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

Letter from the Head, 21 September 2023

Thursday 21 September 2023

Dear Parents

What a difference a week makes! The wonderful Indian Summer seems to have well and truly morphed into a full autumnal spectrum of heavy rain showers and wind.

I wanted to thank all those who kindly gave up some of their Friday evening last week to support our cricket match against the Old Abingdonians. I am pleased to report that it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of cricket with the APS team coming out victorious on the final ball of the match.

Friday morning is our first Open Morning of the year and we are very much looking forward to welcoming new families to APS. I know our Year 7s will be great tour guides and showcase our school as they take on this mantle for the year.

This week, our Reception class has been working on recognising repeating patterns in Maths and linked this to their previous ‘Elmer’ focus. They have also begun their phonics program with Freddie the Frog and today, they have gathered onions grown in the pre-prep garden to begin their baking journey. It is lovely that they have all settled into life at school so quickly.

In French lessons this week, Years 3, 4 and 5 have been focusing on conversations and it has been great to hear them speaking with increased confidence and developing their French accents as they ask each other ‘How are you?’, ‘How old are you?’ and ‘When is your birthday?’. Do try this at home with them!

Performing Arts takes centre stage on Friday with our first platform concert after school and it is lovely to see so many have signed up, some of whom are performing for the first time. Our Reception to Year 3 classes all have exciting Drama workshops taking place tomorrow where they will be working with an external theatre company on the theme of ‘Around the World’. An actor will appear as Phileas Fogg and the children will be fully immersed in drama, dance and singing. I can wait to hear all about it and will definitely be popping in to see how they are getting on.

This week has seen our U8s play their first ever competitive fixtures against another school. I know they were all very excited this afternoon as they made their way out onto the pitches, alongside the U9s. Our older teams all put in excellent effort in their festivals on Wednesday. They may not have won too many fixtures, but their teamwork and positive approach in torrential rain and strong wind was a credit to them.

Please look out for the proofs that should come through shortly from the individual and class photos which were taken at the start of the week.

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

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 14 September 2023

Thursday 14 September 2023

Dear Parents

It was lovely to see so many of you at our welcome drinks gathering last Friday. I hope you were all able to catch up with your children’s teachers and other parents in your year group as well.

This morning, our Year 4s are off on the first trip of the year. They are walking a long section of the historic Ridgeway. Whilst there, they will be looking at the geography and the science of the area. The cooler weather will be ideal for them as they trek along the ridge.

In the classroom this week, I have been hugely impressed with the work that the children have been producing. 8R have been working on ‘Found Poetry’ and the poems that they have written utilising ‘The Rain Horse’ by Ted Hughes were a pleasure to read. They also then had to justify their choice of language. The other Year 8 classes are currently analysing ‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon, to explore poetry from the start of the First World War. They will then move on to looking at how poetry progressed throughout the duration of the war.

In English, Year 7 has been exploring the context of the oldest poem in the English language, ‘Beowulf’, interpreting and analysing the poem, before writing their own pieces utilising the style of the Anglo-Saxon language.

Year 5 has been really busy in the classroom this week too. They have been trying to identify Victorian artefacts in history, learning all the different American states in geography and in science they have been designing their own experiment to try to further their understanding of insoluble and soluble substances, creating their own hypotheses before undertaking the experiment.

In Year 2, they have started their first long write of the term. They are putting together formal invitations to Elmer the Elephant’s gathering, planning spectacular events to bring different people together and celebrate diversity and difference. It has been lovely to see them so enthused about putting their creative writing skills to the test.

Wednesday saw the first of the season’s rugby matches take place against Pinewood. All the children in Years 5 to 8 were involved and it was great to see so many of them out on the pitches enjoying representing Abingdon Prep and playing some impressive rugby at times against strong opposition. Our U10s showed great promise with 2 wins from their 3 games. Our U13As played in a tournament at The Dragon and improved enormously over the course of their four games, despite falling just short in terms of results. I know that the sports department is looking forward to speaking with many of you about sport at Abingdon Prep at the webinar this evening.

Tomorrow sees the first event of our 25th Anniversary celebrations for the joining of Josca’s Prep with Abingdon School to become the Abingdon Foundation. The children will all be involved and hear from our Chair of Governors, Professor Mike Stevens. Afterwards, for anyone who would like to watch, my APS Head’s XI take on an Old Abingdonian XI on the cricket pitch at 4.45pm.

I hope that you will all enjoy the weekend when it arrives.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 7 September 2023

Thursday 7 September 2023

Dear Parents

It has been an extremely enjoyable first few days of term and it has been lovely to welcome so many new children and families into the Abingdon Prep community. The warm weather has been great for break times and the children have enjoyed forging new friendships as they spend time playing together.

Today, Mr Windsor and I walked around school and we were both delighted to see the children so focused on their learning in class. Our new Reception pupils were having a fantastic time on the trike track, setting up roadblocks with others navigating their trikes around them successfully. Pre-Prep have all been reading the book ‘Elmer’ with a focus on ‘All About Me’. It was great to see Year 2 creating pictures of themselves with both internal and external features being drawn and labelled. Our Year 5 classes were writing a synopsis of the first chapter of their book, ‘Holes’ and then making predictions about what might happen in the next chapter, basing them on just a few key words that feature in it. Year 6 were focusing on safety in the Science Lab and thinking about the dangers that different types of experiment and equipment could pose. It is always heartening to see how quickly the pupils have settled back into a routine and how keen they are to produce excellent work.

Despite the heat, the pupils have enjoyed starting the rugby season and there is much excitement as they look forward to their matches against other schools next week.

In assemblies this week, we have been talking about three key parts of school life that we want the children to really put at the heart of their daily lives – Work Hard, Get Involved and Be Kind. I know that if they focus on these key areas, they will have a great time and make enormous progress and thoroughly enjoy doing so.

I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of the Head’s XI vs Old Abingdonians cricket match next Friday after school. This is taking place to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Abingdon Prep and Abingdon School becoming one foundation. You are all very welcome to watch and bring a picnic as many of the teachers at APS will be hoping to demonstrate their prowess with bat or ball in hand!

We are very much looking forward to seeing many of you at our drinks reception tomorrow evening. Hopefully it will be a good opportunity to meet many of your child’s teachers and hear all about how the first week of term has gone for them.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 31 August 2023

Thursday 31 August 2023

Dear Parents

I hope you have all enjoyed the summer holidays and managed to enjoy some time away from work and school. I seem to have spent numerous Saturday’s dodging showers whilst trying to play cricket.

Today, we have welcomed back to school all of our teachers and support staff for the first of our three INSET days. It has been great to catch up with everyone and be able to get ourselves ready to welcome back all of the children on Tuesday.

Our form teachers are looking forward to speaking with you on Zoom tomorrow evening to share key information about the year ahead and school routines which may be new for many of the children. You should receive the Zoom links tomorrow morning which will enable you to dial in for these meetings.

The sports department are all set for over 50 Year 5-8s to join us on Cox’s Field on Saturday morning for their pre-season rugby session. If you have not signed up for this but would like your child to attend, please email [email protected] to let us know. Given the wet weather we have had over the summer, the ground is far softer than in previous years, so well suited for rugby.

Please may I take this opportunity to encourage you to read the weekly mailing every Thursday as there is important information included. This week specifically, there is detailed information about drop off and pick up, as well as the start of other half activities.

We are really looking forward to welcoming all the children back to school on Tuesday morning and cannot wait to get started. I hope to catch up with many of you in the car park during the week or if not, at our drinks event on Friday 8 September at 6.45pm.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 6 July 2023

Thursday 6 July 2023

Dear Parents

We have reached the end of another academic year with just our Prize Giving celebration to come tomorrow. Prize Giving is a fantastic time to celebrate the children’s achievements over the year and to say a heartfelt goodbye and good luck to our Year 8 pupils who are moving on to the next exciting stage of their education.

This final week of term has been as busy as any other and the highlight for me was our Summer Concert which took place in The Amey Theatre at Abingdon School on Wednesday evening. It was brilliant to have all of the pupils performing on the stage and showcasing a wide variety of musical talents and indeed different genres of music too, with something for all tastes. I hope that everyone who attended enjoyed it as much as I did.

Our sporting year drew to a close on Monday with our final tennis fixture of term taking place against Moulsford for our U10s and our 1st cricket team performed extremely well on their Cambridge tour last week and loved the opportunity to play cricket at a first class venue.

Our 8R pupils had their Crest Award Science exhibition at the start of the week and I was hugely impressed to see the level of research they had put into their projects and the understanding that they had gained of the issues investigated, which ranged from bread making to air pollution to the effects of different fertilisers on cress growth rates.

Year 8 have been out exploring the Ridgeway all day on their final trip at APS. I know that there will be much chat about next year and conversations about all the things they have done at school as a group. The friendships they have created over the past few years, or longer for some, will always remain with them.

It has been a very busy week for Pre-Prep too with Year 2 having their Forest School trip yesterday whilst Year 1 and Reception had their Bike morning, whizzing around the car park and showing off their amazing cycling skills.

Our 25th Anniversary of joining with Abingdon School will be taking place in September and the children enjoyed the drone photographs of them all forming the number 25 at the start of the week. I look forward to sharing more information about events to celebrate that next term.

All that remains is for me to wish everyone an enjoyable summer holiday. I hope that the children will enjoy their time away from school but be looking forward to returning to APS in September, or starting an exciting new journey at their next school.

Thank you for all the support that you have given to the school over the past year. I feel very lucky to be part of such a wonderful community here at APS.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 29 June 2023

Thursday 29 June 2023

Dear Parents

It is hard to believe that we have just five and a half school days left until the end of another academic year. As always at this time in the summer term, the children have been incredibly busy with a range of activities both in and out of the classroom.

I must start by thanking everyone who attended our brilliant Sports Day last Saturday. I hope that you all enjoyed it as much as I did. There were a significant number of school records set, but most importantly, everyone took part and gave their very best for their house. The link is in this week’s mailing, but please do look through the photos from the day if you get the chance to. They really are impressive and give a great flavour of the events.

Our senior choir are currently out visiting Richmond Villages care home and performing for them, and indeed with them, in a summer concert. This is a great opportunity for some of our pupils to give back to the community and I know that the residents will be hugely appreciative.

Music continues to take centre stage this week with rehearsals for our Summer Concert well and truly underway and it is the Senior Section’s turn tomorrow to perform in House Music. I am very much looking forward to hearing the children who have been selected for their houses perform in front of pupils and staff.

Year 8 has had a very busy week with a really informative careers fair, talks about respectful relationships, and masterclasses at Abingdon School. At the careers fair, they heard from a wide selection of current APS parents about their careers and what they entail. Chatting to the children afterwards, it was amazing to hear them speak so enthusiastically about the possibilities for their own future career choices. Huge thanks to those parents who came in and also to the many others who kindly offered their time too.

As I write this, our Year 5s have already set up their tents and are busily taking part in team building exercises outside as part of their overnight camping trip at school. I hope that the weather stays fair tonight for them.

Reception and Year 1 are off tomorrow to Cotswold Wildlife Park, one of my favourite venues, for a trip to round off their unit on Jungles. They have learnt so much this term about animals and the environment that I know they will relish the chance to explore the Park and get up close to so many amazing creatures.

Wednesday saw our penultimate block of cricket matches against St Hugh’s take place. It was amazing to see the progress that our children have made with their cricketing skills over the last 10 weeks and with 7 of the 8 teams winning, this progress and love for the game was definitely in evidence. Good luck to our U10 and U11 teams who play Cothill on Saturday in our final fixtures of the term and also to our 1st XI who are off to Cambridge to compete in a T20 tournament.

I am very much looking forward to welcoming many of you next week to our Summer Concert at The Amey Theatre.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 22 June 2023

Thursday 22 June 2023

Dear Parents

I was delighted to be able to share our ISI report with you all this week. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it if you have had the chance. I would like to say a huge thank you to all of you for your parental survey responses, the children for showcasing what we do so well for the inspectors and of course our staff, both teaching and support, all of which enabled the inspectors to make such positive judgements about our school. We are all delighted with the outcome.

It was lovely to welcome so many new children to Abingdon Prep on Move Up Morning this week. It is an exciting day for the children to meet their new form teacher and new children joining their class. Our APS buddies all did a great job of looking after our new children.

Three of our Year 8 pupils delivered an assembly to Wootton Primary School this week which was greatly enjoyed by their children. Our pupils shared their love of creative arts by showing their art portfolios to them, explaining how they put them together and the variety of artistic techniques they used to create them, whilst another played the piano and cello for them. It was a great opportunity for pupils from both schools to share their experiences with the arts.

Our U9 and U8 cricket teams took on The Dragon this week. The U8B team played in a quite brilliant match with it ending in a tie – a rare occurrence, with the other games ending in two losses and one win. We took part in our first ever water polo training and match on Wednesday, with Year 7 & 8 pupils from both Abingdon Prep and Abingdon School coming together for this occasion. Our U11 and U13 tennis teams also played on Wednesday, performing very well against New College.

Pre-Prep are having a really fantastic (and busy) week. Monday saw them all compete in their Sports Day with smiling faces and pride, showing what they could do to their watching families. Tomorrow sees them perform again to their families for their Summer Concert. This year it is a jungle themed concert and there will be some fantastic renditions of The Jungle Book songs.

Good luck to all the children undertaking their ABRSM exams and Lamda exams on Friday. I know they have worked incredibly hard to get ready for them and I am sure their hard work and practice will pay off with good results when they come through.

I hope to see many of you on Saturday morning at Tilsley Park for our Year 3-8 Sports Day. It is one of the highlights of the calendar year and I know the children are excited to give their very best for their houses.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 15 June 2023

Thursday 15 June 2023

Dear Parents

It has been another terrific week at school with the weather providing great opportunities for playing and learning outside and the thunderstorms only coming in after the school day has finished.

Our Year 7s have had two brilliant workshops this week. The first was looking at careers, delivered by Michael Triff (Head of Career Guidance at Abingdon School) and they needed to consider what they valued most in their lives and what careers might be most suitable for them. The second took place today and was looking at leadership skills and how they can develop these and the opportunities that are ahead of them both at APS and senior schools.

Years 3-6 performed their verse speaking in class time this week and today, the finals took place in assembly, adjudicated by Ben Phillips, Head of Drama at Abingdon School. The standard in the first round was terrific with so many impressive performances. The final did not disappoint either and huge congratulations to all those who took part. They can all be very proud of themselves.

Cricket matches this week saw our U9s, U11s and U12s take on Cothill, New College and Abingdon School respectively. There was plenty of impressive cricket on show with 4 wins and 2 losses across the teams. Our older athletes are out today at the regional athletics qualifiers and I look forward to hearing how they have got on.

Our Year 8s continue to have a fantastic time on their watersports residential in Poole. It has been great to see some photos of them out on the water and I am told they are having a wonderful time learning new skills like paddleboarding and sailing, and the weather has been amazing for a trip like this.

Our section Bake Off finals were completed this week so we are eagerly awaiting the final results. There were some incredibly impressive scones on show on Tuesday in the middle section final. There are certainly some great perks as the Head of APS getting to test their creations!

Today, whilst popping into lessons, I saw some brilliant independent problem solving from Year 4. They had to fit four different colours into grids of 36 squares which were never allowed to be adjacent to the same colour and then create a range of shapes where this would be possible. They could use any methodology they liked to get there and prove that their patterns and theories were correct. It was great to see them working together so well and seeing how failure on one attempt can lead to a better solution the next time.

Tomorrow, our Big Think for Art takes place with the children responding in a variety of ways to a piece of artwork, considering how it makes them feel and giving them a chance to discuss their own thoughts and feelings about it. It never ceases to amaze me how maturely our children respond to opportunities like this.

I hope that everyone has a lovely weekend.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 8 June 2023

Thursday 8 June 2023

Dear Parents

I hope that you all enjoyed the half term break and we are very much looking forward to a busy and exciting second half of the summer term.

Year 1 to 4 thoroughly enjoyed their French Morning on Tuesday, immersing themselves in the culture of France, learning French songs and producing some lovely pieces of work. It was great to hear them speaking the language too in their various activities and the lunch of croque monsieur and frites, with crêpes for pudding, was a very popular menu choice.

Congratulations to our Year 8 pupils who have almost completed their final set of exams at Abingdon Prep. It has been fascinating to chat to them about how they have got on and to hear of their impressive efforts to revise and prepare for them over half term. I am sure that their efforts will be rewarded with positive results. Year 7 have also been working hard in the lead up to their exams and I am sure will have similar success.

Our Year 6 pupils spent the first three days of this week on their Bushcraft trip, with a few brave souls trying to sleep in their shelters on the first night, until the drop in temperatures forced them back into their tents! They had a fantastic time and were a real pleasure to take away, showing great camaraderie and teamwork skills throughout. There may well have been a few lengthy showers needed after three days away camping, but they seemed in great spirits on their return and thoroughly enjoyed the activities they undertook.

Year 2 has been busy learning about biographies and discussing different famous people and how they told their stories through a book. I was especially interested to hear about Ben Stokes as the children discussed his life and how he came to be captain of the English cricket team. Winston Churchill and Barack Obama also featured in the biographies being spoken about.

Year 5 are visiting Portsmouth Historic Dockyard today and I know they will really enjoy the trip. HMS Victory is an amazing ship to explore and will bring to life their study of this period of history.

Matches took place this week with all our U8s, U9s and U10s representing APS against St Andrew’s and St Hugh’s. The children played some impressive cricket, coming away with a fairly even split of wins and losses, but most importantly, they all enjoyed playing the game.

On Friday, it is the turn of our Year 7 and 8s to compete in their House Swimming Gala at Abingdon School. The Year 5 and 6s performed brilliantly just before half term with a number of records broken and hopefully we will see more of the same tomorrow.

This Saturday sees our very popular skateboard deck art workshop return. I know the children who have signed up are very much looking forward to it and it will be great to see their designs next week. Good luck too to our U11 tennis team who compete in the Oxfordshire Doubles tournament on Saturday.

With best wishes

Craig Williams

Letter from the Head, 25 May 2023

Thursday 25 May 2023

Dear Parents

It has been a glorious week of weather at school and it has been lovely to be outside watching the children playing with their friends at break times and enjoying spending time together. Pupils in Year 3 to 6 have been working really hard during their assessment week and certainly will have earned a rest over the half term break. They should all be congratulated on their efforts across the week. It will be the turn of Year 7 and 8 after half term and I know that they have revision plans in place to support them in the lead up to their exams.

It has been great to see younger age groups taking them seriously and trying their best, whilst also developing exam technique and good practice – checking after finishing has been high on the agenda! For those not undertaking exams this week, it has been good to see them working hard in Pre-Prep and Year 7 and 8. I spent a fascinating 15 minutes listening to some Year 8 pupils explaining their Crest science projects. The first was to investigate temperature, humidity, Ozone and Carbon Dioxide levels in and around the school site. The children were hypothesising about the reasons for higher readings internally and also around the sunken area of the MUSA. The second was to investigate the change that occurs when baking bread by altering ratios of yeast, milk, water and salt. The taste test was an additional bonus to this set of experiments. I am very much looking forward to seeing their completed projects and hearing the conclusions they have drawn.

We have played 12 cricket matches this week against Christ Church Cathedral School, Magdalen College and The Dragon. The games were enjoyed by all with a number ending up with very close finishes and super individual and team performances too. All the practice being put in is certainly starting to pay off.

Tomorrow, the Griffin house charity event takes place to raise money for Helen and Douglas House. It is a sports based event with teachers also taking part. We hope that all the children will want to be involved and come into school wearing a sports shirt of any description along with their usual school shorts or trousers.

Thirty two athletes from Years 5 to 8 are competing this afternoon at Radley for their athletics meet. We wish them all the best in what will be for many of them, their first competition this summer.

We are very much looking forward to the first of our house swimming galas tomorrow for all the pupils in Year 5 and 6. I hope that many of you with children in those year groups will be able to attend at the Abingdon School pool to see the children compete for their houses in both individual and relay races.

I hope that everyone has a lovely half term break and enjoys the sunny weather that has been forecast. I feel there may be some barbeques being dusted off from sheds in the coming days.

With best wishes

Craig Williams