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Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 24th April 2020

I hope the last few days have been as happy and successful as possible, as we have all been getting more and more used to the most effective methods of remote learning. If this great learning experiment teaches us anything, I suspect it will be that nothing quite replaces having a class and teacher in the same room together. But we can’t do that yet, so let’s make the most of what we’ve got.

I mentioned on Wednesday that so much of education happens outside lessons, as we all learn to interact and grow as a community. I trust that the boys have been following my injunctions to the letter, and that a (thoroughly washed) helping hand has been present whenever it has been needed. Or a kind word and supportive hug have been offered when the combination of remote learning and working from home has become especially potent.

One of the buzzwords on the pedagogical carousel is “character” – that we aren’t just teaching dates and equations and how to throw a cricket ball, but how to develop ingrained character traits that will give the boys desirable behaviours for a happy and successful later life. Like most debates in education, opinion divides over what some of those behaviours might be, and how we might define the term ‘desirable’. But this current remote learning situation brings into sharper focus some character traits that will be necessary now, and useful later on in life. Today’s desirable traits, I suggest, should be grit and perseverance.

There is a great quotation from the American painter Chuck Close, that ‘inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work’. A lot of what we do this term will seem a bit harder than normal and, yes, there will be times when we don’t really want to do it. It might be worth pointing out, for example, that there will actually be a lot more content delivered in lessons this term than in a normal Trinity. But ‘grit’ will get us through it – literally, at times I suspect, gritting our teeth and making the most of a difficult situation. Persevering when the printer breaks or the computer freezes will, in the long term, help us achieve a lot more than if we give up at the first sign of a technological glitch. Working our way around problems is a crucial life lesson, because as much as we might like to avoid those problems, life has a peculiar way of putting such hurdles in our path – often when we least expect it. Taking a deep breath and persevering calmly and rationally is better (and cheaper) than throwing the computer against the wall. Behaviour is catching so it can only make for a happier and more productive home life – a life that no doubt becomes more intense each day – if deep breaths are more frequent than rants.

As ever, please do get in touch and tell us of examples of when your grit and perseverance have overcome adversity. In the meantime, stay safe and I look forward to being in touch again next week.

Dr J

Easter and first week of term activities: Long division; 'WhatsApp baking with grandma' creations; Building a railway; Investigating density.
Artwork: Henry J, Tassilo, Isaac L, Benji

Merit certificates this week are awarded to:

Thomas for his independent project on the history of archery

Peter for his superb creative writing

Jai for his excellent subtraction work

Zachary for his impressive endeavours in Classics over the Easter break

James for his research on classification this week

Very well done to Finley for his ongoing charity run! Finley is running 250km, 50km a day for 50 days, starting at the beginning of the covid-19 lockdown, to raise money for Crisis. Finley was particularly inspired to raise money for Crisis as the homeless have been particularly affected by the lockdown period. You can find out more at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/FinleyandNanuk

Congratulations to Ben for taking part in the National Youth Orchestra’s virtual Ode to Joy-a-thon last Friday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nr665rshNY

Your sons may be interested in taking part in Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities’ ‘Grand Storytelling Competition’, information about which is available at https://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/article/the-grand-storytelling-competition

Hoping that the sun keeps shining, please could those boys who are coming on to the Savile Road site bring along some sunscreen and a hat? Many thanks.

Do, please, keep sending in pictures of the boys’ remote learning experiences. We love to see what everyone is getting up to, and we hope it helps to increase NCS bonds household-to-household. We also like seeing your choice of kitchen décor.

Trips. Obviously our activities week trips will not be going ahead as planned. We are currently in the process of trying to recoup any money we can and we thank you for your patience during an inevitably long and frustrating process.

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