The Headmaster writes to the Abingdon Prep community every week during term time.

Letter from the Head, 13 May 2022

Friday 13 May 2022

Dear Parents

Today, Griffin house held their themed dress day in support of their house charity, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. It was great to have so many children in red at school supporting this excellent charity providing books to young children and families who may otherwise not have access to such brilliant resources.

Our Junior House Music competition was held this morning and it was a real pleasure to hear so many impressive performances across a wide range of instruments from drums, French horn, and guitar to violin, piano and voice. The boys performing did a terrific job and congratulations to Griffin House for winning such a close contest.

I am delighted to report that after class voting last week, we have a brand new Eco-Committee at School and the children have already met to put an action plan into place to drive forward the School’s eco credentials in the coming months and years. It is amazing to hear these young children talk so passionately and knowledgeably about their ideas that we will try to implement to lessen our environmental impact. I am excited to share some of their projects with you in future letters.

Our U8s and U9s played their first cricket matches of the season and the U9 As started with a super win whilst the other teams lost in good matches but certainly enjoyed themselves, and in the case of the U8s, played their first ever cricket match. Our 6th and 7th XI senior teams are also playing their first matches of the term this afternoon which will be great fun in the sunshine. This week, our first tennis matches of the term took place and our first athletics meet for our Year 7 and 8s, who performed very strongly, winning a number of events with especially strong results in the sprint races.

Congratulations to the boys who took part in the IAPS National Triathlon competition last Sunday. They all performed admirably but I must mention Xavier who is now the U12 National Champion! A fantastic effort.

Good luck to the boys playing in cricket matches tomorrow against Oratory Prep and thanks to our JPA for organising our Scalectrix evening tonight. It is always great fun and I am very much looking forward to reliving my childhood this evening!

I hope you all have a good weekend.

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 6 May 2022

Friday 6 May 2022

Dear Parents

I hope that you all enjoyed the bank holiday weekend.

It has been a busy week at school and on Thursday our assembly focused on environmental issues, looking at both positive actions that we have taken as a society and also ongoing issues that we must continue to address. Today, we have launched our eco-council and the children have been voting for members of their class to join the group. I am really looking forward to hearing about their ideas for Abingdon Prep.

Wednesday saw the first cricket matches of the season take place for many of our boys in Years 5 to 8. There were some fantastic early season performances with both bat and ball, although sadly the rain did end a number of the away matches early. Good luck to all the children playing in matches tomorrow morning against Pinewood.

Our Reception to Year 4 children were all involved in problem solving Maths activities on Thursday. They had to work out a series of hands-on Maths puzzles and it was great to see them working so well in their groups and really enjoying the hands-on challenges that were in front of them.

One of our Year 7 Young Enterprise groups were busily completing their challenge project this week. They had designed a range of different milkshake flavours to sell at break time. As you can imagine, the queue went round the block and I have to admit, they were delicious, and all the profits will be donated to our school charities. It has been great to give the children a taste of entrepreneurship and they have grasped the opportunity with both hands.

As I walked around the school this week popping into lessons, I was delighted to see the continued focus of the children but just as importantly, seeing the enjoyment that so many of them were showing in the activities and the work they were undertaking. We have a very exciting summer term ahead.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 29 April 2022

Friday 29 April 2022

Dear Parents

It has been lovely to welcome everybody back to school this week. The Summer Term is always packed full of work, trips and celebrations and we hope that the weather will be kind to us in the coming weeks.

As I have walked around the school this week popping into a number of lessons, it has been incredibly encouraging to see the purpose with which the children are working on the task in hand. They have settled straight back into the routines of school life and our Other Half program has started term with a bang. Dodgeball seems to have been a particularly popular addition!

Our Reception class has been out on their first trip of the term to Cotswold Farm Park today. They were so excited to be getting onto the minibus, let alone learning more about farming in the local area and meeting all the new spring arrivals at the farm.

Later this afternoon we have our first concert platform of the term and I particularly enjoyed seeing the sign up list full after just 20 minutes of being posted. I am very much looking forward to hearing the boys play. Once again we have some debutants alongside some very experienced musicians so it will be a lovely way to end the week.

Over the holidays, a huge amount of work has taken place with our building project and with walls now removed from corridors, the children have been able to get a real sense of how the new building is coming along as they can see through the glass doors straight into it now. Our new library area is also visible through the newly glazed entrances and has certainly been an exciting place for the children to stop and look at. We are still very much on target for its opening in September and I will look forward to showing parents around it then.

I hope you are all well and have an enjoyable bank holiday weekend ahead.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 1 April 2022

Friday 1 April 2022

Dear Parents

We have reached the end of another term and I always find delight in looking back at just how much has been accomplished over the course of the past 12 weeks. I would encourage you to watch our ‘Term in pictures’ on the website as it will give you a flavour of how much the children have done since January. I shared this with the children in our end of term Easter assembly this morning and it was clear that they too had forgotten just how much they had been involved with this term and the memories they had created.

I am always proud of the accomplishments of our pupils but this week I was especially proud of our Year 7 and 8s who took centre stage, quite literally, with their two evening performances of ‘Aladdin’. It really was a spectacular production with the children clearly relishing the opportunity to be back on stage performing or helping out with the show in another way like lighting, sound or backstage crew. It was a fantastic way to celebrate the end of term and the boys will look back on this production in years to come with a real sense of pride. It was terrific.

Our Pre-Prep thoroughly enjoyed their Easter Bonnet parade (there were some amazing creations) followed by the Easter Egg hunt out in the play area. This is the first egg hunt I can remember where snow was falling all around but it did not deter the boys from racing around searching for the chocolate eggs that had been so well hidden by the Easter Bunny.

In assembly this morning we looked at Easter traditions around the world and the memories that they have created for people. I hope that this Easter the children will make their own special memories with family and friends as they celebrate together and enjoy each other’s company.

The children have certainly earned their break and I hope that they return later in April refreshed and ready to challenge themselves once more in all areas of school life. I wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy holiday whether you are venturing abroad or holidaying in the UK, or even just enjoying home comforts.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 25 March 2022

Friday 25 March 2022

Dear Parents

The blue skies and warm days have been greatly appreciated this week with jumpers not required and play times being thoroughly enjoyed out in the playground.

It has not been an easy week with Covid-19 cases coming back into school for both the pupils and staff. I wanted to thank you all for your support with remote learning as our teachers have been covering lots of lessons and getting back into the swing of mixed-mode teaching. It would appear that there has been a significant slow down in cases during the latter part of the week and I hope that that will continue to be the case as we move into the final week of term.

Our Year 7 and 8 pupils have been gamely rehearsing for ‘Aladdin’ with a stand-in director but they have worked really hard with lines, cues and songs and we have everything crossed that we will be able to perform on Wednesday and Thursday.

On the sports pitches this week, our Year 5s all played hockey against Chandlings and came away with a clean sweep of wins, scoring a lot of goals in the process. Our U10, U11 and U13 football teams played against Christ Church Cathedral School and competed very well against higher teams, ending in two losses and a very exciting draw. Our U8s and U9s played Christ Church as well on Thursday and managed a clean sweep of wins in all our teams. It was lovely to see matches being played in exactly the right spirit by both teams.

Congratulations to the boys who competed so well at the National Biathlon championships last Saturday. There were some terrific individual times set and it was a great event where real camaraderie was shown by our pupils, supporting their team mates and also other competitors as well.

On Thursday our Year 5s ventured to the Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museums in Oxford. They had a fantastic day with workshops and tours around the museums. If you have never been there yourselves, I would thoroughly recommend it. There are so many fascinating artefacts to discover.

One of my highlights this week was seeing our Reception class in the pool, swimming away with real confidence. It was great to see so many happy children who have built their water confidence up so much since the start of the year.

Good luck to those performing in the concert platform this evening. There is a full list of sign-ups once more and we are looking forward to hearing a wide range of different instruments playing again. We even have a beat box group performing for the first time!

I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend ahead and make the most of the warm weather whilst it lasts. I even heard talk at drop off this morning of barbeques being dusted off for the first time this year!

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 18 March 2022

Friday 18 March 2022

Dear Parents

Science has taken centre stage for the boys this week. It has been Science Week across Britain and assemblies have involved ‘Back To The Future’ predictions and technological development in recent history alongside staff / pupil quizzes and discovering how simply washing hands helped to transform childbirth and the number of babies who survived in the 1800s.

Our Year 7s had lectures about neuroscience whilst our Year 8s walked into a crime scene for their forensic science workshop on Thursday. They were solving a crime with blood spatter patterns and DNA testing. Real life science applications were everywhere. Our Year 2s worked alongside 8R for a science lesson about creating slime which was hugely enjoyable for all of them.

It was St Patrick’s Day on Thursday and our Irish themed lunch with Irish Stew, Colcannon Mash and Jelly in the colours of the Irish flag were all well received by the children. The international theme was carried through into the evening where our Year 5 Soiree took place. This was an evening of musical performances and poetry with indoor picnics being enjoyed by our Year 5 families. The children performed admirably and really enjoyed being up on stage performing once more. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Year 3 and 4 went on a very exciting trip to Hazard Alley this week. Whilst they were there they were led through a range of different safety scenarios and will hopefully now be in a position to know how to keep themselves safe and they even learnt some basic first aid skills as well.

On the football pitch this week our U8s and U9s played The Manor and came away with a full set of wins from all the fixtures. The boys have really improved their footballing skills and teamwork over the course of the term. Our U12 and U13 teams played Abingdon School in what can only be described as torrential rain. Four high quality matches took place but sadly APS could not quite score the goals needed to take home the win.

I also wanted to say a huge congratulations to all the boys for their efforts at our inter-house cross country last week. There were some terrific performances across all the year groups but perhaps my highlight was the camaraderie and encouragement shown by the boys when helping the later finishers complete the course.

Good luck to our biathletes who are competing in the British Schools championships on Saturday.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and that the predicted 15 degrees celsius and sunshine comes to Oxfordshire!

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 11 March 2022

Friday 11 March 2022

Dear Parents

We have raced through another week and it has been lovely to have some fine weather for the boys to be outside enjoying their break times.

International music was the theme of Thursday’s assembly and the boys, and indeed myself, were treated to folk music from Ireland, China and Africa and we learnt all about the development of music across the millennia. Sean spoke about (and demonstrated!) how the earliest call and response resounded across the savannahs of Africa and how the movement of African peoples through the terrible slave trade has hugely influenced the development of folk, jazz and even rock and roll. It was amazing to see how engaged the boys all were with the themes and to finish with some gospel music from Sister Act, ‘Oh Happy Day’, was a real treat.

For the third time in the last four years of the event taking place, Abingdon Prep have returned from the National Prep Schools Cross-Country championships as U11 National Champions. This is a fantastic achievement and the boys involved should be immensely proud. Our U13 team also performed admirably. Our own Inter-House Cross-Country should be a terrific event this afternoon with so many talented runners taking part across all year groups.

Football this week saw fixtures against Pinewood for our U10 and U11 teams. Our U11 As continued their impressive unbeaten season with a 6-2 win in addition to two further wins and a draw for the other U11 teams. Our U10 As played a terrific match which saw them emerge as 1-0 winners whilst the remaining teams all performed very well too with two wins and two losses. Hockey matches were against Cothill this week for our U12 and U13 teams. Huge improvements have been made by the boys in this group and they came away with one win and one loss.

Rehearsals for our senior section musical, ‘Aladdin’, are going very well and it was great to hear some of the songs being sung in rehearsal time. The boys are working hard on learning their lines and the movements round the stage. I am very much looking forward to their performances in the last week of term.

Congratulations to all of the Year 8 boys who have been sitting their academic scholarship exams this week and last week and also to all of those Year 8s who were assessed for scholarships in Music, Drama and Sport in recent weeks. They can all be very proud of the work that they have put into the process, no matter what the outcome.

I hope you all enjoy a relaxing weekend.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 4 March 2022

Friday 4 March 2022

Dear Parents

I hope you all enjoyed the half term break. The boys seem to have returned refreshed and ready to take on the exciting challenges of the weeks ahead.

It has been amazing to see the incredibly generous response from parents donating supplies to support refugees from the Ukrainian conflict. Thank you to all of you who have been able to support this initiative.

It was a rather surreal start to Thursday morning at school with eight foot tall dinosaurs, Spiderman, Robin Hood and many, many others walking into school. World Book Day was a resounding success and I hope that you will enjoy seeing some of the amazing costumes shared on our website in due course. If you have not yet heard about or seen Roger’s Queen of Hearts outfit, then it is well worth seeing a photo! Losing yourself in a book is such a great way of relaxing, learning, and firing up your imagination and I hope that World Book Day has once again inspired our boys to get a book in their hands.

Tuesday’s assembly saw the now annual staff pancake tossing competition take place. There were some rather questionable techniques being used, and a number of very broken pancakes ended up on the floor, but congratulations to Tom Ettridge who was victorious with 60 plus pancake flips in 45 seconds.

On the sports field this week we have performed admirably at the Oratory Prep Cross Country where we won the U10 and U11 boys’ competition whilst coming 2nd in the U8, U9 and U12 categories too.

On the football pitch we took on Moulsford at U12 and U13 level and produced some fantastic performances resulting in 4 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss, scoring 27 goals in the process and only conceding 9. We also had an U12 and U13 Hockey team playing St Hugh’s and despite two close losses, the boys really enjoyed playing the matches and getting the opportunity to represent the school on the hockey pitch.

Our U11 A-D teams also played Hockey on Wednesday against The Dragon and performed strongly without being about to convert their chances. Congratulations to the D team who came away with the only win, a hard fought 1-0 victory.

I wanted to take the opportunity to wish our boys in 8R all the best with their academic scholarship exams, some of which have been undertaken this week but for most, their exams start on Monday. They should all be very proud of their efforts leading to this point and we know they will give their best next week.

Good luck too to the senior teams playing football tomorrow against The Dragon and of course to our cross country team who are competing in Malvern on Sunday in the Prep School National Championships. I hope the weather stays fine for the event.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend ahead.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 18 February 2022

Friday 18 February 2022

Dear Parents

Storms seem to have been in vogue this week with Dudley and Eunice tearing through Oxfordshire. Storm Eunice today kept us indoors for break times with the 70mph gusts and I hope that none of you experienced too much damage at home. Our trampoline decided that our neighbour’s garden was a better place for it so it may be an interesting weekend trying to return it to our garden!

It was a real shame to have to postpone the house cross country event today but hopefully we will have more favourable conditions on the afternoon of Friday 11 March when we have rescheduled it.

It was lovely to welcome so many parents to the Year 5-8 coffee morning this week to meet with Abingdon School staff. I know that those who were able to attend enjoyed speaking with Housemasters about Year 9 and how Abingdon Prep pupils settle into life at senior school.

Our junior production, ‘Eddie the penguin saves the world’, took place on Thursday evening. It was an incredibly enjoyable performance with some very memorable songs and excellent acting. The boys certainly seemed to be relishing being back on stage in front of an appreciative audience for the first time in two years. Our senior section is also working hard on their production, ‘Aladdin’, and we are looking forward to that in the second part of term.

In the classroom this week, Year 5 tucked into a French feast to help them learn more about their topic of food. I think the pain au chocolat and croissants were certainly a hit with most of them.

Year 6 showed me a fantastic animation of the original race to the South Pole linking in to their topic about Antarctica. They were really engaged in the topic and were researching a wide range of issues faced by the continent.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading a range of creative stories that Year 2 have been writing over the past week. It is lovely to see them so engaged with their English and also so focused on improving their handwriting too.

I hope that you all have a very enjoyable half term break whether that be abroad or at home. It has been a busy first half of term and I know that we will all enjoy a well deserved rest.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 11 February 2022

Friday 11 February 2022

Dear Parents

This week has been internet safety week and the boys have been learning about showing respect online and how to keep themselves safe when playing games online. Starting conversations about this important topic is vital to help the boys appreciate all the great things that the internet has to offer, but also how important it is to make good decisions when communicating with others within the game. I hope that they will take on board the key messages shared this week and continue to make sensible choices when they are online.

In the classroom, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing our Year 8s making pinhole cameras and working out how the inverted images were being produced and what they could do to alter them. Year 5 was learning about the circulatory system in science and it was great to see such detailed diagrams looking at the heart and how the blood moves around the body. It seems to be a topic that has really piqued their interest.

Year 7 has been studying ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ in their English lessons and were busily writing character analysis of the key players in the story. Conan-Doyle is such a brilliant writer and I hope that studying this book will start many of the boys on other Sherlock novels, and if they have an interest in mediaeval history, I can thoroughly recommend a childhood favourite of mine, ‘The White Company’, a historical novel about the battle of Crécy in the 100 Years War, also written by Conan-Doyle.

On Tuesday, three of our Year 6 pupils travelled to compete in The Oratory debating competition. The standard was incredibly high and our boys performed admirably and thoroughly enjoyed their day out, learning a huge amount about the art of debating.

Football matches took place this week against Cokethorpe and The Unicorn. Our U13 Cs played extremely well to produce a 5-1 win. It was great to see the boys playing so well as a team and enjoying their football so much. Our away fixtures at Cokethorpe saw both the U13 As and Bs produce excellent performances to run out clear winners whilst the U12 As lost their first game of the season with the U12 Bs scoring some fantastic goals in another 5-1 win.

I would like to wish the boys competing in the regional IAPS swimming meet this afternoon the best of luck and look forward to hearing if any of them can qualify for the national finals later in the year.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

With best wishes

Craig Williams