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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 8th October 2021

Dear Parents,

I imagine that few, if any, of you have heard of Joseph Trapp (1679-1747). That is not a judgmental comment; it would be totally understandable of you hadn’t heard of him. I hadn’t until I started working at NCS. And even now, although his volumes of translations of the Aeneid sit on the shelf in my study, I rarely (by which I mean never) turn to him for literary enjoyment. Perhaps I am being harsh, and too easily led by Trapp’s contemporaries like Jonathan Swift who did not rate him. Samuel Johnson said that Trapp’s translation of Virgil ‘may continue its existence as long as it is the clandestine refuge of schoolboys’ – a caustic denunciation, I might add, of the many worthwhile books out there that are aimed at helping schoolchildren! The reason I bring up Trapp, and why we own his volumes, is because he was just one of many individuals who connect New College School and poetry. Indeed, Trapp was a pupil at NCS around the time of the Glorious Revolution, before later becoming the University of Oxford’s first Professor of Poetry, in 1708.

Investigating solubility in Science; SRM visit; U13 IAPS football team; Year 5 at the Natural History Museum; Poetry slam

It was National Poetry Day on Thursday, and once again we got to renew our commitment to reading, writing, and studying poetry as a core part of the curriculum. We didn’t read much (any) Trapp, but Mrs Hess’s assembly, our annual poetry slam, and the poems that infuse day-to-day English lessons, ensured that the value of poetry was reiterated. That value can mean different things to different people: from the forensic analysis of seemingly impenetrable language, to the elemental joy of hearing the rhythmic cadences of songs without music. Poetry does not need to be one thing, nor does it need to be for one type of person. The creative joy of playing with words and lines and layout never really goes away, and it is one of education’s great shames that poetry too quickly becomes perceived as dry, unapproachable, mechanistic – the result, presumably, of exam boards asking candidates to rip lines apart, spot techniques, and over-?-analyse a poet’s offerings.

Year 8 leadership; Visiting former sites of the school; Picasso portrait by Jack, Yr 4; Cookery Club

The way to counter that perception is to outline the enjoyment involved in such analysis: looking ‘beneath the bonnet’ of a poem does not necessarily mean beating the contents of that bonnet with a spanner. Just because we analyse meanings and techniques, does not mean that we downplay the heartfelt message and the poem’s overall effects. Seeing ‘how it’s done’ can actually help us to understand how the poet hones their craft, and it can provide us with inspiration for our own writing. It is also intellectually rather satisfying to unpick the puzzles that some poets leave for us. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some poems that can just be left and enjoyed unanalysed, unpicked-apart – there is a place for them, of course. But there is also a place for picking up a poem, peering inside it, tossing it in the air, seeing what makes it tick, and then leaving it be again. There is also, clearly, a place for mixed metaphors – and if you can’t mix metaphors in a piece about poetry, then when can you?

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Congratulations to Ms Harriet Cawood who has been appointed Head of Maths at Sarum Hall in London. I am delighted to announce that from January our Head of Maths will be Mr Stephen Young. Mr Young studied at Stellenbosch University before teaching at Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School in Cape Town and then becoming Head of Maths at Milnerton School, also in Cape Town. He has several years’ experience teaching across the key stages, in both the primary and secondary sectors, and he comes to us via the Oxford Academy, where he has been based since moving to the UK in 2020. Mr Young is also a passionate and accomplished sportsman, especially interested in rock climbing, tennis, cricket, hockey, football, fishing and trail running. We are very much looking forward to welcoming Mr Young and his family to the NCS community and I am sure that boys, parents and colleagues will make them very welcome.

Best of luck to the choristers who begin their university term commitments this evening, with evensong at 18.15 in New College chapel. Parents are very welcome to attend chapel services throughout the term.

The New College School ‘Admission to the Foundation Service’ will be on Wednesday 13 October in New College Chapel. The service will begin at 9.00 and will take a little longer than our usual Chapel. This is the occasion when all new members of the school, boys and staff are formally admitted to the New College Foundation by the Headmaster and the Warden of New College, who is the school’s chair of governors. We would like to encourage all families of new boys to attend this important occasion if you can. Parents of new boys are welcome to sit in the pews nearest the altar. Boys and staff will move down towards the organ loft to make room. Please could parents of boys who are not new to the school continue to sit at the organ loft end of the chapel, to make sure there is room for new parents towards the altar. Many thanks.

On Wednesday the boys enjoyed the first of our events organised in partnership with Sir Robert McAlpine, the company responsible for putting up our brand-new building. The boys learnt about site safety and pedestrian and cycling safety around building sites – especially the one adjacent to us. We will be hearing more from SRM over the next couple of years, but this was an enjoyable and instructive safety introduction for the boys.

Over the summer, and the past few weeks, we have been conducting our annual review of NCS policies. As part of this annual cycle, we liaise with parents about the school’s Relationships and Sex Education policy, which can be found on the ‘Wellbeing and Happiness’ section of our website: https://www.newcollegeschool.org/wellbeing-and-happiness. If parents have any questions or comments about this policy, do please be in touch with myself or brett.morrison@newcollegeschool.org.

We are very much looking forward to our open morning tomorrow, 10.00-12.00. Thanks to all those boys and parents who have volunteered to come in, to show prospective parents around the school and to speak to them about what NCS life is like ‘behind the scenes’. Thank you, too, to those parents who have already spread the word by putting up banners and posters, by word of mouth, and by promoting the open morning on social media. There is still time for prospective parents to register at https://www.newcollegeschool.org/open-days -- do please pass on this link if you know of any families who would be interested in joining our wonderful community. We would also appreciate if you would consider continuing to share the school's social media posts publicising the event:

https://www.facebook.com/newcollegeschool

https://www.instagram.com/newcollegeschool

https://twitter.com/NCSOxford/status/1437801351845658625

Please see the attached posters from Mrs Showell-Rogers outlining events and arrangements for our forthcoming Charity Week.

It was wonderful to see Year 5, with Miss Krebs at the helm, heading off to the Natural History Museum on Thursday. After such a long time without trips, it is great that the boys can get back to taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities on our doorstep – all within Covid guidelines, of course.

As the weather starts to take a turn, please could boys have a coat with them in school? With the need to keep indoor areas ventilated as well, the more layers we have available the better, and of course we want to keep the boys warm and dry when they are outside.

A message from the Ewelme Exhibition Endowmen: The Ewelme Exhibition Endowment exists to provide financial support to increase the educational opportunities for young people and we are asking for your help by forwarding this to all your Year 6 parents. They can offer financial support for young people in both state and independent secondary education for those with exceptional talent or specific educational needs. Support is flexible and assessed on an individual basis. Contributions can be made towards tuition and equipment for sports, music, the arts and towards travel and outside visits. Contributions can also be made towards school fees where an independent school has already offered a substantial award in order to widen access for young people who would otherwise be unable to consider an independent education. For further information, please visit www.ewelme-education-awards.info or e-mail ewelme.exhibition@gmail.com.

From Mr Bishop: On a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon the boys of the u13 1st VII football team braved the conditions and competed in the IAPS regional qualifier at Summer Fields. In our first two games we played some brilliant football and against Repton, the eventual winners, we dominated for long periods of the game. However they pounced on a loose ball to fire home the winner just thirty seconds from a draw. It was not until the second game and a 0-0 draw against the host team that we earned our first point. A quality performance in the final pool game saw us win 1-0 against St Joseph’s to take fourth spot in the group. Now we faced the winners of pool A and they were Wetherby Prep who had won all their games and looked dangerous. Not to be deterred, the NCS boys were brilliant and took the game into golden goal extra time. In this period, yes, we rode our luck a little at times but the NCS boys were dogged until the very end and with just twenty seconds to go we struck the winner to advance to the semi-finals. Unfortunately, we lost our semi-final, again to a narrow 1-0 but still had one more chance in the third place play off. Again, we faced the host school and still the deadlock could not be broken. Extra time came and went and so we were down to the dreaded penalties. The NCS boys were ice cold in their approach and it was not down to the weather! All three hit the target and with Harry in goal saving the second Summer Fields strike we won and finished a brilliant third place overall. This means that for the first time in NCS history we have qualified for the National Finals in November. The brilliant boys were Harry D, Timon B, Benedict F (captain), Dan C, Albie K, Patrick S, Leo M and Didrik TW.

Also this week the U11 team played local rivals Christ Church on Wednesday and two great games were played out down on field. The B team ran away with the game a little towards the end but at no point did this superiority breed any sort of complacency. The boys played hard but with discipline all afternoon and tried their very best to pass and move as their coaches have asked. In the A team game, the score was very close and an NCS comeback was needed to ensure a 4-4 draw at the final whistle. Two super games, well done boys. On Thursday the boys in the A team travelled to Elstree for the annual ISFA festival and on this occasion the opposition was a little beyond us and we did not manage to repeat our semi-final appearance of two years ago. The boys battled hard and made good progress and I certainly feel they are better players for the experience; they got better with each game and by the end were certainly fighting hard with tough physical opposition. Well done boys and keep on working hard. Finally the U8 Year 3 teams were in action again against Summer Fields. Three great games were played out and it was obvious from where I was standing that each and every boy enjoyed the afternoon. There were beaming faces as they tucked into match tea afterwards and told me all about the matches they played in. I am sure the Year 4 teams can play just as well next week when it is their turn against Cothill. Well done, Year 3!

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