Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 2 February 2024

Dear Parents,

Last Saturday was Holocaust Memorial Day. In advance of that event, we invited Professor Zoe Waxman from the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies to speak to the boys. Her brief was a difficult one: to speak to children of different ages about a grave topic, in a way that conveyed the weightiness and importance of that subject, without causing distress. Zoe did this expertly by talking about the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day: the fragility of freedom. She talked about people who have had (and still have) their freedoms restricted and removed, as a precursor to persecution. As Zoe put it, the Holocaust began ‘with the removal of the Jews from mainstream society. It began with the loss of freedom, of dignity, the loss of education, the loss of jobs, the confiscation of belongings and the removal of civil and human rights’.

Circuits in Science; Garden windmills in DTE; Pre-Prep orchestra; Coding in Computing; Composition in Music; Fractions in Maths

One way to broach the history of the Holocaust with younger children is to focus on the bright lights among the darkness; those individuals who risked their own lives to save the lives of others. One such individual was Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who arranged hiding places for Jewish children and smuggled food and medicine to help them. As a result, it is thought that Sendler saved the lives of two and a half thousand children. But, as Zoe pointed out, there were not enough ordinary people doing this. There were too many bystanders or active participants in the suffering of others.

Freedom becomes fragile when we take it for granted, when we assume that it will always be there, and when we become bystanders ourselves in the face of the erosion of civil and human rights. Zoe spoke to the boys, then, about three ways in which they could play their part. Firstly, she brought attention to the fact that freedoms need to be valued and protected, and there are still many people around the world whose freedoms are restricted. Secondly, she highlighted how the Holocaust began – through the exclusion of individuals and groups from society – and how we should therefore always be inclusive, tolerant and kind. Thirdly, Zoe talked the importance of being informed and engaged citizens. This active citizenship starts at a young age: from the youngest boys representing their forms on the school council, for example, or by engaging in debates in lessons. We don’t need to look too far around the world to see myriad examples of the dangers of prejudice, intolerance and exclusion advancing in places that we might once have taken for granted as cosy liberal democracies. Every single one of us needs to play our part if we are to avoid the horrors of the not-so-distant past.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Congratulations to James in Year 8 who has been awarded a music exhibition to Radley!

Congratulations to ‘8 Mile’ (the artists formerly known as ‘NCS Club 7’) on their victory in last Friday’s NCSPA Quiz. This was a hugely enjoyable evening made possible by the hard work of lots of parents and colleagues – thank you. The Year 8 boys’ team did admirably well, including getting full marks on the music round.

Speaking of Year 8: we wish them the best of luck as they embark on their mock exams next week!

Many thanks to all those parents who have already filled out our 2024 Transport Survey, the links for which were sent out via Parentmail. If you haven’t yet filled this in, do please take a minute or two to fill it out (the current average completion time is around two minutes!) by noon on Wednesday 7 February.

You will have seen Brett Morrison’s separate Parentmail outlining our activities for Charity Week in aid of Oxford Hospitals Charity next week. We are looking forward to the cake sales (please provide an ingredients list, and do remember that we aspire to be a nut-free school), the NCS Bake Off competition, home clothes on Friday, the 'bob-a-job' week, and the staff vs Year 8 basketball, among other events. In this morning's assembly we welcomed David Child from the Oxford Hospitals Charity, who explained to the boys how their fundraising would be used.

6 February is Safer Internet Day. To mark that day, during wellbeing lessons several year groups are looking at areas to help pupils stay safe online. Topics covered include: the appropriate amount of time spent online, managing online relationships, judging the validity of online information, and why age limits are put in place for different types of media. Whilst pupils will be familiar with these messages from Coding lessons, we feel it is important to speak about these areas often. Pupils are also regularly reminded that they can always turn to staff at school if they are facing difficulties in the digital world. Internet Matters is a website which offers straightforward guides to pupils, parents and carers and sound advice: https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/online-gaming-advice/ Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspects of your child’s online activity.

World Book Day is on 7 March, and will be upon us before we know it after half term. As ever, we will be joining schools around the country in encouraging boys to come in dressed as a literary character (though not one who looks, say, surprisingly like a prep school boy in home clothes). Please do not go to any great effort or expense for this; imaginative and recycled costumes are often the best ones!

Upcoming Events

Monday, 5 February 2024

Charity Week begins

Start of Year 8/8S PSB/scholarship mocks week

Year 3-8 mid-year self-reviews completed and sent home this week

14.15 U13 Hockey House Matches, St Edward's

Tuesday, 6 February 2024

9.00 LAMDA Examinations, Dragon

14.15 U8 & 9 House Matches, Iffley Rd

Wednesday, 7 February 2024

8.15 School Council meeting, CLC

9.30 Year 8 HPV Vaccine

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Mr Thomas Rolfe, former NCS pupil

14.00 U11 A & B Hockey v Chandlings, Away

14.00 U13 A-D Hockey v Summer Fields, St Edward's

17.00 Governors’ Meeting (Conduit Room)

Friday, 9 February 2024

15.30 U11 A Hockey County Cuo, Hawks Astro

Saturday, 10 February 2024

Start of Half-Term

Tuesday, 20 February 2024

14.15 U8 Football v Ashfold, Away

14.15 U9 A-C Football v Ashfold, Home

16.00 U13 Chess V Dragon, Home

Wednesday, 21 February 2024

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: The Chaplain

14.15 U11 A-D Hockey v Ashfold, St Edwards, 14.15 & 15.00 kick-off

14.15 U13 A-C Hockey v Ashfold, Away

Friday, 23 February 2024

14.15 U11 Hockey House Matches, St Edward's