17 April 2020

Dear Parents

In normal circumstances I would be looking forward to welcoming the boys back to school next week. The school site is looking beautiful; blossom on the trees, the grass on the cricket pitches lush and green. But of course we will have to wait a while longer until we see the school back to its normal, vibrant, self.

I do hope that you and your families are all fit and well. I am conscious that this is a stressful and challenging time for everyone. I am grateful to those in our community who continue to work so hard on the frontline against the coronavirus and am pleased that we have been able to look after the children of key workers over the course of the holiday. This provision will continue and my thanks also go to the staff at Abingdon and Abingdon Prep who have volunteered to supervise.

It was a busy Easter for members of the Design and Technology department who spent a lot of time making protective visors for local hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes. The Abingdon Science Partnership has also been hard at work preparing online resources for teaching science and their endeavours were highlighted by the Daily Telegraph in a recent article describing collaboration between the independent and state sectors.

I think we are all learning that our new ways of working require higher levels of collaboration and cooperation than ever and I know that colleagues have been working together in departments to ensure that resources and ideas are in place to support the boys’ online learning. The School will continue to run to its normal timetable, starting with registration at 8.35am from Tuesday 21 April. There will often be a ‘live’ element to lessons via Zoom but the boys will also be set tasks which give them a break from interacting on screen.

A key focus during the first half of term will be to confirm provisional grades and rank orders for our GCSE and A Level candidates and we will be working hard to ensure that these are fair, realistic and consistent. The exam boards have made it clear that schools should not reveal provisional grades to candidates or their parents.

As you know, at Abingdon we believe that there is much more to education than the acquisition of qualifications and this is particularly important at this time of lockdown. Our staff have therefore been working hard to put together ways of operating our Other Half programme remotely and there will be lots of stimulating and rewarding activities on offer for your son; indeed, it’s been great to see many boys responding to various online challenges over the Easter break. Some of the activities on offer next term will be a continuation of activities that your son may already be involved in; some are quite new and ideally suited to time at home. Boys will receive the list of available activities early next week and I hope you’ll take the time to discuss it with your son.

We have been thinking carefully about the implications of our new ways of working for the health and wellbeing of the boys and Mr Hindley, the Deputy Head (Pastoral) will be in touch shortly with a letter about how we will be managing our online interactions with your son. I hope you will read this carefully; we will also be writing to your sons.

Finally, I would like to reassure you that, although we are working in a different way, everyone at Abingdon is committed to supporting your sons and you as we navigate our way through this crisis. I hope you won’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any concerns that you would like to discuss. Your first port of call would be your son’s tutor or Housemaster and they will certainly be able to pass on concerns to the correct member of staff.

We will continue to communicate regularly with you and I very much look forward to catching up with the boys next week when term gets underway on Tuesday.

Best wishes

Michael Windsor

More News