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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 17th September 2021

Dear Parents,

We have come to the end of a summer of sport, and after the misery of the past eighteen months or so, the surfeit of sports tournaments could not have come at a better time – even if, as with the Olympics, Covid mitigations meant that events had to be enjoyed in eerie silence. Indeed, I talked to the boys about the Olympics as we returned to school, always on the look-out for ‘lessons in life’ from the sometimes otherwise passive and sedentary pursuits to which we have been reduced.

It was noteworthy, I thought, that the Olympic motto now reads ‘faster, higher, stronger, together’ – a recognition of the importance of collaboration and coexistence alongside the rather more elemental ambitions. I also pointed out to the boys the importance of recognising that support for those ambitions comes from different places in different ways. The British BMXer (is that the word?) Bethany Shriever crowdfunded her way to Toyko, and to the gold medal. There is a great photo of her being carried by a beaming Kye Whyte, another British BMXer (is it still a word?) who won the silver in his event, but was clearly thrilled for Shriever who had gone one better. The subject of BMX also got us onto thinking about celebrating success, wherever it may be – something I’m pleased to say is a hallmark of NCS boys. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who became an expert on the modern pentathlon or skateboarding, for the brief period they were on TV, enjoying them and valuing them as much as we traditionally do the headline events like the 100m. Not that I’m totally obsessed by BMX now, but it was also in this usually overlooked sport that the boys saw an example of remarkable bravery: Charlotte Worthington, who worked 40-hour weeks in a Mexican restaurant, competed in the Olympics during her annual leave, came off her bike in a 360-degree backflip, got back on, tried again, and completed it to take gold. I don’t think I want the boys attempting 360-degree backflips, but they got my drift about bravery and perseverance.

Learning 'Iron Man' by Black Sabbath in Band Club; Making pizzas in Cookery; Building shelters in Wittenham Clumps; Singing in Reception Music

Moving on from BMX, there were some other fantastic lessons from the Olympics – mainly on how to win and to lose, with grace and dignity. Ruby Tui from New Zealand was part of the rugby team that defeated the team representing the ‘Russian Olympic Committee’. Though the result was, shall we say, decisive in New Zealand’s favour, Tui still took the time to congratulate her opponents on their hard-fought performance, calling them ‘really cool people, man’. Perhaps the best example of an athlete not succeeding, and doing so with grace and style, was weightlifter David Katoatau from Kiribatu, who did not succeed in his lifts in the 105kg event, but danced off the dais every time anyway. If you haven’t yet seen this, look him up on YouTube – it’ll give your Friday afternoon a lift (no pun intended).

Comparing boiling points in Year 6 Science

Year 3 at Wittenham Clumps

Perhaps one of the most notable ‘I’m not crying, you’re crying’ moments from the Olympic podium came from the high jump where Mutaz Essa from Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi from Italy decided to share the gold medal, having achieved identical scorecards throughout the final. One of them could have decided to force a ‘jump off’ to settle an overall winner, but they decided to share the glory instead. Finally, there were two other important messages I wanted the boys to take away from the Olympics. The first was to take no nonsense, as demonstrated by the Norwegian beach handball team, whose women wore the same thigh-length shorts as the men, before being fined £1,295 by Olympic officials for wearing shorts that were too long. Many people, including the popstar Pink, offered to pay the fine for them – while bringing attention to something palpably ridiculous. The second was to look after mental as well as physical health. This was exemplified by the great Simone Biles having the bravery to take time out of the US gymnastics, provoking – and facing the ire of – the Twitterati. And also, now very famously, by Tom Daley who took the time between earning gold and bronze medals in the diving, to do the knitting that he says has helped him with his own mental health.

So when we were sitting on the sofa watching other people exercising aerobically on our behalf, we were actually taking away some important lessons – and it wasn’t just about how much a half-pipe-double-flip-kangeroo-hop was worth in skateboarding.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

It has been great to see so many parents at our start of year meetings, giving you the chance to meet your son’s new form tutors, and to get some information relevant to your son’s area of the school: an insight into the healthy and effective transition from the pre-prep to the prep school in Years 2-3; internet safety as the boys get older, and 13+ future schools for those boys edging towards the top end of the school in Years 4-6; and information about the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate and pastoral issues relevant to proto-teens in Years 7-8. We are old hands at all of these issues, and we are always here to answer any questions you may have. Our email addresses (firstname.lastname@newcollegeschool.org) are available at https://www.newcollegeschool.org/who-we-are

Years 3 and 4 had a wonderful trip to Wittenham Clumps this Thursday – another welcome return to something resembling normality. (Though, rest assured, I’ve seen the risk assessments and they very much take into account that life is not quite as normal as it was last time we visited!).

Well done to Ben in Year 8 who features in the forthcoming film about C.S. Lewis, The Most Reluctant Convert. It is going to be released in the US next month, and we can’t wait to see it when it appears in the UK. You can see the trailer at https://deadline.com/2021/09/c-s-lewis-biopic-the-most-reluctant-convert-cinema-release-watch-first-trailer-1234828714/

Well done, too, to Thomas in Year 6 who is now the U12 county junior archery champion!

Do tune in to Mr Neal’s online workshop for parents on Thursday at 18.00. It will focus on the best ways to encourage your sons to practise their instruments. The link is https://zoom.us/j/99915489915?pwd=YjVlOHlDZzdDWEVEZ2FDUEhNMVpvUT09. Meeting ID: 999 1548 9915. Passcode: xprHy6a2.

The boys’ portrait photos will be taken on Friday 24 September. Please encourage your sons to bring a comb with them on that day. Years 5 and 6 will need to, as an exception, arrive in school uniform and then get changed for Games later in the day once they have had their photos taken.

The NCS Parents’ Association will be meeting for its AGM on Monday 27 September at 19.00. We are pleased to welcome any parents to join the meeting. We hope that this year will bring plenty of opportunities to come together and fundraise. We will be discussing potential events and also electing officers at the AGM. Anyone interested in standing for the roles of secretary or co-chair would be particularly welcome. Please email ncspa@newcollegeschool.org for more information.

From Mr Bishop: As our first full week back in school comes to a close, I would like to congratulate each and every boy for such a positive and productive start to the football season. The training sessions have been intensive and the boys have worked extremely hard. The standard of football on show is improving all the time and already we have seen some excellent performances as teams and individuals. The U9s kicked things off with a trip to Sibford School and it was the only wet day of the term so far! The rainy conditions did not affect the boys at all and they all played extremely well to earn a hard-fought 3-3 draw. Felix on debut for the school was outstanding, but Eli was voted man of the match by our opposition coach for his determined and highly skilled play.

On Wednesday afternoon each and every boy from Years 5 to 8 represented the school in a fixture against Elstree School. This is a new fixture and, although we knew the games were going to be hard, the boys gave everything they had and I saw lots of smiling boys return to the coach that afternoon. Although the results did not go our way on this occasion, we have plenty to be positive about and lots to build on for a strong season ahead. There were stand-out performances from every team and here are just a few boys who stood out for their coaches this week. In the U10 C team Michael ran his socks off for the team and was determined throughout. In the U11 B team I have heard that James and Jai had brilliant games at home. The U10 A team were pleased to have Noah on debut as he impressed not only on pitch but in goal too! At the senior level I was pleased to be able to witness George working very hard in the 2nd XI and on the 1st team pitch our captain Benedict not only gave an excellent performance on the pitch but was also commended by the Elstree headmaster for his superb leadership skills both off and on the pitch. We wish the first team good luck for next week as we travel to Crossfields School for the ISFA cup game on Monday afternoon.

Upcoming Events

Monday, 20 September 2021

15.00 U13A ISFA Rd 1 Football vs Crossfields, Away

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

16.30 Virtual Debate with OSA and Cheney Y7 & 8 tbc

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Tom Barry, former NCS Head Boy

8.15 Eco Committee meeting, Science lab

14.00 U11 A,C&E Football vs Cothill, Home

14.00 U10 A&B Football vs Cothill, Home

14.00 U13 A-D Football vs Cothill, Away

18.00 Music Practice Workshop for Parents (Online)

Friday, 24 September 2021

9.00 Portrait Photos, Sports Hall

Monday, 27 September 2021

19.00 NCSPA AGM

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

14.00 U8 A-C Football vs MCS, Away

14.00 U9 A-C Football vs MCS, Home

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

9.00 Chapel (Harvest Festival). Speaker: The Chaplain

14.00 U11 A-E Football vs Summer Fields, Home

14.00 U13 A-D Football vs Summer Fields, Away

18.00 Partnership Evening LBr, CP, IR (all parents) Virtual and In Person

Saturday, 2 October 2021

U13A IAPS SF Festival Football vs Summer Fields, Away

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