The darkest hour, we often remind ourselves by way of reassurance, is just before the dawn. A recent film on Winston Churchill, entitled just that, ‘Darkest Hour’, gave some substance to the theory. From the depths of despair in World War 2, as the unstoppable Nazi forces rolled across Western Europe and the threat of invasion was imminent, we know that Britain came through. Listening to Radio 4 earlier this week, while at school we prepared for an Enrichment Day on The War To End All Wars, I was reminded of wartime and an apocalyptic vision of utter desolation.Thought For the Day, aired less than 12 hours before the parliamentary Brexit deal vote, referred to ‘Darkness’ – a poem, written just over 200 years ago in July 1816 by Lord Byron. That year was known as the Year Without a Summer. In the Dutch East Indies, modern day Indonesia, Mount Tambora casting enough sulphur into the atmosphere to reduce global temperatures and cause abnormal weather across much of north-east America and northern Europe.

Byron wrote:

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum’d,
And men were gather’d round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks
Extinguish’d with a crash—and all was black.*

Those who read last week’s update will recall that this term began under a black cloud, with the untimely death of people close to us at Blue Coat. We will remember them, and the waves of sadness will doubtless continue to roll in when we are off guard. But as a community we are on the move again.

Fresh from their own trials and tribulation – the exam season – Year 6 enjoyed their special day on World War 1. This interactive experience was a great way to lay the foundations of their Lent Term topic. Thank you to Mrs Barnes for organising this event.

This week, in fact, the whole school has been motoring. Everything was in top gear as I visited a number of classes to observe teaching and learning. I must commend the staff I observed for the pace and challenge the children with but in a warm nurturing environment. I was delighted with the outcomes observed.

Sport is in overdrive, too. With this being our first competitive fixtures in netball and football, there have been lots of promising displays, and much to work on, also. I look forward to seeing the children develop further as the term progresses. Well done to our top swimmers for a positive display at EHS. Our U10’s boys played their final rugby match against Hallfield. Once again it was a dominant display from the our Year Five children.

Whilst on the subject of sport, I would love parents and supporters of the school to pop in and have a hot drink on match days in our new Pavilion. It looks great. Thanks for all the positive feedback on this development.

This week Year one had big smiles on their faces as they learned how to play the bongos. I was so impressed with their listening and rhythmical skills. A joy to see.

As part of our outreach programme, we welcomed children from Harborne Primary and Yardley Wood School. This BCS Experience Day was led our resident Historian, Mr Newman, who brought vividly to life the story of Richard III. It was lovely for us to support another local school, to make links with them and to share good practice. Thank you to Mr Newman for his hard work on this programme.

Have a lovely, sunny weekend and thank you in advance to all the children who will be helping us on Open Day Saturday 26th January. Your support is greatly appreciated.

MR NOEL NEESON | HEADMASTER

*The son of a friend some years ago learned by heart for a competition the whole of this poem, which runs to no fewer than 82 lines! I am offering an edible prize to the first boy and girl at Blue Coat who can quote the first 12 lines to me. Deadline next Friday lunchtime!