The Headmaster writes to the Abingdon Prep community every week during term time.
Letter from the Head, 15 March 2019
Friday 15 March 2019
After the triumph of the penguin visit last week, we have this week received delivery of six ducklings into the Year 1 classroom. They have all hatched successfully and the gorgeous fluffy yellow bundles are growing beautifully and are certainly the star attraction down in Pre-Prep. The boys have named them all and are taking great care of them.
This week has seen numerous trips take place across a range of year groups. Year 1 started the week with a fantastic visit to Hill End where they got fully stuck into some outdoor learning and furthered their forest school skills. They were certainly very excited to tell me about the things they had learned whilst there. Year 2 visited Warwick Castle (a quite breathtaking place and well worth a visit if you have never been) and enjoyed finding out about medieval life, especially the jousting and weaponry used at the time. Year 5 are currently out at the Natural History Museum and Pitt Rivers in Oxford, learning about a real cross curricular set of scientific and historical information. 8R have been invited to a leadership skills workshop with a range of guest speakers and many other local preps too and the boys were certainly looking forward to a very interesting set of talks. As you can probably see, it has been a great week for trips.
Science Week has been taking place too, with a range of different activities (hence the ducklings) and Helen and Rebecca gave a fascinating assembly, with some amazing video footage of the Tacoma Bridge collapse in 1940, which certainly got the boys full attention as they saw how a lack of scientific understanding had led to such an incredible collapse – do google the footage of this if you have never seen it before.
Another absolute highlight this week has been the House Music Festival. Congratulations should be given to all the boys who auditioned and the standard in both the junior and senior events was quite superb. We are truly spoilt with the number of talented musicians we have at Abingdon Prep and the enjoyment displayed by the participants was great to witness.
Last Sunday 12 boys represented Abingdon Prep at the National Cross-Country Championships at Malvern College. All of the boys ran brilliantly despite the strong winds and difficult terrain and our U13 team came 3rd with our U11 team coming 7th. There were over 200 runners in each event from 46 schools so these were great results. Quinn (Year 8) is now national champion having won the U13 race with a stunning performance.
This week saw football and hockey matches against Pinewood, Cothill and Chandlings, and there were some very strong results for our B, C and D teams. Matches continue at Cokethorpe tomorrow morning and the British Biathlon Finals take place on Sunday at Crystal Palace, so it is a busy weekend of sport for many of our boys.
All of our scholarship results have now come in and I would like to thank all of the boys and the staff for their efforts in preparing for them. It is a huge commitment for the boys to undertake. This year we have managed to achieve 17 awards across all of the different areas of the curriculum.
Thank you to our fabulous JPA representatives who are running the Scalextric Night tonight. I am very much looking forward to dusting off my Scalextric skills from 30 years ago and seeing how the world of miniature car racing has changed. I am not sure I will be much competition for the boys, who, judging by last year, have some amazing skills around the tracks!
I hope you all have a great weekend and I hope to see some of you this evening at Scalextrics or on the touchline tomorrow.
Letter from the Head, 8 March 2019
Friday 8 March 2019
What a busy week it has been. I cannot tell you how excited I was on Monday knowing that I would get to meet a couple of penguins at close quarters. Two Dots and Tick were the stars of the show (quite literally as they have been in a number of films) and our boys in Reception, Year 1, 2 and 3 all got to meet them and learn about the lives of Humboldt penguins. The two penguins were clearly fascinated with the children, almost as much as the children were fascinated with them. They got to see them splash around in their pool and be fed, whilst waddling round their enclosure. It was an incredible learning experience for the boys and certainly gave them an appreciation of the beauty and intelligence of these creatures.
World Book Day took place yesterday and I do hope that you have seen some of the photos of the boys’ in costume on the website. A huge amount of effort had clearly gone into creating the costumes of historical characters and it is at this point that I should certainly thank the parents who had been helping out with the brilliant creations. My personal favourite was Margaret Thatcher, whose clothing, jewellery and general mannerisms had all been recreated with incredible accuracy. I am less certain about my fake beard’s authenticity in my homage to W.G. Grace!
This led into our Year 7 Victorian Waxworks Exhibition. This was a first for Abingdon Prep where the boys had been researching key Victorian characters that they then brought to life when a button was pressed. The ‘characters’ then explained to you why they should not be melted down because of how much they had contributed to society and been able to change the world for the better. We had Disraeli, Fry, Cook, Lister and Babbage to name but a few. The boys presented their achievements with genuine knowledge and passion and it was a pleasure to see them taking on these personas and sharing their knowledge of Victorian achievements, linking closely to their work in English lessons this term.
All of our football matches this week were against Moulsford and our boys can be very proud of their endeavours on the pitch, with some notable victories in the Senior Section and strong results in other areas too. The boys have certainly improved their skills dramatically this term. On the hockey pitch, all the boys in Year 6 represented us in some very closely fought matches, with a 1-0 victory for the U11 A team being a particular highlight. More importantly, the boys all enjoyed the chance to play a different sport against another school.
Our busy week continues into the weekend with another Saturday Art workshop, this time specialising in painting, and the National Cross Country championships taking place at Malvern College on Sunday. I am looking forward to seeing our boys represent Abingdon Prep at this event, especially after our own inter house races last week and the Oratory School’s Greyhound run yesterday where our boys acquitted themselves very well.
The scholarship season has now ended and I would like to congratulate all of our boys who have worked so hard in their different respective fields to sit these exams. They are all very talented young men.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend and I look forward to seeing some of you in the Malvern Hills on Sunday.
Letter from the Head, 1 March 2019
Friday 1 March 2019
I hope you all had a lovely half term and were able to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather which has continued into this week.
On Tuesday we had our Spring Term Open Morning. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our brilliant Year 7 tour guides and our two Year 8 boys who each gave a speech to the prospective parents. The boys continue to be the very best selling point for Abingdon Prep.
In our football matches this week we played a mixture of games against Christ Church Cathedral and Bruern Abbey. Our senior teams came away with some very strong wins whilst our U10s and U11s had some very close games with an even mix of wins and losses. The U8s and U9s showed what they are really capable of with some excellent performances leading to a number of good wins. Good luck to our senior teams in action against the Dragon this Saturday and also to our swimmers who will be taking on the strongest swimmers in the county at the IAPS regional qualifiers.
On Thursday, Paul Gooding, Head of Wellbeing at Abingdon School gave all of the boys an assembly on resilience, encouraging them to think upwards, think forwards, think outwards. This is such an important message for our boys to hear and hopefully put into action in their everyday lives, both at school and at home.
This morning, the boys in Unicorn enjoyed their home clothes day in recognition of winning the House merit cup for the first half of term. It was a very close run affair with just 15 merits separating Dragon House in second place.
This afternoon sees the running of our annual inter-house cross country event for all of the boys. There has been much excitement and anticipation all day, and a little trepidation too for some of the boys who are running it for the first time. I know our Reception boys are really looking forward to competing in their first whole school sporting event. The races are always hotly contested and brilliantly supported by the onlookers. Encouraging every boy around the course is a huge part of the event and always brings out the house spirit.
Have a good weekend.
Letter from the Head, 15 February 2019
Friday 15 February 2019
As I made my way in to school this morning in the sunshine, I was reflecting on what a super first half of term we have had. Of course, incredibly busy but I would not want it any other way. As this half term comes to an end, I could not have been prouder of the Abingdon Prep boys after the Junior Section’s quite amazing production, ‘Dragon Days’, which they performed to parents last night. The standard of singing and acting was amazing for boys who are only 7, 8 or 9 years old and their delivery of lines, alongside comic timing made for a quite brilliant evening. The boys should be very proud of themselves.
On Tuesday we sent a large group of boys from Years 3-6 to the Chandlings cross-country event where there were over 500 pupils competing. There were some very creditable individual and team performances and I know Ashley was delighted with the effort that all the boys put in.
Wednesday saw a range of U10 and U11 teams take on Christ Church with the U10s coming away with some very impressive wins. Our senior boys took on Cokethorpe after school on Thursday and played some of the highest quality football, with strong wins for our U13 A, B and U12 B teams whilst our U12 As went down 5-4 in a thrilling encounter.
Our Year 8s continue to be busy both inside and outside of the classroom with Music and Sports scholarships undertaken at Abingdon School this week. I look forward to sharing news of our hoped for successes in the coming weeks.
Please could I ask that you take a few moments at half term to complete our website survey. Your feedback is always welcomed to help continue to improve our methods of communication and giving information about the school to current and prospective parents alike. Please follow this link.
I hope that you will all have a restful and enjoyable half term. After a few very early starts with Quinn this week I am certainly looking forward to relaxing at home and enjoying this lovely February sunshine.
Letter from the Head, 8 February 2019
Friday 8 February 2019
After the snow of last Friday, it has been good to get back to our normal wet and windy February weather! It has been a very busy week for all of the year groups and I thoroughly enjoyed popping into lessons this week to see how the boys were getting on. I was particularly impressed with some of the detailed explanations of relief rainfall and the rain shadow given to me by Year 6, following on from some impressive number work in Reception.
Pre-Prep have been busily working towards achieving their individual targets and I was able to present to many of them their launch flames (target achieved) for their rocket. Year 1 took it a step further and even built a rocket this week with cockpits and control panels all fully formed. It was great to learn about the way they had acted as a team to pull it all together and the time lapse images of this were a hit with all.
In hymn practice this week, Charlie performed a beautiful rendition of Walking in the Air, by Howard Blake, whilst playing the piano too. It is great to see the musicality of so many of our boys coming through, alongside their passion for it. Musically it has been a busy few weeks with eight of our Year 8 boys sitting for music scholarships, a culmination of all their hard work practising and performing over many years. Scholarship season has well and truly begun.
On Tuesday, three of our Year 6 boys represented APS at Oratory’s ‘Let’s Debate’ competition where they produced incredibly well received speeches about a range of topics from corporal punishment to the banning of all homework! Public speaking is never easy and it is lovely to witness the confidence with which so many of our boys are blessed when it comes to standing in front of an audience.
On the sports field our Year 5 and 6s had their first hockey matches of term, with a visit to the Dragon on Monday and the In2Hockey county tournament today for the U11s. The U10s performed admirably in their first ever matches and clearly enjoyed the opportunity to play a new sport against another school.
On the football pitch the boys took on Oratory Prep in Years 5 to 8 and yet again we had some terrific performances from all year groups. The highlight was a fantastic 1-0 victory to our U13As, who had never beaten OPS before on the football pitch and both coaches were waxing lyrical about the incredible standard of football produced by both teams.
The Junior Section has been busily rehearsing all week in the lead up to ‘Dragon Days’ next Thursday. I think the audience will be in for a treat having heard some of the songs being sung in rehearsals. I look forward to seeing many of you at the show.
I hope you all have a great weekend and steer clear from the multitude of coughs and colds that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment.
Letter from the Head, 4 February 2019
Monday 4 February 2019
Apologies for the delayed letter this week. Friday was a little different with all the beautiful snow. For those that were able to make it in, we had a lovely day with a combination of academic lessons, swimming, PE and time to play in the snow. Hopefully some pictures of the boys and their snowmen might make it onto the website in the next few days. It certainly brought back a few very happy childhood memories of snow days I had experienced at school.
Prior to the snow on Friday, the boys had been busy with a range of activities. On Thursday, Reception, along with Years 1, 2 and 3 participated in Chinese Dance workshops. It was lovely to watch the boys perform their routines with parasols and fans, being gracefully guided by the dance teacher. The boys really entered into the spirit of the dance and produced some delightful shapes and patterns with their props. They certainly seemed to enjoy the experience and learnt a little more about Chinese culture.
Drama has been taking centre stage in our junior section this week as they have been busily rehearsing for their production, ‘Dragon Days’. If these early rehearsals are anything to go by, the performance in a fortnight should be well worth a watch.
A range of matches took place this week with our U11s and U10s taking on St Hugh’s, whilst our U8s and U9s played against Oratory Prep (and Claire’s Court for the U9s). The U8s and U9s played some lovely football in the bitter cold with the highlight being a 4-3 win for the U8C team. The U11 teams won two and lost two whilst our four U10 teams all came away with victories. Our 13A and B teams enjoyed impressive wins against Oratory School on the football pitch whilst the U13 and U12 hockey teams played their first fixtures against Cothill, with the 13s losing and the 12s winning. Despite the cold conditions, it was great to have so many boys out on the pitches representing Abingdon Prep so well.
Sadly, the Saturday ‘Painting Masterclass’ Art Workshop had to be postponed due to the weather. The plans sounded very exciting with a scientific methodology in place using pipette painting as just one of the techniques being introduced.
The weather also put paid to our JPA Quiz night on Friday. At least this should give the staff team a little more time to swat up on their general knowledge before we can reschedule it.
I hope you all had a lovely weekend and perhaps some of you even got to use those toboggans tucked away in the corner of the garage. Quinn was certainly transfixed by this whole new experience of snow as I pulled him around on our newly purchased sled!
Letter from the Head, 25 January 2019
Friday 25 January 2019
Winter seems to have finally bitten this week with frozen ground and snow and ice taking hold. I must admit to some nervousness as the snowflakes fell more heavily and seemed to get larger on Tuesday afternoon with our inspection due the next day. Fortunately all the staff and pupils were able to make it into school on Wednesday!
I wanted to start my letter this week by thanking Tommy in Year 7 for his brilliant assembly about HMS Triumph’s disappearance in WW2 and his participation in the HMS Triumph Association. The boys were riveted listening to the story of his great-great-uncle’s missing submarine and the association’s role in tracking down members of the crew’s family today to celebrate and honour those brave men.
We have welcomed two ISI inspectors to APS this week and undertaken our compliance inspection. I will be able to share their findings with you all once they are formally released to us. This process is likely to take up to 6 weeks. It was a lovely opportunity to share so much of what we do in school with educational professionals.
On the football pitch this week all of our Year 5 and 6 boys played in matches against Pinewood and despite the freezing conditions, were able to play some very closely contested matches. Our U11 groups managed two wins, one draw and one loss whilst our 10s finished with one win, one draw and two losses. On Tuesday some very intrepid cross country runners took on the snow and freezing temperatures to compete in the first cross country event of the term. An impressive 2nd place team finish was achieved with APS boys coming home individually in 1st, 3rd and 5th places.
Today has seen a number of boys sit their LAMDA exams which they have all been working so hard towards. I look forward to seeing some more excellent results when they come in.
Pre-Prep have also had a very interesting day today with a visit from the Planetarium. They learnt about star gazing and the different constellations, they found out that a number of planets were currently visible to us and they also discussed the possibilities of alien life forms. What an exciting day at school this was!
The first concert platform is taking place this evening after school and I know that many or our boys sitting music scholarships later in the term will be performing, so it will undoubtedly be a wonderful occasion and a lovely way to finish off the week.
Our Annual Quiz Night organised by the JPA is scheduled for next Friday, but we are currently a little light on numbers, so please can I encourage you to sign up and join us for a very enjoyable evening, with quiz master Rob.
I hope you all have a good weekend and that the cold temperatures do not stop you from getting out and about.
Letter from the Head, 18 January 2019
Friday 18 January 2019
I hope you have all had a good week despite the cold weather and the boys are certainly very well settled back into the routines of school life.
Mike Windsor and I enjoyed popping in to see some lessons yesterday morning and it was refreshing to see the boys working hard in each and every room we entered. Year 7 were undertaking some tricky algebra whilst Year 5 were solving time word problems in their Maths lesson. Some challenging distance calculations and 6 figure grid references using OS maps were being undertaken by a Year 8 group. There was a genuine sense of purpose and enthusiasm from all the boys as they worked their way through the questions. 8R, meanwhile, have been very busy this week sitting their mock scholarship exams and I know they will be looking forward to getting back their results to see how they are progressing.
Today, I presented a number of flames to our boys in Pre-Prep for achieving the first stage of their specific target. They are building up a rocket because they are ‘aiming to fly through the stars to get to the moon’. The display should be spectacular as they all move towards achieving their aims. They also got to place some ‘moon rock’ in their house collector jars so we shall see how quickly we can fill those up too.
Yesterday, the boys took part in a series of E-safety workshops running throughout the day. In the evening, there was an excellent talk to parents with so many useful tips for keeping our children safe online. This is such an important topic to discuss and to be fully aware of the issues surrounding it, both for boys and parents and something that is regularly revisited within school. I hope that you will have received an email too from us with some useful websites for parents to use and a checklist for parents to help keep their child safe online.
Football matches this week saw all of our Year 5s and 6s take on Chandlings in the first games of the season. Eight competitive games were played with an even split of wins and losses with both teams competing in exactly the right spirit. There were five matches for our Year 7s and 8s against Davenies, resulting in four wins and one loss with the boys starting off the season in a very positive fashion, despite the rain and rather chilly conditions. Good luck to our Year 6s who are taking on The Dragon tomorrow.
I would again like to take this opportunity to remind parents that they should ensure that when crossing the car park with children that they stick to the hashed lines. Drivers should also please take great care in this area and ensure they are not crossing the hashed lines adjacent to the parking spaces. The safety of everyone using our car park is of paramount importance to us.
I hope you all have a good weekend planned and I look forward to catching some of you on the touchline tomorrow.
Letter from the Head, 11 January 2019
Friday 11 January 2019
I hope that you have all had a great Christmas holiday and enjoyed the start to 2019. It was lovely to welcome the boys back to school on Tuesday and hear about what they had been getting up to in the holidays and about some of their exciting Christmas presents. I was lucky enough to be given a crocodile keeper for the day experience as one of my presents and I was able to get up close and personal with crocodiles and alligators. Feeding them was certainly an experience!
As we should probably expect, despite the unusually seasonal end to 2018, the cold weather is very much back with us so it is good to see so many boys in hats and coats of a morning and at break times. Hopefully this will help to keep those winter colds at bay for a little longer.
School has started back with a bang with all our Other Half activities starting from the first day of term and the boys working hard in lessons. I particularly enjoyed seeing our Year 3s this week experimenting in Science with forces and measuring different forces applied by objects on the newton meter. This followed on from the class pairings where my highlight was a series of chess matches between the Year 5s and the Year 8s which were of a very high quality. Scrabble also proved popular with the Year 4 and Year 7 groupings. Old School games certainly still have a place in our boys' lives.
My first assembly on Tuesday was all about New Year's resolutions and taking the targets from the boys’ reports in the autumn term and trying to address them at the beginning of this term. Hard work and a focus on improving our effort grades was the message that the boys came back with.
Our boys in Griffin were able to celebrate their Merit point’s victory from the last half of term with a home clothes day today which has been greatly enjoyed. Having signed off a number of golds today, it looks like there will be a strong number of merits generated this half of term too.
We had a very successful pre-season football morning on the Friday before term started with 37 Year 5 and 6 boys attending and 28 Year 7 and 8 boys. It was great to see them so enthused about the upcoming season and working hard on their skills. We are looking forward to matches starting next week.
Please could I ask that with the dark evenings still very much in force that all parents who are picking up at about 4.15pm are aware of all the minibuses moving around the site and take great care when crossing over the car park to collect and leave with their children.
If I have not seen you at the front gate yet this term then I will take this opportunity to wish you all a belated Happy New Year.
Letter from the Head, 14 December 2018
Friday 14 December 2018
We have reached the end of the Michaelmas term and what a great term it has been. On Wednesday I shared a montage of photos from the term with the boys (it is now live on the website) and it was a lovely reminder of all the amazing things the boys have been involved with since September.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first Abingdon Prep carol service this week. It never ceases to amaze me how musical our boys are. It was wonderful to hear all of them sing so well and the musicians were equally impressive throughout. The reindeer playing the trumpet was just one of the highlights for me!
The Debating and Public Speaking competition took place for our Year 6, 7 and 8s this week and we had topics such as the death of Stan Lee, President Macron’s current troubles, and a debate on both the current Brexit deal and also whether the human race is doomed or not. All the boys who took part were incredibly impressive and spoke with clarity and confidence.
Christmas lunch took place yesterday and huge thanks go to our catering team for producing such a lovely spread – turkey with all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding or jelly and cream. The boys certainly seemed to enjoy the occasion and the boys I sat with were looking at it as a warm up for the real event on the 25th. Pigs in blankets probably came out as the most looked forward to part of any Christmas lunch!
Also yesterday, we had our inaugural Gifts for Grown Ups. The boys really seemed to enjoy the freedom of choosing gifts for the adults in their lives on their own. Fingers crossed most of you will enjoy their selections! Thank you so much to our amazing parent body who gave up their day to man the tables and organise the event.
Out of school a couple of the boys have been performing to large audiences on stage and on the ice. Yumi has been treading the boards in ‘The Pied Piper’ and Lucas has been skating in the Oxford Ice Rink Christmas Show. It is great to hear of our boys sharing their talents with the wider general public.
Griffin was victorious in the house points competition this half of term and will, I am sure, enjoy their home clothes day on their return in January.
I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and enjoy the festive season, whether you are staying at home with family or jetting off to exciting foreign soils. I am looking forward to spending time with Hannah, Quinn and Dizzy, and celebrating our first Christmas with Quinn.