Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 24th march 2016

Dear Parents,

Schools should teach young people about how to identify "fake news", says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's education director. Dozens of schools are already piloting sleep lessons for teenagers avers the Chair-Elect of HMC. Last week a group of researchers in America suggested that schools teach “intellectual humility”. Sir Anthony Seldon wants happiness and empathy lessons in classrooms. Hollywood star Orlando Bloom is fronting an academy trust in Manchester that teaches confidence. Bear Grylls, the Old Etonian adventurer, says his education did not teach him “how to eat healthy food”, “how to lead a team”, or “how to communicate with people”. Commenting on the latter of these educational headlines, a columnist in The Times said it for me: “One can’t help but feel that, by the time teachers have got round to the empathy, the humility, the confidence and the rest of it, there will be hardly any time left for the quadratic equations, the acid-base reactions and Beowulf.”

From what I observe of lessons at NCS, we need to reassert that a lot of these personal and social skills, which are more and more being bolted onto schools’ curricula, are surely already embedded in the way in which quadratic equations, acid-based reactions and Beowulf are taught in well-organised classrooms. I suggest that happiness, empathy, intellectual humility, the ability to spot ‘fake news’ or how to lead a team are learnt from experiencing and applying these skills in, say, collaborative science experiments, the analysis of literary and historical texts and learning to grapple with the methodology of quadratic equations. And if this is so, then a knowledge-based curriculum is infinitely more interesting than a purely skills-based curriculum. How many of your sons are going to rush home and exclaim “It was epic today in School, we had double ‘Intellectual Humility’ this afternoon, and ‘Empathy’ was really fun? The great Victorian Headmaster, Matthew Arnold, observed that a good modern society can only come about when all its citizens are educated in ‘the best that has been thought and said in the world’. Any national curriculum, anywhere in the world, should be passing on to the next generation the nation’s history, traditions and values as well as preparing pupils for today’s and tomorrow’s global society with skills arising from ‘the best that has been thought and said ‘. As for ‘sleep lessons’, dare I say it, these are best learned at home: please don’t ask for that on the NCS curriculum!

Writing Dragon stories in Year 2 English; life at the time of the Fire of London in Pre-Prep History; sketching at the Natural History Museum; rehearsals at St Martin-in-the-Fields

My thanks to the NCSPA for organising a most successful Ceilidh last Saturday with OHS. It was super to see Years 7 & 8 pupils from both schools overcoming their social nerves and gradually joining in the spirit of a very happy evening.

The Hockey match vs the OBs last Sunday was also a greatly enjoyable occasion. It was good to see so many recent leavers on the pitch and so many parents on the touchline. There was some excellent hockey all round, but I’m glad to say the School won the day!

Year 4 were exemplary ambassadors for the School on their visit to Chedworth Roman Villa on Monday: I have heard much excited talk about it all and a super enthusiasm for things classical. All to be encouraged!

A good many of us enjoyed the Years 5 & 6 French Play, Gogglebox (Vu à la télé) last week with its wonderfully fluent French dialogue, characterful acting, lively singing and dancing all put together so imaginatively by Mr Horton, assisted by Mrs Brown. The boys’ accomplished commitment and enthusiasm was abundantly evident and we were certainly kept superbly entertained throughout. The innovation of the play in the Sports Hall with the French café sur place made the evening seamlessly convivial. My thanks to all my colleagues who gave it so much support in so many different ways, from building the set, to arranging costumes and make-up and pitching in with backstage supervision. Another great NCS team effort! (Tick: Empathy, Co-operation, Happiness, Confidence, Communication).

Researching Anne Frank's life in Year 5 History

Experiments to determine how lungs work in Year 8 Science

Good luck to Choristers for their concert at St Martin-in-the- Fields tonight and as they depart on their tour to the US on Sunday. They are covering a lot of ground, from New York to Atlanta, via Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbia and Charleston. I look forward to hearing about what I’m sure will be some fantastic experiences.

All parents are warmly invited to our Words and Music which will be held in New College Chapel on the last day of term Wednesday, 29th March at 11.00am. Parking in the school playground will be available on a first-come-first-served basis from 10.35am. Music will be performed by boys of all ages throughout the school, and poetry read by winners of the poetry recitation competition in Years 3 to 8. Term ends at 12 noon: boys in Years 3-8 should be collected from the Sports Hall, Pre-Prep boys from the classroom.

Staff Appointments for September. Mrs Caroline Showell-Rogers will be returning to her role as Learning Enrichment Co-ordinator from September. We thank her for all that she has done this year for Year 2. In her place as Year 2 class teacher, I have appointed Miss Harriet Cannell. Miss Cannell took her degree from Clare College, Cambridge and is currently teaching at Keys Meadow Primary School in London on the Teach First programme. She is a keen linguist and traveller and has lived in New Zealand, China and Italy. We look forward to welcoming her to NCS. Congratulations to Miss Megan Sharp who has been appointed Head of Curriculum Music at the Dragon School from September. We thank her for all that she has contributed to the teaching and organisation of music throughout the School, for many enjoyable concerts and musical productions, and for her work with the Choristers. Miss Sarah Llewellyn-Jones, already known to some through Saturday Morning Music School, will become Assistant Director of Music and Chorister Tutor. Miss Llewellyn-Jones took her degree from Christ Church, Oxford and her postgraduate performance and teaching diplomas from the Royal Academy of Music. As well as teaching with us on Saturdays, she currently teaches at Wycombe Abbey School. We look forward to welcoming her to her new role at NCS.

As parents will know, the Oxford Literary Festival is on the horizon (25th March – 2nd April). There are many events specially for children and young adults, which look tempting. http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2017/children-young-adults

Frideswide Voices (Oxford’s liturgical choir for girls) are holding a "Be a Chorister for an Evening" taster session on Monday 24th April (at Christ Church). Year 2 girls who love singing and are interested in knowing more about being a chorister are encouraged to attend for the chance to sing part of the Evensong service and to try on robes! The sessions are relaxed and fun. Girls are strongly advised to attend a taster session ahead of the auditions which will be held on Saturday 6th May. For further information please see www.frideswidevoices.co.uk The choir will be "in residence" at Magdalen College for Trinity Term, and will sing Evensong there on most Mondays at 6.00pm.

Oxford Active will again be running their holiday club at Oxford High School in the Easter Holidays 3rd – 21st April (excluding Bank Holidays) and in Trinity half-term (30th May – 2nd June) with minibus pick-up from NCS at 8.30 – 9.00am and drop off at 5.00- 5.30pm. Childcare Vouchers may be used for Oxford Active. For bookings, please go to their website www.active-camps.com

The Oxford & Cambridge Singing School at Worcester College, Oxford on the 10th and 11th April. Established in 2013, the School is for boys and girls aged 7–13. Based at Worcester College, Oxford, pupils will learn some beautiful music and at the same time gain a background in vocal technique, music theory and history. Courses include whole-group singing, musical games and exercises to improve sight reading, small group vocal coaching. Each day concludes with a short concert to which families and friends are welcome to attend. www.oxbridgesingingschool.co.uk

Date for next term’s diary. Parents’ Evening with Visiting Music Teachers and (for Chorister parents) the Organist and Assistant Organist is in the first week back next term on Wednesday 26th April at 6.00pm in the Sports Hall.

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Sat 25

No Sat am Music School for Choristers

Sun 26

NC Choir departs for US Tour

Mon 27

No Activities in final week of term.

Orders in Years 3-8 issued, 8.20am – 8.50 am

Tues 28

Practice for Words and Music, New College Chapel, 9.00am

Wed 29

Words and Music, New College Chapel, 11.00am

End of term 12 noon



Fri 21


First Evensong

Sun 23

Start of University Term

Mon 24

Start of School Term: Prep School 8.20am; Pre-Prep 8.45am

Eton Academic Scholarship begins

Prefect selection evening, 5.00 – 7.00pm

Wed 26

School Service 10.00 am

Speaker: The Headmaster

Coffee afterwards for parents and visitors

Parents’ Evening with Visiting Music Teachers and Organist/Assistant Organist, Sports Hall, 6.00pm

School Council meeting 12.00-12.30pm

Thurs 27

Junior Maths Challenge (Years 7 and 8)

Fri 28

Yr 7 PSHCEE: How to revise for exams, led by the Headmaster, 2.25pm

Sat 29

Chamber Choir & Choral Society Concert, University Church, 7.30pm

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