Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 1 December 2023

Dear Parents,

A few days ago I sat down to have lunch alongside some of our pre-prep boys. One of them, looking at my plate of food, enquired as to why I had two (small!) pieces of garlic bread rather than one, like him. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’m about four times your size, so I probably need a bit more food to keep me going through the day.’ ‘Yes’, he replied, ‘people get bigger as they get older’. There was a pause. ‘But not my dad … he’s getting smaller.’ There then followed a wider conversation among the boys about the point in life at which you start to get smaller again once you’ve grown to ‘full size’. (I should add that the father in question isn’t shrinking; I never got to the bottom of why the boy thought he was.) Other topics of conversation that lunchtime included the different kinds of carrots they like or don’t like, and how they love to eat salad with pasta and beetroot. ‘TRY IT!’ they implored me, wide-eyed. This lunchtime conversation was, I’m happy to admit, a refreshing moment in the day, as sometimes in a job like mine the conversations can be a little more mundane – about budgets, policies, government legislation, and the like. I will add that much of my job does also involve interesting conversations about all manner of things to do with education. Just, sometimes, talking about carrots and beetroots beats talking about dented gates or snagging lists.

Many NCS boys love to talk. You may have experienced this at home. Some of them are less keen on talking, but that’s ok too – all sorts are welcome here, and that includes the kind of people who like to quietly survey the world around them, and who will talk when they feel comfortable. It is important for the boys to know that there are plenty of people around for them to talk to, should they wish to speak to someone, especially if they have worries of any kind. Our wellbeing theme in assembly on Tuesday, taken by our Inclusion Coordinator Jan Alden, was this very issue: ‘I know to whom I can talk if I am worried’. The list is a long one: our deputy head pastoral; all the SLT; form tutors; assistant form tutors; the school counsellor; our visiting school nurse; inclusion department; all teachers; parents; relatives; friends; teaching assistants; support staff. We are all here to help one another and, if we can’t help immediately, we can direct the boys to someone who can.

Year 1 Wellbeing; Investigating burning in Year 7 Science; Hockey skills practice; Making Sumerian Cuneiform biscuits in Greats

You will have read in the news about the increase in mental health issues in modern society. I suspect that this is a combination of many things: the pressures on twenty-first century children growing up in a digital age of constant communication; and the fact that society is better at noticing when people need help, when historically they would have been overlooked and not included in statistics; and so on. One powerful mental health ‘first aid’ tool is talking. I was recently reading an article which claimed there were at least twenty benefits to conversation: creating connections; developing relationships; improving communication; learning and sharing information; sparking ideas; helping personal growth; challenging us and developing our sense of perspective; improving our self-esteem and sense of value; processing pain and confusion. (I guffawed at the section which said that conversation makes one more attractive, ‘unless you have an obnoxious or vapid personality’). Whether extrovert or introvert, having the time and opportunity to talk is important, and we will keep reiterating to the boys that there are plenty of people here for them to talk to should they need us. Or even if they just want to talk about carrots or mysteriously shrinking fathers.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Well done to Henry in Year 8 who has been awarded a sports exhibition to Cheltenham College!

Well done to Rufus in Year 4 who has come third in the Mumeishi 3’s International Kendo Tournament in the 6-9 age group category, with the judges commending his accurate form. Rufus has been learning Kendo for just over a year and this was his first competitive event!

On Wednesday, as part of NCS’s educational partnership and community engagement programme, and jointly with the Centre for Tutorial Teaching and The Children's Parliament, Louise Brown ran a pilot half-day critical thinking workshop for twenty Year 5 primary school children from St Peter's, London Docks, St Ebbe's, St Christopher's and St Nicholas's in Oxford. The aim was to encourage constructive discussion and debate at a young age, especially in the light of the invasion of social media into children’s lives. The starting point was Michael Morpurgo's book, This Morning I Met A Whale, which opened up discussions about bias and the reliability of evidence. It was an inspiring and vibrant day and so lovely to have such a sparky group of pupils to visit. Everyone enjoyed their lunch in our new dining room and it was fantastic to be able to share the new auditorium too. BBC Radio oxford popped along to find out what it was all about too!

Year 3 library time; Oxford Children's Chamber Orchestra practice; Break time play; Critical thinking workshop

Please note that there will be no chapel service next Wednesday morning (6 December) as the school will be over in chapel for the afternoon, rehearsing for our carol services, instead. Also, Tuesday 12 December will be the last day of instrumental lessons and after-school enrichment activities this term.

From Isobel Rose: A reminder that booking for Hilary Term Enrichment closes on Schoolbase at 8am on Monday 4th December. After this point, the registers will arranged according to availability. Please be in touch with Miss Rose if you have any queries or questions: isobel.rose@newcollegeschool.org.

The boys in Drama Club have been working hard in preparation for next week's Panto! The performance starts at 6pm on Monday 4th December in the Auditorium. Boys will be supervised between 5 and 6pm following their dress rehearsal. Snacks will be provided, though boys are welcome to bring their own snack if preferred. Parking is available on site from 5.15pm.

A reminder that Steve Potts, NCS sports coach, will be running two football afternoons at NCS through his company, Next Generation Soccer Schools, on 18 and 19 December. There are still a few spots available. Sessions will run from 13.00 until 16.00 on the school games field and/or gym depending on weather, at £20 per afternoon. Sessions are open to NCS pupils in Years 3-8. Places are limited, please book via https://campscui.active.com/orgs/NextGenerationSoccerSchool?season=3417634

From Kate Lam, our NCS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Rep: This Sunday, 3 December, is the International Day of People with Disabilities. This event was launched in 1992 by the United Nations with the aims of raising awareness of disability issues and empowering diverse and accessible communities for all. At NCS, we pride ourselves on being inclusive and embracing individuality. We can help our children understand barriers that are faced by people with disabilities and encourage them to champion the rights of individuals with disabilities. Children are naturally curious and they may ask questions about people with disabilities in public. Dr Terry Cumming (an Associate Professor in Special Education in the School of Education at UNSW) suggested that the way in which we respond to children’s questions will influence their perception of individuals with disabilities. Talking in a hushed voice or ignoring children’s questions, can convey the message that disabilities are embarrassing and shameful. Instead, approaches that enable understanding in a neutral tone can support a culture of acceptance and recognition of diversity.

From Elizabeth Hess: Please return all library books (or bring them in to be renewed) next week. If all books are returned (or renewed), borrowing will be possible over the winter break. Also, Chocolate Santa has returned and is looking for a home! There will be a NCS library quiz. Take part and the winning family will get the chocolate Santa! The quiz will be available electronically through the newsletter and hard copies can be picked up from the library. Entries are to be returned at the beginning of the Hilary Term. Good Luck!

NCS is an active participant in the annual Oxfordshire Book Awards. Boys and staff suggest books for a longlist, read and vote on the shortlist, and a small number represent the school at the annual ceremony. We now know the shortlist for 2024 and would like to encourage the boys to take part by reading the books over the holidays. Voting takes place in March. The books would make super Christmas presents, are available in local libraries, and we have some copies that can be borrowed from the school library. There is also a secondary novel section for the older boys and siblings. Further information about the Book Awards can be found on Book Awards | Oxfordshire Book Awards | England. Happy Reading!

Tickets are now available for the Choral Society’s Christmas concert: ‘Music for Advent: Bach and Haydn’ on Sunday 10 December at 19.00 in New College Chapel: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/music-for-advent-bach-and-haydn-tickets-730269996217?aff=oddtdtcreator

The theme for our annual SHTEAM Festival next Hilary will be ‘The World of Water’. We will be exploring this theme from many different angles across all our subjects, running talks and workshops, as well as incorporating the theme in our day-to-day lessons. If there are any parents, taking into account their specialist knowledge, who would like to offer a talk or workshop to the boys on an aspect of ‘The World of Water’, do please contact emma.krebs@newcollegeschool.org.

From Craig Bishop: The final round of fixtures for the U11 and U13 teams were played out this week against Christ Church. It was a great pleasure to see all of our Years 5-8 boys playing in eight highly competitive games. In the U11 matches the C team under the expert eye of Brett “Guardiola” Morrison deserve to be first up this week. They have finished the season in sparkling form, winning six of their last seven matches and are putting their names forward for team of the season. Another 4-1 victory was a brilliant result and showed just how much progress they have made. Curtis F was again on the score sheet thanks to his devastating right foot. In the other U11 games we saw the D team and A team also winning, but alas on this occasion the B team did not manage to complete a clean sweep. In the D team game, the boys and indeed Nick Hanson, were all very excited to report that Freddie P was clearly player of the match thanks to his tireless efforts and goals. The A team game was dominated by a Yoav hattrick and showed just how well he’s done this season in front of goal. Maani added to his tally and took his goals scored total this season to sixteen. In the B team game Oscar C-B deserves special mention as player of the match, with Felix T also in good form, scoring their only goal of the game.

In the U13 games Steve Potts’s A team played out a very strange game at home and he has the following to say about their encounter: “The boys were challenged to play an unfamiliar 8v8 setup. The boys started brightly, playing in our now familiar fluid style, from back to front, looking to exploit the spaces early. Noah put us into an early lead with a fantastic finish. Having four subs on a cold day isn't easy; lots of player rotation and positional rotation allowed our visitors to take the upper hand in the second half and run out 4-1 winners.” In the C and D team games Mr Cui managed a round robin event between our two teams and the single team from CCCS. As the games unfolded NCS kept the ball with skill and determination. We defended resolutely and hunted the ball down to ensure we won back possession quickly and snuffed out any opposition chances. Both the NCS C teams won 1-0 and 2-1 respectively with Thomas H adding to his tally in scoring another cracker. Laurence P-A was once again brilliant in goal. Myles T was voted player of the match thanks to his strong tackling and accurate passing.

Finally, this week I had the pleasure of taking the U13 B team for their game and, thanks to Arjun’s promotion to the first team, we were short of a regular keeper. Hugo C stepped up and showed why he’s so highly regarded as a goalkeeper; he put in a brilliant display in the first half keeping a clean sheet. At half time we’d taken a 2-0 lead and were looking strong on the ball and determined without it. Despite a hattrick of missed chances from our strike force we still looked in good shape for the potential win. In the second half more of the same followed with missed chances despite being in charge of the game. We needed to be more consistent and accurate in front of goal and eventually we found the target and scored three more to take the game 5-3 at the final whistle. A great display from Emil Y in defence saw him player of the match and it was wonderful to see Thomas H score a brace of goals. Eddie L as captain was simply superb as a player and as a leader.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, 2 December 2023

University Term ends

Monday, 4 December 2023

All day Provisional date for ABRSM exams

14.00 U12 & U13 Hockey Pre-Season, St Edward's

18.00 Drama Christmas Panto

Tuesday, 5 December 2023

14.00 U8 A & B, U9 A & B Football vs CCCS, Home

Wednesday, 6 December 2023

9.00 Form period (no chapel)

14.00 Carol service practice

Thursday, 7 December 2023

14.30 Pre-Prep Winter Concert

10.00 Year 7 Geography trip to Pitt Rivers 10-12pm African Kingdoms

Friday, 8 December 2023

14.00 U10 & U11 Hockey Pre-Season, St Edward's

Saturday, 9 December 2023

11.15 OCCO concert, Hall

Sunday, 10 December 2023

13.00 Rehearsal (Chamber Choir, Choral Society, IT&T, soloists), Chapel

19.00 Chamber Choir and Choral Society concert, Chapel

Monday, 11 December 2023

14.00 U12 & U13 Hockey Pre-Season, St Edward's

Tuesday, 12 December 2023

Final VMT music lessons of term

Final after-school Enrichment Activities of term (pre-prep and prep)

9.00 Handbell rehearsal (music scholars), CLC

14.00 Pre-Prep Dress Rehearsal

Wednesday, 13 December 2023

End-of-term reports issued

9.00 Carol Service A in chapel

Christmas Lunch

Thursday, 14 December 2023

Christmas Jumper Day (£2 donation to Save the Children)

14.00 Pre-Prep Nativity Play

14.00 NCSPA Christmas Fair, Sports Hall

Friday, 15 December 2023

8.30 End of term assembly

10.30 Carol Service B in Chapel

12.00 End of Term 12.00 noon