Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 5th may 2017

Dear Parents,

I spent the early part of this week at a conference for the Heads of schools with choral foundations. It’s always an interesting gathering, with delegates drawn from both prep and senior schools, united by our common (and often ancient) origins. As with most good conferences, the mixture of speakers and informal exchange of views with those doing similar jobs elsewhere was highly energising: it’s good to reflect upon where we’re ahead of the game and where we can develop our provision further. One of the speakers spoke most interestingly about habit and habitual actions, concepts which would have been entirely familiar to our medieval founder who emphasised the virtue in a regular, repeated round of services still inherent in our chorister schedule today. But the notion of doing something habitually has become derided in subsequent centuries, such that the French writer Marcel Proust once commented that habit is ‘a heavy curtain which conceals us from the whole universe and prevents us from knowing ourselves.’ And yet in school and at home, do we not often talk of promoting good habits in our children? As our speaker reminded us, we would do well to remember how important habit is in informing lifelong skills and behaviour. The norms of productive learning and civilised behaviour ought not to be things we have to think about every time we engage with them, but ought to be instinctive and habitual. In my experience, children are much more settled, but no less creative, if they have a routine and structure to their lives. So, rather than giving out a message that habit and routine are tedious, it’s worth affirming that if children have a bedrock of good habits and regular routine, I’m as convinced as our medieval forebears that they will be more powerfully equipped to deal with the ‘whole universe’ in all its diversity and complexity.

Division in Year 3 Maths; artwork by George Clifton; athletics at Abingdon; building prototype yachts in Year 4 DT

I am sure many of you will have enjoyed the Young Art Oxford Exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum this week. The standard of artwork seemed to me to be very high and it was a pleasure to see so much work from NCS on display. Congratulations to all! The exhibition continues until the end of Saturday, so do visit if you can.

Congratulations too to the Chamber Choir and Choral Society on a hugely enjoyable concert at the University Church last weekend. The expressive enthusiasm of the boys’ singing was quite outstanding. My thanks to Mr Poyser for masterminding it all and to a good number of our visiting music teachers who supported us in the orchestra.

I was delighted to see Year 2’s literary and artistic talents on display in the book they have made with Mrs Hess in the Library. Entitled Wykeham Bear goes on Holiday, the book tells of Wykeham Bear’s adventures through a series of postcards, all beautifully written by Year 2. I greatly enjoyed reading the book to the Pre-Prep at storytime this afternoon! Well done to Year 2 and to Mrs Hess.

Congratulations to the following Year 7 boys on their appointment to the prefecture: Tom Barry (Head Boy), Peter Bradley, Roman Buckland, Taha Khurram, Nicholas Petrov, Krishen Rao (Deputy Head Boy), Thomas Simpson. All the boys who applied for the prefecture acquitted themselves well and we were impressed by their thoughtful self-reflection for this particular leadership role. The newly-appointed prefects will gradually take over duties from Year 8 boys this term. In addition, all Year 8 boys next year will have a special tie to mark their position as responsible leaders and role models at the top of the School and will be taking an active part in leading some of our activities at lunchtime and after school.

Well done to Dylan Jamieson whose poem Dreaming of Disgraces has been chosen for publication in a national anthology featuring the work of young writers around the UK. There were 35,000 entries for the competition to find poems to be selected in the anthology, so this is a super achievement.

Sport. A good deal of this week on Field has again been spent honing cricket skills for upcoming house matches and inter-school fixtures. But aside from cricket, sporting skills have been displayed with great success on the chessboard and on the athletics field. Ben Harkness, Alex Smith and Benji Wilson progressed through to the Southern England stage of the UK Chess Challenge to be played at Twickenham later this year and our Under 9 NCS Chess team won a close encounter against Christ Church (3.5 - 2.5). The team, Timon Bergmann, Joshua Cable, Ben Harkness, Jeremy Newman, Lucas Ord, Cooper Spence, Benji Wilson, have been working extremely hard with Dr Varney throughout the year and have had some pleasing results.

Earlier this week, our athletics teams from Years 7 and 8 competed in the Abingdon School athletics meeting at Tilsley Park. In the Year 8 competition there were notable performances from Tom Morgan in the 800m (3rd place), Ben Fox in the javelin (5th Place), Angus Riach in the long jump (4th place) and Seb Asquith in the 800m who was 8th. The boys worked really hard and finished a highly pleasing 4th overall. In the Year 7 competition Henry Channon won the 800m and Krishen Rao was 2nd, and George Herbert won the long jump. Some superb results! However, the overall star of the afternoon was Theo Stavrik who won the 100m and the 300m and was 2nd in the shot and 2nd in the high jump. In only his first meeting, Theo has broken all four school records for Year 7! What a most promising start to this term’s athletics. All these outstanding performances meant that NCS took the overall win with medals for Henry Channon, George Herbert, Krishen Rao and Theo Stavrik.

Also on the athletics track on Field we have seen Years 1 to 4 complete their first 600m challenge of the term and in these early stages the results look very promising indeed. A full list of results can be found on the sports notice board. Finally, we have seen the 3000m pairs relay school records at U9 and U13 broken in this past week with Ethan McMillan and Jack Rothery recording a time of 11m 01s for the U9s and Henry Channon and Krishen Rao setting a superb time of 9m 47s for the U13s.

Categorisation in Year 1 Coding

Wring postcards, diaries and journals in Pre-Prep Library

Spelling practice in Year 4

Now that we are beginning to have some sunny days, please could you ensure boys have a sunhat and sunscreen in school, securely named please. This is particularly important for Field, but equally in the playground at school. Boys should make sure they do not share sunscreen to avoid any allergy problems. Equally (bearing in mind British weather) please make sure your son has some sort of waterproof coat for those unexpected downpours.

In place of the usual Evensong on Sunday evening (7th May) in Chapel, the Choir will be joined by the Oxford Bach Ensemble for a service of Lutheran Vespers featuring Bach’s Cantata Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (BWV 12). The service begins at 6.00pm with a pre-service introduction to the music at 5.45pm by the Organist, Mr Robert Quinney.

A reminder that the NCS Parents’ Association Committee Meeting is on Tuesday, 9th May at 7.30pm in my study. Do let your class reps or either of the co-chairs know if you would like to put any items on the agenda.

Mrs Brown reminded us in her assembly on Walk to School Week (15th – 19th May) of all the personal and societal virtues of walking and urged us a to consider ways in which we could undertake a little more walking in our school journeys. Whilst we all appreciate the majority of NCS pupils do not live within walking distance of school, I’m sure boys and parents could come up with some imaginative ways in which to introduce an element of walking into our school journeys. Perhaps drop off slightly further way and then walk the last few hundred yards? It’s also good for developing that little bit of independence in the boys as they grow up.

Some families may be interested in the Oxford Chamber Music Courses for young string players aged 9-18 which run at Headington School 31st July – 5th August. For more details email oxfordchambercourse@gmail.com The closing date for registration is 31st May.

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Sat 6

Young Art Oxford: Exhibition Open, Ashmolean Museum 10.00am – 4.00pm

Three Choirs Evensong, Christ Church Cathedral, 6.00pm

Sun 7

Lutheran Vespers featuring Bach’s Cantata No. 12, New College Chapel, 6.00pm

Tues 9

NCSPA Committee Meeting, HM Study, 7.30 pm

Wed 10

School Service - 10.00 am - New College Chapel

Speaker: The Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

Eco Committee meeting 12.00-12.30pm

Year 8/8S trip to RSC, Julius Caesar @ Stratford, sign-up only

U13 Cricket vs Summer Fields, Home, 2.15pm

Thurs 11

U11 A Cricket vs Chandlings, Away, 2.00pm

U11 B Cricket vs Chandlings, Home, 2.00pm

Fri 12

U9 A&B Cricket vs Cokethorpe, Away, 2.00pm

U9 C Cricket vs Cokethorpe, Home, 2.00pm

Sat 13

Old Boys' Dinner, College Hall, 8.00pm

Mon 15

PSB French Orals this week

National Walk to School Week

Whole School Photograph, 9.00am

U13 Cricket House Matches, Home, 2.00pm

Tues 16

U11 Cricket House Matches, Home, 2.00pm

Wed 17

School Service 10.00 am - New College Chapel

Speaker: Mr Neil McCleery, Assistant School & College Chaplain

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

U13 A Cricket vs Summer Fields, Home, 2.15pm

U13 B Cricket vs Summer Fields, Home, 2.15pm

Junior Concerts (Yrs 3, 4,5) 5.15 and 6.15pm School Hall

Fri 19

U9A Cricket vs Sibford, Away, 2.30pm

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