Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 3rd febrUary 2017

Dear Parents,

Following calls for mental resilience to be taught in schools, former government mental health tsar this week posed the question “Is teaching ‘resilience’ just accepting that the world is heartless?” “We should aim to create an environment where sensitivity is seen as a necessity, rather than a weakness”, she argues. “Imagine if everyone who had retained the very human character trait of being concerned for other people (and by extension what other people thought of them) suddenly left the realm of campaigning, politics and media.” Next week is Children’s Mental Health Week (this is one of the reasons we are supporting Mind as our charity) and a national slogan for the week is ‘Spread a Little Kindness’. If you are on the receiving end of an act of kindness, however small, you feel that you have been noticed and that you matter. For children, as with us all, the sense that they don’t count, that they’re not valued, can be the most hurtful and harmful of all. And yet to give and receive kindness displays a type of mental strength and discipline which we should all cultivate, particularly when it’s all too easy to rush around with our own concerns in busy lives.

So I hope we do teach mental resilience in school in all our interactions, but that it’s a resilience which helps our children to have the strength of mind not only to see sensitivity as a necessity, but actively to meet heartless values with something rather more powerful. To illustrate my point, I can hardly find a better example than the story of Nicholas Winton, related to us by Mr Horton in an assembly this week. Just before the start of World War II, Winton visited Prague with a friend and saw the plight of children whose safety was threatened by the imminent Nazi invasion. Without exactly knowing how he was going to arrange it, he promised to find safe passage for as many as possible to the UK. He managed to evacuate 669 children. He didn’t really tell people about this extraordinarily courageous and spontaneous act of kindness until much later in his life when his wife discovered the paperwork connected with the operation in their attic.

Film scores in Year 7 Music; human line graphs in Year 5 Science; Hockney in Year 8 Art; artwork by Nathan Sparkes

We had a wonderfully evocative celebration of the Chinese New Year this week with a visiting troupe performing a Chinese New Year Lion Dance, complete with lion costume and resounding drums and cymbals. It was a superb spectacle which had the boys entranced. Warmest thanks to the Meecham family for arranging it.

Congratulations to Ardhan Subramaniam on obtaining a music award at Winchester College and good luck to all those still in the middle of auditions.

And indeed good luck to all our Year 8 pupils who will be taking mock Prep School Baccalaureate and Academic Scholarship examinations next week. I’m sure there will be plenty of revision over the weekend, but I should emphasise that as long as boys do their best, they and we should be content. A mock exam means just that – it’s not the real thing. There’s a chance to learn from mistakes.

Pre-Prep and the Lion Dance Troupe

Quiet reading in Year 3

Cricket skills in Year 4 games

'Six hands at one piano' in Assembly

Sport. This week has been a week of consolidation and hard work with all groups working hard on the training ground to hone skills for up-coming matches and festivals. In addition, the U13 team played last Friday in the U13 Hockey County Cup tournament. In this tough and highly competitive event we played four games of hockey where we showed much determination and great skill. Following our regular fixture vs Abingdon School we opened the festival with another match against them and this time it was a very close and tactical affair with both teams very wary of each another. A hard-fought, but somewhat predictable, 0-0 draw meant both teams started off with a well -earned point! Next up were MCS and on this occasion they managed to get the better of us and, despite Sukrit Kaul getting on the score sheet, we ended up empty-handed knowing a win vs Lord Williams in the next game was essential. The boys did not disappoint and scored five with a dominant display in every aspect of the game, especially Krishen Rao in the centre of mid-field and Theo Cawod at his ruthless best in front of the goal. Our last game vs Bloxham School was also a close match: both sides scored good goals early in the game. Bloxham managed to go ahead in the dying minutes of the game and held on to their slender lead to take the win. A last-minute penalty corner was very nearly converted by the NCS forwards but a 2nd defeat meant joint 3rd place in the festival. A fair result we felt, but the team is improving with every performance and we now look forward to the next round of games after half-term. Also this week we have had the Year 1 and Year 2 house cross country event on Field. The boys ran a very impressive 1150 metres in a highly competitive race with Finlay Appleby winning the Year 2 race and Jacob Whyte the Year 1 race. The house results will be published in due course and presentations will be made in final assembly at the end of term. A good morning of athletics was finished off with a well-deserved cup of hot chocolate and a Penguin bar! Congratulations to all of the boys in Years 1 & 2 for completing the race in such good spirits.

A reminder that our Safer Internet Information Evening is at 7.00pm on Tuesday 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.

Charity Week is next week in aid of Mind www.mind.org.uk We will have our usual cake sales during our morning break throughout the week. Please encourage the boys to do some baking to bring in at various times during the week and to bring in small amounts of money to buy cakes for 50p each. Please be aware that one or two boys in the School have quite severe allergies to nuts, so do avoid allowing boys to bring in cakes with nut content. Home Clothes Day will be on Friday, 10th February. Boys are asked to donate £2 toward the charity for the privilege of wearing home clothes.

Oxford Active Half-Term Holiday Club. As mentioned earlier this term, Oxford Active (who run a successful holiday club at Oxford High School) will be running a football club here at half-term and are also running a free bus shuttle from NCS to their other activities at Oxford High if football doesn’t appeal. Please see the attached flyer for further details.

Our Annual Poetry Recitation Competition starts to take place in the week beginning 27th February. Whilst there is a competitive element to it from Year 3 upwards, the emphasis is on enjoying the process of choosing a poem and committing it to memory so that I hope the chosen poem becomes a life-long companion. (I’m sure many of us can still remember poems we learned at school – there are very many virtues to the discipline). I’m sure a good number of parents/grandparents would enjoy getting involved in choosing and listening to the boys’ chosen pieces. The coming half-term is a perfect opportunity to do so! Form tutors/English teachers are already giving boys some pointers in their choices.

My attention has been drawn to the following Oxford Philharmonic Concerts for Children, which may be of interest to NCS families. FUNomusica Family Concert, Sunday 5th February, Oxford Town Hall, 3.00pm. Most suitable for ages 8-12. A time vortex has opened in Oxford Town Hall! Thank goodness our travelling Time-Lord Alasdair Malloy is on hand with his sonic screwdriver and the musicians of the Oxford Philharmonic to whisk us through the centuries, encountering key moments and people in history while making sure we get back in time for tea. FUNomusica Family Concert, Sunday, 5th March, Oxford Town Hall, 3.00pm. Most suitable for ages 4-8. Celebrating dance from all round the world, Alasdair Malloy and the Oxford Philharmonic spin us off our feet on a joyous journey round the globe, discovering just how the whole world loves to dance. Leaping from ballroom to barndance, salsa to samba, this concert will certainly get more than your toes tapping! Come in your favourite international dress and be prepared to learn a very unusual dance: Mr Mozart's Macarena! Pre-concert craft activities at 2.00pm.

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Mon 6

Charity Week in aid of Mind www.mind.org.uk

Start of PSB/scholarship mocks week

Old Boys’ Committee Meeting, HM Study, 6.15pm

Tues 7

Safer Internet Day

U8-11 X-Country vs Chandlings, Away, 12.30pm

Safer Internet Information Evening, School Hall, 7.00pm

Wed 8

MCS Art Scholarship Interviews

School Service - 10.00 am - New College Chapel

Speaker: Professor Elisabeth Dutton, University of Fribourg

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

Orders in Years 3-8 issued

Thurs 9

U11 X-Country vs Swanbourne School, Away, 12.45pm

Fri 10

Home Clothes Day

U11 County Cup Hockey, Hawks' Hockey Ground, 4.00pm

Sat 11

Start of Half-Term

No Saturday Morning Music School

Mon 20

Return from Half-Term

Holloway Lecture: Lord Krebs, The Truth about Food, Inorganic Chemistry Lecture Theatre, 6.00pm

Tues 21

U11 A Hockey, IAPS Tournament, Haileybury College, pm

U8 A&B Hockey vs MCS, Away, 4.00 pm

Wed 22

School Service - 10.00 am - New College Chapel

Speaker: Mr Michael Windsor, Headmaster, Abingdon School

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

Eco Committee Meeting, Yr 5 Classroom, 12.30 pm

U13 XI Hockey vs Abingdon, St Edward’s Astro, 2.30pm

8S mock scholarship interviews, HM Study, 3.45 – 5.45pm

Year 8 Parents’ Evening, Sports Hall, 6.00 pm

Thurs 23

Abingdon Sports Scholarship

Fri 24

U9 A&B Hockey vs Brockhurst, Iffley Road, 2.00pm

U9 C&D Hockey vs Brockhurst, Away, 2.00pm

Sat 25

U8 A Football vs St Hughes, Away, 10.00am

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