Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 25th January 2019

Dear Parents,

This week I was given a beautiful 1693 edition of Michel de Montaigne’s Essays, translated into English by the 17th century poet and writer Charles Cotton. I always find a real joy in the privilege of reading an antiquarian book: not only is the printing so strikingly of its time, and there’s that distinctive smell of ancient, crinkly paper, but there’s also that strong sense that many hands have turned the pages over the centuries and that I am sharing an experience of reading which echoes down the ages. Naturally enough, I turned to his essay on education and found him railing against rote learning and advocating the importance of individual judgement. I think you will know how much store we set by this at NCS. As this week’s photos below amply demonstrate, my colleagues work hard at getting the boys to think for themselves, a quality surely as vital today as it was in Montaigne’s time. I share with you here a taste of Montaigne’s wise insight and a chilling warning, perhaps particularly apposite for our own times.

’Tis the custom of pedagogues to be eternally thundering in their pupil’s ears, as they were pouring into a funnel…Tis a sign of crudity and indigestion to disgorge what we eat in the same condition it was swallowed; the stomach has not performed its office unless it have altered the form and condition of what was committed to it to concoct. Our minds work only upon trust, when bound and compelled to follow the appetite of another’s fancy, enslaved and captivated under the authority of another’s instruction; we have been so subjected to the trammel, that we have no free, nor natural pace of our own; our own vigour and liberty are extinct and gone: Let him[the pedagogue] make him [the pupil] examine and thoroughly sift everything he reads, and lodge nothing in his fancy upon simple authority and upon trust…Only madmen are certain and resolute.

3D modelling in Year 7 Computing; Rhythms in Year 1 Music; Fractions in Year 4 Maths; Ball skills in Reception

Sport this week has fallen foul of the weather. The snow made the astroturf pitches unplayable, but we look forward to hearing of some good results from the U13 Hockey County Cup this afternoon.

Good luck to Year 8 pupils taking music scholarship auditions to senior schools over the next couple of weeks. After an outstanding concert last week in the Holywell Music Room, they should be in a strong position to face the auditions with confidence and will surely impress their chosen senior schools.

My thanks to the NCS Parents’ Association Committee for a productive meeting earlier this week. As ever, we covered some very useful ground, voted through some excellent additional resources to enhance the boys’ experience here, including another table football machine, already proudly in place. From my observations, these have proved as popular with parents as they have with boys. I gather a boys v staff match is being proposed for charity week! This kind of purchase is only made possible because of the hard work of volunteers in ensuring the success of such events as the Christmas Fair, the Summer Fete or the Quiz Night. At our meeting we discussed plans for upcoming events, so do give your support if you possibly can!

Catching snowflakes

Building light boxes in Year 5 DT

Year 4 Parents’ Evening is on Wednesday (30th January) 6.00pm – 8.00pm in the Sports Hall. All those who teach the form will be present, including Mrs Williams as Year 4 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.

A reminder that the NCS Eco Stationery shop is open each Wednesday at lunchtime. If your son is interested in purchasing any item, please send him along with a small amount of money for useful and ethical shopping.

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Monday, 28 January 2019

MCS Music Scholarship

Winchester Music Scholarship

Eton Music Scholarship

16.00 U12 A Hockey County Cup, Hawks Ground

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Winchester Music Scholarship

Eton Music Scholarship

14.15 U11 A&B Hockey vs Sibford, Iffley Road

MCS Pre-test interviews for Year 6 for 2021 entry

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

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

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

10.00 Year 6 trip to Natural History Museum, return 12.00pm

14.00 U13 C&D Hockey vs St Hugh's, Away

14.00 U13 A&B Hockey vs Lord Williams’s and St Hugh's, St Edward’s Astro

Eton Music Scholarship

18.00 Yr 4 Parents' Evening, Sports Hall

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Eton Music Scholarship

Friday, 1 February 2019

7.00 U13 A IAPS hockey, St Faith's

Sunday, 3 February 2019

17.45 Candlemas Festal Evensong, New College Chapel

Monday, 4 February 2019

18.15 Old Boys’ Committee Meeting, HM Study

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Safer Internet Day

10.30 U8&9 Hockey House Matches, Iffley Rd

13.00 U11 A Hockey vs Sibford, Away

14.00 U8 A&B Hockey vs MCS, Away

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: The Revd Dr Sean Henson, Chaplain of St Hugh’s College

Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

12.30 Eco Committee Meeting

14.00 U13 Hockey House Matches, St Edward's Astro

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Abingdon Music Scholarship

13.00 U11 Cross Country vs Swanbourne, Away

Friday, 8 February 2019

15.00 U11 A County Cup Hockey, Hawks Hockey Ground

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