7 September 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

It has been a great pleasure to welcome the pupils back to school this week. They seem well-rested and ready for the challenges of the year ahead and I do hope that all our families were able to enjoy a good summer. As I start my second year here at Abingdon, it is good to have my feet firmly under the desk and to be able to revisit everything that was a ‘first’ for me last year.

There was a lot to celebrate over the summer. Our leavers performed strongly in their A Level exams, with over a quarter of all results at A* and nearly two-thirds at A* or A; indeed, over 80 boys achieved straight A*/As. This has led to some excellent outcomes in terms of university places, with seventeen students going on to Oxbridge – one pupil declined his place at Oxford to take up a place at Yale in the US. It was a strong year for medics too, with twelve students going on to study medicine. It is also exciting to see some of our students take on entrepreneurial and vocational challenges outside university this year.  

GCSE results were excellent, with just under 60% at A* and 86% at A* or A grade. Parents may have seen press coverage of new numerical grades at GCSE. We were not affected by this as boys were studying IGCSEs in the relevant subjects. From next summer, pupils will be awarded numerical grades in some subjects and we will ensure parents of boys in the relevant year groups know what to expect.

Work has continued on the Beech Court project over the summer. We are making good progress and are on track to open this new facility, which will include a Sixth Form Centre, Library and Art department, in September 2018. The fitness suite was completely refurbished over the summer and now features equipment better designed to develop pupils’ strength and conditioning; we hope that we will see the benefits in terms of the pupils’ overall fitness and health. We are in the process of completing a new pavilion between the MUSA (tennis courts) and the Waste Court pitch, which we hope might eventually also be a place from which to serve welcome refreshments during matches! Significant work has gone into improving the quality of our playing surfaces too and I hope you will see the benefits as the rugby season starts.

In recent months, we have been working on a new school prospectus and giving a fresher look to the website. The prospectus will be available to prospective parents at the end of the month but you can already get a taste of the theme and feel of the new document via the website at www.abingdon.org.uk/be_you. Also on the website you can view a new 2-minute film that we have commissioned for the Abingdon Foundation: www.abingdon.org.uk/abingdon_foundation_video. We will continue to post the latest news to the website and don’t forget that you can follow what’s going on at the School via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As we start the new academic year, I am very pleased to welcome our new colleagues to the School:

  • Mrs Amy Downer joins us as our new Head of Art;
  • Mr Andrew Jamison joins the English department;
  • Mrs Jennifer Overton (Geography) is covering Rev Gooding’s absence on sabbatical this term;
  • Mr Richard Pygott joins the Geography department;
  • Mr Timothy Chase joins the History department;
  • Mr Nick Ball, Mrs Mary Lord and Mr Harry Williams all join the Mathematics department;
  • Miss Raquel Fraile and Miss Rachel Nicholson join the Modern Languages department;
  • Our new Director of Teaching and Learning, Mrs Ronnie Reading, is also a linguist.

We also welcome a new team of language assistants to the Modern Languages department, as well as Miss Megan Milarski who will be assisting with the Abingdon Science Partnership. Mr Ben Phillips is covering as Middle Master for Rev Gooding this term. Finally, I am pleased to welcome Mr John Cotton back to the school as our Assistant Director of Music.

The links below will take you to some accounts of summer highlights. It was also great to see so many boys in for pre-season training and sports camps over the past few weeks.

I would like to remind parents that you are very welcome to join us for concerts, sports fixtures and productions. Indeed, we are always very grateful for your strong – and vocal – support! I will look forward to meeting you at these events during the course of the year, as well as at the various parents’ evenings that will take place.

I wish your sons and indeed all Abingdon families the very best for the coming academic year; there is a great deal to look forward to.

Best wishes

Michael Windsor

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