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

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

Letter from the Head, 4 February 2022

Friday 4 February 2022

Dear Parents

I hope that those of you who were able to attend yesterday evening’s ‘staying safe online’ workshop found it useful. This is such a fast changing world that I feel it is vitally important to continually work with the children and offer support and information to parents as well. The video recording of the event has been shared in this week’s mailing for anyone who was unable to attend but would like to find out more about this topic.

Last Saturday, our dry point etching workshop took place which was very much enjoyed by those parents who were able to attend. There are some very talented artists among them! Do have a look at their work on our newsfeed.

It has been lovely to walk around lessons this week and watch the boys engaging so well with the different subjects. Year 5 were investigating both series and parallel circuits in their Science / Electronics lesson and looking at the strength of light emitted from bulbs. Year 1 were learning about Amelia Aerhart and her life as a pilot and adventurer, being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and finding out about her final voyage and disappearance. They were combining the geography from the map of the journey with learning about an amazing pioneer and role model for women in the 1930s and indeed ever since. Reception were busy cooking Tiger cakes to celebrate Chinese New Year and they were indeed delicious. This followed on from our assembly about Chinese New Year and I have been very fortunate to speak to some of our pupils about how they celebrated this year with their families. It was lovely to see so many of our Pre-Prep children bringing something red with them today for their celebration feast.

Year 3 and 4 are in full rehearsal mode for their upcoming musical, ‘Eddie the penguin saves the world’. It was lovely to see them trying out their lines, having started the process of memorising them for the performance. It is always a real highlight of our Drama calendar and I am looking forward to hearing some of the songs in the coming weeks as they prepare further.

It was another busy sporting week with football against Oratory Prep, Year 5 hockey against The Dragon and cross-country at St Hugh’s. There were some very strong football results and performances with our U12s playing especially well and our Under 11s continuing their very impressive season across all teams. The Year 5s first ever hockey matches were a great success with all boys involved and they enjoyed 2 wins and 2 draws, whilst our cross-country team came back from St Hugh’s with 2 team victories and team 2nd and 3rd place finishes. We have some very impressive runners at school currently.

I hope that you all have a lovely weekend ahead.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 28 January 2022

Friday 28 January 2022

Dear Parents

It has been another busy week in school with the boys working hard and enjoying their Other Half activities.

On Thursday, whilst popping into lessons with Mr Windsor, I enjoyed seeing Year 3, 4 and 5 in their Maths lessons. It was great to see how they make progress over the years. Year 5 were certainly taking on some tricky fractions whilst Year 4 were working with number patterns. Earlier in the week I had been fortunate to observe a Year 6 class learning about BIDMAS, which brought back memories of my own Maths lessons as an 11 year old.

On Tuesday evening it was great to welcome so many parents to our RSE webinar. It is a really important area of learning and something that we want to continue to share with parents as your sons move further through their school journey.

LAMDA exams took place at the start of the week and I know how hard the boys have been working to learn their pieces. It never ceases to amaze me how confidently they perform and I know that they will receive a deservedly strong set of results when they come through.

Sport has taken centre stage this week with Football, Swimming and Cross Country fixtures. On the football pitch, our U12s and U13s took on The Oratory and showed some great skill with all 4 teams being victorious. Our U10s and U11s played St Hugh’s and managed 7 wins from the 8 games, with our U11As impressing greatly with a 12-2 win. Our U8s and U9s showed great tenacity in their matches against Oratory Prep but could not quite manage a victory but gained valuable match experience and will be stronger next week from that.

On Monday, 24 boys represented the school in a swimming gala against The Dragon. It was a closely contested gala with some superb individual performances and great relay swims too.

Thursday saw boys from Years 5-8 compete in the Pinewood Cross Country meet where they performed incredibly well, taking numerous top 10 finishes and all the boys can be extremely proud of their efforts. They finished as Boys’ Team winners in both the U12 and U14 categories.

I know that food is always a topic of conversation at school and I wanted to let you know of some changes that have been put into place with our catering last week. We have a revamped servery and wider selection of jacket potato fillings and baguette fillings for those who do not choose either the hot meat or vegetarian options. The changes seem to have gone down very well with the boys so please do ask them about the new look service. On Tuesday next week, we will be celebrating Chinese New Year with a Chinese lunch menu (included in the mailing this week). I am certainly looking forward to more celebration lunches in the coming months.

Finally, I hope that the dry point etching workshop for parents tomorrow goes well. I look forward to hearing all about what has been produced.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 21 January 2022

Friday 21 January 2022

Dear Parents

Another week has flown by at school with the children busily throwing themselves into all the varied activities that have been taking place. It has been delightful to stand outside in the cold mornings watching the sun come up at drop off and welcoming the children into school for the day. Cold, crisp and blue skies are some of my favourite weather conditions, as long as I have remembered my coat!

The highlight of this week for me was listening to a selection of children presenting on Zoom to the school their suggestions for house charities this year. There were so many incredibly personal stories about why they were asking their house to support a specific charity and I must thank all the boys who put forward charities this week. Thinking of and supporting others not as fortunate as ourselves is something that must continue to be highly valued and I know that the boys will relish the opportunity to raise money for so many worthy causes over the course of the next two terms. This year the chosen House Charities are:

Dragon – IPF – Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (Alex Y5)
Griffin – Dolly Parton imagination library (George Y5 and Eric Y8)
Phoenix – H-ABC – rare genetic disorder which affects the brain (Ollie Y8)
Unicorn – Asylum Welcome (Max Y3)

On the football pitch our U12 and U13 teams performed admirably against strong Dragon teams at the weekend coming away with two wins (with both U12 teams scoring 6 goals), a loss and a draw, whilst our U8s and U9s played their first matches of the season against St Hugh’s and Chandlings, and impressed with their efforts, winning and losing an equal share of the matches and learning a great deal about competitive football.

Our first concert platform of the term is this afternoon and I know that once again we have a very full list of boys signed up to perform which is wonderful to see. I know that those boys performing have been practising hard this week.

Finally, I am delighted to report that our inaugural Art Workshop for APS parents next Saturday has proved popular with just a few spaces remaining. We are really excited about offering this to our parents and hope that it will be a great new venture for us.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend ahead.

With best wishes

Craig Williams