Letters from the Headmaster

6 July 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

The last couple of weeks have seen us enjoy some great events with which to finish off the academic year and in particular to say farewell to our Leavers. The Leavers’ service and then last Saturday’s Griffen Ball will in particular remain long in the memory. There have been many trips and visits taking place recently too and the spirit of adventure thrives at Abingdon, with large numbers taking part in expeditions to go towards the various Duke of Edinburgh Awards. It is clear that our Leavers have a keen interest in travel too with many of them set for exciting trips both in Europe and further afield, and I wish them all the very best for these journeys, as well as for A Level results day on 17 August.

We say farewell at the end of term to a number of teachers who are moving on. Mr Aitken and Mr Swarbrick are retiring after nineteen years’ service to the school, though Mr Swarbrick will be returning on a part-time basis next term to offer support with UCAS applications. Mr Davies is taking up the post of Deputy Head (Academic) at Kingswood School in Bath, while Mr Edgar and Mr Stuart are moving on to City of London School and Cokethorpe respectively. Mr Green is leaving to take up a post at Bradfield while Mr Pemberton moves on to the Royal Agricultural College for further study. Finally, we wish well to Mr Domm, Mr Jones and Mr Griffin in their new roles. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all these teachers, and indeed all my colleagues both in teaching and support roles, for their hard work over the past academic year.

Construction will continue over the summer of the Beech Court project, which will include a Sixth Form Centre and Art department, as well as a library which will be approximately twice the size of our current facility. The first steels have now been erected and we are all excited to see the scale of the new building, which is due to open in September 2018. The summer break will also see a complete revamp of our gym with new equipment designed to support a programme of strength and conditioning, which we hope will give pupils the chance to improve in their sport while also giving them strong foundations for health and flexibility in later life.

There has been a great deal of collective endeavour over the past term and I am sure pupils will be ready for rest and relaxation over the summer. I am all in favour of this but I would urge every pupil to take advantage of the time freed up over the next few weeks to read widely and freely. There are of course many and varied benefits to reading but a good selection of books over the summer should give ample opportunities for escapism, reflection and excitement. The English department and the Library have set all our pupils a reading challenge featuring some wonderful books and I really hope that many boys will engage with this.

I have very much enjoyed getting to know so many Abingdon parents over the past year. It is a great privilege to lead this school and I am looking forward to sharing our vision for the future with parents early next term. I wish all Abingdon families a wonderful summer, confident that 2017-18 will be another action-packed and exciting year for the school.

Best wishes,

Michael Windsor

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Out & About

25 May 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

Our collective thoughts over the past few days have been dominated by the dreadful attack that took place in Manchester on Monday night. It is hard for anyone to understand or explain this sort of event but tutor time has given colleagues and pupils an opportunity to reflect together. Our Chapel services have provided another chance for us to come together as a community in solidarity with those who have been affected. In difficult times, this sense of community is vital in providing succour to those who are feeling fearful or uncertain.

The Chapel service was certainly a key part of the events that we held to mark the final day of teaching for our Upper Sixth pupils last week. It was a hugely uplifting occasion, marked by the Leavers’ strong sense of companionship and measured words of advice from Mr O’Doherty, the Upper Master, as well as by some truly rousing hymn-singing as the Upper Sixth gave full voice to favourites like Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer and Jerusalem.  I wish the boys the very best as they undertake the challenge of A Levels and look forward to rounding off their Abingdon career with them in style at Prize Giving on Saturday 24 June and finally at the Griffen Ball on Saturday 1 July.

The departure on revision leave of our Upper Sixth means that our next crop of Prefects has duly been appointed to take over duties around the School. We were impressed with the quality of the field for the post of Prefect and I am confident we have brought together a strong team, representing the many constituencies of the School, that will serve Abingdon extremely well for the next twelve months.

I would like to wish everyone taking exams over the coming weeks - be they external or internal - every success. I hope our pupils have by now taken on board the message that the best revision is focused and active, and intermingled with breaks to allow exercise, fresh air and social interaction. Indeed, I have been delighted to see the Other Half continue to thrive through the exam season and I hope you enjoy reading about our pupils’ achievements by following the links below.

I wish all our Abingdon families a happy half-term next week and look forward to welcoming the pupils back to school on Monday 5 June.

Best wishes

Michael Windsor

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27 April 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

I hope all Abingdon families were able to have a restful and refreshing Easter. As you will see from the links below, a large number of our pupils were out on various trips that took place over the holiday, ranging from a language exchange in France to cricket in Sri Lanka. It is great to see so many pupils taking advantage of these opportunities for personal development and I am grateful to my colleagues who put so much time and effort into organising these trips.

The summer term is always rather overshadowed by the public examination season, as well as our internal exams. I hope our pupils will heed the advice that they have been given about revision as they undertake exam preparation. Although exams are undoubtedly important, our pupils need to develop a balanced approach to revision that gives them time for fresh air and exercise alongside their work; research confirms the value of exercise in improving memory and recall and it will help keep our boys happy and relaxed through the exam season. Please do get in touch with your son’s tutor or Housemaster if you have any concern about exam preparation or if you feel that your son is struggling; we all want to help and see your sons do their very best.

Of course there are many other events to enjoy over the course of this term. It’s been great to see our cricketers and tennis-players out already enjoying the sunshine, even though the temperature appears to be plummeting as I write…  It’s a busy term for our rowers, of course, with the National Schools’ Regatta and Henley to look forward to, while on the arts front our musicians will be in action in the Spring Concert and again later in the term. I’m sure not least that the boys will be looking forward to Abingdon’s Got Talent in the Amey Theatre on 10 May, when they will be performing alongside girls from St Helen and St Katharine’s.

Our contractors have made good progress on the Beech Court project over Easter. The demolition of the former Geography department is now complete and preparations are being made for the laying of the foundations of the new building. Over on War Memorial field our cricketers will soon be able to hone their skills on the new cricket nets and artificial surface, as this facility is due to open in the next ten days.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those parents who have given sponsorship for my abseil down the tower of Dorchester Abbey to raise funds for the Dorchester Festival and the Sue Ryder Home in Nettlebed. I will be going over the top at 12.15pm on Saturday 29 April. Spectators are welcome… I hope not to let the School down and if you would like to provide some sponsorship, you can do so at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michael-Windsor2.

I wish you and your family well for the coming term and look forward to meeting many of you in school soon.

Best wishes

Michael Windsor

Abingdon School News: 29 March – 26 April 2017

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30 March 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

It has been great to see pupils and staff out and about enjoying the warmer weather recently. A particular highlight this week was the annual Road Relay, which saw a huge number of teams racing round the School and Albert Park. I was delighted to see so many pupils volunteering to take part and the remaining boys voicing cheerful and enthusiastic support. It was a terrific whole-school event and a fine example of the strength of the Abingdon community; do have a look at the photos on the website. I was able to withstand the pressure to compete this year and, having seen the quality of the runners, I think I’ll try and retain my position as starter in future years too...

The Road Relay comes at the end of a short but successful term and I hope parents will enjoy reading about the many highlights via the links below and in the next edition of Abingdon News. I’ve been particularly pleased to see Abingdon boys prepared to look outside our own community and commit themselves to other causes. It was impressive to see so many pupils signing up for a night in the cold as part of the Charity Sleep-Out, which did an excellent job in raising funds for local charities as well as building awareness of the issue of homelessness. It was also good to see pupils and staff taking part in the Reading Half-Marathon to raise money for the charity Blue Skye Thinking. On both occasions the participants seemed remarkably fresh and cheerful the next day in school.

I am keen to do my bit too and have therefore joined a team that will be abseiling down the 100ft tower of Dorchester Abbey on Saturday 29 April at midday. I am not overly keen on heights but I hope not to let the School down… The abseiling is part of the Dorchester Festival and we will be raising funds for the Abbey and also for Sue Ryder in Nettlebed. If you would like to support these causes, please follow this link.

I am grateful to the many parents who responded to the parental questionnaire earlier this term. I have just received the final analysis of these responses and I hope to share this with parents early next term. Do please get in touch directly if you have any matters that you would like to raise with me in the meantime.

Contractors are making good progress with the enabling works for the Beech Court project, which is scheduled for completion in September 2018 and will provide a new Sixth Form Centre, library and Art department. This very week, the former Geography department is being demolished as we clear the site for the new building; I will keep parents updated as the new building takes shape.

I am conscious that a good number of our pupils will be using this Easter break to prepare for public or internal examinations. I hope that they will make sensible use of their time, and also make sure that they get some fresh air and exercise alongside their studies. I wish them all the very best with their revision.

I would like to wish all our parents and families a restful and refreshing break over Easter. I look forward to welcoming the boys back to school in time for registration at 8.35am on Tuesday 25 April.

Best wishes

Michael Windsor

Abingdon School News: 9 – 29 March

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9 March 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

As the mornings and evenings grow lighter and the temperature gradually creeps up, it feels as if spring is on its way and it’s great to see pupils out and about enjoying their Period 8 activities every day.

Many of our pupils were away with the School over half term and I was delighted to be able to join our German exchange at the Ratsgymnasium in Bielefeld to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the partnership between our two schools. The German exchange had organised a wonderful celebration which, alongside speeches and reminiscences, featured interviews with previous participants, including a pair who had first met in the early ‘80s and who are now firm family friends. The event was further enhanced by the brilliant performances from musicians from Bielefeld and our own First Orchestra, who were there as part of their tour of northern Germany.

It has been a pleasure this term also to welcome our exchange partners from France and Spain. It is perhaps easy to overlook the significance of language exchanges when there are so many amazing opportunities available as school trips but they are of great educational value, not just in terms of the linguistic advantages but also with regard to the broader benefits of developing cultural awareness and building confidence. Although organising exchanges presents significant challenges today in a climate of safeguarding and child protection, I hope we will sustain them in the future - and I appreciate parents’ patience in going through the DBS process.

I am conscious that parents had some holiday homework to complete over half term in the form of the questionnaires from School Pulse. I am very grateful to the many parents who completed the questionnaires. These responses will be of great value as I work with colleagues and Governors over the coming weeks to set the strategic course for Abingdon. I will of course keep parents informed about our conclusions. In the meantime, I can confirm that our contractors are making good progress with the enabling works for our new Beech Court development, which will include a Sixth Form Centre, Library and the Art department.

There is much to look forward to over the remaining few weeks of term - not least, I’m sure, will be the finals of Abingdon’s Got Talent. Another highlight is the ATOM Festival of Science and Technology which is running from 22 to 26 March in Abingdon. There is a very exciting programme of talks, workshops and other activities so do visit the website to find out more.

Please do also follow the links below to see what has been happening at Abingdon so far this half term.

Kind regards

Michael Windsor

Abingdon School News - 13 February to 9 March

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10 February 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

This first half of term seems to have flown by and happily the vast majority of our pupils and staff seem to be recovering from the various illnesses that have been doing the rounds.

I hope parents are able to find the time to complete the questionnaire that was sent out earlier this week. I am very keen to gather parents’ opinions as we plan for the future of the School.

The last few weeks of this half term have been dominated by two outstanding drama productions from extremely talented senior students at Abingdon and St Helen’s. Much Ado About Nothing was immensely enjoyable to watch, lively, witty and very well received by the sell-out audiences. The ambitious and challenging production of London Road was superbly acted by the young cast and expertly accompanied by a demanding musical score. The audiences were enthralled. My thanks go to the drama departments at St Helen’s and at Abingdon.

The School’s musicians have also been taking to the stage with the New Year Charity concert featuring boys from all year groups. The music was impressive, ranging from Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos (soloists: Alex Reynolds and Carl Olavesen) to variations on the James Bond theme from the Lower School and Brass Bands. The First Orchestra ended the concert with the first movement of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, a work that features in their tour over half term to Germany. The tour celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the School’s exchange programme, which was established by Sir James Cobban, with the Bielefeld Ratsgymnasium. It is a tremendous partnership to have between the two schools, much valued by all involved, and I look forward to hearing the boys play on tour.

The music department also welcomed the Fitzroy Quartet to school to give a chamber music workshop for musicians in preparation for the first round of the National Chamber Music Festival For Schools, which took place this week.

Besides the Bielefeld tour over half term we also have boys on the usual German language exchange and a skiing trip to France. In addition, in what sounds like a fascinating experience, 12 boys together with 18 girls from St Helen’s will be visiting the Cosmonaut Training Centre at Star City in Russia and spending time with former NASA astronaut Mike Foale.  

Over the last three weeks boys have been involved with an interesting array of activities. A group of third years took part in the First Lego League Animal Allies Challenge and learnt how to programme a robot. The annual Big Physics Quiz at Birmingham University was a success with boys also enjoying a tour of the campus and a lecture on gravitational waves. Parents joined boys and staff for a trip to Reading to see professional artists from China’s Jiangsu Province Department of Culture perform “Culture of China, Festival of Spring.” And in the first stage of this year’s Young Enterprise competition, three teams tempted the crowds with their innovative ideas at Oxford’s Templars Square shopping centre.

The boarders are enjoying their weekend activity programme that saw fourth years from Crescent and School House taking on the girls from Downe House at ten-pin bowling. Third years, as part of their community service activities, made shortbread hearts as Valentine gifts for the ladies at the Older and Bolder exercise club. I am sure they were very much appreciated - and with the 14th February looming and living in a predominantly female household - I wonder if there were any left over?

Under the guidance of Jeremy Taylor, our Director of Drama, and professional filmmaker Duncan Pickstock, students from the AFU are working with Sobell House to produce a film about the hospice. It is not an easy project for the young students and one that will stretch them in many ways. I wish them all the best with the film and look forward to seeing it once completed.

On the football pitch there were excellent wins for the senior teams against St Edward’s and Shiplake but more mixed results against Reading Blue Coat and Reading Grammar. The Hockey Club recorded very impressive victories over Eton for the 1st XI, 16A, 14A and 13A teams and further wins against Bloxham. The 1st XI and the U15 and U14 A and B teams finish the first half of term unbeaten, an excellent record and best of luck for the next half.

The Swimming Club is looking particularly strong with an impressive victory for the U14 squad at the Warwick 100s last week and the Cross-country Club picked up a clean sweep at the Vale Championships at Radley College, winning the U13, U15, U17 and U19 races. The Cross-country teams went on to run well in the Wellington relays and the County Championships. Congratulations to the five athletes who were selected for the county team to represent Oxfordshire in the English National Schools Championships. In other sports, the Squash Club progress through the National Schools Trophy with a good win against John Hampden and a further win against Bradfield, and the Badminton Club, not to be outdone, secured victories over Wellington and Bromsgrove.

We wish our rowers every success in the GB trials over half term and individual congratulations go to Henry Isherwood and Harvey Jupp. Henry has been selected for the U18 South West Rugby squad and fifth year Harvey, a promising spin-bowler, was voted ‘Young Cricketer of the Year’ by the Wiltshire and Gloucester Standard.

I wish everyone in the Abingdon community all the very best for the break, and I look forward to a busy second half of term.

Yours sincerely

Michael Windsor

20 January 2017

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

It was good to welcome pupils and staff back to the School after the Christmas break. Although the first day of this week now seems to be known to the media as ‘Blue Monday’ - supposedly the most depressing day of the year - there is no sign of that at Abingdon as pupils have engaged with their work and Other Half activities with characteristic enthusiasm and good humour.

It was a very positive start to the New Year with some excellent news as we heard that planning permission had been granted for Beech Court. This exciting development, which will be situated next to Greening Court will transform our Sixth Form, Library and Art facilities. It will also enable Music, Drama and other departments to benefit from expanded and improved workspaces. We hope to open these new facilities in the autumn of 2018 and a detailed plan has been put together to ensure minimal disruption for pupils and parents during construction.

University offers have now begun to come through to upper sixth students who have applied for an exciting range of courses at a selection of excellent universities. I would like to congratulate the 22 pupils who have received offers from Oxford or Cambridge. This is an impressive number of Oxbridge offers and they come as the result of commitment, enthusiasm and endeavour.

I am pleased to welcome three new teaching colleagues to the School this term. Mr David James joins the Design Technology department, while Ms Kathryn Yarker and Mr John Marjot join Geography.

Students were involved in two trips over the Christmas holiday. The first was a joint Abingdon and St Helen’s visit to Strasbourg to practise French, visit the sites and enjoy the festivities. It was a great success from all accounts. The second trip was to Finland’s Arctic wilderness and the photographs taken show what an incredible landscape this is. The boys and staff found the scenery breath-taking and have returned with much appreciation and respect for this beautiful environment.

Abingdon students continue to take part and flourish in a wide variety of activities. I would like to congratulate Jamie Farrow who, amid fierce competition, has won a place as a tenor in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. We have also seen success for James Hogge who finished second in the National Cipher Challenge, run by the University of Southampton Mathematics Department. James has also been extremely helpful in assisting with the School’s Code-breaking Club.

The CCF is through to the national stage of the Air Squadron Trophy competition after a very impressive day at RAF Cosford. The cadets finished first overall following some tremendous individual and team efforts. Congratulations also go to fifth year, Sam Christie, who has been selected to play for the Oxfordshire County Tennis Team at the U18 County Cup in Norwich at the end of February.

Football and hockey are well underway with both sports enjoying the facilities at Tilsley Park. Footballers benefited from the new 4G pitch for pre-season training and the 1st XI’s hard work paid off with an excellent win at the Rugby School pre-season tournament where they emerged unbeaten. In their first fixture of the term against St John’s, Leatherhead there were some spirited matches including a hard-fought victory for the 1st XI. The Hockey Club enjoyed an excellent first fixture against St Edward’s, winning nine out of ten matches including convincing victories for the 1st and 2nd XIs. Best of luck for what will be a tough fixture against Eton this weekend. The Cross-Country team travelled to a snow covered Sevenoaks to compete in the Knole run, the most competitive race in the school calendar. With a young team it was always going to be a baptism of fire but the boys ran valiantly coming a respectable 15th out of 41 teams competing.

The Abingdon Science Partnership is continuing to do fascinating work not only in furthering interest in science outside the curriculum at School but also in the wider community. My thanks to all the Science Ambassadors who are excellent advocates not only for science but also for Abingdon School. In particular I would like to thank Carl Olavesen who is running an after school club at St Edmund’s Primary School. The Club is very popular with children at the School and the Science Co-ordinator there has passed on her appreciation for all that Carl is doing.

This is a short but very busy term and I wish all the pupils the best for the weeks ahead. I will also look forward to catching up with parents at the many events that will take place between now and Easter.

Yours sincerely

Michael Windsor

16 December 2016

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

I have very much enjoyed attending many events and meeting pupils and parents this term. I am grateful to everyone who has made me feel so welcome and I am excited about the future for this great school. 

A significant task this autumn has been the appointment of a new Head for Abingdon Prep and I am pleased to be able to inform you that the Governors announced on Monday that Craig Williams has accepted this position from September 2017. Craig comes to Abingdon from the Senior Deputy Headship at Thorngrove School. Craig has a Geography degree from Oxford and is an accomplished sportsman. He represented the University at 2nd XI level at both cricket and football, and he continues to enjoy playing cricket. Other interests include golf, historical novels and Manchester United. We will look forward to welcoming Craig and his family to the Abingdon community.

Over the course of the year, I will be working with the Senior Leadership Team to produce a development plan that will outline the strategic direction of both Abingdon School and Abingdon Prep School. I am keen to hear parents’ views and so have engaged RSAcademics to produce a parental questionnaire that will come out next term. I hope parents will be willing to share their views via the questionnaire or directly to me if they would prefer.

The range and diversity of activities over the last few weeks at Abingdon has been exceptional. Students have taken part in a Particle Physics Masterclass at the Rutherford Appleton Lab, workshops from world-renowned musicians bass-baritone, Richard Burkhard and violinist Levon Chilingirian, a chess simultaneous display with Grandmaster Peter Wells plus a wide range of sporting activities including a British Regional Canoe Polo Competition. The opportunities available are outstanding, as is the boys’ enthusiasm to embrace them. My thanks to all staff who go to great lengths to make this possible.

Our senior mathematicians came a very impressive sixth out of all worldwide postal entries in the Princeton University Maths Competition. In a second global challenge - Computational Thinking with 40 countries taking part - first year, Philip Grotjahn scored the highest mark in the School and gained a distinction. Congratulations are also due to first year, Oliver Glover, who has again won a place in the National Children's Orchestra. Oliver is an exceptional oboist for his age, playing Principal Oboe in the School's first orchestra.

Following the Model United Nations practice day with St Helen’s, 18 boys went on to pick up a host of awards at the conference including Hayden Ramm who was awarded the accolade of Outstanding Delegate. Lower School boys have also been in lively debate with their counterparts from St Helen’s who joined them for a ‘curry and dinner debate’ (a pastime well worth practising!).

I will watch with interest the progress of two sixth form teams who have entered the BlottMatthews Airport to Airport, A2A, challenge to solve the aviation problems in the south of England. The competition winners will be announced in March and it should be a fascinating project to be involved with.

I thoroughly enjoyed the productions of Treasure Island from the Lower School and the Third Year’s And Then There Weren’t Any Left. The engaging performance from the younger boys was enhanced by an imaginative set and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. OA Ed Rowett’s spoof murder mystery was demanding for the talented third year cast who successfully pulled it off. I look forward to the senior students from Abingdon and St Helen’s in action next term. There is much to enjoy from our close link with St Helen’s. Drama and Music in particular benefit enormously from this excellent partnership and this year’s Joint Choral Society was a fine example of the synergy between the two schools.

Last weekend saw the end of the rugby season and final matches for the boys in the Upper Sixth. My thanks for their determination and hard work representing the School and I hope they enjoy the game for many years to come. I cannot help but mention the 1st XV win over Radley - always a pleasure - and the excellent end of season results against Marlborough and RGS Guildford.

In other sport, the U15 squad swam brilliantly at the ESSA national relay finals improving enormously on their qualifying position in both relays. Very well done. Cross-country Club has also seen a good start to the season with the seniors and inters coming third at Harrow. Lower school fencers enjoyed their school tournament with Jacob Drew picking up the trophy.

Boarders have been embracing Christmas, decorating trees and turning their hand to making cards and gingerbread houses for the local community, many of whom joined us for our annual Christmas Tea Party. Sixty residents were entertained by school bands and choirs and everyone entered into the festive spirit. Carol services have been in abundance this week and term will come to a fitting end at St Helen’s Church with the whole school gathering together.

I wish everyone in the Abingdon community a peaceful and happy Christmas and all the very best for 2017.

Yours sincerely

Michael Windsor

18 November 2016

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

The School took time to pause and reflect collectively on Friday 11 November, when we remembered the sacrifice made by our former pupils and teachers in conflict. To prepare for this event, I visited the archive pages on the School’s website, which contain fascinating information about the Old Abingdonians who perished in the First World War. 2016 marks of course the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, a battle which in many ways encapsulates the suffering and loss in the Great War, and in his address on Remembrance Day, the Chaplain reflected on our former pupils who died on the Somme. The CCF did the School proud with their turnout and drill in their Remembrance Day parade and then represented us with distinction in the Abingdon Town parade on Remembrance Sunday.

Although half term is rapidly fading in the memory, as we focus on some busy weeks in the run-up to Christmas, I hope that all Abingdon families had a restful time. Many of the boys were involved in trips. The classicists fully appreciated the history and sites of ancient and modern Greece and linguists enjoyed improving their skills in Spain when 51 students from Abingdon and St Helen’s visited Galicia. The Boat Club also spent half term in Spain training on the Banyoles lake (used in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics) and then competed very successfully at the Upper Thames Autumn Head.

In other activities, sailors completed silver and gold practice expeditions on the south coast where poor weather prevented the gold expedition sailing to France, opting for Poole instead. The silver expedition took on the extremely busy Solent water. The Sailing Club impressed at the National Schools’ Sailing Match where both teams reached the semi-finals and Abingdon A went on to win the event. The U14 rugby squad played some good matches during their tour of Sussex while the U15s enjoyed taking part in the Langley Festival in Norfolk.

Congratulations to Charlie Quarterman, Ethan Moody, Louis Heard, Max Carter Keall and Rob MacLennan for their recent sporting successes. Charlie has been signed by the Luxembourg based cycling team Leopard Pro for next year and Ethan represented Great Britain at the Techno293 windsurfing championships. Louis has been selected for a British junior polo development course and earlier this year received the Most Promising Player award at the schools and universities national polo championships. Max has been selected to trial for the first stage of the England U18 hockey team. He represented England over the summer at U16 level and has been called up a year early for the chance to play against Holland in April. Following a​n impressive​ competition on Sunday to make the final of the Welsh Open Men’s Senior Epee competition, Rob ​MacLennan ​has been selected to fence for the GBR Junior Epee Team​.

Rugby results since half term have been mixed for the senior teams with the 2nd XV securing two good wins against Sherborne and Rugby but the 1st XV narrowly losing on both occasions. The overall results were excellent with Abingdon picking up both block wins with all teams from the U16Bs to the U14Ds victorious against Rugby with some impressive score lines in the younger years.

I was intrigued to witness part of the second years’ combat workshop taken by Kev McCurdy, fight director for the National Theatre, the RSC and the Globe. The boys enthusiastically embraced the art of stage conflicts and were very attentive learners when it came to controlled fight manoeuvres!

Our senior mathematicians came a very credible third out of 18 teams at the annual regional final of the Senior Team Maths Challenge held at Wheatley Park at the beginning of November. Many congratulations.

It was a great pleasure to hear the 16 solo performances from senior musicians at the second Scholars’ concert of the term. Chapel Choir sang Evensong at Tewkesbury Abbey last week, to a very appreciative congregation and many thanks to James Anderson-Besant (OA 2016) for accompanying them on the organ. Following last year’s success, the Music department held the second Senior Solo Competition and 11 very talented musicians performed to an exceptional standard on a variety of instruments – five pianists, two violinists, a cellist and a flautist. Dr Benjamin Skipp, a fine oboist, pianist, ABRSM examiner and Lecturer and Director of Studies in Music at Hertford and Somerville Colleges, had the unenviable task of adjudication. The standard was extremely high and many congratulations to fifth former, Didier Delgorge, who won the competition.

I was delighted that we were able to welcome pupils from St Helen’s to join 40 Abingdon pupils at our Model United Nations conference recently. This event was organised almost entirely by our pupils, with George Aylard taking the leading role, and those involved showed an impressive grasp of detail and nuance in debating the major global issues facing us today.

I was also very pleased to hear that participants in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme at Abingdon had completed 2230 hours of volunteering in our local community over the last year. I am keen to see our pupils playing their part as service to others is an important component in our ethos. 

I congratulate all our pupils on their endeavour and commitment during the past few weeks and hope that parents and friends of the School will be able to join us for some of the many events that will take place over the coming weeks.

Yours sincerely

Mike Windsor

14 October 2016

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon,

It seems hard to believe that we are already approaching half term. It has been a very busy few weeks and I have been delighted to see pupils so engaged in school life. I was particularly grateful for their excellent contribution to our Open Day on 1 October, when they made our visitors feel very welcome and gave them an opportunity to find out more about all aspects of the School. Many visitors commented on the quality of the tours and on the courtesy and insight that our pupils had shown.

I have been very pleased to see so many of our pupils showing their commitment to others over the past few weeks. The Charathon was an opportunity for every single member of the school to do this but it was also great to see a considerable number of pupils and staff completing the Oxford Half Marathon last Sunday for a range of local and national charities. Another particular pleasure has been to hear pupils reporting back on individual research that they undertook over the summer. Their presentations have been varied and insightful and have been a terrific example of the love of learning and of ideas that is a feature of life at Abingdon.

During my first half term, I have been very impressed by the range and depth of talent of both students and staff. Over the last three weeks we have enjoyed the AFU’s 13th annual screening, the Music Scholars’ Concert and the House Singing Competition, very different events but all examples of what Abingdon does well. 

The Lower School was inspired by the presentation from paralympian and motorcycling world champion Talan Skeels-Piggins who launched this year’s ‘Be the Best you can be’ programme. Our Joint MFL society also enjoyed their guest, Dr Helen Abbott, Professor of Modern Languages at Birmingham University, who joined them for the celebrations of the 15th European Day of Languages. We were delighted to welcome Dr Catherine Heyer of the Department of Physics at Oxford University to speak to sixth formers at a Physics problem-solving workshop. The boys welcomed Dr Heyer’s very useful advice for Oxbridge applicants and enjoyed the challenge of the vector mechanics problems.

Congratulations are due to Ivan Leung who achieved the highest mark in the country in Edexcel IGCSE Geography this summer. Ivan has been nominated for an award for excellence from the Royal Geographic Society. Six 4th and 5th year linguists have also received awards in the 2016 National Chinese Calligraphy competition.

We have been able to celebrate plenty of success in a number of sports over the past few weeks. I would like to congratulate every pupil who has represented the School this term but particular congratulations are due to the 1st XV for their unbeaten start to the season, which has included fine, hard-won victories against Eton and Warwick. The day of the Warwick match was rounded off by the very enjoyable Touchliners’ dinner, when we welcomed James Haskell who gave an insightful and highly entertaining speech. I am grateful to the Touchliners parents who put so much time in to ensure that the evening was a success.

The Boat Club has also had a good start to its competitive season with four wins at Reading Small Boats. The U15A swimmers were very impressive at the ESSA Secondary Schools Relay regional qualifiers, breaking two Oxfordshire records. The Swimming Club went on to have a tough fixture against Harrow, narrowly losing but with some excellent personal bests and record breaking swims. In tennis the U14s defeated Dr Challoner’s and now have Hampton School between them and the regional finals of the top 16 in the country. The Abingdon Vale biathlon time trials saw some good performances and the U18 boat at the SB20 National Championships picked up a well deserved first place.

The Abingdon Science Partnership, ASP, which is run by the School with the aim of widening access to science in the community, is co-ordinating the Abingdon Primary School Science Partnership alongside Fitzharrys School. The Primary School Science Partnership has recently achieved national recognition for their commitment to improving science teaching and learning by the Ogden Trust. This is excellent news for the five primary schools involved and for ASP. This week the ASP also hosted a very well received National Space Academy masterclass.

Over the last ten days we have hosted our partner school Ratsgymnasium from Bielefeld, Germany and it has been a pleasure to see the friendships develop between the students. This successful partnership will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. Many of our pupils will be involved with school trips over the half-term break. I hope that they enjoy their experiences and I will look forward to hearing about them on their return. I hope too that the next two weeks will offer some time for rest and recuperation. An excellent time, I would suggest, to enjoy some wider reading too…

I will look forward to seeing pupils again on Monday 31 October.

Kind regards

Michael Windsor

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

2 September 2016

Dear Parents, Colleagues, Governors and Boys of Abingdon, 

I hope you and your families have had an enjoyable and restful summer. I am very much looking forward to welcoming your sons back to Abingdon after the summer break as their new Headmaster. I look forward too to meeting you, be that at the various receptions at the start of term or on the touchline, at concerts, productions and so on.

I am excited at the prospect of leading Abingdon into its next phase and over the course of the term will be keen to hear parents’ views on the school. It is clear to me already that Abingdon is an exciting, ambitious and busy school. I hope you will be able to keep up to speed with events at school via the website and social media but I will also be writing a regular blog which you can access from the website. I will also be posting on Twitter at @Abingdon_Head.

I am delighted to be taking on a school that is in such good heart and students certainly had much to celebrate over the summer, achieving excellent results at both A level and GCSE. At A level, almost 40% of students gained A* or A grades in three or more subjects and at GCSE a record breaking 87.3% of passes were awarded an A* or A grade. Leavers have progressed to an impressive range of courses and universities.  Students will be taking up places at Oxford and Cambridge to study subjects including Engineering, Geography, PPE, Philosophy, Natural Sciences, Music, Maths, Classics, Materials Science and Biochemistry. The London universities have proved very popular with Imperial topping the list with nine boys studying courses including Medicine, Physics and Mechanical Engineering. The majority of students have gone on to Russell Group universities and places have also been won at prestigious US and European universities. At GCSE students have given themselves a superb platform for continued success at A level.

It is great to see that so many pupils have also been engaged in the wider aspects of school life over the summer, including trekking in Vietnam, a Geography field trip to India, sailing in Greece and CCF and DoE activities. I have been pleased to see so many pupils involved with pre-season training over the past few days and I wish them all the best on the sports field, and indeed with all activities, over the months ahead.

Much work has been undertaken on the school site over the summer break and I am grateful to the Director of Finance and Operations and all our support staff for their commitment and endeavour.

The extensive refurbishment of Greening Court ensures superb facilities for Classics, Geography and History, while a new Multi-Use Sports Area will not only provide four high-quality tennis courts but also very welcome hard-play space for pupils. The projection facilities in the Amey Theatre have been upgraded to a very impressive standard and we will look forward to welcoming students, staff, parents and the wider community to live broadcasts from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House.

I am of course not the only person who is new to Abingdon this September and I am pleased to be able to welcome the following to the school:

Pete Bignell – Director of Sport
Joanna Bridgeworth – Head of English
Kim Briscoe – Teacher of Geography
Katherine Burrows – Teacher of English
Peter Chamen – Teacher of Geography and CCF Contingent Commander
Graham Cook – Teacher of Maths
Andrew Crisp – Teacher of French and German
David Domm – Teacher of Economics and Business
Julian Easterbrook – Teacher of Maths
Michael Frampton – Teacher of Chemistry
Matthew Gold – Director of Rugby
Charles Griffin – Teacher of English
Mark Johnson – Teacher of DT
Nathan Jones – Teacher of Maths
Joe McDonnell – Teacher of Drama
Linda Raabe-Marjot – Teacher of MFL
Jason Taylor – Teacher of Maths
Helen Whitworth – Teacher of RS
Peter Willis – Teacher of Physics
Deborah Di Nino – Language Assistant
Raquel Fraile-Munox – Language Assistant
Kimberley Poppmacher – Language Assistant
Netha Samarasinghe – Language Assistant

Looking forward to meeting you over the weeks ahead and in anticipation of a busy and successful term,

Yours faithfully

Michael Windsor