Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 31st january 2020

Dear Parents,

Every few weeks in assembly I give a quick digest of the recent news. Each time I put together that assembly, I have to think rather carefully about which topics will be appropriate for a somewhat diverse audience. Something that might upset a Year 3 pupil will very often barely register with a Year 8; then again some Year 4s might be more used to ‘sad news’ than some Year 6s. Much of the time the news topics are fairly harmless – there weren’t many worried faces yesterday when the boys and I talked about Megxit – but other times, and some weeks, there can be more upsetting news than others. Should the boys know about the tragic death of Kobe Bryant at 41? What about Nicholas Parsons, after a long and happy life, at the age of 96? Should we talk about Holocaust Memorial Day, which fell this week on 27 February, and which Daniel Harkin (Salvesen Fellow at New College) mentioned in the context of courage in his chapel address on Wednesday?

Enjoying some break time sun

A few years ago I was assigned Holocaust Memorial Day as an assembly topic for the whole prep school. It took me a while to work out how best to talk about the day, without causing psychological disturbance, and without trivialising it as another date to be ticked off before the next ‘World [insert topic here] Day’ appeared on the chronological carousel. Mention of events like the Holocaust in general, of course, does not mean that children need to be traumatised by graphic stories. But they can be introduced to key concepts of discrimination and prejudice, the better to challenge and tackle them. When done sensitively and with a keen eye for how the messages are being received, the general story of the Holocaust can be communicated; we are arguably doing the boys a disservice, and not adequately honouring the memory of those millions who died, if we try to gloss over or duck away from so important a subject. But we need to get it right and pitch it in the most appropriate way for different age groups.

Debating at Cheney School; Hockey practice; Testing air resistance

A productive method is to focus on the bright lights of humanity that can be found in so dark a time. We can talk about the extraordinary people who did extraordinary things to protect and help people. We know of over 22,000 people and organisations who helped victims of the Holocaust, honoured as ‘Righteous among the Nations’. People like Raoul Wallenberg and his colleagues who saved one hundred thousand Jews in Hungary; or Dimitar Peshev who saved nearly fifty thousand lives in Bulgaria; or Andree Geulen-Herscovici who saved more than three hundred Jewish children in Belgium; or Irena Sendler who saved two and a half thousand children in just three months in Poland. The appropriate time will come when the boys can read about the horrors of Auschwitz; some of our pupils will one day visit there; many will watch Schindler’s List. But the Holocaust – and the messages that arise from it – should not come out of the blue once our pupils reach their teenage years. We can face up to the dark periods of inhumanity and out of those dark periods will also come beacons of love, tolerance and humility. And it is with those beacons that we can start our pupils’ exploration of unimaginably difficult periods of the past.

Best wishes,

Matt Jenkinson

Person of the Week: John James Audubon (1785-1851)

Artwork of the Week: Joni Mitchell, the ‘Blue’ album (1971)

Word of the Week: circumspect

Sport. This week has been a very busy one for the NCS hockey teams, with many matches being played. Firstly the U12 and U13 squads were in action in the Oxfordshire County Cup where there was some exceptional play on show. In the U13 event the boys played some very tough schools. The character and determination the boys showed on Friday evening was superb and they managed to beat Abingdon 3-2. This, combined with a 4-0 win over St Hugh’s, and a 1-1 draw with Bloxham meant we finished in a credible third place this year. Xander in goal was superb all evening as was our skipper Fraser who never stopped running.

In the U12 event we travelled over to Abingdon on a very wet and cold Monday evening. Again the boys played very well and showed great character to overcome the conditions. Despite our best efforts, defeats against Abingdon and MCS meant we could only manage third place if we won against Bloxham. The boys refocused and duly managed a very hard fought 2-0 win to ensure the Bronze. Mr Morrison and I were very proud of the boys and we look forward to their next encounter. On Tuesday the NCS U11 B and C teams played host to the Sibford A and B teams. In two excellent games NCS managed to win 3-0 and 2-1 respectively. There was some excellent hockey on show with special mention going to Henry in the C team and Dan in the Bs. Both boys played their hearts out and were instrumental in their sides’ wins.

Finally this week the U13 teams took to the pitch against St Hugh’s. With five teams playing it meant that every available boy from Years 7 and 8 was selected. Five excellent games were played out with the B and E teams winning their matches and the D team only just missing out by a solitary goal. In the A team game the boys played in a very tough game in which St Hugh’s were after revenge following their heavy loss to NCS on Friday. 4-2 down at half time meant we were up against it. Fraser inspired his team and they did indeed come back to tie up the game 4-4 with minutes to spare. Unfortunately our guests did manage to find the winning goal and a 4-5 final score was not quite the result we’d hoped for, but it was a magnificent display of teamwork. Other boys deserving a special mention were William and Edmund in the B team, Edmund in particular was outstanding in his first outing as goalkeeper. In the C, D and E teams we’d like to congratulate Leon, Joseph and Paddy for the top performances. CB

Chess. The U9 NCS chess team played their second game in the Oxford Schools Chess League on Thursday afternoon, hosting The Dragon in a very closely contested and hard fought set of matches. Both teams played some excellent chess which resulted in some very tense finishes, but in the end NCS managed to triumph 4 points to 2 to secure their first win of the season. The boys were fantastic hosts and played brilliantly in order to win such a competitive match and they should be congratulated for their efforts. Well done Jack, Peter, Max, Vedant, Isaac and Emil! AB

I will be meeting with representatives of the Old Boys’ Club on Monday 3 February. For those who are not yet familiar with their activities, they take a keen interest in the current and future school, providing advice and financial support for projects. We very much hope that, as the boys leave NCS at the end of Year 8, they will continue to take such an interest and stay in touch with the school. Under the umbrella of the ‘Wykeham Association’, we very much include parents, grandparents, siblings and other friends in our alumni community. My thanks to all those parents who attended the NCSPA meeting on 20 January and contributed to some very useful discussions; the minutes of those meetings have been sent separately.

Charity Week will begin on Monday 10 February. The School Council and Charity Committee have overwhelmingly voted to support the Oxford hub of the national homelessness charity, Crisis. Oxford's Crisis Skylight offers education, training and support services for individuals who are homeless or who are at immediate risk of homelessness. A representative of the charity will visit school next week to speak on the problem of homelessness nationally and in Oxford and share more information about the charity's work. As per usual, cake sales and tournaments will take place through the week with a film screening and popcorn sales on Wednesday's form time.

You will already have received a Parentmail regarding this year’s Holloway Lecture, which will be delivered on Monday 9 March by Professor Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music, at 18.00 in the Inorganic Lecture Theatre on South Parks Road. Heralding the start of our SHTEAM festival – an interdisciplinary celebration of Science, the Humanities, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths – the lecture is free to attend but tickets must be reserved by responding to the Parentmail by Friday 7 February, at which point we will be extending the invitation to other schools as the lecture is one of our partnership events.

Ms Amherst and Ms Paterson are playing in a concert on 8 February at 20.00 in the Holywell Music Room. The music is by Tom Vignieri, Richard Gwilt, Britten and Barber. The soloist is former NCS pupil Humphrey Thompson and poems will be read by Patch Harvey.

On 21 and 22 February, Miss Rose will be producing a new opera, The Gentlewoman, about the life and works of the 'concerto delle donne,' the three extraordinary virtuoso singers at the court of the d'Este at Ferrara in the late sixteenth century. Performances will take place at St. Mary Magdalen's Church at 20.00.

Parents’ evenings. Please find below a few dates for your diary. Unless otherwise stated, parents’ evenings begin at 18.00, though a few colleagues are usually available a little earlier if you would like to make a head start. Please arrive as early as practicable, and no later than 19.00, so we can finish the evenings by 20.00. If you have any issues that you think would require longer discussion than possible in a five-ish minute meeting, especially with form tutors, please do book a separate appointment.

26 February – Year 8

4 March – Year 5

11 March (17.30) – Pre-Prep

29 April – Music Teachers

Coronavirus. The University has set up a dedicated website to advise on risks and precautions concerning coronavirus: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/coronavirus-advice. The Foreign Office has advised against “all but essential travel” to mainland China and so we ask that anyone with plans to travel to China or Hong Kong strongly considers cancelling their travel plans as boys who have travelled to these locations, or have been in contact with those who have, will not be permitted to return to school for 14 days after return to the UK, to cover the incubation period of the virus. While the risk of contracting coronavirus is small, we will continue to remind the boys of the basic precautions to take to avoid spreading infections, including washing hands regularly and especially before eating.

Wuhan medical equipment appeal from Carol Ye: Because of coronavirus, many cities in China are facing quarantine. Wuhan is obviously a city where this is occurring, and many doctors and nurses there are fighting at the front line in many hospitals and working very hard and very long hours. Because of the severe situation that the country faces, there is a shortage of medical protection equipment. We would like to ask for donations of surplus medical protection equipment for doctors and nurses from anyone who has access to those resources. Once the donations are collected (in the school office), they will be sent back to the Wuhan Union Hospital in Wuhan. The following are urgently needed: N95 masks; medical goggles; surgical masks; FFP2/FFP3 masks; medical protective clothing; medical gloves; medical shoe covers; any medical protection equipment overall. Any help or advice on where to look for help will be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance to all the parents who would like to donate.

Forthcoming Events

Monday, 3 February 2020

18.15 Old Boys’ Committee Meeting, HM Study

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

13.00 U11 A&B Hockey vs Sibford, Away

14.00 U8 ALL Hockey vs MCS, Away

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: The Very Revd Nicholas Edmonds-Smith, The Provost, The Oratory of St Philip Neri. Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

17.30 Governors’ Meeting, McGregor Matthews Room

19.15 Charity Concert, St. Michael's Church, Summertown

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Abingdon Music Scholarship

16.00 U9 Chess vs MCS B, (Home)

Friday, 7 February 2020

9.00 U13 A IAPS Hockey, Cheltenham, Away

16.00 U11 A County Cup Hockey, Hawks Hockey Ground

Monday, 10 February 2020

Charity Week

Start of PSB/scholarship mocks week held in Hall

Pre-Prep Reviews

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Safer Internet Day

14.00 U11 Hockey House Matches, Iffley

14.00 U7 A-C Tag Rugby vs Windmill, Qunis

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: Dr Zoe Waxman, Lecturer in Modern Jewish History, Faculty of Oriental Studies. Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

Orders in Years 3-8 issued

13.00 Charity event

14.30 U13 A&B Hockey vs Abingdon, St Edward's Astro

Thursday, 13 February 2020

13.30 U11 Hockey House Matches, Iffley Rd

Pre-Prep QED Day

Friday, 14 February 2020

Home Clothes Day

14.00 U9 A&B Rugby vs Brockhurst & MCS, Iffley Rd

14.00 U8 Tag Rugby vs Brockhurst, Away

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Start of Half-Term

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