Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 2nd december 2016

Dear Parents,

As the beginnings of School and College Christmas festivities get underway, it’s always refreshing to see it all again through our children’s eyes. You’d be amazed at how, as soon as I walk into assembly with matches and tapers, a forest of volunteers’ hands go up, all eager to light the Advent candles. And it’s not a sentimental exaggeration to say that there’s then a genuine sense of quiet awe as the boys look at the lit candles for a moment or two. In the same way, Year 1 called into my study with their Christingles to show me, excitedly telling me how they had made them. I also overheard a little group of Reception boys admiring the Christmas tree by the Hall stairs: as you might imagine, their conversation was by turns touching and amusing as they stood mesmerised by the lights. It’s all-too-easy to deride this as child-like simplicity but, as some educational research I chanced upon this week noted, children are naturally reflective learners, and are constantly piecing together their experiences in ways which turn the apparently simple into quite complex constructs. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the research showed that children who talk about their experiences most freely are often the most effective learners: I’m sure none of us ever underestimates the ability of our children to come out with profound thoughts at the most surprising of times. It’s a privilege, especially in the general busyness of this time of year, to chance upon these moments which certainly make we grown-ups stop and think too.

Christingles in Year 1; the Pre-Prep Winter Concert; relaxing in the Library; perspective artwork by Max Jones

In a similar way, what a moving occasion the Pre-Prep Winter Concert was on Thursday! It was heart-warming to see a good number of pupils performing so naturally and with such lovely confidence. And then the whole of pre-prep singing another variation of ‘Liza Jane’ really topped the afternoon. My thanks to all the boys, to Miss Sharp for master-minding it, and to all the music staff.

Sport. Frozen pitches have rather curtailed matches this week, so a report on the closing matches of this term will be in next week’s newsletter.

Testing friction with jelly and oil in Year 4 Science

Mapping the garden with compass coordinates in Year 3 Geography

Snow (or other extreme weather). With the current cold snap upon us, it’s probably useful for me to mention that, in the event of an overnight snowfall or other extreme winter weather, we usually remain open because we have a number of staff who live very locally. But please do not feel that simply because we are open you have to make dangerous efforts to get here if road conditions are problematic. An update on weather conditions here will be sent by Parentmail and will appear on our website (About Us > News) just before 7.00am on any such mornings.

I’m sure many parents will be interested to know that Oxford Active, who currently run a holiday club at Oxford High School, are opening a branch here from next February’s half-term. In order to gauge exactly what might usefully be provided, we will be conducting a SurveyMonkey next week on your and your children’s preferences. Please do respond to the survey if you are interested in this provision. It will only take a few minutes.

A reminder that preparations for the Christmas Fair on Thursday 15th December are well underway. As ever, we much appreciate any help parents can give to make it a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon for the whole NCS community. The NCSPA would be especially grateful for items for the following stalls: ▪️ Tombola donations (e.g. as-new toys, lightly used books, unused presents, toiletries, tins of biscuits, or anything that the boys might either enjoy winning, or be able to wrap up as presents for family members). ▪️Parents’ Association Produce. For any of you or your family who cook, bottle, preserve, garden, craft, paint, juice, brew, etc i could spare anything for the NCSPA produce stall, this is always really popular. Anything that will last can be donated now, perishables on the day. ▪️Jingle Jars. This is an enduring favourite, so we’d like to encourage any boys who are interested to make jars to donate. A clean jam jar, with lid, filled with small items such as crayons, craft supplies, Lego figure, hotwheels cars, nice hotel toiletries, sweets, bits and bobs you have lying around. Decorated jars look great too. Be imaginative, recycle! ▪️Cakes. An on-the-day-of-the-fair request, but we'd be grateful for cakes or biscuits, mince pies etc. for the Gingerbread Café. ▪️Volunteers for the stalls. Half-hour slots, particularly for Santa's Grotto and the Jingle Jars; but help setting up or clearing away afterwards would be great.

The Chamber Choir and Choral Society’s Christmas Concert is on Saturday 17th December at 7.30pm in New College Chapel. Do get your tickets from the School Office to avoid disappointment.

These events at the end of term will be all-too-soon upon us so I hope the following details will helpful for parents’ planning at his busy stage of the year. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to some great treats and celebrations. Please do join us if you can. ▪️Thursday 15th December – Pre-Prep Nativity Play: 2.00 pm School Hall. Written and directed by Mrs Cox and performed by members of Pre-Prep. Tickets are limited to two per family and are available from Pre-Prep teachers. Limited parking on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis will be available in the school grounds from 1.30pm onwards. The play will finish at approximately 2.45 pm. Parents should then be able to collect their children from form tutors and take them to the Christmas Fair.. ▪️Thursday 15th December - NCSPA Christmas Fair for boys and parents 2.00 - 4.30pm Sports Hall. As in previous years, there will be a number of vendors offering an interesting mix of items for sale as well as special stalls for the boys. There will be a very special Santa’s Grotto for the boys to visit. Refreshments will be available in the dining room and there will be a selection of delicious homemade cakes and biscuits on sale. The boys will also be given the opportunity to buy Christmas presents for family and friends. Year 3 upwards will be able to visit the Fair during school time, and should bring any shopping money in a named purse to be handed to form teachers during the day for safe-keeping as appropriate. Pre-prep boys can visit with their parents after the end of the Nativity play. Visitors to the Fair may park in the school grounds if space permits, but no earlier than 1.30pm ▪️Friday 16th December – New College School Carol Service: 11.00 am New College Chapel. Parents and friends are warmly invited to join us for our traditional carol service in the College Chapel, attended by all the boys. Pupils will be reading and the music will be provided by our instrumentalists, the pre-prep, junior and chamber choirs and the Choristers. There will be plenty of opportunities for the congregational singing too! Limited parking is available again on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis in the school grounds but please do not arrive to park before 10.35 am because we want boys to have their morning break unimpeded by cars.

The carol service finishes at approximately 11.50 am. School ends at 12 noon. Parents should collect boys from school not from the Chapel. On their return from the Chapel, boys will collect belongings from their classrooms. Boys in Pre-Prep should be collected from Pre-Prep classrooms. Boys in Years 3 – 8 will be brought to the Sports Hall where they will meet up with parents. Please be sure to meet them in the Sports Hall and not in the car park: the former is much safer!

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

December

Sat 3

End of University Term

Sun 4

NC Choir: Christmas Carol Service, New College Chapel, 3.00pm

Mon 5

Associated Board Exam Week

U13 Rugby House Matches, Home, 1.45pm

Tues 6

U11 A Rugby vs Bruern Abbey, Away, 2.30pm

Wed 7

School Service 10.00 am – New College Chapel

Speaker: Ms Nancy-Jane Rucker, Chapel Administrator

Coffee in the Undercroft afterwards for parents and visitors

Year 5 to Watermill Theatre, 10.30 am

Thurs 8

NC Choir: Emmaus Charity Concert, New College Chapel, 7.30pm

Sat 10

NC Choir: Old Members’ Carol Service & St Thomas's Feast

Mon 12

No after school activities in the last week of term

Tuesday 13

Pre prep to Playhouse pantomime ‘Cinderella’, 10.00am

Years 3 and 4 to Watermill Theatre, 1.00pm

U11 ‘A’ Rugby v Bruern Abbey, Away, 3.15pm

Wed 14

Form Period: reports discussed and issued

No School Service

Carol Service practice 9.00 am

Christmas Lunch

Pre-Prep Nativity Play Dress Rehearsal, School Hall, 2.00pm

Choristers’ Christmas Party, Red Room, 4.00pm

Thurs 15

Readers to Chapel 9.00am

Pre-Prep Nativity Play, School Hall, 2.00 p.m.

Christmas Fair in Sports Hall 2.00-4.30 pm

NC Choir: Christmas Oratorio, Sheldonian Theatre, 7.30pm

Fri 16

End of Term Assembly 9.00 a.m.

Carol Service, New College Chapel, 11.00 a.m

End of Term 12.00 noon

Sat 17

NCS Chamber Choir & Choral Society Concert, New College Chapel, 7.30 pm

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