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

Letter from the Head, 13 June 2024

Thursday 13 June 2024

Dear Parents

All weeks are busy at APS but this week really has seen a huge number of activities and events taking place.

Our Year 7s took part in a careers workshop on Monday morning delivered by the Head of Careers at Abingdon School. It was a great opportunity for the children to start to consider what type of career might interest them in the future and find out what skills and qualifications those careers require.

After the parents webinar about relationships and sex education on Monday evening, the children in Years 3 to 6 have been taking part in workshops focusing on when friendships go wrong or are not working, looking at how to repair them, when to walk away, and when is it ok not to be friends. These are really important life skills and I know the children will have gained a great deal from these sessions.

On Tuesday morning some of our Years 3 to 6 competed in the Verse Speaking finals with their peers watching on in the audience. It never ceases to amaze me how confidently and clearly the children are able to deliver their poems and this year was no exception. We listened to a huge variety of poems and the standard was amazingly high.

There were some terrific cricket matches on Wednesday this week with 4 of them going down to either the last ball or the final over. What was so pleasing was to see the teamwork and sportsmanship shown by pupils from both schools.

Our Year 8s have been thoroughly enjoying their time in Poole on their leavers trip. They have been trying out some new activities like sailing and paddle boarding and making great memories in their final term at APS.

Year 5s are performing in their soiree this evening and I am very much looking forward to seeing them up on stage. They have been working hard on their performances with poetry, singing and drama being at the heart of the event.

Pre-Prep has been just as busy with Year 1 creating their own monsters as a lead in to writing monster poetry whilst Year 2 have been busy creating their own board games (their recent work on fractions has certainly helped divide up squares on their boards),and learning more about conservation and listening to David Attenborough’s thoughts from a range of his environmental programmes.

Last Saturday, 8 of our children performed fantastically well at the IAPS National Swimming Finals in London. Both our relay teams took off more than 4 seconds from their qualifying times and our individual finalists also swam significantly faster than in qualifying, with both pupils making the full final. They can all be very proud of their efforts.

I hope you all have a good weekend ahead.

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 6 June 2024

Thursday 6 June 2024

Dear Parents

I hope that you all enjoyed the half term break. The children have quickly settled back into school this week.

Trips are an important part of school life and on Wednesday, our intrepid Year 6s journeyed to Gloucestershire for their 3 day Bushcraft residential. I am delighted that they have timed their visit with some good weather and I enjoyed seeing some photos of the shelters they built. I know a few brave souls tried to sleep out in them on the first night although I am not sure they made it too far into the evening before retreating to their tents! I look forward to hearing more about the trip on their return.

Today, our Year 5s are visiting Portsmouth Historic Docks to tour around Nelson’s flagship, Victory, supporting their studies in History. I know that this trip is always a real highlight for the children as it truly helps bring the topic to life, although the steep staircases and low ceilings need careful navigating!

Our Year 7 and 8 pupils have been working incredibly hard on their exams all week and they should be proud of their efforts. I hope that the revision they have been undertaking in the lead up to them will have stood them in great stead. I know our Year 8s are also looking forward to their watersports residential next week after all their efforts in the examinations.

Year 1 has been creating beautifully written retellings of the story of the three little pigs and it was great to welcome Year 2 to our whole school assembly on Monday morning for the first time, as they continue their transition towards Year 3 in September.

This week, cricket matches took place for our younger children with the U8s, U9s and U10 competing against St Hugh’s and The Manor. I was lucky to see a little of the U9 and U10 matches and it was so lovely to see how much all the children from both schools were enjoying the game and showing great sportsmanship as well. There has been a marked improvement over the term in the standard of their cricket and I am sure that will continue to be the case in the coming weeks.

On Monday, we welcomed Hagbourne Primary Year 6s for a joint cricket and athletics coaching afternoon. Our staff were enormously impressed by how the two sets of children worked together to improve their sporting skills in the different sports.

Good luck to our 8 swimmers who have qualified for the IAPS National Swimming Finals at the London Aquatic Centre this weekend. It is a fantastic achievement to have qualified and I know the children will give their all in an incredibly high quality set of relays and individual races. This comes hot on the heels of the Year 7&8 swimming gala tomorrow which all the children will be taking part in. Good luck also to our athletes competing in the Oxfordshire Schools championships on Saturday. Again, the standard is incredibly high and I look forward to hearing how they have got on.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 23 May 2024

Thursday 23 May 2024

Dear Parents

It was lovely to see so many of you enjoying our Art and DT exhibition on Tuesday this week. It never ceases to amaze me just how impressive the children’s work is across each and every year group. The children should be very proud of the quality of their art and design but most importantly, I know how much enjoyment they get from both these subjects.

In the classroom, our Year 3 to 6 pupils have been working really hard undertaking their assessments whilst our Year 7 and 8s have been revising carefully in the lead up to their assessments after half term.

Pre-Prep has been very busy this week. Year 2 pupils have been authors exploring biographical writing. They enjoyed interviewing each other immensely! Water safety has been the big talking point in reception, the children have learnt how to stay safe at the beach and made some delicious sea snails in cookery!

Sadly the rain put paid to the senior cricket matches this week but our U8s and U9s showed great improvement in their cricketing skills during the matches with Magdalen College this week.

I hope that those of you who were able to attend the webinar about the Foundation’s move to co-education on Monday were able to gain more detail about the changes and have some of your questions answered. We are excited to start this journey and looking forward to hearing your further thoughts.

Finally, I hope that you all enjoy the half term break and that the children return refreshed and excited about the busy final weeks of this summer term and academic year.

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 16 May 2024

Thursday 16 May 2024

Dear Parents

I hope that you have all had a good week so far. I have really enjoyed chatting to many parents this week about the exciting news of the Foundation becoming co-educational in the coming years. I have very much appreciated hearing your views and answering your questions this week. I hope that many of you will be able to attend the webinar on Monday at 5.30pm where Mr Windsor, Rachel Pairman and myself will answer questions that have been submitted through the google form attached to the letter sent through on Monday. We hope that this webinar will be helpful for you and give you even more information about our move to co-education.

Our Year 3 to 6s have started their summer assessments this week and it has been good to see them focusing so well on the task in hand. Our Year 7 and 8s have been working and revising hard in preparation for their exams after half term.

Year 1 and 2 were buzzing after their Bee Keeper experience on Tuesday morning. They learnt all about how hives work and the different roles bees play in producing the honey and creating honeycomb. They also learnt about how important bees are to the ecosystem with the key role they play as pollinators.

It was a tough and enjoyable afternoon of cricket fixtures against Moulsford on Wednesday in the sunshine. We had almost every child in years 5 to 8 representing APS which was great. The 2nd XI produced the stand out performance with a terrifically exciting 6 run victory, having scored 149 runs in their innings. Good luck to our U8s in their matches this afternoon and also to our U9s who are competing in a cricket festival on Friday.

Good luck to our U11 and U13 tennis teams who are competing in the Radley festival on Sunday. Hopefully the weather will hold up for them.

Finally, please do come along to our Art and DT exhibition next Tuesday if you are able to, at pick up time. It is showcasing work from all of our APS children alongside pieces from Abingdon School pupils, to share the journey of a creative artist through the Foundation.

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 9 May 2024

Thursday 9 May 2024

Dear Parents

I hope that you all enjoyed the long weekend. I wanted to thank all of you who kindly took the time to complete the parent survey a couple of weeks ago. Feedback from these surveys is always useful to help us reflect on life at school.

With a four day week the children have been as busy as ever in school. On Tuesday it was lovely to hear some of our talented pianists playing and listening to ‘Harry the Piano’ who ran a workshop, listening to some of our pupils playing their pieces, giving them tips to improve and offering a huge amount of inspiration.

This morning saw house meetings with the children working together to share new and old break time games that they can get involved with. It was lovely to see the children outside sharing games across year groups. 4 square may well be making a comeback!

Pre-Prep are very much looking forward to their drama workshop on Friday where they will be re-enacting fairytales and fables. These sessions always manage to capture the imaginations of the children, so I am sure that they will have some stories to share at home.

On the cricket pitch there were some terrific matches against Abingdon School with our 1st XI losing a brilliant contest on the penultimate ball. Our U11 A-Ds performed admirably at Warwick Prep in the first set of fixtures we have ever had with them. Our U9s are looking forward to their matches this afternoon and we wish them luck. In the English Schools Athletics qualifiers at Tilsley Park, our athletes performed very strongly across all events to come 1st in the team event and qualify for the next stages.

Good luck to all of our Year 3 to 6s who have their assessments starting next week. I know they have all been working hard in the lead up to them and will, I am sure, do their very best.

Thank you to all of you who have kindly donated sweets for the Phoenix House Tuck Shop charity sale on Friday. Your support with this really is appreciated and I know the children will all enjoy the event.

I hope you all have a good weekend ahead and can enjoy the sunshine that has been with us all week.

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 2 May 2024

Thursday 2 May 2024

Dear Parents

Firstly, thank you to all of you who coped so admirably with the emergency roadworks that appeared on Monday morning to repair the gas leak on the main road. It certainly made for a more challenging drop off and pick up for the start of this week but they have completed the repairs now and all should be back to normal.

This morning our middle and senior section assembly welcomed a representative from The Nasio Trust, a charity supported by the school. Oli explained the work that they do in Western Kenya and gave us an update on the four children that are sponsored by us. It was a really informative and eye opening assembly about what life is like in rural Kenya for these children but inspiring to hear about the fantastic outcomes for so many of the children who have been through the schools and health clinics that the charity has set up.

I very much enjoyed popping into a number of lessons this morning and it was great to see the children in all year groups so focused on the work they were doing. Year 8 were engaged in detailed discussion in their philosophy and ethics lesson whilst Year 1 were working hard on their phonics skills and writing sentences both accurately and neatly. Year 4 have been learning all about the Greek myths this week with many of them taking on voluntary extra tasks chosen by themselves, including stories, poetry and performance.

Numerous cricket matches took place this week with some excellent skills on display from the children with a relatively even set of results against both Cothill and Chandlings and some very close and exciting finishes, especially with the rain closing in on all sides! Good luck to the U8s and U9s who, weather dependent, continue with their matches this afternoon as well.

At the end of this term, Louise Batho, who has worked at Abingdon Prep for the past 12 years in the middle section as both a fantastic form teacher and previously as part of the school leadership team, will be leaving us to pursue a broad range of new opportunities. She will be greatly missed by pupils, colleagues and parents alike but we wish her well in her new adventures. From September, Alexander Holden will be joining us as the Year 4 class teacher. Alexander is an experienced KS2 form teacher with a genuine passion for teaching. He has been teaching at prep schools for a number of years and has a particular love of English, the arts and sport. He is very much looking forward to meeting the children on move up morning.

In September, Lenka Sowter will continue to teach her Year 3 form, but for four days a week with Alison Heaton, who is currently the form teacher for Year 4 one day a week, teaching them on the Friday.

Another busy week is drawing to a close but I hope you are all very much looking forward to the bank holiday weekend ahead and that the weather is kind to us.

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 25 April 2024

Thursday 25 April 2024

Dear Parents

I hope you have all had an enjoyable week despite the return to rather wintry conditions. Sadly this wet weather on Monday led to the cancellation of the Foundation photo which will now be rescheduled for next term.

Year 8 have been enjoying Modern Foreign Language taster sessions delivered by Abingdon School teachers today, and it was amazing to have Mr Windsor being part of the German taster session, as a trained languages teacher himself. I know the children gained a huge amount from the sessions and hopefully this will help to inform some of their subject option choices when they move up to their senior schools.

Tomorrow, Year 2 is off on their first trip of the term to Oxford Castle and Prison where they will explore the history of the castle and take part in a ‘King of the Castle’ workshop. Having visited it recently myself, and climbed the 101 steps to St George’s Tower, I know they will have a great day out and be rather tired on their return!

Our Year 7s have been thoroughly enjoying themselves in Normandy after leaving extremely early on Tuesday morning. The goat farm and Mont St Michel seem to have been highlights so far for them and we look forward to welcoming them back to school on Saturday.

The cricket season kicked off in earnest this week with matches taking place across all year groups. Our Year 3s played their first ever competitive cricket fixtures at Oratory Prep and it was great to hear from our coaches how much potential they have.

Our 1st XI started their season in strong fashion against Bruern Abbey with an 89 run win and the first 50 of the season being scored by our captain of cricket. Our 2nds, 3rds, U11A and U10 A all recorded victories as well to get off to a flying start.

Saturday sees the first tennis fixtures of the season taking place with a festival at MCS, whilst at school we have an Art workshop looking at mixed media and digital drawing.

I hope you all have a good weekend when it arrives.

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 18 April 2024

Thursday 18 April 2024

Dear Parents

It has been lovely to welcome back the children to school after the Easter holiday. I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing from some of them about the exciting activities they have undertaken over the break, both at home and abroad.

As ever, the children have hit the ground running and settled back into school life very quickly. We started the term with an assembly about dealing with homework or exam worries, looking at different ways to revise or learn for tests and also how to relax and get a good night’s sleep too.

This morning was our class pairings and the mixed groups undertook some great paired reading. Our younger children really seemed to enjoy showing off their reading skills to their older partners and it was clear many of them had enjoyed reading books over the holidays as well.

Year 3 are away from school today visiting Buscot and Coleshill for a ‘Secrets and Spies’ trip. They are finding out about different ways to communicate with others such as morse code, and will be hearing stories of ‘derring-do’.

Before term restarted, it was great to have 36 pupils joining us for pre-season cricket training and another 8 joined Abingdon School pupils for some pre-season tennis training. The weather has been relatively kind this week and all the children have been able to get outside for their sports lessons, with cricket, tennis and athletics taking centre stage.

Good luck to our Year 7s who are off to France on Tuesday for the week. I know they are excited to be going and looking forward to the broad range of activities and the chance to try out their French speaking skills at the shops and markets.

Pre-Prep has been equally busy this week with our phonics group taking on new challenges and earning stickers for hitting their targets. Year 2 have been learning all about measurement this week, they have measured various objects around the classroom, including themselves!

I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend ahead. I am looking forward to playing my first game of cricket for the season on Saturday so hope the weather holds fair!

Best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 21 March 2024

Thursday 21 March 2024

Dear Parents

It seems barely believable that spring term is about to come to an end tomorrow. It feels like just a few short weeks ago we were returning to school at the start of January. The lighter mornings and evenings are, though, greatly appreciated and setting the scene for the summer term ahead.

As with all weeks at Abingdon Prep, the school has been a hive of activity. Reception visited the delightful Cotswold Farm Park and learnt so much by interacting with the animals and asking questions about how the farm worked and who looked after all of the animals!

Year 5 are out today at the Oxford Museums on a combined Science and History trip, linking their current topics of study to real life at the museums, which is always such a great way to cement and further your learning.

Our Year 6s took part in a pilot study with Reading University looking at resilience. The resilience rucksacks they were provided with should stand them in great stead as they move forward in their lives both at school and at home. Developing your resilience is such a key aspect of growing up and it was great to hear them engaging with the researchers so openly and sharing their thoughts and experience about what it means to them to be resilient.

Cross Country took centre stage on Wednesday with the whole school out on Cox’s Field cheering and supporting all the runners taking part. The weather was ideal for running and the children all acquitted themselves brilliantly, earning numerous house points for the half term merit cup award tomorrow. All participants should be immensely proud of their efforts and there were some amazing performances and times set by the winners. A real highlight was having Quinn, an ex APS pupil and current U6th pupil at Abingdon School, act as the hare and present the certificates to the children. Quinn makes his debut for the GB team at the World Cross Country championships in Serbia next week so do look out for him on the screen.

Easter Egg hunts have taken place for all of the year groups and it has been lovely to see the excitement of our youngest and oldest as they rushed around searching for hidden eggs. No-one is ever too old to enjoy an egg hunt! Thank you to all of you who kindly donated eggs and also to our amazing JPA who have supported this as well.

Music has featured heavily this week and I am very much looking forward to the senior section spring concert taking place in the hall this evening. There are a wide variety of performances with choirs, soloists, ensembles, and the orchestra, who I believe are getting proceedings underway with the Star Wars theme!

On Tuesday afternoon, 26 APS pupils joined 30 AS pupils to sing in the chapel at Abingdon School, in a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the foundation. It was a wonderful event and a pleasure to hear the children from both schools performing as one. I am certain this will not be the last time that events like this take place.

We round up the term today with our senior section Shakespeare Sonnet competition in the morning followed by our end of term colours and cups assembly.

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that Louise Batho, after 12 years of working at APS will be leaving us at the end of this academic year. Louise has been an inspirational teacher to so many children over the years and she will be greatly missed by children and staff alike. We wish her all the very best with her new endeavours.

It has been a fantastic term with the children being involved in so much. If you do have a moment, please do take the opportunity to view the ‘term in pictures’ which will be posted on the website tomorrow.

I hope you all enjoy a lovely holiday.

Happy Easter!

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 14 March 2024

Thursday 14 March 2024

Dear Parents

On Tuesday, our Year 5s continued on from Book Week last week and went to hear Claire Balding speak about her writing career and pass on a huge number of tips and hints about creative writing. I know that the children have been trying to implement them into their own writing this week and very much enjoyed listening to her.

Year 2 took part in a Hockey skills morning today where they were joined by lots of children from local primary and prep schools. They learned a huge amount from the APS team of coaches and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to develop some new skills and play some small sided games on the astro.

Despite the rather damp week we have had, we did manage to play a number of Wednesday matches against The Dragon and St Hugh’s. It was great to see all of our Year 6 pupils representing APS on the hockey pitch with some closely fought matches. In the football fixtures, our U10s performed very well to come away with a series of victories whilst our U12 and U13s finished their football seasons off very strongly with a number of impressive wins. This means that our U11As, U12As and U13As have all remained unbeaten, and our U12As have not conceded a single goal in any match, whilst scoring 75.

Tonight sees our Middle Section take to the stage for their Spring Term music concert. I am very much looking forward to hearing the year groups singing alongside the soloists. I am always so impressed with how well they perform and I am certain that everyone attending tonight will thoroughly enjoy the concert.

Tomorrow we have our Pre-Prep grandparents afternoon which is always a hugely enjoyable event and the children love spending time with them and will proudly show their work to them as well after playing board games in the hall.

Unicorn has their tuck shop charity fundraiser on Friday and I must thank all of you who have kindly supported this with donations. It is also really kind of so many of you to have donated chocolate eggs for the Easter Egg hunts taking place next week. We look forward to seeing whether the Easter Bunny might make an appearance!

To end the week, our Year 8s are going across to Headington School for a ceilidh on Friday evening. I know that they are really looking forward to it and it will be a great chance to make new friendships and have an enjoyable evening.

Finally, good luck to our U8s who are competing in a football tournament on Saturday morning. Fingers crossed the weather stays fine for it.

I hope you all have a good weekend ahead.

With best wishes

Craig Williams