Letter from the Head, 27 March 2020
Friday 27 March 2020
I have taken the step of sending my letter this week via email, as well as in the weekly mailing, to ensure that I have been able to have some contact with you all in these difficult and uncertain times.
It seems a long time ago that we started a new calendar year, and I am sure we would all happily skip forward the next few months. However, I have every confidence in Abingdon Prep; I have been so encouraged by the strength of our community and how well our boys are coping. I am also enormously grateful for the support from staff and parents who have been outstanding.
At the end of term, it is a tradition to look back with the boys at the term in pictures and to appreciate life at Abingdon Prep. More than ever I think it is important to do this, and to remind everyone of how wonderful our school is and to look ahead to when we are all safely back together. Please follow this link and enjoy.
We have been delighted to be able to support our key workers by maintaining a provision for their children and we will continue to offer this service throughout the school holidays. The key workers are all doing an incredible job for this country and we, as a school and community, are hugely appreciative.
It has been lovely to receive a few photos of some of our boys busily working at home or indeed keeping themselves fit, healthy and engaged trying out some of the activities uploaded to the sports, music and arts google classrooms. We would love to continue to receive these and at some point hope to share some of them with you all.
The fact that the sun has been shining all week has certainly been of great benefit and I hope that this good weather remains for much of the Easter period.
Encouraging your boys to get out into the garden and play, and parents too, will hopefully be a great tonic to the worries that come with this extraordinary time.
As a school, we are continuing to look at the offering we are providing to the boys to ensure their continued academic progress. We will be in contact again before the start of next term with any updates to our processes. There has been some fantastic work submitted by the boys so far and it is great to see that they are working so well with the new systems in place. I appreciate that, particularly with some of the younger boys, there will need to be some parental input but I hope that you are enjoying being a part of their education and seeing their progress first hand.
I will sign off now with a genuine wish that all of the Abingdon Prep community stay well and safe over the Easter break and make the most of the time that can be spent together as a family in these very trying and difficult circumstances.
Letter from the Head, 20 March 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
I wanted to start this week by saying thank you for all the incredibly kind messages of support that you have taken the time to send in, as well as the positive conversations that I have had with so many of you at drop off time. It is often, that only in the face of true adversity, people really do come together and go above and beyond to help and support those in need and the community as a whole. I hope that we can all, where possible, continue to support our neighbours, friends, colleagues, children and indeed anyone else in need during these uncertain and worrying times.
As a school, we will continue to provide care for the children of key workers, where it is needed, although it is important to remember that the best option, as the advice states, is to keep children at home to ensure social distancing and protect our families and the wider community.
I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that this is also an opportunity for all of us to really connect with our children and spend genuine quality time with them. There is huge value in simply playing in the garden, building a den, gardening as a family, throwing a ball around. Whilst we are, of course, fully set up for remote working and the boys will continue to learn through the work being set in term time, please do not allow them to become slaves to their screens. Fresh air and exercise will play a key part in keeping the boys healthy, both physically and mentally, and I certainly can see a renaissance for family board games on the cards, although I often found that Monopoly could get a little too heated in the Williams’ household when I was growing up!
Staying in touch with people will also be vital across the next few weeks and possibly months, so make sure that we phone each other, FaceTime, video call, as it will be hugely important to continue with some sense of normality. The boys’ friendships will stay strong, of that I am sure, and with social media use it should be easier than ever to maintain those strong bonds.
Please do stay in close contact with the school via form teachers, subject teachers and of course myself. Our lines of communication are very much open. I cannot tell you when I will next be able to welcome you all at the front gates of school, but I know that we have simply moved into a new and different way of educating your boys remotely for the time being, but they are still very much seen as the heartbeat of our school.
I truly hope that you will all stay healthy and even enjoy this new way of working next week.
Letter from the Head, 13 March 2020
Friday 13 March 2020
Drama took centre stage this week at school with our Year 6s performing extracts from Macbeth on Tuesday evening. It was great to see the boys enjoying Shakespeare so much as they experienced the Bard’s work for the first time. They delivered their lines really well with great clarity and they had clearly worked incredibly hard on their movement round the stage and facial expressions. They should be very proud of their performances.
Yesterday, our Year 5s took to the stage to perform in their soirée. There was performance group poetry, drama scenes from Romeo and Juliet, rapping of Romeo and Juliet, instrumental performances and some lovely singing, with Elton John’s ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ rounding off a terrific evening. It was a great event with indoor picnics and families enjoying the entertainment.
The focus of our Science Week has been ‘Our Diverse Planet’ and all the boys have been involved in a range of experiments and activities. Some have had talks from Science Oxford whilst others have investigated microbes and viruses – rather apt! We have welcomed children from Standlake Primary School who joined us for a science lesson and also St Helen’s and St Katharine’s Year 5 girls joined our boys to produce density rainbows using different coloured liquids. Science continues to be a passion for so many of our boys with experiments at the heart of their learning.
The author, Mini Grey, visited school yesterday and spoke to some of our boys about her love of writing and books. Our boys really enjoyed meeting her and I know she will have inspired many of them to read more and enjoy all that books have to offer.
Matches took place this week against Moulsford, Pinewood and Cothill, with some excellent football being played and honours pretty much even. Some of our U13s played in two great hockey fixtures where there was just one goal in it with one win and one loss.
The coronavirus situation continues to change rapidly and I would like to reassure the Abingdon Prep community that we are keeping a very close watch on the recommendations of the government and Public Health England and will continue to put the welfare of the boys at the heart of our decision making. We will regularly communicate with you all when it is appropriate and notify you of any changes to routines. We have hand sanitisers at the front door and would ask parents and boys to use these on entering the school when they arrive in the mornings.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
Letter from the Head, 6 March 2020
Friday 6 March 2020
It has been another really busy week at school, with perhaps the highlight being our fantastic World Book Day. The boys pulled out all the stops and we had some amazing costumes from some of the boys’ favourite books. Pippi Longstocking, Maid Marian, Fantastic Mr Fox, Hagrid, Mary Poppins, Bilbo Baggins and Gangster Granny, to name but a few, were all very impressive. The book quiz in assembly was great fun too and the boys who volunteered to answer questions shone with their knowledge of children’s books. If ever inspiration was required when it comes to reading, today clearly provided it across all year groups.
Football matches this week were against Moulsford and despite the rain on Wednesday, all five games with the senior boys were very closely fought contests with APS winning three and losing two. Our U8s winning streak came to an end with two losses and two wins in their matches with Moulsford whilst all of our Year 6 boys played in hockey matches against The Dragon which again were very enjoyable contests.
The Oratory Prep School cross country event took place at the start of the week and our boys worked incredibly hard to compete at such a high standard event. The U8 and U12/13 teams both ended victorious with all boys involved from all year groups taking great credit from their gutsy performances.
Yesterday’s Balloon Debate for Year 6 was a super event with some very cogent and persuasive arguments being put forward by the boys who had researched their characters in great detail and some even seemed to have understood their personality traits too. The art of debating is certainly alive and well at school.
Our Year 7s were also involved in some public speaking today as they delivered speeches about famous Victorians dressed as their waxwork characters! We heard from the likes of Ada Lovelace, Michael Faraday, Queen Victoria and even Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The boys’ knowledge of their accomplishments was really impressive and they all delivered their speeches with confidence and even a little panache!
Our academic scholarship group have this week completed their exams and I would like to congratulate them all on their efforts. They have certainly worked hard in the lead up to it.
Sadly, I made the difficult decision this week to cancel the Year 7 trip to Normandy next week due to the current situation regarding coronavirus in France, and the increasing number of cases in the UK. I would encourage everyone to continue to ensure that hygiene is at the forefront of the boys’ thoughts during this difficult time.
I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend ahead.
Letter from the Head, 28 February 2020
Friday 28 February 2020
I hope that you all had a very enjoyable half-term. This week saw the weather turning wintry and bringing the first snowfall of the year yesterday morning. Some of the boys certainly seemed to enjoy catching snowflakes in their mouths on the way in through the school gates. There was also some disappointment that the snow did not settle!
It is a difficult time with the ever changing situation regarding the coronavirus but please be assured that we are constantly looking at the fast changing situation and government advice and will keep you updated with any changes that may come into force. In the meantime please do continue to be vigilant and ensure that general hygiene (coughing / sneezing into tissues and binning them, using hand sanitizers and hand washing regularly), which is being constantly reinforced in school, is uppermost in your and your boys’ thoughts.
The first day back from half term saw our junior section go off to Hazard Alley on their trip. The boys had a great time learning and interacting with dangerous and tricky situations, and having to make decisions about what they would do in different emergency situations. They came back very animated and discussing all the different scenarios, from how to ring 999 in an emergency and what happens when you do ring that number to dealing with animal and insect bites to ensure they do not get infected. It was great opportunity for our boys to get some hands on experiences of some of the dangers that they could face either now or in the future.
This week saw all year groups take on either Bruern Abbey or Christ Church Cathedral School on the football pitch. The boys played some terrific football with a lot of goals scored. Of the eleven matches played, nine were won, one was drawn and one was lost. A super effort from all involved.
After much consideration, we sadly had to postpone the Inter-House Cross-Country that was due to take place today with the weather looking very poor. We will let you know when it is to be rescheduled as soon as possible.
I would like to take this chance to congratulate the five boys who sat for Art and Drama Scholarships this week at Abingdon School and also to wish good luck to those sitting the Academic Scholarship next week. They have all, no matter which discipline, worked incredibly hard towards their assessments.
This morning some of our Year 7’s were fortunate enough to see the England Rugby team in training, at Abingdon School. This was a rather last minute addition to the boys’ timetable today, but a great opportunity for them to see their heroes in action and to witness the dedication and commitment that the members of the squad bring with them to every training session.
Finally, good luck to the senior teams playing football against The Dragon tomorrow.
Letter from the Head, 14 February 2020
Friday 14 February 2020
I had feared that on Monday morning I would be coming into school to find tiles off the roof and a few trees down, but luckily Storm Ciara only caused one casualty at school, and that was an upside down shelter in the Cox’s Field hedge. I hope that Storm Dennis does not affect anyone’s travel plans over the weekend.
Our fantastic Junior Section production took place on Thursday evening this week. The boys performed ‘Hoodwinked’, a tale of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and they were clearly loving the opportunity to be on stage and playing to a capacity crowd. Huge credit should go to the boys and the staff who put this amazing production together. It was great fun to watch and will undoubtedly have started many of them off on their school drama careers. Some of the songs are still going round in my head today as I find myself humming along as I walk around school.
For the first time ever, we had a Street Dance taster session which was very well attended by more than forty boys. We are hoping to be able to run this as a club in the summer term. Kelly was an inspiring dance teacher and the boys really enjoyed their first experience of this modern form of dance. Needless to say I did not recognise the music which they were putting their routine together to, but the boys all seemed to know it!
A range of sports took place this week. Football against Christ Church went ahead for two U10 and two U11 teams. The boys worked really hard again and managed to come away with four victories in matches that both teams can take great credit from.
There was a super cross-country event at Chandlings with 22 schools competing. Our Year 3s performed amazingly well and won their section, whilst overall, Abingdon Prep placed 3rd in the ‘boys’ category, which was a terrific effort.
The IAPS regional swimming qualifiers are taking place this afternoon and our boys have trained hard to be selected for this event. We have 18 boys representing the school and I know they will give their best in a very competitive set of regional heats. We hope that some boys will qualify for the national finals later in the year at the London Aquatics Centre.
The CDT recycled material boats contest took place this week for a group of our Year 8s. It is a highly competitive race and whilst a number of fans used to power the boats did sink to a watery grave, one boat triumphed with three successful crossings of the swimming pool in very fast times. The catamaran design was clearly a very sensible one which worked brilliantly.
Our bench / seating area project was formally opened this week with an assembly explaining to the boys how it had all come together over a two year period. I would like to publicly thank everyone involved, from the boys who came up with the designs to a number of highly skilled parents and staff who have managed to produce an incredible seating area for the boys down by the MUSA. This was a project which our current Year 8s had started in Year 6 with their designs for this area and they were able to see the final product which will be in use after we return from half-term. I would encourage you all to pop over to the MUSA to see it for yourself. It is a very impressive addition.
I hope that you will all have a lovely half-term break and enjoy spending time together as a family. Finally, congratulations to Dragon House who won the House Merit cup for this half term.
Letter from the Head, 7 February 2020
Friday 7 February 2020
It has been a really exciting week being able to announce the news of our new development and the further improvement of our facilities here at Abingdon Prep. I have really enjoyed chatting to many of you about the plans and I hope that you have been able to access the link and see for yourself the artists impressions of the new building. I have added the link again here for you in case you have not yet been able to see it.
In my visits to lessons this week I witnessed some impressive direct speech writing in Year 3 with some terrific vocabulary being added, such as stammered, stuttered and suspiciously. Year 6 were fully engrossed in testing materials to decide on whether they were conductors or insulators. The graphite element of a pencil proved to be a surprise conductor for one group.
I was also lucky to hear a brief snippet from one of the songs coming up in the junior production of ‘Hoodwinked’. I cannot wait to see the production next week and I know the boys have been rehearsing diligently all week.
Football matches this week took place for every boy in Years 5-8 against Oratory Prep. There were some terrific matches with the Under 10 As shining in their 4-0 victory demonstrating excellent teamwork passing the ball all over the pitch. On Monday our Year 5s all experienced their first ever hockey matches against The Dragon. The games were all played in a great spirit and were extremely close contests with the A team winning well whilst the other three teams all lost by just a single goal. Most importantly, the boys really seemed to enjoy trying out what is a new sport for many of them. Our U8s and U9s played against The Manor on Tuesday and continued to impress with all six teams winning their matches which were played in a lovely spirit.
Three middle section boys enjoyed the opportunity to compete in a debating competition this week against pupils from a wide range of schools. They really enjoyed the event and showed terrific confidence expressing themselves so clearly to everyone in the room. Our debating club continues to be a very popular Other Half activity helping to prepare them for events like this.
Thursday was our e-safety day and all the boys were involved in workshops to help them understand more about the world of the internet and how to get the most out of it, whilst keeping themselves safe. This is such an important message for our boys as they continue to navigate the ever evolving world of connectivity and social media. It was great to have such a good turnout for our parental talk about e-safety in the evening. I know it is a topic that is hotly debated throughout homes across the country and I firmly believe that the better informed we are, as parents, the more we can help our children to find their way safely through the world wide web.
We had our first Year 5 book share this morning and I hope that parents enjoyed seeing lots of examples of work that the boys have been busily producing this term.
Finally, it was great to see a number of parents at Coffee and Catch up this morning. It was a great opportunity to talk more about our new development.
I hope you all enjoy a lovely weekend and that we miss Storm Ciara as it makes its way across the country.
Letter from the Head, 31 January 2020
Friday 31 January 2020
I would like to start this week with a massive thank you to all of the boys who gave up so much of their time last Sunday to swim huge numbers of lengths for our school charity, Be Free Young Carers. Thank you too, to all the parents who were so assiduously counting the lengths their boys completed. I did, however, feel a little sorry for those parents who had sponsored per length as the boys just seemed to go on and on and on. Some, quite literally, swam miles, but no matter how talented a swimmer, every boy pushed themselves to go the extra mile and they should be incredibly proud of their efforts. I certainly am.
On Tuesday, our Open Morning took place and again I must thank all of the boys in Year 7 who acted as tour guides. They did a fantastic job and as always, proved to be the School’s biggest asset. I hope that they enjoyed the experience as for some, it was their first opportunity to be involved in an Open Morning in this way.
It has been a busy week on the sports pitches with fixtures for almost every team. The U8s and U9s played on Tuesday against St Hugh’s and performed brilliantly with six wins and two draws. Our 10s and 11s also played St Hugh’s and finished with an even spread of wins, draws and losses. The Oratory were the opponents for our senior teams and ended up with honours even, whilst our other senior boys played their first hockey matches of the season against Cothill, losing in two very close contests. There was more swimming on Monday in a gala against The Dragon and our boys performed admirably with some impressive times in individual events.
A wet and muddy Pinewood cross-country took place yesterday where we had a very creditable 8th, 13th and 15th place in one of the biggest events of the season.
Our Pre-Prep boys enjoyed a fantastic drama workshop this week with the theme of ‘Around the world with Phileas Fogg’. I have been told that the boys threw themselves into this with gusto and loved the chance to pretend they were travelling to the farthest corners of the globe!
Tomorrow, our Saturday Art Workshop returns, where the boys will be turning their hand to some dry point etching with insects being the theme this time around. I know that the boys will produce some stunning images and learn a brilliant new technique to further their artistic development.
Please do take the chance to come to ‘Coffee and Catch up’ next Friday morning in the Drama studio. It is always nice for me to have a chat with parents over a pastry at drop off time.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 24 January 2020
Friday 24 January 2020
I have been fortunate to see a range of CDT activities this week in school and it never ceases to amaze me how creative our boys are and how much they enjoy producing pieces for this subject. The jitterbug pens in Year 7 were a real treat as they careered their way across paper on the tables creating a myriad of patterns with the felt tip pens used as legs. I was reliably informed that the key to success is to have the weighty motor 5 mm off-centre to create an uneven weight distribution! The boys loved seeing their motorised contraptions speeding off across the desk tops.
House meetings took place yesterday morning with the boys being put into mixed year groups to undertake some team building exercises. It is hard to explain the sharks in the sea game but with ten boys and just two small mats, they had to traverse across the hall without anyone touching the floor. It led to some creative solutions to moving the mats as quickly as possible whilst keeping all the boys tightly together on the other one. The Year 8 house captains and vice-captains organised the events extremely well and certainly ensured a good deal of house spirit was generated.
Our U8s and U9s played Chandlings this week and the U8s produced a remarkable set of victories in all the teams and played some superb football. Our U9s also performed admirably against some very good opponents and will have learnt a great deal for future matches.
All the boys in Years 5 and 6 played in matches against Pinewood and there were some very good performances across the board. Perhaps the highlights being a terrific 4-4 draw for the U11As and a great 5-1 win for the U10Ds. The senior boys played Cokethorpe and the U13As secured a well fought 5-3 victory whilst honours were even in the other matches.
A number of boys sat their LAMDA (Drama) exams today and I would like to congratulate them on how well they had all learned their performance pieces. The boys seemed to relish the opportunity to share their performances with the examiner and I am sure they will have achieved an excellent set of results.
I hope that you will all have a relaxing weekend.
Letter from the Head, 17 January 2020
Friday 17 January 2020
I would like to start my letter this week by congratulating 8R who have completed their final mock exam today. They have worked hard to prepare for these and I know that they will have benefited a great deal from this preparation before they sit the academic scholarship exams to Abingdon School in the second half of this term.
Despite the rather changeable and inclement weather this week, the boys have been fully involved in their Other Half activities. There were the first fixtures of term on Monday against Chandlings for our U11s and U10 A and D teams. Some closely contested games saw us win three, draw two and lose one. On Wednesday, our U13A and B teams took on Davenies, after the wet weather had rained off the away fixtures, and we shared the spoils with one win and one loss.
Abingdon School’s cross country event took place on Tuesday. A small group of our Year 7 and 8 boys took part and performed admirably in a field of over 90 runners, with the team finishing in 4th place overall, and our highest individual finishers in 10th and 14th positions. It is the start of a busy term for cross country.
I had a very enjoyable walk around the classrooms on Thursday and sat in on a fascinating Year 7 lesson about the Anglo-Saxons. The boys were having to work as a group to rank key events and discoveries about the period in order of importance to justify whether this was a ‘Golden Age’ or indeed ‘The Dark Ages’ as they have been known to us for so long. It was lovely to hear the boys debating the relative importance of the Sutton Hoo ship burial discovery compared to the writings of Venerable Bede.
Year 6 were busily engaged in creating their own monster poetry with evil characters rising from the pages of the boys’ exercise books. Whilst a little gruesome on occasion, it was great to see the descriptive vocabulary and imagery they were creating with their work.
This Saturday another art workshop is happening with the theme being ‘wire and ModRoc sculptures’. I cannot wait to see what the boys who have signed up are going to produce. I am not convinced that even at my age I am quite sure what ‘ModRoc’ art will look like. I know the boys will enjoy the day though.
Tomorrow afternoon, our U11 A and B teams take on The Dragon and I wish them the best of luck for this. I will be bringing my umbrella for the touchline!
I hope you all have a good weekend ahead.