Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 4th October 2019

Dear Parents,

The former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion says that he has three reading speeds: extremely fast for day-to-day things like minutes of meetings; moderately fast for novels; and very slow for poetry. It was the latter we got to focus on this week as Thursday marked National Poetry Day, with Mrs Hess taking us through all the benefits of the reading of poetry from different periods, most notably poems that addressed the issue of ‘truth’. In honour of National Poetry Day, this week’s ‘person of the week’ was Dylan Thomas, and I gave the boys a brief introduction to his life and works on Monday morning. (I left out some of the more insalubrious parts.) We listened to a recording of Thomas reading one of his own poems, ‘Poem in October’ – we were only a day out. I didn’t expect the boys to understand every word, every sentence, or every message. I just wanted them to listen to the lyricism of such a wonderful wordsmith and to enjoy the sounds and shapes of the words. Poetry can very much be enjoyed as a form of music; it needn’t be picked apart for it to be worthwhile.

Of course, I’d be a total hypocrite if I left poetry at that. I think there is indeed, as the boys get older, real joy in being able to see how a poem works, how techniques are applied, and what their effects are. Indeed, it is one of the more accessible ways into literature – a kind of puzzle that needs solving – and as with crosswords, once you get the hang of what poets do, and you can spot the tricks and idiosyncrasies, poems become so much more accessible. So poems are great for entertainment or consolation (generations of poets have articulated the things we all experience), but they are also beneficial as raw material for honing our minds.

Investigating solubility in Science; the NCS Football tournament; conkers and building dinosaurs at break; cooperation in PSHCEE

They can also be, it should be said, an oasis away from the intensities of modern life, and if the (inter)national political scene is anything to go by, there are many people who could do with some literary oases. Year 7 and Mr Hanson, in our pastoral assembly, meditated on the importance of us behaving in an honest way that engenders the trust of others, making it clear that we all mistakes but we can also all make amends. It is a message which, I imagine we all hope, becomes enfolded in our national and international fabric over the coming months and years.

I wish you and your friends and families a restful and poetic weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Person of the Week: Dylan Thomas

Artwork of the Week: ‘St Cecilia’ by Artemisia Gentileschi

Word of the Week: redoubtable

Sport. Another extremely productive week on the sports pitches has come to a close and I’m proud to say there has been another week of some excellent results. Last Friday saw the U8 and U9 boys in action at the annual NCS football tournament, where the A team managed a very pleasing third place. Despite the wet and often challenging conditions they played some superb football on their way to good wins over Cothill and Thorngrove. I’d like to give Isaac a special mention after his recent promotion to the A team and outstanding performance on Friday. We had four pitches with over eighty boys playing football all afternoon with goals galore and a sea of smiling faces.

This was followed up by the U11 teams as they hosted Sibford School. Two great games were played with both the A and B teams winning their games. In the B team Kian and Ben both scored wonderful goals with Kian’s celebration being the highlight of the match. A final score of 4-1 was a very pleasing end to the afternoon. In the A team game Max scored a great hat trick and worked extremely hard in winning the ball for his team. A freeflowing high-scoring game saw the lead change hands twice but at 4-4 NCS just went up through the gears and managed to find another 2 goals to take a well-deserved 6-4 win.

On Wednesday afternoon all of Years 7 and 8 were out representing the school in a block fixture against Summer Fields. The C team were playing at home with the A, B and D teams all away. The C team lost their game – but not for the want of effort and hard work. Mr Rose gave the boys high praise for their endeavours, especially Enoch and Joseph. Away from home all three teams recorded good wins with the A team winning 3-2, the B team 6-0 and the D team 4-2. These were three superb games and man of the match awards go to Walter, Felix and Ayo for their efforts in the three games.

Finally on Thursday the U11 A team travelled to Elstree for the annual ISFA regional round of the U11 cup. This began with a promising 1-1 against Elstree but from then on things did not quite pan out the way we had planned. As we conceded early goals and found ourselves chasing the game in short and frantic matches we left ourselves exposed at the back. I’m sure this very good team can learn from this lesson and move on to the next challenge. It is a pleasure to name Dan as a player of the tournament as he played very well indeed! CB

Road Closures on Monday 14 October. Please be aware that, as Christ Church is hosting the funeral of PC Andrew Harper, there will be some road closures on Monday 14 October. From 8.00 we should expect closures on The Plain, Magdalen Bridge, High Street, St Aldates (from the city centre up to the corner of Speedwell Street). Longwall Street will be open southbound; traffic will then be able to turn left onto the High Street towards the The Plain.

Open Morning. Many thanks to all those boys, parents, and colleagues who helped out with a very successful open morning last Saturday. There was a wonderful buzz about the place and I know that several prospective parents and pupils went away even keener to join our community.

NSPCA. Thanks, too, to all those parents who attended the NCSPA AGM last week, and to all those who put their suggestions forward through the class reps. It was great to get direct feedback and to be able to discuss some key issues.

Coats. Now that the British weather has stopped pretending and reverted to form, please ensure that your sons have a warm waterproof coat with him in school.

Future Destinations Evening. Parents and boys from Years 5 and 6 are very welcome on Monday 7 October for our Future Destinations Evening. This will take place in the sports hall from 18.30. Form tutors, other NCS colleagues, and representatives from senior schools will be available for discussion. The boys are encouraged to come along, to meet representatives from a variety of senior schools, and to have their voice heard in the senior school selection process. My colleagues and I are, of course, available at other times to help navigate through the 13+ future schools process.

Beginning of Year Service. All boys and teachers new to NCS this term will be formally admitted to the School by the Warden of New College, Mr Miles Young, at our Beginning of Year Service in chapel on Wednesday 16 October at 10.00. Parents, relatives and friends are warmly welcome: please put this very special occasion in your diaries. As ever, there will be coffee/tea after the service for visitors in the undercroft.

Pre-Prep Reviews will be held throughout the week beginning Monday 21 October. This is a time to ‘touch base’ with your son’s class teacher, have an update on his progress and have an opportunity to raise any queries you may have. Please see your son’s class teacher to arrange a suitable time, if you would like one.

Mr Petter will be performing a piano recital at St Margaret’s Church, Oxford, on Thursday 10 October at 19.30. Pieces include Szymanowski’s Study in Bb minor, Beethoven’s Sonata in a flat, Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat and Petter’s Grand fantasia on popular Neapolitan folk songs. Then Miss Hinds will be performing at St Nicolas Church, Abingdon, on Sunday 13 October at 15.00: Schubert’s Sonata in A and Janacek’s In the Mists. NCS families are, of course, very warmly invited to go along to both concerts.

Miss Rose will be singing alongside members of her newly founded ensemble, The Korrigan Consort, on Saturday 12 October at 20.00 in Christ Church Cathedral. She would be delighted to see members of the NCS community at this educational concert which celebrates a phenomenal figure in Oxford: St Frideswide, the Patron Saint of Oxford. The concert follows in her footsteps by telling her story through an evening of reflection with medieval and Renaissance polyphony, with particular focus on music from convents in France, Italy and the Low Countries. The concert will also feature a new piece setting the legend of St Frideswide, as well as a reading of Jacqueline Holderness’ new book, The Princess Who Hid in a Tree. The performance will be in collaboration with Elizabeth Kenny, Head of Performance at the Faculty of Music, and Sara Salloum. Tickets available on the door and on our website. A wine reception after the concert will be available. https://korriganconsort.com/downloads/life-of-st-frideswide-tickets/

Forthcoming Events

Saturday, 5 October 2019

9.00 U13A IAPS 6-aside Football Tournament at Summer Fields

Monday, 7 October 2019

13.45 U13 Football House Matches, Home

18.30 Year 5 & 6 Future Destinations meeting, Sports Hall

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

14.00 U11 Football House Matches, Home

12.05 Meeting for probationer choristers, Chapel

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: Mr Robert Quinney, Organist, Fellow and Tutor in Music, New College

Coffee in the Undercroft afterwards for parents and visitors

12.00 Pupil Librarian meeting, Media Room

13.00 Choir recording session, St Michael's Summertown

13.00 U9 (all teams) Rugby vs St Hugh's, Away

14.15 U13 A&B Rugby vs Cothill, Away

14.15 U13 C Rugby vs Cothill, Home

Thursday, 10 October 2019

13.00 U7 Football vs Summer Fields, Home

16.00 U12 & U13 Cross Country vs Dragon, Away

Friday, 11 October 2019

14.15 U9 A&B Rugby vs Sibford, Home

18.15 First Evensong, New College Chapel

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Abingdon pre-test (Year 7 for September 2021 entry)

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Start of University Term

17.45 Chorister Surplicing. Tea beforehand at 3.30pm, Sports Hall

Monday, 14 October 2019

18.15 Old Boys’ Committee Meeting, HM Study

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

HPV (1) Immunisations (Year 8) - catch up

14.15 U11 A-E Football vs Summer Fields, Away

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

10.00 Beginning of Year Service, New College Chapel

Speaker: The Warden

Coffee in the Undercroft afterwards for parents and visitors

14.30 U13 A, B&C Rugby vs CCCS, Home

Thursday, 17 October 2019

9.00 U11 A IAPS Football vs Lambrook

9.00 Rehearsal for Mariangela Vacatello, New College Chapel

10.00 Piano Masterclass with Mariangela Vacatello, School Hall (Piano pupils from Yrs 6, 7, and 8)

13.00 Choose `inter-schools' Debate team

13.15 Piano Recital: Mariangela Vacatello, New College Chapel

15.30 U11 B-D Rugby vs MCS, Away

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