Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 22 March 2024

Dear Parents,

Considering that January seemed to last about sixteen years, we have jumped to the end Hilary remarkably quickly. Time flies when you’re having fun. We brought the term to an end in a number of ways, including our most recently invented tradition: our Spring Service. In schools that are six and a half centuries old, it’s quite easy to pretend that some of the traditions have been going on that long. The reality is that, like most traditions, many of ours have been invented (for good reason) somewhere between 1379 and now. The Spring Service tradition is now – oh, what? – two years old. But we like it so we are going to keep it. It’s a great way to get the community together in a manner akin to the carol services but with fewer shepherds and more daffodils. The service included readings from a number of authors reflecting on the season and nature, from Willa Cather to Ali Smith, as we willed the sky to change from gloomy grey to brilliant blue. Which it did, briefly!

After the Spring Service the boys stayed in New College (or its nearby environs) for our annual College Day. This tradition has been running for a bit longer, and it gives the boys the chance to have the run of the College for a few hours, after the undergraduates have gone and before the conference delegates have arrived. They enjoyed a number of different activities, including some of the older boys looking at the library treasures and ascending the tower to look over the Oxford skyline (and see the new Gradel Quad from high up!). Some of the boys went a little further afield to the Bodleian and Botanic Gardens. One of the many joys of NCS, of course, is our close proximity to all of these places, so we can walk to them in just a matter of minutes. Perhaps the highlight of the day for many of the boys was having lunch in the College’s medieval dining hall which purports to be the oldest in Oxbridge. I would like to thank the Warden and Fellows for welcoming the boys so warmly, and especially those Fellows who took the time to put on some special sessions for the boys. The closeness of the connection and warm relationship between School and College is pretty unique, and is one of the many very special things about teaching and learning at NCS.

Speaking of things pretty unique to NCS, one of the special features of the school is the verticality through the year groups that is engendered by having a small community which is one-form entry. To celebrate this verticality, this morning we enjoyed our Easter house brunch, which took the form of the boys getting together in their houses rather than year groups, and taking part in a series of teamwork challenges and quizzes, while eating pastries and drinking chocolate milk. I have just popped in to the various venues to see this in action and it was incredibly heartwarming to see boys from different year groups working and smiling together. Many thanks to Brett Morrison for masterminding the house brunch (another invented tradition!) and to all my colleagues and the boys who put in a lot of effort to get the activities organised.

As we come to the end of this rather short term, then, all that remains is for me to wish you a happy and restful vacation. Whether you are staying around Oxford or travelling further afield, I hope you find the next few weeks restorative. With a bit of luck we will have some more consistently summery weather when we return, ready for some cricket, tennis, athletics, and just a few assessments for the older boys. I look forward to seeing you at the gate at the start of Trinity.

Have a great break,

Matt Jenkinson

Following interviews earlier this term, I am delighted to announce that Abigail Sutton will be joining NCS from September 2024 as Deputy Inclusion Coordinator. Abi is currently SENCO and class teacher at South Moreton Primary School. She studied at Oxford Brookes and the Oxford School of Drama, while she is currently completing her MA in Shakespeare and Education at the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham). She is also currently completing her National Award for SEN Coordination (NASENCO). Abi is also an experienced dance, drama and singing teacher. I am sure she will be welcomed warmly to the NCS community when she joins us in September.

Senior Recital; Judo awards; Nutrition workshop; Stone art at break time; French Cafe and Entertainment; Pre-Prep poetry recital

Well done to all of those boys who took part in the Senior Recitals on Monday evening. It was again wonderful to hear the progress they have made since Michaelmas. It’s also great to see the new Steinway being given a decent run-out!

We have been very pleased to welcome back Catherine Phillips this week, after a period of recovery following an injury. I would like to thank Isabella Caro who has been covering Catherine’s French teaching so brilliantly over the past few months. We were able to welcome Catherine back in style on Tuesday evening, at our Year 6 French café and entertainment. This was the first such event in our lovely new dining room. My thanks to Louise Brown and Tom Neal for preparing the boys’ poems and songs, and to all those parents who helped out with the ordering and serving of food, and the conversion of the space from dining room to French café and back again.

Congratulations to the choristers for their superb St John Passion in Chapel last Sunday. This has been a busy time of the year for them, coinciding with filming of James MacMillan’s ‘When One Man Dies’ (commissioned especially for New College Choir), so they have earned themselves a good rest!

This week has also been Food Waste Action Week, with Nick Hanson and the eco-committee monitoring our daily food waste, and working with the kitchen on ways to reduce our food waste. I’m pleased to say that our food waste declined as the week went on. Yesterday we also welcomed two representatives from our new catering company, Thomas Franks, who spoke to the boys in assembly about sustainability issues surrounding food, and then led a series of workshops on nutrition. Some of the older boys have also been working on our wider ‘greenification’ of the school, putting many more plants (kindly funded by the NCSPA) around the school.

The eco-committee is excited to announce this term’s eco-photography competition! The theme chosen by the committee is ‘Spring’. Parents can email the boys’ photographs to nicholas.hanson@newcollegeschool.org by the end of the first week back next term (21 April), or they can be uploaded directly to the assignment on the homepage of the Eco folder on the VLE. The winner in each category will receive a £10 voucher to spend in the Eco Shop: Pre-Prep, Years 3-5 and Years 7-8. Good luck and get snapping.

Well done to the following boys whose artwork has been selected for the Young Art Oxford exhibition. Miles (Reception); Josh, Xavier (Year 1); Bowne, Michael, Valentin, Nicky, Max, Eddy (Year 2); Michael, Sam, Xand, Zac, Theodore (Year 3); Henry, James, Albert, Alexander (Year 4); Frankie, Emil, Aloysius, Tassilo, Olly, Felix, Alexander (Year 5); Yoav, George, Andres, (Year 6); Ethan, Alex (Year 7); Thomas (Year 8).

Congratulations to the following boys who have been given ‘high achiever’ awards for their work in Judo this term. These are given out for demonstrating various skills and upholding the standards of the sport. The boys have shown great determination, discipline, respect, enthusiasm and diligence: Years 3-4: Avery (gold), Michael (silver), Tino (bronze). Years 5-8: Gianni (gold), Nicolas M (silver), Tom D (bronze).

Best of luck to the choral society and chamber choir as they prepare for their performance of Purcell’s Fairy Queen in Chapel tomorrow evening! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/purcell-the-fairy-queen-tickets-830353849717

On Saturday 11 May (19.00-20.00) we will be hosting a special historical event: a talk by Sarah Dixwell Brown titled ‘A King Killer in the Family: Writing the Life of John Dixwell’. Sarah taught English at Stanford, Santa Clara University, Mount Holyoke College and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This talk explores her research into the life and career of John Dixwell, one of her ancestors, who signed the death warrant of Charles I in 1649 and then ran away to New England after the Restoration of the monarchy. I will be introducing the talk, with my historian hat on. The event will be in Lecture Room 6 in New College. If you would like to come please sign up (for free) at: https://forms.office.com/e/pkF9bc0N6t.

From Craig Bishop: As the final week of the hockey season draws to a close we can reflect on some amazing matches throughout the season and this week was no exception. On Friday last week the U11 teams played host to Christ Church. I had the pleasure of umpiring the C and D team matches and they were both epic. In the first game the D team were held to a 0-0 draw but, were it not for the heroics of the CCCS keeper, the score could have been 4 or 5 nil to NCS. Benedict B was in sparkling form showing off his fantastic dribbling skills as NCS dominated the game throughout. Later on, the C team game was controlled by player of the match Michael L as he ran riot through the midfield, scoring three goals on the way to a 5-1 win for NCS. On the other pitch the B team managed a brilliant 3-1 thanks to a Nicholas M hat-trick and the NCS team showed control and dominance throughout. Finally, the A team were beaten 2-1; a rather depleted NCS squad didn’t quite have their usual consistency without their captain on the pitch.

Finally, this week the U11 A team took part in the very competitive, challenging and entertaining regional finals. This event marks the next stage in the county cup as the boys were Oxfordshire runners up. With seven high quality schools in attendance the NCS team battled hard to secure four draws and only two defeats. Four points was a respectable tally against such high-quality opposition and a fourth place finish was a good result. My player of the tournament was Emil S from Year 5 as it was his determination that went a long way to securing vital possession. We are now at the end of the hockey season and look forward to some cricket and tennis as we move into Trinity. We must all hope for a sunny Easter vacation to ensure the pitches are ready for us. Study those fielding positions, boys!

Upcoming Events

Monday, 15 April 2024


Tuesday, 16 April 2024


Wednesday, 17 April 2024

9.00 Start of school term

11.50 VMT 1:1 music lessons start (pre-prep and prep)

17.00 After-school enrichment activities start (pre-prep and prep)

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: The Headmaster

11.50 Year 6-8 Wellbeing: How to prepare for assessments while staying happy and healthy, led by the Headmaster

17.00 Year 7 leadership evening (ends 19.00)

Sunday, 21 April 2024

Start of university term

Wednesday, 24 April 2024

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Professor Andrew Counter, NCS Governor

11.00 8S teaching pre-prep science lessons

Thursday, 25 April 2024

8.30 Junior Mathematics Challenge (until 9.30)