Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 24 May 2024

Dear Parents,

Where did that half term go?! I quite often refer to ‘hurtling’ through Hilary and Trinity, but I don’t think the time has ever gone so quickly. Time flies when you’re having fun, clearly.

I managed to leave the NCS site briefly this week to attend a conference at St George’s House, Windsor Castle (tough gig). I attended a series of talks about how historic settings like ours can approach the educational landscape of the future, littered as it will be with AI and the like. I’m very keen on institutions that have a sense of their history but don’t use that history as a yoke – that look backwards at times, to inform what will happen as they look forwards. We are all well aware that the future presents us with some of Rumsfeld’s ‘known unknowns’. Being judicious about change and reform is a healthy thing; faddism isn’t. I like that NCS has, throughout its long history, nudged and tacked when changing for the benefit of the people for whom it exists: the children. It has kept the things that work, and the values which are important, but it has innovated when appropriate.

Year 4 show and tell; Lunch time composition; Charity week fundraising; QED collaboration tasks in year 2; Year 8 and Pre-Prep games

This has gone for music at the school too. Last week we had an assembly delivered by M:Tech, an inspirational online organisation that works to get as many young people involved in composing as possible. In the space of just ten minutes, the boys got to see how a catchy song could be composed using some simple rhythm, bass and melody. Our disc wall outside the Creative Learning Centre, which features albums released by NCS alumni, exemplifies this approach to music at NCS historically: the garage DJ Sammy Virji (last seen playing at the O2 on Cowley Road at 3 in the morning) sits alongside world-famous tenor James Gilchrist; LA-based DJ Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs is just below the pianist Ian Fountain. In the middle we have Kate Bush’s producer, and the son of a Bee Gee, and so on. There are still some spaces left for the NCS composers and musicians of the future!

I hope that you all have a happy and restful half term break. When we come back the time will fly once again, and before I know it I’ll be standing up before the school at prizegiving. Before then, we have lots of events to enjoy: some thanking and saying (not really) goodbye to our leaving Year 8 families; some welcoming new families to our special NCS community. We will also have our hugely enjoyable Wykeham Day which brings together that community past, present and future, and gives thanks for the Wykeham foundation without which we would not be here.

Have a great half term,

Matt Jenkinson

From Brett Morrison and the Charity and Eco-Committees: thank you to all those who supported our sustainability charity this term, The Woodland Trust. We were impressed by how knowledgeable and enthusiastic pupils were about their local woodlands. This enthusiasm was reflected again in the pupils’ artworks (final submissions for the art competition are due Tuesday 4 June 2024). As always, the baking was a real highlight and the creative flair shown was most impressive. Thank you to all those who assisted at home, shopping for ingredients, overseeing preparation, reminding pupils of appropriate hygiene protocols, and supervising the kitchen clean up. As decided by the catering team the winning entries of the baking competition were as follows. Brother teams: Olly & Zac, Finn & Jack, George & Henry. Years 3-4: Rowan & Sam. Years 5-6: Andres, Aloysius, Freddie & Thomas. Years 7-8: Eddy & Eugene, Dominic, Xander & Noah. This term we raised a total of £867.22. Thank you for your support.

A huge well done to our boys in Years 3 and 4 who have had some form tests this week. We are really proud of the way that they have taken them in their stride, taking these first ‘kid-steps’ in getting used to the kind of assessments they will face as they get older.

Our Year 8 Language Ambassadors had a great time teaching their lessons at St Michael’s earlier this week. Carlo taught Year 4 about Italian animals, Max taught 31 Year 5s about Norwegian sports, Emil and Isaac taught Year 6 about Chinese animals, while Jai and Arjun gave the same year group a Latin taster session. The teachers who observed the boys teaching were full of praise for their delivery, enthusiasm and pupil engagement. The Language Ambassadors scheme is a hugely valuable one, and a great way to celebrate the different family heritages at NCS, while honing the boys’ language skills and, perhaps, giving the next generation of teachers an early taste of the classroom! My thanks to Catherine Phillips, Louise Brown and Craig Bishop who coordinated the scheme and accompanied the boys across the parks.

On Tuesday we had our second geography field trip in two weeks. This time it was Year 6’s turn to hit the road for some valuable fieldwork study. As ever, thanks to Letty Peppiatt for innovating our geography curriculum in such a valuable way.

Pre-Prep have been enjoying their QED week on the theme of 'collaboration'. This is an excellent skill to develop from a young age, and indeed forms one of the strands of our rewards system. My thanks to all of the Pre-Prep staff for putting on many special activities, and to Caroline Hitchings who masterminded everything so brilliantly.

Please could we remind parents about sending their sons to school after half term with hats and sunscreen (already applied at home if it is long-lasting and you are not able to send in the bottle)? This is important for games sessions when the boys are in the open air for long periods of time. Equally, we are lucky to have a playground which is a bit of a suntrap (when the sun shines for more than ten minutes), but this does mean we have to be careful that the boys are properly prepared.

Our Leavers’ Evening, for our current Year 8s, will take place on Friday 7 June, ending at c.19.15. The boys can bring in their ‘smart casual’ clothes and change in to them at the end of school, before the evening begins at 17.00.

From Craig Bishop: This week the weather put pay to the bulk of the planned matches. However, we did manage to get some games played this week including Monday afternoon and the U11 tennis team. Twelve boys made their way across town to MCS and played an hour or so of some brilliant tennis. All six of our doubles pairs enjoyed some good wins and some very exciting points as the rallies developed and the serves grew in confidence. In particular Peter K and Michael L were amazing as our number one pair. The ground strokes from both boys were brilliant but Peter was sublime with his net volleys. Also deserving of a special mention are Tassilo H and Nicolas M from Year 5, who both showed good skill and a strong understanding of the game on their way to winning key points in their games.

Also in action on Monday afternoon was the 1st XI cricket team and Brett Morrison has the following to say about that: "On Monday the first XI took on D’Overbroeck’s. Fielding a predominantly Year 8 side we were sent into bat. In a slightly shortened match NCS posted 96 runs from 16 overs. Xander’s 28* runs from 12 deliveries was an entertaining innings, while strong contributions from Jake (16*) and George C (14*) also put NCS in a strong position. In one of the more unique scenes witnessed at the NCS sports ground, at the halfway point pupils were entertained by a deer who had entered from the riverside. The deer took in a lap of the cricket pitch at pace. After a few minutes, Dylan Swanepoel was able to herd it safely back towards the Parks. Perhaps the deer had become startled from a brilliant opening spell by our quicks. A wicket maiden to start the D’Overbroeck’s innings allowed NCS to set up a pleasing victory despite some strong batting by the opposition number 4. Jack finished with figures for 2-2 from 2 overs (a bowling summary that reminds one of the late great Richie Benaud). Arjun and Isaac also bowled with aplomb. NCS won by 45 runs. The deer was last seen heading away from the Oxford United victory parade."

Finally this week the U9 cricket teams played host to The Dragon and, following back-to-back wins in previous weeks, the boys were in a confident mood. Bowling first in both games the boys performed well and restricted our guests to strong but achievable targets. When it was our turn to bat the boys batted well and correctly but could not quite match The Dragon in power hitting and we did not cross the boundary rope enough to challenge for the win. A week’s rest and we go again after half term with all NCS teams in action upon our return.

Upcoming Events

Monday, 3 June 2024

Return from Half-Term

Years 5-8 Assessment Week begins

Tuesday, 4 June 2024

14.00 U8 All Cricket vs Ashfold, away

14.15 U9 All Cricket vs Ashfold, home

Wednesday, 5 June 2024

9.00 Chapel (Pre-Prep and Years 3-4 & 8S only). Led by Pre-Prep

14.15 U11 & U13 A Cricket vs CCCS, home

14.15 U11 B & C Cricket vs CCCS, away

Friday, 7 June 2024

17.00 Leavers' Evening (ends c19.15)

Monday, 10 June 2024

9.00 ABRSM exams (CLC)

9.30 Year 3 to Earth Sciences for Rocks and Volcanoes workshop

Tuesday, 11 June 2024

14.00 Year 8 careers talks (auditorium)

Wednesday, 12 June 2024

8.15 School Council Meeting

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Mr Samuel King, Former NCS Pupil

14.15 U11 A Tennis vs St Hugh's, away

14.15 U13 A Tennis vs St Hugh's, home

14.15 U13 A & U13 B Cricket vs St Hugh's, away

14.15 U13 B & U11 A Cricket vs ST Hugh's, home

Thursday, 13 June 2024

14.30 Pre-Prep Instrumental Concert

13.30 U9 A & B Cricket vs Summer Fields, home

15.00 Chamber Choir rehearsal at St. Christopher's Primary School (depart 14.30, return 16.30)

Friday, 14 June 2024

18.00 Reception for new parents

Risk taking behaviour workshops (Years 7-8). Year 7 @ 10.10-11.50. Year 8 @ 14.00-15.40

14.00 Y3-5 Tech Rehearsal of Pinocchio (auditorium)