Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 10th January 2020

Dear Parents,

A very warm welcome back after what, I trust, has been a restful and enjoyable few weeks away. Never fear: this will not be a homily about the virtue of New Years’ resolutions – I fear I am pathologically incapable of keeping them, and worthwhile change to one’s behaviour or habits can as easily be made in mid-June as at the start of January. Rather, I want to suggest that a new year can be beneficial as an opportunity to take stock, to Janus-like look back on the year that has gone past and to look forward to the year ahead, providing us with much-needed perspective.

It can be hard for the boys to gain perspective on their lives for the very obvious reason that they have not been around for a huge length of time and they have not racked up that many days to put their bad ones in context. For the most part they tend not to have exposure to extreme hardships and even when we introduce them to the difficulties of others, this is almost always necessarily in the abstract. This is all totally natural – we want to protect them, to minimise risks, to keep them healthy both physically and mentally. But in this laudable process we can easily lose that key word perspective, to see our short-term difficulties and irritations as more significant than they really are, especially when compared to the very real hardships of others that are barely, if ever, encountered in a relatively privileged and cloistered existence.

Year 6 investigating sight during their visitor's talk; Pre-Prep story time; Maths in Year 1; Composition in Year 7 Music

In chapel on Wednesday I told the boys about some people who had lost all perspective and – fittingly, being two days after Epiphany – got the story of the Wise Men totally wrong. These were the early twentieth-century nobility of Gagliano in southern Italy, so beautifully described by Carlo Levi in his Christ Stopped at Eboli. Somehow, over time, the grindingly poor peasantry of Gagliano had become expected to take Christmas gifts to the local gentry, who in a striking repudiation of noblesse oblige, gave absolutely nothing in return. These poor inhabitants were indeed so impoverished that their very lives were at risk from starvation, but they were expected to take what little food they had to the gentry who were already rather well fed. Furthermore, the peasantry had been socially conditioned to reject rejection, or any gifts that may have been given in return, so Levi’s own presents to the peasantry were turned down. In the world of the Gagliano gentry, Levi says, it would have been the holy family tracking down the Wise Men by following the star, not vice versa. The story of Epiphany had been subverted; all perspective had been lost. At the start of this new term then, let’s help the boys to retain perspective by standing back, taking advantage of our experience, and reminding them – and ourselves – that many of our problems, in the grand scheme of things, are not really problems at all.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Sport. This week has been a really positive start to the new term as we have begun the hockey season. We have now managed to see every year group on the astro, and a great level of skill and determination has already been on show. I have been particularly impressed with the boys’ approach to improving their individual skills within the warm sessions. In the training matches teams are beginning to take shape. We wish the U11s well as they take part in a pre-season tournament tomorrow at Winchester House. Away from the hockey pitch I’d like to congratulate Patrick in Year 6. After a number of weeks of training and selection he has been selected to represent the Oxfordshire County Cricket Team. Very well done, Patrick – we are all very proud of you. CB

A very warm welcome back to Mrs Jo Atkinson who returns as Year 3 Form Tutor after her maternity leave. As Year 3 parents will already know, Mrs Atkinson will be here Wednesdays to Fridays, with Mrs Hayter looking after the boys on Mondays and Tuesdays. There will be a handover period every Wednesday morning to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible.

We are also delighted to welcome Dr James Lancelot who will be Acting Organist during Mr Quinney’s sabbatical in Hilary Term. Former Organ Scholar of King’s College, Cambridge, and Sub-Organist of Winchester Cathedral, Dr Lancelot was Master of the Choristers and Organist at Durham Cathedral between 1985 and 2017.

Congratulations to Miss Kate Lam on her engagement to Lee over the Christmas holidays.

Many thanks to Mr Brian Whittenbury from Gardiner's opticians who visited Year 6 in their science lesson this week. They were given a fascinating insight into how the eye works and some of the problems that can occur with our eyes.

Well done to Ben in Year 6 for his performance at the Town Hall alongside G4 over Christmas.

A reminder that entries for this year’s Christmas Quiz should be received by Mrs Hess in the library by next Monday. There are some chocolate Santas looking for homes.

Parents’ evenings. Please find below a few dates for your diary. Unless otherwise stated, parents’ evenings begin at 18.00, though a few colleagues are usually available a little earlier if you would like to make a head start. Please arrive as early as practicable so we can finish the evenings by 20.00. If you have any issues that you think would require longer discussion than possible in a five-ish minute meeting, especially with form tutors, please do book a separate appointment.

15 January – Year 6

22 January – Year 3 and 8S

29 January – Year 4

26 February – Year 8

4 March – Year 5

11 March (17.30) – Pre-Prep

29 April – Music Teachers

Forthcoming Events

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

18.00 Music Scholars' Masterclass with Paul Hoskins, Director of Music, Purcell School

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: the Chaplain. Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

12.30 School Council-Charity Meeting

14.30 U13 A&B Hockey vs Summer Fields, St Edward's Astro

18.00 Year 6 Parents' Evening, Sports Hall

Thursday, 16 January 2020

14.00 Year 8S Science talk: Dr Sarah Blagden

16.00 U9 Chess vs MCS A (Home)

Friday, 17 January 2020

14.00 U8&9 Hockey House Matches, Iffley Rd

18.15 First Evensong

19.30 Music Scholars’ Concert, Holywell Music Room

Saturday, 18 January 2020

9.00 MCS pre-test, current Year 6 boys (Year 9 entry)

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Start of University Term

17.45 Epiphany Carol Service, New College Chapel

Monday, 20 January 2020

Marlborough Music Scholarship

8.50 District Nurse Puberty and SRE (Year 7 P1 & 2) (Year 6 P3 & 4)

19.30 NCS Parents’ Association Meeting, HM Study

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Marlborough Music Scholarship

9.00 External Assessments for Prep School Entry for September 2020

15.45 U11 A&B Hockey vs MCS, Away

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

All day Census of music instruments, Sports Hall

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: The Revd Gavin Knight, Vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Summertown. Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

12.30 Eco Committee Meeting, Yr 5 classroom

14.30 U13 A&B Hockey vs Abingdon, St Edward's Astro

18.00 Year 8S and Year 3 Parents' Evening, Sports Hall

Friday, 24 January 2020

16.00 U13 A Hockey County Cup, Hawks Ground

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