Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 23 FEbruary 2024

Dear Parents,

Welcome back after what I hope has been a happy and restful half-term break. Many thanks to all those of you who completed our transport survey earlier this term. We had an 83% response rate, which I read is significantly higher than in most surveys, so thank you for this engagement and giving us some very helpful data, based on a decent majority of the NCS community. This data will now go forward to the SLT and governors’ strategy day on 2 March for further cogitation and, well, strategizing.

Towards the end of the transport survey there were a few questions that weren’t, strictly speaking, to do with transport, but which are still useful for us when taking the pulse of the NCS community as it stands in 2024. We asked, for example, how parents heard about NCS. 82% reported that they heard about us through word of mouth, either socially or in the workplace. 20% said they’d heard about us online. 4% reported they heard about the school through newspapers, magazines, leaflets, posters or the like. (Respondents could choose more than one of the above.) This confirms what we’d already suspected: that the vast majority of NCS parents choose their child’s education based on personal testimony and recommendation, rather than by looking at adverts on the sides of buses or glossy ads in magazines. So, thank you very much for that, and do keep the word spreading!

Brass Band practice; Dentist visit in Reception; Ancient Egyptian mummification in Year 3 Greats; Researching Judaism ahead of the Synagogue visit in Year 5

We also asked ‘why did you choose to come to NCS?’. Again, we work here and we talk to parents (and prospective parents) a lot, so there were certain things that we hoped would come up. But it was reassuring that the following words occurred a lot in the survey responses: ‘reputation’, ‘academic excellence and rigour’, ‘pastoral care’, ‘small size’, ‘music’, ‘historic links’, ‘quality of teaching’, ‘behaviour’, ‘nurturing’, ‘inclusive’, ‘wellbeing’, ‘kindness’, ‘citizenship’, ‘location’, ‘great recommendations’, ‘outstanding’, ‘keeping options open for senior school’, ‘ethos’, ‘friendly’, ‘teachers getting to know the boys as individuals’, ‘deep, broad education’, ‘holistic’, ‘intimate’, ‘caring’, ‘exceptional’, ‘tradition’, ‘stimulating’, ‘energy’, ‘charming’, ‘creative’, ‘warmth and support’, ‘happy, polite, interested’, ‘down-to-earth’, ‘superb’. A shout-out to the parent who referred to NCS as ‘the best school in the world’ (who am I to disagree?!) and to the parent who wrote the following, which summarised the school better than I could have done:

We heard great things about NCS from several people we know and/or work with. This prompted an open morning visit and we were very impressed indeed with that and made the decision to put our son’s name down (he was only 18 months old). The boys who showed us around just had boundless enthusiasm about their school and what, and how, they were learning. We were especially attracted by the breadth of education and the clear sense of ethos and direction -- and one not focused just on … a narrow set of quantitative data defined by government. As well as academic rigour in key academic areas, we like the way NCS values the arts, music (obviously) and languages; we like how it sets expectations of character and behaviour without being a disciplinarian environment. I have heard much anxiety over the years from colleagues and friends who had bright young boys who then, in the 8-13 age band, lost their love of reading and their enthusiasm for learning and for school. We picked NCS to make sure that didn't happen to our son and that he would be happy as well as well-taught, and we were 100% right.

Thank you! And have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

We are looking forward to our Year 5 parents’ evening on Wednesday 28 February at 18.00. My usual notices regarding parents’ evenings: some colleagues like to make an early start so do please arrive a little earlier than 18.00 if you are at a loose end. Please aim to arrive by 18.30 so you have enough time to get around every colleague by 20.00. Parking is available in the playground from 17.00 once the area is clear of boys departing after their enrichment activities. If there are any issues that you feel would need longer than a c.5-minute meeting, please contact the relevant teacher in advance to arrange a separate chat.

A quick update on last half term's charity week: we are delighted to announce that, thanks to your support and generosity, the boys raised £1,300 in support of Oxford Hospitals Charity. Thank you!

A note on lost property: please could families check at home for items of uniform belonging to other pupils, which might have been taken by accident? Coats and blazers seem to be the most commonly wandering items. These usually have name tags in. We are also encouraging the boys to be careful when picking up such items, double-checking that they have the correct ones. The lost property cupboard is looking pretty empty at the moment and we return lost named items as soon as we can in school, so an extra check at home would be much appreciated. Thank you.

World Book Day is on 7 March. As ever, we will be joining schools around the country in encouraging boys to come in dressed as a literary character (though not one who looks, say, surprisingly like a prep school boy in home clothes). Please do not go to any great effort or expense for this; imaginative and recycled costumes are often the best ones!

From Craig Bishop: Just before the half term break the U11 hockey team took part in the Oxfordshire County Cup event. The team put in the performance of the season so far and managed to play three superb games of hockey on the way to finishing in second place overall and, as a result, qualifying for the regional tournament later on in March. Such outstanding character and determination were simply a brilliant way to finish off the half-term in style.

Since our return from break, we have struggled to get the boys onto the sports pitches due to the adverse weather, let alone play some competitive matches. Nonetheless we were still able to play two games: U8 football matches away at Ashfold. The A team played in an entertaining game that was very high scoring; both teams were so preoccupied with scoring goals, they forgot to defend. It was a case of taking turns to score goals and it just so happened that at the final whistle, Ashfold were in front and the game finished 7-6 to our hosts. In the B team game Dylan Swanepoel was very impressed with his team; it seems his magic touch had a positive effect as they ran out 8-0 winners. This was a fine effort and shows that the boys worked extremely hard for one another and this teamwork was crucial to their success. Very well done, boys.

Upcoming Events

Monday, 26 February 2024

14.15 U13 Hockey House Matches, St Edward's

Tuesday, 27 February 2024

14.00 U9 A-C Hockey v Dragon, Away

14.15 U8 A-C Hockey v MCS, Away

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

8.15 School Council meeting, CLC

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Marieke Sybrandi, Ordinand, Wycliffe Hall

12.00 U10 A St Edward's Festival Hockey, St Edward's

14.00 U11 A-C Hockey v Chandlings, Away

14.00 U13 A-D Hockey v Thorngrove, Bradfield College

18.00 Year 5 parents' evening

Thursday, 29 February 2024

19.00 Year 6 ballet trip: Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake (New Theatre, Oxford)

8.00 U11 A IAPS Hockey, Tilsley Park, return 16.00

13.50 Year 5 Synagogue Trip

Friday, 1 March 2024

9.00-11.00 HPV Vaccinations - Year 8

14.00 U11 A-D Hockey v CCCS, St Edward's