Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 13th january 2017

Dear Parents,

A very Happy New Year to all NCS families and welcome back to the new term. I have enjoyed hearing about a wonderful variety of family activities and many exciting new horizons and experiences. Above all, I trust everyone had a good break and some time for rest and relaxation.

Whilst it’s good now to get back into the routines of the school term (just look at the brisk, cheerful learning going on in this week’s photos) I always feel the Christmas holidays are a good time for us all to slow down. But for children it's an especially good time to relish simply playing – inventing their own games indoors or outside - or having a bit more time to read, or spend time with friends, or even, dare I say it, some relaxing computer time. As with everything, a balance of different activities is healthiest. I was interested and rather amused to come upon a comment in my holiday reading that educationists in the past feared the rise of cheap paperbacks and colourful children’s books lest children spend too much time reading and not enough time playing outside! So perhaps our understandable anxieties about too much computer time, for example, need to be set against this perspective. It's all a matter of helping our children to be self-disciplined and enjoy a variety of different ways of amusing themselves without our feeling the need constantly to set the agenda or oversee their leisure time.

Timing in Year 3 Maths; researching Greek derivatives in Year 4; the feudal system in Year 6 History

Nonetheless, whether or not they like to admit it, children do value our gentle guidance about how to get the best out of all the many activities they can now enjoy. It was salutary to read in the recent Children’s Commissioner’s report Growing Up Digital that ‘children and young people say that they have no idea how the internet works, either in ways that might be of interest to them or ways that disempower them’ and that they want the adult world to deliver on this. This is a great challenge for us all because it’s an area in which our own experience and knowledge is probably lacking. How many terms and conditions have you read fully before ticking the ‘Agree’ box? If you have, how much of it did you fully understand? I suspect we’re all susceptible to the latest app, regardless of age.

With this in mind, we have just launched the eCadets scheme which will enable representatives from each form, under Mr Lenik’s guidance, to meet different cyber challenges relating to internet safety and then share that knowledge with others in their form in PSHCEE lessons. By peer-to-peer sharing of information, we aim to make the whole process of internet use a transparent and positive experience, owned responsibly by the boys. And on Tuesday 7th February (Safer Internet Day), not only will we have plenty of information and discussion sessions for the boys, but all parents are invited to a Safer Internet Briefing from Mr Lenik at 7.00pm in the Sports Hall. He is planning to give some very practical information to support parents in keeping an eye on your children's internet/social media use at home. Research shows that guidelines for computer use at home should be laid down from an early age, so this is a meeting not just for the parents of our older pupils! Do put it in your diaries.

Sport. Despite the slightly uncertain weather, Mr Bishop and Mr Morrison report an enthusiastic and promisingly skilful start to the term. I look forward to seeing how things shape up. Good luck to all!

Rugby practice in Pre-Prep Sport

Accelerated Reading quizzes in the Library

Christmas Quiz. A reminder from Mrs Hess that completed family Christmas Quizzes need to be returned by Monday. There is a chocolate Santa in the library waiting for the winning entry.

A reminder that Saturday Morning Music School starts tomorrow at 9.45am prompt.

As our music scholars prepare for their auditions this term, we have two imminent opportunities to hear them. Tomorrow at 10.00am, Dr Ralph Allwood (formerly Precentor of Eton College) will take a Music Scholars’ Masterclass in the School Hall. On Monday (16th Jan) at 5.30pm our Scholars’ Concert takes place in the Holywell Music Room (one of the oldest music rooms in Europe, where once Haydn performed). All parents and boys, particularly those thinking of taking a music scholarship in the next couple of years, are most welcome to join us on one or both of these occasions. I’m sure the concert will be particularly enjoyable and your support much appreciated by the performers.

Readings and Music for Epiphany. A special Epiphany Carol Service will be given by the choristers and clerks in New College Chapel tomorrow (14th Jan) at 6.15pm. All welcome.

The Oxford Bach Ensemble (which includes former NCS pupils, current and former NCS parents and teachers) is performing Bach’s B minor Mass in memory of former NCS pupil and chorister, William Petter, son of Liza and Hugh Petter, tomorrow (14th Jan) at St Margaret’s Church North Oxford, at 7.45pm. Tickets on the door £15/£10 (under 16s free). All proceeds to the charity Help Musicians. All NCS families are, of course, warmly welcome.

Year 6 Parents’ Evening is on Wednesday (18th Jan) 6.00pm – 8.00pm in the Sports Hall. All those who teach these forms will be present, including Miss Cawood as Year 6 form tutor. I shall also be available to discuss any matters arising with parents. For those newer to the School, it may be helpful to say that (from long experience in other places of well-intentioned timetables which break down!) we do not operate an appointment system, but parents circulate happily between different teaching staff. There is no need to arrive on the dot of 6.00pm, but I would ask you not to arrive not later than 7.00pm to ensure you can get round to all teachers. We ask you to try to limit your conversations to between 5 and 10 minutes. If any matter requires further attention, then you are always welcome to book an appointment with a member of staff at another mutually convenient time. Refreshments are available for those moments between discussions! I should mention that Mrs Ryder (Art) will be available from 5.30pm and will finish slightly earlier than 8.00pm.

The NCS Parents’ Association Committee Meeting is on Tuesday, 24th January at 7.30 p.m. in my study. If you have any agenda items, please speak to your class reps.

Winter Coats. With wintry weather upon us, please make sure boys come to school in suitable dark coloured winter coats so they can enjoy playing outside and keep warm. Many thanks.

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Sat 14

Music Scholars' Masterclass, School Hall, 10.00 – 12 noon

led by Ralph Allwood, MBE, formerly Precentor of Eton College

Readings and Music for Epiphany, New College Chapel, 6.15pm

Oxford Bach Ensemble, B minor Mass, St Margaret’s Church, 7.45pm

Sun 15

Start of University Term

Mon 16

Scholars' Concert, Holywell Music Room, 5.30pm

Tues 17

U11 Hockey House Matches, Iffley Road , 2.00pm

U9 A&B Hockey vs MCS, Away, 4.00pm

Wed 18

School Service - 10.00 am - New College Chapel

Speaker: The Revd Canon Michael Hampel, Precentor, St Paul’s Cathedral

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

School Council Meeting, 12.30pm

Yr 6 Parents' Evening, Sports Hall, 6.00p.m.

Thurs 19

Years 1 & 2 to Pitt Rivers Museum (Puppets and Stories Workshop)

Sat 21

MCS Pretest for Yr 6 for 2019 entry

Mon 23

MCS Music Scholarship

Tues 24

U11 A,B,C&D Hockey vs CCCS, Iffley Road, 2.30pm

NCS Parents’ Association Meeting, HM Study, 7.30 pm

Wed 25

School Service - 10.00 am - New College Chapel

Speaker: Professor Sarah Mortimer, Student (Fellow) & Tutor in Modern History, Christ Church

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

Eco Committee Meeting, Yr 5 classroom, 12.30 pm

U13 A&B Hockey vs Abingdon, St Edwards Astro, 2.30pm

Yr 8S and Yr 3 Parents' Evening, Sports Hall, 6.00 p.m.

Thurs 26

Author Visit for Years5-7: Piers Torday, 10.30am

U11 A&B Hockey vs MCS, Away, 3.30pm

Fri 27

U9 Hockey House Matches, Iffley Road, 2.00pm

Sun 29

Candlemas Service, New College Chapel, 6.00pm

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