28 March 2018
I am writing this having just watched a number of Abingdon teams give their presentations in the Young Enterprise Area Finals in the Amey Theatre. I was impressed by the quality of the presentations, as boys spoke with considerable confidence and poise in outlining the development of their campaigns. I also enjoyed the fact that teams were able to reflect maturely and frankly on what had not gone so well.
Their admission that they had got things wrong sometimes was refreshing. In a high-achieving school like Abingdon, pupils can often give the impression that success comes effortlessly. I hope though that the School can also be an environment where the boys can be honest about their difficulties and not be afraid to admit when they got it wrong. It’s no secret that the most lasting and profound successes can grow out of our biggest failures. I hope our pupils can learn to fail in a supportive environment like Abingdon where there will be someone around to pick up the pieces and help them get back on track.
The Lent term is a busy time of recruitment for schools. We look forward to welcoming to Abingdon the pupils who have successfully progressed through this term’s 11+ and 16+ processes and who will join us in September.
We have also been busy ensuring that our staffing will be in place for September. I will give you a full rundown of all the moves in a future letter but I thought you might be interested in three posts which will be new to Abingdon next year.
Mr Gooding will move from his current position as Middle Master to the new role of Head of Wellbeing. He will oversee our programme of Personal Development which includes the PSHCE curriculum and the Mindsets programme in the Sixth Form but he will more importantly be a champion for wellbeing – in the broadest sense – for all members of the school community. Although we are conscious of the pressures on young people today, we want pupils to emerge from school with the ability to bounce back from difficulty and with the sense of joy that should be a natural part of growing up. We want to work with parents as we seek to help our pupils and we look forward to collaborating with you in this area.
Another new appointment sees Mr Southwell-Sander standing down as Housemaster to take over the new position of Partnerships Director. Although he will be much missed by pupils and parents in his House, Mr Southwell-Sander will have the task of giving our burgeoning partnerships programme renewed focus and direction. There have been exciting developments in this area in recent years in Abingdon through initiatives such as our partnership with Fitzharrys School and the Abingdon Science Partnership and I have been delighted to see our pupils contributing so much and working so effectively with children from other local schools. This will be an exciting new role for Mr Southwell-Sander and I have no doubt that he will achieve substantial developments.
Finally, we have appointed a team of four Assistant Directors of Teaching and Learning to support Mrs Reading, our Director of Teaching and Learning. Alongside their subject teaching, this team will support our mission to ensure the highest possible standards of teaching and learning at Abingdon, providing support, on-going training and challenge, while also encouraging creativity and innovation. The team will help ensure that we benefit from the latest educational research, while resisting fads and bandwagons, and ultimately help ensure Abingdon is a place where there is a real buzz about learning.
During the course of the term, considerable progress has been made on the Beech Court project and pupils can now get a real sense of the scale and look of the building as the hoarding around the cafe has now come down. We are on track for completion of this building late in the summer term which means that the summer break will be a particularly busy one as we shuffle departments to make the best possible use of the space that will be freed up. We will look forward to showing parents round the new building in September.
At the end of this letter, you will find links to news items which capture the highlights of this relatively short but busy term. The pupils have shown fortitude and resilience in coping with some unusual weather and I would like to congratulate them on their collective enthusiasm and endurance.
I am aware that our Upper Sixth and Fifth Year pupils have public exams on the horizon. I wish them all the best with their revision and urge them to plan the remaining weeks carefully so that they can also make time for rest, fresh air and exercise.
I hope the weather might be a little kinder as the School breaks up for Easter and I wish all Abingdon families a happy and restful holiday.
Institute of Engineering & Technology's Faraday Challenge
Oxford University Telescope Evening
UKMT Team Challenge Regional Final Winners
Model United Nations Lent update, Haileybury Conference
Sixth form physicists Blott Matthews Engineering Challenge
World Poetry Day
Rocket car racers
YE success at Banbury Trade Fair
Chess: National Schools’ Chess Championship Egham, Reading Blue Coat, Regional Final, Wellington College Tournament, Knockout Tournament Finals
AS Physics Olympiad
Lower School: Quiz Night, Lunchtime concert, Inter-Tutor Hockey
Sixth form artists explore paint
AFU Tutors win BAFTA
Re-enacting the Battle of Hastings
ASP: ATOM Science Festival, British Science Week, Primarily Science Club – magnetic slime
Fitzharrys Partnership: Science lessons
Primary School Pottery Throwdown
Community Service: Old Station House, Easter Tea Party
Boarders: cookery – hot dogs, parsnip crisps, Easter nests, football and pizza social, gifts for Older and Bolder
Third years to Seville
Spanish exchange visit Abingdon
Half term skiing in Saint Gervais
German exchange to Bielefeld
Boarders explore London
Second years at Aquae Sulis
Physicists tour BMW Mini factory
Second years visit the Satellite Applications Catapult
Compton Verney art gallery
Rugby Sevens: Warwick, Wellington, Caldicott, Charlie Atkinson plays for Wasps, Berkhamsted
Football: Our Lady’s, Dragon/Haileybury, Bedford Modern/Cheltenham College, Abingdon Prep/St John's Leatherhead, OA Football
Hockey: Internationals Coaching, Cheltenham College/New College, Wellington/St Georges 6s/Dragon, U13 regionals, Bradfield, MCS
Rowing: Winter Heads, Junior Inter-Regional National Regatta
Swimming: Abingdon Sprints, Bath and Otter Cup
Squash Nationals Competition
East Midlands Open Racketlon
Merlyn Bowling Machine
Gold at Taekwondo English Open
Public Schools Fencing Championships
English Schools National Cross-country Championships