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.
Letter from the Head, 7 December 2018
Friday 7 December 2018
Where else can I start my letter for this week than with the quite brilliant Nativity that was performed on Wednesday afternoon by our Pre-Prep. As I said on the day, it was quite possibly the most professional show of this ilk that I have seen. The boys knew every one of their lines, knew where they should be moving around the stage and their singing was super too. It was a real triumph, or perhaps I should say, #epic, as a nod to the performance!
Yesterday saw a debut assembly for Natasha as her class, 6N, gave their assembly about Christmas literature, with an outline of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and a poetry recital of ‘Twas the night before Christmas’. Throw in an interview with Santa, or Nick as he likes to be called, and we had all the ingredients for a great assembly. However, to round it off, there was full audience participation of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, with parts listed out for all sections of the school. As the words to the song scrolled along the projector, I was slightly horrified to see my name appear for a solo on the ‘10 Lords a-Leaping’ line. I duly sung out my line with as much gusto as I could manage but quite frankly when it was the senior and chamber choir next up, they put me to shame.
This morning I popped into a fascinating talk to Year 5 on ‘Satellites and Space’ from one of our current parents. I certainly learnt a huge amount and the boys had numerous questions of their own. It made me realise just how much we take technology for granted and how much satellites in space influence our lives. I think we may have a number of boys now who might love to explore a career in this field.
Today our Pre-Prep all went on a trip to Roves Farm. The levels of excitement were palpable as they lined up to get on the coach, coats and hats at the ready as the rain began to fall. They came back just as excited after having a brilliant time dressing up and having been in Santa’s grotto.
Last Saturday saw us take on Cothill in the U10, 11, 12 and 13 As. A successful afternoon followed with 3 wins and a draw, rounding off a super season of rugby for all the boys.
This Saturday sees our third and final Art Workshop of the term. Once again it has proved to be extremely popular. This time they will be focusing on sculpture with papier-mâché modelling and if the past two events are anything to go by, the results of their efforts will again be amazing.
Carol service rehearsals are in full swing, and I am looking forward to welcoming many of you to St Helen’s Church on Tuesday evening. Please be aware of the parking in Abingdon as there is no parking outside the church.
Our Gifts for Grown Ups preparation goes on apace and the boys are certainly excited to be chatting about their choices of presents for the grown-ups in their lives. Thanks to all the JPA and other parents who are working tirelessly to make this such a lovely event.
Next week sees us enter the final week of term with our House debating, Christmas lunch, end of term assemblies, carol service and of course, end of term reports! I hope the boys will all enjoy a restful weekend in preparation for what promises to be a wonderful final week of term.
Letter from the Head, 30 November 2018
Friday 30 November 2018
I thought I should start my letter this week with reference to the brilliant Bazaar last Saturday. The newly created games in the hall were a great success and I particularly enjoyed the floating balls on the penguins that needed to be knocked down. The generosity of our wider parent body never ceases to amaze me with so many kind donations towards the raffle and other stalls.
This week each of the four Houses were asked to choose their House Charity. Members of the House presented charities that were close to their hearts and then the boys voted for the one that they felt they would like to support for this year. They then discussed how they could raise money for it over the coming terms. Some interesting ideas were generated, so watch this space!
The first swimming gala of term took place on Monday after school at The Dragon for the U9s, 10s, 11s, 12s and U13s. The boys really enjoyed testing themselves against other strong swimmers from the local circuit and produced an excellent set of results.
Rugby matches against Magdalen College took place this week with all boys in the U8s, 9s, 10s and 11s again representing school. Despite the conditions being taxing, our 10s and 11s won 6 of their 8 fixtures and our U8s and 9s won 3 of their 6 fixtures, with 2 very exciting draws in monsoon conditions! All of the boys have improved so much over the course of the term. House matches took place for the senior section whilst the U13C team journeyed to Cheltenham College for their first rugby tournament. They came away with medals having scored a try in every match that they played. Tomorrow sees our final rugby matches of the term against Cothill. Good luck to all the boys who are playing.
On Wednesday our Year 3 and 4 classes journeyed to to The Oxford Playhouse for their annual pantomime trip. This year they watched ‘Dick Whittington’ and came back very excited about the fantastic performance. With December only a day away, we can now start to use the Christmas word. My wife has already booked me in to search for our Christmas tree early tomorrow morning!
Coats and hats are a must now and with the forecast set to stay cold and wet over the next few weeks, it will be important for the boys to have them in school and hopefully prevent the Christmas colds that always seem to surface at this time of year.
Now the dark nights (and mornings) are well and truly set in, please could I ask that if you are escorting a child across the playground parking area that you stick to the yellow hashed lines as these are there as walkways to keep everyone safe.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 23 November 2018
Friday 23 November 2018
It was lovely to chat with so many parents this morning at coffee and catch up. The pastries certainly helped in taking the edge off the cold weather outside. I am not sure we are giving Costa a run for their money just yet but the company was excellent!
On Wednesday it was great to see our boys take such pride in contributing to our charity silver coin trail for Thames Valley Air Ambulance. We were very lucky to have two of their brilliant staff come to the event and see the boys placing their coins to form a helicopter and they were delighted to be able to chat to the boys. There were so many coins that we also had to fill the letters of Thames Valley Air Ambulance and a late addition of ‘APS’ to ensure all the coins had a place to sit. I know their staff were touched by the generosity of our boys and I know that their work is incredibly valuable to the wider Oxfordshire community.
Rugby tournaments took centre stage this week with our U13s taking part in our own APS 7s tournament and the Pinewood 7s tournament, whilst our U12s tested themselves against very strong opposition at the St Edward's tournament. Our U11s worked just as hard at the Cokethorpe tournament too. A lot of rugby, a lot of camaraderie and an even mix of wins, losses and draws. Tomorrow morning sees our U11As and U13As take on Taunton Prep School who are here on tour. I look forward to welcoming Taunton as I taught there for 10 years before moving back up to the Home Counties.
I think you can tell when the Christmas season truly has started at Abingdon Prep as the Bazaar comes round and the Christmas tree goes up in the hall. The boy’s excitement has been tangible today in anticipation of the Lego bundles in the raffle, the games, Headmaster for the day, and possibly even a few sweets from the tombolas. In a foolish moment of weakness I think I agreed yesterday to even put my head in the stocks for a short while but I am sure nobody will want to throw too many sponges at me! I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow at the event. Many thanks to our amazing JPA, Katie and the CDT department, John, and all our other kind helpers and staff who have once again made this event possible. I would like to make special mention of Paul Wentworth too who has made so many of the marvellous games that the boys will be running in the hall after most of our previous ones were damaged in a flood. His efforts and expertise are hugely appreciated.
Next week sees the ABRSM exams on Monday so good luck to those sitting them and getting in some extra practice this weekend, after the Bazaar of course!
Letter from the Head, 16 November 2018
Friday 16 November 2018
I would like to start my letter this week with a ‘congratulations’ to all those hardy individuals who braved the weather last Friday and made it to Firestorm. Despite the wind and rain, the evening was thoroughly enjoyable and the display excellent. I am hugely grateful to the JPA and other volunteers who enabled this event to be such a success.
This week has been Anti-bullying week, starting with an odd sock day to celebrate being different and ending in workshops about bullying with the overarching theme of Respect. 5L gave a fantastic assembly reading poetry, and talking about what respect means to them. They also produced a video of interviews with pupils and staff here about what they thought respect looked like. It is always extremely powerful when these messages come from the pupils themselves.
The Book Fair got underway this week and it was great to see the boys so excited by the books on offer. This tied in incredibly well with our Year 7s Dragon Den project of second hand book sales and that too is going extremely well. Baby Quinn has been the beneficiary of three lovely books, all of which live strong in memories of my childhood - The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh and Aesop’s Fables. Entrepreneurship is alive and well at Abingdon Prep!
Please do remind the boys about our silver coin trail next week to raise money for the Thames Air Ambulance service. Last year’s trail was incredible and I am sure that we will match it this year too.
Our Senior Section took on Abingdon School on the rugby pitch this week and some excellent rugby took place with wins for our U12As, U13As and U13Bs and defeats for our U12 B and C teams. It was great to have such a friendly match tea afterwards with boys and parents from both parts of the Foundation happily chatting away. These are relationships that will continue for years to come and just one of the many reasons we enjoy match teas so much! Our U8s and U9s all represented the school in matches against Chandlings on Tuesday with wins for all the U9s and losses for the U8s in some very entertaining matches. I really enjoyed seeing our U8s get ‘stuck in’ with their tag tackling and representing the school so well. Our U10s played in the Abingdon Festival at Tilsley Park on Monday evening and stepped up their level of performance greatly from previous weeks to register four wins and just one loss. The boys loved playing under floodlights!
With the weather due to turn colder next week, please encourage the boys to bring in their hats and coats for break times. The leaves are almost off all the trees and winter is setting in with the dark nights curtailing some of our outdoor Other Half activities. I look forward to seeing many of our Year 6s across at Abingdon School tomorrow for their taster morning.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 9 November 2018
Friday 9 November 2018
There are some occasions as head of a Prep school where you feel even more proud of the children than normal, and this week has seen two occasions where this has most certainly been the case.
Yesterday, 5S gave a wonderful assembly reflecting on World War One and the sacrifices of so many men and women. The names of the 27 Abingdon School pupils and staff that died were read out. They then explained how the arts had been impacted by the war, looking at paintings by artists such as Nash, Butler and Orpen, as well as the poetry of Sassoon, Binyon and Blunden. A selection of Year 8 boys then read out poems that they had written about the trench warfare that cost the lives of so many. They were incredibly moving and really reflected an understanding of the hardships and camaraderie of the troops involved. Our two minute silence today was immaculately observed and our Year 8 trumpeter played the Last Post quite beautifully. These commemorations put so many of our own worries into perspective.
Sadly, I was unable to witness first hand our senior choir’s incredible performance at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday, but I am so proud of them for simply being involved. Our boys returned absolutely buzzing from the experience and by all accounts the concert was quite simply stunning and what an incredible opportunity for our boys to support pupils with special needs and sing as a massed choir at such a venue. Huge thanks to Debbie and her team for orchestrating this wonderful event for our boys.
Continuing the musical theme, our second concert platform of the term took place last Friday and as always we had a fabulous range of musicians perform, with percussion taking a lead role this time around. Potential music scholars performed alongside those just starting out on their musical journeys and the audience was certainly appreciative of their efforts.
Our Year 8s were away on Monday and Tuesday on their Geography Field Trip to Swanage to study the Jurassic coastline, with the stunning views of Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. They came back tired after the long walks but full of geographical knowledge and having produced some stunning sketches too.
The art workshop last Saturday saw our boys etching designs from the natural world into glass before adding colour and printing onto a range of mediums. They were stunning and even baby Quinn, who came along with me to see them in action, seemed to be very impressed!
Rugby matches this week saw us take on a range of schools with a number of mixed teams out to match the strength of our opponents from Bruern Abbey and Christ Church Cathedral School. Our U10, U11, U12 and U13 teams achieved a raft of very positive victories, with our U10s performing really well, continuing their strong performances after their efforts at the MCS festival earlier in the week. Yesterday, our U8s and U9s competed in the Abingdon Prep rugby festival with lots of quick-fire fixtures and some great rugby played by all the schools which attended. For those boys not involved, there was an inter school tag tournament which was just as fiercely contested!
Next week is our Anti Bullying week and there are a number of activities planned for all of the different age groups. The theme for the week is RESPECT. It is so important that our boys appreciate the impact that their words and actions can have on others, both positively and negatively, and that showing respect towards everyone is a key part of any community.
Despite the very ordinary weather forecast for this evening, we are all looking forward to Firestorm and the lightsabers and hog roast that come before. Fingers crossed the high winds stay away tonight and I look forward to seeing many of you at the event. Huge thanks to the JPA and all other volunteers for helping to put this together for our boys.
I also wanted to mention that I will be having a Coffee and Catch up morning on Friday 23 November. This will be in the Drama Studio between 8.15-9am. It would be lovely to chat to anyone who is free and fancies an early coffee and even a pastry of some description. An additional reminder will go out in the weekly mailing, next week.
I hope you all have a lovely, restful weekend after such a busy week for the boys, and fingers crossed for good weather this evening.
A Year 8 poem from yesterday’s assembly, which I wanted to share with you all:
The Poppy Field
As the sun comes up
They head down
To the trenches far below
Then they sit and wait
For hours on end
Hoping they won’t have to go.
But the time does come
When they have to climb
Out of their little safe place
And avoid being killed
By the bloodthirsty shots
That pepper the unknown space.
And when they hear
The whistle blow
And run into no-man’s land
They have to face
The bombs and gas
With only a gun in hand.
And once they’ve shot
And killed a few
They run back to their side
And keep on doing this
Again and again
Until everyone has died.
And then one day
The fighting stopped
And the soldiers returned to their wives
And no-man’s land
Became a field
Where poppies were the only lives.
Letter from the Head, 2 November 2018
Friday 2 November 2018
I hope that everyone had a very enjoyable half term break and it was lovely to see the boys bouncing back into school refreshed from their holidays. The weather has certainly turned colder this week and the darker nights are most definitely upon us.
On Tuesday, the Junior section had a fascinating assembly given to them by Suzanne about the origins of Halloween. The boys and I certainly learnt much about the Celts and Druids and the evolution of Halloween, Turnip Carving and Soul Cakes.
On Wednesday, our wonderful grounds team, led by Richard, travelled to Birmingham for an awards ceremony celebrating the best kept school grounds in England. Abingdon Foundation came second which is a fantastic and well-earned recognition. We really are fortunate to have such amazing sports pitches and superbly kept grounds across both school sites and I would like to thank the team for all of their hard work keeping our school looking superb and our pitches in such immaculate condition.
Yesterday our boys in Year 5-8 were given an excellent interactive talk from Alicia Drummond about a vital aspect of life - Resilience. Alicia gave the boys some great advice and our boys really enjoyed the interactive nature of her talk and the important message that she put across. Trying to eat an apple without removing your mouth from it was certainly a challenge! Do ask the boys about the acronym GRIT and what each letter stands for. Resilience is something that all our children will need to really make the most of their abilities. The bouncebackability of the minion balloon was also a winner.
Today saw Dragon House celebrate their victory in the house merit cup with a home clothes day and our Reception boys had a talk from a dentist first thing, so I am sure their teeth brushing tonight should be much improved!
Midweek matches this week saw our Middle and Senior section boys take on Oratory Prep in some very hard fought matches against strong opposition. There were some super performances which saw close matches being shaded by Oratory but our U12 As won a very high quality game 20-15. Our U9s took on St Hugh’s with all of the boys involved again and some more very close matches ensued with APS winning 1, losing 1 and drawing 1.
I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank all our fabulous volunteer parents who come into school to help with all manner of events, especially at this time of year with preparations for Firestorm, the Christmas Bazaar and Gifts for Grown-ups which all take a huge amount of time and effort to organise. Our JPA committee and form reps are all busying themselves to put everything in place for the boys for these exciting events in the upcoming weeks. I would also like to mention all of our wonderful library volunteers who help to ensure our boys continue to love their books. As with all staffing appointments, we always undertake the necessary checks and processes to ensure that our boys and indeed the volunteers themselves are always kept safe.
Richard joined us this week as our Abingdon Prep Porter so you may well see him out in the car park of a morning in a high vis jacket and working around the school. Please do say hello and welcome him into our community.
Next week is one of the busiest of the term with the Year 8 Geography residential trip to Swanage, our choir singing in the combined schools buddy choir concert at The Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday and Firestorm and our own Remembrance Service on Friday.
Tomorrow we have our second Saturday Sculpture Workshop of the term for Year 7 and 8 pupils, and I am looking forward to popping in and seeing what the boys are producing.
Have a good weekend.
Letter from the Head, 12 October 2018
Friday 12 October 2018
The warm weather made a welcome return this week with some beautifully autumnal misty mornings greeting us on the way into school.
On Monday our Reception boys visited Cogges Farm where they were fully involved in bread making, goat feeding and finding out all about the food that ends up on our dinner plates. This was a lovely follow up from the Harvest Festival last week. They absolutely loved their day out and I really enjoyed hearing all about it from the boys.
Our Year 5s visited the Black Country museum yesterday and experienced first-hand life in Victorian England and the industries that dominated the towns and cities. It is a wonderful open air museum with reconstructed buildings from a bygone era with a rather narrow tunnel to walk down to experience life as a coal miner! The boys certainly enjoyed it and their creative writing about Victorian England will be so much more vivid as a result. There was some level of horror when they discovered that Victorian sweets often contained arsenic and mercury. I think they will be sticking to Haribo!
Despite a rather wet start to Saturday, our Open Morning was a very busy affair and as always, our boys were the star attraction. The Year 7 tour guides did a brilliant job and appeared to really enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences of life at Abingdon Prep with our guests. I had a lot of positive comments about how well the boys were working in the classrooms, especially given it was a Saturday morning!
Yesterday’s assembly saw the award of the House Merit Cup for this half of term with Dragon being victorious. Congratulations to all of the boys for earning so many merits in the first six weeks of the year. The results are as follows:
1st - Dragon 1666
2nd - Phoenix 1598
3rd - Griffin 1569
4th - Unicorn 1549
Rugby this week pitted the U10s, U11s, U12s and U13s against Beachborough and the boys acquitted themselves very well with some great results for our B and C teams with high scoring games taking place across the board. Our U8s and U9s also enjoyed some high scoring matches against Oratory Prep with a highlight being a resounding win for the U9As. Our U11s are competing in a festival on Saturday, despite it being half term and I hope they have a great day out and I wish our biathletes all the best for Abingdon Vale competition on Sunday. Our U13s football squad came so close to qualifying for the IAPS national finals last Saturday, losing a penalty shootout for the final spot. This was a great effort in such trying conditions. It has certainly been a busy week on the games field.
I wanted to take this chance to remind you all of our upcoming Fireworks event and the Christmas Bazaar which both occur in November. They are great events, so do get the dates in your diaries and sign up for your fireworks tickets.
I read that there were only 11 Fridays until Christmas this week. Now there’s a scary thought! I hope you all have a great half term break, whether you are enjoying a holiday abroad or a quiet time at home. I am looking forward to spending some time with my wife, Quinn and Dizzy on long autumnal walks in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside.
Letter from the Head, 5 October 2018
Friday 5 October 2018
As the calendar flicked over to October this week, my wife made me turn the heating on at home despite my protestations, and we had to switch it on at school too after such a chilly start to the week. I have though, enjoyed standing at the front gate in the autumn sunshine welcoming the boys into school.
Yesterday our Years 4-6 enjoyed meeting author Nicki Thornton who gave a fantastic talk about writing and inspiration and I know the boys’ creative writing will have benefitted hugely from her passion and advice. Many of the boys bought a signed copy and I am certain they will enjoy reading her novel, ‘The Last Chance Hotel’.
Our Year 8s visited the Natural History Museum in Oxford this week for a combined Art and Science trip and judging by the photographs, they had a great time learning about scientific discoveries and drawing many of the display items they saw. Trips are such an important part of learning and create memories that last far beyond school. Our Year 7s were also out today visiting the Roman Baths in Bath. Having been there on numerous occasions myself, I know what an incredible place it is first hand and I look forward to chatting to the boys about it on their return.
A small group of Year 5 and 6 boys are also competing in the MCS quiz this afternoon and I know they will have acquitted themselves very well with their all-round knowledge of the wider world and current affairs.
Sport this week saw our senior teams take on some very strong Cheltenham College sides. Matches here finished honours even with 2 wins and 2 losses which was a super effort. Our middle section saw 8 teams playing in some incredibly close matches against Chandlings which ended in 4 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw. It is great to see so many boys involved in matches and enjoying being part of a team. I would also like to wish our U13 boy’s football team the best of luck as they compete in the regional IAPS qualifiers this Saturday.
Our Pre-Prep celebrated the Harvest Festival today with a beautiful service. For our reception boys this was their first chance to perform to an audience and they really seemed to take it in their stride. Our Year 1s and 2s seemed like seasoned pros as they presented to their families in the audience. Their confidence and clarity of expression always impresses me, especially considering how young they still are. I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of our parents for their incredibly generous donations of food which will be taken to The Gatehouse, a homeless charity in Oxford. I know how immensely grateful they are and it is so important to support our local community.
Tomorrow sees our Open Morning take place and I am looking forward to showing our fabulous school to prospective parents. Our Year 7s will be touring them around and I know our visitors will enjoy seeing the boys in action and chatting to them about our school. We have much to be proud of and our boys are by far the best way for us to show others what it means to be part of the Abingdon Prep community.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
Letter from the Head, 28 September 2018
Friday 28 September 2018
Apologies for not being able to greet many of you at the front gate this week but I have been away for the last three days at the IAPS Heads Conference in Wales which has involved a fascinating series of talks and seminars with the theme of ‘Tomorrow’s World; Global Citizens’. Apologies, therefore, for the shorter letter that I have put together today.
On Saturday last week we played Cokethorpe on the rugby pitch and managed to secure a clean sweep of wins for our four teams involved. It was lovely to watch all the boys playing for each other and embodying the team spirit that is so important to any community. On Wednesday our U13A and B teams took on Abingdon School and two high quality matches ensued, with the As putting in an impressive win and the Bs just narrowly missing out on a victory, though it was close match.
On Thursday our U8s and U9s played CCCS and produced some lovely rugby with strong performances. All of our teams performed well, with the U8s having a draw and a loss, and the U9s As and Cs claiming fantastic wins, and the Bs only just losing out. These performances came on the back of a very successful cross country meet run by Abingdon School last week where APS were again victorious in a field of six other schools including Abingdon School, Caldicott, Magdalen and Cokethorpe. Cross Country continues to go from strength to strength.
Representing the Abingdon Foundation our U10 and U12 Swimmers, along with boys from Abingdon School competed in the annual Griffin Gala against the Abingdon Vale Swimming Club. All of our swimmers enjoyed a full programme of swimming and gained a great deal experience from the event.
The junior section assembly this week discussed new beginnings and making the most of opportunities available to us. It was enlightening to hear from the teachers what their new beginnings and goals were for this academic year and the boys responded well in thinking about theirs. Many boys are taking the opportunity to perform at the concert platform tonight, and I wish them luck and look forward to hearing about it upon my return.
I hope you all have a very enjoyable weekend.
Letter from the Head, 21 September 2018
Friday 21 September 2018
This week has been our Safety Week at school with the boys learning about different aspects of how to keep themselves safe, both in and out of school. There have been some very interesting discussions about the internet and social media with many of the older boys, whilst some of the younger boys have been eagerly discussing playground and road safety. As with so many areas of life, common sense is so often the answer. Our Pre-Prep were treated to a visit from the fire service today which was a definite highlight for them.
Our Year 4s have undertaken their first ever residential trip this week. They have been walking along the Ridgeway with an overnight stay at a Youth Hostel. I was lucky enough to join them for the evening and hear about the excitement of the days walk and the very blustery wind. Luckily it appears to have been blowing them towards their destination for most of the day! The rain dissipated for Thursday afternoon and the sun was shining today for them. It is a great way to start the year and sets them up nicely for future school residentials.
Rugby this week saw us playing Pinewood with all boys in Years 5 and 6 representing the school. For a first match of the season the standard from both teams was incredibly high and our U11 teams were victorious whilst our U10 teams lost some matches which were very close. Much was learned from this as it should be the case with all matches. Our U13 As were unbeaten at the Pinewood festival, continuing their strong start to the season, whilst our U13 Bs and U12 As both enjoyed good wins. Our U12 Bs lost by a single try in a super game between two evenly matched sides. Our Year 3s also made their rugby debuts this week playing in mixed teams against The Manor. The boys all seemed to really enjoy their first taste of matches, and indeed their first taste of match teas!
Our School Council from last year completed their handover and gave a lovely assembly on all of the good work and projects that they have been involved with over the year. Some of these are ongoing and our new council members were announced in assembly. I know they are all excited to get started and looking forward to having a say in what is happening at school. I would also like to thank all of the boys who stood in the school council elections, whether they got voted into a position or not. It is great to have so many boys wanting to be a part of this school group.
I spent a good deal of time in CDT this week and was lucky enough to take part in Jitterbugs, jigsaws and a buzzwire game. The boys had produced some fabulous work with super use of fretsaws, and electronic components to design their creations. CDT is thriving at Abingdon Prep.
Our first Art workshop of the year took place last Saturday which was based around the theme of sculpture. It was a great success and extremely popular with the boys who were able to create some very impressive pieces. I know the upcoming workshops will be equally popular and enjoyable.
Tomorrow sees our first Saturday Rugby fixtures against Cokethorpe and I look forward to watching our boys from Year 4 to Year 8 and seeing many of you on the sidelines.
Letter from the Head, 14 September 2018
Friday 14 September
It was lovely to welcome so many of you to the Informal Parents’ Evening on Tuesday. I hope that you found the talks with the form teachers useful and informative and that you got to meet some of our new parents too. I certainly enjoyed chatting to many of you and catching up after the summer break.
Very rarely would I wish for rain at any time of year but sadly our first rugby matches of term had to be cancelled due to the hard ground, so with any luck we might have a few heavy showers next week to help soften the ground, or at least a few more of the misty mornings that signify autumn is very much on its way. However, our U13 As did compete at the Dragon tournament against some impressive opposition. Our boys performed admirably losing to Caldicott and The Beacon but beating St Hugh’s, St John’s Leatherhead and Abingdon School. Ashley was delighted with their first run out and the boys came back injury free and looking forward to their upcoming matches.
Class pairings took place for the first time this year on Thursday and it was based around the theme of construction. It was great to see our older boys helping our younger ones as they designed and built a range of different structures, from boats and planes to houses and islands. Cross year group friendships are something that are always in evidence at Abingdon Prep and help to bind our community together.
Tomorrow we have the first of our art workshops with the theme being Sculpture. I know that it will be an inspiring course and I am looking forward to seeing the finished products.
Safety week begins on Monday and the boys will have many opportunities to learn about safety in different situations, from online safety to road safety. I know there will be a lot of interesting discussions in classes so that the boys have a better understanding of how to keep themselves and others safe. An extremely important life lesson.
I hope you all have a good weekend and as autumn starts to take hold, perhaps some conker collecting and blackberry picking is in order!
Letter from the Head, 7 September 2018
Friday 7 September
Term has finally started and we have been welcomed back with some great weather and a school full of boys with energy and enthusiasm. It has been lovely for me to start to get to know so many of our new pupils and I hope that both they and their parents are already feeling part of our Abingdon Prep community.
As with all our terms, the Michaelmas term is a busy one with fixtures, trips, our Saturday Open Morning which all the boys attend, Firestorm, the Christmas Bazaar and lots of work both inside and outside of the classroom. I firmly believe that being busy at school is a great thing and I am looking forward to all of these events. We have wasted no time in getting started and yesterday our Year 6 boys departed for their Cornbury Bushcraft adventure. There were a lot of smiling faces and clean clothes as they got onto the minibuses. I am sure the smiling faces will still be there on their return but perhaps not the clean clothes, especially for those boys who opt to eschew the tents and sleep in the dens they have created!
My first assembly of term focused on three messages that I want all of our boys to make a key part of their lives at Abingdon Prep. These were - Work Hard, Get Involved and Be Kind. I sometimes feel that life can be over complicated with so many different instructions and rules to abide by, but if we all embrace these messages, then we will continue to build a strong and very successful community within the school.
One of my favourite things about being a Headmaster is that I get to wander around school popping in and out of different lessons. This week, I watched our Year 8s studying DNA and the role of chromosomes and I saw our Year 4s playing number games in Maths by rolling dice to create a number and then having to work out the remainder to get to 100. Our Year 3s were creating booklets about their first week at school and in French our Year 6s were writing about their hobbies whilst Year 1 were making marmalade sandwiches with exercises about Paddington Bear!
Our delightful new Reception class have been out in the play area on the trikes and were telling me all about the hole in the road, so the trikes had to go around it to keep safe. Our ‘Learning Lions’ seem to have been smiling all week and certainly learning much about their new school.
The ‘Other Half’ activities have started with a bang and our new prep club for the junior section has proved popular too.
I hope you all have a great weekend and that the boys are not too tired after the exertions of their first week of term. I look forward to catching up with many of you at the informal parents evening on Tuesday night.
Letter from the Head, 31 August 2018
Friday 31 August
I hope you have all had a great Summer holiday and that your boys, and yourselves, are looking forward to getting back to a new academic year at Abingdon Prep. We will have 48 new pupils joining our community and I know that they will be welcomed as warmly as I was this time last year. The holidays have flown by with some fantastic weather to get out and about in.
It was lovely to see so many Year 5 - 8 boys at pre-season Rugby yesterday for a bit of early season practice. The weather was kind and a little bit of rain in the preceding weeks had turned the playing fields back to green after the desert like appearance through the summer! They were certainly not soft but more than playable for a game of Rugby. It was lovely to meet some of our new boys and for them to meet up with some of their contemporaries prior to the start of term. Our two new GAP students joined us and showed off their rugby knowledge. They are Ned and Nathan. Ned is with us from the USA (Minnesota) for the year and Nathan is more local from West Hanney. We are delighted to welcome Sam back as he joins us again for another year.
We have a number of other new staff joining us this term. Many of the boys will have met them at Move Up Morning but please do come and introduce yourselves to them when you have the opportunity. Natasha is our Head of English, Drama and Year 6 form teacher, Rebecca is our Head of Science, Russell our Head of French and Year 7 form teacher, and Helen our new junior Science teacher. Lucy Hamerton has also joined the administration team and you will meet her in the mornings in the school office.
I look forward to meeting all of our new parents at the informal drinks tonight and others of you at the informal parents evening on the 11 September, at the gate in the mornings or on the side of the pitches at fixtures!
Letter from the Head, 6 July 2018
Friday 6 July 2018
It seems like only yesterday that I stood outside the front entrance welcoming the boys into school on the first day of term in September, rather conscious of the fact I did not know any boys’ names, let alone parents’ names! The year has simply flown by, and I certainly feel far more comfortable standing outside welcoming you all into school now!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year here at Abingdon Prep, and feel very fortunate to be part of this warm community with such delightful and talented boys. It has been a very special year for me with the birth of our first child coinciding with becoming Headmaster here. I think I can safely say that I am looking forward to a more restful first week of the holidays, if Quinn shows willing…
Yesterday evening’s Summer Concert was an enchanting way to wrap up such a busy term. It was lovely to see all of the boys involved and showcasing their musical talents. We are very fortunate to have so many outstanding musicians in school.
Our end of term Prize Giving was a splendid way to celebrate the achievements of the year and to recognise our impressive cohort of Year 8 boys, many of whom have been with us since Reception. They have distinguished themselves in so many different areas over the years and I hope they will look back in years to come with fond memories of their time here and the friendships they have made. I know they will be moving on to their new schools well prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
On Tuesday this week three of our boys travelled to the Alexandra Stadium in Birmingham to compete in the National Prep Schools Athletics finals. Rather impressively, all three won medals so we now have the U11 High Jump champion, the U13 Long Jump Champion and the second fastest U13 1500m runner in our midst. I have never before worked in a school where such results have been achieved at this event. The boys should be immensely proud of their efforts.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of those involved with our Abingdon Prep community a very enjoyable and relaxing summer holiday and I look forward to welcoming the boys back in September, hopefully knowing a lot more names this time around! I try not to tempt fate by mentioning the World Cup but we can live in hope. Too late - I have mentioned it!
Letter from the Head, 29 June 2018
Friday 29 June 2018
Summer feels like it is well and truly upon us. The boys have been in shirt sleeve order all week and the sun cream has been a necessity. The boys have continued to be busy and working hard in the lead up to the end of year celebrations.
We welcomed our Year 8s back from France with sun tans topped up and plenty of stories to tell. The theme park rides after a heavy lunch seem to have been a highlight, or lowlight, depending on who you talk to! It was a wonderful way for them to celebrate the end of their school careers at Abingdon Prep and create lasting memories of their time here with us.
Perhaps my highlight of the week was the unbelievable performances at the house music competition. The standard was remarkable and it proved that Music is flourishing here at Abingdon Prep, from the youngest boys right through to the Year 8s. What heartened me further was the obvious appreciation of the musical talent on show from the boys watching. The Summer Concert next week is not one to be missed, judging by the performances this week!
There have been cricket matches aplenty this week with close matches against Pinewood last Saturday and equally good games for our U8s and U9s against MCS. It was a pleasure to see so many boys playing on Wednesday and I took the 7ths across to St Hugh’s where we succumbed to a 6 run defeat. We have six matches this Saturday against Cothill so I look forward to seeing many parents on the boundary.
On Tuesday it was Move Up day and we were delighted to welcome 42 boys into Abingdon Prep. It was a great opportunity for them to meet our boys again and the start of many new friendships were formed, as well as a chance for our boys to meet their new form teacher for September.
Year 7 have had a very busy week. Yesterday saw them taking part in a Courtroom Experience and today they are visiting the High Ropes and Laser Tag centre. I think the boys were quite surprised by the procedures in the courtroom, especially when it was our very own French teacher, Lynne, who was sat before them in the dock! It was certainly a great learning experience about the justice system in this country and I would like to thank all those involved for bringing this experience to life.
Today, Reception and Year 1 have visited Cotswold Wildlife Park and I will look forward to hearing all about the animals they have seen when I visit their forms later on. There may well be some tired boys after walking round on such a hot day. Our Year 8s may be just as tired as they have also been out today, walking along a section of the Ridgeway. If you have never done parts of this walk before then I would recommend you try it out over the summer as some of the views are simply spectacular.
Last Saturday evening we had a wonderful time at the Summer Ball. The whole evening was fabulous with some rather impressive 80s outfits on show and an impressive band playing covers of every 80s song you could wish to hear. Thank you to the wonderful team for organising it and to all those who attended. I thoroughly enjoyed the night and I know those I spoke with felt the same.
As we move into the final week of the school year, may I remind you that on the Friday, for those boys in the Pre-Prep and with siblings in the Pre-Prep and boys who use the mini-bus service, term ends at 12 noon. For all other boys in Years 3 to 8, parents can collect between 12.15 and 12.30, with Year 8 leavers joining their parents for a reception straight after Prize Giving.
This final week is a great opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the year and even to set goals for next year. Before then though, we have our final week of term which will be busy and full of celebration.
Letter from the Head, 22 June 2018
Friday 22 June 2018
It is hard to imagine a busier week at Abingdon Prep than the one just past. So much has been happening and the boys are certainly enjoying being outside in the warm weather.
On Monday Year 7 visited Sutton Courtenay Environmental Centre where they launched themselves into a range of environmental activities and gained so much knowledge about a topic that will be very important to them as they move through their lives. Taking care of our environment and endeavouring to leave it in a better state for the next generations is something towards which we should all be trying to work. After all, we only have one planet and we should be looking after it.
Our matches this week saw us take on a very strong set of teams from The Oratory Prep School and some of the cricket on show, batting in particular, showed our boys what can be achieved. The 100 not out from an U11A player was an exhibition of impressive batting and our boys will have learnt from watching it. We also participated in an U12 and U10 cricket tournament where shorter games were played and we acquitted ourselves well at both events. Tomorrow we have fixtures against Pinewood and I look forward to taking our U10s over there for their games.
Today, Pre-Prep held their Summer Concert and Teddy Bear’s Picnic. The standard of music and performance was very high and I think it is very clear that we have some excellent musicians coming up through the school. It was a pleasure to celebrate the end of the year in such a way.
Pre-Prep have had a very busy week with their Sports Day taking place on Monday. The weather was kind and all the boys ran, threw, and jumped their way around different events. Unicorn ended the day victorious and certainly enjoyed their victory lap of honour. It was delightful to see the boys enjoying each and every event.
Yesterday we held our Year 3 and 4 House Swimming Gala. Although I was unfortunately unable to attend, I have heard great reports about it and have been told that we have some very talented swimmers in the junior section. It was a very closely contested event but the eventual winner was Phoenix.
For Years 3 to 8, last Saturday was a great highlight in the sporting calendar with Sports Day taking place at Tilsley Park. We are extremely lucky to be able to host this event at a real athletics track and stadium, and the boys certainly rose to the occasion. There were a number of school records and some outstanding performances. It was very rewarding to see the boys supporting each other and their houses with such enthusiasm. Again, an extremely close event saw Phoenix as the victorious house.
Athletics also took centre stage on Tuesday with the Mercia Regional qualifiers at Tilsley Park. Our boys performed admirably in an event for over a thousand participants and three of them have qualified for the National Athletics Finals at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. This is a fantastic achievement, and I look forward to seeing them compete against the very best in the country in their respective age groups.
Our Year 8s have been having a wonderful time in Normandy this week and will return at midnight tonight. Lynne has been keeping me updated with their sandcastle building exploits and talent show mishaps! I look forward to hearing all about it directly from the boys next week.
Our annual Book Swap took place this week too, and it has been encouraging to see so many books being taken to new homes and enjoyed by their new owners. Thank you to our library staff for organising this.
The Verse Speaking Competition took place this week for Years 3 to 6, and again I was full of admiration for the boys’ clear and confident delivery of their chosen pieces at such a young age. I know that I would certainly have struggled to do that back in 1985!
House Captain hustings took place yesterday and I am looking forward to announcing the names of the new house captains and vice-captains for next year, to the respective houses. I was thoroughly impressed by the thought and preparation that had gone into the boys’ speeches, and they certainly had some interesting ideas for next year.
Finally, I would like to thank the JPA, and Susie in particular, for all their work in organising the Summer Ball tomorrow. It will be a very enjoyable evening and I am looking forward to seeing many of you there. I have opted for black tie rather than the 80s outfit, but I cannot wait to see what some have been able to find at the back of their wardrobes!
Letter from the Head, 15 June 2018
Friday 15 June 2018
I would like to begin my letter this week by congratulating our Year 8 boys who have received such impressive Common Entrance results this week. They should be very proud of their achievements and also now be looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities which will present themselves at senior school in September. There is no substitute for hard work and these boys are proof of that. They now have three final exciting weeks to look forward to, starting with their visit to Normandy next week. I wish them all a wonderful time, and hope that the weather is kind. The Year 8s were also introduced to the Head of Career Guidance at Abingdon School this week, who gave a very informative talk about careers in general and the choices that the boys have ahead of them. It was a very thought-provoking session, and many of the boys will undoubtedly be spending time with Mr Triff when they are at Abingdon School.
Sports Day for Years 3 to 8 takes place tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the boys competing at Tilsley Park and hope to see many of you there supporting them. The Pre-Prep boys will have their chance to shine on Monday on Cox’s Fields across the road. The boys have been practising hard for these two events and I am sure they will thoroughly enjoy the occasions.
Grandparents’ Afternoon for Years 3 to 6 takes place later today and I am looking forward to watching the boys proudly show their grandparents the work they have been doing this term. It is always a delightful occasion bringing the different generations together and sharing experiences of school life, past and present.
International Day took place for boys from Reception to Year 4 yesterday, with costumes and activities themed around the countries of Australia, Gambia and Japan. The boys wore colourful and eye-catching outfits and they certainly learnt a lot about the cultures and lifestyles of each of these countries. It is wonderful that we live in a multicultural society where we can enjoy finding out so much about other customs and ways of life.
Griffin House also held their ‘Wear a nasty tie to school’ day yesterday to raise money for their chosen charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital. Some of the boys had certainly taken the title of the day to heart judging by the ties on show. The staff too worried me a little that they still had such ties in their wardrobes!
On Tuesday the U8s and U9s all played cricket against strong Oratory Prep School sides, and whilst they may not have won, there were certainly some much improved performances from many of the boys. On Wednesday our U11s and U10s played St Andrew’s Prep and once again there were some strong performances with bat and ball in close matches. Our seniors were playing their Abingdon contemporaries and the highlight result was a great win for our 1st XI in the final over of the match.
I look forward to seeing many of you either on Saturday or Monday, and fingers crossed for some sunshine to accompany those popular events in our calendar.
Letter from the Head, 8 June 2018
Friday 8 June 2018
For thirty of our Year 8s, this week has been the week they have been working towards throughout their school careers to date. They have been sitting their Common Entrance exams to their chosen senior school. They were all in good spirits at the start of the week and did not seem to flag. I have no doubt that their hard work will be rewarded with excellent results next week. I commend them all on their positive approach to these exams and know that they will enjoy the final four weeks of their time here at Abingdon Prep.
On Wednesday, 8R gave their Crest Science presentations to their parents. I was fortunate to be able to watch most of them and I cannot describe how impressive the boys were. The investigations were fascinating and the topic matter ranged from sound wave patterns to toothpaste quality to cricket bat design to power station electromagnetic coils! The designs of the experiments were extremely inventive and showed the adaptability needed to produce scientific data which they could analyse and then draw their conclusions. I shall be changing my choice of toothpaste having seen one presentation and learnt all about the use of microbeads in certain brands. The boys really demonstrated their understanding and knowledge of scientific experimentation.
Cricket matches resumed this week with our U11s and U10s playing Moulsford Prep School. Every boy in these year groups competed and it was wonderful to see so many boys out on the cricket pitch testing themselves against strong opposition, with the U10Cs one run victory perhaps being the highlight. On Thursday our U8s and U9s played Christ Church Cathedral School. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the U8s in their two wins with some impressive catching and bowling. Our U9s were also victorious and can be delighted by the progress that they have made so far this season.
Thursday also saw Year 5 visit Portsmouth Dockyard to spend the day on HMS Victory. The boys had an unforgettable time viewing Nelson’s ship at close quarters and experiencing the conditions on board first hand. If you have never visited, I can thoroughly recommend a trip in the summer, to see not only HMS Victory but also the Mary Rose Museum and HMS Warrior. Our boys were lucky enough also to see the newest addition to the Royal Navy’s fleet, the aircraft carrier The HMS Prince of Wales, in port whilst they were there. The size of it was something to behold by all accounts.
At half term two of our Year 5 boys joined forces with two girls from The Manor Prep School and played in the U11 IAPS tennis finals at Millfield Prep. Our boys acquitted themselves extremely well, especially as they were playing a year young. I know they are looking forward to returning next year again.
Today has been Home Clothes day for Griffin House after they won the house points competition last half term. The boys certainly made the most of the warmer weather today with shorts almost mandatory. A well-earned treat.
Tomorrow, eight of our boys will be representing Abingdon Prep in the relays and individual races at the IAPS swimming finals at the London Aquatics Centre. Qualifying for the finals is a very impressive achievement and I wish all the boys the best of luck.
My wife Hannah and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all so much for your kind wishes and messages of support following the birth of our son, Quinn, in the week before half term. Hannah and Quinn are both doing very well and I hope that we will be able to bring him in to School next week to say his first hello to the Abingdon Prep community. A lack of sleep is rapidly becoming normality so I apologise if the bags under my eyes seem to be getting larger when I greet you in the mornings!
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 18 May 2018
Friday 18 May 2018
I would like to start my letter this week by expressing my admiration for all our boys who gave up their free time on Sunday last week to do a sponsored swim in the pool at Abingdon School. Every one of them swam to help raise money for our School charities, covering a staggering forty miles between them! For some, six lengths were a huge effort and achievement, whilst other more regular swimmers managed forty lengths. The quantity of lengths, however, is irrelevant, as it was the sense of camaraderie and the importance of fundraising for charity which shone through, and I extend my sincere thanks to all the boys.
Exam season has begun with Common Entrance French Orals and Maths listening tests this week for our Year 8 boys. Next week sees the start of the Year 3 - 6 exams and I know the boys are working hard in the run-up to these. A calm sense of purpose is needed, as well as a determination simply to do the best that one can. Some revision would also be of great benefit at this stage.
The start of the week saw an enormous variety of cakes coming through our doors, with the Pre-Prep and Phoenix House cake sales. Some of our boys and parents had clearly spent hours producing some delicious bakes, and again I thank them for all their efforts with this. The money generated will again be going to our School charities.
Class pairings took place yesterday, with a theme of the Royal Wedding. There were some expertly designed castles, colourful flags, bunting and numerous dragons appearing, all in royal colours, with our older boys supporting and assisting the younger ones. Listening to some of their thoughts about what might happen at the wedding was certainly very entertaining, and we all wish the happy couple the very best for their wonderful day tomorrow. Having been at Eton College yesterday for a meeting, I was not surprised to find a great many road closures in the area, in anticipation of the big day at Windsor.
The weather was kind to us again on the cricket field this week. Our U8s and U9s all participated in their first cricket matches of the season, and the U8s enjoyed their first ever school cricket match. I have heard that the boys thoroughly enjoyed their debut, and as an avid cricketer myself, hope that this is just the beginning of their journey with bat or ball in hand. Before our baby arrives, I have agreed to play a ‘doubleheader’ this weekend, with a game on both Saturday and Sunday. This may not happen again for a while!
Our senior teams all managed to secure good victories over Crosfields this week with our U11s and U10s sharing the spoils with results. I wish the 1st XI the best of luck on Monday, when they will be journeying to Gloucestershire to play Beaudesert Park School for the third round of the IAPS Cup.
I was delighted to see so many of you this morning for coffee and a catch up, and I was very impressed with the restraint shown by so many when it came to the pains au chocolat. Sadly, I was not quite so abstemious with the leftovers.
I know many of you will be attending the whole school concert platform this afternoon and I look forward to seeing you. These are always most enjoyable events with the boys showcasing their talent, and most importantly, their love of music.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and that you enjoy the continuing pleasant Spring sunshine.