Head's Letters | Abingdon Prep School

Letter from the Head, 6 September 2019

Friday 6 September 2019

Dear Parents

It has been a fantastic start to term with all of our boys settling into the routines of school life very well, as indeed have our new staff! One of my highlights has been seeing so many smiling faces as the boys have come into school every morning. I have heard about lots of holiday adventures and even shared some of my own holiday memories with the boys in the first assembly of term.

It was so refreshing to see how quickly all of the boys have settled back into work as I walked around the school on Wednesday morning with Mr Windsor. We witnessed Year 8 undertaking some creative writing based on an image of a coloured glass building, we enjoyed learning about The Darién Gap (the break across the South American and North American continents) with Year 6, we saw portraits drawn by Reception, who have settled in brilliantly, and then created faces with playdough, wood, buttons, pipe cleaners and anything else we could lay our hands on. We were then treated to seeing the Year 7s undertaking their art assessment, drawing a wide variety of sports equipment. They produced some amazing results.

The rugby season has got underway with training sessions for all of the boys in Years 3 to 8. We are hoping for a little more rain (unheard of I know) to soften the ground a little further before matches start next week.

Our Year 6s have been out this week on a two night residential at Cornbury Park for their Bushcraft experience. They have been exploring the outdoors, learning survival skills and building shelters, and the bravest of souls even chose to sleep out in them on the first night. I look forward to hearing all about their exploits upon their return on Saturday. Fingers crossed they missed the showers that were around this morning.

Our Other Half activities programme got underway immediately this week with golf, cricket nets, art club, drama workshops, cookery (where they made some superb pinwheels), gardening club, outdoor explorers, swimming, amazing avatars and senior choir to name but a few. We are incredibly proud of our programme which the boys love taking part in and refine their skills or even learn new ones. It is a hugely valuable part of our educational offering.

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that Lil Pullen has taken on the role of SENCO this year in the learning support department. Sarah Eastaugh, our previous SENCO, will continue to play a full role in the department supporting our boys and I would like to thank her for all the excellent work she has done in her time as SENCO.

If I have not been able to catch up with you at the front gate in the mornings, I hope that I will see many of you at the informal drinks evening on Tuesday next week. During the course of the evening, you will also be taken to your son’s classroom where their form teacher will provide you with information on what to expect for the year ahead.

The Long Term Plans / Curriculum Overviews for each year group are available to view on the website if you should so wish. These are designed to give you an idea of what the boys will be covering in lessons over the course of the term.

I hope that you all have an enjoyable weekend and I look forward to seeing many of you next week.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 30 August 2019

Friday 30 August 2019

Dear Parents

I hope you have all had a great summer holiday and that your boys, and yourselves, are looking forward to getting back to a new academic year at Abingdon Prep. We will have 34 new pupils joining our community and I know that they will be warmly welcomed. I am looking forward to meeting with many of their parents tonight at our new parents drinks and also to catching up with all of those parents who can make the welcome drinks on Tuesday 10 September or indeed at the front gate in the mornings.

We are welcoming a number of new staff to school this term too. Zehra Kelly joins us as our junior science teacher and forest school coordinator, Aimee Whitehouse as our Year 1 teacher, Adam Treadaway as acting Director of Music and our two new Gaps, Tom Ettridge and Henry Muller. Tom finished at Bradfield College this summer and is a very talented cricketer and all round sportsman whilst Henry, who finished at Abingdon School this summer, has recently returned from performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and is a talented oarsman. Debbie Mundy is joining our nursing team. They are all looking forward to getting started and meeting our boys.

The holidays have flown by and I very much enjoyed hearing about some of the boys’ adventures at our well attended pre-season rugby training this week. Personally, I have spent much of the holidays chasing round the house trying to keep up with my energetic 15 month old. I may also have rather enjoyed the cricketing bonanza this summer has offered, and continues to do so, with two remaining Ashes Test matches to play!

I look forward to catching up with many of you over the course of the coming days.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 5 July 2019

Friday 5 July 2019

Dear Parents

The final day of term has arrived and Prize Giving is about to take place. It is a fantastic time of year to reflect on the achievements of the past year and celebrate the successes that have occurred along the way. It can also be a time of trepidation for some as they move on from the familiar faces and layout of Abingdon Prep and move onto their new school. However, it will not be long before they are as comfortable there as they have been here with new friends and new opportunities for them to get involved with. We certainly wish all our leavers the very best of luck and hope that they will stay in touch and let us know how they are getting on.

Even though it is the final week of term, the pace does not seem to have slowed! Our Year 8s have been out bowling and at the cinema for their final celebratory outing this week whilst Pre-Prep rounded off their jungle themed term with a visit from some amazing crocodiles and even a snake too! They are incredible creatures and the boys were fascinated to touch them and see them up close.

Philip made a brilliant Head for the Day and his choice of iced chocolate donuts for pudding and an extra ten minutes of lunch break went down very well. He was ably supported by younger brother Alex, especially with break time duties.

The Summer Concert was a quite marvellous celebration of music with the boys singing their hearts out and ensembles, groups and soloists performing some incredibly difficult pieces of music. It really is rewarding to see our boys enjoying their musical pursuits quite so much and the standard was remarkable.

A number of our footballers will be travelling to Sweden over the holidays to represent their regions in the Gothia Cup competition. It is an international competition which our boys have been selected for and I would like to congratulate them on their selection and wish them the best of luck in their matches. It is a great opportunity for them to experience high level football abroad.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the parents, for all of your help and support over the year. We are lucky to have such a great community here and I know that our new joiners in September, boys and parents, will enjoy becoming part of that.

I hope you all have a fantastic summer holiday and that the weather remains kind, whether you are at home or abroad.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 28 June 2019

Friday 28 June 2019

Dear Parents

Pre-Prep have had a very busy few days. Last Friday was their end of year concert which was great fun and very impressive. African drumming, instrumental performances and poetry with the theme of the jungle were all performed to a packed house. On Monday, their rearranged sports day took place and the weather was kind. The boys showed great teamwork and thoroughly enjoyed their running, jumping and throwing events, culminating in a fantastic whole house relay. There were some very good performances and some athletes in the making for sure. More than that though, the camaraderie they showed was lovely to watch as they supported each other in each of the events.

Move Up Morning was a success and it was lovely to welcome so many new faces into school. Our boys looked after them incredibly well and they all seemed excited to be starting with us in September. Our Year 8s also enjoyed their induction day at Abingdon School too and met lots of new boys who will be joining them next year.

Matches against three different schools took place on Wednesday and ended with a clean sweep of wins, with some particularly good individual performances. The better weather saw a couple of 50s scored by our Year 8s and an incredibly exciting 3 run win for the 6th XI. Our U10s performed admirably at the Abingdon Cricket festival earlier in the week and played some of their best cricket of the season. There were also tennis matches for the U11s and U10s and they certainly enjoyed the chance to compete on court.

Yesterday the Junior section put on their World Day assembly. It was a fascinating assembly and we found out many facts about different cultures. We learnt about a trip to Japan that one of the boys had recently been on and saw some great photos. It finished with some choreographed Greek dancing which was very enjoyable to watch. The outfits that the boys had created reflecting different countries around the world were amazing.

I was lucky enough to see 8R present their Crest science projects this week to their parents. Topics ranged from energy usage at APS and the viability of renewable options, to the traction of goalkeeping gloves. The boys have clearly learnt a huge amount about creating their own science experiments and showed their impressive knowledge across a wide range of topics.

Our brilliant JPA chair, Stuart Bonthron, is stepping down from his position at the end of term and we are still looking for someone to take the role on. We already have some fantastic reps who help to organise all of the JPA events so please do get in touch with myself or any of the reps who can tell you a little more about what it involves. I would like to thank Stuart for all of his work for the JPA and school to bring so many great events to the children.

Today’s hot weather saw the first short sleeve order of the term, remarkable considering how many of them were needed last year. Fingers crossed for some more good weather as we move into the final week of term.

Saturday will be a busy day in school, with an Art workshop, creating papier-mâché puppies and matches for six teams against Cothill to finish off the season. I look forward to seeing the boys in action.

I hope to catch up with many of you on the boundary tomorrow and hope you all have a good weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 21 June 2019

Friday 21 June 2019

Dear Parents

The term continues to fly past with lots of exciting activities and events keeping the boys busy, alongside their normal lessons.

Sports Day last Saturday was a resounding success with some fabulous individual performances and a great win for Phoenix House. Thank you to everyone who came along to cheer on the boys who all performed admirably. A couple of school records were broken but most importantly, the boys all tried their very best and enjoyed the opportunity to run on a superb athletics track, not something that many of us will have ever been lucky enough to have done!

Year 3 visited the Ashmolean Museum on Monday where they focused on the displays from Ancient Egypt which supported what they had been learning in lessons. Museums are a great way to put learning into context and our boys enjoyed seeing so many artefacts first hand.

Our Year 8s have been having a great time in France and I look forward to welcoming them back. They have been busy at the various attractions in Normandy and been dodging a number of thunderstorms! The reports coming back suggest they have been having a great time and the theme park was a particular highlight.

Cricket this week saw the U10 and U11 B and C teams take on Oratory Prep, once again in the drizzle. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing first-hand how much the U10Cs had improved and they had a super game which they lost on the final ball.

The Year 7s took part in a fantastic courtroom experience on Thursday where Natasha was in the dock and a trial was put together. It was a great opportunity for the boys to see how the justice process works in Britain and may well have inspired a few of the boys to look into a career in Law at a later stage.

Middle School’s Got Talent took place this week and I was lucky enough to be able to see the acts perform. There was classical, rap and rock music, performance drama and a rather brilliant comedy dance act. It was great to see the middle section seizing their opportunities to perform.

I also wanted to congratulate all the Year 7 boys who ran for the house captain and vice-captain positions for next year. They had all produced very thoughtful speeches to try to garner votes from the rest of the house in this week’s house meetings. I look forward to finding out the results of the votes.

We are looking forward to move up day on Tuesday and welcoming our new children into school. It is always a great chance for our current boys to make new friends and welcome them into our community. The class lists for next year will be sent out to you on Tuesday afternoon.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and that the sun will stay with us. I myself am looking forward to another opportunity to get out onto the cricket pitch!

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 14 June 2019

Friday 14 June 2019

Dear Parents

Well there has not been too much summer sunshine this week with raincoats and umbrellas more the order of the day. Fingers crossed for a break in the rain so that Sports Day can go ahead tomorrow morning over at Tilsley Park. I hope that many of you will be able to join us to see the boys compete for their houses. It is always a great occasion and I hope that we are able to enjoy the spectacle.

Despite the inclement weather, it has been a very busy week in all sections of the school. On Monday, the Year 3 and 4 Verse Speaking finals took place and the boys competing were incredibly impressive. We had Shakespeare, comedy and even a Granny Rap. The standard was quite amazing considering how young the boys are and they all seemed to love performing to the entire school. It did not faze them at all.

Drama and performance continued to be centre stage this week with the LAMDA exams taking place all day today and I know the boys have prepared well and were looking forward to sharing their pieces with the examiner. Drama is certainly looking strong at Abingdon Prep for the foreseeable future.

On Tuesday our Year 7s visited Compton Verney for an art experience which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The boys were taught some new artistic techniques and all of them produced some exquisite printing pieces. They returned in great spirits having developed another new artistic technique.

Our Year 8s spent yesterday morning across at Abingdon School taking part in masterclasses where they were taught lessons by senior school staff and lower sixth pupils. The boys really seemed to have enjoyed the lessons and are looking forward to September even more now.

This week saw cricket matches take place in the drizzle against Abingdon School and St Andrew’s. The boys played some excellent cricket and tried hard in the difficult conditions. The U11Bs stood out with an impressive win whilst the other teams were all involved in tight finishes, sadly coming up just short. Investment in cricket spikes may well be needed for some of the boys if the weather continues to be wet!

28 of our boys competed in the Mercia Athletics qualifiers on Thursday. After a long journey to Malvern, all the boys acquitted themselves extremely well and enjoyed competing against so many other talented athletes. Quinn and Jacob managed to win their respective events and have now qualified for the National Finals at The Alexandra Stadium later on this term. This event followed the National Swimming finals last weekend where we managed a fantastic 11th place in the country for the U12 Freestyle relay and a 6th placed finish for Ned in the 50m backstroke. The boys thoroughly enjoyed their amazing experience at the Aquatic Centre.

We finished the week with our whole school barbeque which was greatly enjoyed by everyone and then our wonderful Grandparents’ Afternoon. It was lovely to welcome so many of the boys’ grandparents into school to show them their work and listen to some recitals of poetry and musical pieces. I enjoyed meeting many of them and hope that some may make it to Sports Day tomorrow too.

I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow and if not, have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

PS – please could I ask that boys are not dropped off in school before 8am as they will not be supervised until the staff member arrives for early birds at 8am. Many thanks for your support with this.

Letter from the Head, 7 June 2019

Friday 7 June 2019

Dear Parents

It has been a lovely start to the second half of term with the warmer weather making an appearance – at least until today that is! Trips season is well and truly upon us and it is great that so many boys are getting the opportunity to experience hands on learning outside of the classroom.

8R explored Oxford on Tuesday, learning all about the old and new with a tour of the Westgate Centre and also visits to some Oxford Colleges. Our Year 4s were also in Oxford visiting the Ashmolean Museum where they learnt all about Greek statues with a particular focus on the Olympic Games and how it all began.

Year 5 went further afield to Portsmouth to explore the Historic Dockyard, focusing on HMS Victory. I had seen them the day before in class researching the different functions of each deck and it was certainly brought to life by touring the ship the very next day. They reported back that they had a fantastic time and that it was remarkably busy with preparations for the D-Day landings commemoration service there the next day.

Year 2 also got in on the act today by going across to Abingdon School to participate in the Crest Science show being held there. They had a fantastic time watching science in action with exciting experiments that they could get hands on with!

It has been an important week for our senior boys with their AP+ exams taking place. This is a full set of academic exams which I know they have worked hard towards and will hopefully attain marks that they will be proud of, reflecting their efforts. The experience of preparing fully for exams is a useful one as it will help them get used to the rigorous approach required when they move to their senior schools and start to sit public exams.    

The last few days have seen cricket matches for Years 3 – 6 with every boy in those year groups involved in a match against either Moulsford or Christ Church Cathedral school. There were some impressive individual performances with an all bowled hat trick by Jack in Year 6, five wickets from George in Year 6, and a great win for a combined Year 5 and 6 team. Strong Moulsford opposition saw them win some very good contests though. The U8s and U9s had more success in their fixtures winning more than their fair share.

Today saw our U11A Cricket team depart after lunch on their tour to Devon. Two matches and a range of other activities in the South West are planned and hopefully the weather forecast will be wrong and the boys will be able to enjoy their experience without the need for raincoats!

Finally, I would like to wish good luck to the boys on Saturday who have qualified for the IAPS National Swimming Finals at The Aquatics Centre in London. It is an unbelievably high standard event and the fact that we have a number of boys who have qualified for the finals is a superb achievement.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 24 May 2019

Friday 24 May 2019

Dear Parents

It has been exam week this week for Years 3-6. This is a good opportunity for the boys to start getting used to the format of exams and to understand the importance of organised preparation when it comes to sitting them. Year 7 and 8 will have their turn after half term and I know that they have their own revision schedules set out and materials gathered together to support their revision.

On the games field it has been another busy week with six senior teams (1sts, 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 6ths and 7ths) playing cricket matches against Moulsford and Oratory Prep. Our boys performed well in the sunshine and I was lucky enough to be umpiring the 6th team in what proved to be a very close game which went down to the final over before Oratory Prep managed to take the win. Our other teams also had very competitive matches but sadly struggled to beat strong opposition. Some work is needed on spending time at the crease!

On Tuesday, 20 senior section boys took part in the athletics meet at Radley where they performed admirably in such a big event. A number of personal bests were achieved and the boys enjoyed testing themselves on the synthetic track.

Four Year 6 boys took part in an U11 Tennis tournament on Sunday, also at Radley, where they produced some superb tennis with our pairs combining to win most of their matches and almost making the top three in a very competitive field. The boys certainly enjoyed challenging themselves against some top opponents.

Yesterday saw 8R venturing out to Burford and Widford to investigate the medieval architecture and history of the area. The boys seemed fascinated by the buildings and the remnants of medieval society that are still so clearly visible in the landscape today. It was history coming alive in the best way possible.

The Year 5-8 swimming gala is taking place this afternoon and I am looking forward to seeing how our boys get on and cheering them all on as they race against each other in all four strokes and a series of relays.

Finally, I just wanted to take this opportunity to clear up any slight confusion that may have arisen from some of the boys about end of school day times for Years 3-8. The school day finish time has not changed, it is still 4.10pm. We have, however, had a slight reworking of timings during the day to allow for the boys to return to their classrooms at 4pm in order to ensure that they get themselves organised and take home all their prep and other important belongings.

I hope that you will all have a very enjoyable half-term break and fingers crossed for a continuation of the lovely weather we have been experiencing this week.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 17 May 2019

Friday 17 May 2019

Dear Parents

I could only start my letter this week about the incredibly exciting flying visit from 845 Naval Air Command squadron. The enormous Merlin helicopter (the length of two double decker buses I am reliably informed), landed on Cox's Field after two low level overhead passes with two of the intrepid crew leaning out from the side and rear exit points waving at the boys. It really was a sight to behold. Every one of our boys got to listen to a talk about the aircraft from a crew member, ask questions and even go onto the helicopter, strapping themselves into the seats, with some trying on the helmets and others getting to sit in the cockpit. No matter what age, the boys (and staff) were all so excited to have the opportunity to step on board such an amazing aircraft and meet these four wonderful crew members who were quite brilliant ambassadors for our armed forces. As they flew off to their next mission, they even found time to do a double fly past over the playground as a farewell. Reception have been writing information sheets about the visit which I was lucky enough to see today. It has certainly inspired them. Who knows if any of the boys will go on to have a career in the Forces because they have been inspired by this brilliant experience?

On the cricket pitch this week our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and U11A XIs all recorded impressive victories over Crosfields with some strong performances too in other matches. Our U8s took part in their first ever cricket matches on Thursday and they can be very proud of their performances. Our U9s played their first match of the season and we also had our first tennis fixtures against Chandlings and Cothill for U10, U11 and U13 teams. Our U11s performed extremely well in both matches and the other boys really enjoyed playing competitive tennis.

All year groups this week from Reception to Year 6 paid a visit to the Life Education Bus where a range of age appropriate themes were discussed, ranging from ‘Meet the brain’ to ‘It’s great to be me’. The boys really enjoyed the different themes and learnt a great deal.

I hope that many of you have been able to visit school this week and see the fantastic array or work on display from the Art and CDT departments. All the boys have some work out on show and as I walked round it this week, it struck me just how wide a range of work the boys produce in these incredibly important subjects. Hearing our tour guides explaining how certain items were produced and the different skills needed to do that was a real eye opener. All our boys should be very proud of their creative pieces which have helped make Artweeks such a success.

On Tuesday our Year 6s visited the JR Hospital for their IMPS visit. This stands for Injury Minimisation Program for Schools. The morning gives them strategies to allow them to take responsibility for managing their own risk and equips them with the skills to cope in an emergency. I know the boys learnt a great deal and hopefully are now better able to manage risk of injury.

8R travelled to Richmond Village Retirement home. There, they were fortunate enough to speak with the last surviving spitfire pilot from WW2, just one of the brilliant men and women who had so much wisdom to share with our boys. I know they really valued the time spent chatting and our boys were keen to share some of their musical talents with the residents as well.

Concert platform is taking place this afternoon and I know that the boys who have signed up are looking forward to sharing their pieces with a wider audience, some for the first time.

Tomorrow sees the next in our series of Art workshops. This time there is a sculpture focus for the day and I know that it has once again proved a real draw for the boys. I look forward to seeing what they are going to produce.

As you can probably tell, it has been a very busy week with our boys seizing the opportunities on offer with both hands!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Letter from the Head, 10 May 2019

Friday 10 May 2019

Dear Parents

I hope you all had a very enjoyable bank holiday weekend. Unlike the previous bank holiday, the weather was not quite conducive to barbeques this time round but the extra day did enable our patio at home to be properly cleaned in preparation for the summer!

Our Reception class this week have been focusing on learning about the jungle. I was very fortunate to taste some of their stepping stone cookies and I learnt a huge amount about the Venus fly trap which they had studied and were writing facts about. The boys seemed captivated by this amazing plant and were all incredibly knowledgeable. The jungle topic is a great one for them to fully immerse themselves in and it had certainly grabbed their interest.

Sadly, the frequent heavy showers this week meant that all of our cricket matches had to be cancelled on Wednesday but at least the U8s and U9s avoided the worst of the downpours and were able to get their practice sessions in, preparing for their first matches next week. With the Cricket World Cup just around the corner, followed by an Ashes series, it is a great year to get involved in the sport!

This week Year 7 and Year 5 have been thoroughly enjoying themselves on adventure trips at Whitemead and PGL Liddington respectively. They are great opportunities to take on challenges that they will not have experienced before and where working as a team is so important for the success of the activity. Despite the wet weather, the boys have returned today in great spirits and having had a great time.

Year 6 performed playlets from ‘Macbeth’ yesterday evening. It was lovely to see them embracing their first taste of Shakespeare. The performances were terrific and it was so encouraging to hear from parents that many of the boys had been discussing Shakespeare at home and in the car on the way to school. It really is incredible to think that Shakepeare’s plays are as popular today as they were when first written back in the 1590’s. They truly have stood the test of time.

Next week is Artweeks at school and I would encourage as many of you as possible to come into school and see the boys’ fabulous work on display. The school is open to visitors on Tuesday from 08.30-10.30 and Wednesday from 15.00-18.00. There will also be refreshments available in the library courtesy of the JPA.

Also next week, on Wednesday, we are incredibly fortunate to be receiving a flying visit, quite literally, from a Naval Air Commando unit (845 Squadron). They will be landing their helicopter on Coxes field and the boys will get to meet the crew and hopefully even get a tour of the helicopter. We look forward to welcoming them to Abingdon Prep. If any parents would like to come and see this event, then you would be very welcome to attend. Expected landing time is 10.30.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all the boys who represented us last weekend at the IAPS National Table Tennis Championships. They all played very well and certainly enjoyed the day. The standard was, as always, incredibly high, but Todd excelled again and was crowned National Champion for the 3rd consecutive year. A fantastic achievement!

Best wishes

Craig