Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 13th December 2019
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.
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.
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,
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