Head’s Letters

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

Friday 28 September 2018

Dear Parents

Apologies for not being able to greet many of you at the front gate this week but I have been away for the last three days at the IAPS Heads Conference in Wales which has involved a fascinating series of talks and seminars with the theme of ‘Tomorrow’s World; Global Citizens’. Apologies, therefore, for the shorter letter that I have put together today.

On Saturday last week we played Cokethorpe on the rugby pitch and managed to secure a clean sweep of wins for our four teams involved. It was lovely to watch all the boys playing for each other and embodying the team spirit that is so important to any community. On Wednesday our U13A and B teams took on Abingdon School and two high quality matches ensued, with the As putting in an impressive win and the Bs just narrowly missing out on a victory, though it was close match.

On Thursday our U8s and U9s played CCCS and produced some lovely rugby with strong performances. All of our teams performed well, with the U8s having a draw and a loss, and the U9s As and Cs claiming fantastic wins, and the Bs only just losing out. These performances came on the back of a very successful cross country meet run by Abingdon School last week where APS were again victorious in a field of six other schools including Abingdon School, Caldicott, Magdalen and Cokethorpe. Cross Country continues to go from strength to strength.

Representing the Abingdon Foundation our U10 and U12 Swimmers, along with boys from Abingdon School competed in the annual Griffin Gala against the Abingdon Vale Swimming Club. All of our swimmers enjoyed a full programme of swimming and gained a great deal experience from the event.

The junior section assembly this week discussed new beginnings and making the most of opportunities available to us. It was enlightening to hear from the teachers what their new beginnings and goals were for this academic year and the boys responded well in thinking about theirs. Many boys are taking the opportunity to perform at the concert platform tonight, and I wish them luck and look forward to hearing about it upon my return.

I hope you all have a very enjoyable weekend. 

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 21 September 2018

Dear Parents

This week has been our Safety Week at school with the boys learning about different aspects of how to keep themselves safe, both in and out of school. There have been some very interesting discussions about the internet and social media with many of the older boys, whilst some of the younger boys have been eagerly discussing playground and road safety. As with so many areas of life, common sense is so often the answer. Our Pre-Prep were treated to a visit from the fire service today which was a definite highlight for them.

Our Year 4s have undertaken their first ever residential trip this week. They have been walking along the Ridgeway with an overnight stay at a Youth Hostel. I was lucky enough to join them for the evening and hear about the excitement of the days walk and the very blustery wind. Luckily it appears to have been blowing them towards their destination for most of the day! The rain dissipated for Thursday afternoon and the sun was shining today for them. It is a great way to start the year and sets them up nicely for future school residentials.

Rugby this week saw us playing Pinewood with all boys in Years 5 and 6 representing the school. For a first match of the season the standard from both teams was incredibly high and our U11 teams were victorious whilst our U10 teams lost some matches which were very close. Much was learned from this as it should be the case with all matches. Our U13 As were unbeaten at the Pinewood festival, continuing their strong start to the season, whilst our U13 Bs and U12 As both enjoyed good wins. Our U12 Bs lost by a single try in a super game between two evenly matched sides. Our Year 3s also made their rugby debuts this week playing in mixed teams against The Manor. The boys all seemed to really enjoy their first taste of matches, and indeed their first taste of match teas!

Our School Council from last year completed their handover and gave a lovely assembly on all of the good work and projects that they have been involved with over the year. Some of these are ongoing and our new council members were announced in assembly. I know they are all excited to get started and looking forward to having a say in what is happening at school. I would also like to thank all of the boys who stood in the school council elections, whether they got voted into a position or not. It is great to have so many boys wanting to be a part of this school group.

I spent a good deal of time in CDT this week and was lucky enough to take part in Jitterbugs, jigsaws and a buzzwire game. The boys had produced some fabulous work with super use of fretsaws, and electronic components to design their creations. CDT is thriving at Abingdon Prep.

Our first Art workshop of the year took place last Saturday which was based around the theme of sculpture. It was a great success and extremely popular with the boys who were able to create some very impressive pieces. I know the upcoming workshops will be equally popular and enjoyable.

Tomorrow sees our first Saturday Rugby fixtures against Cokethorpe and I look forward to watching our boys from Year 4 to Year 8 and seeing many of you on the sidelines.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 14 September

Dear Parents

It was lovely to welcome so many of you to the Informal Parents’ Evening on Tuesday. I hope that you found the talks with the form teachers useful and informative and that you got to meet some of our new parents too. I certainly enjoyed chatting to many of you and catching up after the summer break.

Very rarely would I wish for rain at any time of year but sadly our first rugby matches of term had to be cancelled due to the hard ground, so with any luck we might have a few heavy showers next week to help soften the ground, or at least a few more of the misty mornings that signify autumn is very much on its way. However, our U13 As did compete at the Dragon tournament against some impressive opposition. Our boys performed admirably losing to Caldicott and The Beacon but beating St Hugh’s, St John’s Leatherhead and Abingdon School. Ashley was delighted with their first run out and the boys came back injury free and looking forward to their upcoming matches.

Class pairings took place for the first time this year on Thursday and it was based around the theme of construction. It was great to see our older boys helping our younger ones as they designed and built a range of different structures, from boats and planes to houses and islands. Cross year group friendships are something that are always in evidence at Abingdon Prep and help to bind our community together.

Tomorrow we have the first of our art workshops with the theme being Sculpture. I know that it will be an inspiring course and I am looking forward to seeing the finished products.

Safety week begins on Monday and the boys will have many opportunities to learn about safety in different situations, from online safety to road safety. I know there will be a lot of interesting discussions in classes so that the boys have a better understanding of how to keep themselves and others safe. An extremely important life lesson.

I hope you all have a good weekend and as autumn starts to take hold, perhaps some conker collecting and blackberry picking is in order!

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 7 September

Dear Parents

Term has finally started and we have been welcomed back with some great weather and a school full of boys with energy and enthusiasm. It has been lovely for me to start to get to know so many of our new pupils and I hope that both they and their parents are already feeling part of our Abingdon Prep community.

As with all our terms, the Michaelmas term is a busy one with fixtures, trips, our Saturday Open Morning which all the boys attend, Firestorm, the Christmas Bazaar and lots of work both inside and outside of the classroom. I firmly believe that being busy at school is a great thing and I am looking forward to all of these events. We have wasted no time in getting started and yesterday our Year 6 boys departed for their Cornbury Bushcraft adventure. There were a lot of smiling faces and clean clothes as they got onto the minibuses. I am sure the smiling faces will still be there on their return but perhaps not the clean clothes, especially for those boys who opt to eschew the tents and sleep in the dens they have created!

My first assembly of term focused on three messages that I want all of our boys to make a key part of their lives at Abingdon Prep. These were - Work Hard, Get Involved and Be Kind. I sometimes feel that life can be over complicated with so many different instructions and rules to abide by, but if we all embrace these messages, then we will continue to build a strong and very successful community within the school.

One of my favourite things about being a Headmaster is that I get to wander around school popping in and out of different lessons. This week, I watched our Year 8s studying DNA and the role of chromosomes and I saw our Year 4s playing number games in Maths by rolling dice to create a number and then having to work out the remainder to get to 100. Our Year 3s were creating booklets about their first week at school and in French our Year 6s were writing about their hobbies whilst Year 1 were making marmalade sandwiches with exercises about Paddington Bear!

Our delightful new Reception class have been out in the play area on the trikes and were telling me all about the hole in the road, so the trikes had to go around it to keep safe. Our ‘Learning Lions’ seem to have been smiling all week and certainly learning much about their new school.

The ‘Other Half’ activities have started with a bang and our new prep club for the junior section has proved popular too.

I hope you all have a great weekend and that the boys are not too tired after the exertions of their first week of term. I look forward to catching up with many of you at the informal parents evening on Tuesday night.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 31 August

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 48 new pupils joining our community and I know that they will be welcomed as warmly as I was this time last year. The holidays have flown by with some fantastic weather to get out and about in.

It was lovely to see so many Year 5 - 8 boys at pre-season Rugby yesterday for a bit of early season practice. The weather was kind and a little bit of rain in the preceding weeks had turned the playing fields back to green after the desert like appearance through the summer! They were certainly not soft but more than playable for a game of Rugby. It was lovely to meet some of our new boys and for them to meet up with some of their contemporaries prior to the start of term. Our two new GAP students joined us and showed off their rugby knowledge. They are Ned and Nathan. Ned is with us from the USA (Minnesota) for the year and Nathan is more local from West Hanney. We are delighted to welcome Sam back as he joins us again for another year.

We have a number of other new staff joining us this term. Many of the boys will have met them at Move Up Morning but please do come and introduce yourselves to them when you have the opportunity. Natasha is our Head of English, Drama and Year 6 form teacher, Rebecca is our Head of Science, Russell our Head of French and Year 7 form teacher, and Helen our new junior Science teacher. Lucy Hamerton has also joined the administration team and you will meet her in the mornings in the school office.

I look forward to meeting all of our new parents at the informal drinks tonight and others of you at the informal parents evening on the 11 September, at the gate in the mornings or on the side of the pitches at fixtures!

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 6 July 2018

Dear Parents

It seems like only yesterday that I stood outside the front entrance welcoming the boys into school on the first day of term in September, rather conscious of the fact I did not know any boys’ names, let alone parents’ names! The year has simply flown by, and I certainly feel far more comfortable standing outside welcoming you all into school now!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year here at Abingdon Prep, and feel very fortunate to be part of this warm community with such delightful and talented boys. It has been a very special year for me with the birth of our first child coinciding with becoming Headmaster here. I think I can safely say that I am looking forward to a more restful first week of the holidays, if Quinn shows willing…

Yesterday evening’s Summer Concert was an enchanting way to wrap up such a busy term. It was lovely to see all of the boys involved and showcasing their musical talents. We are very fortunate to have so many outstanding musicians in school.

Our end of term Prize Giving was a splendid way to celebrate the achievements of the year and to recognise our impressive cohort of Year 8 boys, many of whom have been with us since Reception. They have distinguished themselves in so many different areas over the years and I hope they will look back in years to come with fond memories of their time here and the friendships they have made. I know they will be moving on to their new schools well prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

On Tuesday this week three of our boys travelled to the Alexandra Stadium in Birmingham to compete in the National Prep Schools Athletics finals. Rather impressively, all three won medals so we now have the U11 High Jump champion, the U13 Long Jump Champion and the second fastest U13 1500m runner in our midst. I have never before worked in a school where such results have been achieved at this event. The boys should be immensely proud of their efforts.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of those involved with our Abingdon Prep community a very enjoyable and relaxing summer holiday and I look forward to welcoming the boys back in September, hopefully knowing a lot more names this time around! I try not to tempt fate by mentioning the World Cup but we can live in hope. Too late - I have mentioned it!

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 29 June 2018

Dear Parents

Summer feels like it is well and truly upon us. The boys have been in shirt sleeve order all week and the sun cream has been a necessity. The boys have continued to be busy and working hard in the lead up to the end of year celebrations.

We welcomed our Year 8s back from France with sun tans topped up and plenty of stories to tell. The theme park rides after a heavy lunch seem to have been a highlight, or lowlight, depending on who you talk to! It was a wonderful way for them to celebrate the end of their school careers at Abingdon Prep and create lasting memories of their time here with us.

Perhaps my highlight of the week was the unbelievable performances at the house music competition. The standard was remarkable and it proved that Music is flourishing here at Abingdon Prep, from the youngest boys right through to the Year 8s. What heartened me further was the obvious appreciation of the musical talent on show from the boys watching. The Summer Concert next week is not one to be missed, judging by the performances this week!

There have been cricket matches aplenty this week with close matches against Pinewood last Saturday and equally good games for our U8s and U9s against MCS. It was a pleasure to see so many boys playing on Wednesday and I took the 7ths across to St Hugh’s where we succumbed to a 6 run defeat. We have six matches this Saturday against Cothill so I look forward to seeing many parents on the boundary.

On Tuesday it was Move Up day and we were delighted to welcome 42 boys into Abingdon Prep. It was a great opportunity for them to meet our boys again and the start of many new friendships were formed, as well as a chance for our boys to meet their new form teacher for September.

Year 7 have had a very busy week. Yesterday saw them taking part in a Courtroom Experience and today they are visiting the High Ropes and Laser Tag centre. I think the boys were quite surprised by the procedures in the courtroom, especially when it was our very own French teacher, Lynne, who was sat before them in the dock! It was certainly a great learning experience about the justice system in this country and I would like to thank all those involved for bringing this experience to life.

Today, Reception and Year 1 have visited Cotswold Wildlife Park and I will look forward to hearing all about the animals they have seen when I visit their forms later on. There may well be some tired boys after walking round on such a hot day. Our Year 8s may be just as tired as they have also been out today, walking along a section of the Ridgeway. If you have never done parts of this walk before then I would recommend you try it out over the summer as some of the views are simply spectacular.

Last Saturday evening we had a wonderful time at the Summer Ball. The whole evening was fabulous with some rather impressive 80s outfits on show and an impressive band playing covers of every 80s song you could wish to hear. Thank you to the wonderful team for organising it and to all those who attended. I thoroughly enjoyed the night and I know those I spoke with felt the same.

As we move into the final week of the school year, may I remind you that on the Friday, for those boys in the Pre-Prep and with siblings in the Pre-Prep and boys who use the mini-bus service, term ends at 12 noon. For all other boys in Years 3 to 8, parents can collect between 12.15 and 12.30, with Year 8 leavers joining their parents for a reception straight after Prize Giving.

This final week is a great opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the year and even to set goals for next year. Before then though, we have our final week of term which will be busy and full of celebration.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 22 June 2018

Dear Parents

It is hard to imagine a busier week at Abingdon Prep than the one just past. So much has been happening and the boys are certainly enjoying being outside in the warm weather.

On Monday Year 7 visited Sutton Courtenay Environmental Centre where they launched themselves into a range of environmental activities and gained so much knowledge about a topic that will be very important to them as they move through their lives. Taking care of our environment and endeavouring to leave it in a better state for the next generations is something towards which we should all be trying to work. After all, we only have one planet and we should be looking after it.

Our matches this week saw us take on a very strong set of teams from The Oratory Prep School and some of the cricket on show, batting in particular, showed our boys what can be achieved. The 100 not out from an U11A player was an exhibition of impressive batting and our boys will have learnt from watching it. We also participated in an U12 and U10 cricket tournament where shorter games were played and we acquitted ourselves well at both events. Tomorrow we have fixtures against Pinewood and I look forward to taking our U10s over there for their games.

Today, Pre-Prep held their Summer Concert and Teddy Bear’s Picnic. The standard of music and performance was very high and I think it is very clear that we have some excellent musicians coming up through the school. It was a pleasure to celebrate the end of the year in such a way.

Pre-Prep have had a very busy week with their Sports Day taking place on Monday. The weather was kind and all the boys ran, threw, and jumped their way around different events. Unicorn ended the day victorious and certainly enjoyed their victory lap of honour. It was delightful to see the boys enjoying each and every event.

Yesterday we held our Year 3 and 4 House Swimming Gala. Although I was unfortunately unable to attend, I have heard great reports about it and have been told that we have some very talented swimmers in the junior section. It was a very closely contested event but the eventual winner was Phoenix.

For Years 3 to 8, last Saturday was a great highlight in the sporting calendar with Sports Day taking place at Tilsley Park. We are extremely lucky to be able to host this event at a real athletics track and stadium, and the boys certainly rose to the occasion. There were a number of school records and some outstanding performances. It was very rewarding to see the boys supporting each other and their houses with such enthusiasm. Again, an extremely close event saw Phoenix as the victorious house.

Athletics also took centre stage on Tuesday with the Mercia Regional qualifiers at Tilsley Park. Our boys performed admirably in an event for over a thousand participants and three of them have qualified for the National Athletics Finals at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. This is a fantastic achievement, and I look forward to seeing them compete against the very best in the country in their respective age groups.

Our Year 8s have been having a wonderful time in Normandy this week and will return at midnight tonight. Lynne has been keeping me updated with their sandcastle building exploits and talent show mishaps! I look forward to hearing all about it directly from the boys next week.

Our annual Book Swap took place this week too, and it has been encouraging to see so many books being taken to new homes and enjoyed by their new owners. Thank you to our library staff for organising this.

The Verse Speaking Competition took place this week for Years 3 to 6, and again I was full of admiration for the boys’ clear and confident delivery of their chosen pieces at such a young age. I know that I would certainly have struggled to do that back in 1985!

House Captain hustings took place yesterday and I am looking forward to announcing the names of the new house captains and vice-captains for next year, to the respective houses. I was thoroughly impressed by the thought and preparation that had gone into the boys’ speeches, and they certainly had some interesting ideas for next year.

Finally, I would like to thank the JPA, and Susie in particular, for all their work in organising the Summer Ball tomorrow. It will be a very enjoyable evening and I am looking forward to seeing many of you there. I have opted for black tie rather than the 80s outfit, but I cannot wait to see what some have been able to find at the back of their wardrobes!

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 15 June 2018

Dear Parents

I would like to begin my letter this week by congratulating our Year 8 boys who have received such impressive Common Entrance results this week. They should be very proud of their achievements and also now be looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities which will present themselves at senior school in September. There is no substitute for hard work and these boys are proof of that. They now have three final exciting weeks to look forward to, starting with their visit to Normandy next week. I wish them all a wonderful time, and hope that the weather is kind. The Year 8s were also introduced to the Head of Career Guidance at Abingdon School this week, who gave a very informative talk about careers in general and the choices that the boys have ahead of them. It was a very thought-provoking session, and many of the boys will undoubtedly be spending time with Mr Triff when they are at Abingdon School.

Sports Day for Years 3 to 8 takes place tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the boys competing at Tilsley Park and hope to see many of you there supporting them. The Pre-Prep boys will have their chance to shine on Monday on Cox’s Fields across the road. The boys have been practising hard for these two events and I am sure they will thoroughly enjoy the occasions.

Grandparents’ Afternoon for Years 3 to 6 takes place later today and I am looking forward to watching the boys proudly show their grandparents the work they have been doing this term. It is always a delightful occasion bringing the different generations together and sharing experiences of school life, past and present.

International Day took place for boys from Reception to Year 4 yesterday, with costumes and activities themed around the countries of Australia, Gambia and Japan. The boys wore colourful and eye-catching outfits and they certainly learnt a lot about the cultures and lifestyles of each of these countries. It is wonderful that we live in a multicultural society where we can enjoy finding out so much about other customs and ways of life.

Griffin House also held their ‘Wear a nasty tie to school’ day yesterday to raise money for their chosen charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital. Some of the boys had certainly taken the title of the day to heart judging by the ties on show. The staff too worried me a little that they still had such ties in their wardrobes!

On Tuesday the U8s and U9s all played cricket against strong Oratory Prep School sides, and whilst they may not have won, there were certainly some much improved performances from many of the boys. On Wednesday our U11s and U10s played St Andrew’s Prep and once again there were some strong performances with bat and ball in close matches. Our seniors were playing their Abingdon contemporaries and the highlight result was a great win for our 1st XI in the final over of the match.

I look forward to seeing many of you either on Saturday or Monday, and fingers crossed for some sunshine to accompany those popular events in our calendar.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 8 June 2018

Dear Parents

For thirty of our Year 8s, this week has been the week they have been working towards throughout their school careers to date. They have been sitting their Common Entrance exams to their chosen senior school. They were all in good spirits at the start of the week and did not seem to flag. I have no doubt that their hard work will be rewarded with excellent results next week. I commend them all on their positive approach to these exams and know that they will enjoy the final four weeks of their time here at Abingdon Prep.

On Wednesday, 8R gave their Crest Science presentations to their parents. I was fortunate to be able to watch most of them and I cannot describe how impressive the boys were. The investigations were fascinating and the topic matter ranged from sound wave patterns to toothpaste quality to cricket bat design to power station electromagnetic coils! The designs of the experiments were extremely inventive and showed the adaptability needed to produce scientific data which they could analyse and then draw their conclusions. I shall be changing my choice of toothpaste having seen one presentation and learnt all about the use of microbeads in certain brands. The boys really demonstrated their understanding and knowledge of scientific experimentation.

Cricket matches resumed this week with our U11s and U10s playing Moulsford Prep School. Every boy in these year groups competed and it was wonderful to see so many boys out on the cricket pitch testing themselves against strong opposition, with the U10Cs one run victory perhaps being the highlight. On Thursday our U8s and U9s played Christ Church Cathedral School. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the U8s in their two wins with some impressive catching and bowling. Our U9s were also victorious and can be delighted by the progress that they have made so far this season.

Thursday also saw Year 5 visit Portsmouth Dockyard to spend the day on HMS Victory. The boys had an unforgettable time viewing Nelson’s ship at close quarters and experiencing the conditions on board first hand. If you have never visited, I can thoroughly recommend a trip in the summer, to see not only HMS Victory but also the Mary Rose Museum and HMS Warrior. Our boys were lucky enough also to see the newest addition to the Royal Navy’s fleet, the aircraft carrier The HMS Prince of Wales, in port whilst they were there. The size of it was something to behold by all accounts.

At half term two of our Year 5 boys joined forces with two girls from The Manor Prep School and played in the U11 IAPS tennis finals at Millfield Prep. Our boys acquitted themselves extremely well, especially as they were playing a year young. I know they are looking forward to returning next year again.

Today has been Home Clothes day for Griffin House after they won the house points competition last half term. The boys certainly made the most of the warmer weather today with shorts almost mandatory. A well-earned treat.

Tomorrow, eight of our boys will be representing Abingdon Prep in the relays and individual races at the IAPS swimming finals at the London Aquatics Centre. Qualifying for the finals is a very impressive achievement and I wish all the boys the best of luck.

My wife Hannah and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all so much for your kind wishes and messages of support following the birth of our son, Quinn, in the week before half term. Hannah and Quinn are both doing very well and I hope that we will be able to bring him in to School next week to say his first hello to the Abingdon Prep community. A lack of sleep is rapidly becoming normality so I apologise if the bags under my eyes seem to be getting larger when I greet you in the mornings!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 18 May 2018

Dear Parents

I would like to start my letter this week by expressing my admiration for all our boys who gave up their free time on Sunday last week to do a sponsored swim in the pool at Abingdon School. Every one of them swam to help raise money for our School charities, covering a staggering forty miles between them! For some, six lengths were a huge effort and achievement, whilst other more regular swimmers managed forty lengths. The quantity of lengths, however, is irrelevant, as it was the sense of camaraderie and the importance of fundraising for charity which shone through, and I extend my sincere thanks to all the boys.

Exam season has begun with Common Entrance French Orals and Maths listening tests this week for our Year 8 boys. Next week sees the start of the Year 3 - 6 exams and I know the boys are working hard in the run-up to these. A calm sense of purpose is needed, as well as a determination simply to do the best that one can. Some revision would also be of great benefit at this stage.

The start of the week saw an enormous variety of cakes coming through our doors, with the Pre-Prep and Phoenix House cake sales. Some of our boys and parents had clearly spent hours producing some delicious bakes, and again I thank them for all their efforts with this. The money generated will again be going to our School charities.

Class pairings took place yesterday, with a theme of the Royal Wedding. There were some expertly designed castles, colourful flags, bunting and numerous dragons appearing, all in royal colours, with our older boys supporting and assisting the younger ones. Listening to some of their thoughts about what might happen at the wedding was certainly very entertaining, and we all wish the happy couple the very best for their wonderful day tomorrow. Having been at Eton College yesterday for a meeting, I was not surprised to find a great many road closures in the area, in anticipation of the big day at Windsor.

The weather was kind to us again on the cricket field this week. Our U8s and U9s all participated in their first cricket matches of the season, and the U8s enjoyed their first ever school cricket match. I have heard that the boys thoroughly enjoyed their debut, and as an avid cricketer myself, hope that this is just the beginning of their journey with bat or ball in hand. Before our baby arrives, I have agreed to play a ‘doubleheader’ this weekend, with a game on both Saturday and Sunday. This may not happen again for a while!

Our senior teams all managed to secure good victories over Crosfields this week with our U11s and U10s sharing the spoils with results. I wish the 1st XI the best of luck on Monday, when they will be journeying to Gloucestershire to play Beaudesert Park School for the third round of the IAPS Cup.

I was delighted to see so many of you this morning for coffee and a catch up, and I was very impressed with the restraint shown by so many when it came to the pains au chocolat. Sadly, I was not quite so abstemious with the leftovers.

I know many of you will be attending the whole school concert platform this afternoon and I look forward to seeing you. These are always most enjoyable events with the boys showcasing their talent, and most importantly, their love of music.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and that you enjoy the continuing pleasant Spring sunshine.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 11 May 2018

Dear Parent

What a difference a few days of warm sunshine make. Abingdon Prep feels so welcoming with the wisteria blooming, and the smell of freshly cut grass pervading the School. The boys have certainly enjoyed their break times with the warm weather and shirt sleeve order, not to mention a four day week!

The cricket season is finally underway too. Our 1st XI have started strongly with a final over win against St Hugh’s in the national knock out cup, and a convincing win over Cricklade Manor. The warm weather training camp in the holidays clearly has been paying dividends. U11 teams shared the spoils with Cothill on Wednesday with impressive bowling performances but work required with bat in hand, whilst the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th teams all performed well against Cothill and Caldicott, despite not quite being able to register a win.

On Thursday evening I visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to see the wonderful artwork produced by children in Oxfordshire Schools, on the theme of ‘Journeys’. Abingdon Prep boys had numerous pieces exhibited and they should be immensely proud of their work. Hundreds of people were touring the galleries and all appeared to be extremely impressed by the standard of art on show. Artweeks at Abingdon Prep is almost upon us and I would encourage you to drop in for tours at the given times if you possibly can, to see work produced by our boys.

Year 5 have been away this week on their PGL residential in Liddington. I called to see them yesterday, and saw some very brave abseiling, aeroball and kayaking, all undertaken in glorious sunshine. The boys were relishing the challenges, and it was heartwarming to see them shouting encouragement to their peers at the top of the abseiling towers. Bringing people closer together is something that can never be undervalued.

Some of our Year 7 and 8s competed earlier in the week at Tilsley Park for an Abingdon School Athletics event. There were strong performances in the sprints and the relays which bodes well for Sports Day later this term.

3L gave a delightful personal message about May Day and traditional activities like Maypole and Morris dancing, in their whole school assembly this week. So many of the boys had spent Bank Holiday Monday outside in the beautiful weather playing games and visiting friends and relatives. A few boys had even seen some Morris dancing!

The Life Education Bus is visiting Abingdon Prep today, and again early next week, with year groups taking turns to have sessions learning about a variety of life skills and choices that we make which affect our bodies both positively and negatively. This sends a really important message to our boys about the importance of making good choices.

I hope you all have a good weekend and may I take this opportunity to remind you about next Friday morning’s Coffee and Catch Up with me. It would be lovely to see some of you in the Drama Studio between 8.15-9.15am for a hot drink, pastry and a chat.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 4 May 2018

Dear Parents

Another week has flown by here at Abingdon Prep. On Tuesday, Year 6 visited Oxford Central Mosque to support some of their learning in RE this term. The boys were stunned by the beauty inside the Mosque and were able to see for themselves what they had previously only seen in textbooks or photographs. Firsthand experience is an exciting way to learn.

Wednesday brought the rain again, but it did not dampen spirits at our Open Morning. It was a warm and friendly event with some more prospective families able to see for themselves what Abingdon Prep has to offer. Our Year 7 tour guides acquitted themselves admirably again, and were excellent ambassadors for Abingdon Prep, receiving compliments from many a guest.

As is so often the case, the weather was not ‘playing ball’ for the first cricket matches of the season, which sadly had to be cancelled. However, if forecasts are to be believed, drier weather is on its way over the next few weeks, so I look forward to seeing our boys play in their first matches very soon. I know they are desperate to get out onto our beautifully prepared squares. My game was also sadly rained off last week, so I, too, am looking forward to starting the season this weekend.

Yesterday evening, the Year 5 parents and I were treated to an outstanding Year 5 Soiree with music, public speaking and drama taking centre stage. It was a delightful event, with informal picnics being taken in the Hall whilst our boys performed poetry, sketches and a medley of songs from the musical, ‘Oliver’. The standard was superb, and I commend all the Year 5 boys for their excellent production.

I would like to finish my letter this week with congratulations. Last Saturday we sent four Year 7 boys to compete in the IAPS U13 Table Tennis Championships at Edge Grove. All four boys were a great credit to school playing some exciting matches but Todd managed to defeat all who came before him to become National Champion (a year young!). A fantastic achievement indeed, and one of which Todd and the School should be extremely proud.

I hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather that is predicted.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 27 April 2018

Dear Parent

Welcome back to the Summer Term. I hope you all managed to have an enjoyable Easter holiday, whether you stayed at home like me or you managed to go further afield for some sunshine or snow in the mountains. The boys certainly seem to have returned with renewed energy, ready to throw themselves into the activities of the busy term ahead. A couple of lovely warm days have certainly been most welcome this week, despite writing this with rain currently cascading down the windowpane.

In the final week of the holiday, nineteen of our Year 7 and 8 boys attended a pre-season cricket camp in Murcia, Spain. Four beautifully warm and sunny days provided perfect conditions for our boys to train hard and improve their cricketing skills vastly in a short space of time. The wonderful swimming pool and resort may also have helped to make their trip such a successful one. It was very pleasing to hear that our boys were excellent ambassadors for Abingdon Prep whilst they were away, and I am looking forward to watching plenty of cricket in the coming months.

At school we also ran a pre-season training session for the Year 5 and 6s, and a smaller group of Year 7 and 8s who were not in Murcia. It was lovely to see their enthusiasm for a game very close to my heart! Sadly both of my own pre-season cricket matches have been rained off so far this month but I am hoping finally to play tomorrow in Berkshire. 50 overs keeping wickets may lead to some aching muscles for me on Monday!

I have been very impressed with the extremely imaginative designs and creations that so many of the boys have produced for the CDT recycled bottle challenge over the holidays. If you haven’t yet seen some of them on display in the foyer, do take the opportunity to come and look. There have been some extraordinary designs and ideas from all year groups, including ships, garden planters, flamethrowers, planes and robots!

Term has started at a pace, with our Year 7s already off on their three day residential trip to Whitehaven this week, where they have been undertaking adventure activities and team building exercises. I am looking forward to hearing their stories on their return and seeing the photos of them in action. Residential trips are an enjoyable way to reinforce and develop team building and leadership skills, and to create memories that will stay with the boys forever. I see them as an invaluable part of education. I certainly still remember my trips as a child, as I am sure many of you will too.

Other Half has started this week and I am delighted to see so many boys seizing the opportunity to try new activities or hone their skills in others. All we now need is some consistently warm weather and sunshine for the term ahead. We can but hope!

Best wishes

Craig

Thursday 29 March 2018

Dear Parent

We have reached the last day of the Spring Term and I am greatly looking forward to delivering the Easter service to the boys later this morning. It has been an eventful term with everything from a snow day to a visit from the Easter Bunny.

On Saturday last week I was lucky enough to attend the Pre-Prep and Year 3 Easter Eggstravaganza. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did the boys, especially with so much chocolate around. There were craft stalls, treasure maps, chick racing (the wind-up variety, of course), an Easter egg hunt and the ever popular chocolate tombola. The Easter Bunny was hopping around doing high-fives with the boys and there was a wonderful sense of fun and camaraderie. The hardest part of the morning was trying to judge the magnificent Easter bonnets and Easter gardens. The boys had produced so many superb designs and I know that everyone who saw them was impressed. Many of them were back on show for the Easter Parade in Pre- Prep and the egg painting and rolling down the mound later in the week. With the lighter evenings and the warmer (I think) weather, this is a lovely time of year.

On Tuesday a guest presenter came to run three separate Architecture Workshops for Year 2, Year 4 and Year 6. The boys had to plan, design and create bridges, Viking longboats or octagonal bird houses. The finished products were very impressive and the boys had great enjoyment experiencing something completely different. CDT is thriving at Abingdon Prep.

During the holidays, nineteen of our Year 7 and 8 boys will be flying off for five days to Spain for a warm weather pre-season cricket camp. I’m sure they will have a wonderful time and benefit enormously from the cricket training. They are very much looking forward to the Summer Term and all of the exciting events ahead, as am I. I would encourage you all to look at the calendar online and see what your son may be involved in.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the boys for their efforts this term. It has been a very busy and very successful one in so many different areas of school life. I hope that you all have something nice planned for the break, and I wish all of the Abingdon Prep community a very Happy Easter. Please do access our website (in latest news) to see a slide show of events from the term which I shared with the boys in our Easter service today.

Best wishes

Craig

Final Thunk - if I borrow every single book from a library, is it at that point any less of a library than when it was full of books?

Friday 23 March 2018

Dear Parents

It has been a very different week standing at the school entrance welcoming you all in the mornings. I have not needed to don a coat or a scarf, and have enjoyed the warm spring sunshine beating down. I hope that this will continue to be the case for the final week of term.

The week got underway with our Year 1s visiting the Steam Museum in Swindon. They all returned so excited by the trains they had seen alongside all the other huge steam-based machinery. As the photos testify on the monitor in the school entrance, they certainly had a wonderful day and learnt so much.

We found out this week that in May, twenty one of our pupils will be exhibiting their art work at the Ashmolean Museum having been successful in the Young Art Oxford Competition. George, in Year 5, has been chosen for the coveted Ruskin School of Art Award which is a noteworthy achievement. Art continues to be a source of great pride at Abingdon Prep.

After six of our boys participated in the Abingdon School Business Challenge on Tuesday, in which the brief was to design a new type of ice lolly, all of our boys in Years 5 and 6 took part yesterday in the Abingdon Prep Business Challenge. In groups they were given the challenge of designing an Easter Egg, complete with packaging. They had to draw up a plan to take it to market to compete with other brands, and then present their idea to the panel of judges who had joined us from Abingdon School and the Oxfordshire Young Enterprise Group. Dragon’s Den beware, as we may have some young entrepreneurs coming your way!

Our Bake Off Finals have been taking place this week with Anne’s technical challenge acting as the decider. Many cupcakes have been baked (and tasted again) and the boys involved have shown some genuine skills and love for baking. My thanks go to all who were involved in this initiative, and I know we have raised an impressive sum for charity, as well as enjoying some delicious cakes along the way.

In another busy week of sport, our U13 and U12 hockey squads played three matches against New College School at St Edward's School in Oxford. All the games were very close affairs but resulted in three close losses. The boys should be very proud of how much they have improved this term in what is their first experience of hockey.

On the football pitch the final matches of term saw our U12A and B and U13A and B teams take on Abingdon School. Our U12As finished the season in real style with a 6-4 win, coming back from 0-3 down, whilst the 12Bs lost an exciting match 4-5. Our U13As were competitive again but lost and there was a similar fate for our U13Bs. It was very rewarding to have so many of our senior boys representing school in fixtures, whether on the hockey pitch or the football pitch. It is lovely that the boys, no matter what year group they are in, have these opportunities to experience matches and of course, match tea, socialising with their opponents afterwards.

The British Schools Biathlon Championships on Sunday were weather affected but an impressive performance from our U12 team meant that they have finished 4th in the country, with Quinn finishing 4th individually. Congratulations to all the boys who qualified for the finals which is an excellent achievement in itself.

It is our Easter Eggstravaganza tomorrow morning for boys in Reception to Year 3. There is palpable excitement amongst them as they look forward to discovering the eggs which the Easter Bunny will hopefully have left around school. Our thanks go to the JPA for organising this and persuading the Easter Bunny to give up time from his busy schedule to come to see us at Abingdon Prep.

Next week I will let you know the results of this afternoon’s Inter-House Cross-Country. The conditions are slightly more conducive to running this time, after the Siberian blast caused us to postpone the event a couple of weeks ago. It will be wonderful to see all of the boys across the school taking part.

I hope you all have a good weekend and are looking forward to a final busy week of term in the spring sunshine - especially as the clocks will have gone forward over the weekend and we will have that extra hour of evening light.

Best wishes

Craig

Thunk for the week - is daylight saving a good or a bad thing?

Friday 16 March 2018

Dear Parents

Where to start this week? There are so many exciting pieces of news to share…

One of the many highlights of the week was the APS Bake Off. I was particularly honoured to have been asked to judge some of the entries, and every one of the many cakes and bakes I tasted was delicious. It is a creative way to raise money for our school charities and it is fair to say that we have some very talented bakers at school. I look forward to seeing the finalists in baking action next week.

Tuesday saw the senior production of ‘Smike’ take place in the Amey Theatre at Abingdon School. It was a wonderful evening with some delightful singing, acting and dancing. The audience certainly seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Debbie and Jennifer for all their hard work in producing such an impressive spectacle.

There was a raft of football matches this week. Our U9s played twice against St Hugh’s and Chandlings, and of the six matches, we won two, lost two and drew two. Our U9As win on Thursday meant they have remained unbeaten all season and they should be very proud of their efforts. Our U8s played Chandlings and had some very exciting games in which the As and Cs drew, and the Bs and Ds lost. This completed another impressive season in which all the boys have played many games of football and have improved immeasurably. Our U10As and U11As both completed their seasons with excellent wins giving them 100% records - a very admirable feat, whilst the other U10 and U11 teams also had strong final results. On Thursday, our senior boys took to Cox’s Fields to play Cokethorpe. The 13As lost a close match 2-4 whilst the Bs won their first game of the season 3-1 with a strong performance. The U12s continued their excellent season with a 4-2 victory, whilst the Bs also impressed with a 5-2 win.

Our U12 and U13 hockey teams took to the astro again on Wednesday to play against Cothill. The 13s went down in a high scoring match 2-6 whilst our U12s lost a thrilling match 4-5. Every week, as the boys gain more experience of hockey, their understanding of match play is improving visibly.

Our football matches tomorrow are a new venture for Abingdon Prep. We will be competing against Bedford Modern School as a Foundation together with the U12 and U13 teams from Abingdon School. I wish the boys luck and look forward to supporting them from the touch line.

A busy sporting weekend continues on Sunday with the British Schools Biathlon finals at Crystal Palace. We have ten boys competing, all of whom have qualified from the regional heats earlier in the year. This is always a gruelling event and huge credit goes to our boys for qualifying. I look forward to hearing how they have fared.

Year 2 travelled to Warwick Castle this week and had a wonderful time exploring the medieval castle and learning first-hand about life hundreds of years ago. The castle certainly helped bring their History topic to life and I have been hearing from the boys how much they enjoyed the trip. Year 5 are also visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum today and I look forward to hearing the highlights of their outing.

4T’s assembly on Thursday was extremely well presented and the class shared an important message with the rest of the school about appreciating all the wonderful things that we have in our lives and considering how people in other parts of the world are not so fortunate. It is so powerful when the boys share these messages with their peers. I also had the privilege of seeing Reception’s class assembly today. The boys were so proud to tell their parents about their beanstalks, and their playlet of the Gingerbread Man was well received by the audience of parents and Pre-Prep boys. They have certainly been busy in the classroom this term.

This week we also received the results of the final group of Abingdon scholarship assessments. We are exceptionally proud of all our boys who sat scholarships in their chosen sphere this year. They all devoted enormous effort to the process and can be justifiably proud of themselves. I am delighted to report that this year our boys have gained five academic scholarships - four to Abingdon and one to Magdalen College School. We have also been awarded one Art, one Music and one Drama scholarship, all to Abingdon School. I would like to take this opportunity to thank openly all the staff who have helped to prepare the boys so well for their scholarships.

I sincerely hope the snow does not return this weekend as it is high time that Spring makes an appearance!

With best wishes

Craig

Thunk for the week - can you be accused of cheating if you do not know the rules?

Friday 9 March 2018

Dear Parents

I would like to start by thanking everyone for their patience and understanding with regard to the snow day last week. I appreciate the difficulties faced when a school is closed for the day. However, the boys seemed delighted with the decision and I hope they all enjoyed the opportunity to use their sledges.

Rehearsals for our production of ‘Smike’ have been ratcheted up this week, with the technical rehearsal on Saturday and the main performance on Tuesday evening at the Amey Theatre. There are still some tickets available, so I would encourage all parents with children in Years 3 and above, to come along for what promises to be a very entertaining evening. Having listened to a number of the songs already, we are certainly in for a treat.

On my learning walk this week I was treated to a Year 3 Science lesson on the topic of teeth. I am reliably informed that during their next lesson they will be experimenting with disclosure tablets, so there may need to be some focused teeth brushing going on before that. Year 7 were putting together some drama sketches and I was particularly impressed with the saxophone accompaniment creating the scene of danger in the tomb! Cross curricular links were certainly coming to the fore in this lesson.

4AP produced an informative and very well delivered school assembly yesterday, in which we all learned about the life and diet of some Bolivian people, and it gave our boys food for thought with regard to their own food choices. 4AP’s mixture of singing, acting and public speaking entertained us all.

Our Year 8 academic scholarship group sat their exams this week and it was very interesting to welcome them back into school and hear how they felt the week had gone. They can be very proud of their efforts leading up to this very stretching set of exams, as can all of our boys who have been involved in scholarship assessments this term. As a school, we are certainly proud of them all.

Hockey fixtures took centre stage for Years 6 to 8 this week. There were impressive victories for our U13s against St Hugh’s and U11As against the Dragon. Every other match was a closely fought contest, with the Dragon just coming out on top. I hope the boys have enjoyed their first foray into Hockey and will look forward to more fixtures next year.

On the football pitch, our U8s and U9s enjoyed fixtures against Moulsford. Our U9As continued their unbeaten run, whilst our U8As lost their first game of the season in a very high quality match. The U9Bs won one and lost one, and the U9Cs won two very good games. Our U8B, C, and D teams were all involved in multiple matches as Moulsford had brought eight teams to take on our four. The boys certainly seem to be enjoying their game and improving each and every time they take the field.

Our long anticipated Scalextrics Evening, so kindly organised by the JPA, is taking place this evening and I have been hearing that there has been many a practice session taking place at home, and that is just the parents! Trophies are all in place and I know that the boys are excited about the event. Track conditions are forecast to be favourable with some fast times expected.

I am delighted to have been asked to judge some of the entries for the APS Bake off next week, so I hope that the boys will take the opportunity at the weekend to get creative in the tent, sorry, I mean kitchen, and put their baking skills to the test, all in aid of our school charities of course.

As this letter attests, term continues to be busy and purposeful, and the boys are grabbing opportunities that come their way. Long may that continue.

Best wishes

Craig

Thunk for the week - can a cake ever be considered a work of art and not simply something to eat?

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