Headmaster's Newsletter Friday 13 October 2023

Dear Parents,

I have spent the vast majority of my life in old institutions. My primary school seemed very old to four-year-old me; Wikipedia tells me it was founded in 1867 but I think I always knew it was ‘over a hundred years old’, principally because the main building looked it and some of the pedagogy probably felt like it. My secondary school nudged me back a little further, as it was founded in 1701, though the original buildings were levelled in the mid-twentieth century to make way for a car park (now next to a sketchy nightclub). The ‘new’ buildings I got to enjoy were very much of the angular-and-poorly-heated school of educational architecture, peppered with ‘temporary’ classrooms which, more often than not, became rather permanent. Then, on to university, I attended one which was founded in the 1650s, closed again, then refounded in 1832, but with buildings featuring the odd Norman corridor. Then, because I clearly hadn’t had enough of tertiary education, I went to a college founded in 1264, before landing at a school a teensy bit younger, which opened its panelled wooden doors in 1379.

Since then, of course, NCS has had an unbroken history. Through wars – civil or otherwise – reformations, pandemics, you name it, our plucky little school has stood firm. It has had to innovate, obviously, and to nudge and tack its way through the vicissitudes of history, but six and half centuries later, here we are. On Wednesday, during our chapel service, the Warden and I formally welcomed to the foundation the 644th generation of NCS pupils. This is always a special and moving service, with a bit of cod Latin thrown in for good measure, when new parents get to see their children being further welcomed into the NCS fold – a fold they never really leave. The Warden spoke about the immutable values that have been bestowed on William of Wykeham’s foundations, not only by the motto ‘manners makyth man’, but by the sense of kindness and camaraderie that suffuse his institutions. These core values contributed, the Warden noted, to the school roll being its biggest for 644 years, as well as our very recent Good Schools Guide review which highlighted the ‘world-class’ education the boys receive here – apologies if we allow ourselves a little self-congratulation for a while; there really aren’t many schools of this size that get given such an accolade!

'Welcome to the Foundation' service

To go back to my initial observations about spending my life in old institutions, I don’t suppose it has happened by accident. Obviously, there’s the historian bit of me which quite likes old stuff (or talking about old stuff). But then there’s the forward-looking bit that likes to have one foot in the past, in what we can learn from that past, while the other foot points firmly to the future. That’s the joy of more ancient institutions: having the endorsement of time and experience, the sense that we are a generation passing through an institution that transcends buildings and people, and that we have a responsibility as its trustees to leave it healthier, stronger and happier than when we found it. None of this is an excuse for fustiness or complacency – quite the opposite; institutions that embrace those too hastily don’t tend to last very long. But it is an opportunity for us to meditate on, value and celebrate places like ours that strive to get the right mix. The endorsement of history is a powerful one.

Have a great weekend,

Matt Jenkinson

Teddy bears' hospital in Reception; Conker comets in Pre-Prep; Break time games; OCCO rehearsals

Enormous thanks to all of those boys, parents and colleagues who helped out at our open morning last Saturday. As ever, there was a lovely vibe about the place and lots of prospective parents spoke in glowing terms about the boys and my colleagues. It’s always lovely to hear! It was also, of course, the first real outing for our new building – I especially enjoyed watching lots of families taking advantage of the sunshine on the Year 3 balcony. There can’t be too many Year 3 classrooms in the world with a balcony looking out across beautiful towers and spires (we’ll gloss over Wadham library).

Congratulations to our Year 5 choristers – Misha, Oscar, Frankie, Ambrose, Felix and Aloysius – who received their surplices at a special evensong last Sunday.

We are once again entering the pre-test season for 13+ entry to some of our senior schools; I wish all those boys involved the very best of luck! Details of our preparation in school can be found at https://www.newcollegeschool.org/future-schools.

From the Charity Committee: Last week the Charity Committee met for the first time this year. The members received their badges and came armed with suggestions for charities to support. In Michaelmas we support a charity with an educational focus. From the nominations the Charity Committee selected Core Arts, a Hackney-based charity which promotes positive mental health and wellbeing through a college-like environment of creative learning. It provides quality education, training, employment, and social enterprise initiatives that enable people who experience mental health issues to overcome barriers, fulfil their potential and participate fully in their community. The Charity Committee were especially impressed by the creative education made available to those who might otherwise not have the opportunity to benefit from education in these areas. Charity Week will be held in the week prior to the half-term break, 16 – 20 October. Pupils will be invited to bring in cakes to sell to help raise money at morning breaks. As we have varying dietary requirements within our community, if you do help with baking goods please provide an ingredients list. Please also remember that NCS is a nut-free school. The Golden Spoon is presented in Pre-Prep, Years 3-5 and Years 6-8. Winners are selected by the catering team who value the pupils’ efforts in the kitchen!

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: As we begin to approach half term the boys are really starting to reap the rewards of their training efforts. The skills on show in all of the teams, from the U8s through to the U13s, are very impressive and as a result we have once again this week seen some brilliant games and strong NCS performances. On Tuesday afternoon we played host to Cothill as they kindly stepped in at the last minute to replace a called-off fixture. In the first of the two games we managed a 2-2 draw thanks to another Samuel P thunderbolt and an Edward B last minute goal that secured the result. In the second game the boys quickly raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to sublime link-up play from Charlie R and Chris BN. The goal of the day went to Rufus K who was on the end of a five-pass move that saw the NCS boys play out from the goalkeeper all the way through to the striker who powered the ball home. It was a brilliant team goal that summed up all that we’ve been working on this term. A final score of 4-1 to the NCS team was a great result.

On Wednesday afternoon the U13s were away at Cothill and I am pleased to report the C team had a brilliant afternoon. Despite the score being 2-1 to our hosts it did not detract from a great team effort and in particular another stellar goal keeping display from Laurence PA. A special mention must also go to Myles T who was captain for the first time and did an amazing job in marshalling his troops. His exploits did not stop there as he assisted the goal with a great cross-field pass onto which Laurence K latched to score a great goal. In the B team game, the NCS boys dominated the possession in the first half but we found ourselves 2-0 down. All was not lost but we needed a quick start to the second half. Monty L did not disappoint as he tried extremely hard to take the game to our hosts. He managed an amazing goal, striking the ball outside the box and curling into the top left corner. Another opportunistic strike from the captain, Eddie L, saw the game tied. The boys had done the job I had asked of them but as the game wore on the energy levels began to dissipate and Cothill went on to score another 2 goals.

Stephen Potts has the following to say regarding the first team’s performance: “We made a bright start, keeping possession of the ball well and playing on the front foot. Midway through the first half Max turned home a good cross to give us a deserved lead. At half time we discussed how we could try to move the ball faster in the final third, a topic that had been covered in Monday's training session. Unfortunately, two goals in as many minutes for Cothill turned the game on its head. We had all the possession on the last 15min and were camped in the opposition half but just could not break them down to find an equaliser. An individual mention has to be given to Jacob for the finest display of 1v1 defending I have seen this season.”

Also, on Wednesday afternoon the U11 teams played host to Bruern Abbey School. All four teams had excellent games and we returned very impressive results with three wins and only the one defeat. Dylan Swanepoel has the following to say about the U11 A team: “In the first half we struggled to adapt to how Bruern set up to play which led to us playing as individuals instead of a team. Bruern went on to score twice. This seemed to help our boys as they started to figure out how they could be successful. This was evident as we scored a breakaway goal in the last minute of the first half, giving the boys a much-needed boost. The second half was filled with drama with plenty of close chances and fantastic saves by the goalkeepers and goal line clearances. Nicolas S came up with a bit of magic to score, making it 2-2 with ten minutes to go. The boys then went on another late break and were awarded a free kick with two minutes left, leading to Maani scoring after the initial shot was blocked. The boys worked extremely hard for one another, showed amazing perseverance and determination to come back and win. Special mention must go to Nicolas, Tom and George for leading the discussion at half time. Also, Emil S dropped into defence in the second half and intercepted the majority of Bruern’s crosses and started the counter attacks.”

Catherine Phillips was the happiest coach on Wednesday afternoon after the amazing performance of her team and she has this to say about a wonderful afternoon for the boys: “The player of the match has to be Freddie P, who scored three fantastic goals and took his tally to four for the year and number six in the NCS goal scoring charts. The final score was 4-0 with Thomas scoring the fourth goal. Monty S was very focused in goal and made many saves and effective goal kicks. Hafiz was an aggressive defender and cleared out effectively with strong powerful kicks. Misha, Ben and Thomas were in fantastic in midfield. Thomas M earned leadership house points thanks to his analysis and advice at half-time.”

The final word from the football pitch goes to Brett Morrison whose C team enjoyed another cracking outing: “Wednesday saw a thrilling victory for the U11 C team. An evenly matched encounter was played in good spirits. NCS had a few good opportunities thwarted by a strong performance by the Bruern goalkeeper. Captain Henry C provided direction and led the team well around the park, beating several defenders before laying the ball to Ambrose to finish from close range for the opening goal. Peter sealed the match with a strong strike from the edge of the box which nestled in the top corner. The team have been working hard in their sessions and have strung together several impressive performances.”

Finally, this week we have kicked off the House Cross Country Championships with the U8 and U9 event on Thursday afternoon. In the U8 race Samuel P was third with Finn W in second place and the winner was Charlie R. In the U9 race we saw Charlie H come home in third place with Chris BN in second and the winner of this race was Jacob S-H. However, a special mention has to go to Charlie R from Year 3 who won the race overall beating not only all of Year 3 but Year 4 too! He crossed the line in 8m 46 seconds and, in doing so, set a new school record for this distance in Year 3. Very well done indeed, Charlie.

Upcoming Events

Monday, 16 October 2023

Charity Week Begins

12.50 Sustainability Club: Talk with Cllr Anna Railton

Wednesday, 18 October 2023

Orders issued

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: Mr Lyndon Chen, former NCS pupil

14.30 U11 A-E Football vs Cothill, Away

Friday, 20 October 2023

Years 5-6 French Day

Home Clothes Day

Half term break begins at end of school day

Sunday, 29 October 2023

13:30 Henry IV, Part 1 rehearsal, Years 7-8, sports hall (pick-up 16.00 from NCS)

Monday, 30 October 2023

Return from Half Term

14:00 Henry IV, Part 1 rehearsal, Years 7-8, chapel (end 15.45)

Wednesday, 1 November 2023

9.00 Chapel. Speaker: The Revd Gavin Knight, St Michael and All Angels, Summertown

14.00 U13 A-C Football vs Summer Fields, Away

14.00 U11 A-E Football vs Summer Fields, Home

15.45 Henry IV, Part 1 rehearsal, Years 7-8, chapel (end 16.45)

Thursday, 2 November 2023

14.15 U8 & U9 Football House Matches, Home

Sunday, 5 November 2023

9.00 Henry IV, Part 1 rehearsal, Year 8 only, chapel (pick-up 11.30 from Song Room in NC)