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Love and Kindness

Published on 03/01/18

I felt very blessed this Christmas; I spent it with friends and family, including a brand new grandson. As we enjoyed the usual festivities and exchanged our gifts, I was struck by the phrase ‘But the greatest of these is love.’ It comes, of course from Corinthians and was a timely reminder that love is indeed the greatest gift of all, bringing joy as it does both to ourselves and to others. 

You might have seen over the Christmas period the film ‘Wonder’ – it is the screen version of one of my favourite, truly wonderful, modern children’s books of the same name. For the last four years, I have read this book to my Year 6 class and it has never failed to move and delight, in equal measure. Its enduring message is that if there is a need to make a choice between being right and being kind then one should choose kind. I also saw a BBC news item over the holiday period about a seven-year-old boy, Jacob, who had been moved by the plight of homeless people. Jacob had set about doing something to help and, with the help of parents and other volunteers, ended up packing 130 rucksacks with essentials to offer support and comfort to the homeless. ‘It’s very simple to be kind’ said Jacob.

Now, Jacob doesn’t go to Claremont Fan Court, but his spirit is very much one that we encourage. The idea of kindness and love are closely linked and, as we return to school in January, we will be considering ‘Love’ as our focus character quality and within this the values of friendship; sincerity, caring and kindness are paramount.

For many, the issue of reciprocity is central to love. Certainly, I believe that the greatest measure of success for a school would be for it be a place of which children say ‘I love my school’. This can be quite a challenge: children have to go to school every day, even if they are not really in the mood for learning, and to work at things and with others, even when this is difficult. Yet, at school the children have fun, sing, talk and play games during breaks. School life is full of joy and laughter – something that cannot always be found so easily later in life. Mistakes are viewed as part of the journey to learning (will employers of the future be so kind?) and friendships which can last a lifetime are formed. This love of school is born out of teachers and staff who, in turn, love teaching, care about their pupils and go about their daily work with kindness.

As we know, not all children are so fortunate. In July 2016, Unesco estimated that about 263 million young people are not in school; of those, 61 million are primary school aged. These children are denied the loving security of school: the journey may be too dangerous; the school may have been destroyed due to war, or closed down because of a lack of funds; or the parents may need to send their children to work to earn money for the family. 

The real blessing then is not just the joys of our own family but that we live in a society based on the values of love and kindness. A society where children can learn to read, write and count, as well as develop important social and emotional skills; a society which encourages children to realise their own worth and capabilities, how to take care of their physical and emotional health, and how to treat others with respect. As we move into a new year, we will be talking about this blessing and encourage every one of our children to resolve to make the most of this great privilege.

Mrs H Hutton-Attenborough
Head of Preparatory School