Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 12th June 2020

The first weeks of lockdown were characterised, each Thursday evening, by people heading out to their front gardens, or standing on their doorsteps, taking part in a ‘clap for carers’. This was, you will already know, to say ‘thank you’ to, and to show solidarity with, those working tirelessly to look after and save the lives of people suffering during the pandemic. This was both a worldwide and a local statement about different communities’ feelings of gratitude towards those working in the caring professions – many of whom we have in our NCS community. These people have often been called heroes, and the use of such a term has got me thinking about what we mean by heroism, and why we look to heroes at different times of our lives, especially during times of difficulty.

Many NCS boys’ film diet is replete with superheroes. Movie studios have realised that there is a quick buck to be made from CGI-laden films with sequels and prequels featuring various different iterations of the same core superhero characters. There is clearly something very appealing about watching superheroes and their battles. There is an appetite for characters doing what we simply cannot do, whether it be flying unaided, turning lots of things rapidly to ice, or hearing the cries of the needy thousands of miles away. For the short time that we escape into these films, or the comic books on which they are based, we can feel protected by the idea that maybe somewhere in the universe there is a character who will come to our aid when needed. Or perhaps we can imagine what it would be like if we had these skills and capabilities instead. Or maybe it is just pure escapism: disappearing into a world which resembles ours so little that we can stand apart from our own cares and worries for a few hours. It is probably a mixture of all three.

But what the ‘clap for carers’ and talk of heroes in the medical profession has reminded us, is that our heroes don’t need to wear capes, nor fly, nor read people’s minds. Our heroes are, thankfully, simpler than that. When I prepare our boys for interviews to their senior schools at thirteen, I often ask them who they most admire in the world. This can be a person currently alive, or it can be someone who has died; they can be famous or every-day; they can even be fictional if the boys like. I am heartened that the majority of the boys choose a family member, and it is usually a parent. Even if the boys choose a footballer, it isn’t always the most famous one, or the one who has scored the most goals. When I think back to when I was in Year 8, my favourite football hero was someone that virtually no one will have heard of now – Gary Mabbutt. Mabbutt was the Spurs captain around the time when more famous players like Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne were making the back-page headlines. But what Mabbutt showed, in my mind, was tremendous loyalty to the club, and phenomenal determination in being a professional athlete while managing his diabetes. So heroism, to me, didn’t require fame and flashiness; it required low-key loyalty and stoicism instead. It involved caring and leading selflessly. If at NCS we can get the boys to look for heroes who show these qualities, a large part of our job will have been done.

Have a great weekend,

Dr J

Keeping activity levels up in lockdown; river Nile by Michael; Arcimboldo artwork by Harrison; Year 3 & 4 remote recording

Congratulations to these boys who have received the following awards this week:

Year 3

Thomas For excellent problem solving in Maths

Thomas For writing an excellent adventure story

Hugo For a thoughtful comprehension and great improvement in all work

Alexander For a huge improvement in division and times tables

Laurence For a huge improvement in division and times tables

Laurence For an outstanding effort solving his maths word problems

Xander For writing a super adventure story

Toby Silver Certificate

Laurence Gold Certificate

Toby Gold Certificate

Max Gold Certificate

Laurence Platinum Certificate

Year 4

Peter For a beautiful Mandala Art and research page inspired by nature

Jake For a striking Mandala Art made with Lego

Year 5

Zachary For his work on healthy living

Alexander For particularly good work this week on his violin, showing real feeling in his playing

Alexander For a beautiful Mandala Art inspired by nature

Dan For his research on healthy living

Max For an innovative Mandala Art created in Meccano

Benji For achieving the equivalent of Grade 2 piano

Year 6

Kian For his work on adaptations

Henry For a creative button Mandala and efforts in Art this term

Year 7

Isaac For excellent research on Beethoven for hisBeethoven Project, and thoughtful listening to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony

Isaac For a splendid virtual postcard from the British Museum in Classics

Paddy For excellent reading, discussion and listening in our Beethoven Project

Edmund For outstanding effort in piano

Year 8/8S

Walter For research on adaptations

Charlie For his work on adaptations

Xander For detailed biographies of inspiring individuals in RSP

Julien For detailed biographies of inspiring individuals in RSP

Idris For detailed biographies of inspiring individuals in RSP

Mandala artwork: Alexander C; James W; Peter; Max J; Henry J; Jake

You will hopefully have seen my Parentmail yesterday regarding Gavin Williamson’s statement in the Commons that appears to have raised more questions than answers about the next steps of what we are allowed to do regarding bringing more boys back on site. Believe me when I say that no one feels the frustration with the lack of clarity more than I do. Once we have been given clearer guidelines we will be looking at what we can do safely within the logistical parameters bestowed on us, especially with regards to social distancing, ‘bubbles’, class sizes, and available staff and facilities.

We have really enjoyed our community quizzes over the past week, which have enabled us to touch base with so many boys and their families across the year groups. Congratulations to the winners of the quizzes so far: Henry F and family in pre-prep, Arjun and family in Years 3-4, and Nahum, Jacob and family in the chorister quiz. We have two more quizzes coming up next week and we can’t wait to see you. Years 5-6 will be on Tuesday 16 June at 17.00 and Years 7-8 will be on Thursday 18 June at 17.00. Each quiz lasts around an hour. We will send a Zoom link via Parentmail on the day. There are some questions aimed at just the boys, some at just the parents, and some as a joint effort – so everyone will be able to get involved.

In light of current social distancing regulations, the school's open morning will move to a virtual open morning to be held on Saturday 20th June. In place of the flyers which we would normally distribute for families to share the event with friends and colleagues who may be interested, we would be very grateful if you would consider sharing/retweeting the event posts on the school's social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

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