Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 10 May 2024

Dear Parents,

We have been thinking about art a lot this week. I mean, we are always thinking about art (in its broadest sense) at NCS, hence having things like an ‘artwork of the week’, a culture club, and a commitment to infusing the curriculum, and other extra-curricular enrichment activities, with artsy things. We are also in the middle of Oxfordshire Artweeks, with the Young Art Oxford exhibition featuring many NCS artists at the Ashmolean coming up on 17 and 18 May. One of our Year 8s even won the competition last year! But this week has been especially arty because on Wednesday we welcomed the sculptor Johannes von Stumm to speak to the whole school in chapel. Johannes is a sculptor whose work is currently being displayed in an exhibition in New College. He spoke to the boys about the various inspirations for his art and the need for creative freedom, then some of the older boys were lucky to have a tour of the exhibition led by the sculptor himself.

Then, on Thursday, Catherine Phillips led an assembly on the importance of the boys pursuing their artistic interests, even if they are not confident that they are the next Gainsborough or Kahlo. Catherine shared with us some of her illustrations from when she was in Year 7, as well as some of her more recent efforts. She also told us about Henry Fraser, an inspirational artist who was left paralysed from the shoulders down after an accident when he was seventeen. Henry now holds a paintbrush in his mouth and produces some remarkable artworks. Catherine’s message was a simple but important one: choose what you enjoy drawing, choose your style, find a model to copy or a tutorial to teach you, and go for it!

Enjoying the sunshine: Year 1 Games; Year 5 beating the bounds; Tennis in activities; Planting the playground containers in Sustainability Club; Pre-Prep playtime

I often write about the dangers of a utilitarian education becoming narrower and narrower – ever-decreasing pedagogical circles until we’re left with nothing but verbal reasoning. I was in London a few weeks ago speaking to a parent who was beside himself at the fact that his local prep schools were doing things like removing art from the curriculum. Schools that do such a thing are at risk of disconnecting children from what it is to be human, to be creative, to appreciate beauty, all in the erroneous belief that sacrificing such things in childhood will inevitably lead to a better job at the end of it all. It simply isn’t true. Employers want people with a decent education – yes – but that education is one which puts high-level academic thinking alongside the ability to create, appreciate, and be interesting beyond one’s narrow subject. It is also one that sees the therapeutic benefits of being creative, of unlocking a different part of one’s brain. I have had more conversations in adult life about my GCSE Graphics project than I have many of my other subjects! To have a long, successful and happy life and career, people need to be stimulated and nourished in many different ways – and it is incumbent on those of us in education to provide that stimulation and nourishment from the very beginning.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Our next open morning is on Friday 17 May 2024, 10.00-12.00. All families are welcome to join us to view the school in action, chat to pupils, staff, and current parents and find out more about an NCS education. Places can be booked via https://www.newcollegeschool.org/open-day-booking. Do please pass on this information to any families you think might be interested in joining our special community, and we would be most grateful if you would consider displaying the poster that has been sent home via your sons’ rucksacks. Keep an eye out for our adverts on social media too, and don’t be shy when it comes to pressing the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons. Almost 80% of respondents in our recent community survey reported that they first heard about NCS through word of mouth, so do please keep spreading the word. Many thanks!

Our chorister open day will be in New College chapel on Saturday 8 June, 16.00-c.18.30. There will be tea in the cloisters, a chance to meet Robert Quinney, games, plenty of music, and a special family-friendly evensong at 17.45. To register, please email choir@new.ox.ac.uk.

Very best of luck to all those members of the NCS community – pupils, teachers, parents, friends – who are running in the Town and Gown on 10k. I was going to say ‘keep an eye out for the lime green NCS running shirts’, but you can’t really miss them! Do come along and cheer the runners if you can. A huge thanks to Victoria Hayter and Craig Bishop for coordinating the NCS efforts. If you are able, please do think about supporting Muscular Dystrophy UK via https://sportsgiving.co.uk/sponsorship/group/4813.

Year 5 had a great time on Thursday, ‘beating the bounds’ for Ascension Day. This tradition includes marking the historic parish boundary of the University Church, with cherry cake, ice cream and the like along the way. As NCS is (we think) the only school within the boundaries of that parish, NCS boys get to go along and represent the children of the parish.

We are looking forward to our junior recital on Monday 13 May at 17.15. Please note the slightly earlier start time, which we are hoping will get the boys (and their families!) home a little earlier than normal. Parking will be available in the playground, first-come first-served, from 17.00. Please be very careful of any boys making their way to the gate at the end of their enrichment activities.

Our inclusion department is on the look out for any Lego that NCS families no longer find useful at home. In the interests of sustainability, we are hoping to recycle and reuse this Lego rather than adding more plastic bricks to the environment. If any families have any that they would like to donate, please be in touch with jan.alden@newcollegeschool.org. Many thanks.

Oxford Children’s Book Group in collaboration with the Abingdon Library is offering a free cartooning workshop with Clive Goddard on Saturday 1 June at Abingdon Library, 14.30-16.00. Clive Goddard is one of the illustrators of the ‘Horribly Famous’ series. Advance booking is required via 01235 520374 or Abingdon.library@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

From Craig Bishop: First up this week this week we are congratulating seven of our students who took part in the annual IAPS National Judo championships: Tassilo H, Aaron A, Nicolas M, Gianni V, Max L-L, Jack D and Herbie H. For the first time in NCS history all of the NCS athletes placed in medal-winning performances with five bronze medals, one silver and two gold medals. Great stuff, boys!

First up on the cricket pitch this week were the U8 and U9 boys against Christ Church in some very exciting games of diamond cricket. Both Steve Potts and Dylan Swanepoel were happy to report that the NCS boys were fantastic in their efforts and their work went a long way to ensure very competitive but funs games were played out. Making his NCS debut was Auden B-S who was clearly player of the match thanks to his strong hitting and excellent fielding skills. In the U9 games we played two very entertaining “pairs” games that provided lots of runs, some smashing sixes and some spectacular catches. In the B team game Peter Cui said that, despite a narrow loss, the boys played particularly well with just the odd wicket separating the teams at the end of the day. Luke S and Avery M were joint players of the match thanks to Luke’s bowling and Avery’s batting. In the A team game, NCS amassed a very impressive 85 with the bat thanks to Jacob S-H and Edward B, with both boys recording maximums as the cleared the rope with ease. When it was our turn to field the boys showed discipline and accuracy to restrict our guests to 76 runs and ensure a fine opening win for the season. James D and Chris B-N were very impressive with the ball as was Edward B on his way to player of the match thanks to both his batting and bowling.

On Wednesday afternoon the U13 cricket teams played host to Bruern Abbey. In the B team game the boys worked hard to ensure the game remained competitive to the very end. Unfortunately, our guests passed the NCS total towards the end of the afternoon. In the A team game Brett Morrison notes: “Our opening match of the season was a closely contested one. Being sent in and putting 77 on the board was going to always be a challenging task to defend. Two wickets in our opening over had NCS right in the game. A strong innings by the Bruern number three took the match in their favour, with NCS losing with three overs to spare.” Away from the cricket pitch the U13/11 tennis team took to the courts, again against Bruern Abbey and all five pairs played out some great games. At the end of the day the scores just about favoured our guests but both schools enjoyed some great wins over the course of the afternoon. I’d like to mention Carlo C-H and Peter K in particular for their efforts.

To finish the week the U9 A&B teams played host to Abingdon Prep school on Thursday afternoon. In both games we saw some excellent NCS batting and this was backed up by some of the most accurate bowling I’ve seen for a while from U9 boys. This meant we did not give our opponents too many free runs and as a result we enjoyed two convincing victories. In the B team game Sam P had a fine afternoon, while player of the match was Rufus K who bowled very well indeed. In the A team game Theon P was excellent with the ball, taking two great wickets and Jacob again top scored with the bat (20). James D was player of the match thanks to his strong hitting with the ball and his performance with the ball.

Upcoming Events

Monday, 13 May 2024

Language ambassadors at St Michael's

17.15 Junior Recital (Years 3-5), Auditorium

Tuesday, 14 May 2024

Year 7 rivers field study trip

14.15 U8 A && B Cricket vs Beachborough, away

Wednesday, 15 May 2024

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Ms Elizabeth Stone, Headmaster of Winchester College

14.15 U13 & U11 B Cricket vs Summer Fields, home

14.15 U13 & U11 B Cricket vs Summer Fields, away

Friday, 17 May 2024

Open Morning

Saturday, 18 May 2024

9.00 Composers' workshop and concert

Monday, 20 May 2024

National Walk to School Week

Charity week

Years 3-4 form assessments start

Pre-Prep QED Week begins

15.45 U11A Tennis vs MCS, away

14.00 U13 A & B Cricket vs d'Overbroeck's, home

17.30 Senior Recital (Years 6 & 7 only), Auditorium

Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Year 6 Geography Field Trip

14.00 U9 A & B Cricket vs Dragon, home

Wednesday, 22 May 2024

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Fr Benedict Manning

14.15 U13 A & B Cricket vs Bruern Abbey, away

14.15 U11 A & B Cricket vs Bruern Abbey, home

14.15 U13 A Tennis vs Bruern Abbey, home

17.30 Governors' Meeting, McGregor Matthews Room

Friday, 24 May 2024

Home Clothes Day

Orders in Years 3-8 issued

Half term break begins at end of school day