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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 12th February 2021

As we come to the end of this half term of remote learning, I want to thank all colleagues and parents, and especially the boys, for the admirable way in which they have approached this unusual situation. As I mentioned at the beginning of our first lockdown, no one goes into teaching so they can sit in front of a camera and set and mark work virtually. But this is the situation we have been given, and we have little choice but to navigate it by finding the positives, putting the situation in perspective, realising that it is not forever (even if it might feel that way sometimes), and keeping our eyes firmly on a brighter horizon.

You may have seen a good deal in the press recently about how adults should or shouldn’t interpret lockdowns and remote learning around children. On the one hand, we have the rather doom-laden commentariat who speak frequently and publicly about how the pandemic is producing a ‘lost generation’, a ‘mental health crisis’ among young people, and who fret about lost personal connections and fractured educations. On the other, we now have those who tell us not to pathologise the situation, and certainly not so dramatically – that this is a relatively brief period of disruption, that experiences lost now can (for many) be enjoyed at a later date. The answer, as ever, is more complicated than either of these interpretations would suggest, and of course different people and families are experiencing the pandemic at different points on a spectrum. There are those who are navigating it effectively and rather blithely, there are those who have suffered tremendous personal loss and are just about holding things together, and there are quite a few at different stages in the middle. Our approach should be to reject dogma, to be wary of being told what we should and shouldn’t do, or how we should and shouldn’t feel, and to tack according to the circumstances in which we find ourselves as individuals.

Cooking curry in Wellbeing; snowflake photography by Jack, Year 4; building castles in Pre-Prep; Marble Run by Ashwin, Year 6; Making whales in Pre-Prep QED; Spreadsheets in Year 3 Computing; Battle of Agincourt by Luca, Year 7; StreetTag competition

I am not naïve to suggest that next week’s half term break will be a true breather for a lot of families: childcare will continue, as will demanding jobs, many of which I appreciate (in all senses of the word) are in the medical professions. But I do hope that you get to enjoy some moments with the boys away from screens, taking advantage of those recreational activities that we can do safely. Next half term will bring with it some further changes, as we await the government’s response to the changing shape of the pandemic, and will no doubt present all schools with further challenges as we await news on who can come back on site and when, doing what, taught by whom. We will remain nimble, as ever, and will do all we can to keep the boys learning as happily and productively as we can in the circumstances. Your support in this has been hugely appreciated so far; there can be very few parent bodies as supportive, patient and positive as that at NCS. That makes our jobs so much easier in a really rather tricky situation, and the better we can do our jobs, the better things are for the boys. So, for that, we give you enormous thanks.

I wish you and your families and well-earned and happy half-term break.

Matt Jenkinson

Congratulations to the following boys:

Year 3

Isaac - Gold certificate for 300 house points

George - Gold certificate for 300 house point

William - Merit for brilliant cricket skills in games

Year 4

Alexander M - Merit for designing and building a fantastic marble run

Dominic - Merit for excellent goal keeping in hockey lessons

Year 6

Ashwin - Merit for excellent reasoning in puzzles and superb communication of his ideas

Ashwin - Merit (Art & DT) for completing a brilliant and imaginative co-curricular project on a marble run inspired by Andy Warhol using STEM and DT skills

Josh - Merit for committed independent work on Memrise in French

Benji - Merit for committed independent work on Memrise in French

Isaac - Merit for committed independent work on Memrise in French

Finn - Merit for committed independent work on Memrise in French

Alexander - Merit for an impressive Pop Art project, including an innovative Andy Warhol PowerPoint

Year 7

James - Merit for committed independent work on Memrise in French

Ben - Merit for committed independent work on Memrise in French

Ben - Gold certificate for 300 house points

Timon - Silver certificate for 200 house points

Henry - Silver certificate for 200 house points

Harry - Silver certificate for 200 house points

Kian - Silver certificate for 200 house points

Very well done to all those Year 8 and 8S boys who sat four days of mock exams this week. It has been wonderful to see a lot of hard work paying off, as the boys get to experience a ‘dry run’ of later assessments. The boys took the week in their stride wonderfully and I look to forward to us working together, feeding back, to help the boys ‘review and improve’ even further. And good luck to those boys who will be starting their academic scholarship exams very soon after half term.

Well done to Ashwin (Year 6) whose Haiku about Arty the Gecko, and his 100-word story Unsolved – Tales of Mystery about human trafficking, have been accepted for publication by ‘Young Writers’.

Parents may be interested in the forthcoming Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar Beyond virtual live event on Saturday 13 February, 10:30-16.00. You can watch a number of live sessions with activities ranging from a live science show, microscopy, electric cars to a zumba-style dance session about the Lunar Landing. The Science Bazaar is a free event with activities suitable for ages 5-18+. There are also a number of competitions to keep the boys occupied and entertained!

Many thanks to all those who have been involved with our Charity Week activities this week. Attached to this newsletter’s Parentmail you will find a poster from Mrs Showell-Rogers outlining this term’s ‘Earthshot’ charity projects, including some links to find out more, information about WWF and about how the boys can submit their competition entries. Have fun and good luck!

Our parents’ evenings will resume after half term, with our Year 8 one on Zoom on Wednesday 24 February. Miss Krebs has already been in touch with the relevant families regarding our sign-up appointment system.

Mrs Brown and Mr Gullifer would like to pass on their thanks to all those parents who have donated to our project to help support digital provision in local schools. In addition to ten laptops, we have also received over £2000 in donations to go towards the purchase of hardware for those in need. Thank you!

Street Tag: Congratulations on all the excellent walking. We now have a comfortable hold on 3rd place thanks to your efforts! Perhaps, 2nd place is now within sight?! Tip: pre-book your Power Hour (in Playground) a day in advance as it will earn you triple the points.

Points:

Today: 531k

Last Thursday: 350k

Team Members:

Today: 53

Last Thursday: 39

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