Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 5 July 2024

Dear Parents,

We have just had our end-of-year prizegiving, during which we said ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye’ to our Year 8 leavers. Well, it wasn’t really ‘goodbye’ but ‘auf wiedersehen’, because one never really leaves NCS – its community endures beyond the gates of 2 Savile Road. It was rather difficult to know what to say to a cohort that has already achieved so much during their young lives. If we are going by extrinsic rewards, it is worth noting that our leavers have accumulated an impressive number of achievements, including exhibitions and scholarships: academic, music, sporting and all-rounder. As extrinsic rewards constitute but a fraction of what true education should be, I also wanted to pay tribute to what excellent company they have been, and how special they have been in terms of their mutual support, kindness, good humour and wide-eyed interest in the world around them. I hope their time at New College School has shown them that it is perfectly possible to get impressive grades, to achieve great things, without sacrificing a broad education, and one that aims for the highest levels in all manner of things – tangible and less tangible.

As frequently noted in these newsletters – I think this is my 175th; thank you for reading! – it has been our intention here to get the boys into the good habits that will sustain them through their senior schools, universities, careers, and personal lives. Those other institutions stand on the shoulders of prep schools like NCS that think carefully and creatively about how to ‘craft’ successful and happy people. Those boys who have been here since Reception have been at NCS for around one and a half thousand days. That’s a lot of days in which to ‘nudge’ them in the right direction, to get them treating one another in the right way, to get them prepared for assessments with greater and greater consequence, and to get them leading the kinds of lives that will make them – and those around them – happy. I say it often, but I do so because it is something that bears repeating: if you are learning well, you are more likely to be happy; if you are happy, you are more likely to be learning well. It is a symbiosis at the heart of NCS and it is one of the driving forces of what we do here.

The Leavers' Concert

I spoke to the boys about the privileged existence they have enjoyed here. There aren’t many institutions that get to enjoy the facilities of our brand-new building, and I thanked the boys for their patience while we got it completed for them. There aren’t many pupils that get to play on a Steinway in their school concerts, or who get to perform Shakespeare by candlelight in one of the world’s most beautiful medieval chapels. It is not every pupil who gets to enjoy being taught by teachers who care so deeply for them, about them, and about their progress. It is a privilege to teach and learn in an institution that has been doing those things for six and a half centuries, and to be right in the heart of a city whose heart beats to the rhythm of education. With such privileges come responsibilities: not to waste the opportunities that have been given to the boys, but to use them as a springboard to do great things and, fundamentally, to make the world a better place.

We live in a world, and in a city, where success is too often narrowly defined as getting X or Y in one’s exams. Yes, we are meant to do well in those exams, and I’m sure that the boys will continue to do so in the future. But there is more to success than that, and it has rarely been better summed up than by the American man of letters Ralph Waldo Emerson:

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Sports Day

So as our leavers departed to go out into the big wide world beyond Savile Road, I told them to keep laughing, to win the respect and affection of others, to appreciate beauty and those who nudge them in the right direction should things go a little awry. I reminded them that we are always here at NCS should they wish to come back for a chat, or to see some familiar faces. But fundamentally, whatever they do in life, I implored them to leave whichever part of the world they end up in that little bit better; to know that ‘one life has breathed easier because [they] have lived’.

This brings us, then, to the end of the academic year. Thank you for your phenomenal support, loyalty and good humour and excellent company throughout the year. I wish you all a very happy summer and I look forward to seeing you back at the gate in September.

Matt Jenkinson

We have had a very busy and enjoyable final week of term. Tuesday’s sports day on field (the University running track is undergoing renovation) was a lovely event, with just the right levels of competitiveness, cooperation, and mutual support; the weather just about held, too. Well done to all the boys for their exemplary sporting attitude. I very much enjoyed the pre-prep summer show yesterday; my thanks to Mrs Cox and all my cameo-colleagues who were such great sports at taking part. At the other end of the school, our leavers’ events have carried on through the week, with a high-quality leavers’ concert in the University Church (once the site of NCS) on Wednesday and the excellent leavers vs parents cricket match last night. My thanks to all of my colleagues who have gone to great lengths to make these such successful and meaningful events.

Many congratulations to all those boys who took part in our LAMDA recital and The Magic of Oz on Monday evening. The boys performed with a great deal of stage presence, clarity and energy, and they learnt a huge number of lines between them! Special thanks to Sarah Brown for writing the play and for getting the boys ready for their LAMDA exams with such passion and dedication.

Well done to all those boys who sang in Merton College chapel last Saturday, as part of David Briggs’s performance of Mahler’s third symphony, transcribed by David for the organ. This joint event with the girl choristers of Merton, the NCS choral society and singers from St Christopher’s, was most certainly a memorable one. Well done, too, to all those who sang and read during our brand-new ‘Year’s End’ service in chapel on Wednesday; another invented tradition, but one which we’ll most certainly keep.

Pre-Prep Summer Show

Over the past couple of weeks your sons may have returned home talking enthusiastically about the policies of the ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Improve’ and ‘Progress’ parties. You may not have heard of these parties, as they are totally made up, but they have formed the basis of our mock election here at NCS. Emma Krebs, Brett Morrison and Chris Gausden have been very good sports standing as these parties’ leaders. A couple of weeks ago, in assembly, we had a hustings when the leaders laid out their policies should they be elected in the Savile Road constituency. They also took on some questions from the boys about funding reforms, school sport, and pets in schools. You may also have seen the parties’ posters plastered around the school. Yesterday, to mirror political events nationally, the boys went to the ballot box after assembly to have their say and Emma Krebs was duly elected MP for Savile Road. Hosting a mock election like this is a great way for the boys to learn how democracy works (or is meant to work), how elections take place, and why they are important.


We will run our usual Reading in Interesting Places competition over the summer. If your son wishes to submit a photo of himself reading in an interesting place, please do so by sending a high-resolution JPG to office@newcollegeschool.org by Monday 2 September. I would love to read what the boys have been up to over the summer, so if any of them keep holiday diaries please do send these in via the school office at the start of the new academic year.

Our (at least) annual reminder that the school’s Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) policy is always available to view via the drop-down menu at https://www.newcollegeschool.org/wellbeing-and-happiness. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact either Brett Morrison on brett.morrison@newcollegeschool.org or myself via office@newcollegeschool.org.

There will be some changes to the financial operations of the school over the coming weeks. Firstly, the day-to-day financial administration of the school will come more closely under the supervision of the New College accountant, Alan Blowers. Our new school Finance Officer, Joanna Pavelin, will be based in the College bursary and will be contactable via finance@newcollegeschool.org. Finally, ahead of the start of next term we are intending to move our bank account from Barclays to Natwest. Account name: New College School. Sort code 60 70 03. Account number 50308750.

Upcoming Events

Monday, 2 September 2024

INSET for Staff, 9.00-16.00

Tuesday, 3 September 2024

INSET for Staff, 9.00-16.00

Wednesday, 4 September 2024

Start of Term

After School Enrichment Activities start (pre-prep and prep)

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: The Headmaster

Saturday, 7 September 2024

9.30 OCCO INSET (staff only)

Monday, 9 September 2024

18.00 Reception and Year 1 form tutor information evening

Tuesday, 10 September 2024

18.00 Years 4-6 form tutor information evening, internet safety and 13+ destinations briefing

14.15 U8 A-C Football vs MCS, Away

14.15 U9 A-C Football vs MCS, Home

Wednesday, 11 September 2024

VMT Music lessons begin

9.00 Years 3 and 4 outward bound trip to Hill End

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: The Chaplain

14.30 U11 A-D Football vs MCS, Home

14.15 U13 A-D Football vs Thorngrove, Away

18.00 Years 2-3 form tutor information evening and introduction to the prep school

Thursday, 12 September 2024

9.00 Reception assessments for September 2025

18.00 Years 7-8 form tutor information evening and PSB briefing

Friday, 13 September 2024

9.00 Reception assessments for September 2025

Saturday, 14 September 2024

9.00 OCCO commences