear these kinds of wishful comments regularly and it is no different in any workplace, including schools. In fact, schools can be as guilty of this as anywhere else because of the pulse of an academic year, with holidays interspersed at regular intervals between weeks of intense hard work and high energy.
The notion of wishing time away is almost engrained in all of us and, as you get older, you get more aware and panicky about time going too quickly – at least I do, and I begin to regret all the time I wished away, waiting for 6pm, Friday night, summer, the next holiday… great long swathes of time wished away.
I heard a radio advert recently that made me wonder if we learn to wish our time away from a young age. Does our culture teach us to relish some days more than others? Some seasons more than others? The advert was for a children’s theme park. At first the announcer says – “So it’s back to school”, and you hear all these ‘boos’ in the background. “But don’t worry”, he continues, “it’s half-term soon”, followed by lots of cheers in the background. Do we learn as children to wish away our days? Do the media play on this in their determination to make us wish in September that it was already Christmas? Or wish in January that it was nearly Summer?
I found an intriguing book by Michael Foley ‘Embracing the Ordinary: Lessons from the Champions of Everyday Life.’ He defines Tuesdays as a forgotten day because of the way we give more value and significance to every other day. Monday is defined by the shock of going back to work, Wednesday is midweek, Thursday is charged with the excitement of the weekend and Friday the start of the weekend. Unfortunately, by marking the week as we do just lends itself to wishing away time until at least the mid-week hump of Wednesday.
So how can we stop the wishing? I am already worried about the time I do have; I can’t waste any more of it nonchalantly wishing it by. But it’s so easy to dislike Mondays, look forward to weekends and live blindly through the middle days. The ‘seize the day’ attitude and ‘live in the moment’ is great, but perhaps it isn’t realistic to feel like that all the time. There must be a middle ground of enjoying and engaging with the everyday within the remit of life's ups and downs.
Of course, as with all things in life time is how you perceive it. There are days and moments when time is dragging and moments when you wake up and think how did it suddenly become almost 2024? Importantly there are times when life is difficult, and one of the things that can keep you going is to think ahead to better times when the bad ones have passed – so our minds can play a role in looking ahead to help us get through the present.
I don’t have any answers, but if you are constantly wishing time away then clearly something needs to shift – and sitting with the present might be one place to start. This is particularly true for those of us who are privileged to be working with children at one of the most joyous and exciting times of year.
Have a great weekend when it arrives.
We continue to encourage parents to drop off and pick up away from the main school sites, to reduce congestion, but the School is in receipt of a number of complaints from local residents concerning parents blocking access and obstructing traffic flow while waiting for children at the end of the school day. Please be conscious about where you wait. In particular, parents are asked to be considerate of private residences and avoid obstructing traffic. Thank you to the vast majority of parents who park considerately.
Flu Vaccine Catch-up
There are flu vaccination catch-up clinics available for all.
EYFS & KS1 Christmas Performances
This year Foundation and Reception children presented a new and exciting Nativity called Baaarmy Bethlehem. It involved three cheeky sheep straying far from the safety of the fields in search of a party, only to find that Bethlehem was the busiest place they had ever seen. As the story was told the sheep learnt that they should indeed be celebrating as a very special baby was born to Mary and Joseph.
All of the children really shone in the three performances and it was great to see them speaking so clearly and singing so beautifully. Our youngest children made a wonderful flock of sheep and I don’t think anyone could sit still when they heard Baa Baa Boogie. Well done to all of EYFS for starting the Christmas season with a bang…or perhaps that should be a baa! - Mrs Townsend
The Year 1 children performed “The Big Little Nativity, a big story told by little voices” in two show stopping performances in the Higgs Hall this week. Although, it has to be said that there wasn’t anything little about the children in the Larks, Wagtails and Doves voices. From dancing doors, talking lists, to Shaun, Shelley and Sherlock the sheep, every child played a huge part in retelling The Christmas Story. The staff in Year 1 are extremely proud of your hard work and enthusiasm, you certainly made a big story very enjoyable. - Mrs Johnson
The Year 2 children have really risen to the challenge of performing their first Christmas play under the lights of the stage in our Main Hall. With many hours of rehearsals, singing practice and costume adjustments, they put on a wonderful show, reminding us all of the true meaning of Christmas. From the strict "Inn-spectors", to the sheep, shepherds and wise men to name just a few, our pupils delivered their performances with enthusiasm, confidence and joy. A wonderful start to the festive season. - Mrs Marchington
Christmas Jumper Day & Christmas Lunch
Today was our Christmas Jumper Day! This annual day is always a day of festive fun. Everyone stepped up to the challenge with maximum effort, pupils, staff and even our Prep wellbeing dogs. We are raising money for both RSPCA Winter Appeal and Plan International. Thank you to all who have supported us so far. If you’d like to donate, our JustGiving pages are linked below.
We also had our annual Christmas Lunch. The Hall was filled with music, crackers and laughter, with a delicious lunch provided by Holroyd Howe.
The Great Brentwood Bake Off 2023
For the competition during Tasker House Week, the children were invited to take part in The Great Brentwood Bake Off, with a focus on sustainability. It was evident that the children put a lot of effort into researching how they could incorporate the theme in either their design or decoration, including using homegrown, seasonal and locally sourced produce to reduce the carbon footprint, avoiding ingredients that contained palm oil and using recyclable packaging.
Bakes ranged from a vegetable patch cake, light-up Santa sleigh construction, animal biscuits, underwater sweet pastry tarts and matcha bread to some of the most delectable lemon and blueberry tarts we have ever tasted. Many staff from across the School, both Prep and Senior, took part in the judging and it is fair to say that everybody was impressed by the talent and enthusiasm that shone through in the bakes.
Thank you for supporting the children at home with their baking and for submitting lots of wonderful photos and videos.
Well done to all the children who participated and made the event successful. Winners are to be announced next week.
Ultimate Activity Camps
In 2024, Ultimate Activity Camps will again be hosting their exciting Ultimate Survival Camps at Brentwood School during the Easter and Summer holidays. Don't miss their Ultimate Christmas Offer for significant savings, available until 3rd January. After that, please check their website for early booking discounts and special offers.
- Easter – Tuesday 2nd to Friday 12th April 2024
- Summer – Monday 15th July to Friday 23rd August 2024
- Summer - Monday 29th July - Friday 16th August
Ultimate Christmas Offer
Save £50/week off their standard weekly rate and £8/day off their standard daily rate.
This exclusive offer is available online. Simply visit www.ultimateactivity.co.uk to book your preferred dates, whether it's for a single day or an entire week. Plus, should you need to change your dates, you can do so free of charge up to 14 days before your camp's start date, subject to availability. For added convenience, they accept all childcare vouchers.
Don't forget to follow them on social media to stay up to date with their news and offers throughout the year.
Music at the Prep
Years 4, 5 & 6 Carol Service at Brentwood Cathedral
We are still on a festive high from our Year 4, 5 & 6 Carol Service on Monday, which took place in the beautiful building that is Brentwood Cathedral. Parents, staff and governors were treated to an uplifting carol service; traditional, yet with a modern twist, led by Rev McConnaughie and musically by Mrs Romhany.
The Orchestra began with a haunting rendition of ‘Walking in the Air’ from ‘The Snowman’ which lent itself extremely well to the acoustics of the venue. Then, one voice sang out from the lectern, as Lucian (6KO) filled the Cathedral with his pure voice in the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. This was followed by our children singing ‘Gaudete’ in medieval Latin, with impressive solos by Aarav S, Florence S, Seren G and Grayson H. The rest of the service continued with confident readers of the lessons and some lively, jazzy numbers with movement from Year 4, 5 and 6. Our choirs sang confidently from the choir stalls, with a beautiful version of ‘Mary, did you know?’ from our Senior Choir and ‘The Jesus Gift’ from the Prep Chapel Choir, adding some gorgeous harmonies to the occasion and both choirs provided some soaring descants to our congregational carols.
Thank you to all involved in the preparation of this Carol Service. Rev McConnaughie always provides the perfect mixture of reverent and welcoming. It was particularly lovely to see our staff band, made up of a mixture of VMTs, staff and Senior School students. Who knew that our Mr Barber could play the trumpet so expertly and Mr Partridge the flute? We do now!
Year 6 Performance Activity
On Thursday, during Year 6 Enrichment Activity, the Performance Group were busy making a recording with the help of Mr Chopra (OB) from the Senior School. Dance and Music collaborate in this activity led by Miss Ritchie and Mrs Romhany, where the group performed an accompaniment to the Imagine Dragons’ song ‘Top of the world’ with tuned percussion and clapping ostinati rhythm patterns and then choreographed some of their own dance moves. The children enjoyed performing, but also this week enjoyed watching the recording process unfold. We thank Mr Chopra for his expertise and enthusiasm and look forward to seeing the results of his editing.
Sebastian and Sapphire were honoured to sing for the Mayor of Brentwood this week at the Brentwood Civic Carol Service. Rev McConnaughie was in attendance and was delighted to see Brentwood Prep represented in this way.
Year 6 Maths AIM High Workshop
On Tuesday 5th December, several Year 6 children were invited to participate in an A.I.M (Achieve, Inspire and Master) High Maths workshop, led by Pete Hall, along with children from other local schools to celebrate everything we love about maths. The children particularly enjoyed Pete’s sense of humour interspersed with the challenging (and fun) puzzles on offer.
Well done to all of those who took part and demonstrated their knowledge of maths whilst working collaboratively sharing their ideas and thinking about their thinking.
Review from Nathan - I really enjoyed the competitive behaviour of all the students there. When Mr Hall introduced himself I had never heard of him in my life but when I found out who he was I was gobsmacked at how good he is as a mathematician.
The challenges he gave us were really hard that is why I really liked him. I can see why he talked about all the fake maths tests and intelligence tests online because they are wrong, they try to trick people and to get the wrong answer.
We covered loads of ancient magic squares, tangrams and funny trick questions. Out of them, my favourite was the tangrams because of all the different combinations you could make and how challenging it was.
The thing I liked the most was his humour in between questions because it made us all laugh when he said Gatport and airwick instead of Gatwick Airport. But overall I found it really interesting, enjoyable and stimulating. I had to put my brain to the test and was grateful to be picked and be a part of it.
Review from Molly - I really enjoyed the maths day as I liked all of the complex problems and challenging myself to do them. The magic squares were really interesting to learn about and now I’ve learnt to do them on my own. The tanagrams were probably my favourite part of the day because I like making patterns.
Overall I think it was a really exciting day and I learnt a lot of new things. It was also great having the other pupils coming to our school and we even got to play football together.
Well done to all the children who played in the House Hockey competitions this week. The standard of the competitions was impressive and it was great to see everyone enjoying fun and competitive matches alongside and against their friends. Some of the competitions were so evenly contested that multiple teams finished joint 1st place but just missed out on goal difference. The Y4 competition went as far as having 3 teams sharing the same points at the top but Brimley took the victory with 11 goals scored. The winners of each competition were:
- Y3 - Bayman
- Y4 - Brimley
- Y5 - Lawrence
- Y6 - *to be announced next week
- Fun Splash in Swimming Lessons next week (anyone without their swimming kit will not be able to enjoy the much anticipated lesson).
- House Swimming Galas for Y5 and Y6 - please see the email from Mr Baird (Y3 & Y4 galas take place in Lent).
- Details about Games in Lent will be published next week.
Games Arrangements (wc Mon 11th December 2023)
- Year 3 & 6 - No Games Lessons
- Year 4 & 5 - Lessons as normal
Brentwood Prep School took part in the National Primary and Prep Chess Competition on Friday 1st December. The team of George N, Jack and Joshua Mc, Nikith V and Krishnav R took Brentwood Prep to 4th-place overall with 63 points, just 4 points behind the winners Merchant Taylors’ Prep School. George and Jack were joint top-scorers out of over 140 players on 16 points each. Well done to the team.
Chapel Services 2023-24
Throughout the year, there are regular Sunday Chapel Services which are open to all within the wider community of Brentwood School. Most of the services begin at 10am and are suitable for people of all ages.
The details of all our services for this academic year can be found in our Service Booklet which is attached. If you are planning to attend, I would appreciate a short email so that I can cater accordingly for those who come. I look forward to welcoming you to our Services.
Revd. Adrian McConnaughie