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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 24th September 2021

Dear Parents,

Two mice are walking along minding their own business when, all of a sudden, a cat appears and threatens to pounce on them. One mouse shouts – ‘Woof!’ – and the cat scarpers. The mouse turns to his companion and says, ‘See, it’s always good to learn another language’. This isn’t my joke, it was one told by a French teacher at my old school in the final assembly before his retirement. It wasn’t his joke, either, judging by its appearance on various sites online.

The Language Ambassadors

It’s a good joke, though, and an especially pertinent one this week as we celebrate the European Day of Languages. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but this annual festival came just five days after the International Day of Peace – forming perhaps an unconscious connection between inter-cultural dialogue and understanding, and harmonious coexistence between those different cultures and countries. As you will already be aware, New College School is a wonderfully international community, and one of the highlights of the year is when our languages department tots up the number of different languages that are spoken by NCS boys and their families. At a time when many schools have to bend over backwards to explain why learning another language (or two, or three) is A Good Thing, I am pleased to say that it is simply a given here that learning other languages is good for you, and it is good for the people around you. From Reception upwards the boys get to go to our French room, and by the end of Year 8 the boys have an enviable grasp of the language. Over the past few years our activities programme has featured taster sessions in Italian, Spanish, and Mandarin. Obviously the boys get to learn Latin from Year 5 and have the option of tackling ancient Greek from Year 7. All of which is to say that there is quite a lot of language learning going on – and most of it better than my faltering Duolingo Italian, which many parents will remember from my ‘how to make the most of lockdown’ newsletters. (‘Lo squalo è pericoloso’, about the sum total of what I’ve learnt, has a very niche use – though perhaps it will come in useful one day if I’m in Italy and encounter some people who don’t comprehend quite how pericolosi the squali are.)

Microscope work in Year 7 Science; Conducting Mozart in Year 6 Music; Debating with Oxford Spires Academy; Year 8 Maths

Anyway, the European Day of Languages was marked in a number of ways at NCS this week: an assembly by Mrs Brown in which we heard from many different boys proudly speaking: German, Cantonese, Mandarin, Swedish, French, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish (to name but a few); as well as language quizzes across lessons set by Mme Phillips, taking in topics as diverse as Chemistry terms derived from Arabic words, Geographical infrastructure terms in five different languages, and herbs and spices again in five different languages. I like to think that languages remain a prominent part of the NCS curriculum, at a time when they seem to be under perennial threat in other areas, but festivals such as these are beneficial in focusing our minds on why we learn other languages, and how best to do so.

Buon fine settimana!

Matt Jenkinson

I am very sad to inform parents that Professor Laura Marcus, who was one of our governors until last academic year, has passed away after a very short illness. She was a wonderful governor who would come in each year to take a literature masterclass with the older boys. Laura was also a brilliant human being: wise, caring, funny, and a huge supporter of everyone around her. We will miss her. Laura will be remembered at evensong on Friday 8 October, and there will be a memorial service later in the year.

Well done to our Year 8 boys who took part in last week’s online debate with pupils from Oxford Spires. It was clearly a very enjoyable evening and I would like to thank Mrs Brown and Dr Gausden for arranging and administering the event. More information about our school partnerships will be available at our online partnership evening on 29 September.

The NCS Parents’ Association AGM will be on Monday 27 September. Please note that this will now be on Zoom and at 18.00. Please do speak to your class rep if you have any issues that you would like raised, but do remember that small issues are best dealt with by either contacting us immediately or going straight to your son’s teacher. We are always keen to help!

Harvest Festival is on Wednesday 29 September at 9.00 in New College Chapel. The boys are encouraged to bring in non-perishable produce for distribution to the Oxford Food Bank. Please do ask your son to give some thought as to what he might bring in and how this might support people in Oxford in need. A representative sample will be taken across to chapel for our Harvest Festival service at 9.00 then we will distribute all items later this week.

Our next Open Morning is on Saturday 9 October at 10.00 onwards. Prospective parents are asked to register at https://www.newcollegeschool.org/open-days -- do please pass on this link if you know of any families who would be interested in joining our wonderful community. Some posters and flyers should have arrived home with your son last week; we'd be very grateful if these could be displayed at places of work etc. We would also appreciate if you would consider sharing the school's social media posts publicising the event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/2895287147392451/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CT2KfeuIBhw/

https://twitter.com/NCSOxford/status/1437801351845658625

The New College School ‘Admission to the Foundation Service’ will be on Wednesday 13 October in New College Chapel. The service will begin at 9.00 and will take a little longer than our usual Chapel. This is the occasion when all new members of the school, boys and staff, are formally admitted to the New College Foundation by the Headmaster and the Warden of New College, who is the school’s chair of governors. We would like to encourage all families of new boys to attend this important occasion if you can.

We have had confirmation from the DfE that staff and Year 7-8 pupils should continue with their bi-weekly Lateral Flow Tests for the remainder of term. We have spare LFTs if your son is running out. Just let us know (or ask your son to let us know) and we will send a new box home.

St Giles’ Choir is looking for enthusiastic singers for their boys' choir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AdICOIN7eY&t=19s. St Giles' Choir provides a platform for budding musicians to realise and develop their potential. They sing in St Giles', visit cathedrals, and undertake an annual tour. The experience of teamwork, common purpose, and shared endeavour amongst friends, builds confidence and gives children valuable training in focus and concentration. To arrange an audition parents should contact Dr Nicholas Prozzillo on choirdirector@st-giles-church.org

From Mr Bishop: In our second full week of fixtures once again all the boys from Years 5 to 8 were in action on the football pitches. At home we had all three U11 teams and the U10 C team hosting Cothill. My colleagues tell me that there was some fantastic football on show and there were some outstanding individual performances. In the U10 C team, Mme Phillips tells me that Laurence PA and Michael S deserve special mention for their efforts in trying to thwart the Cothill onslaught! Further up the age groups the U11s saw Alexander R and Jacob W work tirelessly and show some superb skill. Despite our best efforts these games at home did not quite go our way but the progress made fills me with confidence and the first wins are not far away.

Away from home the U10s played a fantastic game with standout performances from Max, Noah and Thomas H, however it was Xander who was voted player of the match by the opposition thanks to his dominant display all over the pitch. Losing 2-1 did not do the game justice as either side could have easily won the game! Both teams had shots saved, hit the post and cross bar. It was an epic encounter and we were sorry it had to end! Also away from home the U13 teams played Cothill. I am happy to report that all three of our senior teams came away with handsome wins with the 2nd and 3rd teams winning by 5-1 and 8-2 respectively. Both Miss Cawood and Mr Hanson were full of praise and admiration for the boys’ play and told of heroic performances from Tolly in goal and Kian going forwards in attack. Special mention in the C team goes to Zachary who worked extremely hard all afternoon to ensure the ball stayed out of our net. Mr Cui, who looked after the 1st team was very pleased to report a 3-2 win, despite the boys going 2-0 down in the first half. Max B played his best game yet and as such got himself on the score sheet with a cracking goal. As usual the coaches from Cothill highly commended our dynamic duo of Timon and Benedict, not only on their superb play but also their conduct off the pitch.

Please see below the dates of our parents’ evenings over the coming academic year:

Year 7 parents’ evening: Wednesday 6 October 2021, 18.00

Year 6 parents’ evening: Wednesday 1 December 2021, 18.00

Year 3 and 8S parents’ evening: Wednesday 12 January 2022, 18.00

Year 4 parents’ evening: Wednesday 26 January 2022, 18.00

Year 5 parents’ evening: Wednesday 2 March 2022, 18.00

Year 8 parents' evening: Wednesday 9 March 2022, 18.00, Please note change from date advertised in parent handbook

Pre-Prep parents' evening: Wednesday 23 March 2022, 17.30, Please note change from date advertised in parent handbook

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