Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 9th November 2018

Dear Parents,

It’s clear that the Centenary of the Armistice has struck something of a common chord in the national consciousness. I have been impressed at the thoughtful way in which it is being commemorated, often reflecting upon the particular stories of ordinary individuals caught up in that conflict and their quiet sense of duty, rather than anything inappropriately grandiloquent. In an assembly this week, I told the prep school boys how I had recently come across my grandfather’s service book which he must have carried with him while he fought in France before being injured in 1916. Much to my surprise I found in it a brittle, parchment-faded, pressed cornflower (now used in France in the same way we use the poppy) which he must have picked on the battlefield. To see that over 100 years later spoke powerfully to me of what he must have felt was a rare moment of life and beauty in an otherwise desolate scene. We had our annual Remembrance Service on Wednesday and, as ever, it is striking quite how long the list of the fallen is even from a small school like NCS. The boys always have a strong sense of occasion and were attentive and respectful in what is, inevitably, a solemn service. As parents, I know it’s often difficult to know what to say to children about the cruelties and horrors of war. Quite rightly, we spare them the details, but inevitably they start to ask questions. I think firstly it’s helpful to invite them to remember that the sacrifices of past generations enable the freedoms and peace we now enjoy. But, also, remembering past conflict might just help future generations to work to avoid situations which might lead to war. I’m sure that stressing remembrance in this way will go a long way into helping our children develop into thoughtful, responsible citizens.

As you will see from this week’s photos, we have had a number of visiting speakers this week: it’s always good to vary the routine diet a little. It was especially good to see the boys who take judo give a demonstration to the whole school on Tuesday. Their skill, courage and discipline were most impressive. Well done to all!

Judo demonstration in assembly; Remembrance Service in New College Chapel; Biology of the eye in Year 3 with optometrist Mrs Anna Jones; Uses of bacteria in renewable chemicals with scientist Dr Liz Jenkinson.

Congratulations to Years 7 & 8 on their outstanding performances in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar this week. Powerful delivery of Shakespearean lines from characters and chorus alike made for some palpable drama and two memorable evenings. As so often in many areas of school life, NCS boys can be relied upon to take up a meaty challenge and make the most of it. My warmest thanks to all involved.

Years 7 & 8 Julius Caesar

Sport. After the half term break, the boys returned to School full of vigour and excitement ready for the rugby season: the training sessions did not disappoint with every year group showing dedication and a real keenness for the sport. Last Friday, the U8s and U9s kicked things off with a fixture vs MCS. With five teams out once again, we had every boy from Years 3 & 4 representing the School and in every match every boy did his very best. In the U8 fixture, the ‘B’ & ‘C’ teams both put up a spirited display with strong passing and direct running, but on this occasion lost narrowly to our visitors. Mark Michlewski and Isaac Wang both deserve a special mention for their efforts on the day. In the ‘A’ team match the fortunes were reversed. The NCS team quickly found their stride and dominated proceedings with every boy playing his part in defending the try-line. Quick tagging and even faster running from George Clifton saw a 5-2 win in their opening match of the season. Well done to all! Away at MCS, the U9 contact teams faced two strong teams with surprisingly large boys on both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams! Not fazed by this, the NCS teams quickly got into scoring mode and throughout the games both sides took the lead in a frenetic half-hour which saw over 40 tries scored in all! In the ‘B’ team game George Watkins and Josh Cable should feel very proud of their afternoons as both boys stepped up when it mattered and really tackled well in defence and ran hard in attack to ensure we competed. A final score of 13-11 to our hosts was difficult to swallow as the boys played exceptionally well all afternoon but after only one game of rugby it showed what potential they have going forward. In the ‘A’ team fixture it was a tale of “what could have been”. In the end, the game was drawn with the score well into the teens! However, at half time we found ourselves 8-5 down and facing defeat: a lack of tackling from the team meant that MCS ran through a few scores without opposition and we quickly needed to remedy this for the second half. A much better performance in defence saw the ship steadied and this meant we had a platform to build on in attack. With this, the dancing feet of Dan Campbell scampered over the line on a number of occasions to ensure honours even at the end of the match. A lesson learnt here in the art of defence!

On Monday afternoon the U10 ‘A’ team travelled over to MCS for the annual U10 rugby festival. On our arrival we found ourselves in a tough group that promised some hard and exciting rugby. In our opening fixture we scored 5 times in 12 minutes to beat Warwick Prep 5-1. A great start to the afternoon with some ferocious rugby being played. In the next game, one or two errors in attack saw the ball turned over too many times and we lost by one try to Abingdon Prep. After a review of our tactics during the break, we faced eventual champions Akeley Wood School in our last game. Despite our chat, the boys seemed to forget where they were for the first five minutes and conceded four quick tries! However, then a sudden realisation seemed to occur. With this epiphany they played some of the best rugby we’ve seen from this team to date. The scored remained at 4-0 throughout the game and, although we didn’t quite managed to cross the line ourselves, it was a performance which made us all proud. Those last 8 or 9 minutes were fantastic and paved the way for our 7th place play-off vs Cokethorpe School in our last game. Here the boys continued their new-found form and managed a brilliant 3-1 win to claim that 7th place and cap a great afternoon of sport.

The following afternoon both the U11 and U10 teams were again in action: this time in a block fixture with Cokethorpe. The U10 teams were playing at home and again the ‘A’ teams emerged victorious having played very well and winning 5-2. In the ‘B’ team fixture we played well and worked hard with the ball but in the end succumbed to our guests’ pressure and lost the game. The message to the boys from Mr Bradley is that we need to continue our work on our tackling and also work a little harder in fitness sessions to get some speed into the legs. Mr Bishop and Mrs Brown took the U11 teams to away to Cokethorpe and when they arrived they noted the towering size of the host teams! But the NCS boys were not bothered at all by this and they fought extremely well all afternoon. In the ‘B’ team we eventually found our stride with Hugh Vine and Edmund Visintin both working hard to motivate the team into action. The final score was 8-1 to our hosts but this score line does not do justice to how hard the team worked to gain that score and the number of tackles they put in to restrict the score to 8. In the ‘A’ team game Ethan McMillan, Lucas Ord, and Jack Rothery were all three superb and worked tirelessly all afternoon in the ruck and tackle to help secure possession for the NCS team. At the break we were 5-4 up and looking strong, but as the second half wore on the lack of substitutes started to take its toll and, despite our best efforts, the score ended up 10-8 to our hosts. Finally this week, good luck to a group of NCS boys who are having trials on Sunday for the South of England Prep Schools football regional teams: Fraser Mackenzie (Year 7), Ethan McMillan, Jack Rothery and Edmund Visintin (Year 6) Timon Bergmann, Benedict Furger and Leo Magnotta (Year 5).

Many thanks to all who organised and supported the Pre-Prep Party last weekend. Great fun was had by all and it was lovely to see the boys (and many siblings!) joining in so well.

National Anti-Bullying Week begins on Monday. No school should ever claim it is free from the potential for bullying and so it is important that children are always encouraged to be open about their feelings at school and at home and that schools are always vigilant to ensure there is an ethos in which anti-bullying is taken seriously. As ever, we shall focus on anti-bullying and a culture of openness and mutual support in our PSHCEE lessons throughout the School this week.

Next week also sees the start of ‘Switch-Off Fortnight’ when the eco-committee are fostering a number of initiatives to monitor energy usage and promote wise use of our resources at home and at school. It’s worth mentioning that they are always keen to collect old mobile phones and used batteries for recycling; just drop any such unwanted items into the box by the Eco-Shop.

We’re very much looking forward to the Junior Concerts next Wednesday when I’m sure there will be a wonderful array of talent to appreciate. And it’s always good to see the boys supporting others’ efforts so positively.

Congratulations to Mrs Atkinson who has just announced her pregnancy. We wish her well and all continuing good health at this very special news. Mrs Atkinson will be taking maternity leave from April and we are currently recruiting a Year 3 teacher to cover her absence. I will, of course, let parents have details of the appointment as soon as it is finalised.

With good wishes to all NCS families,

Robert Gullifer

Forthcoming Events

Monday 12 November 2018

National Anti-Bullying Week begins

‘Switch-Off’ Fortnight begins

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

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

12.30 School Council Meeting, French Room

14.30 U13 A Rugby vs St Hugh's, Home

14.30 U13 B Rugby vs St Hugh's, Home

16.00 Yrs 7 & 8 Debating Competition, College

17.15 Junior Concerts Pt 1 (Years 3, 4 & 5), School Hall. Refreshments beforehand in HM Study at 5.00pm

18.15 Junior Concerts Pt 2 (Years 3, 4 & 5), School Hall. Refreshments beforehand in HM Study at 6.00pm

Friday, 16 November 2018

13.00 U10 & U11 Cross Country vs Cokethorpe

14.15 U9 A&B Rugby vs Dragon, Away

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

10.30 U9 Tag House Matches, Home

13.30 U8 A, B & C Tag Festival vs MCS, Away

14.30 U11A Rugby vs Sibford, Home

14.30 U11B Tag vs Sibford, Home

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

10.00 School Service, New College Chapel. Speaker: The Revd Canon Bruce Kinsey, Chaplain of Balliol College. Coffee in the Undercroft afterwards for parents and visitors

12.30 Eco Committee Meeting, Year 5 classroom

14.15 U13 A Rugby vs Bruern Abbey, Home

14.15 U13 B Rugby vs Bruern Abbey, Away

17.15 Senior Concerts (Years 6, 7 & 8), School Hall. Refreshments beforehand in HM Study at 5.00pm

18.15 Senior Concerts (Years 6, 7 & 8), School Hall. Refreshments beforehand in HM Study at 6.00pm

Thursday, 22 November 2018

13.00 U11 A Rugby vs Cokethorpe, Away

14.15 U11 B&C Rugby vs CCCS, Home

Saturday, 24 November 2018

No choristers at Saturday Morning Music School

Sunday, 25 November 2018

17.30 Advent Carol Service New College Chapel

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