23 September 2016

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

I have very much enjoyed my first few weeks and am grateful to the pupils, staff and governors who have made me and my family so welcome. I have also enjoyed meeting many parents at our year group receptions and it was a particular pleasure to meet so many of our current boarders’ parents, along with OAs and prospective pupils and parents, at our reception in Hong Kong at the beginning of the week. I was excited and intrigued by Hong Kong on my first ever visit and hope to be back again soon.

In Hong Kong I was delighted to be able to display slides showing the new facilities for Geography, History and Classics in Greening Court. It was also a real pleasure this week to be able to open our new Multi-Use Sports Area (or MUSA for short), which will be a huge asset to our sports programme, especially tennis. The MUSA will also be available for pupils’ recreation and I am sure it will be a hit with our boarders for after-hours sport.

The first year students have made an excellent start to their time at Abingdon and are enjoying the new experience. They have shared their thoughts on the first week and some of these can be seen on the website. Third year boys have also settled well, getting to know each other through team building exercises and social events.  We also welcome new students to our Sixth Form and indeed moving up to the Sixth Form is quite a change for all our pupils. It is an exciting and very important two years with numerous opportunities. We have a team of Sixth Form Advisors who are on hand to work with the boys, giving guidance on university and further education applications, careers and also academic support including private study and the EPQ. I hope the boys make the most of the wealth of advice this team offers.

The boys are back from a wide range of activities over the summer. There are some stunning photos on the website of the geographers in India, boys trekking and exploring in Vietnam and the CCF taking part in an intensive adventure camp in Yorkshire and the Lake District. Sixth formers Patrick McCubbin and Matthew Gill spent a week with astronauts and space scientists at the International Space School Education Trust’s ‘Mission Discovery’ in what looked like a fascinating experience. The Sailing Club was very active with boys exploring the Aegean Islands training for their Day and Coastal Skipper qualifications and 48 boys improving their skills at Farmoor Reservoir. Tom Savidge and Arthur Bruce helmed in the U23 National Youth match racing competition and six boys represented Oxfordshire in the National Sailing Association’s Summer Regatta.

We congratulate Henry Waterson who was awarded an army scholarship following a very competitive application process and Ethan McLellan who reached the doubles final of the Road to Wimbledon tennis tournament. Many congratulations also to Jonathan Hall who won the top project prize at The Bartlett School of Architecture (University College London) summer school.

In other successes, several students represented their country over the summer. Magnus Gregory was selected for the Great Britain kayaking team competing at both the Junior European and World Championships. Ethan Moody competed for Great Britain windsurfing at the Junior European Championships and three of last year’s Upper Sixth rowed for Great Britain competing at the Coupe de la Jeunesse (European Championships) and the Junior World Championships. Boys from the Second, Third and Fourth Years played in football’s Gothia Cup, gaining tremendous competition experience. Charlie Quarterman continues his cycling success with third place in the highly competitive Giro di Basilicata in Italy, very impressive indeed.

Tom Clokey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Nasio Trust, an HIV orphan charity where he volunteered whilst in Tanzania. Our HR Manager, Sarah Carter, also completed the climb in August, raising money for Blue Skye Thinking. Congratulations to both of them.

Fixtures have got underway with the 1st XV playing a close match, which ended in a draw, against Berkhamsted and a good win against Cokethorpe. They face a tough fixture against Eton on Saturday. The Chess Club has enjoyed a good start to the year finishing in the top third of over 50 schools competing at the Eton Rapid Play tournament. DofE activities have also begun with boys honing their canoe skills in a Bronze practice expedition on the River Thames last weekend, and walkers climbing Kinder Scout in the Peak District for their Silver expedition practice.

I hope the term continues to go well for everyone.

Yours sincerely

Michael Windsor

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