Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 13th December 2019

Dear Parents,

It is difficult, as term hurtles to a close, to take stock of all that has happened over the past three or four months. I mentioned right at the beginning of Michaelmas that there were a fair few of us with ‘first term nerves’, and it has been a privilege to read all of the boys’ reports (every single word!) and to see my colleagues’ reflections on all that the boys have achieved and – as, or more, importantly – what they have been. I am a big believer in people resisting the urge to compare themselves to others all the time – success is not a zero-sum game – and I would urge the boys to reflect on what they have done, and where they can focus individually, when we return in the new year.

Christmases are peculiar, in a good way, in an educational setting like New College because they tend to start in November and it is quite possible to be all carolled out by the first week of December. I suppose it is the pedagogical equivalent of hearing Slade or Fairytale of New York in the supermarkets earlier and earlier each year. But it is also heartwarming to see Advent and Christmas through the boys’ eyes – a wonderful safeguard against the cynicism that might be engendered among the rest of us who have quite a few other things to do before we can think about Father Christmas and turkey leftovers. Safeguarding that innocent wonder is one of the many great things about our jobs here.

Pre-Prep Nativity and Christmas lunch

I am not naïve enough to think, of course, that Christmas is a happy or easy time for everyone, including many children. So I told the boys on Monday about Eglantyne Jebb, this week’s person of the week, whose campaigning against government policies that were leading to the starvation of children formed the foundation of Save the Children in 1919. One of my favourite parts of her story (and I am prepared to be told it is apocryphal) is that the judge who fined her for her protests in Trafalgar Square went on to pay that fine, which itself constituted the first donation to Jebb’s new charity. Without putting a downer on the boys’ enjoyment of Christmas time, it is no bad thing for them to reflect on those who face real difficulties during this season especially, and to realise that those difficulties are not always visible, and they are not always that far away.

Christmas Fair and Cafe; Carol Service

At the end of my first term as Headmaster, I would like to thank everyone in our community for their extraordinary efforts and support over what has been a marathon Michaelmas. Mutual support is a hallmark of NCS and it really is hugely appreciated.

I wish you and your family and friends a very happy and restful Christmas,

Matt Jenkinson

Person of the Week: Eglantyne Jebb

Artwork of the Week: ‘The Nativity’ (1470-5) by Piero della Francesca (1415-92)

Word of the Week: wassailing

Sport. As the term comes to a close we have completed the final round of rugby fixtures throughout the school. Recently, off the back of their very successful matches against MCS, the U8/9 boys have finished some of the most entertaining house matches we’ve played this year. In trying conditions the boys had to really think about the style of play and their passing skills, to open up defensive lines to try to score.

The U13 team played out their final game of the season against D’Overbroeck’s and, thanks to some early Alex sprinting, we were soon 2-0 up and playing some excellent rugby. The backs were running the ball superbly and Fraser in particular had a great game off the wing and in the centre as he scored one and set up another try in the space of four first-half minutes. With some wholesale changes at half time the team looked very different in the second half but this did not change the performance. The team continued to work hard and continued to score. A final score of 8-2 was a great way to end the season.

The U11 age group have been busy at an IAPS festival where they played seven very tough games and without doubt got better every game. The determination to stick to a passing game was commendable and to use the faster boys to avoid contact was a refreshing tactic. A special mention must go out to the captain, Jasper, who ran the side very well, as well as our man of the tournament, George, who was superb all day. Following on from this successful day the U11 boys also played against Bruern Abbey with both the A and B teams in action. Away from home the B team were facing a tough challenge and despite losing this game they fought to the very end and Mr Rose tells me they played some great rugby on their way to scoring three tries. A special mention must go to Dan as it was his hat trick and super agile running that saw us cross the line.

In the A team game I had the pleasure of refereeing a fantastic game of rugby. We were facing a very physical and unbeaten Bruern side who looked to mean business at the kick off. After eight minutes of play the NCS team eventually got hold of the ball and immediately ran hard and passed well to get into the other half. The fact the scores were still 0-0 was testament to how hard we were working for each other and how many good quality tackles were being made. At half time we did find ourselves 1-0 down but, thanks to some Leo brilliance and Jasper’s determination, we scored a fantastic try to level at 1-1. Both teams were then held up over the line so the score remained level until the final whistle. This was an epic game a fitting way to close an excellent season. Well done and thank you to all of you for representing the school so well this term. CB

Year 5 at the Ashmolean; School elections

Election results. Well done to Edward and his Vision Party for their success in our mock election. The senior boys husted very well in Monday’s assembly, building on the party leaders’ speeches last week. Many thanks to Dr Gallagher for taking the lead with this wonderful ‘civics’ project, and to all other colleagues who supported her so enthusiastically.

Many thanks to all parents (especially those involved in the NCSPA), colleagues and boys for their tireless contributions to all of our end-of-term events. The Christmas fair was its usual festive success; the Pre-Prep Nativity was a wonderful moist-eyed invocation of the Christmas Story, combined with Mrs Cox’s fabulous sense of humour; and today’s carol service topped off the school’s festive season appropriately. Many thanks to all who donated so generously to The Gatehouse in our retiring collection; over £600 was raised. Inevitably, the Christmas season is not quite over for the choristers, and they are doing a wonderful job rising to the demands of a chorister’s Christmas, especially at last night’s Sheldonian concert conducted by John Rutter – no jaded descants yet!

At the end of this term we say goodbye to Dr Jeremy Arden who has been a loyal and popular visiting piano teacher here. We offer him heartfelt thanks for all he has done for the NCS community and for his excellent company. Mr Rob Howarth has been appointed to replace Dr Arden. Mr Howarth has 23 years’ experience as a professional musician. He is currently principal continuo for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Director of Music at the University Church in Oxford, and a regular examiner for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He also currently teaches at Downe House School, St George’s, Windsor, and Cokethorpe. We wish Mr Howarth every success and happiness as he joins NCS.

Year 5 had a wonderful time at the ‘Last Supper in Pompei’ exhibition at the Ashmolean on Wednesday, building on their work in Classics. Thanks to Mr Hanson and Mrs Brown for taking the boys along. Thanks, also, to Mr Bradley and Mr Rose for taking Year 5 and 6 boys to the Varsity Match at Twickenham yesterday – a defeat for the dark blues, but the boys had a great time nonetheless.

Judo. Well done to Henry W for receiving the end-of-term NCS Junior Judo Gold Award and for Timon for receiving the Senior Gold Award. The awards were presented for demonstrating a combination of great sportsmanship, hard work, discipline, respect, friendship and Judo etiquette.

Well done to Lucas for representing Hinksey Sculling at the British Indoor Rowing Championships. One of 1,800 competitors on the rowing machines, he came sixth in the youngest category, demonstrating his talents to members from the Great Britain rowing team in the Olympic Velodrome. 3 world records, 10 British records and 62 Championship records were set at the world’s largest indoor rowing event.

Congratulations to Adam for being offered a place in the National Children’s Orchestra (under 12s) for 2020.

There will be pre-season hockey training on 7 January: 10.30-12.00 for Years 7-8 at St Edward’s astro, and 14.00-15.30 for Years 3-6 at Iffley Road.

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

The Oxford & Cambridge Singing School Christmas Course will be on Friday 20 December 2019, for children aged 7-13, at St Barnabus' Church, Jericho. The repertoire will centre on sumptuous festive music by Peter Warlock, Thomas Ravenscroft, John Joubert and John Rutter plus some traditional favourites. These courses are for children and young adults who love to sing and are devised to include choral singing, singing lessons in small groups to focus on developing vocal technique, music appreciation, music history, music theory in the form of games and exercises - all to improve their general musicianship, technical ability and confidence. The children will perform an informal concert at the end of the day, to which family are warmly invited to attend. For those who aren't familiar with the courses, please follow this link: https://vimeo.com/288600178/9108897ee8 Bursaries are available on the course courses and booking is via www.oxbridgesingingschool.com

Forthcoming Events

Monday, 6 January 2020


Tuesday, 7 January 2020


10.30 Pre-season hockey training (Years 7-8), St Edward's astro

14.00 Pre-season hockey training (Years 3-6), Iffley Road Sports Ground

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Start of Term

After School Activities Start

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

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

Thursday, 9 January 2020

10.30 Year 6 Science talk

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Memorial service for Peter Dickens (choristers only)

9.30 U11 A WHS PS Hockey Festival, Away

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

15.45 U9 A&B Hockey vs MCS, Away

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

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 (rehearsal 2.00pm)

Saturday, 18 January 2020

9.00 MCS Pretest, current Year 6 boys (Year 9 entry)

14.30 Full choir rehearsal for Epiphany Carols

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Start of University Term

17.45 Epiphany Carol Service, New College Chapel

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