Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 7th February 2020

Dear Parents,

We are just a week away from the half-term break, and many of you will be looking forward to the opportunity to get away for a few days. Perhaps you will be able to escape the drawn-out Oxford winter for some much-needed warm sunshine. I have often had mixed feelings about the vacations, especially the shorter ones: half of me knows that it is good to get a change of scenery, the other half wants to sit down for a bit.

Frosty morning break time; Rhythm and musical statues in Music; Year 8 and Pre-Prep form time

There is a middle way, clearly, which is why in a recent assembly Mr Bradley talked about the importance of staying physically active while away from school and home (it is important to stay active at school and home too, but that’s for another day). The lure of the sun lounger or Netflix is strong, but should sometimes be resisted. Action for Happiness, an organisation set up in 2011 to promote a happier society, notes that exercise is one of their ten ‘keys to happier living’, as is trying new things (we will look at the other eight, if we haven’t already, in other newsletters). The upcoming break might, then, be a good opportunity to combine the two and for the boys to find some new and interesting outlets for some physical exercise.

Building circuits in Science; practising mouse control in Computing; string orchestra playing in assembly; designing lamps and labyrinths in DT

The themes of travel and trying new activities were brought eloquently (and conveniently!) together by Dr James Mendelssohn in chapel on Wednesday, when he talked about his career as a geographer which took him to Hawaii, where he saw first-hand some of the geographical features he had first learnt about while a pupil at NCS in the 1950s. Dr Mendelssohn also alluded to the theme and virtue of loyalty – looking back with a great deal of fondness to his time at NCS and stepping in without hesitation at the last minute to speak in chapel after the cancellation of our scheduled speaker. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time when the cancellation email came through – devoting his time and energy to the Old Boys’ Committee meeting – so he was the most obvious person to ask. And the love and admiration he still holds for his old school was palpable, decades after he left it at the age of thirteen. I can only hope that the current generations of NCS boys look back with such affection when they leave.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Person of the Week: Terry Jones

Artwork of the Week: ‘Our Country’s Good’ by Timberlake Wertenbaker

Word of the Week: circumspect

Sport. As we move towards half term it’s an opportune time to reflect a little on the progress the boys have made so far on the hockey pitch. We have seen Year 3 go from their first ever experience holding a stick in early January to playing their first fixture on Tuesday afternoon. A great festival of hockey away at MCS saw all of Year 3 playing in many matches over the course of the afternoon. They had a brilliant time, scoring lots of goals and really working hard to improve their passing and personal skills. At the end of the afternoon the NCS teams had won, drawn and lost in at least twenty games of hockey and still they had energy to wolf down a chocolate brownie before heading back to school.

The U9s continued this good work with three very entertaining games against The Manor. All three games were excellent with both sides showing their skill and determination. A special mention must go to Jacob, Mark and Vedant who all performed superbly well in their respective matches. Overall a win, a loss and a draw meant honours even at the end of a tiring afternoon of sport.

On Tuesday afternoon Mrs Brown and I had the pleasure of taking the U11 B&C teams over to Sibford for their annual hockey tournament. Playing against Sibford A&B and St John’s A teams we were a little apprehensive but the boys needn’t have worried. The C team managed two draws and only one defeat, finishing in third place. The B team boys were excellent in winning all of their games and not conceding a single goal to win the event for the second time in three years. Dan and Albie were both in excellent form and played at their very best all afternoon. Very well done, boys.

The U13 squad has spent this week in two high-quality training sessions where the focus has been passing with increased accuracy and pace to retain possession. These sessions have been incredibly valuable in preparation for the U13 IAPS regional tournament this Friday. We wish the first team the very best of luck. CB

The U9 chess team played their final group match last night against a strong team from MCS. The six matches were all very closely contested, including two stalemates. Particular mention should be given to Vedant who managed to withstand a great deal of pressure and then battle back to secure a key win. AB

Sports Kit. You will all hopefully have received a Parentmail from myself and Mrs Cox about our new sports kit regime, and what the boys should wear to school and when. This will hopefully have several advantages, not least reducing the amount the boys need to carry to school, making the school day even more efficient, and minimising the amount of lost property. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

You will also 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 today, at which point we will be extending the invitation to other schools as the lecture is one of our partnership events.

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 and we were delighted to welcome a representative from that charity to talk to us in assembly on Thursday. Oxford's Crisis Skylight offers education, training and support services for individuals who are homeless or who are at immediate risk of homelessness. 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, followed by home clothes day on Friday.

The very best of luck to Year 8/8S who will be sitting their mock exams next week. These are very much designed to give the boys a sense of what it feels like to sit through a few days of more formal exams, though in a non-threatening situation. Our usual mantra of ‘high challenge, low threat’ applies, and I have no doubt that this will help to bring the best out of the boys.

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. We continue to monitor the university’s website which advises 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 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 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, 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

Monday, 24 February 2020

Return from Half-Term

MCS Academic Scholarship starts

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

10.30 U8 & U9 House Matches XC, Uni Parks

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Abingdon Art and DT Scholarships

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel. Speaker: the chaplain. Coffee afterwards in the Undercroft for parents and visitors

13.00 U11 A Hockey vs St Edward's Festival, St Edward's

14.00 U13 A-D Hockey vs Dragon, Away

18.00 Year 8 Parents’ Evening, Sports Hall

18.15 Ash Wednesday Service, New College Chapel (choristers collected from NCS 19.40)

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Abingdon Drama Scholarship

14.00 Year 4 trip to Book of Roger (Weston Library)

No after school chorister rehearsal or service

Friday, 28 February 2020

7.00 U11 A IAPS Hockey vs Haileybury, Away

14.00 U9 A-C Hockey vs Dragon, Away

19.30 NCSPA Quiz Night

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