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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 18 June 2021

Dear Parents,

As you will know, we have all been trying to find any positives we can from the current situation. As easy as it is to vilify the amount of time we now spend online to communicate with one another, one such positive is the fact that we can bring together many more people who would otherwise be excluded from events due to difficulties with travel. This is one of the reasons we are very enthusiastic about hosting our annual Wykeham Day online this year. Tomorrow’s event, which is aimed at getting together as many former members of the NCS community as possible, is sometimes difficult to access for those who have moved a long way from Oxford, or who find getting around difficult for other reasons. By having events online this year, though, we can reach our alumni and former NCS families wherever they happen to be in the world; they just need to click on a Zoom link and sit back with a cup of tea.

This virtual Wykeham Day also gives us the opportunity to bring together some of our august musical alumni for our annual Wykeham Day concert. But by including pre-recorded performances, these musicians don’t need to be available to come to Oxford on a given day and at a given time – something normally quite difficult for those with busy touring schedules. We are really looking forward to bringing together, for example, the renowned tenor James Gilchrist alongside the band Low Island, as well as other notable musical alumni like Alexander L’Estrange and Guy Cutting, and some more recent alumni the names of whom we will no doubt be hearing a lot over the next few years. The day will also feature some presentations from myself, my colleagues, and some of the senior boys, about what life is like at NCS these days. It is in many, many ways a school very different from that which was around even twenty years ago. That’s one of the many great things about a school almost six and half centuries old, with an unbroken history: it needs to reinvent itself, and has reinvented itself, to stay relevant and in touch with the rapidly changing pedagogical zeitgeist.

Mask in Pre-Prep Art; Recording the Orchestra; Year 8 Leavers

I have written before about the importance of sending our boys off at the end of Year 8, looking ahead positively to their futures, and having fond memories of their prep school with just the right level of healthy attachment. Part of that healthy attachment is checking back in every so often, keeping up with old friends, seeing how their old teachers are getting on. And we include whole families in this: our umbrella ‘Wykeham Association’ includes all those who have had a connection with the school, because we know it is not just the boys who have a strong emotional attachment to the place. Quite often I meet NCS old boys whose closest friends remain those who they met here, which is no surprise considering that they very often will have spent nine formative years in the same class together – the longest most of them will spend in any educational institution. NCS is a place that will mean a great deal to many people over the course of their lives, and this is what our upcoming Wykeham Day will, as ever, celebrate – even if we can’t do it in person.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

If you would like to attend some or part of tomorrow’s Virtual Wykeham Day (from 14.00), please email jemma.kilkenny@newcollegeschool.org to register.

Please could parents refrain from parking on the double yellow lines outside school at drop-off and pick-up? This is making it much more difficult, and dangerous, for cars to turn around, and is also reducing the amount of space that parents have to socially distance while waiting at the gate. Many thanks.

Parents will have seen my separate Parentmail this week, tweaking our end-of-term events to enable as much to happen as possible (especially for our leavers’ families), while staying within the government’s Covid-19 regulations. Thank you for your flexibility, patience and vigilance as we maximise what we can do, while keeping everyone as safe as we can. Please note two changes to our arrangements: the Year 8 playreading on 22 June (which Year 8 leavers’ parents are able to attend) will now take place in school, outside the gym, rather than in College. I’m afraid this means that we will not be able to offer parking that evening, as we will need to use the space for spectators; the start time is still 18.00. Secondly, our prep school sports day on 6 July will now take place on New College Field, rather than at the Iffley Road track. We will, as ever, let you know as soon as we can if further changes are to occur.

Well done to all those boys who played in our virtual recitals this week. The boys equipped themselves very well, and listened brilliantly to their peers, as they navigated the challenges of performing via Zoom!

Next Friday will be our induction morning, carefully managed to introduce boys to their new form tutors, and to enable new families to encounter NCS within Covid-19 protocols. The boys will ‘move up’ to their new form for part of the morning. Our form tutoring teams for next year will be: Reception: Mrs Cox; Year 1: Mrs Hitchings; Year 2: Mrs Hopkins; with Miss Bishop, Ms Lam and Mrs Ridley as our pre-prep Teaching Assistants; Year 3: Mrs Hayter (while Mrs Atkinson is on maternity leave) with Mr Cui as assistant form tutor; Year 4: Mrs Usher (while Mrs Williams is on maternity leave) with Mrs Showell-Rogers as assistant form tutor; Year 5: Mrs Brown with Mr Bishop is assistant form tutor; Year 6: Mr Neal with Mme Phillips as assistant form tutor; Year 7: Miss Rose with Mr Hanson as assistant form tutor; Year 8/8S: Dr Gausden with Mr Morrison and Miss Krebs as assistant form tutors.

Congratulations to Mrs Jo Atkinson and her husband, Dirk, on the birth of their daughter, Ava, earlier this week. She was 6lb 6oz and we can’t wait to meet her!

From Mr Bishop: With the sun still shining during the early part of this week we were able to enjoy some excellent cricket matches. The Year 3 and 4 boys started things off this week with three matches against Christ Church. In this return fixture we were hopeful of a positive result or two against our local rivals. The NCS boys were really at the top of their game and all three teams managed to win. The B and C teams both enjoyed quite close games with the B team game going down to the final two balls before we secured a one-run victory. The C team game was a little less tense but nonetheless it was close with two overs to go until a final wicket for the NCS team meant we were safe, winning by healthy 15 runs in the end. It was in the A team game where we were treated to some very big hitting: both teams found the boundary rope quite regularly hitting fours and sixes with ease. Bowling first we were set a target of 48 runs, so were quietly confident of reaching the required number of runs. Hugo and Tristan both batted very well, setting a solid foundation with two pairs still to come. Xander came to crease and within 11 balls he’d hit 44 runs for no wicket and with that our final pair ran well between the wickets to ensure we reached 119 runs at the end of our innings.

This week the U10 team were lucky enough to be invited to The Oratory School’s U10 festival of cricket. Xander again played his part as he topped the run scoring charts in two out of three games and helped secure the final win of the day against Beachborough in the final game to ensure the team returned home with medals.

Also on Wednesday afternoon the U12 and U13 teams played Summer Fields. In the U13 game the boys were set a challenging but achievable target having bowled first. Once again Leon and Jack were the pick of the bowlers and Leon Followed up his recent four wicket haul against The Dragon with another display of accuracy and pace. Jack’s consistent, aggressive bowling accounted for two wickets with another courtesy of his incredible fielding and a runout from the deep. This time the team batted with much more discipline and purpose and managed to secure the win with Hugh scoring the winning runs, much to his relief!

In the U12 team I was lucky enough to take the team away and I was treated to some excellent cricket from both teams. The Summer Fields openers smashed the first over to all parts and scored freely in those first six balls. However Harry D slowed the rate down with a wicket in his first over. Patrick also took a wicket in the next over thanks to a quite brilliant catch from Albie at mid-wicket; such reactions, we’ve seldom seen before! Over the next hour or so we were privileged to witness some excellent hitting from Summer Fields but some equally impressive fielding and bowling from NCS. We played some of the best cricket I’ve seen this season and with word getting around that a great match was developing we soon had a good crowd watching, socially distanced of course!

At stumps our host were 145 for 8 and we knew this target, although tough, was reachable, with a little luck. Benedict, tired from keeping wicket in the sun volunteered to open the batting with Harry as both boys knew that his defence skills were going to be needed to keep a hostile attack out. Both batters played superbly with Benedict doing his job superbly until he was caught behind in the sixth over. Timon then came to the crease and it was not until the twentieth over when another NCS wicket fell! Both Harry and Timon put on a masterclass of batting with Harry hitting 79 runs including three sixes! The only person close to getting Harry out was the Summer Fields Headmaster who caught one of Harry’s sixes but alas it was over the rope! In the final over we needed 22 runs and chasing the big shots Harry unfortunately was out with just three balls to go. In the end the result did not seem to matter as Harry was given a great round of applause as he left the field. It was a fantastic game of cricket and I count myself luck to have umpired such a game.

Forthcoming Events

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Virtual Wykeham Day

Sunday, 20 June 2021

End of University Term

Monday, 21 June 2021

ABRSM Music exams this week

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

18.00 Year 8 Play Reading in School: A Midsummer Night's Dream (no parking available)

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

8.30 Eco Committee Meeting

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: The Revd Gavin Knight, Vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Summertown

Thursday 24th June 2021

School Nurse Visit (Drugs and Alcohol awareness) Year 8 11:15 - 12:45pm - Year 7 14:00 - 15:30

Friday, 25 June 2021

9.00 Induction Morning

Monday, 28 June 2021

Activities Week begins (see separate schedule)

No pre-prep after school activities run by external providers

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

No School Chapel Service

Friday, 2 July 2021

18.00 New parents' information evening

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