Letter from the Head, 21 June 2019
Friday 21 June 2019
The term continues to fly past with lots of exciting activities and events keeping the boys busy, alongside their normal lessons.
Sports Day last Saturday was a resounding success with some fabulous individual performances and a great win for Phoenix House. Thank you to everyone who came along to cheer on the boys who all performed admirably. A couple of school records were broken but most importantly, the boys all tried their very best and enjoyed the opportunity to run on a superb athletics track, not something that many of us will have ever been lucky enough to have done!
Year 3 visited the Ashmolean Museum on Monday where they focused on the displays from Ancient Egypt which supported what they had been learning in lessons. Museums are a great way to put learning into context and our boys enjoyed seeing so many artefacts first hand.
Our Year 8s have been having a great time in France and I look forward to welcoming them back. They have been busy at the various attractions in Normandy and been dodging a number of thunderstorms! The reports coming back suggest they have been having a great time and the theme park was a particular highlight.
Cricket this week saw the U10 and U11 B and C teams take on Oratory Prep, once again in the drizzle. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing first-hand how much the U10Cs had improved and they had a super game which they lost on the final ball.
The Year 7s took part in a fantastic courtroom experience on Thursday where Natasha was in the dock and a trial was put together. It was a great opportunity for the boys to see how the justice process works in Britain and may well have inspired a few of the boys to look into a career in Law at a later stage.
Middle School’s Got Talent took place this week and I was lucky enough to be able to see the acts perform. There was classical, rap and rock music, performance drama and a rather brilliant comedy dance act. It was great to see the middle section seizing their opportunities to perform.
I also wanted to congratulate all the Year 7 boys who ran for the house captain and vice-captain positions for next year. They had all produced very thoughtful speeches to try to garner votes from the rest of the house in this week’s house meetings. I look forward to finding out the results of the votes.
We are looking forward to move up day on Tuesday and welcoming our new children into school. It is always a great chance for our current boys to make new friends and welcome them into our community. The class lists for next year will be sent out to you on Tuesday afternoon.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend and that the sun will stay with us. I myself am looking forward to another opportunity to get out onto the cricket pitch!
Letter from the Head, 14 June 2019
Friday 14 June 2019
Well there has not been too much summer sunshine this week with raincoats and umbrellas more the order of the day. Fingers crossed for a break in the rain so that Sports Day can go ahead tomorrow morning over at Tilsley Park. I hope that many of you will be able to join us to see the boys compete for their houses. It is always a great occasion and I hope that we are able to enjoy the spectacle.
Despite the inclement weather, it has been a very busy week in all sections of the school. On Monday, the Year 3 and 4 Verse Speaking finals took place and the boys competing were incredibly impressive. We had Shakespeare, comedy and even a Granny Rap. The standard was quite amazing considering how young the boys are and they all seemed to love performing to the entire school. It did not faze them at all.
Drama and performance continued to be centre stage this week with the LAMDA exams taking place all day today and I know the boys have prepared well and were looking forward to sharing their pieces with the examiner. Drama is certainly looking strong at Abingdon Prep for the foreseeable future.
On Tuesday our Year 7s visited Compton Verney for an art experience which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The boys were taught some new artistic techniques and all of them produced some exquisite printing pieces. They returned in great spirits having developed another new artistic technique.
Our Year 8s spent yesterday morning across at Abingdon School taking part in masterclasses where they were taught lessons by senior school staff and lower sixth pupils. The boys really seemed to have enjoyed the lessons and are looking forward to September even more now.
This week saw cricket matches take place in the drizzle against Abingdon School and St Andrew’s. The boys played some excellent cricket and tried hard in the difficult conditions. The U11Bs stood out with an impressive win whilst the other teams were all involved in tight finishes, sadly coming up just short. Investment in cricket spikes may well be needed for some of the boys if the weather continues to be wet!
28 of our boys competed in the Mercia Athletics qualifiers on Thursday. After a long journey to Malvern, all the boys acquitted themselves extremely well and enjoyed competing against so many other talented athletes. Quinn and Jacob managed to win their respective events and have now qualified for the National Finals at The Alexandra Stadium later on this term. This event followed the National Swimming finals last weekend where we managed a fantastic 11th place in the country for the U12 Freestyle relay and a 6th placed finish for Ned in the 50m backstroke. The boys thoroughly enjoyed their amazing experience at the Aquatic Centre.
We finished the week with our whole school barbeque which was greatly enjoyed by everyone and then our wonderful Grandparents’ Afternoon. It was lovely to welcome so many of the boys’ grandparents into school to show them their work and listen to some recitals of poetry and musical pieces. I enjoyed meeting many of them and hope that some may make it to Sports Day tomorrow too.
I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow and if not, have a lovely weekend.
PS - please could I ask that boys are not dropped off in school before 8am as they will not be supervised until the staff member arrives for early birds at 8am. Many thanks for your support with this.
Letter from the Head, 7 June 2019
Friday 7 June 2019
It has been a lovely start to the second half of term with the warmer weather making an appearance - at least until today that is! Trips season is well and truly upon us and it is great that so many boys are getting the opportunity to experience hands on learning outside of the classroom.
8R explored Oxford on Tuesday, learning all about the old and new with a tour of the Westgate Centre and also visits to some Oxford Colleges. Our Year 4s were also in Oxford visiting the Ashmolean Museum where they learnt all about Greek statues with a particular focus on the Olympic Games and how it all began.
Year 5 went further afield to Portsmouth to explore the Historic Dockyard, focusing on HMS Victory. I had seen them the day before in class researching the different functions of each deck and it was certainly brought to life by touring the ship the very next day. They reported back that they had a fantastic time and that it was remarkably busy with preparations for the D-Day landings commemoration service there the next day.
Year 2 also got in on the act today by going across to Abingdon School to participate in the Crest Science show being held there. They had a fantastic time watching science in action with exciting experiments that they could get hands on with!
It has been an important week for our senior boys with their AP+ exams taking place. This is a full set of academic exams which I know they have worked hard towards and will hopefully attain marks that they will be proud of, reflecting their efforts. The experience of preparing fully for exams is a useful one as it will help them get used to the rigorous approach required when they move to their senior schools and start to sit public exams.
The last few days have seen cricket matches for Years 3 - 6 with every boy in those year groups involved in a match against either Moulsford or Christ Church Cathedral school. There were some impressive individual performances with an all bowled hat trick by Jack in Year 6, five wickets from George in Year 6, and a great win for a combined Year 5 and 6 team. Strong Moulsford opposition saw them win some very good contests though. The U8s and U9s had more success in their fixtures winning more than their fair share.
Today saw our U11A Cricket team depart after lunch on their tour to Devon. Two matches and a range of other activities in the South West are planned and hopefully the weather forecast will be wrong and the boys will be able to enjoy their experience without the need for raincoats!
Finally, I would like to wish good luck to the boys on Saturday who have qualified for the IAPS National Swimming Finals at The Aquatics Centre in London. It is an unbelievably high standard event and the fact that we have a number of boys who have qualified for the finals is a superb achievement.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 24 May 2019
Friday 24 May 2019
It has been exam week this week for Years 3-6. This is a good opportunity for the boys to start getting used to the format of exams and to understand the importance of organised preparation when it comes to sitting them. Year 7 and 8 will have their turn after half term and I know that they have their own revision schedules set out and materials gathered together to support their revision.
On the games field it has been another busy week with six senior teams (1sts, 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 6ths and 7ths) playing cricket matches against Moulsford and Oratory Prep. Our boys performed well in the sunshine and I was lucky enough to be umpiring the 6th team in what proved to be a very close game which went down to the final over before Oratory Prep managed to take the win. Our other teams also had very competitive matches but sadly struggled to beat strong opposition. Some work is needed on spending time at the crease!
On Tuesday, 20 senior section boys took part in the athletics meet at Radley where they performed admirably in such a big event. A number of personal bests were achieved and the boys enjoyed testing themselves on the synthetic track.
Four Year 6 boys took part in an U11 Tennis tournament on Sunday, also at Radley, where they produced some superb tennis with our pairs combining to win most of their matches and almost making the top three in a very competitive field. The boys certainly enjoyed challenging themselves against some top opponents.
Yesterday saw 8R venturing out to Burford and Widford to investigate the medieval architecture and history of the area. The boys seemed fascinated by the buildings and the remnants of medieval society that are still so clearly visible in the landscape today. It was history coming alive in the best way possible.
The Year 5-8 swimming gala is taking place this afternoon and I am looking forward to seeing how our boys get on and cheering them all on as they race against each other in all four strokes and a series of relays.
Finally, I just wanted to take this opportunity to clear up any slight confusion that may have arisen from some of the boys about end of school day times for Years 3-8. The school day finish time has not changed, it is still 4.10pm. We have, however, had a slight reworking of timings during the day to allow for the boys to return to their classrooms at 4pm in order to ensure that they get themselves organised and take home all their prep and other important belongings.
I hope that you will all have a very enjoyable half-term break and fingers crossed for a continuation of the lovely weather we have been experiencing this week.
Letter from the Head, 17 May 2019
Friday 17 May 2019
I could only start my letter this week about the incredibly exciting flying visit from 845 Naval Air Command squadron. The enormous Merlin helicopter (the length of two double decker buses I am reliably informed), landed on Cox's Field after two low level overhead passes with two of the intrepid crew leaning out from the side and rear exit points waving at the boys. It really was a sight to behold. Every one of our boys got to listen to a talk about the aircraft from a crew member, ask questions and even go onto the helicopter, strapping themselves into the seats, with some trying on the helmets and others getting to sit in the cockpit. No matter what age, the boys (and staff) were all so excited to have the opportunity to step on board such an amazing aircraft and meet these four wonderful crew members who were quite brilliant ambassadors for our armed forces. As they flew off to their next mission, they even found time to do a double fly past over the playground as a farewell. Reception have been writing information sheets about the visit which I was lucky enough to see today. It has certainly inspired them. Who knows if any of the boys will go on to have a career in the Forces because they have been inspired by this brilliant experience?
On the cricket pitch this week our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and U11A XIs all recorded impressive victories over Crosfields with some strong performances too in other matches. Our U8s took part in their first ever cricket matches on Thursday and they can be very proud of their performances. Our U9s played their first match of the season and we also had our first tennis fixtures against Chandlings and Cothill for U10, U11 and U13 teams. Our U11s performed extremely well in both matches and the other boys really enjoyed playing competitive tennis.
All year groups this week from Reception to Year 6 paid a visit to the Life Education Bus where a range of age appropriate themes were discussed, ranging from ‘Meet the brain’ to ‘It’s great to be me’. The boys really enjoyed the different themes and learnt a great deal.
I hope that many of you have been able to visit school this week and see the fantastic array or work on display from the Art and CDT departments. All the boys have some work out on show and as I walked round it this week, it struck me just how wide a range of work the boys produce in these incredibly important subjects. Hearing our tour guides explaining how certain items were produced and the different skills needed to do that was a real eye opener. All our boys should be very proud of their creative pieces which have helped make Artweeks such a success.
On Tuesday our Year 6s visited the JR Hospital for their IMPS visit. This stands for Injury Minimisation Program for Schools. The morning gives them strategies to allow them to take responsibility for managing their own risk and equips them with the skills to cope in an emergency. I know the boys learnt a great deal and hopefully are now better able to manage risk of injury.
8R travelled to Richmond Village Retirement home. There, they were fortunate enough to speak with the last surviving spitfire pilot from WW2, just one of the brilliant men and women who had so much wisdom to share with our boys. I know they really valued the time spent chatting and our boys were keen to share some of their musical talents with the residents as well.
Concert platform is taking place this afternoon and I know that the boys who have signed up are looking forward to sharing their pieces with a wider audience, some for the first time.
Tomorrow sees the next in our series of Art workshops. This time there is a sculpture focus for the day and I know that it has once again proved a real draw for the boys. I look forward to seeing what they are going to produce.
As you can probably tell, it has been a very busy week with our boys seizing the opportunities on offer with both hands!
Wishing you all a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 10 May 2019
Friday 10 May 2019
I hope you all had a very enjoyable bank holiday weekend. Unlike the previous bank holiday, the weather was not quite conducive to barbeques this time round but the extra day did enable our patio at home to be properly cleaned in preparation for the summer!
Our Reception class this week have been focusing on learning about the jungle. I was very fortunate to taste some of their stepping stone cookies and I learnt a huge amount about the Venus fly trap which they had studied and were writing facts about. The boys seemed captivated by this amazing plant and were all incredibly knowledgeable. The jungle topic is a great one for them to fully immerse themselves in and it had certainly grabbed their interest.
Sadly, the frequent heavy showers this week meant that all of our cricket matches had to be cancelled on Wednesday but at least the U8s and U9s avoided the worst of the downpours and were able to get their practice sessions in, preparing for their first matches next week. With the Cricket World Cup just around the corner, followed by an Ashes series, it is a great year to get involved in the sport!
This week Year 7 and Year 5 have been thoroughly enjoying themselves on adventure trips at Whitemead and PGL Liddington respectively. They are great opportunities to take on challenges that they will not have experienced before and where working as a team is so important for the success of the activity. Despite the wet weather, the boys have returned today in great spirits and having had a great time.
Year 6 performed playlets from ‘Macbeth’ yesterday evening. It was lovely to see them embracing their first taste of Shakespeare. The performances were terrific and it was so encouraging to hear from parents that many of the boys had been discussing Shakespeare at home and in the car on the way to school. It really is incredible to think that Shakepeare’s plays are as popular today as they were when first written back in the 1590’s. They truly have stood the test of time.
Next week is Artweeks at school and I would encourage as many of you as possible to come into school and see the boys’ fabulous work on display. The school is open to visitors on Tuesday from 08.30-10.30 and Wednesday from 15.00-18.00. There will also be refreshments available in the library courtesy of the JPA.
Also next week, on Wednesday, we are incredibly fortunate to be receiving a flying visit, quite literally, from a Naval Air Commando unit (845 Squadron). They will be landing their helicopter on Coxes field and the boys will get to meet the crew and hopefully even get a tour of the helicopter. We look forward to welcoming them to Abingdon Prep. If any parents would like to come and see this event, then you would be very welcome to attend. Expected landing time is 10.30.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all the boys who represented us last weekend at the IAPS National Table Tennis Championships. They all played very well and certainly enjoyed the day. The standard was, as always, incredibly high, but Todd excelled again and was crowned National Champion for the 3rd consecutive year. A fantastic achievement!
Letter from the Head, 3 May 2019
Friday 3 May 2019
Term is well and truly underway and the April showers seem to have decided to move into May this year.
It was lovely to welcome a local Buddhist leader to school on Monday and he spoke at length with our Year 8 boys detailing the history and practices of Buddhism, complimenting their unit of study. I know that the boys were fascinated to hear firsthand about the practices that are undertaken. It will certainly have helped when it comes to answering questions on this topic in their exam later this term.
Open Morning took place on Wednesday and was a great opportunity to showcase Abingdon Prep to prospective parents. Many of them were here because of positive comments from friends of theirs with boys at our school so thank you to all of you for sharing such positive feedback with the wider community. Our Year 7 boys were, as always, terrific ambassadors for us, taking tours and talking about their experiences of life at Abingdon Prep.
Wednesday also saw our first cricket fixtures of the season, with an even split of wins and losses. I thoroughly enjoyed watching our 2nd XI win a great match with just a few balls to spare. There was also athletics at Tilsley Park in the first meet of the season and again a number of boys put in very impressive performances across both track and field.
One of the highlights of the performing arts calendar took place yesterday - the Year 5 Music and Drama Soiree. There were some superb individual instrumental performances set alongside group performance poetry - ‘The Highwayman’. A Victorian theme, linking to their English studies, shone through in their fabulous performances of a selection of songs from ‘Oliver’. We certainly have some talented singers and actors coming up through the school. I was also rather jealous of the lovely picnics being consumed around the room!
If you find yourselves in Oxford this Saturday, please do take the chance to visit the Ashmolean Museum. 21 of our boys have their artwork being exhibited in the Young Art Oxford competition, which takes place every year as part of the Oxfordshire Artweeks. It opened yesterday and one of our Year 8 boys was awarded 3rd place and we had another two boys receive commendations. It never ceases to amaze me how creative and artistic so many of our boys are. We are very much looking forward to celebrating Artweeks later on in term by opening up our doors to you all, and the general public, to see more of the work that our boys have produced this year.
Thank you too for all of the brilliant recycled paper projects that have been coming into school this week, alongside the final entries for ‘Bake Off’. Some very tasty ones this week!
Tomorrow sees seven of the boys venturing to Hertfordshire to compete in the National IAPS Table Tennis Championships. We have a good track record in this event and are hoping once again to bring back the trophy. Good luck to all of the boys competing.
I hope that you all have a lovely bank holiday weekend ahead. Baby Quinn is popping down to Glastonbury to watch his Mum run in the fun 10K race whilst I shall be venturing out onto the cricket pitch once again.
Letter from the Head, 26 April 2019
Friday 26 April 2019
It was lovely to welcome all of the boys back to school this week for the start of the summer term, especially our five new joiners. The school looked beautiful with the tulips out in full force and the blue skies setting a stunning backdrop for Josca’s House. I would like to say a big thank you to our grounds staff for all the work that they have put into making the school look so resplendent. As is so often the case, the beautiful sunshine gave way to April showers the moment that the boys stepped across the whitewash and onto the cricket pitch for the first time on Wednesday!
I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the boys’ exciting adventures during the break and judging by the fantastic photos that so many of you kindly sent in for Rachel’s assembly yesterday with the theme of ‘connecting with people’, the holidays have been time well spent. It is always important for the boys to recharge their batteries, and the teachers too, ready for what is a busy summer with exciting trips and examinations to be undertaken. I know that the Year 8s have been revising hard over the holidays in preparation for their AP+ exams.
Mr Windsor and I enjoyed popping into a number of lessons yesterday morning and it was very encouraging seeing all the boys fully focused and working hard on some adjectival agreements in French, undertaking difficult translations in Latin, significant figures in Maths, and microscopes and cells in Science. There was a real sense of purpose in all of the classrooms.
For the first time in a number of years, our Year 8s took part in a CCF demonstration yesterday afternoon. This was eagerly anticipated and the boys certainly seemed to have had a great time exploring camouflage paints, food preparation in the field and basher building. Thanks to the senior school boys and staff who came over to Abingdon Prep to give the boys a taste of the CCF they will be participating in next year.
I look forward to catching up with you all in the next few weeks and hopefully we will enjoy more of the lovely sunshine that Easter brought us.
Letter from the Head, 29 March 2019
Friday 29 March 2019
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!
Letter from the Head, 22 March 2019
Friday 22 March 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 15 March 2019
Friday 15 March 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 8 March 2019
Friday 8 March 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 1 March 2019
Friday 1 March 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 15 February 2019
Friday 15 February 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 8 February 2019
Friday 8 February 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 4 February 2019
Monday 4 February 2019
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!
Letter from the Head, 25 January 2019
Friday 25 January 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 18 January 2019
Friday 18 January 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 11 January 2019
Friday 11 January 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 14 December 2018
Friday 14 December 2018
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.