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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 11th may 2018

Dear Parents,

For part of this week I have been at a conference for the Heads of schools with choral foundations. It’s a gathering of Heads drawn from both prep and senior schools, united by our common (and often ancient) origins. This year we were celebrating the conference’s centenary: its first meeting in 1918 was driven by a concern about government legislation which might threaten the particular purpose and ethos of our schools. Not much has changed there, then! One of the most engaging speakers was the MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, who recalled how one of his primary school teachers in a deprived area of London had spotted his musical talents and suggested he go to the Cathedral School at Peterborough. It changed his life, he said. He had learned from that teacher what excellence was and, in his education at Peterborough, discovered a creativity and breadth of thinking which still informs all he does. He went on to aver that it is precisely that creativity and reflective thinking which will serve our pupils best in a future where technology, particularly artificial intelligence, is likely to bring huge changes to the world of work. He urged us to keep alive the beacon of creativity in our schools.

In a similar train of thought, Rose Luckin, Professor of Learner-Centred Design at UCL, told a recent meeting of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference that teaching a knowledge-based curriculum is “naive” because it imparts facts in a shallow way, leaving pupils unable to compete with artificial intelligence systems which can recall facts much faster. She urged that pupils should be taught to be self-reflective about their knowledge. So rather than teaching pupils to remember that the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066, teachers should be asking how we know that the Battle of Hastings was in 1066. She concluded: “The development of AI that can learn academic knowledge faster and more accurately than humans has brought about a situation that requires us urgently to make some dramatic and significant changes to our approach to education."

Reception Show and Tell; Year 3 Library Time; Chainmail creations in Activities; Extending melodies in Year 6 Music

Now that the season for awards to senior schools has concluded, I’d like to congratulate the following on some impressive achievements. Tom Barry Eton Music; Peter Bradley Abingdon Music ; Christopher Brain Radley Academic and Music & Winchester Academic and Music; Bentley Cook Abingdon Music; Arlie Macpherson Abingdon Music; Matty Rolfe Abingdon Academic; Thomas Simpson Magdalen College School Academic and Music & Governors’ Presentation Award; Theo Stavrik D’Overbroeck’s Drama. Very well done to all!

It was a great pleasure to hear the joint choirs of Christ Church, Magdalen and New College last week at Evensong in the Cathedral in honour of Professor Stephen Darlington who is retiring this year as Organist of Christ Church. Well done to all the choristers who mastered some demanding music in addition to their usual schedule. We are indeed privileged in Oxford to be able to enjoy such a high standard of music-making in no less than three choral foundations.

Year 5 were “Beating the Bounds’ yesterday in an ancient ceremony marking out the parish boundaries of the University Church on Ascension Day. The route passed through several colleges where the boys dutifully and energetically beat the stonework and were generously hosted with all sorts of edible treats. As ever, they were great company and exuded a huge sense of natural enjoyment, commented upon most favourably by those whom they met.

Year 5 Beating the Bounds

I’m looking forward to welcoming Old Boys back to College for the Old Boys’ Dinner tomorrow. A recent development has been to encourage former parents to join us for the occasion: there is a great sense of the camaraderie of the extended NCS family of which I hope all boys and parents will always feel a part.

A reminder that class photos are on Monday. I’d be grateful if parents could ensure that uniform is correct and tidy as boys leave home on Monday so they can be recorded at their best for posterity.

Junior Concerts (Yrs 3,4,5) are this Wednesday at 5.15pm and 6.15pm in the School Hall. Drinks are served beforehand in my Study at 5.00pm and 6.00pm respectively. Miss Llewellyn-Jones has sent out further details for performers by Parentmail.

Dates for your Diaries. The end of the Trinity Term always brings with it some very happy celebratory events at which we hope to see a good number of parents. I know diaries are always very full, so I hope this advanced reminder is helpful.

Thursday 14th June Pre-Prep Instrumental Concert, Sports Hall, 2.00pm

Friday 15th June Open Morning and Open Art Studio, 10.00am

Sunday 17th June Last Evensong, Chapel, 5.45pm

Monday 18th June Choristers’ Concert, Chapel, 5.30pm

Wednesday 20th June Year 8 Playreading A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cloisters, 6.00pm; Summer Drinks Evening, Cloisters, 8.00- 9.30pm

Thursday 21st June Years 3 & 4’s The Pirates of Penzance, School Hall, 6.00pm

Friday 22nd June Years 3 & 4’s The Pirates of Penzance, School Hall, 2.00pm

Saturday 23rd June Wykeham Day (Concert, Cricket Match, BBQ, School Fete), Field, 11.30am onwards

Tuesday 3rd July Sports Day. Pre-Prep 10.00am; Prep School, 11.00am, Iffley Road

Wednesday 4th July Leavers’ Service, Chapel, 10.00am; Pre-Prep Summer Show, School Hall 2.00pm; Leavers vs. Fathers Cricket, Field 6.00pm

Thursday 5th July Leavers’ Concert and Reception, University Church, 7.00pm

Friday 6th July Prizegiving for Years 3-8 to which parents of prizewinners will be invited nearer the time.

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Saturday, 12 May 2018

10.00 Young Art Oxford: Exhibition Open, Ashmolean Museum

17.30 Old Boys’ AGM, Undercroft

18.15 Old Boys’ Evensong, New College Chapel

19.30 Old Boys' Dinner, College Hall

Monday, 14 May 2018

9.00 Class Group Photos, Sports Hall

14.00 U13 Cricket House Matches, Home

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

10.00 U8-11 Triathlon vs Sibford, away

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: Mrs Rachel Faulkner, Governor of NCS. Coffee afterwards for parents and visitors in the Undercroft.

17.15 Junior Concert Pt 1 (Yrs 3, 4,5) School Hall

18.15 Junior Concert Pt 2 (Yrs 3, 4,5) School Hall

14.15 U13 A Cricket vs Summer Fields, Home

14.15 U13 B Cricket vs Summer Fields, Home

Friday, 18 May 2018

14.00 U9 A Cricket vs Sibford, Away

13.00 Yrs 1&2 Quad Kids Athletics, Home

Monday, 21 May 2018

National Walk to School Week

Charity week

Pre-Prep Reviews start; Years 3 & 4 form tests start

French Orals this week

14.15 U13A Cricket vs d’Overbroeck’s Leckford Place, Home

17.15 Senior Concert, Part 1 (Yrs 6, 7, 8) School Hall

18.15 Senior Concert, Part 2 (Yrs 6, 7, 8) School Hall

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

14.00 U11 Cricket House Matches

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Orders in Years 3-8 issued

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: Fr Jonathan Beswick, Vicar of the Church of St Barnabas, Oxford. Coffee afterwards of parents and visitors in the Undercroft.

14.15 2nd XI Cricket vs Dragon, Home

Thursday, 24 May 2018

PSB French Listening and French orals

14.15 U11 A Cricket vs Christ Church Cathedral School, Away

14.15 U11 B Cricket vs Christ Church Cathedral School, Home

Friday, 25 May 2018

Home Clothes Day

14.00 U9 Cricket House Matches

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Start of Half Term

Monday, 4 June 2018

Return from Half-Term

Years 5 – 8 Assessment Week

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