I saw my name on the big screen yesterday. Well, actually it was on a classroom whiteboard and it was crediting someone else called Gareth Jones who wrote the screenplay for a film about the great German man, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I was covering a TPR lesson so it was an unexpected reconnection to an extraordinary life I had heard about before but had forgotten in large parts. Dying at just 39, he was a brilliant theologian, a pastor, a writer, a spy, a son, a brother and a friend. And we can learn so much from his example.
Firstly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer loved his family and remained loyal and true to them throughout his life. They stood by him during his most challenging times at the hands of the Nazi regime and this provided him with emotional strength. A loving family fosters a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself and it is at the heart of one’s values and traditions.
Because of the strength that Bonhoeffer derived from his family he did not worry what other people thought and this gave him the courage to think for himself and choose his own path. This was important firstly when he was mocked for becoming a pastor and secondly when he appeared to have joined the Nazis but was secretly working undercover on a plot to overthrow Hitler.
Having the courage to go against popular opinion is a big challenge but Bonhoeffer had the conviction of his principles and this enabled him to stand up for those in need. It did not matter what creed or nationality they were and it did not matter that he was a Christian; he simply believed that he should follow God’s example by loving and helping people from all nations. Bonhoeffer lived his life through courage, faith and love, just as St Andrew did, and that is something we should all emulate.
Sitting in my study, I occasionally see things that make me chuckle and two such moments happened this week. Firstly, focused on my screen during an important governors’ meeting, I suddenly became aware of some frantic arm gesticulations just outside the window. I looked up and it was a crocodile line of Nursery children waving at me with one shouting, “Hi Mr Jones, we’re all going to Forest School.” Unabashed enthusiasm is such a delight!
Equally amusing was yesterday morning when I looked up to see a senior boarding pupil whose organisation left a little to be desired. Top half: shirt, tie blazer, all looking good. Bottom half: pyjamas and slippers. Not such a good look, but hopefully he’ll have learnt from the inconvenience.
Thankfully, most of the older pupils have been very organised in preparation for their assessments this week. Sitting tests can be a daunting experience but it is something to which the children must acclimatise. That said, we are careful not to overplay the importance of exams because there are many other ways in which we assess a pupil’s progress and this is crucial in the education we offer. Irrespective of how well they have done in terms of results, they will have benefited as a learning experience this week and now, I hope, they can relax and enjoy half term properly. 
To see us into half-term, the top four years enjoyed a carousel of activities this afternoon which included orienteering, dodge ball, a House challenge, a kahoot quiz and, my personal favourite, ‘obstacle course rounders’. It was great fun!
Talking of challenges, we shall again be welcoming a few Royal Marines to stay on Sunday evening once they complete their annual yomp across the entire South Downs Way in less than 36 hours. Attempting to raise money for an injured soldiers’ charity, participants set off at 6am in Winchester on Saturday morning and the earliest arrivals will be in Helen Garden by 6pm on Sunday evening. Good luck to them all.  
And so to half-term with the sun shining brightly for once. These last few weeks have been a bit of a slog and I sincerely hope that everyone can relax and enjoy. Have a good week everyone!