Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 1st March 2019
The Head of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Andreas Scheicher, gave evidence this week to the Commons Education Select Committee about what is rapidly becoming to be known as the fourth industrial revolution. One of my jobs is to make sure that we are alive to the directions our curriculum should take so that NCS pupils are fully prepared for what is already bringing considerable changes to our established notions of working life. There are challenges for us as parents and as educators. In his evidence to the Select Committee, Professor Scheicher noted that “I think one of the biggest challenges the fourth industrial revolution poses to us is that as parents, we will have to accept that our children learn things that maybe we no longer understand and that our children no longer learn things that were very important for us. I think that’s a real dilemma that we see in many systems.” And he feels that “the challenge for education is not to develop a kind of second-class robot, but to focus on those skills where humans have an advantage, which is perspective-taking, which is looking at problems from multiple angles, making judgement." So, perhaps controversially in some quarters, our curriculum should be designed not so much around learning to acquire knowledge, but around learning to acquire qualities of intellectual curiosity, leadership, persistence and resilience through a genuinely inter-connected and holistic curriculum. I would hope a good deal of this is already embedded in the ethos of NCS and given particular expression in the precepts of the PSB (Pre-Senior Baccalaureate). But we should strive to ensure that these sort of skills are even more pro-actively fostered over the coming years using our customary wide variety of subject disciplines and extra-curricular activities. But knowledge, per se, may take a bit of a back seat. It’s an exciting prospect and, with careful planning, should be more of an evolution at NCS, rather than a revolution.
Music awards. I’m delighted to congratulate the following on obtaining music awards to Abingdon School: Edward Bennett (Scholarship), Sammy Jarvis, Jamie Kilroy, Reuben McLusky (Exhibitions). Well done to all on these significant achievements in a competitive field!
Waste Week starts next week and I know Mrs Brown and the Eco Committee will be raising awareness of the responsible disposal of the many items we throw away each day. To mark waste week and our eco commitment, the Eco-Shop is offering a ‘Buy-5 items-get-the-cheapest-one-free’ offer next week. Please see the price list attached to this mailing.
Great excitement next week in the Pre-Prep as they nurture a number of hens’ eggs hoping they will hatch out into chicks. A number of character-building skills in this particular exercise I think!
Junior Concerts. I’m very much looking forward to the junior concerts on Monday at 5.15pm and 6.15pm. It’s always exciting to hear the burgeoning musical talent making its way up the School. Parents and visitors are most welcome to drinks beforehand in my study at either 5.00pm or 6.00pm.
All NCS families are most welcome at the Ash Wednesday service this Wednesday, 6th March, at 6.15pm in the Chapel. The Choir’s music will include Allegri’s Miserere, a hauntingly beautiful setting of Psalm 51, reputedly transcribed by Mozart after he heard it in the Sistine Chapel. Good wishes to the choristers for all their preparation for this special service.
I’m very grateful to Mrs Showell-Rogers, Mrs Hess and Mrs Magnotta for organising such a wonderful array of events to celebrate reading and World Book Day which this year falls on Thursday 7th March. Would parents please note the dates below to ensure boys bring in the right things on the right day. Many thanks!
We have several activities leading up to the day. The first was a visit today by Matt Oldfield, co-author of the Ultimate Football Heroes series which was rapturously received by the boys; he even played football with them in the playground!
From next Monday, we ask boys to bring in their favourite book for which they will write a ten-word review which will then be used to create a whole school reading review collage. On Tuesday 5th March, we will once again have our Big Tent Read for various year groups. Boys in Reception to Year 5 are welcome to bring in a dressing gown to wear over their uniform and/or a cuddly toy and cushion for the tent. Please ensure boys bring items in a bag to hang on their pegs. Following the story time, boys will then have a chance to browse the Book Sale (50p each). Please can we make another appeal to go through your bookshelves to donate any books that your son has outgrown. On Thursday 7th March, we will have our traditional costume parade and an assembly led by Mrs Magnotta who runs the book review website Toppsta. Mrs Hess will run our usual selection of World Book Day quizzes and activities in the library and the Pre-Prep will make their annual visit to Waterstones for story time and to collect their World Book Day book. We look set for a most enjoyable week.
New College Choir will be giving a sequence of Music and Readings for Lent on Sunday 10th March at 5.00pm in New College Chapel. NCS families are warmly welcome. No tickets required.
You will all have received a Parentmail about our STEM Week starting on Monday 11th March. Some very exciting events are planned for the boys, including a robotics workshop and a mobile planetarium, and do join us for after school events if you can. There are a few tickets available in the School Office for the Holloway Lecture on Artificial Intelligence on 11th March at 6.00pm and you are most welcome for the demonstration of Robot Wars after school on the same day; but please note that younger pupils may potentially find this demonstration intimidating. Viewing will take place from inside the school building.
The Pre-Prep Parents’ Evening is on Tuesday, 12th March from 5.30pm until 8.00pm. As well as appointments with your son’s class teacher, there will be refreshments in the Sports Hall and an opportunity to meet with me and with subject specialist colleagues who teach in the Pre-Prep.
College Day is on Wednesday 13th March. I shall speak at our Chapel Service, with some reflections to draw together the theme of our STEM week and the common principles of our collegiate foundation. There will be activities in College and neighbouring Oxford and much- anticipated lunch in the College Hall! At the end of the day (5.30pm) there will a College Day concert in the Antechapel given by two of our visiting music teachers: Ms Jean Paterson (violin) and Ms Diana Hinds (piano). Do join us if you can for the Chapel Service and/or the Concert.
Dates for next term. Sheldonian Concert. There will be a whole school celebratory concert in the Sheldonian Theatre on Thursday 23rd March at 6.00pm, followed by a reception in New College. Every boy from Reception to Year 8 will take part. The centrepiece will be a performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals. Please save the date: all NCS families warmly invited: tickets will be available later this term. Wykeham Day, which will include a morning concert by current and former NCS, a cricket match on Field with a barbecue lunch, and then our Summer Fête, will take place on Saturday 22nd June. Please book the date now.
For sisters and friends. Year 2 girls who love to sing are encouraged to attend a Frideswide Voices' "Be a Chorister for an Evening" taster session on Monday 4th March in New College or Monday 29th April in Magdalen College. Auditions for membership from September 2019 take place on Saturday 11th May. A vacancy has also arisen in Year 3. Further information about the choir is available at www.frideswidevoices.co.uk
With good wishes to all NCS families,