Head’s Letters

Friday 29 March 2019

Dear Parents

The warm spring weather has accompanied us to the end of another fabulous term at Abingdon Prep. As I watched the photos flick round on our Lent Term montage this morning (available on the website), it reminded me of just how many different activities have taken place this term across all the year groups. If I had to pick a few highlights they would certainly be the snow day in school, the penguins and both of the brilliant productions.

Despite it being the final week of term, the pace has not diminished. ‘Animal Farm’, our senior section production, took place on Thursday evening and was a delight to watch. The boys involved should be very proud of their performances and the hard work that they have been putting into it in the lead up.

Reception visited Cotswold Farm Park on Monday and came back full of excitement and tales of the animals they had seen. They, alongside Year 1 and 2, also took part in a lovely Easter Bonnet parade this week in front of the whole school showing off their creative sides.

Years 2, 4 and 6 had a spectacular architecture workshop on Tuesday where Year 6 created Viking boat structures from bamboo and elastic bands, Year 4 created bridges from similar materials and Year 2 created a range of tetrahedron shapes. The boys really enjoyed the creative problem solving elements of these workshops and will certainly have learnt a great deal from them.

The Science Week poster competition awards were given out too this week and I was lucky enough to be asked to adjudicate - a tough job with so many brilliant entries on the theme of journeys. The overall winner came from Year 4 and showed a stunning journey of an arctic tern migration.

The Easter Eggstravaganza on Saturday last week was a great success and the sunshine allowed for a lovely Easter egg hunt in the Pre-Prep play area to round off the event. The Easter Bunny was kind enough to join us despite being such a busy time of year. I was lucky and found a few stray eggs myself this year!

Dragon have managed to earn themselves a home clothes day next term by winning the house merit cup and as a school we managed to raise £412 for our Dragon House charity - ‘The Friends of Della and Don’. They will be putting the money towards part funding a teacher at the school they have set up in an area still struggling to recover from the tragic tsunami of 2004. Thank you to all the boys and parents who have kindly made Sri Lankan styles cakes and pastries which sold so well. This followed on from some wonderful ‘Bake Off’ cakes which certainly went down well and I am very much looking forward to the finals of the ‘Abingdon Prep Bake Off’ next term.

Our Easter Service today will round off the term and hopefully allow for a few moments of quiet reflection before we all enjoy the holiday break. I am personally looking forward to venturing down to the Gower Peninsula for a few days to walk with my family on the stunning beaches and beautiful coastline. If the weather allows, I will also be starting my cricket season too with a couple of pre-season matches. I hope that you all have a restful and enjoyable holidays, whether that is skiing in the Alps, jetting off somewhere exotic, pottering off to the South West or simply enjoying some family time at home. Fingers crossed for some more warm spring weather.

Best wishes and Happy Easter!

Craig

Friday 22 March 2019

Dear Parents

To start the week, a number of boys sat their Associated Board Music exams. I know that this is always a nerve wracking affair but the boys had been practising hard and I am sure they will have done themselves proud. I am always delighted to hear the boys play their instruments and slightly jealous of the talent they possess!

On Tuesday, our whole school photograph took place outside the front of Josca’s House this week. It really is quite a feat for the photographers to organise 261 boys on the scaffolding to get such a lovely image.

On Wednesday, four of our Year 8 boys joined 20 other schools from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire for a day of Chemistry in the Salters Chemistry challenge at Oxford University. The boys took part in two challenges and were awarded first prize in the ‘University Challenge’ seeing them race against the clock to react different concentrations of Sulphuric Acid with Magnesium ribbon. The boys had a great day out and came back buzzing about the chemistry they had undertaken.

After some excellent results and performances from our A teams at Cokethorpe on Saturday, matches continued this week with our seniors playing football against Abingdon School. A late winning goal for the U13As capped a fine season for them. 25 boys from the senior section went across to St Edward's to play New College at hockey and our mixed U12/13 team came away with a very impressive 1-1 draw. Our U10s were also in action and our A team completed their second consecutive unbeaten season - a great achievement. St Hugh’s were the opposition for our U9A, B and C teams this week and they all played extremely well, ending with two wins and a draw.

The British Biathlon championships took place last Sunday where all our teams and individual competitors can be very proud of their performances. Our U9s raced incredibly well, leading them to finish 2nd in this national competition - a superb performance.

It was lovely to see a number of you at Coffee and Catch up this morning. I always enjoy chatting with parents and hearing your thoughts on how the boys are doing, and of course about the upcoming holidays!

The Pre-Prep Spring Celebration took place this afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the boys showcase some of their work and sing the songs that they have been learning. It is always a lovely way to reflect on the brilliant things that the boys have been working on over the course of the term.

Tomorrow, the Easter Eggstravaganza takes place alongside a full rehearsal for the senior production of ‘Animal Farm’. We are hoping for a flying visit from the Easter Bunny too! This is a busy weekend which leads us into the final week of term.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and enjoy the warmer spring weather.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 15 March 2019

Dear Parents

After the triumph of the penguin visit last week, we have this week received delivery of six ducklings into the Year 1 classroom. They have all hatched successfully and the gorgeous fluffy yellow bundles are growing beautifully and are certainly the star attraction down in Pre-Prep. The boys have named them all and are taking great care of them.

This week has seen numerous trips take place across a range of year groups. Year 1 started the week with a fantastic visit to Hill End where they got fully stuck into some outdoor learning and furthered their forest school skills. They were certainly very excited to tell me about the things they had learned whilst there. Year 2 visited Warwick Castle (a quite breathtaking place and well worth a visit if you have never been) and enjoyed finding out about medieval life, especially the jousting and weaponry used at the time. Year 5 are currently out at the Natural History Museum and Pitt Rivers in Oxford, learning about a real cross curricular set of scientific and historical information. 8R have been invited to a leadership skills workshop with a range of guest speakers and many other local preps too and the boys were certainly looking forward to a very interesting set of talks. As you can probably see, it has been a great week for trips.

Science Week has been taking place too, with a range of different activities (hence the ducklings) and Helen and Rebecca gave a fascinating assembly, with some amazing video footage of the Tacoma Bridge collapse in 1940, which certainly got the boys full attention as they saw how a lack of scientific understanding had led to such an incredible collapse - do google the footage of this if you have never seen it before.

Another absolute highlight this week has been the House Music Festival. Congratulations should be given to all the boys who auditioned and the standard in both the junior and senior events was quite superb. We are truly spoilt with the number of talented musicians we have at Abingdon Prep and the enjoyment displayed by the participants was great to witness.

Last Sunday 12 boys represented Abingdon Prep at the National Cross-Country Championships at Malvern College. All of the boys ran brilliantly despite the strong winds and difficult terrain and our U13 team came 3rd with our U11 team coming 7th. There were over 200 runners in each event from 46 schools so these were great results. Quinn (Year 8) is now national champion having won the U13 race with a stunning performance.

This week saw football and hockey matches against Pinewood, Cothill and Chandlings, and there were some very strong results for our B, C and D teams. Matches continue at Cokethorpe tomorrow morning and the British Biathlon Finals take place on Sunday at Crystal Palace, so it is a busy weekend of sport for many of our boys.

All of our scholarship results have now come in and I would like to thank all of the boys and the staff for their efforts in preparing for them. It is a huge commitment for the boys to undertake. This year we have managed to achieve 17 awards across all of the different areas of the curriculum.

Thank you to our fabulous JPA representatives who are running the Scalextric Night tonight. I am very much looking forward to dusting off my Scalextric skills from 30 years ago and seeing how the world of miniature car racing has changed. I am not sure I will be much competition for the boys, who, judging by last year, have some amazing skills around the tracks!

I hope you all have a great weekend and I hope to see some of you this evening at Scalextrics or on the touchline tomorrow.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 8 March 2019

Dear Parents

What a busy week it has been. I cannot tell you how excited I was on Monday knowing that I would get to meet a couple of penguins at close quarters. Two Dots and Tick were the stars of the show (quite literally as they have been in a number of films) and our boys in Reception, Year 1, 2 and 3 all got to meet them and learn about the lives of Humboldt penguins. The two penguins were clearly fascinated with the children, almost as much as the children were fascinated with them. They got to see them splash around in their pool and be fed, whilst waddling round their enclosure. It was an incredible learning experience for the boys and certainly gave them an appreciation of the beauty and intelligence of these creatures.

World Book Day took place yesterday and I do hope that you have seen some of the photos of the boys’ in costume on the website. A huge amount of effort had clearly gone into creating the costumes of historical characters and it is at this point that I should certainly thank the parents who had been helping out with the brilliant creations. My personal favourite was Margaret Thatcher, whose clothing, jewellery and general mannerisms had all been recreated with incredible accuracy. I am less certain about my fake beard’s authenticity in my homage to W.G. Grace!

This led into our Year 7 Victorian Waxworks Exhibition. This was a first for Abingdon Prep where the boys had been researching key Victorian characters that they then brought to life when a button was pressed. The ‘characters’ then explained to you why they should not be melted down because of how much they had contributed to society and been able to change the world for the better. We had Disraeli, Fry, Cook, Lister and Babbage to name but a few. The boys presented their achievements with genuine knowledge and passion and it was a pleasure to see them taking on these personas and sharing their knowledge of Victorian achievements, linking closely to their work in English lessons this term.

All of our football matches this week were against Moulsford and our boys can be very proud of their endeavours on the pitch, with some notable victories in the Senior Section and strong results in other areas too. The boys have certainly improved their skills dramatically this term. On the hockey pitch, all the boys in Year 6 represented us in some very closely fought matches, with a 1-0 victory for the U11 A team being a particular highlight. More importantly, the boys all enjoyed the chance to play a different sport against another school.

Our busy week continues into the weekend with another Saturday Art workshop, this time specialising in painting, and the National Cross Country championships taking place at Malvern College on Sunday. I am looking forward to seeing our boys represent Abingdon Prep at this event, especially after our own inter house races last week and the Oratory School’s Greyhound run yesterday where our boys acquitted themselves very well.

The scholarship season has now ended and I would like to congratulate all of our boys who have worked so hard in their different respective fields to sit these exams. They are all very talented young men.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and I look forward to seeing some of you in the Malvern Hills on Sunday.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 1 March 2019

Dear Parents

I hope you all had a lovely half term and were able to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather which has continued into this week.

On Tuesday we had our Spring Term Open Morning. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our brilliant Year 7 tour guides and our two Year 8 boys who each gave a speech to the prospective parents. The boys continue to be the very best selling point for Abingdon Prep.

In our football matches this week we played a mixture of games against Christ Church Cathedral and Bruern Abbey. Our senior teams came away with some very strong wins whilst our U10s and U11s had some very close games with an even mix of wins and losses. The U8s and U9s showed what they are really capable of with some excellent performances leading to a number of good wins. Good luck to our senior teams in action against the Dragon this Saturday and also to our swimmers who will be taking on the strongest swimmers in the county at the IAPS regional qualifiers.

On Thursday, Paul Gooding, Head of Wellbeing at Abingdon School gave all of the boys an assembly on resilience, encouraging them to think upwards, think forwards, think outwards. This is such an important message for our boys to hear and hopefully put into action in their everyday lives, both at school and at home.

This morning, the boys in Unicorn enjoyed their home clothes day in recognition of winning the House merit cup for the first half of term. It was a very close run affair with just 15 merits separating Dragon House in second place.

This afternoon sees the running of our annual inter-house cross country event for all of the boys. There has been much excitement and anticipation all day, and a little trepidation too for some of the boys who are running it for the first time. I know our Reception boys are really looking forward to competing in their first whole school sporting event. The races are always hotly contested and brilliantly supported by the onlookers. Encouraging every boy around the course is a huge part of the event and always brings out the house spirit.

Have a good weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 15 February 2019

Dear Parents

As I made my way in to school this morning in the sunshine, I was reflecting on what a super first half of term we have had. Of course, incredibly busy but I would not want it any other way. As this half term comes to an end, I could not have been prouder of the Abingdon Prep boys after the Junior Section’s quite amazing production, ‘Dragon Days’, which they performed to parents last night. The standard of singing and acting was amazing for boys who are only 7, 8 or 9 years old and their delivery of lines, alongside comic timing made for a quite brilliant evening. The boys should be very proud of themselves.

On Tuesday we sent a large group of boys from Years 3-6 to the Chandlings cross-country event where there were over 500 pupils competing. There were some very creditable individual and team performances and I know Ashley was delighted with the effort that all the boys put in.

Wednesday saw a range of U10 and U11 teams take on Christ Church with the U10s coming away with some very impressive wins. Our senior boys took on Cokethorpe after school on Thursday and played some of the highest quality football, with strong wins for our U13 A, B and U12 B teams whilst our U12 As went down 5-4 in a thrilling encounter.

Our Year 8s continue to be busy both inside and outside of the classroom with Music and Sports scholarships undertaken at Abingdon School this week. I look forward to sharing news of our hoped for successes in the coming weeks.

Please could I ask that you take a few moments at half term to complete our website survey. Your feedback is always welcomed to help continue to improve our methods of communication and giving information about the school to current and prospective parents alike. Please follow this link.

I hope that you will all have a restful and enjoyable half term. After a few very early starts with Quinn this week I am certainly looking forward to relaxing at home and enjoying this lovely February sunshine.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 8 February 2019

Dear Parents

After the snow of last Friday, it has been good to get back to our normal wet and windy February weather! It has been a very busy week for all of the year groups and I thoroughly enjoyed popping into lessons this week to see how the boys were getting on. I was particularly impressed with some of the detailed explanations of relief rainfall and the rain shadow given to me by Year 6, following on from some impressive number work in Reception.

Pre-Prep have been busily working towards achieving their individual targets and I was able to present to many of them their launch flames (target achieved) for their rocket. Year 1 took it a step further and even built a rocket this week with cockpits and control panels all fully formed. It was great to learn about the way they had acted as a team to pull it all together and the time lapse images of this were a hit with all.

In hymn practice this week, Charlie performed a beautiful rendition of Walking in the Air, by Howard Blake, whilst playing the piano too. It is great to see the musicality of so many of our boys coming through, alongside their passion for it. Musically it has been a busy few weeks with eight of our Year 8 boys sitting for music scholarships, a culmination of all their hard work practising and performing over many years. Scholarship season has well and truly begun.

On Tuesday, three of our Year 6 boys represented APS at Oratory’s ‘Let’s Debate’ competition where they produced incredibly well received speeches about a range of topics from corporal punishment to the banning of all homework! Public speaking is never easy and it is lovely to witness the confidence with which so many of our boys are blessed when it comes to standing in front of an audience.

On the sports field our Year 5 and 6s had their first hockey matches of term, with a visit to the Dragon on Monday and the In2Hockey county tournament today for the U11s. The U10s performed admirably in their first ever matches and clearly enjoyed the opportunity to play a new sport against another school.

On the football pitch the boys took on Oratory Prep in Years 5 to 8 and yet again we had some terrific performances from all year groups. The highlight was a fantastic 1-0 victory to our U13As, who had never beaten OPS before on the football pitch and both coaches were waxing lyrical about the incredible standard of football produced by both teams.

The Junior Section has been busily rehearsing all week in the lead up to ‘Dragon Days’ next Thursday. I think the audience will be in for a treat having heard some of the songs being sung in rehearsals. I look forward to seeing many of you at the show.

I hope you all have a great weekend and steer clear from the multitude of coughs and colds that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment.

Best wishes

Craig

Monday 4 February 2019

Dear Parents

Apologies for the delayed letter this week. Friday was a little different with all the beautiful snow. For those that were able to make it in, we had a lovely day with a combination of academic lessons, swimming, PE and time to play in the snow. Hopefully some pictures of the boys and their snowmen might make it onto the website in the next few days. It certainly brought back a few very happy childhood memories of snow days I had experienced at school.

Prior to the snow on Friday, the boys had been busy with a range of activities. On Thursday, Reception, along with Years 1, 2 and 3 participated in Chinese Dance workshops. It was lovely to watch the boys perform their routines with parasols and fans, being gracefully guided by the dance teacher. The boys really entered into the spirit of the dance and produced some delightful shapes and patterns with their props. They certainly seemed to enjoy the experience and learnt a little more about Chinese culture.

Drama has been taking centre stage in our junior section this week as they have been busily rehearsing for their production, ‘Dragon Days’. If these early rehearsals are anything to go by, the performance in a fortnight should be well worth a watch.

A range of matches took place this week with our U11s and U10s taking on St Hugh’s, whilst our U8s and U9s played against Oratory Prep (and Claire’s Court for the U9s). The U8s and U9s played some lovely football in the bitter cold with the highlight being a 4-3 win for the U8C team. The U11 teams won two and lost two whilst our four U10 teams all came away with victories. Our 13A and B teams enjoyed impressive wins against Oratory School on the football pitch whilst the U13 and U12 hockey teams played their first fixtures against Cothill, with the 13s losing and the 12s winning. Despite the cold conditions, it was great to have so many boys out on the pitches representing Abingdon Prep so well.

Sadly, the Saturday ‘Painting Masterclass’ Art Workshop had to be postponed due to the weather. The plans sounded very exciting with a scientific methodology in place using pipette painting as just one of the techniques being introduced.

The weather also put paid to our JPA Quiz night on Friday. At least this should give the staff team a little more time to swat up on their general knowledge before we can reschedule it.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and perhaps some of you even got to use those toboggans tucked away in the corner of the garage. Quinn was certainly transfixed by this whole new experience of snow as I pulled him around on our newly purchased sled!

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 25 January 2019

Dear Parents

Winter seems to have finally bitten this week with frozen ground and snow and ice taking hold. I must admit to some nervousness as the snowflakes fell more heavily and seemed to get larger on Tuesday afternoon with our inspection due the next day. Fortunately all the staff and pupils were able to make it into school on Wednesday!

I wanted to start my letter this week by thanking Tommy in Year 7 for his brilliant assembly about HMS Triumph’s disappearance in WW2 and his participation in the HMS Triumph Association. The boys were riveted listening to the story of his great-great-uncle’s missing submarine and the association’s role in tracking down members of the crew’s family today to celebrate and honour those brave men.

We have welcomed two ISI inspectors to APS this week and undertaken our compliance inspection. I will be able to share their findings with you all once they are formally released to us. This process is likely to take up to 6 weeks. It was a lovely opportunity to share so much of what we do in school with educational professionals.

On the football pitch this week all of our Year 5 and 6 boys played in matches against Pinewood and despite the freezing conditions, were able to play some very closely contested matches. Our U11 groups managed two wins, one draw and one loss whilst our 10s finished with one win, one draw and two losses. On Tuesday some very intrepid cross country runners took on the snow and freezing temperatures to compete in the first cross country event of the term. An impressive 2nd place team finish was achieved with APS boys coming home individually in 1st, 3rd and 5th places.

Today has seen a number of boys sit their LAMDA exams which they have all been working so hard towards. I look forward to seeing some more excellent results when they come in.

Pre-Prep have also had a very interesting day today with a visit from the Planetarium. They learnt about star gazing and the different constellations, they found out that a number of planets were currently visible to us and they also discussed the possibilities of alien life forms. What an exciting day at school this was!

The first concert platform is taking place this evening after school and I know that many or our boys sitting music scholarships later in the term will be performing, so it will undoubtedly be a wonderful occasion and a lovely way to finish off the week.

Our Annual Quiz Night organised by the JPA is scheduled for next Friday, but we are currently a little light on numbers, so please can I encourage you to sign up and join us for a very enjoyable evening, with quiz master Rob.

I hope you all have a good weekend and that the cold temperatures do not stop you from getting out and about.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 18 January 2019

Dear Parents

I hope you have all had a good week despite the cold weather and the boys are certainly very well settled back into the routines of school life.

Mike Windsor and I enjoyed popping in to see some lessons yesterday morning and it was refreshing to see the boys working hard in each and every room we entered. Year 7 were undertaking some tricky algebra whilst Year 5 were solving time word problems in their Maths lesson. Some challenging distance calculations and 6 figure grid references using OS maps were being undertaken by a Year 8 group. There was a genuine sense of purpose and enthusiasm from all the boys as they worked their way through the questions. 8R, meanwhile, have been very busy this week sitting their mock scholarship exams and I know they will be looking forward to getting back their results to see how they are progressing.

Today, I presented a number of flames to our boys in Pre-Prep for achieving the first stage of their specific target. They are building up a rocket because they are ‘aiming to fly through the stars to get to the moon’. The display should be spectacular as they all move towards achieving their aims. They also got to place some ‘moon rock’ in their house collector jars so we shall see how quickly we can fill those up too.

Yesterday, the boys took part in a series of E-safety workshops running throughout the day. In the evening, there was an excellent talk to parents with so many useful tips for keeping our children safe online. This is such an important topic to discuss and to be fully aware of the issues surrounding it, both for boys and parents and something that is regularly revisited within school. I hope that you will have received an email too from us with some useful websites for parents to use and a checklist for parents to help keep their child safe online.

Football matches this week saw all of our Year 5s and 6s take on Chandlings in the first games of the season. Eight competitive games were played with an even split of wins and losses with both teams competing in exactly the right spirit. There were five matches for our Year 7s and 8s against Davenies, resulting in four wins and one loss with the boys starting off the season in a very positive fashion, despite the rain and rather chilly conditions. Good luck to our Year 6s who are taking on The Dragon tomorrow.

I would again like to take this opportunity to remind parents that they should ensure that when crossing the car park with children that they stick to the hashed lines. Drivers should also please take great care in this area and ensure they are not crossing the hashed lines adjacent to the parking spaces. The safety of everyone using our car park is of paramount importance to us.

I hope you all have a good weekend planned and I look forward to catching some of you on the touchline tomorrow.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 11 January 2019

Dear Parents

I hope that you have all had a great Christmas holiday and enjoyed the start to 2019. It was lovely to welcome the boys back to school on Tuesday and hear about what they had been getting up to in the holidays and about some of their exciting Christmas presents. I was lucky enough to be given a crocodile keeper for the day experience as one of my presents and I was able to get up close and personal with crocodiles and alligators. Feeding them was certainly an experience!

As we should probably expect, despite the unusually seasonal end to 2018, the cold weather is very much back with us so it is good to see so many boys in hats and coats of a morning and at break times. Hopefully this will help to keep those winter colds at bay for a little longer.

School has started back with a bang with all our Other Half activities starting from the first day of term and the boys working hard in lessons. I particularly enjoyed seeing our Year 3s this week experimenting in Science with forces and measuring different forces applied by objects on the newton meter. This followed on from the class pairings where my highlight was a series of chess matches between the Year 5s and the Year 8s which were of a very high quality. Scrabble also proved popular with the Year 4 and Year 7 groupings. Old School games certainly still have a place in our boys' lives.

My first assembly on Tuesday was all about New Year's resolutions and taking the targets from the boys’ reports in the autumn term and trying to address them at the beginning of this term. Hard work and a focus on improving our effort grades was the message that the boys came back with.

Our boys in Griffin were able to celebrate their Merit point’s victory from the last half of term with a home clothes day today which has been greatly enjoyed. Having signed off a number of golds today, it looks like there will be a strong number of merits generated this half of term too.

We had a very successful pre-season football morning on the Friday before term started with 37 Year 5 and 6 boys attending and 28 Year 7 and 8 boys. It was great to see them so enthused about the upcoming season and working hard on their skills. We are looking forward to matches starting next week.

Please could I ask that with the dark evenings still very much in force that all parents who are picking up at about 4.15pm are aware of all the minibuses moving around the site and take great care when crossing over the car park to collect and leave with their children.

If I have not seen you at the front gate yet this term then I will take this opportunity to wish you all a belated Happy New Year.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 14 December 2018

Dear Parents

We have reached the end of the Michaelmas term and what a great term it has been. On Wednesday I shared a montage of photos from the term with the boys (it is now live on the website) and it was a lovely reminder of all the amazing things the boys have been involved with since September.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first Abingdon Prep carol service this week. It never ceases to amaze me how musical our boys are. It was wonderful to hear all of them sing so well and the musicians were equally impressive throughout. The reindeer playing the trumpet was just one of the highlights for me!

The Debating and Public Speaking competition took place for our Year 6, 7 and 8s this week and we had topics such as the death of Stan Lee, President Macron’s current troubles, and a debate on both the current Brexit deal and also whether the human race is doomed or not. All the boys who took part were incredibly impressive and spoke with clarity and confidence.

Christmas lunch took place yesterday and huge thanks go to our catering team for producing such a lovely spread - turkey with all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding or jelly and cream. The boys certainly seemed to enjoy the occasion and the boys I sat with were looking at it as a warm up for the real event on the 25th. Pigs in blankets probably came out as the most looked forward to part of any Christmas lunch!

Also yesterday, we had our inaugural Gifts for Grown Ups. The boys really seemed to enjoy the freedom of choosing gifts for the adults in their lives on their own. Fingers crossed most of you will enjoy their selections! Thank you so much to our amazing parent body who gave up their day to man the tables and organise the event.

Out of school a couple of the boys have been performing to large audiences on stage and on the ice. Yumi has been treading the boards in ‘The Pied Piper’ and Lucas has been skating in the Oxford Ice Rink Christmas Show. It is great to hear of our boys sharing their talents with the wider general public.

Griffin was victorious in the house points competition this half of term and will, I am sure, enjoy their home clothes day on their return in January.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and enjoy the festive season, whether you are staying at home with family or jetting off to exciting foreign soils. I am looking forward to spending time with Hannah, Quinn and Dizzy, and celebrating our first Christmas with Quinn.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 7 December 2018

Dear Parents

Where else can I start my letter for this week than with the quite brilliant Nativity that was performed on Wednesday afternoon by our Pre-Prep. As I said on the day, it was quite possibly the most professional show of this ilk that I have seen. The boys knew every one of their lines, knew where they should be moving around the stage and their singing was super too. It was a real triumph, or perhaps I should say, #epic, as a nod to the performance!

Yesterday saw a debut assembly for Natasha as her class, 6N, gave their assembly about Christmas literature, with an outline of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and a poetry recital of ‘Twas the night before Christmas’. Throw in an interview with Santa, or Nick as he likes to be called, and we had all the ingredients for a great assembly. However, to round it off, there was full audience participation of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, with parts listed out for all sections of the school. As the words to the song scrolled along the projector, I was slightly horrified to see my name appear for a solo on the ‘10 Lords a-Leaping’ line. I duly sung out my line with as much gusto as I could manage but quite frankly when it was the senior and chamber choir next up, they put me to shame.

This morning I popped into a fascinating talk to Year 5 on ‘Satellites and Space’ from one of our current parents. I certainly learnt a huge amount and the boys had numerous questions of their own. It made me realise just how much we take technology for granted and how much satellites in space influence our lives. I think we may have a number of boys now who might love to explore a career in this field.

Today our Pre-Prep all went on a trip to Roves Farm. The levels of excitement were palpable as they lined up to get on the coach, coats and hats at the ready as the rain began to fall. They came back just as excited after having a brilliant time dressing up and having been in Santa’s grotto.

Last Saturday saw us take on Cothill in the U10, 11, 12 and 13 As. A successful afternoon followed with 3 wins and a draw, rounding off a super season of rugby for all the boys.

This Saturday sees our third and final Art Workshop of the term. Once again it has proved to be extremely popular. This time they will be focusing on sculpture with papier-mâché modelling and if the past two events are anything to go by, the results of their efforts will again be amazing.

Carol service rehearsals are in full swing, and I am looking forward to welcoming many of you to St Helen’s Church on Tuesday evening. Please be aware of the parking in Abingdon as there is no parking outside the church.

Our Gifts for Grown Ups preparation goes on apace and the boys are certainly excited to be chatting about their choices of presents for the grown-ups in their lives. Thanks to all the JPA and other parents who are working tirelessly to make this such a lovely event.

Next week sees us enter the final week of term with our House debating, Christmas lunch, end of term assemblies, carol service and of course, end of term reports! I hope the boys will all enjoy a restful weekend in preparation for what promises to be a wonderful final week of term.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 30 November 2018

Dear Parents

I thought I should start my letter this week with reference to the brilliant Bazaar last Saturday. The newly created games in the hall were a great success and I particularly enjoyed the floating balls on the penguins that needed to be knocked down. The generosity of our wider parent body never ceases to amaze me with so many kind donations towards the raffle and other stalls.

This week each of the four Houses were asked to choose their House Charity. Members of the House presented charities that were close to their hearts and then the boys voted for the one that they felt they would like to support for this year. They then discussed how they could raise money for it over the coming terms. Some interesting ideas were generated, so watch this space!

The first swimming gala of term took place on Monday after school at The Dragon for the U9s, 10s, 11s, 12s and U13s. The boys really enjoyed testing themselves against other strong swimmers from the local circuit and produced an excellent set of results.

Rugby matches against Magdalen College took place this week with all boys in the U8s, 9s, 10s and 11s again representing school. Despite the conditions being taxing, our 10s and 11s won 6 of their 8 fixtures and our U8s and 9s won 3 of their 6 fixtures, with 2 very exciting draws in monsoon conditions! All of the boys have improved so much over the course of the term. House matches took place for the senior section whilst the U13C team journeyed to Cheltenham College for their first rugby tournament. They came away with medals having scored a try in every match that they played. Tomorrow sees our final rugby matches of the term against Cothill. Good luck to all the boys who are playing.

On Wednesday our Year 3 and 4 classes journeyed to to The Oxford Playhouse for their annual pantomime trip. This year they watched ‘Dick Whittington’ and came back very excited about the fantastic performance. With December only a day away, we can now start to use the Christmas word. My wife has already booked me in to search for our Christmas tree early tomorrow morning!

Coats and hats are a must now and with the forecast set to stay cold and wet over the next few weeks, it will be important for the boys to have them in school and hopefully prevent the Christmas colds that always seem to surface at this time of year.

Now the dark nights (and mornings) are well and truly set in, please could I ask that if you are escorting a child across the playground parking area that you stick to the yellow hashed lines as these are there as walkways to keep everyone safe.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 23 November 2018

Dear Parents

It was lovely to chat with so many parents this morning at coffee and catch up. The pastries certainly helped in taking the edge off the cold weather outside. I am not sure we are giving Costa a run for their money just yet but the company was excellent!

On Wednesday it was great to see our boys take such pride in contributing to our charity silver coin trail for Thames Valley Air Ambulance. We were very lucky to have two of their brilliant staff come to the event and see the boys placing their coins to form a helicopter and they were delighted to be able to chat to the boys. There were so many coins that we also had to fill the letters of Thames Valley Air Ambulance and a late addition of ‘APS’ to ensure all the coins had a place to sit. I know their staff were touched by the generosity of our boys and I know that their work is incredibly valuable to the wider Oxfordshire community.

Rugby tournaments took centre stage this week with our U13s taking part in our own APS 7s tournament and the Pinewood 7s tournament, whilst our U12s tested themselves against very strong opposition at the St Edward's tournament. Our U11s worked just as hard at the Cokethorpe tournament too. A lot of rugby, a lot of camaraderie and an even mix of wins, losses and draws. Tomorrow morning sees our U11As and U13As take on Taunton Prep School who are here on tour. I look forward to welcoming Taunton as I taught there for 10 years before moving back up to the Home Counties.

I think you can tell when the Christmas season truly has started at Abingdon Prep as the Bazaar comes round and the Christmas tree goes up in the hall. The boy’s excitement has been tangible today in anticipation of the Lego bundles in the raffle, the games, Headmaster for the day, and possibly even a few sweets from the tombolas. In a foolish moment of weakness I think I agreed yesterday to even put my head in the stocks for a short while but I am sure nobody will want to throw too many sponges at me! I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow at the event. Many thanks to our amazing JPA, Katie and the CDT department, John, and all our other kind helpers and staff who have once again made this event possible. I would like to make special mention of Paul Wentworth too who has made so many of the marvellous games that the boys will be running in the hall after most of our previous ones were damaged in a flood. His efforts and expertise are hugely appreciated.

Next week sees the ABRSM exams on Monday so good luck to those sitting them and getting in some extra practice this weekend, after the Bazaar of course!

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 16 November 2018

Dear Parents

I would like to start my letter this week with a ‘congratulations’ to all those hardy individuals who braved the weather last Friday and made it to Firestorm. Despite the wind and rain, the evening was thoroughly enjoyable and the display excellent. I am hugely grateful to the JPA and other volunteers who enabled this event to be such a success.

This week has been Anti-bullying week, starting with an odd sock day to celebrate being different and ending in workshops about bullying with the overarching theme of Respect. 5L gave a fantastic assembly reading poetry, and talking about what respect means to them. They also produced a video of interviews with pupils and staff here about what they thought respect looked like. It is always extremely powerful when these messages come from the pupils themselves.

The Book Fair got underway this week and it was great to see the boys so excited by the books on offer. This tied in incredibly well with our Year 7s Dragon Den project of second hand book sales and that too is going extremely well. Baby Quinn has been the beneficiary of three lovely books, all of which live strong in memories of my childhood - The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh and Aesop’s Fables. Entrepreneurship is alive and well at Abingdon Prep!

Please do remind the boys about our silver coin trail next week to raise money for the Thames Air Ambulance service. Last year’s trail was incredible and I am sure that we will match it this year too.

Our Senior Section took on Abingdon School on the rugby pitch this week and some excellent rugby took place with wins for our U12As, U13As and U13Bs and defeats for our U12 B and C teams. It was great to have such a friendly match tea afterwards with boys and parents from both parts of the Foundation happily chatting away. These are relationships that will continue for years to come and just one of the many reasons we enjoy match teas so much! Our U8s and U9s all represented the school in matches against Chandlings on Tuesday with wins for all the U9s and losses for the U8s in some very entertaining matches. I really enjoyed seeing our U8s get ‘stuck in’ with their tag tackling and representing the school so well. Our U10s played in the Abingdon Festival at Tilsley Park on Monday evening and stepped up their level of performance greatly from previous weeks to register four wins and just one loss. The boys loved playing under floodlights!

With the weather due to turn colder next week, please encourage the boys to bring in their hats and coats for break times. The leaves are almost off all the trees and winter is setting in with the dark nights curtailing some of our outdoor Other Half activities. I look forward to seeing many of our Year 6s across at Abingdon School tomorrow for their taster morning.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 9 November 2018

Dear Parents

There are some occasions as head of a Prep school where you feel even more proud of the children than normal, and this week has seen two occasions where this has most certainly been the case.

Yesterday, 5S gave a wonderful assembly reflecting on World War One and the sacrifices of so many men and women. The names of the 27 Abingdon School pupils and staff that died were read out. They then explained how the arts had been impacted by the war, looking at paintings by artists such as Nash, Butler and Orpen, as well as the poetry of Sassoon, Binyon and Blunden. A selection of Year 8 boys then read out poems that they had written about the trench warfare that cost the lives of so many. They were incredibly moving and really reflected an understanding of the hardships and camaraderie of the troops involved. Our two minute silence today was immaculately observed and our Year 8 trumpeter played the Last Post quite beautifully. These commemorations put so many of our own worries into perspective.

Sadly, I was unable to witness first hand our senior choir’s incredible performance at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday, but I am so proud of them for simply being involved. Our boys returned absolutely buzzing from the experience and by all accounts the concert was quite simply stunning and what an incredible opportunity for our boys to support pupils with special needs and sing as a massed choir at such a venue. Huge thanks to Debbie and her team for orchestrating this wonderful event for our boys.

Continuing the musical theme, our second concert platform of the term took place last Friday and as always we had a fabulous range of musicians perform, with percussion taking a lead role this time around. Potential music scholars performed alongside those just starting out on their musical journeys and the audience was certainly appreciative of their efforts.

Our Year 8s were away on Monday and Tuesday on their Geography Field Trip to Swanage to study the Jurassic coastline, with the stunning views of Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. They came back tired after the long walks but full of geographical knowledge and having produced some stunning sketches too.

The art workshop last Saturday saw our boys etching designs from the natural world into glass before adding colour and printing onto a range of mediums. They were stunning and even baby Quinn, who came along with me to see them in action, seemed to be very impressed!

Rugby matches this week saw us take on a range of schools with a number of mixed teams out to match the strength of our opponents from Bruern Abbey and Christ Church Cathedral School. Our U10, U11, U12 and U13 teams achieved a raft of very positive victories, with our U10s performing really well, continuing their strong performances after their efforts at the MCS festival earlier in the week. Yesterday, our U8s and U9s competed in the Abingdon Prep rugby festival with lots of quick-fire fixtures and some great rugby played by all the schools which attended. For those boys not involved, there was an inter school tag tournament which was just as fiercely contested!

Next week is our Anti Bullying week and there are a number of activities planned for all of the different age groups. The theme for the week is RESPECT. It is so important that our boys appreciate the impact that their words and actions can have on others, both positively and negatively, and that showing respect towards everyone is a key part of any community.

Despite the very ordinary weather forecast for this evening, we are all looking forward to Firestorm and the lightsabers and hog roast that come before. Fingers crossed the high winds stay away tonight and I look forward to seeing many of you at the event. Huge thanks to the JPA and all other volunteers for helping to put this together for our boys.

I also wanted to mention that I will be having a Coffee and Catch up morning on Friday 23 November. This will be in the Drama Studio between 8.15-9am. It would be lovely to chat to anyone who is free and fancies an early coffee and even a pastry of some description. An additional reminder will go out in the weekly mailing, next week.

I hope you all have a lovely, restful weekend after such a busy week for the boys, and fingers crossed for good weather this evening.

Best wishes

Craig

A Year 8 poem from yesterday’s assembly, which I wanted to share with you all:

The Poppy Field

As the sun comes up
They head down
To the trenches far below
Then they sit and wait
For hours on end
Hoping they won’t have to go.

But the time does come
When they have to climb
Out of their little safe place
And avoid being killed
By the bloodthirsty shots
That pepper the unknown space.

And when they hear
The whistle blow
And run into no-man’s land
They have to face
The bombs and gas
With only a gun in hand.

And once they’ve shot
And killed a few
They run back to their side
And keep on doing this
Again and again
Until everyone has died.

And then one day
The fighting stopped
And the soldiers returned to their wives
And no-man’s land
Became a field
Where poppies were the only lives.

Friday 2 November 2018

Dear Parents

I hope that everyone had a very enjoyable half term break and it was lovely to see the boys bouncing back into school refreshed from their holidays. The weather has certainly turned colder this week and the darker nights are most definitely upon us.

On Tuesday, the Junior section had a fascinating assembly given to them by Suzanne about the origins of Halloween. The boys and I certainly learnt much about the Celts and Druids and the evolution of Halloween, Turnip Carving and Soul Cakes.

On Wednesday, our wonderful grounds team, led by Richard, travelled to Birmingham for an awards ceremony celebrating the best kept school grounds in England. Abingdon Foundation came second which is a fantastic and well-earned recognition. We really are fortunate to have such amazing sports pitches and superbly kept grounds across both school sites and I would like to thank the team for all of their hard work keeping our school looking superb and our pitches in such immaculate condition.

Yesterday our boys in Year 5-8 were given an excellent interactive talk from Alicia Drummond about a vital aspect of life - Resilience. Alicia gave the boys some great advice and our boys really enjoyed the interactive nature of her talk and the important message that she put across. Trying to eat an apple without removing your mouth from it was certainly a challenge! Do ask the boys about the acronym GRIT and what each letter stands for. Resilience is something that all our children will need to really make the most of their abilities. The bouncebackability of the minion balloon was also a winner.

Today saw Dragon House celebrate their victory in the house merit cup with a home clothes day and our Reception boys had a talk from a dentist first thing, so I am sure their teeth brushing tonight should be much improved!

Midweek matches this week saw our Middle and Senior section boys take on Oratory Prep in some very hard fought matches against strong opposition. There were some super performances which saw close matches being shaded by Oratory but our U12 As won a very high quality game 20-15. Our U9s took on St Hugh’s with all of the boys involved again and some more very close matches ensued with APS winning 1, losing 1 and drawing 1.

I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank all our fabulous volunteer parents who come into school to help with all manner of events, especially at this time of year with preparations for Firestorm, the Christmas Bazaar and Gifts for Grown-ups which all take a huge amount of time and effort to organise. Our JPA committee and form reps are all busying themselves to put everything in place for the boys for these exciting events in the upcoming weeks. I would also like to mention all of our wonderful library volunteers who help to ensure our boys continue to love their books. As with all staffing appointments, we always undertake the necessary checks and processes to ensure that our boys and indeed the volunteers themselves are always kept safe.

Richard joined us this week as our Abingdon Prep Porter so you may well see him out in the car park of a morning in a high vis jacket and working around the school. Please do say hello and welcome him into our community.

Next week is one of the busiest of the term with the Year 8 Geography residential trip to Swanage, our choir singing in the combined schools buddy choir concert at The Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday and Firestorm and our own Remembrance Service on Friday.

Tomorrow we have our second Saturday Sculpture Workshop of the term for Year 7 and 8 pupils, and I am looking forward to popping in and seeing what the boys are producing.

Have a good weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 12 October 2018

Dear Parents

The warm weather made a welcome return this week with some beautifully autumnal misty mornings greeting us on the way into school.

On Monday our Reception boys visited Cogges Farm where they were fully involved in bread making, goat feeding and finding out all about the food that ends up on our dinner plates. This was a lovely follow up from the Harvest Festival last week. They absolutely loved their day out and I really enjoyed hearing all about it from the boys.

Our Year 5s visited the Black Country museum yesterday and experienced first-hand life in Victorian England and the industries that dominated the towns and cities. It is a wonderful open air museum with reconstructed buildings from a bygone era with a rather narrow tunnel to walk down to experience life as a coal miner! The boys certainly enjoyed it and their creative writing about Victorian England will be so much more vivid as a result. There was some level of horror when they discovered that Victorian sweets often contained arsenic and mercury. I think they will be sticking to Haribo!

Despite a rather wet start to Saturday, our Open Morning was a very busy affair and as always, our boys were the star attraction. The Year 7 tour guides did a brilliant job and appeared to really enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences of life at Abingdon Prep with our guests. I had a lot of positive comments about how well the boys were working in the classrooms, especially given it was a Saturday morning!

Yesterday’s assembly saw the award of the House Merit Cup for this half of term with Dragon being victorious. Congratulations to all of the boys for earning so many merits in the first six weeks of the year. The results are as follows:

1st - Dragon 1666
2nd - Phoenix 1598
3rd - Griffin 1569
4th - Unicorn 1549

Rugby this week pitted the U10s, U11s, U12s and U13s against Beachborough and the boys acquitted themselves very well with some great results for our B and C teams with high scoring games taking place across the board. Our U8s and U9s also enjoyed some high scoring matches against Oratory Prep with a highlight being a resounding win for the U9As. Our U11s are competing in a festival on Saturday, despite it being half term and I hope they have a great day out and I wish our biathletes all the best for Abingdon Vale competition on Sunday. Our U13s football squad came so close to qualifying for the IAPS national finals last Saturday, losing a penalty shootout for the final spot. This was a great effort in such trying conditions. It has certainly been a busy week on the games field.

I wanted to take this chance to remind you all of our upcoming Fireworks event and the Christmas Bazaar which both occur in November. They are great events, so do get the dates in your diaries and sign up for your fireworks tickets.

I read that there were only 11 Fridays until Christmas this week. Now there’s a scary thought! I hope you all have a great half term break, whether you are enjoying a holiday abroad or a quiet time at home. I am looking forward to spending some time with my wife, Quinn and Dizzy on long autumnal walks in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 5 October 2018

Dear Parents

As the calendar flicked over to October this week, my wife made me turn the heating on at home despite my protestations, and we had to switch it on at school too after such a chilly start to the week. I have though, enjoyed standing at the front gate in the autumn sunshine welcoming the boys into school.

Yesterday our Years 4-6 enjoyed meeting author Nicki Thornton who gave a fantastic talk about writing and inspiration and I know the boys’ creative writing will have benefitted hugely from her passion and advice. Many of the boys bought a signed copy and I am certain they will enjoy reading her novel, ‘The Last Chance Hotel’.

Our Year 8s visited the Natural History Museum in Oxford this week for a combined Art and Science trip and judging by the photographs, they had a great time learning about scientific discoveries and drawing many of the display items they saw. Trips are such an important part of learning and create memories that last far beyond school. Our Year 7s were also out today visiting the Roman Baths in Bath. Having been there on numerous occasions myself, I know what an incredible place it is first hand and I look forward to chatting to the boys about it on their return.

A small group of Year 5 and 6 boys are also competing in the MCS quiz this afternoon and I know they will have acquitted themselves very well with their all-round knowledge of the wider world and current affairs.

Sport this week saw our senior teams take on some very strong Cheltenham College sides. Matches here finished honours even with 2 wins and 2 losses which was a super effort. Our middle section saw 8 teams playing in some incredibly close matches against Chandlings which ended in 4 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw. It is great to see so many boys involved in matches and enjoying being part of a team. I would also like to wish our U13 boy’s football team the best of luck as they compete in the regional IAPS qualifiers this Saturday.

Our Pre-Prep celebrated the Harvest Festival today with a beautiful service. For our reception boys this was their first chance to perform to an audience and they really seemed to take it in their stride. Our Year 1s and 2s seemed like seasoned pros as they presented to their families in the audience. Their confidence and clarity of expression always impresses me, especially considering how young they still are. I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of our parents for their incredibly generous donations of food which will be taken to The Gatehouse, a homeless charity in Oxford. I know how immensely grateful they are and it is so important to support our local community.

Tomorrow sees our Open Morning take place and I am looking forward to showing our fabulous school to prospective parents. Our Year 7s will be touring them around and I know our visitors will enjoy seeing the boys in action and chatting to them about our school. We have much to be proud of and our boys are by far the best way for us to show others what it means to be part of the Abingdon Prep community.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

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