Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 25th november 2016

Dear Parents,

Post-truth has just been announced by Oxford Dictionaries as 2016 Word of the Year, as Mr Morrison reminded us in an assembly on the OED this week. I’m sure as good parents and teachers we impress upon our children the importance of telling the truth and speaking up for what is right. So what are we to tell them about a world in which post-truth, so it would seem, is an acceptable currency; a world in which experts are derided and rational thought rubbished? It seems to me it’s vital to teach our children to see both sides of an argument, to question assertions in the media, especially social media, and to make sure they get into the habit of taking time to apply their wider knowledge and intelligence to all they experience or read about. Researchers at Stanford's Graduate School of Education have spent more than a year investigating how well students across the US can evaluate online sources of information. "Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there," the researchers wrote. "Our work shows the opposite." And that seemed to tie in, perhaps serendipitously, with the address given to us in Chapel by Dr Andrew Counter (Fellow and Tutor in French at New College) on linguistic false friends. He demonstrated how serious consequences can arise if intelligence is not applied to communication. An English person’s symptom of suffering is a French person’s daily food (cf pain); while the start of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 is said to have been accelerated by the Prussians apparently insulting the French by sending an adjudant (a senior officer in Prussian terms) to mediate with the French (who translate adjudant as a lowly officer). So, I suppose the message for our children as they grow up is simply is ‘don’t take everything at face-value’. A little careful delving beneath the surface could save them from more than just personal embarrassment.

Exploring senses in Reception with 'sound bingo'; Year 3 writing and baking their own recipes; artwork by Tom Barry based on Keith Haring; Pre-prep playtime

Well done to all performers in this week’s Senior Concerts: it was a great pleasure to see such vocal and instrumental verve and talent on display. I’m most grateful to the Music Department and to Visiting Music Teachers for all the work they do to ensure such high standards. And a big ‘thank you’ to parents for all your encouragement at home!

The Pre-Prep will have their turn this week with their Winter Concert this Thursday, 1st December at 2.30pm. I have heard lots of evidence of burgeoning musical talent in the pre-prep and much look forward to it. Limited parking will be available in the school playground from 2.00pm on a first-come-first–served basis.

It was good to welcome local historian Liz Woolley to speak to Year 5 this week about ‘The 66 Men of Grandpont’, commemorated on the First World War Memorial of St Matthew’s Church, South Oxford. Amongst those commemorated is George Tyrell, an old boy of NCS, whose great nephew also joined us to show some of the personal possessions his great-uncle had taken to the trenches. It all brought very much alive the history the boys are studying.

The Eco Committee has been busy for ‘Switch Off Fortnight’ monitoring our energy usage and raising our awareness of not taking our natural resources for granted. I am always impressed by the boys’ commitment and dedication to these campaigns, which bodes well for the future.

Sport. Last week the U11 cross country team went across to Cokethorpe School to compete in their championships for the first time. As this was our first visit to this race, we were a little apprehensive of the outcome. Once again the boys worked extremely hard in very cold conditions to finish in a brilliant 2nd place in the team race. All five NCS athletes were inside the top 15 out of a field of 70+ racers. Freddie Jones was 4th, Wilfred Mainstone 8th, Raoul Patel 11th, Walter Moore 13th and Fraser Mackenzie 15th. Very well done! This week, the U13 ‘A’ rugby team took to the field again against a Bruern Abbey select 11. In the first half the NCS boys took a commanding lead thanks to some brilliant play at the breakdown. We rucked the ball quickly and aggressively to secure a quick ball for the backs to score three times inside the opening 10 minutes. At half time the score was 4-1 in our favour, but for the second half on came some very large Bruern Abbey boys in rugby kit! With a change of personnel the game in the 2nd half was a lot more intense with both sides ramping up the tackle count. The tries kept coming for both teams and there was some very entertaining rugby from the NCS backs. George Herbert and Alessandro Lombardi-Ignatiev were superb running the ball at good angles to score some brilliant tries. Krishen Rao in the centre and Edward Beswick on the left wing combined well in wave after wave of good quality attacks to keep the defenders on their toes. Ardhan Subramanian also deserves a special mention as he was our stand-out forward, winning many rucks and scoring two great break away tries. A final score of 8-5 in our favour was a just reward for the hard work this team have put in this term.

The U11 teams have also been in action with the ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ teams all playing against Christ Church Cathedral School. In the three matches we saw some super running rugby being played from both sides and ever-improving tackling! From the three games, NCS won the ‘B’ and ‘C’ team games and CCCS took the ‘D’ team game. Jamie Kilroy and Edward Bennett in the ‘B’ team deserve a mention for their amazing form in both attack and defence. The ‘A’ team were over at Cokethorpe School for the annual U11 festival of rugby and once again we found ourselves in a tough group of NCS, Cokethorpe, Winchester House School and Christ Church. Our opening game was vs Winchester House:it was a tough, fast game with both sides putting in some energy-sapping tackles. The final score of 4-3 to NCS was a fantastic result: the best start to the festival for some years for an NCS side. In the next game vs Cokethorpe we certainly looked jaded and, despite taking an early lead, we let it slip and went down 1-2 in this game. A great team talk from Joseph Conway got the boys going and in our last game vs CCCS we played some great attacking rugby. Unfortunately, early in the game Nathan Sparkes sustained an injury that meant he had to leave the field. So, with only 8 vs the CCCS 9 we were up against it. However, the boys played some of their best rugby this season to take 7-5 win and top the group to make it to the final.In the final we faced MCS and this was always going to be a tough test. In an emotionally-charged game both sides played at a high intensity with the lead changing hands three times during the game. At the final whistle, though, MCS had edged the win by 5 tries to 4. Nonetheless, the runners-up spot in such a close-fought tournament is a great achievement!

Examining art as sourcework in 8S History

Composing African drum pieces in Year 5 Music

My good wishes to the choristers for the Advent Carol Service on Sunday and then a raft of Christmas Carol Services and concerts after that. Like many musicians at this time of year, they will have a busy few weeks ahead of them.

Please note that owing to overhaul and maintenance of the university network, our phones and computers will be out of action for much of this Thursday morning, 1st December. In an emergency, please contact us via one of the School’s mobile phones which will be switched on in the School Office 07775 345218.

A reminder that preparations for the Christmas Fair on Thursday 15th December are well underway. You will have seen the NCSPA Co-Chairs’ parentmail earlier this week setting how you can help, so please do pitch in if you can. It’s always a special afternoon enjoyed by boys, parents and staff and I know parents will continue to respond generously to make it a great success. Many thanks for all the organisation so far.

And writing of Christmas music reminds me to mention the Chamber Choir and Choral Society’s Christmas Concert on Saturday 17th December at 7.30pm in New College Chapel. Do get your tickets from the School Office to avoid disappointment.

These events at the end of term will be all-too-soon upon us so I hope the following details will helpful for parents’ planning at his busy stage of the year. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to some great treats and celebrations. Please do join us if you can.

Thursday 15th December – Pre-Prep Nativity Play: 2.00 pm School Hall. Written and directed by Mrs Cox and performed by members of Pre-Prep. Tickets are limited to two per family and are available from Pre-Prep teachers. Limited parking on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis will be available in the school grounds from 1.30pm onwards. The play will finish at approximately 2.45 pm. Parents should then be able to collect their children from form tutors and take them to the Christmas Fair.

Thursday 15th December –NCSPA Christmas Fair for boys and parents 2.00-4.30 pm Sports Hall. As in previous years, there will be a number of vendors offering an interesting mix of items for sale as well as special stalls for the boys. There will be a very special Santa’s Grotto for the boys to visit. Refreshments will be available in the dining room and there will be a selection of delicious homemade cakes and biscuits on sale. The boys will also be given the opportunity to buy Christmas presents for family and friends. Year 3 upwards will be able to visit the Fair during school time, and should bring any shopping money in a named purse to be handed to form teachers during the day for safe-keeping as appropriate. Pre-prep boys can visit with their parents after the end of the Nativity play. Visitors to the Fair may park in the school grounds of space permits, but no earlier than 1.30pm.

Friday 16th December – New College School Carol Service: 11.00 am New College Chapel. Parents and friends are warmly invited to join us for our traditional carol service in the College Chapel, attended by all the boys. Pupils will be reading and the music will be provided by our instrumentalists, the pre-prep, junior and chamber choirs and the Choristers. There will be plenty of opportunities for the congregational singing too! Limited parking is available again on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis in the school grounds but please do not arrive to park before 10.35 am because we want boys to have their morning break unimpeded by cars. The carol service finishes at approximately 11.50 am. School ends at 12 noon. Parents should collect boys from school not from the Chapel. On their return from the Chapel, boys will collect belongings from their classrooms. Boys in Pre-Prep should be collected from Pre-Prep classrooms. Boys in Years 3 – 8 will be brought to the Sports Hall where they will meet up with parents. Please be sure to meet them in the Sports Hall and not in the car park: the former is much safer!

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Sun 27

Advent Carol Service New College Chapel 5.30 p.m.

Tue 29

U11 A Rugby vs Cokethorpe, Away, 2.00pm

U11 B&C Rugby vs Cokethorpe, Home, 2.00pm

Wed 30

School Service 10.00 am – New College Chapel

Speaker: Mr Robert Quinney, Organist, Fellow & Tutor inMusic, New College

Coffee in the Undercroft afterwards for parents and visitors

U13 A Rugby vs STFS, Away, 3.30pm

U13 B Rugby vs STFS, Home, 3.30pm


Thurs 1

Pre-Prep Winter Concert, School Hall, 2.30pm

Fri 2

U9 A Rugby vs Cokethorpe, Away, 2.00pm

U9 B&C Tag Rugby vs Cokethorpe, Home, 2.00pm

Sat 3

End of University Term

Sun 4

Christmas Carol Service New College Chapel 3.00 p.m.

Mon 5

Associated Board Exam Week

U13 Rugby House Matches, Home, 1.45pm

Tues 6

U11 A Rugby vs Bruern Abbey, Away, 2.30pm

Wed 7

School Service 10.00 am – New College Chapel

Speaker: Ms Nancy-Jane Rucker, Chapel Administrator

Coffee in the Undercroft afterwards for parents and visitors

Year 5 to Watermill Theatre, Newbury, 10.30am

Years 1 & 2 House Football, (Reception to support), Field 2.00pm

Thurs 8

NC Choir: Emmaus Charity Concert

Sat 10

NC Choir: Old Members’ Carol Service

St Thomas’s Feast, 7.30pm

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