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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 8th February 2019

Dear Parents,

Two interesting pronouncements from central government to reflect upon this week. First, the Education Secretary’s welcome iteration of the five foundations for building character and resilience (sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and membership, and the world of work) and his pledge to help every child in the country access activities contributory to these. And I’m glad we’ve started to do our small bit to support this by sharing some of the activities we do here through our Educational Partnerships programme. Second, the UK’s chief medical officers’ recommendations about children’s use of mobile devices which centred on promoting quality family time and parents’ role in ensuring regular breaks from screen time. (I append the key steps of the guidance below*). Underpinning both these pronouncements, it seems to me, is a strong sense that as a society we’re beginning to recognise that we must re-engage our children in active involvement in the world around them. Otherwise, they are in danger of becoming passive (and possibly physically and mentally unhealthy) recipients of often ill-digested information from a world devoid of the accepted norms of real human contact. Although couched in terms of its time and perhaps quirkily old-fashioned to our ears, I was reading this week an account of singing at King’s, Cambridge which recalled that the “The headmaster [of the School] in the 1930s liked to take the boys skating when the Fens froze over. He wished all boys to become self-reliant, to be able to swim and mend their own bicycles, and he arranged extracurricular woodwork and metalwork lessons, assisting boys to construct canoes and the take them onto the river.” Although these days we might add a range of different activities, the principle is the same and one of which the Education Secretary would presumably approve. I’m sure we all know as parents that, once absorbed in such activities which require a wonderful mixture of doing and thinking, children do not miss their screens.

[*There are several clear steps for parents, which the chief medical officers say will help keep children safe and healthy. These include:  not using phones and mobile devices at the dinner table - talking as a family is very important for development.  keeping screens out of the bedroom at bedtime.  talking as a family about keeping safe online and about cyber-bulling and what children should do if they are worried.  not using phones when crossing a road or doing any other activity that requires a person's full attention.  making sure children take a break from screens every two hours by getting up and being active.  policing their own use too - parents should give their children proper attention and quality family time and never assume they are happy for pictures to be shared.]

Measuring surface friction in Year 5 Science; Chinese New Year quizzes in the Library; The victorious U9 chess team; Research in Year 4 Music

Sport. This week has seen a good number of the younger boys in action on the hockey pitches and, in particular, all the Year 3 boys had their first taste of competitive hockey at a small festival at MCS and everybody had a cracking afternoon of sport. It was thrilling to hear how well the boys performed and comforting to know our customary high standards of hockey are represented right throughout the School, even down to the youngest players. We had two teams competing. They played 10 games of hockey, winning 7, drawing 2 and only losing 1. Our ‘A’ team managed to win all five of their matches during the afternoon, showing great skill and athleticism. A special thank you must go to Miss Bishop who helped coach the boys for the afternoon: they obviously gained a lot from her hockey expertise and experience. Also in action this week were the boys from Years 5 & 6 who represented the school in the annual Sibford School tournament. Mr Rose tells me the boys played some great hockey and were commended by the staff of Sibford for their skill and determination. Albie Kilkenny and Enoch Wang were singled out for a special mention by the other coaches. Very well done! Following some very exciting matches with St John’s, Sibford and the NCS 2nd team we managed a credible 3rd place. Many congratulations to all those who played.

The U9 chess team (Peter Kendall, Finn Lawrence, Ashwin Satsangi, Didrik Tarras-Wahlberg, , Isaac Wang and Emil Yang) played in an English Primary Schools Chess Association National Schools tournament last Saturday to qualify for the competition's semi-final round in May. The team played intelligent, focused chess all day but, with relatively little tournament experience and facing tough competition in the shape of sides from St Joseph's and MCS, they found themselves well adrift of third place and the final qualifying spot as they went into the fifth and last round. Moreover, they were matched with third-placed St Joseph's ‘B’ team for that round and needed to win on every single main board to leapfrog into third and qualify. At that point, the arbiter remarked that the final placings were "pretty much decided". Yet, as game after game fell to NCS, it began to look as though he had spoken too soon! The team won the final round 5-0 and qualified for the semi-finals: a dramatic finale to a fine day's chess. Very well done to all involved for some superb chess and such patience and perseverance.

On the cross-country circuit, William Kelsey competed in the Oxfordshire and District cross country championships at Adderbury, near Banbury. William managed a very impressive 16th place which means he is currently in 16th place in the championships with one race to go! Also running this week was Lewie Harris who was competing for Bicester A.C for the first time and managed a brilliant 27th place! Wonderful results: very well done to both. Finally this week, we have seen Years 1 & 2 compete in the annual pre-prep house cross country race. We had two very impressive races with all boys running with great spirit despite the cold and wet conditions. The two winning athletes were Hugo Branderhorst in Year 2 and Fox Davies in Year 1. Congratulations to you both on a super result.

Year 1 Library time

Pre-Prep cross-country

A number of our Year 8 pupils have taken music scholarship examinations over the last week or two and very good news indeed is beginning to percolate through. Huge congratulations to Lyndon Chen who has carried off a Music Scholarship to Eton College – the top music award there! And good luck to all Year 8 who will be on their mettle next week, taking mock Pre-Senior Baccalaureate and academic scholarship examinations. 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.

Charity Week is the week beginning this coming Monday 11th February. This term we are supporting Helen and Douglas House a charity providing hospice and palliative care for terminally-ill children and young people in our local area. www.helenanddouglas.org.uk As an addition to our charity week events this term, we are going to hold a daily ‘Bring and Buy’ toys and books sale. We would like to encourage anyone who wishes, to donate any unwanted toys/books, to be sold each day at breaktimes and after school. We will charge 50p per item, and all boys will be encouraged to have a serious shopping spree with their parent/carer after collection at the school gate. Please do support this new fundraising venture. Donations may be brought to the School Office.

Year 5 Parents’ Evening is this Wednesday (13th February) 6.00pm – 8.00pm in the Sports Hall. All those who teach these forms will be present, including Mrs Brown as Year 5 form tutor. There is no need to arrive on the dot of 6.00pm, but I would ask you not to arrive not later than 7.00pm to ensure you can get round to all teachers.

On Home Clothes Day, Friday 15th February, we shall have one of our usual cake sales. Boys are asked to donate £2 toward the charity for the privilege of home clothes and should bring an extra 50p for a cake on that day. Donations of cakes on that Friday will be gratefully accepted! Thank you in advance for your support.

You should all have received a letter by Parentmail about the Holloway Lecture, which takes place on Monday 11th March at 6.00pm as part of our STEM week. Robots are the theme of the week and the lecture will be given by Professor David Clifton on ‘What did Artificial Intelligence ever do for us?’. Since we open the lecture up to other schools, NCS families have priority booking until next Friday 15th February. The lecture is probably most suitable for Year 6 and above.

Headmaster’s Presentations. One of the great joys of my job is to be able to see the many talents of your sons blossoming and to be able to commend them for it. I know that the recognition they get in our weekly school service for certificates, house points, the excellence book, is very important to them and, rightly so, for parents to witness as well. However, I often regret not being able to talk to the boys a little more about their achievements. So, from after half-term, I propose to enlarge the ceremonies slightly. I will continue to read out all achievements in Chapel and shake the boys’ hands, but then I will present the actual certificates in ‘Headmaster’s Presentations’ in my study on a Wednesday lunchtime, thus enabling them to talk about their achievements or show me some of their work. It will have the additional benefit of ensuring that certificates do not get crumpled or dropped on their return from Chapel!

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Monday, 11 February 2019

Charity Week in aid of Helen and Douglas House

Start of PSB/scholarship mocks week

Pre-Prep Reviews

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

14.00 U11 Hockey House Matches, St Edward's Astro

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel.

Speaker: Dr Katie McKeogh, Christopher Cox Junior Fellow, New College.

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

Orders in Years 3-8 issued

14.45 U13 A&B Hockey va Abingdon, St Edward's Astro

18.00 Year 5 Parents’ Evening, Sports Hall

Thursday, 14 February 2019

14.00 U11 Hockey House Matches, Iffley Rd

Abingdon Sports Scholarship

Friday, 15 February 2019

Home Clothes Day

13.00 U8 A Tag Rugby vs Brockhurst, Away

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Start of Half-Term

Saturday, 23 February 2019

NC Choir: Monteverdi Vespers, Keble College

Monday, 25 February 2019

Return from Half-Term

MCS Academic Scholarship starts

Cokethorpe Sports Scholarship

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

7.00 U11 A IAPS hockey, Haileybury

Cokethorpe scholarships begin

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: Professor Joshua Hordern, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Fellow and Tutor in Ethics, Harris Manchester College

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

12.30 School Council meeting

14.30 U13 A&B Hockey vs Dragon, St Edward’s Astro

14.30 U13 C&D Hockey vs Dragon, Away

Abingdon Drama Scholarship

18.00 Year 8 Parents’ Evening, Sports Hall

Thursday, 28 February 2019

14.00 U11 House Cross Country, University Parks

Friday, 1 March 2019

14.00 U9 A,B&C Hockey vs Dragon, Away

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