Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 28th May 2021

Dear Parents,

It was Bob Dylan’s eightieth birthday on Monday, so I couldn’t let the occasion go without choosing one of his songs to be our artwork of the week. I didn’t go for the obvious like Blowin’ in the Wind or The Times They Are A Changin’, though it is good for the boys to be introduced to protest songs and poems, to learn about the social and cultural history of those who spoke out (and still speak out) against injustice in various forms. This was, indeed, the theme of the chaplain’s address in chapel this week, when she spoke about the heroism of Darnella Frazier in Minneapolis a year ago. Instead I chose My Back Pages, a song from around the same era of the aforementioned, but perhaps a little less well-known outside Dylan afficionados. Why did I choose it? Selfishly, because it is one of my favourite Dylan songs – it might even be my favourite, I’ll have to think a bit more about that. But also, a little less selfishly, because its chorus repeats one of Dylan’s simplest but, to my mind, most powerful and engaging lines: ‘I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now’.

Stepping into the minefield of Dylan textual exegesis, and mindful that I might get a barrage of emails telling me I’m wrong, I think Dylan’s point is that, as he ages, he becomes less sure of his opinions and his own self-righteousness (if that’s the right word). We are accustomed to thinking of people getting more entrenched in their views as they get older, and being more flexible and open-minded when they are younger. By inverting this, Dylan ascribes the self-certainty of age to his younger self, and the less assured flexibility of youth to his older persona. Which is not a bad way to think about how we approach thinking in a community where most people are very young indeed.

National Trust prize in Year 3; Financial bubbles in Year 8; Oracle bones from the Shang dynasty in Year 3 Greats; Cricket vs Bruern Abbey; Communication, collaboration and leadership skills in Year 8 PSB session; Speed, distance and time in Year 5 Maths

In my history lessons, we spend quite a lot of time thinking about historical figures who have earned poor reputations because of their inflexibility, their refusal to face political realities. Should we castigate them for such a lack of political awareness? Or should we laud them for sticking doggedly and dogmatically to their principles? It’s a difficult question to answer, and I suppose it depends on what we are asking them to be or to do: to operate with a mindset alien to their time, or to prioritise cynical survival over devoutly held beliefs. Perhaps the most important thing is that the boys are going through the process of such thinking; that they are not learning the Ladybird Book of something, that Person A is BAD and Person B is GOOD, Idea A is BAD and Idea B is GOOD. This is the kind of creative thought that puts ‘creativity’ in education: taking an idea and throwing it around in the air, catching it, playing with it, maybe finding out it is wrong in the end, but at least giving it a good test first. Inflexible, rigid, dogmatic, obsessive thought can hamper innovation and progress. But, equally, changing everything for the sake of change can lead to the kind of uncertainty and instability that can undermine learning. As ever, it is getting the balance right which is key, and keeping an open mind at just the right time about the right things. The boys tend to be better about it than us adults. Even when they are craving routine and structure to help them get a firm footing in life, they are still asking why we do what we do. So as we approach the end of this half term, and almost the end of another school year, it is worth pondering Dylan’s line from My Back Pages, and to make sure that we maintain the flexibility and questioning nature of youth, even as the clock ticks on towards what might be a tempting ossification of our views.

Have a great half term,

Matt Jenkinson

I am delighted to be able to add to our Year 8 awards list. Many congratulations to: Hugh (Academic Exhibition, MCS), Ethan (All-Rounder Award, MCS), Adam (Music Scholarship and Governors’ Presentation Award, MCS), Leo (Music Exhibition, MCS), Joseph (Music Scholarship and Governors’ Presentation Award, MCS), Tommy (Music Exhibition, St Edward’s), Paddy (Music Scholarship, Marlborough), Angus (Academic and Art Scholarships, D’Overbroeck’s), Theo (Music Exhibition, D’Overbroeck’s), Isaac (Academic Scholarship and Music Exhibition, Abingdon), and Lucas (Academic Scholarship, Abingdon). This brings our total this year to 15 awards from a year of 20 boys, which is a phenomenal achievement. Many thanks to all those in our special NCS community who have encouraged the boys along the way and encouraged their talents in such a healthy and productive way!

Charity week fundraising and magic show

From Mr Bishop: Wow! Where has the half term gone? As I walked around the sports fields this week I could see boys enjoying tennis and cricket with smiling faces and a much improved set of skills. Each and every boy has performed brilliantly this term and it has been such a pleasure to have them all back and working so hard on their summer sports. We are very much looking forward to more tennis sessions and cricket fixtures when we return after the half term break and hopefully some more of this recent sunshine. As this week draws to a close I can report on two fixtures with the U8 and U9s playing Summer Fields and the U10-U13s playing against Bruern Abbey.

The U8s playing in their first away fixture were very excited to travel the short distance by coach. When the games started they had a fantastic time playing in two very entertaining games. A special mention has to go to George T, William E and Ollie B for their efforts with both bat and ball. With the U9s playing at home the B team were part of a very close game in which the result was still in the balance right up until the final ball of the game. In the end NCS managed a win by a solitary run! In this game Eugene F and Laurence K were instrumental in the win with both boys having a fantastic game. In the A team fixture the boys had a slight off day with the ball in comparison to recent games and a few too many wides and no balls meant that Summer Fields posted a daunting 100 runs. However a special mention must go to Tristan who was excellent with the ball taking 2 wickets from his over for only 5 runs! Chasing 101 to win, the boys knew they would have to bat well to get close. Despite good knocks from Monty (10), Hugo (12) and Xander (20) we fell agonizingly just short by 17 runs. This is still our highest total this year and would have won any of the previous three games.

In the upper school on Wednesday the U11 and u13 teams were away with the U10 and U12s at home. In the U10 fixture the game went back and forth with both teams enjoying success with the ball and runs for both teams restricted by good bowling and excellent fielding. George M had a particularly good day in the field as he stopped everything that was hit at him. George C was the star of the day as he bowled 3 overs for only 11 runs and took 5 wickets – a feat that no NCS boy has achieved for at least 4 years now! In the final over NCS needed to take 2 wickets for the win but alas on this occasion we only managed 1 and BA won by 4 runs, meaning the score was now 1-1 between these two well matched sides. In the other home game we ended up chasing 117 runs after the BA team had batted. With the ball the wickets were spread around but Patrick S had brilliant figures of 2 wickets for only 9 runs from his 4 overs. With the bat we quickly found ourselves 2 down thanks to some hostile BA fast bowling but Timon and Patrick steadied the ship with a very useful 40-run partnership. After they both departed for 14 and 31 runs respectively, Benedict stepped up with a great 24 runs to almost secure the win but at the final ball we were 8 runs short. This was a superb effort against a strong team and I have high hopes for this team moving forwards.

Away from home the U13s had quite a torrid time against a strong BA team and ended up losing all 10 wickets for only 38 runs. Ed V stood alone against the tough BA fast bowlers and hit a quite brilliant 15 runs; his peers now need to show the same discipline and resilience with the bat. With the ball Jack R was his usual determined self and took a wicket with the very first delivery giving the team much needed hope and motivation. Despite this BA quickly scored the 39 runs needed for victory leaving the NCS team to think again and hopefully come back stronger. Finally, in the U11 fixture the boys worked extremely hard to put together a good display with both bat and ball. Ashwin and Rishaan both bowled very well to keep the runs down and these boys were supported superbly by the other bowlers and fielders. With the bat Didrik was the player to star as he managed a very impressive innings to secure the win with a flurry of boundaries and strong running on his way to a very pleasing 25-run knock. This team really deserved the win as they have worked very hard in recent weeks both in the nets and in matches. This was a great way to close out the half term as we look forward to June!

From Mrs Showell-Rogers: Thank you so much for all your support in helping the boys raise awareness and funds for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (NRAS) this week. The cakes, purple home clothes, guessing the sweets in the jar and the Year 7 favourite, the Toss the Chicken competition made for another festive Charity week. The highlight, of course, was Colonel Custard’s visit on Wednesday. We were delighted to have such a talented magician in the house, entertaining the mix of ages with tricks ranging from amusing spoofs for the younger boys to teaching the older boys the secrets behind some of his tricks. You can find out more about Colonel Custard at https://magiccastle.co.uk/. Screams of delight could be heard all the way down Savile Road, an excitement not experienced at NCS for some months with pandemic measures in place. The smiles and fits of laughter coming from the boys were a sure sign of enjoyment and hopefully marks the beginning of the post-pandemic era for New College boys. Finally, a big thank you to Dominic and fellow Year 4 boys for starting their own magic club, inspired by Colonel Custard’s visit. The Year 4 boys have been honing their magic acts, giving shows at lunch time under the ‘big top’ (i.e. the red gazebo) to curious onlookers, whilst managing to raise several pounds for JIA. Thank you, as well, to Ben in Year 7 for once again organizing the playground games. In total, over £600 has been raised for the charity.

Pop art in Year 6 activities

Year 6 at the Natural History museum

Talk on fossils from Dr Bobe

Years 5 and 6 have ventured out this week to the Natural History Museum for some Science workshops. The boys equipped themselves brilliantly, as we expect of NCS pupils, and it has been wonderful to have this resumption of school trips representing the next stage towards something resembling normality. My thanks to Miss Krebs for taking the initiative in getting the boys away from Savile Road for a couple of hours.

Parents should have received an electronic copy of their son’s Orders earlier this week; if you have not yet done so, do please get in touch with office@newcollegeschool.org asap.

Very well done for Years 3 and 4 for getting through their assessment week so admirably, and good luck to Years 5-8 who will be sitting their papers in the week after half-term!

From after the half-term break, pre-prep drop-off and pick-up will now once again be via the main gate. The side gate from the front garden of 1 Savile Road will be locked permanently. Many thanks, as ever, for your consideration of others when dropping off and picking up, to allow boys and families to arrive and depart in plenty of space.

Our next virtual open morning will take place on Saturday 12th June, 10am to 12 noon, please do forward the link on to any friends who may like to come along: https://www.newcollegeschool.org/open-days

From the NCSPA: Thanks to all for your ongoing support of the second-hand uniform supply and engaging with the recent Facebook group. We would like to remind everyone that there are plentiful supplies of general items such as shirts, grey trousers and shorts and encourage you to consider reusing rather than buying new. However, at this point we cannot accept any further items of this kind. Any donations of specific items that are currently on the uniform list such as those with the school crest, current sports kit etc and that are in a good, clean condition are always welcome. Should you wish to replenish supplies of summer uniform items or prepare for the new school year, please join the private Facebook group page (search for ‘New College Buy & sell’) or contact tam.callander@gmail.com until we are able to open access, once guidelines permit. Feel free to add your own items directly to the group page as well. All proceeds to the NCSPA justgiving page linked below, are gratefully received. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ncspa-secondhanduniform?fbclid=IwAR0Cyevx0wH6cPOxcxXXhCDGvkaYCfLbuZT2lC64oINXM4ZGYgZfo5LRTHQ

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