14 December 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

As I write, there is certainly a festive feel to the School, with snow on the ground and many pupils marking Christmas Jumper Day with a selection of quite extraordinary knitwear. I have the sense that the school community is looking forward to the celebrations over the holiday ahead…

Certainly pupils can reflect on a busy and successful term and I hope you might be able to get a flavour of it by looking at the news links below. It is unfair to pick out particular highlights from an impressive list but the recent drama productions and Christmas concerts have featured significant numbers of pupils performing at a high level, while there has been great success on the sports pitch too. In all arenas, pupils have shown impressive leadership, ability and resilience, and they can be proud of their efforts.

I would like to share some significant news about our board of Governors. Adrian Burn (OA 1963) has announced his decision to step down as Chairman of Governors of the Abingdon Foundation 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 our facilities, which has included the opening of the Yang Science Centre, the complete refurbishment of Greening Court and the launch of the Beech Court project, as well as significant works at Abingdon Prep School. I have been hugely grateful for the support that Adrian has offered me and the Foundation.

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 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.

Our Governors recently held a strategy day to plan for the future of the School. An important aspect of this day was the opportunity to reflect upon the findings of the affordability survey that was conducted earlier this term by Baines Cutler. I am grateful that many parents responded to the survey, as this yielded useful information that will assist greatly with our planning in the future.

There are changes on the staff too. Mr Swarbrick is retiring after assisting with the UCAS process for our Upper Sixth this term, while Mr Ponniah is leaving to take up a post at Winchester College. We also wish Ms Vickers well as she and her family move to Canada.

On the school site, significant progress is being made on Beech Court which we expect to open in September. The new building will include a Sixth Form Centre on the ground floor, with facilities for studying and relaxing, while the first floor will house a greatly expanded library, which we believe will provide an ideal setting for independent study, homework and for pupils to develop their love of reading. The top floor will be the new home for the Art department, who will be able to benefit from the natural light. The new development will free up significant spaces around the site, allowing, for example, for the expansion of facilities for Music and Drama and the Lower School house-room.

I am conscious that over the holiday, pupils in the Fifth Year will be combining their rest and relaxation with revision for the approaching mocks. Upper Sixth mocks follow after half term. I hope that these boys are able to achieve a successful balance and that they keep to their revision timetables. I hope too that all Abingdon families have a happy and restful break. I will look forward to welcoming pupils back to school on Tuesday 9 January.

Finally, I wish everyone in the Abingdon community a very merry Christmas!

Best wishes

Michael Windsor

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