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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 8th November 2019

Dear Parents,

This has been a particularly poignant week, centring around our Remembrance Service in chapel on Wednesday. Remembrance can be a sensitive issue with children the age of those at NCS. You may have seen in the news a millennial straw-man wheeled out to provoke the ire of older generations: Freddie Bentley, a reality TV star (no, I hadn’t heard of him either), argued on Good Morning Britain that young people shouldn’t learn about the World Wars because it would impair their mental health, especially when ‘There’s [sic] so many problems going on in the world at the moment, like Brexit’. It isn’t that hard, respectfully, to argue back. On the one hand we want to teach our boys about the sacrifices made by previous generations so we can enjoy today’s freedoms. We want them to understand the dignity and, indeed, sadness of the occasion. We do need to strike the right balance so they are not overwhelmed by sadness, but respectfully understanding of the loss and grief of others. That is a lot to take in for a four or five year old, and I was especially proud of them, and indeed all our boys, for showing such dignity at such a young age in chapel.

NCS old boy Alan Cranswick, and poppies in chapel; investigating oxygen reaction in metals; Biocleave talk on the uses of bacteria in making renewable chemicals; clapping rhythms in Pre-Prep Music;
Measuring shadows in Year 3; writing and following instructions for making sandwiches in Year 1; painting autumn trees in Reception computing

For the first time in one of our Remembrance Services, our deputy head boys read out a poem called ‘Spring in War Time’ by Alec Cranswick. This was a poem written on 20 May 1941 in the officers’ mess of the RAF station in Kabrit, Egypt. It centres around the beauty of Spring being lost on those who are not able to witness it, either because those who would normally be working the countryside are away at war, or because the fields that would normally be harvested beneath joyous skylarks are being ploughed by mechanised warfare. There is, of course, a great deal of war poetry from which we could have chosen, but this poem was particularly poignant and relevant because Cranswick was a pupil at New College School before going on to become the pathfinder bomber pilot who flew the most operational missions in World War II. Sadly, his name was also read out on the roll-call of the names of the fallen, as despite his accomplishments Cranswick did not survive the war. We have a photo of Cranswick in the NCS archives – a goalkeeper in the school football team – and it is salutary to think that just a few years later he was sacrificing his life for the nation.

Our speaker on Wednesday, Major (Retd) Helen Merrington-Rust, also reminded us about the role of women in wartime – something that might otherwise be lost on boys in a boys’ school hearing the names of their male predecessors read out. She focused in particular on the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the Auxiliary Territorial Service, giving us all greater insight into their sometimes overlooked role.

I wish you and your families a peaceful and enjoyable weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Person of the Week: Professor John Goodenough

Artwork of the Week: The ‘Tapestry’ Album (1971) by Carole King

Word of the Week: coruscating

Sport. The first week back in school after the half term break has been extremely productive. The U9 and U11 rugby teams are developing really well thanks to some focused training. The boys have all shown great commitment to their rugby and the skills on show are impressive.

Just before the break the U11s had their first game of the season and Windmill Primary were the opposition. They are normally a very strong team with many of their number playing for the local Oxford Harlequins team; this year was no exception and a very entertaining and indeed physical game was played out. Both teams made a few handling errors but it was to be expected this early in the season. As the game wore on however the NCS team began to find their grove and started to play with more fluidity and flair. Despite scoring a good number of tries to win the game 10-4 it was the defence that impressed me the most, the number of tackles we put in was brilliant, keeping the score line in our favour. Well done boys. Finally, this week the U8-U11 cross country relay teams were in action in the annual meeting at St Hugh’s. The four teams from Years 3-6 ran superbly well in cold and very muddy conditions to earn sixth place overall. The stars of the afternoon were the Year 6 boys Lewie, Timon and Maurits who were fourth in their race. It was a fantastic afternoon of athletics followed by some very welcome hotdogs! CB

Henry IV, Part 1. Our final rehearsals are well underway for our Years 7 and 8 Shakespeare production. All parents have been sent the rehearsal schedule (note the change of start time for the Sunday 10 November rehearsal: 11.15 not 9.30.) Free tickets are available from the school office. Please note the different start times due to the availability of the chapel: on Monday 11 November the play starts at 20.00; on Wednesday 13 November it starts at 18.00. Due to fire regulations, entry is by ticket only please. Entry is via the Song Room (go through the smaller archway in the city wall and it is the first door on your right – follow the signs if in doubt). The play lasts about an hour and pickup is from the Undercroft just after the performance.

National Anti-Bullying Week begins on Monday 11 November. No school should ever claim it is free from the potential for bullying and so it is important that children are always encouraged to be open about their feelings at school and at home and that schools are always vigilant to ensure there is an ethos in which anti-bullying is taken seriously. As ever, we shall focus on anti-bullying and a culture of openness and mutual support in our PSHCEE lessons throughout the school this week. I hope it goes without saying that we are here at any time for any concerns to be flagged up with us straightaway (with form tutors in the first instance) and we will do all we can to nip any issues in the bud.

Switch-off Fortnight. Over the next two weeks we will be continuing our focus on saving energy. Eco-monitors will be checking empty rooms once a day to see if the lights are off and they will also be reading the school’s electricity meters to see If we can reduce our energy use over the fortnight and beyond. All classes will be turning their radiators down three notches and boys will be encouraged to ‘layer up’ rather than turning the heating up. On Wednesdays, during PSHCEE sessions, lights will be turned off and no ICT will be used in order to save even more energy. As a final celebration on Friday the boys are invited to wear a fun jumper over their school uniform – a festive one if they wish, but please do not go and buy anything new!

Forthcoming Events

Saturday, 9 November 2019

14.00 Pre-Prep fancy dress party

Sunday 10 November 2019

11.15 Years 7 & 8 Play dress rehearsal, New College Chapel

Monday, 11 November 2019

National Anti-Bullying Week begins

13.00 U10A MCS Rugby Festival, Away

20.00 Henry IV pt I: Yrs 7 & 8 Play, New College Chapel

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

14.00 U10/U11 A Rugby vs Windmill, Home

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: Mr William Cross, Corpus Christi College, former NCS pupil

Coffee in the Undercroft afterwards for parents and visitors

12.30 School Council Meeting, French Room

13.00 Oxfordshire Book Awards at OHS, ends 4.00pm

18.00 Henry IV pt I: Yrs 7 & 8 Play, New College Chapel

Thursday 14 November 2019

13.00 Debate Team Preparation

Friday, 15 November 2019

14.00 U9 A&B Rugby vs Dragon, Away

Monday, 18 November 2019

NA ‘Switch-Off’ Fortnight begins

12.00 Pupil Librarian meeting, Media Room

14.00 Visit of Onatti Productions: French Play : Les Garçons (Y7 & Y8/8S)

17.15 Junior Concerts Pt 1 (Years 3, 4 & 5), School Hall

Refreshments beforehand in HM Study at 5.00pm

18.15 Junior Concerts Pt 2 (Years 3, 4 & 5), School Hall

Refreshments beforehand in HM Study at 6.00pm

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

10.30 U9 Tag Rugby House Matches, Home

14.15 U11 A&B Rugby vs Sibford, Away

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: Professor Christiane Timmel, Fellow and Tutor in Chemistry, New College

Coffee in the Undercroft afterwards for parents and visitors

12.30 Eco Committee - Charity Meeting, Year 5 classroom

14.15 U13 A Rugby vs Bruern Abbey, Away

14.15 U13 B Rugby vs Bruern Abbey, Home

16.30 Governors' Meeting, McGregor Matthews Room

4.00 Inter-Schools Debate, New College, ends 7.30pm

Thursday, 21 November 2019

14.15 U11 A, B, C & D Rugby vs CCCS, Home

Friday, 22 November 2019

14.15 U9 A&B Rugby vs Sibford, Away

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Choir concert, Broughton Church

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