Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 3 November 2023

Dear Parents,

I had the very unusual sensation, last Friday morning, of sitting around at 9.30 doing nothing. In my defence, it was half term, but even so it felt rather peculiar. If you aren’t already feeling like punching your screens, I might also add that I was sitting outside a little cafe in Rome, watching the world go by, while eating a lovely pistachio-filled pastry and drinking freshly squeezed orange juice. Bearing in mind that, most Fridays, I would have done at least two hours of work by that point, I wondered what the regulars, who were surrounding me with their coffees, normally did at this time. The answer, presumably, was either (a) not a lot, or (b) living, or (c) both (‘Dolce far Niente’). Obviously, I’m not advocating for the complete lack of activity in our day, but at the same time these caffeinating Italians were reminding me that there should also be some time for a degree of rest, reflection and recuperation.

I hope that you and the boys managed to get some of this last week, though I will add my usual caveat that I am well aware that, for many of you, a half-term break isn’t really a thing. At the very least, I hope that it has provided you with a moment in the middle of Michaelmas to take stock. We often note that Michaelmas is the busiest of our three terms, with a lot of induction meetings at the beginning, festivities at the end, and a whole lot of learning in between. But for that learning to be effective, it needs to be paced effectively. There is a peculiar pseudo-pedagogical theory doing the rounds, imported I suspect from certain bits of London, that education is only worth doing (and only works) if it is constant and intense. I was talking to a London friend the other day who is planning to remove his children from their London prep because they were being made miserable by the culture of over-tutoring from toddlerdom, constant high-stakes:high-threat assessment, and parental cacophony if it looks like one kid is a smidgen further in English or whatnot than theirs. Not only did it make the whole family miserable, this friend observed, but it actively worked against what they saw as true and interesting education — to mix metaphors, the curriculum narrowed as the hurdles got higher; the children produced at the end were husks who were very good at standardised testing, but found it difficult to have an original or interesting thought. ‘What’s the point?’, they muttered dejectedly. (I won’t go into their rant about the knock-on effect on secondary schools, though I will note that apparently the school had never once uttered the word ‘kindness’ in their assemblies or PSHE sessions, which struck me as rather, well, odd.)

Language Ambassadors with Pre-Prep; Show and tell in Reception; Year 3 DTE

This week, our boys have been taking the opportunity to take a little more perspective when it comes to their learning. We are seven or eight weeks through a fourteen-week term, so it is an opportune moment for them to spend time with their form tutors and assistant form tutors – in lieu of our usual assemblies – reviewing what they have done so far this year: to be congratulated for their successes and progress, while thinking about those areas which could be developed further (and how they can be developed further) over the coming weeks and months. This somewhat metacognitive approach can be difficult for anyone to do at any age, but by starting the boys young with some simple self-reflection, we hope that they get into good habits for the rest of their schooling and their later careers. We all have areas for development and further progress; by including this in an open and inquisitive culture, we should be able to enjoy the boys’ progress in a healthily paced and sustainable way. If only we had the weather to do this ‘stock-taking’ while sitting outside eating pastries.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

We wish the choristers well this evening as they take part in a performance of Haydn’s Creation, alongside the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and the Philharmonia Orchestra in King’s College Chapel. This promises to be a very special occasion and we look forward to hearing all about it next week!

We have some further achievements to celebrate this week. Congratulations to Max in Year 8 who has kicked off our scholarship season by being awarded an all-rounder scholarship to Gordonstoun. Congratulations, too, to Thomas in 8S who has just been selected to play viola in the Thames Vale Youth Orchestra, and to NCS alum Merritt (currently at Eton) who has been selected to play double bass in the National Youth Orchestra. I’m also pleased to announce that recent NCS alumni Rishaan and Paddy have been awarded a sports scholarship and music exhibition at MCS and Eton, respectively.

We are very much looking forward to our Year 7-8 performances of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 next week. These will take place in New College Chapel at 18.00 on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 November. Please could audience members enter the Chapel via the Song Room (there will be posters with directions) and sit in the seats between the organ loft and the choir stalls? The performances will last approximately one hour and the cast members should be picked up from the base of the hall steps in Front Quad (the one with the chapel in it) at c.19.10.

The Choristers in Cambridge; Year 7 Science; Halloween shadows; Break time games

Former NCS parent and BBC World Affairs Editor, John Simpson CBE, is hosting a debate on ‘Russia and the West: Where do we go from here?’ on Thursday 23 November at St Edward's School. There is a reception at 18.30 followed by the debate at 19.30. The tickets are £15 in aid of Asylum Welcome. Please click https://beyondteddies.stedwardsoxford.org/Event/russia-and-the-west-where-do-we-go-from-here to make your booking.

A reminder from Izzy Rose that sign up for Hilary 2024 Enrichment opens on Monday 6 November. This will be open for priority year groups for one week before waiting lists are made available to other year groups.

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: This week, the U11 and U13 teams faced off once more against Summer Fields. The U13s came away with some impressive wins while, in a reversal of fortunes, the U11s weren’t quite so lucky. Dylan Swanepoel’s A team were facing a difficult challenge but worked extremely hard; they played with great passion and kept their discipline to score two goals of their own. The opportunistic strike from Maani A ensures he stays at the top of the scoring chart. It was a similar story throughout the U11 teams this week but the boys are very much looking forward to next week’s encounter against MCS and will, I’m sure, work on a few things in Friday’s training session to give themselves the best of chances. In the U13 games I had the pleasure of taking the second and third teams as they played on adjacent pitches. I was entertained by two fantastic games full of end-to-end action, goal-mouth scrambles and wonderful goals, not to mention some extraordinary saves from Arjun S in goal. In this game the NCS second team eventually went down 3-2 but with such fast-paced action and good sportsmanship it did not really feel like a defeat. Both teams left the field congratulating each other and were full of respect and admiration, as was I. Monty L and James A were once again on the score sheet with two cracking goals and were it not for some goalkeeping heroics it could have been more.

In the third team game, the boys showed fantastic spirit and determination. Having gone 1-0 down, up stepped Captain Carlo who gave a short, sharp talk before the restart and things began to change. Vedant was brilliant on the left side of attack; he controlled the ball and held it up to help the attackers build towards goal. Jack D was player of the match thanks to his dogged determination as he strode forward with the ball and smashed it home into the top of the goal twice. Eugene capped off another fine display with a great solo effort in the second half to ensure a 3-1 win. In the fourth team game the match seemed to be heading for a 0-0 draw but in the last few minutes a rebounded shot trickled over the NCS goal line. Despite the best efforts of our wonder-keeper Laurence P-A the game ended 1-0. This was a brave effort and one to be extremely proud of. A team vote meant that Dominic B was once again player of the match.

Having coached the first team game, Stephen Potts has the following to say: “Playing on a bigger pitch allowed us the space to receive the ball and pass forwards between the opposition lines. We also had time to travel with the ball and commit their defenders. We took a deserved lead midway through the first half when Max finished calmly from a great forward pass by Xander. Summer Fields pegged us back just before the break. In the second half we played some of the best football we have played all season and a great long-range goal from Xander as well as a third from Isaac gave us a very well-deserved victory.”

Upcoming Events

Monday, 6 November 2023

UK Parliament Week begins

14.00 Henry IV, Part 1 rehearsal, Year 7 only, chapel (end 15.00)

14.15 U12 & U13 Football House Matches, Home

Tuesday, 7 November 2023

14.00 U9 A-C Football vs Summer Fields, Away

14.00 U8 A & B Football vs Summer Fields, Home

Wednesday, 8 November 2023

9.00 Remembrance Day Service, Chapel. Speaker: Ms Helen Merrington-Rust MBE

14.15 U11 A-E Football vs MCS, Away

18.00 Henry IV, Part 1 performance, Years 7-8, chapel (please enter via the Song Room)

13.00-16.00 Educational Partnership - Primary School Critical Thinking workshop at New College re Children's Parliament

13.00-2.45pm Year 2 Trip to the Ashmolean Museum

Thursday, 9 November 2023

18.00 Henry IV, Part 1 performance, Years 7-8, chapel (please enter via the Song Room)

14.15 U8 & U9 Football House Matches, Home

Friday, 10 November 2023

14.15 U10 & U11 Football House Matches, Home

Monday 13 November

Languages Ambassadors to St Michael's (Year 8/8S)

National Anti-Bullying Week begins

14.15 U12 & U13 Football House Matches, Home

18:00 Pre-Prep Chorister Information Evening (Virtual)

Tuesday 14 Novemeber

14:00 Year 7 & 8 Careers talk finish 14:45

Wednesday, 15 November 2023

8.15 School Council Meeting, Creative Learning Centre

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Mr Mark Curtis, Development Director, New College

14.15 U11 A-D Football vs Cranford House, Home

17.30 Senior Recital (Years 6-8), Hall (parking from 17.15)

Friday, 17 November 2023

09:00 Flu Vaccinations (Rec-Yr8)

14.15 U10 & U11 Football House Matches, Home