Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 20th january 2017

Dear Parents,

In the plethora of advice and resolutions for the New Year, a slightly quixotic plea from the Chairman of the Independent Schools Council for parents to be more forceful about insisting children send handwritten notes of thanks for Christmas and birthday presents. Now don’t get me wrong: I certainly believe a handwritten note intrinsically conveys so much more care and attention than an email. But surely the important point, above all, is that children show their good manners and gratitude for the kindness of others. And sometimes that can be expressed in a timely and thoughtful email which, for children of the 21st century, may indeed be a more genuine way of communicating, depending on the recipient. If they know their correspondent will really value a handwritten letter, then they should write. Or if the relative or friend might prefer an unhurried phone call or facetime or a digital photo attached to an email, then act accordingly. So I’d argue what we really need to insist upon is the underlying respect for others’ particular needs and circumstances. That’s where the real thought comes in.

On a day when, in all conscience and regardless of our political outlook, our attention is forcibly drawn to the behaviour of world leaders, we may well despair at the example that some are setting: the lack of dignity, respect and empathy coupled with a monumental selfishness and self-aggrandisement. We all know that young people, whatever bravura they may outwardly present, are always looking for guidance and reassurance in validating their behaviour. When that’s very questionably modelled by those in the public eye, it’s never been more crucial for us as teachers and parents to insist on decency, respect and humility even in the smallest details of life: in thank-you notes or emails, in playground games, in helping around the house, even in the manner of expressing disagreement. And then, as the Precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Canon Michael Hampel, reminded us in Chapel this week, when they grow up to be neuroscientists, architects, comedians, lawyers, police officers (just a few of the ambitions the boys mentioned) they should be able to continue to guard the personal humility they have learned, no matter how distinguished their other achievements.

Making instruments to create sound in Year 3 Science; learning about taking care of teeth in Year 2; practising football skills in Pre-Prep games; artwork by Luca Prag based on Jackson Pollock

Sport. The hockey season has got off to a very bright and promising start with enthusiastic training and four enjoyable and successful matches this week. The U9 ‘A’ & ’B’ teams started the week with a 0-0 draw and a 3-1 win over local rivals MCS. In the ‘A’ team game, despite having 11 shots on the goal in the match we just couldn’t beat their keeper, who had an outstanding game. For the NCS team, Ben Harkness was wonderful to watch with parents and games staff from both teams commenting on his skill and determination. In the ‘B’ team fixture the boys managed a very impressive win with Timon Bergmann scoring all three goals in his debut for the team. Jasper Nolan and Leon Tarin were also strongly instrumental in the win. On Wednesday afternoon the U13 ‘A’ & ‘B’ teams were in action vs Summerfields. This has been close over the last few years and we expected another hard-fought game this time around. In the ‘A’ team game we found ourselves 2-0 down within four minutes, but the team did not panic and played some very impressive hockey to secure a 2-2 draw at the final whistle. Tom Morgan was in good form scoring and setting up the second goal. The ‘B’ team too had a slow start, but kept the opposition out thanks to Navid Mowat in goal and Xav Gardner at centre back. After a while, and with some very skilful play from Angus Riach, we found ourselves ahead thanks to a strike from Theo Cawood. However, within 10 minutes Theo had added another three to make it 4-0 to NCS! At the final whistle the score was 8-2 to NCS, five of which were Theo’s goals: a new personal record for an NCS pupil which takes him top of the scoring charts! Well done all who played and we look forward to continued enjoyment on the hockey pitches next week.

Congratulations to Year 7 & 8 musicians who captivated the audience with their playing at the Concert in the Holywell Music Room on Monday. It was an uplifting occasion for us all. One boy said to me that the beauty of the surroundings really inspired him to make his music sound as beautiful as possible: I’m delighted to hear how much the occasion was appreciated. And very good to see some younger aspiring musicians in the audience too. Well done to all.

Muscles and bones and teeth have been much on the agenda for Year 2 this week. I’m grateful to Dr Chari who came to talk about the human skeleton and how muscles work. If you’re passing Year 2’s classroom, do have a look at the impressive individual skeletons displayed on the wall. Thank you, too, to Mrs Patel for her talk on looking after your teeth: a topic of great interest to what we often call ‘the gap year’, to judge by the empty spaces in many Year 2 mouths!

Good luck to our stellar Under 9 chess team who have their first fixture this coming week and are hoping to become county champions again. I’m sure there will be plenty of skilful strategy on display.

The Holywell Music Room Concert

Building PCs in Year 8 Coding and Computing

Next week we shall welcome children’s author Piers Torday to talk to Years 5, 6 and 7. His first book The Last Wild about how we are the changing environment and natural world was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the UKLA Award, as well as winning Stockton Children's Book of the Year and Calderdale Children's Book of the Year. The book has sold all over the world and its sequel, The Dark Wild won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. The third and final book in the series, The Wild Beyond came out in 2015.

NCS families may be interested to know that Frideswide Voices (the choir for girl choristers, many of whom have or have had brothers at NCS) starts its Hilary Term Residency in New College Chapel with Evensong this coming Monday, 23rd January, at 6.15pm. The girls will contribute to services every Monday (except half-term) until Monday 13th March. The residency at New College follows a term based at Christ Church and the choir will move to Magdalen College for Trinity Term this year. A short film about the choir was released earlier this week. It can be found via the Frideswide Voices website www.frideswidevoices.co.uk and makes a very enjoyable 4-minute viewing. More information about auditioning for the choir is also on the website.

Holloway Lecture. As advertised in my Parentmail earlier this term, Professor Lord Krebs Kt, FRS, FMedSci, ML will give the Holloway Lecture on The Truth about Food, focusing on food production for the growing population and the impact this has for the environment, on Monday 20th February at 6.00 pm in the University Inorganic Lecture Theatre. Lord Krebs is an independent cross-bench peer, a member of the Climate Change Committee, advisor to the Wellcome Trust on human health and the environment, scientific advisor to Marks and Spencer plc and emeritus professor in the Department of Zoology in the University. He was previously chairman of the Food Standards Agency and Principal of Jesus College. Priority tickets for NCS families are available only until this coming Monday, after which tickets will be released to other local schools.

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

Year 3 and 8S Parents’ Evening is on Wednesday 6.00pm – 8.00pm in the Sports Hall. All those who teach these forms will be present, including Miss Munnery as Year 3 form tutor and Dr Jenkinson as 8S 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 no 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 any spare moments between discussions! I should mention that Mrs Ryder (Art) will be available from 5.30pm and will finish slightly earlier than 8.00pm.

You will have seen Mr Lenik’s Parentmail inviting you to our Safer Internet Information Evening at 7.00pm on Tuesday 7th February in the School Hall. Mr Lenik will give a presentation followed by questions. Unless you feel you’re already really well informed about the internet and social media and the way children are likely use and access the internet, I would urge you to attend if at all possible.

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

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: Piers Torday, 10.30am (Years 5-7)

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

Mon 30

Winchester Music Scholarship

U13 Hockey House Matches, St Edward’s Astro, 2.00pm

Tues 31

St Edward’s All-Rounder Scholarship

U11 Hockey House Matches, Iffley Road, 2.00pm

MCS Pre-test interviews for Year 6 for 2019 entry


Wed 1

School Service - 10.00 am - New College Chapel

Speaker: The Revd Dr Erica Longfellow, School & College Chaplain

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

St Edward’s All-Rounder Scholarship

U13 A&B Hockey vs Lord Williams’s, St Edward’s Astro, 2.15pm

Yr 4 Parents' Evening, Sports Hall, 6.00 p.m.

Thurs 2

Abingdon Music Scholarship

Eton Music Scholarship

Fri 3

U13 A County Cup Hockey, Hawks Hockey Ground, 4.00 pm

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