A CARING Basingstoke headteacher has found a unique way to keep in touch with his pupils while the schools are shut – by singing them a song through a video message.

John Martin posted a video on social media of himself performing in the empty playground at Castle Hill School, accompanied by a message to lift his pupils’ spirits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The head was seen in various locations around the primary school’s two campuses at Rooksdown and Winklebury, accompanied by music composed by his son Marcus Martin.

Then, in a message directly to pupils and parents, he said: “Good afternoon Castle Hill Community this is a message to both the parents and the children, in fact our community, we miss you.

“I know it’s tough, the children you’ve been really good at home helping your parents. Your parents are after all your first teachers and they are your best teachers. We work in partnership and hopefully we will come back together we’ll do the same again.

“In the meantime, if you’re a little bit worried or a little bit sad, that’s ok that’s natural you’re allowed to be. Maybe read a book, a book is a window to a world it can open up all kinds of wonderful things. Do some things you really enjoy and above all try and spend time together helping and supporting each other.”

He explained that his colleagues had come up with the challenge of posting a video once a week, adding: “Never a man to step back from a challenge I’m about to do that and I’m going to sing to you this song we learned at the last Friday assembly when we were all together. We’re going to get back together again, don’t you worry. Listen to the words of this song and hopefully it will make you feel just a little bit better.”

Mr Martin then removes his coat before singing out Sting’s Spread a Little Happiness, with lyrics including: “Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky, you mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry. Spread a little happiness as you go by. Please try. What’s the use of worrying and feeling blue? When days are long keep on smiling through. Spread a little happiness till dreams come true.”

He ended his video telling pupils: “Try to spread a little happiness. We love you, we miss you, take care, be safe, be strong. Sensible and sensitive, that’s Castle Hill.”

Speaking to the Gazette about his video post, which has been liked and shared numerous times, Mr Martin said: “It’s a learning curve for all of us and the students have been fantastic. The song is so easy to learn and it’s about being positive. I recorded it and the next day I got messages from staff and parents to say the children were singing along at home which really cheered me up.”

He added: “It’s a bit of fun and we're trying to keep spirits up and try not to worry.”