Head’s Letters

Thursday 29 March 2018

Dear Parent

We have reached the last day of the Spring Term and I am greatly looking forward to delivering the Easter service to the boys later this morning. It has been an eventful term with everything from a snow day to a visit from the Easter Bunny.

On Saturday last week I was lucky enough to attend the Pre-Prep and Year 3 Easter Eggstravaganza. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did the boys, especially with so much chocolate around. There were craft stalls, treasure maps, chick racing (the wind-up variety, of course), an Easter egg hunt and the ever popular chocolate tombola. The Easter Bunny was hopping around doing high-fives with the boys and there was a wonderful sense of fun and camaraderie. The hardest part of the morning was trying to judge the magnificent Easter bonnets and Easter gardens. The boys had produced so many superb designs and I know that everyone who saw them was impressed. Many of them were back on show for the Easter Parade in Pre- Prep and the egg painting and rolling down the mound later in the week. With the lighter evenings and the warmer (I think) weather, this is a lovely time of year.

On Tuesday a guest presenter came to run three separate Architecture Workshops for Year 2, Year 4 and Year 6. The boys had to plan, design and create bridges, Viking longboats or octagonal bird houses. The finished products were very impressive and the boys had great enjoyment experiencing something completely different. CDT is thriving at Abingdon Prep.

During the holidays, nineteen of our Year 7 and 8 boys will be flying off for five days to Spain for a warm weather pre-season cricket camp. I’m sure they will have a wonderful time and benefit enormously from the cricket training. They are very much looking forward to the Summer Term and all of the exciting events ahead, as am I. I would encourage you all to look at the calendar online and see what your son may be involved in.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the boys for their efforts this term. It has been a very busy and very successful one in so many different areas of school life. I hope that you all have something nice planned for the break, and I wish all of the Abingdon Prep community a very Happy Easter. Please do access our website (in latest news) to see a slide show of events from the term which I shared with the boys in our Easter service today.

Best wishes

Craig

Final Thunk - if I borrow every single book from a library, is it at that point any less of a library than when it was full of books?

Friday 23 March 2018

Dear Parents

It has been a very different week standing at the school entrance welcoming you all in the mornings. I have not needed to don a coat or a scarf, and have enjoyed the warm spring sunshine beating down. I hope that this will continue to be the case for the final week of term.

The week got underway with our Year 1s visiting the Steam Museum in Swindon. They all returned so excited by the trains they had seen alongside all the other huge steam-based machinery. As the photos testify on the monitor in the school entrance, they certainly had a wonderful day and learnt so much.

We found out this week that in May, twenty one of our pupils will be exhibiting their art work at the Ashmolean Museum having been successful in the Young Art Oxford Competition. George, in Year 5, has been chosen for the coveted Ruskin School of Art Award which is a noteworthy achievement. Art continues to be a source of great pride at Abingdon Prep.

After six of our boys participated in the Abingdon School Business Challenge on Tuesday, in which the brief was to design a new type of ice lolly, all of our boys in Years 5 and 6 took part yesterday in the Abingdon Prep Business Challenge. In groups they were given the challenge of designing an Easter Egg, complete with packaging. They had to draw up a plan to take it to market to compete with other brands, and then present their idea to the panel of judges who had joined us from Abingdon School and the Oxfordshire Young Enterprise Group. Dragon’s Den beware, as we may have some young entrepreneurs coming your way!

Our Bake Off Finals have been taking place this week with Anne’s technical challenge acting as the decider. Many cupcakes have been baked (and tasted again) and the boys involved have shown some genuine skills and love for baking. My thanks go to all who were involved in this initiative, and I know we have raised an impressive sum for charity, as well as enjoying some delicious cakes along the way.

In another busy week of sport, our U13 and U12 hockey squads played three matches against New College School at St Edward's School in Oxford. All the games were very close affairs but resulted in three close losses. The boys should be very proud of how much they have improved this term in what is their first experience of hockey.

On the football pitch the final matches of term saw our U12A and B and U13A and B teams take on Abingdon School. Our U12As finished the season in real style with a 6-4 win, coming back from 0-3 down, whilst the 12Bs lost an exciting match 4-5. Our U13As were competitive again but lost and there was a similar fate for our U13Bs. It was very rewarding to have so many of our senior boys representing school in fixtures, whether on the hockey pitch or the football pitch. It is lovely that the boys, no matter what year group they are in, have these opportunities to experience matches and of course, match tea, socialising with their opponents afterwards.

The British Schools Biathlon Championships on Sunday were weather affected but an impressive performance from our U12 team meant that they have finished 4th in the country, with Quinn finishing 4th individually. Congratulations to all the boys who qualified for the finals which is an excellent achievement in itself.

It is our Easter Eggstravaganza tomorrow morning for boys in Reception to Year 3. There is palpable excitement amongst them as they look forward to discovering the eggs which the Easter Bunny will hopefully have left around school. Our thanks go to the JPA for organising this and persuading the Easter Bunny to give up time from his busy schedule to come to see us at Abingdon Prep.

Next week I will let you know the results of this afternoon’s Inter-House Cross-Country. The conditions are slightly more conducive to running this time, after the Siberian blast caused us to postpone the event a couple of weeks ago. It will be wonderful to see all of the boys across the school taking part.

I hope you all have a good weekend and are looking forward to a final busy week of term in the spring sunshine - especially as the clocks will have gone forward over the weekend and we will have that extra hour of evening light.

Best wishes

Craig

Thunk for the week - is daylight saving a good or a bad thing?

Friday 16 March 2018

Dear Parents

Where to start this week? There are so many exciting pieces of news to share...

One of the many highlights of the week was the APS Bake Off. I was particularly honoured to have been asked to judge some of the entries, and every one of the many cakes and bakes I tasted was delicious. It is a creative way to raise money for our school charities and it is fair to say that we have some very talented bakers at school. I look forward to seeing the finalists in baking action next week.

Tuesday saw the senior production of ‘Smike’ take place in the Amey Theatre at Abingdon School. It was a wonderful evening with some delightful singing, acting and dancing. The audience certainly seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Debbie and Jennifer for all their hard work in producing such an impressive spectacle.

There was a raft of football matches this week. Our U9s played twice against St Hugh’s and Chandlings, and of the six matches, we won two, lost two and drew two. Our U9As win on Thursday meant they have remained unbeaten all season and they should be very proud of their efforts. Our U8s played Chandlings and had some very exciting games in which the As and Cs drew, and the Bs and Ds lost. This completed another impressive season in which all the boys have played many games of football and have improved immeasurably. Our U10As and U11As both completed their seasons with excellent wins giving them 100% records - a very admirable feat, whilst the other U10 and U11 teams also had strong final results. On Thursday, our senior boys took to Cox’s Fields to play Cokethorpe. The 13As lost a close match 2-4 whilst the Bs won their first game of the season 3-1 with a strong performance. The U12s continued their excellent season with a 4-2 victory, whilst the Bs also impressed with a 5-2 win.

Our U12 and U13 hockey teams took to the astro again on Wednesday to play against Cothill. The 13s went down in a high scoring match 2-6 whilst our U12s lost a thrilling match 4-5. Every week, as the boys gain more experience of hockey, their understanding of match play is improving visibly.

Our football matches tomorrow are a new venture for Abingdon Prep. We will be competing against Bedford Modern School as a Foundation together with the U12 and U13 teams from Abingdon School. I wish the boys luck and look forward to supporting them from the touch line.

A busy sporting weekend continues on Sunday with the British Schools Biathlon finals at Crystal Palace. We have ten boys competing, all of whom have qualified from the regional heats earlier in the year. This is always a gruelling event and huge credit goes to our boys for qualifying. I look forward to hearing how they have fared.

Year 2 travelled to Warwick Castle this week and had a wonderful time exploring the medieval castle and learning first-hand about life hundreds of years ago. The castle certainly helped bring their History topic to life and I have been hearing from the boys how much they enjoyed the trip. Year 5 are also visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum today and I look forward to hearing the highlights of their outing.

4T’s assembly on Thursday was extremely well presented and the class shared an important message with the rest of the school about appreciating all the wonderful things that we have in our lives and considering how people in other parts of the world are not so fortunate. It is so powerful when the boys share these messages with their peers. I also had the privilege of seeing Reception’s class assembly today. The boys were so proud to tell their parents about their beanstalks, and their playlet of the Gingerbread Man was well received by the audience of parents and Pre-Prep boys. They have certainly been busy in the classroom this term.

This week we also received the results of the final group of Abingdon scholarship assessments. We are exceptionally proud of all our boys who sat scholarships in their chosen sphere this year. They all devoted enormous effort to the process and can be justifiably proud of themselves. I am delighted to report that this year our boys have gained five academic scholarships - four to Abingdon and one to Magdalen College School. We have also been awarded one Art, one Music and one Drama scholarship, all to Abingdon School. I would like to take this opportunity to thank openly all the staff who have helped to prepare the boys so well for their scholarships.

I sincerely hope the snow does not return this weekend as it is high time that Spring makes an appearance!

With best wishes

Craig

Thunk for the week - can you be accused of cheating if you do not know the rules?

Friday 9 March 2018

Dear Parents

I would like to start by thanking everyone for their patience and understanding with regard to the snow day last week. I appreciate the difficulties faced when a school is closed for the day. However, the boys seemed delighted with the decision and I hope they all enjoyed the opportunity to use their sledges.

Rehearsals for our production of ‘Smike’ have been ratcheted up this week, with the technical rehearsal on Saturday and the main performance on Tuesday evening at the Amey Theatre. There are still some tickets available, so I would encourage all parents with children in Years 3 and above, to come along for what promises to be a very entertaining evening. Having listened to a number of the songs already, we are certainly in for a treat.

On my learning walk this week I was treated to a Year 3 Science lesson on the topic of teeth. I am reliably informed that during their next lesson they will be experimenting with disclosure tablets, so there may need to be some focused teeth brushing going on before that. Year 7 were putting together some drama sketches and I was particularly impressed with the saxophone accompaniment creating the scene of danger in the tomb! Cross curricular links were certainly coming to the fore in this lesson.

4AP produced an informative and very well delivered school assembly yesterday, in which we all learned about the life and diet of some Bolivian people, and it gave our boys food for thought with regard to their own food choices. 4AP’s mixture of singing, acting and public speaking entertained us all.

Our Year 8 academic scholarship group sat their exams this week and it was very interesting to welcome them back into school and hear how they felt the week had gone. They can be very proud of their efforts leading up to this very stretching set of exams, as can all of our boys who have been involved in scholarship assessments this term. As a school, we are certainly proud of them all.

Hockey fixtures took centre stage for Years 6 to 8 this week. There were impressive victories for our U13s against St Hugh’s and U11As against the Dragon. Every other match was a closely fought contest, with the Dragon just coming out on top. I hope the boys have enjoyed their first foray into Hockey and will look forward to more fixtures next year.

On the football pitch, our U8s and U9s enjoyed fixtures against Moulsford. Our U9As continued their unbeaten run, whilst our U8As lost their first game of the season in a very high quality match. The U9Bs won one and lost one, and the U9Cs won two very good games. Our U8B, C, and D teams were all involved in multiple matches as Moulsford had brought eight teams to take on our four. The boys certainly seem to be enjoying their game and improving each and every time they take the field.

Our long anticipated Scalextrics Evening, so kindly organised by the JPA, is taking place this evening and I have been hearing that there has been many a practice session taking place at home, and that is just the parents! Trophies are all in place and I know that the boys are excited about the event. Track conditions are forecast to be favourable with some fast times expected.

I am delighted to have been asked to judge some of the entries for the APS Bake off next week, so I hope that the boys will take the opportunity at the weekend to get creative in the tent, sorry, I mean kitchen, and put their baking skills to the test, all in aid of our school charities of course.

As this letter attests, term continues to be busy and purposeful, and the boys are grabbing opportunities that come their way. Long may that continue.

Best wishes

Craig

Thunk for the week - can a cake ever be considered a work of art and not simply something to eat?

Friday 2 March 2018

Dear Parents

I write this letter with the school eerily quiet as the snow has returned with a vengeance and we have unfortunately closed the school today. An unusual end to a busy week and hopefully, with the official start of meteorological spring yesterday, this was the final blast of winter and the daffodils can start opening up again in the next few weeks.

I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of some staff changes for September and also next term. Mrs Natasha Watson will be joining us as Head of English in September. Natasha is currently teaching English at The Beacon and we look forward to her joining us here and becoming fully involved in a wide range of activities, including Drama, for which she clearly has a passion. However, for the Summer Term, Mrs Karina Philip will be our acting Head of English. Karina has a wealth of English teaching experience and is also a published author of children’s books and English textbooks, and has a real interest in music too. Rebecca Schwarz has been appointed as Head of Science for September. She currently teaches Science at Headington Senior School, and has a wide range of interests including hockey and other sports. We very much look forward to welcoming them all into the Abingdon Prep community.

A number of our Year 8 boys have been sitting in the past few weeks, and this coming week, their scholarship exams and assessments. Their desire to work hard and give their very best has been clear for all to see and I would like to congratulate all of them on their efforts. They can be very proud of themselves.

Sadly, all of our football matches and inter-house cross-country this week had to be cancelled due to the frozen pitches and snow cover, but we have rescheduled the date for 23 March to run the cross-country and parents will, of course, be more than welcome to attend.

Last Monday, our Year 6s performed a cantata, St Frideswide, with words and music written by our own, very talented Debbie Rose at Christ Church Cathedral. The first part of the afternoon took the form of a talk by Ruth Buckley, a St Frideswide expert, so the audience arrived well informed to hear the boys sing. Our boys sang beautifully with pure tone and clear diction, and the story of the saint’s life gradually unfolded through the nine songs, dramatic action and linking narration. It was a wonderful experience for the boys to perform in such an impressive venue.

We now have four weeks of term remaining, so I hope the boys enjoyed their snow day and will return refreshed after their three day weekend. I look forward to hearing all about their sledging and snowballing exploits.

With best wishes

Craig

Thunk - can we really know that every snowflake is different if we do not analyse all of them?

Friday 23 February 2018

Dear Parents

I hope you all had a very enjoyable half term and that any illness that may have been lurking before the break quickly disappeared. The second half of term has started well and with our usual diverse array of activities.

Earlier this week three pupils from the Middle Section attended the annual 'Let's Debate' competition at Oratory School. After attending a morning of debating workshops, pupils were then tasked with opposing the motion "This House believes that teachers should be replaced with computers", which was proposed by a team from Farleigh School in Hampshire. The boys acquitted themselves eloquently and I am assured that teachers are here to stay, at least for the time being!

This week’s football matches saw our younger boys playing Christ Church Cathedral School. Our U8As claimed another very impressive 9-0 victory whilst our B, C and D teams all lost closely fought matches. The U9A, B and C teams all celebrated solid victories, as did our U10B and D teams. The U11C and D teams lost to strong CCCS teams. Our U12s played Oratory School, with our As losing an exciting game 3-4, the Bs winning 1-0 and the Cs losing 1-4. This Saturday five of our teams travel to Cokethorpe and I hope that I will see many of you on the touch line offering your support. According to the weather forecast, warm clothes will be in order.

Yesterday, the second class pairings of the term took place. This time the theme was book-sharing which linked to World Book Day which is happening on Thursday next week. We are all greatly looking forward to seeing some interesting costumes that day. I particularly enjoyed hearing some of our Year 1s sharing their stories with our Year 6s and in return, having a Mr Men book read to them. It brought back fond memories for me of Mr Bump and Mr Tickle! Year 2 have also impressed me this week with some of their excellent Lego creations which are already starting to be displayed.

Whilst walking around the school yesterday, Mike Windsor and I popped in to hear our Year 5s sharing their recent stories based on the detective novels of Sherlock Holmes. The boys had managed to build tension in some especially well written pieces, some of which had character names which suited the storylines perfectly. Reviewing and improving their work had certainly been effective, and judging by how eagerly they were explaining their stories to their partners, they enjoyed the task immensely.

Next week continues to be busy with our Year 6s performing at Christ Church on Monday, and a whole school Open Day on Tuesday.

I wish you all a good weekend and look forward to seeing some of you at matches tomorrow.

Best wishes

Craig

Thunk for the week - if I deliberately drop a bucket of paint onto a canvas, is it Art? What if I drop it accidentally? Is it Art then?

Friday 9 February 2018 

Dear Parents

Yesterday was an important day for the Junior Section. They performed ‘Daniel and The Lions’ Den’ to a packed house in the school hall. There was standing room only to see some impressive acting, singing and dancing from our very talented Year 3 and 4s. The boys should be very proud of their efforts and the way in which they have all worked together to produce such a memorable performance. I have heard from numerous parents that there had been a lot of song rehearsals in cars on the way home from school in the lead up to the play. The tunes were certainly catchy and I could not get the encore out of my head on Thursday evening. I even caught myself humming away today at lunch. 

We started this week with Safer Internet workshops and a talk to parents in the evening. Whilst the information received was hard hitting, it is certainly something that we should all be aware of. The internet is a wonderful tool when used in the right way and safely, and the earlier our boys learn about how to stay safe when using it, the better. We always encourage the boys to make the right choices, and I am sure that with the information they received on Monday, they are more likely to make better choices when it comes to social media and the internet. No matter what our personal views on social media are, it is here to stay and is a huge part of a child’s life now. 

On Tuesday, Year 5 visited Abingdon School for a Science day. They returned so excited by the range of experiments with which they had been involved. How could one not be enthused by Science when it is so ‘hands on’? What an inspiring way to learn and sincere thanks to the Abingdon School staff who organised the day.

Most of the Middle and Senior Section boys were out on Wednesday playing football against Oratory Prep School and Abingdon. All the games were competitive affairs and our U10 A and U11A teams remained undefeated with impressive 5-0 and 6-1 wins respectively. Our U12s kicked off the season with a good win against Oratory Prep and a draw against Abingdon School whilst our U13s teams just lost out in two very close matches.

The IAPS swimming qualifiers last Friday saw some strong performances both from individuals and in the relays, and now we must wait to find out whether the times our boys achieved are fast enough to qualify for the National Finals. We have our fingers crossed having won three events in a remarkably competitive field. 

I wish you all a very enjoyable half-term break. I am certain that the boys are more than ready for some down time, as are the staff!

Best wishes

Craig

Thunk for the week - If you could take a pill that meant you could never fail, would you? 

Friday 2 February 2018 

Dear Parents

Last Friday our Pre-Prep Grandparents’ afternoon took place. This was extraordinarily well attended and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to so many proud grandparents and watching our younger boys playing ‘Old School’ games with them. There was not a Playstation in sight but instead, lots of lovely interactions taking place. As these boys move higher up the school, it will be lovely to welcome their grandparents back to watch them in productions, concerts and fixtures.

Football matches this week saw our U8As, U9As, U10As and 11As victorious once more against both The Oratory and St Hugh’s respectively, whilst the remainder of the games saw an even split of wins, losses and draws. There is certainly visible improvement across all teams, and with the popularity of football at break times too, that is no surprise!

Our first Hockey matches of the term took place on Wednesday against Cothill for our U12 and U13 D teams. After just two hours of practice, our U13s struggled to match a well drilled Cothill team and found themselves conceding regularly in the first half. However, with a few team adjustments, and a huge improvement in dynamism around the pitch, we drew the second half 2-2. Our U12s threw themselves into their game right from the start and a close match with a huge effort from both teams saw us finish 1-4 down. With more Hockey to come, there is much to be optimistic about on the MUSA.

The cross-country season is well and truly upon us. Last Friday saw us competing at the St Andrew’s event where boys from Years 3-8 performed very well, with our U12 and U13 teams winning their respective sections. A week later at Pinewood, our U11s and U13s ran impressively again, with Abingdon Prep having 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed runners in the U13 category.

I am currently waiting to hear the results of the IAPS swimming qualifiers which took place this afternoon at The Dragon School. I am sure our boys will have acquitted themselves admirably. 

Thursday’s assembly saw 8J take to the stage. They conveyed an important message to the other boys about having a passion for something and being prepared to dedicate time to it in order to improve. There were demonstrations of cycling around the hall, a handsome Jack Russell on stage and we were treated to tales of karting, robotics and golf, to name but a few. The boys showed genuine enthusiasm for and commitment to their hobbies, and they explained it extremely well. Some in the audience may even have been inspired to take up a new pastime!

Play rehearsals are in full swing in both the junior and senior sections and I am very much looking forward to the Year 3 and 4 performance of ‘Daniel and the Lions' Den’ on Thursday next week. I have heard some beautiful singing coming out of the Hall on my walks around school and the boys seem very excited about the upcoming performance.

It was a pleasure to see all of those parents who were able to join me this morning for coffee and pastries. It was a welcome opportunity to catch up and chat about school and the boys. The staff were very grateful for the leftover pains au chocolat that appeared at morning break time!

And finally, this week’s Thunk - if you break down in the middle of the road, is your car parked?

Best wishes

Craig 

Friday 26 January 2018 

Dear Parents

As the Spring Term races by and the weather seems to be worsening, Abingdon Prep has been a hive of activity all week. Thursday was our ‘paper aeroplane challenge’ in houses and buddy groups. There were some wonderfully creative designs on show. Some, when thrown, even managed to fly backwards, but a well-engineered few have progressed through to the finals. There are a few hot favourites but no one can predict what conditions will be like on finals day!

On one of my learning walks this week I was lucky enough to visit a Year 8 Science practical where neutralisation of acids was taking place and blue copper sulphate crystals were being created. The boys were able to explain fully the process behind the reactions and impressed Mr Windsor and me with their detailed understanding. The Year 8 Maths group were equally as impressive with their knowledge and manipulation of areas and perimeters using π. Our Year 7s were producing playlets and setting them to music in the Gamalan tradition - not a style of music that I had come across before. There were plenty of diverse and enlightening topics being studied yesterday morning.

The inclement weather on Wednesday did not stop our first football fixtures for the middle school going ahead against Pinewood. The U10 A, B and C teams all won exciting games whilst our U10 Ds lost a tight match with Pinewood’s U10Cs 3-4, having recovered to 3-3 from 3-0 down. The impressive U11 As won 10-2, whilst the Bs drew 2-2, Cs lost 2-3 and the Ds lost 7-9. It would be fair to say that football was the winner in this game! Our Year 7 and 8 cross-country team also competed in their first event of term this week, running out convincing winners against Abingdon, New College and Sacred Heart. To have two boys run under ten minutes for 2.8km was rather impressive.

Our Year 8 Art scholars are very busy preparing for their Art assessment day and this week they had a crank clay masterclass. Some of their animal sculptures are truly remarkable and I look forward greatly to seeing them after they have been fired in the kiln. They are certainly a talented group of young artists.

The concert platform last week was a resounding success again with many boys, some for the very first time, performing to an appreciative audience. If you missed it, please do look at the short video clip of some of the performances in the news section on our website - ‘Performers wowed the crowd’ - one cannot help but be impressed by our wonderful musicians.

I am still receiving some fascinating answers to these at morning drop-off (from both parents and pupils) so here is another Thunk for the week –

Is it better to play well and lose, or to play badly and win?

Good luck to all those brave quizzers who are back at school this evening eagerly anticipating Rob’s selection of general knowledge questions. I look forward to welcoming you all and to making my debut on the staff quiz team.

I hope you have a good weekend, and do remember to pop in for ‘coffee and pastries’ next Friday at morning drop-off in the Drama Studio.

With best wishes

Craig 

Friday 19 January 2018 

Dear Parents

I started this week in assembly with a favourite quote of mine from the great golfer Gary Player, ‘The more I practise, the luckier I get’. It has been delightful to see that the boys in all areas of the school have been working really hard this week and I have been encouraged by the purposeful atmosphere in their classrooms. 8R have been sitting their mock scholarship exams and I thoroughly enjoyed being invited to see the Year 3s undertaking some science experiments. Year 3 had designed and created a range of parachutes with different shaped canopies and different surface areas. They proceeded to drop them from the top of the stairs and had to time how long it took for them to reach the floor. After that, they had to calculate average times and draw conclusions from the data sets collected. It was pleasing to see them so actively engaged in their own learning.

On Wednesday, our Under 13s kicked off the football season with matches against Davenies. This was our first ever fixture against this school. The A team were involved in a very competitive game and were just edged out 0-2, despite having much of the possession and creating lots of chances. Perhaps a little more shooting practice will be needed this week! The B team had a tougher game against strong opposition but worked hard to the end.

Our Year 4s visited Sulgrave Manor yesterday. The weather was kind (at least, it did not rain), and all of the boys had a wonderful time learning about the Tudors in such an impressive setting, helping to bring history to life. I am told that the boys carried off the Tudor costumes expertly and there were many Tudor themed packed lunches on show! It is hard to beat learning about key periods in history when you are surrounded by history itself.

Yesterday afternoon saw the first swimming gala of the year at Abingdon School for both A and B teams against Moulsford Prep and Abingdon. Our Under 12s had an exciting battle with Abingdon School but were defeated by just 2 points after a series of very tight finishes. Our U13s were extremely impressive and were victorious by a reasonably large margin. There is clearly a great strength in depth in our senior section swimmers and they should all be very pleased with their performances.

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you all know that I will be hosting another ‘Coffee and Pastries’ morning in the Drama studio on Friday 2 February from 8am to 9.15am. I really enjoyed chatting with so many of you last time and I hope that even more of you will be able to drop in on that day. 

And finally, after receiving numerous impressive answers to last week’s offering, here is this week’s Thunk - Is there more future or more past?

I hope you have a relaxing weekend.

Best wishes

Craig 

Friday 12 January 2018 

Dear All

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas break and have settled back into the routines of the new year. Although I could not quite believe how dark it was, when standing outside on the first morning welcoming the boys back to school, it is good to be back and focused on an exciting term ahead. I have heard many lovely stories about the boys’ holidays and what they got up to, in addition to what their favourite presents were!

I would like to take this opportunity to let you know about our appointment of a Head of French for September. We had an excellent series of applications and from a very strong field we have appointed Mr Russell Macdonald. Russell is currently Head of MFL at Dean Close Prep School in Cheltenham, and he has also taught at a number of other prep schools. He stood out in the interview process as someone who was passionate about his subject and prep school education in general. He is currently a form teacher and also coaches Games. We very much look forward to welcoming him into the Abingdon Prep community in September.

I am also delighted to pass on that Jennifer Brown, who has been with us as Head of English on a maternity cover, has secured an exciting role as Head of English and Drama at Sherborne Prep in Dorset. I know that Jennifer is greatly looking forward to the production of ‘Smike’ which will be an excellent swansong for her.

We started the term with a delightful group of class pairings yesterday. The theme this time was card games. Having visited all the rooms, it was obvious that we have some boys well versed in the art of card games and I certainly wouldn’t have been tempted to join one of the poker tables or the Blackjack group! It is so enjoyable to watch the boys interacting so well and enjoying each other’s company across the different year groups. This was followed today with a well-earned home clothes day for Dragon House pupils after their victory in the House points competition last term.

Pre-season football was a great success with 32 boys in Year 7 and 8 and 36 boys in Year 5 and 6 attending the sessions. It is an event that we are very keen to continue to arrange for the boys prior to the beginning of each term. Thank you to the staff and boys who gave up the final day of the holidays to come in to practise for the season ahead.

I asked the boys in my assembly on Tuesday to consider the statement “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting what you’ve always gotten!” but related it to our effort grade descriptors (and some cricketing technique too!). I encouraged them to approach the term with a fresh attitude and desire to change the things they felt they might need to change. After popping into a number of lessons this week, I certainly saw evidence of a renewed desire to learn and improve themselves in areas that they may not previously have been seen as strong points. I really do hope that this positive approach is at the forefront of the boys’ thinking this term. 

As far as thinking goes, I am hoping to include a Thunk in most of my weekly letters as I think it is an excellent way to spark interesting conversations across the dinner table or in the car on the way to or from school. There are sadly, however, no prizes for the best answers! What on earth is a Thunk, you may ask? Well, a Thunk is a simple-looking question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks and hopefully helps you start to look at the world in a new light. So here goes with the first one of the term.... 

Which is heavier - a lie or a promise?

I look forward to hearing some of thoughts on this one at the front gate next week!

Best wishes

Craig 

Friday 15 December 2017

Dear Parents

Perhaps I should not have ended my letter last week with a wish for a flurry of snow! We got a little more than that. However, I will happily include mention of snow again in this letter and hope for a repeat of last Sunday now that we have the holidays ahead of us.

It seems like yesterday that I was welcoming parents and pupils into school on my first day of term. Time has flown by and I feel very much a part of the Abingdon Prep community, especially now I know what people are talking about when they refer to ‘Firestorm’ and ‘The Bazaar’! It has been a great pleasure getting to know the boys.

I would like to take this opportunity to let you all know that Adrian Burn (OA 1963) will be stepping down as Chairman of Governors of the Abingdon Foundation on 31 December 2017 after nearly five years in post. He has given superb service. Over the past three years under his leadership the Governors have appointed new Headmasters both for Abingdon School and Abingdon Prep as well as a new Director of Finance and Operations. This has also been a period of considerable investment in facilities at both schools, including the works undertaken at Abingdon Prep School over the summer. I have been very grateful for the support that Adrian has offered me and Abingdon Prep.

Adrian’s replacement as Chairman of Governors will be Professor Mike Stevens. Professor Stevens is an OA (1968) who qualified in medicine at the University of London. He held senior leadership positions both in the UK and Europe and he is Emeritus Professor at the University of Bristol. He has been a Governor since 2014 and has recently been Vice-Chairman of Governors and Chair of the Education Committee. More information about Mike Stevens and our governing body is available here.

It is also an opportune moment to inform you that Claire Delo, our wonderful Head of Science, has taken the decision to retire at the end of this academic year. Claire has been a huge part of this school for a long time and she will be greatly missed by staff and pupils alike. However, I will save my words about her for the end of the Summer Term.

The House merit cup was awarded on Thursday this week and with just 15 merits separating first and second, it was certainly a close run thing. Dragon, however, were victorious and have earned themselves a home clothes day next term. The final results were as follows:

4th Unicorn, 3rd Phoenix, 2nd Griffin, 1st Dragon

It was a dreadful shame that our annual Carol Service had to be cancelled on Monday evening. However, we were delighted to be able to run a version of it in school this morning, before term ended. The music produced was, as always, of an extremely high standard and I would once again like to thank Debbie and all of her music staff for their outstanding efforts this term. I do apologise to all parents that we were unable to accommodate you for today’s concert, as there was simply not enough space in the School Hall.

I thoroughly enjoyed our colours and awards assembly yesterday. There was much to celebrate after such a busy term and I would like to thank the boys for their efforts throughout the term, both in and out of the classroom. They have achieved so much, and I know they will return in the new year with the same positive approach.

That just leaves me with the task of wishing you all a very merry Christmas and to thank you for all of your support and kind wishes in my first term as Headmaster at Abingdon Prep. I feel lucky to be part of such a warm community.

With best wishes

Craig

Friday 8 December 2017 

Dear Parents 

We have almost arrived at the final week of term. The nights have drawn in and the weather is definitely on the turn. The Christmas tree is up and the decorations are out. Abingdon Prep, however, is showing no signs of slowing down for the holidays.

6S gave an assembly this week where the theme was the selfless spirit of Christmas. During the assembly they explained that they were undertaking a ‘reverse’ advent calendar idea, whereby they would bring to school an item of food when it was their turn to open a door. This collection of food items will be taken to a local charity where, hopefully, it may help struggling families enjoy a more festive Christmas. I believe this shows a very mature and compassionate attitude, and I commend them on their thoughtfulness.

There were a range of matches against Cheltenham College this week. Our U10 A and B both had convincing victories, U11 A and B both lost whilst the U11 C team played superbly in a 9-6 win. Our U13 As, Bs and U12 A s all lost in exciting contests whilst our U12 Bs ran out comfortable winners. This was a competitive and enjoyable final set of rugby matches for the term. I would like to thank our grounds staff publicly for all their hard work in maintaining our pitches to a very high standard, for the boys to enjoy. Three of the Cheltenham staff commented on the good condition of our pitches, considering it was December - not a trace of mud anywhere!

Yesterday it was the turn of 4A to see Jack and The Beanstalk. All came back with broad smiles having thoroughly enjoyed the pantomime. The Christmas period is well and truly upon us.

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that Linda Rolls will be leaving us at the end of this term to take up a position as a Teaching Assistant in her daughter’s primary school. I would like to thank her for all of the work she has done with our Pre-Prep boys over the years. She will be greatly missed and we wish her all the very best in her new role.

On Thursday next week it is our Christmas Lunch. At the suggestion of one of the Year 5 boys, we have decided that the boys will be allowed to wear Christmas jumpers to the special lunch that day, and would ask that they donate £1 to our school charity for this event, to be collected by the form teacher in registration. Boys should come into school in normal uniform and then put their festive jumpers on for first break. Boys in Years 5 to 8 who are involved in the House Debating Competition after lunch will need to return to their school jumpers for the competition.

I am greatly looking forward to my first Abingdon Prep Carol Service on Monday, and have heard some delightful singing practices as I have walked past the music room this week. I do hope that all parents of boys in Years 3 to 8 will be able to attend. It is always a wonderful way to round off such a busy term, giving the boys a chance to showcase some of their musical talents and also an opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. I know that St Helen’s Church looks forward to welcoming us but please do bear in mind that parking can be difficult, so please allow plenty of time to get there for a 6.30pm start.

I have my fingers crossed for a little flurry of snow this weekend! It seems to have been a while since we have experienced it in this part of country. I hope you all have a good weekend and I look forward to seeing many of you on Monday at the Carol Service.

Best wishes

Craig 

Friday 1 December 2017 

Dear Parents

I would like to start my mailing this week by extending enormous thanks to everyone who was involved in the Bazaar. It was a wonderful afternoon and the generosity of our parent body is hugely appreciated, with exciting raffle prizes being donated in addition to all the work from our impressive JPA in preparation for the event. The boys certainly enjoyed themselves and the sugar rush seemed to have worn off by the time they all returned to school on Monday morning!

Springfield School, one of our school charities this year, brought three pupils to Abingdon Prep on Wednesday for a Forest School lesson led by Steve. Our Reception boys helped the Springfield pupils enjoy their Forest School experience and further cemented a close relationship between the two schools.

Wednesday’s arctic weather saw every boy in Year 5 and 6 play in matches against Magdalen College School. Despite freezing hands, the boys did Abingdon Prep proud with a strong set of results. Our U10 As, Bs and Cs all won whilst the Ds lost out in a close contest. In the U11s, our As and Ds won, the Bs drew and the C team just lost in another tight match. A day later our U8s and U9s also took on Magdalen College School. The U8A team won a very close game which sees them undefeated for the season, whilst the U8B and C teams both scored lots of tries but narrowly lost. As for the Year 4s, our U9As lost a superb game 14-16, but both the U9B and C teams ran out winners.

The Year 7 and 8 House matches also took place on Wednesday and Dragon finished victorious, unbeaten in both the A and B team tournaments. Again, every boy in those year groups took part and played with a great pride for their House. Rugby continues this Saturday with matches against Cothill and I look forward to greeting all of our supporters on the touchline.

Year 3 and 4AP visited the Oxford Playhouse to see Jack and the Beanstalk this week. The boys returned very enthusiastic about the show. It certainly reinforced that the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun.

Each of our Houses spent Thursday morning assembly time choosing their House Charities for the year. They have chosen the following: Dragon - Children’s Air Ambulance, Griffin - Great Ormond Street, Phoenix - Help for Heroes, Unicorn - Wild At Heart. I was fortunate to hear a number of our Year 8s explaining why they had chosen to propose certain charities and it was fascinating to hear their personal reasons for wanting to give them our support.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Pre-Prep Nativity today and it was a delight to watch. Our younger boys should be very proud of their performances on stage. We undoubtedly have a number of budding thespians coming through the school. They had learned all of their lines superbly and gave heart-warming entertainment to a packed audience.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind parents to check the weekly mailings as this is one of our main methods of communication, and there are often important documents or information relating to certain events that may need to be returned to school within a specific timeframe. Your support with this would be greatly appreciated.

I hope you all have a relaxing weekend.

Best wishes

Craig 

Friday 24 November 2017 

Dear Parents

It has been another busy week here at Abingdon Prep with a wide range of autumnal weather conditions to contend with.

On Thursday morning, our second ‘class pairings’ of the term took place, this time with a board games session. I witnessed some Year 5s pitting their wits against some Year 8s at Chess, Monopoly, Battleships and Trivial Pursuit, whilst the Year 1s were partnered with Year 7s during which Snakes and Ladders, Connect 4 and Guess Who all featured prominently. Whilst walking round the groups with Mike Windsor, there was a warm feeling of camaraderie between the boys which is such an important element in any successful school. Unlike many of my family games as a child, no one dissolved in a tantrum with Monopoly money being strewn across the room!

Prep-Prep assembly was led by Rachel this week who told an engaging interactive story to the boys about teamwork and cooperation. I had the pleasure of handing out Achievement and Effort Awards which the boys have worked very hard for. Earlier in the week, I presented the first two Headmaster's Certificates for achieving five Golds and I know there are many other boys who have also nearly attained this total. It is one of the highlights of my week when boys bring work to show me that has been rewarded with a Gold.

Another packed week on the games field saw the U10s participate in a strong tournament under lights at Tilsley Park. They won one match, lost one and drew one. As a team they have certainly improved over the course of the term. Our U13As competed at the Pinewood 7s tournament, gaining an excellent win and a draw whilst a combination of an U12/13C team played in a triangular fixture against Christ Church Cathedral School and Pinewood.

House Rugby took centre stage in the Junior Section and the standard of play and commitment to the cause was very impressive indeed. In Year 4, eventual winners Phoenix won all their games by a single try so it shows how closely contested the matches were. The result was as follows: 1st – Phoenix, 2nd – Dragon, 3rd – Unicorn, 4th – Griffin

Year 3 House Rugby matches are still underway, with results hopefully to come next week. The trophy is still all to play for with the Middle and Senior Section competitions to come.

The annual Christmas Bazaar will take place tomorrow and I am looking forward to being involved for the first time. There is a palpable sense of excitement amongst the boys who have been eagerly helping to prepare their stalls over the course of the week. I very much look forward to welcoming everyone into school and starting the long build up to Christmas. Now the John Lewis advert has been released, we are all allowed to start talking about it, especially as the Christmas trees are now on display and fully decorated in school.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Bazaar.

Best wishes

Craig 

Friday 17 November 2017 

Dear Parents 

Year 6 took great delight in their hands-on Forces Day delivered by Science Oxford this week. There were gravity defying hoops (magnetism I am reliably informed!) and the boys designed and built KNEX cars and had to make them come to a stop in set areas using motors and rubber bands. We certainly have some budding engineers in this group! It is a great pleasure to be able to give the boys more hands-on experience to match the theory that they have been learning in the classroom.

Even though the rain was falling, there were some exciting matches played across our Under 8 and Under 9 age groups this week. Our Under 9 matches with Chandlings were great contests across the board with us winning one by a single try and losing two by the same margin, and I am told that there were some admirable tackles made by both teams. What a wonderful way to be learning about sportsmanship and the joys of matches! Our Under 8s also competed extremely well and finished with two wins and a loss, in another series of very close games.

Continuing the sports theme, today we have our first cross country event of the year at Cokethorpe for our Under 9, Under 10 and Under 11 teams. With all the training they have been doing after school, I am sure that they will acquit themselves well.

I hope you may have seen some photos of our magnificent Silver Coin Trails that took place on Wednesday to support one of our charities, Springfield School. It was an impressive feat to recreate their school logo in shield form and a sincere thank you to all the boys and parents who donated so generously.

Anti-bullying week took place at school this week, with our boys taking on board the important message of ‘All Different, All Equal’. There have been assemblies, PSHCE lessons, workshops and form times devoted to the topic and it is so important, although a focus for this week, that it is always in our minds and not just at certain times of the year. A happy boy is one who is making good progress across all areas of school life.

As autumn comes to a close and winter begins to set in, please do remind your sons to bring in a coat to school. Break times in the drizzle and cold are much more fun with coats and hats, and hopefully the healthy time outside might help to keep those winter sniffles away too.

Please could I also remind you that if you have any queries at the end of the day, please do speak to the staff in the School Office so that they might be able either to answer them or direct you to the right person.

And finally, I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with a number of parents at my informal coffee morning after drop off today. I would very much like to repeat this on a monthly basis, so please do look out for future dates. I hope that those who could not come along this time, may be able to do so next time. The pains au chocolat really were rather delicious and worth coming for!

With best wishes

Craig

Friday 10 November 2017 

Dear Parents

There is only one place I could possibly start my letter this week and that is Firestorm. What an event! I can safely say that I have never seen anything quite like it. The light sabre battles were so obviously enjoyed by all the boys, and it was a pleasure to watch the Pre-Prep pupils playing on their own mound area whilst the older boys jousted on Josca's field. As for the firework display, it was simply stunning. Just when I thought nothing could beat the house figures firing at one another, the unicorn breathed a ten foot flame from its horn, swiftly followed by the griffin shooting flames back! To call it ‘breathtaking’ would be an understatement.

The joy on the children's faces (and on the faces of those experiencing the event for the first time too) was visible. The whole evening was a real show of Abingdon Prep community spirit and I am delighted that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. As I mentioned last week, these events do not happen without the enormous time and effort from the organisers, and I would once again like to say a huge thank you to Paul Wentworth for putting on his last Firestorm with the support of his wonderful team led by Simon Stanford. Paul certainly went out with a bang! I am sure you will also join me in extending our thanks to all others who gave up their valuable time to make the event run so smoothly, namely our remarkable JPA representatives, and also many other parents who kindly volunteered their help on the night. Our next event will be the Christmas Bazaar on Saturday 25 November, so please do add your donations to the boxes currently outside the School Office.

Our Service of Remembrance today was a very moving event. The boys observed the two minute silence with genuine respect, and it gave them a quiet opportunity to reflect on how lucky we are to live in a world shaped by those who so willingly gave their lives in conflicts so that we might live in peace. The Last Post and Reveille were skilfully played by Ruairi (Year 7) on his trumpet. The service was preceded by a poignant assembly from 5S on Thursday, sharing their thoughts and personal stories about relatives and events in WWI and WWII.

There were three rugby festivals this week involving our U8s, 9s, 10s and 12s, in addition to matches for most of the U11s and U13s. It was wonderful to see so many boys out representing the school this week and performing so well.

The term certainly does not slow down next week, with Science Oxford visiting school to put on a Forces Day for Year 6. Anti-Bullying week commences on Monday with an assembly, and will run through PSHCE lessons, section assemblies, form times and in workshops on Thursday for the boys, hopefully giving them another chance to reflect on attitudes and behaviours towards others. This year's message is 'All Equal, All Different'. Abingdon Prep is a special place to be part of, and all of us should be aware of how important it is to be yourself and be proud of who you are. Do take the opportunity to familiarise yourselves with our anti-bullying charter and our policy, which can be found online and also as a paper copy at Reception and in the Prep-Prep letter rack.

Our Pre-Prep staff visited Springfield Special School on Thursday, one of our charities this year, with the aim of setting up joint events with them in the next couple of terms. Year 1 will be experimenting with some new games in PE lessons over the next few weeks using a jingle ball, and are hoping to teach these games to Springfield pupils next term.

As I write this, Year 4 are out visiting Christ Church, Abingdon, and I am looking forward to finishing off the week listening to some of our boys playing in the Concert Platform this evening. It is encouraging to see so many boys taking the chance to share their musical talent.

On Monday next week we will have a new face in our School Office. Mrs Karen Cornford is joining us as School Secretary. I know that we will all welcome her with open arms into the Abingdon Prep community and help her to settle in to her new role.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to invite parents to join me in the Drama Studio next Friday morning, 17 November, after drop off, for coffee and pastries and an informal catch-up.

I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend planned. I will be going to Uxbridge to play my first game of vets football this season. There could be a great deal of warming up and stretching required before kick off!

With best wishes

Craig

Friday 3 November 2017 

Dear Parents

It seems some time ago now that, on the first Sunday of half term, twelve Abingdon Prep boys participated in the Abingdon Vale Biathlon and achieved a superb set of results in what was a strong competition. Six of the twelve finished in the top three in their respective age groups, with the others narrowly missing out on podium finishes in most cases. This was a commendable effort, especially given that the event took place during the school holidays!

On Monday this week, our Year 1 and Reception boys were treated to a day about Divali, during which they wore traditional dress and ate Indian food, as well as being introduced to the key characters of Rama and Sita. They were very excited to tell me all about it when I saw them later in the day.

In the classroom, or more specifically out of the classroom, I had the pleasure of watching the Year 8 CDT recycled material hovercraft race across the swimming pool. Stormy conditions made the crossing hazardous but a number of vessels were sturdy enough in design to make the crossing successfully and rather quickly too!

Year 3 were excited to be using their pin hole cameras for the first time, framing up the tree line within the school front door, and I had some very clear explanations of how they worked. We clearly have a number of budding scientists in the group.

There was a ‘Free Will’ debate in Year 7s RE lesson to which I thoroughly enjoyed listening, and hearing the perspectives of the boys. An appreciation of others’ points of view was evident, matched with rebuttals and personal opinions. It is great to see the boys being given opportunities to express their views and improve their all-round communication skills.

This week’s Wednesday fixtures produced a very high standard of play across all of the age groups. The Oratory Prep School’s physicality and desire to break the tackle line meant that they just edged out Abingdon Prep across most games, but our boys should take great heart from the way they played and the fact that they were able to match strong opposition in so many of the matches.

House meetings in buddy groups took place yesterday, and I was fortunate enough to see all the Houses competing in their ping pong ball and cup games. It is such a valuable opportunity for the younger boys to get acquainted with the older ones and interact with them, and I know the older boys enjoy running the activities.

Continuing the House theme, Phoenix House have enjoyed the treat of a home clothes day today. They were house points winners for the first half of this term and it is wonderful to see their efforts being rewarded. I know that Griffin, Dragon and Unicorn will all be striving to overtake them in the second half of term, and to earn themselves a home clothes day.

The boys (and most parents to whom I have spoken!) are all looking forward immensely to Firestorm this evening, as indeed am I since it will be my first. I have my fingers crossed for some kind weather and the BBC weather app seems to suggest that we might just be in luck! I would like to take this opportunity to thank Paul Wentworth who will be arranging the fireworks display for the last time tonight. It has clearly been a labour of love and I know all of the Abingdon Prep community is enormously grateful for the time and effort he has put into making it such a special occasion each year. I would also like to thank the countless volunteers from the parent body who help out at this exciting event, as without them it could not take place. I personally cannot wait for the hog roast!

Lastly, I would like to extend a warm invitation to parents to join me after drop-off from 8.15am on the morning of Friday 17 November, for an informal coffee in the Library. I look forward to catching up with some of you there.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a relaxing weekend.

Best wishes

Craig 

Friday 13 October 2017 

Dear Parents

Half-term has arrived! From chatting to the boys over lunch this week, it seems that many of you have exciting trips planned, so fingers crossed for some Autumn sunshine, whether you are staying at home or going further afield for the fortnight.

The ‘Bold and Bright’ theme for Home Clothes Day was certainly taken literally today by the boys, and it was a fun way to raise money for one of our school charities, Springfield School. Sunglasses were a must if you were spending the day with one or two of the boys…and a few of the staff!

Thank you to all of the boys who gave up their Saturday morning last week to be part of our Open Morning. It was a hugely successful event and the boys showed off their school in its best light, demonstrating hard work, ability and personable qualities in equal measure. Our Year 7 guides were exceptional ambassadors and it was a pleasure to see the boys showing such pride in their school.

Fifteen pupils from Years 6 to 8 went to Radley College to participate in their ‘Orchestra Day’ this week. It was an inspirational opportunity for them to play with other high quality musicians from local prep schools, and they had a wonderful time, thoroughly enjoying the challenge of performing difficult pieces with others they had only just met. Debbie reported that the day was spent rehearsing hard in preparation for a final concert including separate brass, string and concert band pieces followed by all one hundred musicians coming together to play Mussorgsky's 'Night On A Bare Mountain'. It was a marvellous day!

Our Reception boys visited Cogges Farm on Monday and had a fantastic time. They learnt how to bake bread in a hot bread oven, grind corn into flour, plant corn seeds in little pots they had made and they retold the story of the Little Red Hen. They followed this with an expedition into the woods, where they had to cross over the rickety bridge with a troll waiting beneath! It was delightful to hear them so enthused about the trip on their return.

Matches were played on Wednesday against Beachborough and a very pleasing set of results were returned. I was lucky enough to referee the Under 11B team who played with pride in their shirt and showed great team spirit, alongside some impressive rugby skills. All matches were closely contested with Abingdon Prep winning the majority of the fixtures.

I very much enjoyed catching up with a number of Year 6 parents at Parents’ Evening this week. It was a valuable opportunity to discuss the term so far. I think it is fair to say that we all felt the term has flown by.

I would like to take this opportunity to let you know that Lynne Hough, our Head of French, will be retiring at the end of this academic year. As a result we will be starting the process of recruiting her successor over the next few weeks. Lynne has been with Abingdon Prep for many years and will be greatly missed. I will, of course, say more about her in the summer. In the meantime, I know that Lynne will continue to inspire and work hard with the boys in the classroom.

We also say a final farewell to Sallie today. She has been an absolutely wonderful School Secretary and she will be greatly missed. I know that you would all join with me in wishing her the very best for her new role.

That just leaves me to wish you all a relaxing and restful half term and to thank you for making my first half term here so enjoyable. It is a lovely place to work and I have certainly been made to feel part of the community. I hope that the boys will get you to look up the National Trust “50 things to do before you are 11 ¾ ” and that you can get them to tick off a few more from the list. I was astounded in my assembly on Monday that not all the boys had had a conker fight. Perhaps that might be the first one to tick off!

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 6 October 2017 

Dear Parents 

As we near the halfway mark of the term, school seems to get busier and busier. On Monday, our Year 8s visited the Natural History Museum in Oxford for a combined Art and Science day. I hope many of you have seen the photos on Twitter or Facebook of the boys sketching some of the exhibits. The boys showed me some of their drawings on their return and I was impressed with the likeness they had created of the creatures they had seen there.

Tuesday saw a very busy Year 5 Parents’ Evening. I very much enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with several parents whilst they waited for their appointments and to chat about their son’s start to the term.

On Wednesday a host of rugby matches against Chandlings took place for the U10 and U11 teams. It was wonderful to see every single boy in both Year 5 and Year 6 representing school in those fixtures and thoroughly enjoying it. Almost every game was very closely contested and the overall results reflected this with three wins, two draws and two losses.

Our Year 5s visited the Black Country Museum yesterday. This was the first time that Abingdon Prep had visited the museum and the feedback from the boys suggested that the trip was very enjoyable, and it should be repeated next year. The two highlights of the trip, according to the boys, were going down into a real coal mine and the sight of their teacher being given ‘six of the best’ by a Victorian schoolmistress! That alone would surely be reason enough to return.

Today, eight of our Year 5 and Year 6 boys are heading to Magdalen College School to represent Abingdon Prep in their annual quiz. Hopefully, they have been swatting up and putting in the hours watching ‘Eggheads’ and ‘Pointless’ as revision! I am sure they will have enjoyed the day and perhaps set themselves up for a life of future quizzing.

Pre-Prep Harvest Festival is also taking place this afternoon. This is a lovely event and I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the parents who have kindly contributed towards this. I know our offerings are greatly appreciated and hugely valued by those in our community who need them most. This year, they will be donated to the Gatehouse Charity which provides meals for the homeless.

We are busy preparing for our whole school Open Morning which takes place tomorrow, and I look forward to welcoming the boys into school. It is our chance to show off our excellent school to a new group of parents, with the Year 7 boys taking them on tours and answering their questions. This may well have been how so many of you were first introduced to the school yourselves.

Although chronologically out of order, I would also like to mention our Concert Platform that took place last Friday. This was my first opportunity to hear our talented musicians this term and I was thrilled to hear such a range of instruments and the standard to which they were played. Boys just starting out along their musical journeys played alongside more seasoned performers and it was lovely seeing how much they enjoyed the opportunity to play in front of an audience. I would encourage more of you to come along on a Friday afternoon to listen to these events. It is a delightful way to end a week, and there is even coffee and cake to tempt you into the Hall!

As you can see, it certainly has been a busy week but that is exactly what life in a thriving prep school should be like. Busy boys, learning both in and out of the classroom, arriving home tired but fulfilled.

Best wishes

Craig 

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