The Head's Blog

Thursday 4 February 2016

Testing the new walkie-talkies proves irresistible for SLT (Senior Leadership Team). We dart around the Lacies Court garden, hiding behind hedges, issuing orders to one another using code names. I'm rather pleased with "M"… This is certainly in-service training with a difference, the SLT at play. The dog is confused.

Earlier, a rather more serious, but celebratory, occasion – lots of boys up for Head's Praise.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

How teaching of music has changed! I visit Jason Preece's 3rd year group, they're doing background work which will enable them to compose a 24 bar piece using ternary form and cadences. This seems quite advanced for this level but they're all on task helped by the Sibelius music notation software. Here's how to teach a class the rudiments of composition, and then have them all doing the noisy bits without the cacophony I remember from my days in the classroom. There's something surreal about a silent class, heads cossetted with earmuff-like headphones and an apparently enclosed world. Feet tap and heads sway a little.

Love "Anything Goes", that sassy musical comedy, on for three nights at SHSK. This joyful joint production of the Cole Porter musical is as entertaining as it is uplifting. Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Ryan Clune L6) is brilliant in "The Gypsy in Me" and the laughter is stupendous, every movement elicits a response from the appreciative audience – very funny. Ethan Sarphie (L6) is a charming Billy Crocker who morphs from one disguise to another in his determination to woo Hope (great to see Hannah Young on stage again, another great role for her) and prevent her marrying Lord EO. Convincing performances from Moonface Martin (Charlie Landells), Conor Martin, Reuben Havelock, Rory Buchanan and Patrick Cole. Reno Sweeney (Marina Aspinall) manages to sort out all the romantic entanglements including her own. Fantastic choreography and the costumes are something else. Another tremendous joint production this time directed by SHSK's Jo Watt.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

A First Year boy who shall remain nameless darts across the drive as I drive out. Fortunately I'm moving at a snail's pace, having had this experience on the drive before. I roll down the window and have a quiet word while my heart regains its normal pace. He is full of smiles and apologies, and clearly doesn't see it as a near miss.

Engage with the letters for all those who've applied for the First Year in September, and realise they won't be my intake and that this is the last bundle of letters I'll sign for this purpose. I take it rather slowly and wonder how all these boys will turn out in the long run.

Saturday 30 January 2016

Lots of boys bouncing around the place for a taster morning. Factored into these events these days is a visit for prospective parents to the Yang Science Centre. The sculpture continues to elicit gasps of admiration as the colour washes up through the stairwell.

Monday 25 January 2016

It is the last School Council meeting for office holders Seb Hickman (Chairman) and Jonah Walker (Secretary). Their year leading on the business of the School Council is drawing to a close. So many good ideas come from the Council, and it's hoped that there might be an open meeting next term.

At the Year 5 Parents' Evening the reality of just how little teaching time remains sinks in. 2 weeks to half term, then 5 weeks to Easter, then 2 weeks to study leave…

Saturday 23 January 2016

The rafters and ceiling at the boathouse gleam with their recent facelift and the space is full of light. It's amazing the effect this job has had on this haven for our rowers. Lots of new parents and boys, who've just signed up for the beginning of their rowing careers, are here enjoying the new rowers' tea. The river is open for business too. Special thanks to Chairman of FASBC Nick Digby for his stewardship of the committee, and all the parents involved who do so much to support and promote rowing at Abingdon.

Thursday 21 January 2016

Every word can be heard from the Second Year choir at the New Year concert: "The seaweed is always greener in someone else's lake". It was ever thus. On to Jamie Corish (U6) and his beautifully executed first movement of Elgar's Cello Concerto, before a timely tribute to Cilla Black with a touch of The Carpenters from the First Orchestra.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Do come and spend a moment gazing up through Matt Lane Sanderson's magnificent sculpture that has "grown up" through the stairwell of the Yang Science Centre, a glorious tree of life. Wandering up the stairs, every angle throws a different interpretation on the story the sculpture tells. Our ceremony to mark the opening, and thank all those involved, is a happy occasion. Matt takes us through the significance of the design and we then magic our own mini-sculptures with recycled copper wire. Martin Iredale (OA 1956), who has made the sculpture possible as the donor, speaks of his time here and what the sculpture will mean to those yet to come. As for me, I am completely thrilled with this beautiful sculpture, and delighted that the boys may see something which will hopefully inspire and spark the imagination every time they walk past it.

Monday 18 January 2016

"Polyglot" and "The Abingdonian" sit neatly on my desk, awaiting a stolen moment for a little indulgence with a cup of coffee. Edited by James Fotherby, "Polyglot", now into its third edition, moves the emphasis on from linguistics and culture to include an exploration of contemporary European affairs. A balanced account of the new French legislation on size zero models is thought-provoking; James Gordon considers the fortunes of the most hated Spanish footballer Gerard Piqué, and Alasdair Czaplewski takes the reader through texting as the new language of the twenty first century. "lol" becomes "mdr" (mort de rire), "mxo" = the Spanish "mucho" (a lot). Tempting as it is to play around with text-speak, I find there's always the hazard of slipping onto the wrong letter and sending something entirely meaningless into the ether.

Asten Yeo (U6) reflects in his editorial for the "Abingdonian" on the reliance on the greater school community to provide copy. Without a doubt, both boys, and their teachers, have written, with great enthusiasm and detail, this record of a year in the life of Abingdon School. This will take longer to get through, such is the extent of the many areas of school life recorded here, but the publication will take its place in the archive, and perhaps become a source for research in years to come on how a schoolboy ticks in 2016.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Why do we make new year resolutions? I ask the question at assembly. The tradition goes back some 4,000 years starting with the ancient Babylonians and festivities dedicated to the sun god Manduk. Julius Caesar and the introduction of the Julian calendar shifted the festivities to the first of January when new beginnings were honoured by offering sacrifices to Janus the god of new beginnings. We make our resolutions with earnest intentions. Today they tend to centre around what we eat and drink, money, work and relationships. Most are broken by around about today. This term is "the concrete in the middle", and perhaps the boys themselves have made particular resolutions, or set specific targets. I know that I have! I can only hope that they will remain unbroken come Easter, but it is useful I think to have in mind a sense of where you want to get to within a set timescale.

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