Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 15th September 2023

Dear Parents,

Saturday’s formal grand opening of the new building was a wonderful event. It was probably one of the most momentous events in the school’s history, which I appreciate is a bold claim considering that we’ve been around for six and a half centuries. Hundreds of people came to enjoy the morning, representing several constituencies: past and present families, colleagues, governors, friends and supporters.

In a recent assembly I reflected with the boys on the lessons that we could learn from the building project. As I was deputy head here at the project’s inception, then became headmaster as we knocked down some of our old buildings to make way for the new one, I have had the privilege of watching it happen through every stage. I won’t pretend that it has always been easy, but as everything should be a learning experience, I think I can summarise the lessons learnt as the following:

Collaboration. There were dozens of people working on site at any one time; at some points there were over 160. Different teams were working on different things – stonework, electrics, plumbing, you name it – and they all had to work alongside one another and together. This was writ large about a week before the boys arrived for Michaelmas, when we ‘moved in’ while the building was still being completed around us.

The new building; Break time play; Football skills in Pre-Prep games; Investigating boiling points in Year 6; Pre-Prep orchestra

Communication. Our new building is on an unusually sensitive building site, in the middle of an historic city with Mansfield and Harris Manchester Colleges, as well as a still-functioning school, right next to the building works. Wadham College, too, experienced disruption whenever there were major works on Savile Road like the installation and decommissioning of enormous cranes. There needed to be clear and respectful communication between all the different parties to ensure that they knew what was happening, to plan accordingly, and to ensure everyone could have their say if there were any problems.

Leadership. There were (and remain!) lots of different views about the building, and lots of different people to help stay organised. Leadership was provided at different levels, but especially important was the SRM Project Manager, David Scott, who remained calm and respectful, dealt with any problems rationally as they came up, and kept people inspired to ensure the project stayed on track.

Vision. Many years ago, when it was originally decided to begin the building project, there was an international competition for architects to provide their vision and proposed designs. All but one of the architects pretty much kept the site’s old layout while designing a new building. Only one of them, David Kohn, totally rethought the layout of the whole area and had the vision to see what could be done with the parcel of land on Mansfield and Savile Roads.

Individuality. I think we can all agree that the style of the new building is quite unique. There are influences from buildings around the world, especially Barcelona, but I don’t think there is anything quite like our new building with its wavy roof, polygonal tiles, and lack of right angles.

Patience. Such a large project, with Covid-19 occurring right in the middle, has clearly taken a lot of time. It has probably taken eight or nine years from the original design phase, planning permission, getting the site cleared and ready, and finally completing the new building. Over that time, there have been a lot of NCS pupils, families and colleagues who have had to wait patiently and watch the building going up – sometimes after what might have seemed like weeks or months of not much happening at all.

Investing in education. A building like ours is not cheap, but overall it does show the importance of investing in education. While the most important thing we do here, alongside safeguarding the boys, is learning and teaching, it does make a difference if we have attractive and interesting buildings in which we do that learning and teaching. New College’s values are enshrined in the new building: a commitment to education, the arts, and sustainability and biodiversity as shown in the gargoyles and grotesques.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

We have really enjoyed catching up with old parents, and meeting new ones, at our start-of-year information meetings this week. On Monday we welcomed Reception and Year 1 parents to see their new classrooms and meet our form tutoring teams. Tuesday’s evening for Years 4 to 6 combined internet safety and a 13+ destinations briefing with form tutor information sessions, and gave parents a chance to meet registrars of the senior schools to which NCS boys tend to go at the end of Year 8. On Wednesday, it was great to be able to introduce Year 3 families to the prep school, and to give Year 2 families a taste of what they will be enjoying here in a year’s time when their sons enter the prep school. Then, on Thursday, we had our Year 7-8 briefing on the Pre-Senior Baccalaureate, a guide to how the top two years at NCS work, alongside a chance to meet our form tutor teams in these older years.

Years 3 and 4 had a great day at Hill End yesterday, teambuilding and developing some independence and outward-bound skills. My thinks to Pip Usher, Victoria Hayter, Craig Bishop, Dylan Swanepoel and Jan Alden for organising the trip and looking after the boys so well.

Tomorrow marks another momentous day in NCS history, as we launch – and become the home of – the Oxford Children’s Chamber Orchestra (OCCO). We have over fifty children coming to join us, from NCS and further afield. We are very excited about this new venture, more information about which can be found at https://www.newcollegeschool.org/occo-music

The boys will have their portrait photos taken on Friday 22 September. On that day, please could all boys arrive at school in full uniform. There will be an opportunity for those boys who have Games later in the day to change once their photos have been taken.

Our next Open Morning is on Saturday 7 October at 10.00-12.00. If any boys from Years 3-8 would like to be guides on that morning, please could their parents email office@newcollegeschool.org. Please note that all pupils attending school that morning (including OCCO pupils) should wear full school uniform. Prospective parents are asked to register at https://www.newcollegeschool.org/open-day-booking -- do please pass on this link if you know of any families who would be interested in joining our wonderful community. You should also soon be receiving, via your son's schoolbag, a poster and a leaflet advertising the event. Although the morning is primarily for prospective parents, current parents, especially those from the Pre-Prep, are most welcome to get a further insight into the upper part of the school. We would really appreciate it if you could display the poster in a prominent place such as on notice boards at: nurseries and girls' schools (so as not to offend other local boys’ schools); Oxford colleges, Brookes University and other educational institutions; hospitals and health centres; churches, local shops and community centres; your car or house window. Please pass the smaller leaflet onto any friends who may be interested. Please also feel free to share/retweet the schools social media posts about the open morning:




The NCS Parents’ Association will be meeting for its AGM in the Creative Learning Centre (the old dining room) on Monday 25 September at 19.00. We are pleased to welcome any parents to join the meeting. We hope that this year will bring plenty of opportunities to come together and fundraise. We will be discussing potential events and also electing officers at the AGM. Please email ncspa@newcollegeschool.org for more information. As in previous years, if parents have any specific queries or concerns, by far the best first port of call is the teacher or SLT member concerned. Our email addresses are all available at https://www.newcollegeschool.org/who-we-are

From Brett Morrison: This Harvest Festival NCS will again be supporting the Community Emergency Fund (CEF). The CEF is an independent charity that aims to help people in Oxford or the surrounding area who are suffering from financial hardship and finding it difficult to provide food for themselves, their family or dependants. If pupils and families would like to support this worthy cause, they can do so by donating at our Harvest Festival. The service will be held in Chapel on Wednesday 27 September at 9.00. Pupils can bring in non-perishable food items (canned or dried) along with toiletries, which will be collected and donated to the CEF. We thank the NCS community for their support of this worthy cause.

From Craig Bishop: I’d like to kick things off this week with a massive “well done” to all the boys. The way they have come back to school with enthusiasm has been brilliant. The lessons and coaching sessions have been intense with everyone working extremely hard to improve. Even in these early stages I’m happy to say the progress has been fantastic.

Earlier this week we saw the U8 and U9 teams playing away at MCS and, with six matches in full swing as the monsoon-like rains came, we had to abandon the games a little earlier than expected. Nonetheless, the NCS performances were amazing. Henry M and Edward B from Year 4, in particular, both deserve their player of the match awards. The Year 3 games were also fiercely contested with a standout performance from our debutant Charlie R. The very next day the U11 team also made the trip over to MCS and all four teams gave very good performances. We saw some fabulous build-up play, carving out shooting chances with skill and team work; some more powerful shooting is our next area for development. There are special mentions for Andres who was a wonderfully encouraging leader, and Ben B and Harrison W who were both hardworking and tireless as strikers. Daniel P-S and Gunwoo K also deserve a mention due to their consistent hard work for the good of the team.

The 1st XI were away at Thorngrove this week. This from Stephen Potts: “Both teams made a bright start and looked to get on the front foot early. Thorngrove scored two goals in as many minutes midway through the first half, but we stuck to our game plan and managed to strike back through Alex R, turning home a well delivered corner. At half time we made a few changes, including switching to three in the centre of midfield, and gained control of the game, forcing two exceptional saves from the Thorngrove goalkeeper from fantastic efforts from the edge of the box. Overall, this was a very positive start to the season providing us with a few things to focus on in Monday's practice session.” I had the pleasure of looking after the C and D teams also at Thorngrove and I feel the final word should come from the D team who put in one of the performances of the week. Thomas H was an inspirational leader and he led his team by example on his way to scoring five goals; Eugene nearly matched him with four of his own; both Toby C and Nathanael T also managed to bag a brace to cap off a great match. Michael S also scored with a brave effort. Thomas B was brilliant at centre back and made a number of amazing challenges to keep the ball out, but our last line in the shape of Laurence P-A was simply outstanding. One save in particular will live long in my memory as he turned a point-blank shot over the bar with an almost nonchalant double-handed save!

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

14.15 U9 A&B Football vs Cothill, Home

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Mrs Jane Crouch, Headmistress, Headington Prep School

8.15 School council meeting, Creative Learning Centre

14.30 U13 A-C Football vs Cothill, Away

14.30 U11 A-E Football vs Cothill, Home

Thursday, 21 September 2023

9.00 OPRO mouthguard fitting (Yr 3-8)

Friday, 22 September 2023

9.00 Portrait Photos, Sports Hall

Monday, 25 September 2023


Wednesday, 27 September 2023

8.15 Charity Committee meeting, Creative Learning Centre

9.00 Chapel (Harvest Festival). Speaker: Mr Stephen Anderson, Rodewald Lector, New College

14.30 U13 A-C Football vs Summer Fields, Away

14.00 U11 A-E Football vs Summer Fields, Home

Saturday, 30 September 2023

9.00-11.45 OCCO/Oxford Opera Workshop: Verdi's La Traviata

13.00 U13 A Football vs Summer Fields IAPS, Away