Head’s Letters

Friday 11 October 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 4 October 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 27 September 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 20 September 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 13 September 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 6 September 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 30 August 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 5 July 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 28 June 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 21 June 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 14 June 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

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

Friday 7 June 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 24 May 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 17 May 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 10 May 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 3 May 2019

Dear Parents

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.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 26 April 2019

Dear Parents

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.

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 29 March 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes and Happy Easter!

Craig

Friday 22 March 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

Friday 15 March 2019

Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes

Craig

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