December 2019. Season of peace and goodwill. Christmas traditions.

Friday December 20th, 2019

Welcome to your December newsletter from Regency Education. You’re probably either madly busy with end-of-year deadlines (work and Christmas ones!) or winding down to the Christmas break. Whichever camp you fall into, since schools finish for Christmas next week we thought we’d share some festive thoughts on wellbeing, happiness and success.

Season of peace and goodwill

Christmas run in LondonIf you have young children, there’s very little that’s peaceful about it! But there is something about the Christmas period that makes us feel warm and uplifted and well-disposed towards others. In the UK, charities obviously capitalise on this (and why shouldn’t they?!) with Christmas fundraising appeals sent to supporters’ homes and bucket collections in commuter-busy railway stations. Approximately £10 billion is given to around 170,000 charities every year – and the number of people donating increases in December.

Charity begins at home

ScroogeThis famous phrase, alluded to in the Bible and expressed in works of English literature from as early as 1382, was coined by the ‘man who invented Christmas’ – English novelist and journalist Charles Dickens in Martin Chuzzlewit. In that novel the phrase is used by a selfish character to describe how he always puts himself before others. But in other novels Dickens revisits the sentiment to suggest you should look after your family before you try to help people outside that unit. Of course, what Dickens is most famous for – and ahead of his time in – is his social commentary on equality and parity. So, for him, although family might come first, connecting with others follows close behind.

Christmas traditions – TV ads!

I think Dickens would be proud that the UK retains its love of Christmas traditions. Though he might be surprised at the direction they’ve taken us in as a nation! Each year, we do get a little obsessed with Christmas TV adverts: which is the cutest / funniest / most effective? Which one makes us laugh / feel happy / maybe even shed a tear?  If you’ve not yet had the pleasure of partaking in this strange – but bizarrely entertaining – Christmas tradition, then take a look at this summary of 2019 Christmas TV ads kindly collated by  You’ll see there’s even a nod to Dickens here, with Sainsbury’s developing a plot line borrowed from many a Dickens’ novel as they tell a 2-minute story of orphans and their cruel work master. The Victorian setting marks the supermarket’s 150th anniversary and reflects the Dickensian era as they cleverly create a new myth about the origins of Santa Claus.

Historic houses

Christmas in EnglandAt the other end of the spectrum from TV adverts, is the Brits’ love of a historic house dressed for Christmas in all its period glory! The National Trust and English Heritage (charities that exist to preserve and promote beautiful buildings and landscapes in the UK) do an amazing job of transforming their properties into Christmas wonderlands each year. At Hughenden Manor in the heartland of the Chilterns, Dickens crops up again. Home to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative Prime Minister and confidante to Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli, from 1848 till 1881 – the manor is always exquisitely dressed for Christmas. But amidst the sparkly opulence is a reminder that Disraeli brought into being the social reform that Dickens craved in his novels. By passing laws that addressed much of Dickens’ social commentary, Disraeli changed many lives for the better. You can read more about Disraeli here:

Christmas and politics

The two don’t really go together, despite the affinity between Victorian peers Dickens and Disraeli. But of course, this year in the UK, politics is interrupting Christmas preparation in the run up to the general election on 12th December!  Here’s a handy guide to the election, prepared by the BBC, should you like to know more…

In the meantime – back to Christmas!

Making the most of Christmas

The period between Christmas Eve and 2nd January is one of the few times in the UK that many parents can take leave, confident that work will not pile up in their absence – because most other people are off too! This means that the Christmas break can be a real chance to unwind and enjoy the company of those you care about. But don’t enforce family-only time because that can backfire, especially with older kids who may have just finished stressful rounds of university interviews or be facing a stressful January of mock exams. This Christmas, give them the space to relax too.  Let them catch up with friends; encourage new hobbies that will forge all-important new networks (for more on this, see our October 2019 blog); foster emotional intelligence by showing empathy. This comes back to Dickens and our Christmassy urge to help others!  Why not volunteer for a homeless charity? Or donate to a fundraising appeal? Or buy ‘virtual’ gifts like goats or clean water from charities that change lives in developing countries. Or take on a sponsored challenge in the New Year. Or even a Santa Run during December! Check this charity listing for one near you!

Why is emotional intelligence important?

Emotional intelligence is hailed as the must-have trait for the most successful leaders in business and beyond. Obviously there’s more to it than just being kind to others – it’s based on the premise that the ability to understand and manage emotions greatly increases our chances of success. But, according to author Justin Bariso, helping others is a key personality trait of those with a high EQ (emotional intelligence quotient). Because, Bariso explains, helping others ‘builds trust and inspires people to follow your lead when it counts.’

Bariso maintains that: “In this age of instant communication, constant distractions, and major conflict, a high EQ is more important than ever.”

At Regency Education, we agree with Bariso (and Dickens!) and believe that our own and others’ happiness and well-being is intrinsic to success – in life, love and education! Part of our service is ensuring children and their families feel happy, confident and well-prepared to take on each new stage of their education in the UK. Punctuated by exams and interviews, compounded by puberty and other challenging transitions, our children’s education is a testing time. Emotions often run high – for all the family. So, be kind to yourselves this Christmas. And do get in touch to talk through any of the topics we’ve covered here or in previous blogs.

Sneak peek for 2020

Thank you for reading our blogs during 2019; we look forward to keeping you up-to-date with all the latest news and ideas in education in 2020. In our January issue we’ll look in more detail at the Sunday Times’ Good Schools Guide, published at the end of last month and ranking the top 2,000 primary and secondary independent and state schools in the UK according to exam results. You can subscribe to the full guide at to see school-of-the-year profiles, interactive maps, a video feature on the top ranked independent school plus an archive of previous years’ performances. We’ll aim to give you greater insight into what all this could mean for your child in next month’s issue.

With very best wishes to you and your loved ones for the festive season.