Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 15th October 2021

Dear Parents,

Wednesday was a very special day for the NCS community. It was our annual ‘admission to the foundation’ service in chapel, during which all of our new boys and colleagues were formally ‘admitted’ into the New College foundation by the Warden, who you will know is both the head of New College and the chair of the school’s governors. Though this might sound all terribly formal – and, yes, there was a smattering of Latin – it is actually a happy and heartwarming welcome ceremony, in which we get to combine tradition and looking forward. It is those youngest boys who were ‘admitted’ on Wednesday, after all, who will be going off to their senior schools in 2030, their universities in 2035, and the world of work from 2038 onwards. I’ve just scared myself with those dates; I hope I haven’t scared you.

Chapel service; Extracting salt from a solution in Science; the teddy bears' hospital in Pre-Prep; Year 6 orienteering in University Parks

One of the distinctive features of NCS is its balance of history and progression. I was pleased that this was noticed in one of our recent national reviews: ‘Despite being one of the oldest continually functioning schools in the world, New College School is decidedly modern,’ it read. The bits of tradition we do like – the odd bit of ceremony, the occasional gown, the aforementioned touch of Latin – are there to remind us of the privilege of our history, the importance of strong foundations, but they are not there to bind us to that history nor to suffocate us in 640 years’ worth of dust. The dangers of ossification and blind obedience to the past are laid bare in the 1968 film If, directed by Lindsay Anderson. If you haven’t yet seen it, please don’t watch it until the boys have gone to bed. Its final scene begins with an old boy’s speech at a boarding school prizegiving: ‘It’s a very sad thing, but today it is fashionable to belittle tradition. The old orders that made our nation a living force are for the most part scorned by modern psychiatrists, priests, pundits of all sorts. But what have they got in their place, hmm? … I know the world has changed a great deal in the past fifty years – But England – our England doesn’t change so easily. And back here in College today I feel – and it makes me jolly proud – that there is still a tradition here which has not changed, and by God, it isn’t going to change! It’s up to all of you chaps to give the world a lead. It is Britain’s tradition that you have learnt here. Self-reliance, service, self-sacrifice. A tradition of College. And it’s up to all of us to reassure the world by our unquestioning obedience, that we still hope …’.

Artwork inspired by Abby Diamond and Franz Marc: Zachary; Kieron; Tolly; Rufus; Edward M

At that point the speech breaks off. I won’t tell you what happens next, but it doesn’t end well for those begowned characters embodying the unchanging ‘English’ values of which the old boy was speaking. I am, of course, not advocating the kind of things that happen in If – even if the film does provide a stonking quotation for a newsletter – but it does serve to remind us not to get stuck, not to become too obsessed by what we used to do, but to move forward openly and judiciously to make ourselves, and our school, a better place year on year. In short, we value and enjoy looking back, but we do so at the right times and in the right ways, such that we don’t stop looking forward too.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Please note a slight change to the arrangements for charity week next week: our home clothes day will be on Thursday 21 October (instead of Friday 22 October) because on the Friday we will be going over to College for the triennial inspection of the city walls. Please could you spread the word via Whatsapp class groups, on the slim chance that some parents haven’t read this far down the newsletter?

A huge well done to Mr Bishop who completed one hundred press-ups at breaktime today, to go towards the four thousand he is doing, along with his son, over the course of October. Mr Bishop and his son are raising money to support children who have experienced the death of a parent serving in the British Armed Forces: Scotty’s Little Soldiers. The boys donated one or two pounds as Mr Bishop completed his press-ups; the rest of the school joined in the final ten!

Mr B's press-up fundraiser

An important component to our Charity Week is always to raise awareness for our chosen cause and as our interest this term is focused on Autism, we were very fortunate to have a guest speaker provided by Autism Oxford along with a trustee for Autism Family Support Oxfordshire (AFSO) at Thursday's Prep School Assembly. Mike Parry spoke on his experiences of being autistic, only having been diagnosed a few years ago at the age of 44 and Nick Keene, a clinical psychologist and NCS father, spoke further on the features of Autism and the work of AFSO in Oxfordshire. You can watch their talks at https://youtu.be/URXVWfcMC3U.

Education on Autism will continue through the term with further events planned for parents (stay tuned!). Likewise, continuing to help the boys understand what Autism is, celebrating the benefits of having an autistic perspective of the world whilst also considering its challenges, will carry over into the next half of term. For more information on Autism, or if you have questions you would like to discuss, please do get in touch with caroline.showell-rogers@newcollegeschool.org.

Autism Oxford link: https://autismoxford.org.uk/

AFSO link: https://www.afso.org.uk/

Best of luck to those boys sitting the Abingdon pre-test tomorrow for Year 9 entry, as well as those sitting the ISEB pre-test and other senior school pre-tests in the coming weeks.

Earlier this term, Mr Neal gave an online seminar for parents on the subject of music practice. The event was recorded and can be accessed via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3wU7EwQhEU (NB this link will be active only until the end of October). It is recommended that all parents whose sons take music lessons at NCS take an hour to watch this recorded event, which includes top tips, drawn from practical experience, of managing music practice at home and increasing pupils' progress and confidence in musical performance. If you have any questions about the content of the seminar, please do not hesitate to contact Mr Neal directly: thomas.neal@newcollegeschool.org

Christmas concert: tickets now on sale! The NCS Chamber Choir and Choral Society will be performing Handel's Messiah and Vivaldi's Gloria alongside Oxford's professional baroque orchestra, The Instruments of Time and Truth, and a team of professional soloists on Sunday 12 December, 19.00, in New College Chapel. Tickets are available here: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/526700

Save the date! Sheldonian Concert 2022. On Tuesday 24 May at 17.00, the whole of the NCS community will assemble in Oxford's famous Sheldonian Theatre to perform Benjamin Britten's opera Noye's Fludde, retelling the story of Noah's ark. (You can watch an introduction to the opera here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfRS56VzV58) Every pupil, from Reception to Year 8, will play an active part in the opera, whether as a soloist, or as a member of the orchestra or chorus. Further details, including how to acquire tickets, will be published in the new year. For now, please save the date!

This term's junior concert (years 3-5) will take place on 17th November, and the senior concert (Years 6-8) will be on 22 November. If your son would like to perform, please can you sign up via the links below:

Junior Recital: https://forms.office.com/r/F5LdkU8AtR Deadline- Monday 15th November

Senior Recital: https://forms.office.com/r/SVtjpvL59T Deadline- Wednesday 10th November

From Mrs Hess: Please could all boys and staff return or renew any books borrowed from the Library by Thursday.

From Mr Bishop: As we edge a little closer to the half term break, we are witnessing some very exciting football throughout the school. From the mighty Years 1 and 2 on a Friday morning to the impressive Year 8 boys training hard in lessons and clubs, the standard of football on show is really pleasing and testament to the hard work of the boys and their coaches. This week has been another busy one with a wide range of matches once again being played. The week was kicked off with the U13 A&B playing host to an old rival, D’Overbroeck’s. This fixture has been played for many years now with results going back and forth. On this occasion the U13 A team played in a fiercely competitive game which saw both teams creating scoring opportunities thanks to excellent passing and strong running. The first half was a tricky 30 minutes for the NCS boys as the pressure from our guests was relentless. The NCS boys held firm and, despite this pressure, they kept the ball out of the net and began the second half with renewed effort and steel. The goals went in for both teams until, with 5 minutes to go and with the score 2-2, Leo M stepped up and weaved his way through the left-hand side of the opposition defence to slot home the winner with a simply brilliant strike. A hard fought 3-2 win was just reward for the boys’ efforts. The B team backed this up with another fantastic display and ended up winning their game 4-1, with Ashwin having another fantastic game; he not only put in the most tackles once again but also scored twice too! Zachary scored his first goal of the season and was rightly over the moon with his efforts, as were the coaches!

On Tuesday afternoon Cothill were the guests of the U9s. Both teams played some fantastic football with passing and moving being the focus of the day! On the B team pitch a special mention has to go Yoav for his relentless efforts; I have seldom seen a player cover the ground so quickly at such a young age! A solid performance from the whole team saw the NCS boys run out 7-0 winners and their overall performance was deeply impressive. This was ably backed up by the A team who scored their opening goal inside 15 seconds! Charlie S was magnificent in goal in the first half as he kept out a barrage of shots from a determined Cothill side. Combining this with Eli’s skill and determination meant the formidable NCS U9s were once again on track for another positive result. After weathering the storm, the NCS boys then played some super passes to score freely as the half ended. A slightly tighter second half meant we didn’t score as many but a final score of 7-2 to NCS capped a fine afternoon for the U9 boys.

Finally, this week the U11s played Sibford. Large crowds gathered to watch a highly entertaining afternoon of football. They were not disappointed with the U11 B team getting off the mark first with a winning margin of 7 goals. Tristan B and Noah S were stand-out players thanks to their work rate and effort both in attack and defence. In the A team game, the match was extremely good to watch with both teams scoring freely throughout. A slightly gung ho attitude towards defending was maybe something to look at as both teams pressed for goals but it made for a cracking spectacle! In the end Sibford just edged the game by a couple of goals, but a final score of 4-6 against a top-quality side just goes to show how well this NCS team are developing. Keep up the good work, boys.

Created By
NCS News