Head's Letters | Abingdon Prep School

Letter from the Head, 29 November 2019

Friday 29 November 2019

Dear Parents

Individual music exams took place on Monday and I am sure that all the practice that went in to preparing for them will have paid off. It never ceases to amaze me how talented some of our musicians are and it was great to see so many of our younger boys sitting these exams at the start of their musical journeys.

The sound of the African savannah has been drifting out of the music room this week with the singing auditions taking place for our senior production, The Lion King. The boys seem really enthused by the choice of musical and will be looking forward to starting rehearsals next term.

Yesterday Magdalen College Geography Quiz was held and it was a great success with eight of our boys showing off their geographical knowledge. Whilst we may not have won the event, we did win the fieldwork round which was lovely having so recently returned with our Year 8s from their Swanage field trip.

It has been a very busy week for rugby matches with 16 teams taking on Magdalen College. I was lucky enough to see some of the U10s play and delighted to see the work rate and enjoyment that the boys were clearly showing on the pitch. It was an incredibly successful week with Abingdon Prep winning all 16 of the matches played.

Rugby continues this weekend with matches against Cothill and I am looking forward to watching the boys play and hopefully chatting to some of you on the touchline. In addition to the rugby on Saturday, we are running another Art Workshop too, focusing on Franz Marc and his futurist animal painting. I cannot wait to see what the boys are able to create.

The first swimming gala of the year took place on Monday at The Dragon and our boys from Year 3-8 swam really well with particularly strong performances from our Year 8s and Year 3 and 4 boys. I know the boys are looking forward to next term when the bulk of the swimming galas take place.

This afternoon, the Director of Hockey at Abingdon School, Olly Deasy, came across to run a session for 24 of our senior boys. Olly plays for Reading in the National League and it was great to have such a talented player and coach working with some of our boys. I must admit, I picked up a few good tips myself during the session as I have my first hockey match in over a year coming up next Sunday!

The Christmas season is well and truly upon us now with the Pre-Prep Nativity rehearsals in full swing and the Christmas trees are up at the front of school and also in the Hall. Thank you to the JPA for coming in to help decorate it today.

I hope you all have a good weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 22 November 2019

Friday 22 November 2019

Dear Parents

Another busy week has flown by with the cold wind still biting and more woolly hats being worn than I can remember in previous years – including the staff! The build up to Christmas definitely started this week with the first carol being sung in our Tuesday morning singing practice and the school Christmas tree delivery email gracing my inbox! However, the boys were certainly fully engaged in the classroom too with Year 5 focusing on angles and using protractors, whilst Year 4 were designing their own islands as they learnt about four figure grid references.

Wednesday saw representatives from Griffin’s House Charity last year, the Sumatran Orangutan Society, share a little of their story and explain what the money we raised for them will be able to support. Some of the gorgeous pictures drew an audible murmur of delight and it was heartening to hear about the way that some of their rainforest habitat has been regenerated allowing them, and other key species such as Sumatran tigers and rhinos, to recolonise the area. Nature has an amazing way of healing itself if we can just give it the start it needs and an incredible four year turnaround in some parts of Sumatra has been achieved through specific replanting of certain pioneer species.

The Rugby 7s season is well and truly upon us with two tournaments this week for our U13s. They performed admirably at Pinewood securing three wins and three losses and both As and Bs showed some great skill in our own tournament this afternoon.

Our U12As played in the St Edward’s Tournament where they competed brilliantly against some enormous schools, both physically and in terms of numbers! Our U13 Cs lost a close game with Christ Church’s B team, whilst our U8As and U9As both had close matches with Cokethorpe but managed to win showing real determination at the end to stay ahead.

It was lovely to see some of you at Coffee and Catch up this morning. It is always a good chance to chat about your boys and what they have been getting up to over the term. The warm pain au chocolat was also a winner with the cold weather outside!

I hope you all have a good weekend ahead.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 15 November 2019

Friday 15 November 2019

Dear Parents

The autumnal weather certainly seems to have left us well and truly behind this week with biting winds and numerous downpours replacing it. Good use is being made of the boys’ coats and woolly hats!

Across the country, it has been ‘Anti-Bullying Week’, and our boys have been looking at school policies, having assemblies and participating in workshops too. The message was ‘change starts with us’ and I really enjoyed hearing the boys talk so passionately about what they could do to make a difference. The pledges made by 5L in their assembly were incredibly thoughtful.

Earlier on in the week I was fortunate enough to be taught by some Reception boys how to safely hammer nails into something; in this case a pumpkin. It was great to see the boys developing their fine motor skills and explaining how I should be doing it safely in such detail. I am still not allowed to hammer any nails in around our house though as I may not have always covered myself in glory when it has come to DIY previously!

The Book Fair took place on Wednesday and I really enjoyed popping over to see the great range of books available, with so many new titles and authors in amongst some of the more recognisable classics – well more recognisable to my generation anyway, even with a redesign! It was lovely to see the excitement of the boys as they flicked through the books. A love of reading and books is certainly still alive and well at Abingdon Prep.

This week saw some fantastic rugby matches against Chandlings and Abingdon School. I was lucky enough to see all of our U8 matches where our boys competed brilliantly and ended up winning all three games by just a single try or two. Both schools should be congratulated on the standard of rugby being played at that age and the obvious sportsmanship and enjoyment on show. Our seniors took on Abingdon School and our U13As and U12As both won excellent contests whilst our U12Bs managed a second half comeback to draw their match. The camaraderie on show from both schools was lovely to see as so many of the boys already knew each other from outside of school.

Tomorrow, our U10As are playing at Twickenham before the Barbarians match against Fiji. This should be an incredible occasion for them and I know they are relishing the prospect of running out on the hallowed turf.

Our new website went live this week so if you have not yet been able to have a good look at it, then please do. As you can imagine, there is a huge amount of work that goes into this and I would like to thank all of those who were involved.

Finally, I would like to take this chance to let you know about Coffee and Catch up with me next Friday morning. This will be in the drama studio between 8.15-9.15am. I do hope many of you can join me for a pastry and a hot drink.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 8 November 2019

Friday 8 November 2019

Dear Parents

I would like to start my letter this week with a huge thank you to the JPA for all their hard work organising such an enjoyable Firestorm event last Friday evening. Even the weather played ball this year and the boys seemed to have a great time with the lightsabres and such a terrific fireworks display, accompanied by the traditional hog roast or hot dogs. Sadly the next morning’s rugby did not quite live up to its billing but the sportsmanship on show was a great example to all.

On Tuesday our Orchestra went across to Radley to join their Orchestral day and after speaking to a number of the boys, it seems they had a great day out and really enjoyed joining together with other like minded musicians, producing a terrific concert at the end of the day.

Wednesday’s assembly was a lovely reflection on Remembrance with local resident and historian, Mr Hoath, coming in to tell us of the contribution to both world wars of local people from Frilford, Marcham and Garford. It was fascinating to learn about the families that were affected and the sacrifice of so many young men, and indeed women, from the local area. We even heard about the Bond brothers who lived in Josca’s House at the time of the First World War and went off to fight on the Western Front. We have our Remembrance service on Monday and we will all come together as a community to reflect in the two minute silence.

It was lovely to welcome two of our governors into school this week and take them into some of the lessons to see what our boys were learning about. It was great to see such a range of activities going on with English presentations to the class, persuasive speech writing, Kosher food and world timezones all featuring.

Year 2 this week in RE gave presentations on something that was really special to them and all of them should be incredibly proud of the way they presented to the rest of the class and spoke so clearly with genuine passion about their chosen object. I think we may have some budding orators amongst them.

There were a full set of fixtures for our U10s and U11s this week and the boys performed admirably with an even split of wins and losses, whilst some combined A / B teams at senior level took on Bruern Abbey and played some excellent rugby against some towering 12 and 13 year olds. Thursday saw our annual U8s and U9s rugby festival take place here at APS. All the teams enjoyed their three matches and produced some very impressive free flowing rugby.

Finally, good luck to our U11 rugby team who are off tomorrow to Buckinghamshire to compete in an IAPS rugby festival and also to the boys attending the U12 and U13 Prep Schools Regional Football trials.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 1 November 2019

1 November 2019

Dear Parents

I do hope that you all managed to have an enjoyable half term break. It certainly feels that autumn is well and truly upon us now with misty mornings and the occasional scraping of ice off the windscreen. The boys certainly seem to have returned to school with renewed energy.

Over half term, a number of boys took part in the Abingdon Vale Biathlon and U11 Prep schools lions football trials. I would like to congratulate everyone who took part in these events and hope they enjoyed the experience. At the biathlon we achieved a Silver and Bronze medal which was a terrific effort against such strong competition.

This week saw a full range of rugby fixtures against Oratory Prep. There were impressive wins for the U13As, U13Cs and Under U11Cs and a thrilling draw for the U12As. All our teams competed admirably in fixtures against a strong rugby playing school and acquitted themselves well.

Yesterday, I observed a number of Year 6 groups presenting to their class about their findings on metric and imperial measurement in Maths. I really enjoyed learning a few new facts as well as seeing how the different groups had researched and presented their findings. Finding out why the 17th Century Swedish ship ‘Vasa’ sank on its maiden voyage was a real highlight.

Today, our Year 7s have been out of school on their classics and history trip to see the Roman Baths, in Bath. I have been there myself on numerous occasions and I know they will have really enjoyed experiencing the thermal pools and the Roman architecture in place, alongside artefact’s from the Roman period. It will certainly bring a new dimension to what they have been learning in their Latin lessons.

Today has also been Griffin’s home clothes day to celebrate winning the house merit cup last half of term. I am sure that the other three houses are looking to move up the table, so do remind your boys to collect their golds and merits.

I know the boys are very excited about Firestorm this evening and although there may be a little rain, the forecast is certainly nothing like last year! I hope to see many of you at the fireworks enjoying the hog roast and the display. Please do feel free to come along at 2pm on Saturday, should you be able, to help pick up the firework residue from the pitches – payment in pastries! Hopefully we will be discussing an England victory in the Rugby World Cup Final.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 11 October 2019

Friday 11 October 2019

Dear Parents

It only seems like yesterday that I was writing my first letter of the term and yet we have now reached half term. I am writing this after spending two lovely days on the Jurassic Coast with the Year 8s on their geography field trip. It has been lovely to be teaching some geography again having spent numerous days on similar trips to Swanage with previous schools. The boys have been undertaking fieldwork for their geography projects and studying coastal geomorphology, dune succession and also some urban development.

The Year 5s enjoyed the real life experience of the Black Country Living Museum yesterday, supporting their learning about the Victorians. Olde worlde sweet shops and hardware stores line the streets showing them what life was really like back then. Field trips really are such a great way for the boys to further their learning and understanding of a topic.

Reception thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Cogges Farm at the start of the week and I was lucky enough to see them baking bread later in the week in the same way they had watched at the farm. It was wonderful to see them so excited before they left and again on their return. They also loved the minibus journey too – the first of many in their school careers!

On the rugby pitch this week the U8s and U9s performed brilliantly again with some great performances from all the teams against strong Oratory Prep boys, whilst our Year 5s, 6s, 7s and 8s all managed impressive results against Beachborough and our U10Ds and U11Ds battled well against strong Dragon teams.

I wanted to finish this week with a good news story. Our resident bees outside the library have been safely removed and given a new home into which they are happily settled and still working hard to make honey. As the beekeeper removed them at the end of last week from the top of courtyard, row after row of honeycomb was cut away with pure honey dripping out. The boys were very excited to see the beekeepers in their protective suits and the honeycomb being brought down. Nature really is an incredible thing.

I hope you all have a fantastic half term and enjoy a well-deserved rest. Please do remember to buy your firestorm tickets via Classlist as it takes place on the first Friday back after half term. I am certain that the weather will be kinder this year than last!

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 4 October 2019

Friday 4 October 2019

Dear Parents

It has been a busy week of trips, talks and outings which started on Monday when our Year 8s visited The Natural History Museum for an afternoon of science. They certainly enjoyed learning about the different exhibits and the history behind them. Science turned to art on Wednesday with a fantastic art history talk from Lizzie Rowe. The boys were inspired to hear her speak so passionately about architecture and its development through time.

In lessons this week I have been treated to seeing some fantastic translation skills in Latin from our senior section and some interesting experiments with temperature variations of hot water in containers made from a range of materials. Getting hands on in lessons and seeing first hand on trips the subject in action is a wonderful way to ensure the boys are learning.

This week saw some super rugby played across all year groups with Year 4 winning all their games against The Manor, and a very positive set of results for our U10 and U11 teams against Chandlings, and our U12 and U13 teams against a very strong Cheltenham College. Last Saturday saw our U12Bs defeat Abingdon School with a brilliant 1 try victory whilst sadly our U12As match had to be stopped due to an injury to a member of the opposition, who thankfully is absolutely fine.

This afternoon, our fabulous Pre-Prep Harvest Festival took place. The boys performed with admirable gusto and shared some of their lovely work about harvest. It was a great way to end the week and celebrate the beginning of autumn. Thank you to all of the parents who generously contributed gifts of food which will be shared with those in need in the local community.

It was also the MCS Challenge Quiz for some of our Year 5 and 6s today. The boys were selected after undertaking some general knowledge quiz questions last week. I am sure they will have performed extremely well and enjoyed the opportunity to test their wider general knowledge skills.

I am looking forward to seeing all the boys at Open Morning tomorrow. I know that our Year 7s will enjoy touring our guests around school and sharing with them their experiences of school life. It is a great opportunity to show off all the wonderful things that go on at Abingdon Prep.

Finally, I would like to wish good luck to our U13 footballers who are competing tomorrow at the IAPS Regional qualifiers.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 27 September 2019

Friday 27 September 2019

Dear Parents

The long awaited autumn rain has arrived this week but it was certainly needed to help the playing fields soften up and indeed all of our gardens.

I am currently away at the IAPS Heads Conference and it has been a great opportunity to hear about educational issues across the sector and listen to some fascinating guest speakers.

It has been another busy week at school with our U8s and U9s taking centre stage on the rugby pitch with their matches yesterday. The boys continue to impress with their positive approach to matches and once again had some strong results.

Tomorrow sees our U12s take on Abingdon School during their Open Morning so it will be a lovely spectacle for visitors to see on their way around the senior school site.

The first House meetings of terms took place on Wednesday and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the boys working on their group exercises. The construction task with spaghetti and marshmallows was a particular highlight with tetrahedron shapes abounding as the structures rose higher and higher. Some budding engineers are certainly in the making!

I enjoyed catching up with many Year 3 and Year 4 parents at the parents’ evening on Tuesday. It was good to hear that the boys had settled in well and were making the most of the opportunities available to them through our Other Half activities.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 20 September 2019

Friday 20 September 2019

Dear Parents

This week has been safety week at school with a number of themed assemblies around the subject of keeping yourself safe, both in and out of school. I thought it an opportune moment to share with you a website supported by the NSPCC for parents to keep as up to date as possible with social media apps and games, as this can be a minefield for parents, whether you are tech savvy or not: https://www.net-aware.org.uk/

I managed to pop up to Court Hill Centre yesterday evening to catch up with our Year 4 boys on their first ever residential trip, walking along The Ridgeway. They were very excited to be away from home and thoroughly enjoyed the evening activity of playing in the woods and the hearty dinner that was served up afterwards. I am told that they slept well too, unsurprisingly after expending their energies walking in the beautiful sunshine. They have been undertaking some science and geography over the course of the two days away, as well as enjoying each other’s company.

Perhaps my highlight of the week was reading to our Reception class for the first time. They showed amazing listening skills and seemed to really enjoy the story. They have settled in wonderfully well in their first full week of school, even if they are going home very tired after their exciting days of learning!

All of our Year 3s have now represented Abingdon Prep in their first inter-school matches, and with a great degree of success. Last Saturday they managed to win 4 and draw 1 of their festival matches, and with all the boys involved on Tuesday against The Manor, they secured 3 good wins as well. More importantly, they certainly seemed to be enjoying representing the school and all of them got fully involved. In our 11 Wednesday fixtures against Pinewood, some very competitive rugby was played with a fairly even split of wins and losses. Our U13As competed at the St Hugh’s tournament where they too had a successful day with 3 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw. The coaches report that great progress has been made already, even with the lack of contact practice due to the hard ground.

Abingdon School’s early season cross country event took place on Thursday and our boys enjoyed their first run out of the season. They performed admirably to finish in 3rd place in what were very warm conditions for cross country.

It would appear that we are due a change of weather next week so I hope that you will all take the opportunity to enjoy a lovely weekend out and about in the sunshine, and please do remind your boys to bring a coat with them next week for break times.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 13 September 2019

Friday 13 September 2019

Dear Parents

The Indian summer seems to be continuing apace and the boys are enjoying making new friends and getting back into the routines of school life.

Our Year 6s all returned safely from their very successful Bushcraft trip last weekend. They came back on Saturday morning still covered in their camouflage cream, tired but full of great stories about their trip. I am certain there were a few overworked washing machines once all their bags had been emptied!

We had our first class pairings on Wednesday which was based around the theme of construction. It was great to see the older boys partnering up with the younger ones building Lego models, Knex towers and wooden block bridges. It looked like the older boys were enjoying constructing these things even more than the younger ones!

Our first singing practice took place with Adam Treadaway on Tuesday. He certainly made a great first impression with the boys. The sight of him rapping ‘Old Abraham Brown’ whilst stood on stage grabbed the boys' attention for sure as they went on to rap themselves in different groups, even with a few harmonies included.

The first rugby fixtures of the season took place this Wednesday with our U13As at the Dragon festival whilst ten other teams travelled across to St Hugh’s for a series of training matches. Our U12As stood out with a terrific result but it was lovely to see so many boys out in the sunshine proudly representing Abingdon Prep. Our U9s had their first ever contact matches on Thursday, and really improved their understanding of tackling and contact situations. Tomorrow, some of our U8s have their first ever rugby festival at Cheltenham and I wish them the very best of luck as they start to play in competitive fixtures at school.

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it to the informal parents evening on Tuesday. It was lovely to catch up with many of you and hear how the term has started for your boys. Hopefully the form teacher information sessions were helpful and the routines of school life, in a new year group are working well.

After our parents evening we met for the JPA AGM. It was great to see so many of our new class reps there as work begins to prepare for the upcoming events – Firestorm being the first of these on the 1st November. Please do keep an eye out for further information about ticketing in the next few weeks.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend in the sunshine and I look forward to seeing many of you at the school gate next week.

Best wishes

Craig