Letter from the Head, 17 January 2020
Friday 17 January 2020
I would like to start my letter this week by congratulating 8R who have completed their final mock exam today. They have worked hard to prepare for these and I know that they will have benefited a great deal from this preparation before they sit the academic scholarship exams to Abingdon School in the second half of this term.
Despite the rather changeable and inclement weather this week, the boys have been fully involved in their Other Half activities. There were the first fixtures of term on Monday against Chandlings for our U11s and U10 A and D teams. Some closely contested games saw us win three, draw two and lose one. On Wednesday, our U13A and B teams took on Davenies, after the wet weather had rained off the away fixtures, and we shared the spoils with one win and one loss.
Abingdon School’s cross country event took place on Tuesday. A small group of our Year 7 and 8 boys took part and performed admirably in a field of over 90 runners, with the team finishing in 4th place overall, and our highest individual finishers in 10th and 14th positions. It is the start of a busy term for cross country.
I had a very enjoyable walk around the classrooms on Thursday and sat in on a fascinating Year 7 lesson about the Anglo-Saxons. The boys were having to work as a group to rank key events and discoveries about the period in order of importance to justify whether this was a ‘Golden Age’ or indeed ‘The Dark Ages’ as they have been known to us for so long. It was lovely to hear the boys debating the relative importance of the Sutton Hoo ship burial discovery compared to the writings of Venerable Bede.
Year 6 were busily engaged in creating their own monster poetry with evil characters rising from the pages of the boys’ exercise books. Whilst a little gruesome on occasion, it was great to see the descriptive vocabulary and imagery they were creating with their work.
This Saturday another art workshop is happening with the theme being ‘wire and ModRoc sculptures’. I cannot wait to see what the boys who have signed up are going to produce. I am not convinced that even at my age I am quite sure what ‘ModRoc’ art will look like. I know the boys will enjoy the day though.
Tomorrow afternoon, our U11 A and B teams take on The Dragon and I wish them the best of luck for this. I will be bringing my umbrella for the touchline!
I hope you all have a good weekend ahead.
Letter from the Head, 10 January 2020
Friday 10 January 2020
I hope that you all enjoyed a lovely Christmas and a good New Year too. I thoroughly enjoyed welcoming the boys back to school on Tuesday and I have really enjoyed hearing from some of the boys about their best presents and their travels over the break. They have certainly returned refreshed and re-energised looking forward to the term ahead!
We have welcomed four new children into the Abingdon Prep community this week and it has been lovely to see their peers looking after them and showing them around, ensuring that they quickly find their way and settle into the routines of daily life at school.
On the Friday before the start of term, we ran a very successful pre-season football session for Year groups 5 to 8. We had 54 boys attend and it was heartening to see them enjoying themselves and also playing some very nice football at such an early stage of the season. Fingers crossed the weather remains kind over the season ahead.
On Wednesday, our Year 8s had a fascinating Art History talk from Liz Rowe. They learned about architecture from an artistic perspective and focused on the design of numerous buildings, such as The White House and The Taj Mahal. Judging by some of their responses to her questions, we may well have some budding architects in this group.
Yesterday, class pairings took place with board games being the theme. A number of Christmas presents made their way into school and it was great to see the boys partnering up so well together across the different age groups.
Our Other Half program got underway on the first day of term and it always delights me to see how many boys have signed up for the range of clubs on offer.
Today, Unicorn House members have enjoyed their home clothes celebration after winning the house Merit cup at the end of last term and I have been impressed with the number of golds and merits collected already this week.
I hope that the boys have taken on board one of the messages I gave to them in the first assembly of term. This message was to seize the opportunity that a new year offers and to be the very best version of themselves that they can be and address some of their targets which were set in their reports. It certainly seems that on my visits to classrooms this week the boys have started term with a very positive work ethic and desire to succeed.
If I may end this week with a quote from Edith Lovejoy Pierce, a twentieth century poet, which I shared with the boys, ‘We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day’.
I hope you all have a good weekend.
Letter from the Head, 13 December 2019
Friday 13 December 2019
I sit here in my office writing this as the term has drawn to a close and the boys have all left the site to start on their exciting Christmas adventures. It seems eerily quiet without the hum of boys going eagerly about their work. It does not seem a week ago that the hall was filled with excited boys playing the Bazaar games, stalls selling Christmas trinkets and the buzz of the raffle. It was a terrific event and I would like to personally thank all the people who were kind enough to organise and participate in both the lead up to it and on the day. These events simply cannot happen without the energy, time and organisational skills given by our fabulous JPA and so many other supportive parents and staff. I really enjoyed the event taking place in December this year as it felt even more Christmassy than usual.
Our Christmas lunch took place yesterday – turkey and all the trimmings followed by a choice of either Christmas pudding, mince pies or jelly with cream (or all three in the case of some of the Year 8s). It was so lovely to sit through a leisurely lunch and simply chat to the boys on the table with me. It is perhaps, one of the underrated highlights of Christmas that families and friends can simply take the time to talk to each other rather than having to rush off here or there for the next appointment. Perhaps there is not enough of that in our everyday lives.
Our beautiful Carol Service, a real highlight in the school calendar, took place on Tuesday in the gorgeous St Helen’s church. It was lovely to see the boys proudly standing on stage and singing their carols so well. Music continues to be such an important part of the boys lives at Abingdon Prep. Thank you so much for your incredibly generous donations for the collection too. We were able to raise an additional £720 for our school charity, Be Free Young Carers, which will be added to the rest of the money that we have raised during the term with our silver coin trail and our Christmas Bazaar.
At the start of the week, Reception visited Cogges Farm where they experienced a Victorian Christmas. Santa visited the Reception boys too this week and left gifts for them under the tree. It was lovely to see how excited they were with their various construction themed presents. They were all very keen to see him again at Christmas.
Gifts for Grown Ups took place yesterday and after a mammoth amount of organisation over the course of the whole year. The event went off seamlessly and the boys have hopefully popped their gifts under the Christmas Tree at home, ready for the big day. Thanks to all the volunteers on the day and throughout the year for producing a really amazing event which the boys loved.
The House Merits cup for this term went to Unicorn, with just 35 points separating 3rd from 1st. I know they will enjoy their non-uniform day in January and the closeness of the result shows just how important it is that all the boys hand in their merits and golds which have been hard earned.
I would like to take this opportunity to give a huge thank you to our catering team, our cleaning team, our grounds team, and our amazing office team. School simply would not function without them but I wanted to thank them publicly for all that they do for the Abingdon Prep community.
I hope that the boys, and yourselves, will enjoy a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year and take the opportunity to slow down and appreciate just being with family and friends, at such a special time of year.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas!
Letter from the Head, 6 December 2019
Friday 6 December 2019
As the penultimate week of term comes to an end and the nights draw in even faster, it has definitely started to feel like Christmas is on its way, even if my personal Christmas present shopping has yet to even cross my mind!
Yesterday, it was time for our Pre-Prep Nativity to take place. This year they performed ‘Born in a Barn’, and every single one of the boys should be incredibly proud of their performances on stage. Their singing was superb and they clearly loved performing to so many of their family members. It certainly was one of the real highlights of the term and reinforced the real build up to the 25th.
Pre-Prep continued their busy week today with a trip to Roves Farm. The boys were excitedly chattering about it on their way into school and I know that the coach journey itself was being seen as part of the adventure too. I look forward to hearing all about what they got up to on their return.
Tuesday saw the annual Junior Section trip to the pantomime at The Playhouse in Oxford to watch ‘Beauty and the Beast’. The boys came back extremely excited having thoroughly enjoyed the performance, and also the ice creams! I am sure they will have taken some tips for their own production next term. I have heard from a few parents that lines are being learned already – ‘Hoodwinked’ is on its way.
On Tuesday afternoon, it was the house public speaking and debating competition for Years 5 to 8. Yet again, the boys who took part were quite superb in their cogent arguments for topics such as nuclear power, the effect of social media on society and the role of the monarchy to name but a few. The audience even directed questions at the older boys who had to respond. I have huge admiration for these boys as at their age, there would have been no chance of me standing up in front of an audience and speaking with such knowledge, passion and energy. Debating Club has never been so popular.
Our successful run continued on the rugby pitch this week with all four teams winning against Cothill last Saturday and five of the six teams winning against Cokethorpe. The U13 matches were incredibly close with just a single try separating the teams in both games. Across the school, there has been huge improvement in the boys rugby this term and that is great credit to the boys who really seem to enjoy playing the sport. I would particularly like to mention the unbeaten U11C team who have played some really great rugby this term.
It is the Christmas Bazaar tomorrow and I am looking forward to seeing most of you there to really kick start the celebrations for Christmas. There are more external stalls that have joined us this year so I hope that you will enjoy browsing their wares whilst your boys make their way round the games in the hall and elsewhere. The raffle prizes seem to get bigger and better each year, so do remember to buy those tickets when you arrive. I really would like to pay tribute to our JPA and staff who have worked so hard to put this together for the boys. Their work is greatly appreciated.
Good luck to our U11 and U13 rugby teams who are playing Taunton Prep School tomorrow morning. Taunton Prep is on tour this weekend and I am particularly looking forward to watching one of my old schools playing and catching up with their staff.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 29 November 2019
Friday 29 November 2019
Individual music exams took place on Monday and I am sure that all the practice that went in to preparing for them will have paid off. It never ceases to amaze me how talented some of our musicians are and it was great to see so many of our younger boys sitting these exams at the start of their musical journeys.
The sound of the African savannah has been drifting out of the music room this week with the singing auditions taking place for our senior production, The Lion King. The boys seem really enthused by the choice of musical and will be looking forward to starting rehearsals next term.
Yesterday Magdalen College Geography Quiz was held and it was a great success with eight of our boys showing off their geographical knowledge. Whilst we may not have won the event, we did win the fieldwork round which was lovely having so recently returned with our Year 8s from their Swanage field trip.
It has been a very busy week for rugby matches with 16 teams taking on Magdalen College. I was lucky enough to see some of the U10s play and delighted to see the work rate and enjoyment that the boys were clearly showing on the pitch. It was an incredibly successful week with Abingdon Prep winning all 16 of the matches played.
Rugby continues this weekend with matches against Cothill and I am looking forward to watching the boys play and hopefully chatting to some of you on the touchline. In addition to the rugby on Saturday, we are running another Art Workshop too, focusing on Franz Marc and his futurist animal painting. I cannot wait to see what the boys are able to create.
The first swimming gala of the year took place on Monday at The Dragon and our boys from Year 3-8 swam really well with particularly strong performances from our Year 8s and Year 3 and 4 boys. I know the boys are looking forward to next term when the bulk of the swimming galas take place.
This afternoon, the Director of Hockey at Abingdon School, Olly Deasy, came across to run a session for 24 of our senior boys. Olly plays for Reading in the National League and it was great to have such a talented player and coach working with some of our boys. I must admit, I picked up a few good tips myself during the session as I have my first hockey match in over a year coming up next Sunday!
The Christmas season is well and truly upon us now with the Pre-Prep Nativity rehearsals in full swing and the Christmas trees are up at the front of school and also in the Hall. Thank you to the JPA for coming in to help decorate it today.
I hope you all have a good weekend.
Letter from the Head, 22 November 2019
Friday 22 November 2019
Another busy week has flown by with the cold wind still biting and more woolly hats being worn than I can remember in previous years – including the staff! The build up to Christmas definitely started this week with the first carol being sung in our Tuesday morning singing practice and the school Christmas tree delivery email gracing my inbox! However, the boys were certainly fully engaged in the classroom too with Year 5 focusing on angles and using protractors, whilst Year 4 were designing their own islands as they learnt about four figure grid references.
Wednesday saw representatives from Griffin’s House Charity last year, the Sumatran Orangutan Society, share a little of their story and explain what the money we raised for them will be able to support. Some of the gorgeous pictures drew an audible murmur of delight and it was heartening to hear about the way that some of their rainforest habitat has been regenerated allowing them, and other key species such as Sumatran tigers and rhinos, to recolonise the area. Nature has an amazing way of healing itself if we can just give it the start it needs and an incredible four year turnaround in some parts of Sumatra has been achieved through specific replanting of certain pioneer species.
The Rugby 7s season is well and truly upon us with two tournaments this week for our U13s. They performed admirably at Pinewood securing three wins and three losses and both As and Bs showed some great skill in our own tournament this afternoon.
Our U12As played in the St Edward’s Tournament where they competed brilliantly against some enormous schools, both physically and in terms of numbers! Our U13 Cs lost a close game with Christ Church’s B team, whilst our U8As and U9As both had close matches with Cokethorpe but managed to win showing real determination at the end to stay ahead.
It was lovely to see some of you at Coffee and Catch up this morning. It is always a good chance to chat about your boys and what they have been getting up to over the term. The warm pain au chocolat was also a winner with the cold weather outside!
I hope you all have a good weekend ahead.
Letter from the Head, 15 November 2019
Friday 15 November 2019
The autumnal weather certainly seems to have left us well and truly behind this week with biting winds and numerous downpours replacing it. Good use is being made of the boys’ coats and woolly hats!
Across the country, it has been ‘Anti-Bullying Week’, and our boys have been looking at school policies, having assemblies and participating in workshops too. The message was ‘change starts with us’ and I really enjoyed hearing the boys talk so passionately about what they could do to make a difference. The pledges made by 5L in their assembly were incredibly thoughtful.
Earlier on in the week I was fortunate enough to be taught by some Reception boys how to safely hammer nails into something; in this case a pumpkin. It was great to see the boys developing their fine motor skills and explaining how I should be doing it safely in such detail. I am still not allowed to hammer any nails in around our house though as I may not have always covered myself in glory when it has come to DIY previously!
The Book Fair took place on Wednesday and I really enjoyed popping over to see the great range of books available, with so many new titles and authors in amongst some of the more recognisable classics – well more recognisable to my generation anyway, even with a redesign! It was lovely to see the excitement of the boys as they flicked through the books. A love of reading and books is certainly still alive and well at Abingdon Prep.
This week saw some fantastic rugby matches against Chandlings and Abingdon School. I was lucky enough to see all of our U8 matches where our boys competed brilliantly and ended up winning all three games by just a single try or two. Both schools should be congratulated on the standard of rugby being played at that age and the obvious sportsmanship and enjoyment on show. Our seniors took on Abingdon School and our U13As and U12As both won excellent contests whilst our U12Bs managed a second half comeback to draw their match. The camaraderie on show from both schools was lovely to see as so many of the boys already knew each other from outside of school.
Tomorrow, our U10As are playing at Twickenham before the Barbarians match against Fiji. This should be an incredible occasion for them and I know they are relishing the prospect of running out on the hallowed turf.
Our new website went live this week so if you have not yet been able to have a good look at it, then please do. As you can imagine, there is a huge amount of work that goes into this and I would like to thank all of those who were involved.
Finally, I would like to take this chance to let you know about Coffee and Catch up with me next Friday morning. This will be in the drama studio between 8.15-9.15am. I do hope many of you can join me for a pastry and a hot drink.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 8 November 2019
Friday 8 November 2019
I would like to start my letter this week with a huge thank you to the JPA for all their hard work organising such an enjoyable Firestorm event last Friday evening. Even the weather played ball this year and the boys seemed to have a great time with the lightsabres and such a terrific fireworks display, accompanied by the traditional hog roast or hot dogs. Sadly the next morning’s rugby did not quite live up to its billing but the sportsmanship on show was a great example to all.
On Tuesday our Orchestra went across to Radley to join their Orchestral day and after speaking to a number of the boys, it seems they had a great day out and really enjoyed joining together with other like minded musicians, producing a terrific concert at the end of the day.
Wednesday’s assembly was a lovely reflection on Remembrance with local resident and historian, Mr Hoath, coming in to tell us of the contribution to both world wars of local people from Frilford, Marcham and Garford. It was fascinating to learn about the families that were affected and the sacrifice of so many young men, and indeed women, from the local area. We even heard about the Bond brothers who lived in Josca’s House at the time of the First World War and went off to fight on the Western Front. We have our Remembrance service on Monday and we will all come together as a community to reflect in the two minute silence.
It was lovely to welcome two of our governors into school this week and take them into some of the lessons to see what our boys were learning about. It was great to see such a range of activities going on with English presentations to the class, persuasive speech writing, Kosher food and world timezones all featuring.
Year 2 this week in RE gave presentations on something that was really special to them and all of them should be incredibly proud of the way they presented to the rest of the class and spoke so clearly with genuine passion about their chosen object. I think we may have some budding orators amongst them.
There were a full set of fixtures for our U10s and U11s this week and the boys performed admirably with an even split of wins and losses, whilst some combined A / B teams at senior level took on Bruern Abbey and played some excellent rugby against some towering 12 and 13 year olds. Thursday saw our annual U8s and U9s rugby festival take place here at APS. All the teams enjoyed their three matches and produced some very impressive free flowing rugby.
Finally, good luck to our U11 rugby team who are off tomorrow to Buckinghamshire to compete in an IAPS rugby festival and also to the boys attending the U12 and U13 Prep Schools Regional Football trials.
Letter from the Head, 1 November 2019
1 November 2019
I do hope that you all managed to have an enjoyable half term break. It certainly feels that autumn is well and truly upon us now with misty mornings and the occasional scraping of ice off the windscreen. The boys certainly seem to have returned to school with renewed energy.
Over half term, a number of boys took part in the Abingdon Vale Biathlon and U11 Prep schools lions football trials. I would like to congratulate everyone who took part in these events and hope they enjoyed the experience. At the biathlon we achieved a Silver and Bronze medal which was a terrific effort against such strong competition.
This week saw a full range of rugby fixtures against Oratory Prep. There were impressive wins for the U13As, U13Cs and Under U11Cs and a thrilling draw for the U12As. All our teams competed admirably in fixtures against a strong rugby playing school and acquitted themselves well.
Yesterday, I observed a number of Year 6 groups presenting to their class about their findings on metric and imperial measurement in Maths. I really enjoyed learning a few new facts as well as seeing how the different groups had researched and presented their findings. Finding out why the 17th Century Swedish ship ‘Vasa’ sank on its maiden voyage was a real highlight.
Today, our Year 7s have been out of school on their classics and history trip to see the Roman Baths, in Bath. I have been there myself on numerous occasions and I know they will have really enjoyed experiencing the thermal pools and the Roman architecture in place, alongside artefact’s from the Roman period. It will certainly bring a new dimension to what they have been learning in their Latin lessons.
Today has also been Griffin’s home clothes day to celebrate winning the house merit cup last half of term. I am sure that the other three houses are looking to move up the table, so do remind your boys to collect their golds and merits.
I know the boys are very excited about Firestorm this evening and although there may be a little rain, the forecast is certainly nothing like last year! I hope to see many of you at the fireworks enjoying the hog roast and the display. Please do feel free to come along at 2pm on Saturday, should you be able, to help pick up the firework residue from the pitches – payment in pastries! Hopefully we will be discussing an England victory in the Rugby World Cup Final.
Letter from the Head, 11 October 2019
Friday 11 October 2019
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!
Letter from the Head, 4 October 2019
Friday 4 October 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 27 September 2019
Friday 27 September 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 20 September 2019
Friday 20 September 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 13 September 2019
Friday 13 September 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 6 September 2019
Friday 6 September 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 30 August 2019
Friday 30 August 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 5 July 2019
Friday 5 July 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 28 June 2019
Friday 28 June 2019
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.
Letter from the Head, 21 June 2019
Friday 21 June 2019
The term continues to fly past with lots of exciting activities and events keeping the boys busy, alongside their normal lessons.
Sports Day last Saturday was a resounding success with some fabulous individual performances and a great win for Phoenix House. Thank you to everyone who came along to cheer on the boys who all performed admirably. A couple of school records were broken but most importantly, the boys all tried their very best and enjoyed the opportunity to run on a superb athletics track, not something that many of us will have ever been lucky enough to have done!
Year 3 visited the Ashmolean Museum on Monday where they focused on the displays from Ancient Egypt which supported what they had been learning in lessons. Museums are a great way to put learning into context and our boys enjoyed seeing so many artefacts first hand.
Our Year 8s have been having a great time in France and I look forward to welcoming them back. They have been busy at the various attractions in Normandy and been dodging a number of thunderstorms! The reports coming back suggest they have been having a great time and the theme park was a particular highlight.
Cricket this week saw the U10 and U11 B and C teams take on Oratory Prep, once again in the drizzle. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing first-hand how much the U10Cs had improved and they had a super game which they lost on the final ball.
The Year 7s took part in a fantastic courtroom experience on Thursday where Natasha was in the dock and a trial was put together. It was a great opportunity for the boys to see how the justice process works in Britain and may well have inspired a few of the boys to look into a career in Law at a later stage.
Middle School’s Got Talent took place this week and I was lucky enough to be able to see the acts perform. There was classical, rap and rock music, performance drama and a rather brilliant comedy dance act. It was great to see the middle section seizing their opportunities to perform.
I also wanted to congratulate all the Year 7 boys who ran for the house captain and vice-captain positions for next year. They had all produced very thoughtful speeches to try to garner votes from the rest of the house in this week’s house meetings. I look forward to finding out the results of the votes.
We are looking forward to move up day on Tuesday and welcoming our new children into school. It is always a great chance for our current boys to make new friends and welcome them into our community. The class lists for next year will be sent out to you on Tuesday afternoon.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend and that the sun will stay with us. I myself am looking forward to another opportunity to get out onto the cricket pitch!
Letter from the Head, 14 June 2019
Friday 14 June 2019
Well there has not been too much summer sunshine this week with raincoats and umbrellas more the order of the day. Fingers crossed for a break in the rain so that Sports Day can go ahead tomorrow morning over at Tilsley Park. I hope that many of you will be able to join us to see the boys compete for their houses. It is always a great occasion and I hope that we are able to enjoy the spectacle.
Despite the inclement weather, it has been a very busy week in all sections of the school. On Monday, the Year 3 and 4 Verse Speaking finals took place and the boys competing were incredibly impressive. We had Shakespeare, comedy and even a Granny Rap. The standard was quite amazing considering how young the boys are and they all seemed to love performing to the entire school. It did not faze them at all.
Drama and performance continued to be centre stage this week with the LAMDA exams taking place all day today and I know the boys have prepared well and were looking forward to sharing their pieces with the examiner. Drama is certainly looking strong at Abingdon Prep for the foreseeable future.
On Tuesday our Year 7s visited Compton Verney for an art experience which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The boys were taught some new artistic techniques and all of them produced some exquisite printing pieces. They returned in great spirits having developed another new artistic technique.
Our Year 8s spent yesterday morning across at Abingdon School taking part in masterclasses where they were taught lessons by senior school staff and lower sixth pupils. The boys really seemed to have enjoyed the lessons and are looking forward to September even more now.
This week saw cricket matches take place in the drizzle against Abingdon School and St Andrew’s. The boys played some excellent cricket and tried hard in the difficult conditions. The U11Bs stood out with an impressive win whilst the other teams were all involved in tight finishes, sadly coming up just short. Investment in cricket spikes may well be needed for some of the boys if the weather continues to be wet!
28 of our boys competed in the Mercia Athletics qualifiers on Thursday. After a long journey to Malvern, all the boys acquitted themselves extremely well and enjoyed competing against so many other talented athletes. Quinn and Jacob managed to win their respective events and have now qualified for the National Finals at The Alexandra Stadium later on this term. This event followed the National Swimming finals last weekend where we managed a fantastic 11th place in the country for the U12 Freestyle relay and a 6th placed finish for Ned in the 50m backstroke. The boys thoroughly enjoyed their amazing experience at the Aquatic Centre.
We finished the week with our whole school barbeque which was greatly enjoyed by everyone and then our wonderful Grandparents’ Afternoon. It was lovely to welcome so many of the boys’ grandparents into school to show them their work and listen to some recitals of poetry and musical pieces. I enjoyed meeting many of them and hope that some may make it to Sports Day tomorrow too.
I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow and if not, have a lovely weekend.
PS – please could I ask that boys are not dropped off in school before 8am as they will not be supervised until the staff member arrives for early birds at 8am. Many thanks for your support with this.
Letter from the Head, 7 June 2019
Friday 7 June 2019
It has been a lovely start to the second half of term with the warmer weather making an appearance – at least until today that is! Trips season is well and truly upon us and it is great that so many boys are getting the opportunity to experience hands on learning outside of the classroom.
8R explored Oxford on Tuesday, learning all about the old and new with a tour of the Westgate Centre and also visits to some Oxford Colleges. Our Year 4s were also in Oxford visiting the Ashmolean Museum where they learnt all about Greek statues with a particular focus on the Olympic Games and how it all began.
Year 5 went further afield to Portsmouth to explore the Historic Dockyard, focusing on HMS Victory. I had seen them the day before in class researching the different functions of each deck and it was certainly brought to life by touring the ship the very next day. They reported back that they had a fantastic time and that it was remarkably busy with preparations for the D-Day landings commemoration service there the next day.
Year 2 also got in on the act today by going across to Abingdon School to participate in the Crest Science show being held there. They had a fantastic time watching science in action with exciting experiments that they could get hands on with!
It has been an important week for our senior boys with their AP+ exams taking place. This is a full set of academic exams which I know they have worked hard towards and will hopefully attain marks that they will be proud of, reflecting their efforts. The experience of preparing fully for exams is a useful one as it will help them get used to the rigorous approach required when they move to their senior schools and start to sit public exams.
The last few days have seen cricket matches for Years 3 – 6 with every boy in those year groups involved in a match against either Moulsford or Christ Church Cathedral school. There were some impressive individual performances with an all bowled hat trick by Jack in Year 6, five wickets from George in Year 6, and a great win for a combined Year 5 and 6 team. Strong Moulsford opposition saw them win some very good contests though. The U8s and U9s had more success in their fixtures winning more than their fair share.
Today saw our U11A Cricket team depart after lunch on their tour to Devon. Two matches and a range of other activities in the South West are planned and hopefully the weather forecast will be wrong and the boys will be able to enjoy their experience without the need for raincoats!
Finally, I would like to wish good luck to the boys on Saturday who have qualified for the IAPS National Swimming Finals at The Aquatics Centre in London. It is an unbelievably high standard event and the fact that we have a number of boys who have qualified for the finals is a superb achievement.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 24 May 2019
Friday 24 May 2019
It has been exam week this week for Years 3-6. This is a good opportunity for the boys to start getting used to the format of exams and to understand the importance of organised preparation when it comes to sitting them. Year 7 and 8 will have their turn after half term and I know that they have their own revision schedules set out and materials gathered together to support their revision.
On the games field it has been another busy week with six senior teams (1sts, 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 6ths and 7ths) playing cricket matches against Moulsford and Oratory Prep. Our boys performed well in the sunshine and I was lucky enough to be umpiring the 6th team in what proved to be a very close game which went down to the final over before Oratory Prep managed to take the win. Our other teams also had very competitive matches but sadly struggled to beat strong opposition. Some work is needed on spending time at the crease!
On Tuesday, 20 senior section boys took part in the athletics meet at Radley where they performed admirably in such a big event. A number of personal bests were achieved and the boys enjoyed testing themselves on the synthetic track.
Four Year 6 boys took part in an U11 Tennis tournament on Sunday, also at Radley, where they produced some superb tennis with our pairs combining to win most of their matches and almost making the top three in a very competitive field. The boys certainly enjoyed challenging themselves against some top opponents.
Yesterday saw 8R venturing out to Burford and Widford to investigate the medieval architecture and history of the area. The boys seemed fascinated by the buildings and the remnants of medieval society that are still so clearly visible in the landscape today. It was history coming alive in the best way possible.
The Year 5-8 swimming gala is taking place this afternoon and I am looking forward to seeing how our boys get on and cheering them all on as they race against each other in all four strokes and a series of relays.
Finally, I just wanted to take this opportunity to clear up any slight confusion that may have arisen from some of the boys about end of school day times for Years 3-8. The school day finish time has not changed, it is still 4.10pm. We have, however, had a slight reworking of timings during the day to allow for the boys to return to their classrooms at 4pm in order to ensure that they get themselves organised and take home all their prep and other important belongings.
I hope that you will all have a very enjoyable half-term break and fingers crossed for a continuation of the lovely weather we have been experiencing this week.
Letter from the Head, 17 May 2019
Friday 17 May 2019
I could only start my letter this week about the incredibly exciting flying visit from 845 Naval Air Command squadron. The enormous Merlin helicopter (the length of two double decker buses I am reliably informed), landed on Cox's Field after two low level overhead passes with two of the intrepid crew leaning out from the side and rear exit points waving at the boys. It really was a sight to behold. Every one of our boys got to listen to a talk about the aircraft from a crew member, ask questions and even go onto the helicopter, strapping themselves into the seats, with some trying on the helmets and others getting to sit in the cockpit. No matter what age, the boys (and staff) were all so excited to have the opportunity to step on board such an amazing aircraft and meet these four wonderful crew members who were quite brilliant ambassadors for our armed forces. As they flew off to their next mission, they even found time to do a double fly past over the playground as a farewell. Reception have been writing information sheets about the visit which I was lucky enough to see today. It has certainly inspired them. Who knows if any of the boys will go on to have a career in the Forces because they have been inspired by this brilliant experience?
On the cricket pitch this week our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and U11A XIs all recorded impressive victories over Crosfields with some strong performances too in other matches. Our U8s took part in their first ever cricket matches on Thursday and they can be very proud of their performances. Our U9s played their first match of the season and we also had our first tennis fixtures against Chandlings and Cothill for U10, U11 and U13 teams. Our U11s performed extremely well in both matches and the other boys really enjoyed playing competitive tennis.
All year groups this week from Reception to Year 6 paid a visit to the Life Education Bus where a range of age appropriate themes were discussed, ranging from ‘Meet the brain’ to ‘It’s great to be me’. The boys really enjoyed the different themes and learnt a great deal.
I hope that many of you have been able to visit school this week and see the fantastic array or work on display from the Art and CDT departments. All the boys have some work out on show and as I walked round it this week, it struck me just how wide a range of work the boys produce in these incredibly important subjects. Hearing our tour guides explaining how certain items were produced and the different skills needed to do that was a real eye opener. All our boys should be very proud of their creative pieces which have helped make Artweeks such a success.
On Tuesday our Year 6s visited the JR Hospital for their IMPS visit. This stands for Injury Minimisation Program for Schools. The morning gives them strategies to allow them to take responsibility for managing their own risk and equips them with the skills to cope in an emergency. I know the boys learnt a great deal and hopefully are now better able to manage risk of injury.
8R travelled to Richmond Village Retirement home. There, they were fortunate enough to speak with the last surviving spitfire pilot from WW2, just one of the brilliant men and women who had so much wisdom to share with our boys. I know they really valued the time spent chatting and our boys were keen to share some of their musical talents with the residents as well.
Concert platform is taking place this afternoon and I know that the boys who have signed up are looking forward to sharing their pieces with a wider audience, some for the first time.
Tomorrow sees the next in our series of Art workshops. This time there is a sculpture focus for the day and I know that it has once again proved a real draw for the boys. I look forward to seeing what they are going to produce.
As you can probably tell, it has been a very busy week with our boys seizing the opportunities on offer with both hands!
Wishing you all a lovely weekend.
Letter from the Head, 10 May 2019
Friday 10 May 2019
I hope you all had a very enjoyable bank holiday weekend. Unlike the previous bank holiday, the weather was not quite conducive to barbeques this time round but the extra day did enable our patio at home to be properly cleaned in preparation for the summer!
Our Reception class this week have been focusing on learning about the jungle. I was very fortunate to taste some of their stepping stone cookies and I learnt a huge amount about the Venus fly trap which they had studied and were writing facts about. The boys seemed captivated by this amazing plant and were all incredibly knowledgeable. The jungle topic is a great one for them to fully immerse themselves in and it had certainly grabbed their interest.
Sadly, the frequent heavy showers this week meant that all of our cricket matches had to be cancelled on Wednesday but at least the U8s and U9s avoided the worst of the downpours and were able to get their practice sessions in, preparing for their first matches next week. With the Cricket World Cup just around the corner, followed by an Ashes series, it is a great year to get involved in the sport!
This week Year 7 and Year 5 have been thoroughly enjoying themselves on adventure trips at Whitemead and PGL Liddington respectively. They are great opportunities to take on challenges that they will not have experienced before and where working as a team is so important for the success of the activity. Despite the wet weather, the boys have returned today in great spirits and having had a great time.
Year 6 performed playlets from ‘Macbeth’ yesterday evening. It was lovely to see them embracing their first taste of Shakespeare. The performances were terrific and it was so encouraging to hear from parents that many of the boys had been discussing Shakespeare at home and in the car on the way to school. It really is incredible to think that Shakepeare’s plays are as popular today as they were when first written back in the 1590’s. They truly have stood the test of time.
Next week is Artweeks at school and I would encourage as many of you as possible to come into school and see the boys’ fabulous work on display. The school is open to visitors on Tuesday from 08.30-10.30 and Wednesday from 15.00-18.00. There will also be refreshments available in the library courtesy of the JPA.
Also next week, on Wednesday, we are incredibly fortunate to be receiving a flying visit, quite literally, from a Naval Air Commando unit (845 Squadron). They will be landing their helicopter on Coxes field and the boys will get to meet the crew and hopefully even get a tour of the helicopter. We look forward to welcoming them to Abingdon Prep. If any parents would like to come and see this event, then you would be very welcome to attend. Expected landing time is 10.30.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all the boys who represented us last weekend at the IAPS National Table Tennis Championships. They all played very well and certainly enjoyed the day. The standard was, as always, incredibly high, but Todd excelled again and was crowned National Champion for the 3rd consecutive year. A fantastic achievement!
Letter from the Head, 3 May 2019
Friday 3 May 2019
Term is well and truly underway and the April showers seem to have decided to move into May this year.
It was lovely to welcome a local Buddhist leader to school on Monday and he spoke at length with our Year 8 boys detailing the history and practices of Buddhism, complimenting their unit of study. I know that the boys were fascinated to hear firsthand about the practices that are undertaken. It will certainly have helped when it comes to answering questions on this topic in their exam later this term.
Open Morning took place on Wednesday and was a great opportunity to showcase Abingdon Prep to prospective parents. Many of them were here because of positive comments from friends of theirs with boys at our school so thank you to all of you for sharing such positive feedback with the wider community. Our Year 7 boys were, as always, terrific ambassadors for us, taking tours and talking about their experiences of life at Abingdon Prep.
Wednesday also saw our first cricket fixtures of the season, with an even split of wins and losses. I thoroughly enjoyed watching our 2nd XI win a great match with just a few balls to spare. There was also athletics at Tilsley Park in the first meet of the season and again a number of boys put in very impressive performances across both track and field.
One of the highlights of the performing arts calendar took place yesterday – the Year 5 Music and Drama Soiree. There were some superb individual instrumental performances set alongside group performance poetry – ‘The Highwayman’. A Victorian theme, linking to their English studies, shone through in their fabulous performances of a selection of songs from ‘Oliver’. We certainly have some talented singers and actors coming up through the school. I was also rather jealous of the lovely picnics being consumed around the room!
If you find yourselves in Oxford this Saturday, please do take the chance to visit the Ashmolean Museum. 21 of our boys have their artwork being exhibited in the Young Art Oxford competition, which takes place every year as part of the Oxfordshire Artweeks. It opened yesterday and one of our Year 8 boys was awarded 3rd place and we had another two boys receive commendations. It never ceases to amaze me how creative and artistic so many of our boys are. We are very much looking forward to celebrating Artweeks later on in term by opening up our doors to you all, and the general public, to see more of the work that our boys have produced this year.
Thank you too for all of the brilliant recycled paper projects that have been coming into school this week, alongside the final entries for ‘Bake Off’. Some very tasty ones this week!
Tomorrow sees seven of the boys venturing to Hertfordshire to compete in the National IAPS Table Tennis Championships. We have a good track record in this event and are hoping once again to bring back the trophy. Good luck to all of the boys competing.
I hope that you all have a lovely bank holiday weekend ahead. Baby Quinn is popping down to Glastonbury to watch his Mum run in the fun 10K race whilst I shall be venturing out onto the cricket pitch once again.
Letter from the Head, 26 April 2019
Friday 26 April 2019
It was lovely to welcome all of the boys back to school this week for the start of the summer term, especially our five new joiners. The school looked beautiful with the tulips out in full force and the blue skies setting a stunning backdrop for Josca’s House. I would like to say a big thank you to our grounds staff for all the work that they have put into making the school look so resplendent. As is so often the case, the beautiful sunshine gave way to April showers the moment that the boys stepped across the whitewash and onto the cricket pitch for the first time on Wednesday!
I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the boys’ exciting adventures during the break and judging by the fantastic photos that so many of you kindly sent in for Rachel’s assembly yesterday with the theme of ‘connecting with people’, the holidays have been time well spent. It is always important for the boys to recharge their batteries, and the teachers too, ready for what is a busy summer with exciting trips and examinations to be undertaken. I know that the Year 8s have been revising hard over the holidays in preparation for their AP+ exams.
Mr Windsor and I enjoyed popping into a number of lessons yesterday morning and it was very encouraging seeing all the boys fully focused and working hard on some adjectival agreements in French, undertaking difficult translations in Latin, significant figures in Maths, and microscopes and cells in Science. There was a real sense of purpose in all of the classrooms.
For the first time in a number of years, our Year 8s took part in a CCF demonstration yesterday afternoon. This was eagerly anticipated and the boys certainly seemed to have had a great time exploring camouflage paints, food preparation in the field and basher building. Thanks to the senior school boys and staff who came over to Abingdon Prep to give the boys a taste of the CCF they will be participating in next year.
I look forward to catching up with you all in the next few weeks and hopefully we will enjoy more of the lovely sunshine that Easter brought us.
Letter from the Head, 29 March 2019
Friday 29 March 2019
The warm spring weather has accompanied us to the end of another fabulous term at Abingdon Prep. As I watched the photos flick round on our Lent Term montage this morning (available on the website), it reminded me of just how many different activities have taken place this term across all the year groups. If I had to pick a few highlights they would certainly be the snow day in school, the penguins and both of the brilliant productions.
Despite it being the final week of term, the pace has not diminished. ‘Animal Farm’, our senior section production, took place on Thursday evening and was a delight to watch. The boys involved should be very proud of their performances and the hard work that they have been putting into it in the lead up.
Reception visited Cotswold Farm Park on Monday and came back full of excitement and tales of the animals they had seen. They, alongside Year 1 and 2, also took part in a lovely Easter Bonnet parade this week in front of the whole school showing off their creative sides.
Years 2, 4 and 6 had a spectacular architecture workshop on Tuesday where Year 6 created Viking boat structures from bamboo and elastic bands, Year 4 created bridges from similar materials and Year 2 created a range of tetrahedron shapes. The boys really enjoyed the creative problem solving elements of these workshops and will certainly have learnt a great deal from them.
The Science Week poster competition awards were given out too this week and I was lucky enough to be asked to adjudicate – a tough job with so many brilliant entries on the theme of journeys. The overall winner came from Year 4 and showed a stunning journey of an arctic tern migration.
The Easter Eggstravaganza on Saturday last week was a great success and the sunshine allowed for a lovely Easter egg hunt in the Pre-Prep play area to round off the event. The Easter Bunny was kind enough to join us despite being such a busy time of year. I was lucky and found a few stray eggs myself this year!
Dragon have managed to earn themselves a home clothes day next term by winning the house merit cup and as a school we managed to raise £412 for our Dragon House charity – ‘The Friends of Della and Don’. They will be putting the money towards part funding a teacher at the school they have set up in an area still struggling to recover from the tragic tsunami of 2004. Thank you to all the boys and parents who have kindly made Sri Lankan styles cakes and pastries which sold so well. This followed on from some wonderful ‘Bake Off’ cakes which certainly went down well and I am very much looking forward to the finals of the ‘Abingdon Prep Bake Off’ next term.
Our Easter Service today will round off the term and hopefully allow for a few moments of quiet reflection before we all enjoy the holiday break. I am personally looking forward to venturing down to the Gower Peninsula for a few days to walk with my family on the stunning beaches and beautiful coastline. If the weather allows, I will also be starting my cricket season too with a couple of pre-season matches. I hope that you all have a restful and enjoyable holidays, whether that is skiing in the Alps, jetting off somewhere exotic, pottering off to the South West or simply enjoying some family time at home. Fingers crossed for some more warm spring weather.
Best wishes and Happy Easter!
Letter from the Head, 22 March 2019
Friday 22 March 2019
To start the week, a number of boys sat their Associated Board Music exams. I know that this is always a nerve wracking affair but the boys had been practising hard and I am sure they will have done themselves proud. I am always delighted to hear the boys play their instruments and slightly jealous of the talent they possess!
On Tuesday, our whole school photograph took place outside the front of Josca’s House this week. It really is quite a feat for the photographers to organise 261 boys on the scaffolding to get such a lovely image.
On Wednesday, four of our Year 8 boys joined 20 other schools from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire for a day of Chemistry in the Salters Chemistry challenge at Oxford University. The boys took part in two challenges and were awarded first prize in the ‘University Challenge’ seeing them race against the clock to react different concentrations of Sulphuric Acid with Magnesium ribbon. The boys had a great day out and came back buzzing about the chemistry they had undertaken.
After some excellent results and performances from our A teams at Cokethorpe on Saturday, matches continued this week with our seniors playing football against Abingdon School. A late winning goal for the U13As capped a fine season for them. 25 boys from the senior section went across to St Edward's to play New College at hockey and our mixed U12/13 team came away with a very impressive 1-1 draw. Our U10s were also in action and our A team completed their second consecutive unbeaten season – a great achievement. St Hugh’s were the opposition for our U9A, B and C teams this week and they all played extremely well, ending with two wins and a draw.
The British Biathlon championships took place last Sunday where all our teams and individual competitors can be very proud of their performances. Our U9s raced incredibly well, leading them to finish 2nd in this national competition – a superb performance.
It was lovely to see a number of you at Coffee and Catch up this morning. I always enjoy chatting with parents and hearing your thoughts on how the boys are doing, and of course about the upcoming holidays!
The Pre-Prep Spring Celebration took place this afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the boys showcase some of their work and sing the songs that they have been learning. It is always a lovely way to reflect on the brilliant things that the boys have been working on over the course of the term.
Tomorrow, the Easter Eggstravaganza takes place alongside a full rehearsal for the senior production of ‘Animal Farm’. We are hoping for a flying visit from the Easter Bunny too! This is a busy weekend which leads us into the final week of term.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend and enjoy the warmer spring weather.
Letter from the Head, 15 March 2019
Friday 15 March 2019
After the triumph of the penguin visit last week, we have this week received delivery of six ducklings into the Year 1 classroom. They have all hatched successfully and the gorgeous fluffy yellow bundles are growing beautifully and are certainly the star attraction down in Pre-Prep. The boys have named them all and are taking great care of them.
This week has seen numerous trips take place across a range of year groups. Year 1 started the week with a fantastic visit to Hill End where they got fully stuck into some outdoor learning and furthered their forest school skills. They were certainly very excited to tell me about the things they had learned whilst there. Year 2 visited Warwick Castle (a quite breathtaking place and well worth a visit if you have never been) and enjoyed finding out about medieval life, especially the jousting and weaponry used at the time. Year 5 are currently out at the Natural History Museum and Pitt Rivers in Oxford, learning about a real cross curricular set of scientific and historical information. 8R have been invited to a leadership skills workshop with a range of guest speakers and many other local preps too and the boys were certainly looking forward to a very interesting set of talks. As you can probably see, it has been a great week for trips.
Science Week has been taking place too, with a range of different activities (hence the ducklings) and Helen and Rebecca gave a fascinating assembly, with some amazing video footage of the Tacoma Bridge collapse in 1940, which certainly got the boys full attention as they saw how a lack of scientific understanding had led to such an incredible collapse – do google the footage of this if you have never seen it before.
Another absolute highlight this week has been the House Music Festival. Congratulations should be given to all the boys who auditioned and the standard in both the junior and senior events was quite superb. We are truly spoilt with the number of talented musicians we have at Abingdon Prep and the enjoyment displayed by the participants was great to witness.
Last Sunday 12 boys represented Abingdon Prep at the National Cross-Country Championships at Malvern College. All of the boys ran brilliantly despite the strong winds and difficult terrain and our U13 team came 3rd with our U11 team coming 7th. There were over 200 runners in each event from 46 schools so these were great results. Quinn (Year 8) is now national champion having won the U13 race with a stunning performance.
This week saw football and hockey matches against Pinewood, Cothill and Chandlings, and there were some very strong results for our B, C and D teams. Matches continue at Cokethorpe tomorrow morning and the British Biathlon Finals take place on Sunday at Crystal Palace, so it is a busy weekend of sport for many of our boys.
All of our scholarship results have now come in and I would like to thank all of the boys and the staff for their efforts in preparing for them. It is a huge commitment for the boys to undertake. This year we have managed to achieve 17 awards across all of the different areas of the curriculum.
Thank you to our fabulous JPA representatives who are running the Scalextric Night tonight. I am very much looking forward to dusting off my Scalextric skills from 30 years ago and seeing how the world of miniature car racing has changed. I am not sure I will be much competition for the boys, who, judging by last year, have some amazing skills around the tracks!
I hope you all have a great weekend and I hope to see some of you this evening at Scalextrics or on the touchline tomorrow.
Letter from the Head, 8 March 2019
Friday 8 March 2019
What a busy week it has been. I cannot tell you how excited I was on Monday knowing that I would get to meet a couple of penguins at close quarters. Two Dots and Tick were the stars of the show (quite literally as they have been in a number of films) and our boys in Reception, Year 1, 2 and 3 all got to meet them and learn about the lives of Humboldt penguins. The two penguins were clearly fascinated with the children, almost as much as the children were fascinated with them. They got to see them splash around in their pool and be fed, whilst waddling round their enclosure. It was an incredible learning experience for the boys and certainly gave them an appreciation of the beauty and intelligence of these creatures.
World Book Day took place yesterday and I do hope that you have seen some of the photos of the boys’ in costume on the website. A huge amount of effort had clearly gone into creating the costumes of historical characters and it is at this point that I should certainly thank the parents who had been helping out with the brilliant creations. My personal favourite was Margaret Thatcher, whose clothing, jewellery and general mannerisms had all been recreated with incredible accuracy. I am less certain about my fake beard’s authenticity in my homage to W.G. Grace!
This led into our Year 7 Victorian Waxworks Exhibition. This was a first for Abingdon Prep where the boys had been researching key Victorian characters that they then brought to life when a button was pressed. The ‘characters’ then explained to you why they should not be melted down because of how much they had contributed to society and been able to change the world for the better. We had Disraeli, Fry, Cook, Lister and Babbage to name but a few. The boys presented their achievements with genuine knowledge and passion and it was a pleasure to see them taking on these personas and sharing their knowledge of Victorian achievements, linking closely to their work in English lessons this term.
All of our football matches this week were against Moulsford and our boys can be very proud of their endeavours on the pitch, with some notable victories in the Senior Section and strong results in other areas too. The boys have certainly improved their skills dramatically this term. On the hockey pitch, all the boys in Year 6 represented us in some very closely fought matches, with a 1-0 victory for the U11 A team being a particular highlight. More importantly, the boys all enjoyed the chance to play a different sport against another school.
Our busy week continues into the weekend with another Saturday Art workshop, this time specialising in painting, and the National Cross Country championships taking place at Malvern College on Sunday. I am looking forward to seeing our boys represent Abingdon Prep at this event, especially after our own inter house races last week and the Oratory School’s Greyhound run yesterday where our boys acquitted themselves very well.
The scholarship season has now ended and I would like to congratulate all of our boys who have worked so hard in their different respective fields to sit these exams. They are all very talented young men.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend and I look forward to seeing some of you in the Malvern Hills on Sunday.
Letter from the Head, 1 March 2019
Friday 1 March 2019
I hope you all had a lovely half term and were able to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather which has continued into this week.
On Tuesday we had our Spring Term Open Morning. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our brilliant Year 7 tour guides and our two Year 8 boys who each gave a speech to the prospective parents. The boys continue to be the very best selling point for Abingdon Prep.
In our football matches this week we played a mixture of games against Christ Church Cathedral and Bruern Abbey. Our senior teams came away with some very strong wins whilst our U10s and U11s had some very close games with an even mix of wins and losses. The U8s and U9s showed what they are really capable of with some excellent performances leading to a number of good wins. Good luck to our senior teams in action against the Dragon this Saturday and also to our swimmers who will be taking on the strongest swimmers in the county at the IAPS regional qualifiers.
On Thursday, Paul Gooding, Head of Wellbeing at Abingdon School gave all of the boys an assembly on resilience, encouraging them to think upwards, think forwards, think outwards. This is such an important message for our boys to hear and hopefully put into action in their everyday lives, both at school and at home.
This morning, the boys in Unicorn enjoyed their home clothes day in recognition of winning the House merit cup for the first half of term. It was a very close run affair with just 15 merits separating Dragon House in second place.
This afternoon sees the running of our annual inter-house cross country event for all of the boys. There has been much excitement and anticipation all day, and a little trepidation too for some of the boys who are running it for the first time. I know our Reception boys are really looking forward to competing in their first whole school sporting event. The races are always hotly contested and brilliantly supported by the onlookers. Encouraging every boy around the course is a huge part of the event and always brings out the house spirit.
Have a good weekend.
Letter from the Head, 15 February 2019
Friday 15 February 2019
As I made my way in to school this morning in the sunshine, I was reflecting on what a super first half of term we have had. Of course, incredibly busy but I would not want it any other way. As this half term comes to an end, I could not have been prouder of the Abingdon Prep boys after the Junior Section’s quite amazing production, ‘Dragon Days’, which they performed to parents last night. The standard of singing and acting was amazing for boys who are only 7, 8 or 9 years old and their delivery of lines, alongside comic timing made for a quite brilliant evening. The boys should be very proud of themselves.
On Tuesday we sent a large group of boys from Years 3-6 to the Chandlings cross-country event where there were over 500 pupils competing. There were some very creditable individual and team performances and I know Ashley was delighted with the effort that all the boys put in.
Wednesday saw a range of U10 and U11 teams take on Christ Church with the U10s coming away with some very impressive wins. Our senior boys took on Cokethorpe after school on Thursday and played some of the highest quality football, with strong wins for our U13 A, B and U12 B teams whilst our U12 As went down 5-4 in a thrilling encounter.
Our Year 8s continue to be busy both inside and outside of the classroom with Music and Sports scholarships undertaken at Abingdon School this week. I look forward to sharing news of our hoped for successes in the coming weeks.
Please could I ask that you take a few moments at half term to complete our website survey. Your feedback is always welcomed to help continue to improve our methods of communication and giving information about the school to current and prospective parents alike. Please follow this link.
I hope that you will all have a restful and enjoyable half term. After a few very early starts with Quinn this week I am certainly looking forward to relaxing at home and enjoying this lovely February sunshine.
Letter from the Head, 8 February 2019
Friday 8 February 2019
After the snow of last Friday, it has been good to get back to our normal wet and windy February weather! It has been a very busy week for all of the year groups and I thoroughly enjoyed popping into lessons this week to see how the boys were getting on. I was particularly impressed with some of the detailed explanations of relief rainfall and the rain shadow given to me by Year 6, following on from some impressive number work in Reception.
Pre-Prep have been busily working towards achieving their individual targets and I was able to present to many of them their launch flames (target achieved) for their rocket. Year 1 took it a step further and even built a rocket this week with cockpits and control panels all fully formed. It was great to learn about the way they had acted as a team to pull it all together and the time lapse images of this were a hit with all.
In hymn practice this week, Charlie performed a beautiful rendition of Walking in the Air, by Howard Blake, whilst playing the piano too. It is great to see the musicality of so many of our boys coming through, alongside their passion for it. Musically it has been a busy few weeks with eight of our Year 8 boys sitting for music scholarships, a culmination of all their hard work practising and performing over many years. Scholarship season has well and truly begun.
On Tuesday, three of our Year 6 boys represented APS at Oratory’s ‘Let’s Debate’ competition where they produced incredibly well received speeches about a range of topics from corporal punishment to the banning of all homework! Public speaking is never easy and it is lovely to witness the confidence with which so many of our boys are blessed when it comes to standing in front of an audience.
On the sports field our Year 5 and 6s had their first hockey matches of term, with a visit to the Dragon on Monday and the In2Hockey county tournament today for the U11s. The U10s performed admirably in their first ever matches and clearly enjoyed the opportunity to play a new sport against another school.
On the football pitch the boys took on Oratory Prep in Years 5 to 8 and yet again we had some terrific performances from all year groups. The highlight was a fantastic 1-0 victory to our U13As, who had never beaten OPS before on the football pitch and both coaches were waxing lyrical about the incredible standard of football produced by both teams.
The Junior Section has been busily rehearsing all week in the lead up to ‘Dragon Days’ next Thursday. I think the audience will be in for a treat having heard some of the songs being sung in rehearsals. I look forward to seeing many of you at the show.
I hope you all have a great weekend and steer clear from the multitude of coughs and colds that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment.
Letter from the Head, 4 February 2019
Monday 4 February 2019
Apologies for the delayed letter this week. Friday was a little different with all the beautiful snow. For those that were able to make it in, we had a lovely day with a combination of academic lessons, swimming, PE and time to play in the snow. Hopefully some pictures of the boys and their snowmen might make it onto the website in the next few days. It certainly brought back a few very happy childhood memories of snow days I had experienced at school.
Prior to the snow on Friday, the boys had been busy with a range of activities. On Thursday, Reception, along with Years 1, 2 and 3 participated in Chinese Dance workshops. It was lovely to watch the boys perform their routines with parasols and fans, being gracefully guided by the dance teacher. The boys really entered into the spirit of the dance and produced some delightful shapes and patterns with their props. They certainly seemed to enjoy the experience and learnt a little more about Chinese culture.
Drama has been taking centre stage in our junior section this week as they have been busily rehearsing for their production, ‘Dragon Days’. If these early rehearsals are anything to go by, the performance in a fortnight should be well worth a watch.
A range of matches took place this week with our U11s and U10s taking on St Hugh’s, whilst our U8s and U9s played against Oratory Prep (and Claire’s Court for the U9s). The U8s and U9s played some lovely football in the bitter cold with the highlight being a 4-3 win for the U8C team. The U11 teams won two and lost two whilst our four U10 teams all came away with victories. Our 13A and B teams enjoyed impressive wins against Oratory School on the football pitch whilst the U13 and U12 hockey teams played their first fixtures against Cothill, with the 13s losing and the 12s winning. Despite the cold conditions, it was great to have so many boys out on the pitches representing Abingdon Prep so well.
Sadly, the Saturday ‘Painting Masterclass’ Art Workshop had to be postponed due to the weather. The plans sounded very exciting with a scientific methodology in place using pipette painting as just one of the techniques being introduced.
The weather also put paid to our JPA Quiz night on Friday. At least this should give the staff team a little more time to swat up on their general knowledge before we can reschedule it.
I hope you all had a lovely weekend and perhaps some of you even got to use those toboggans tucked away in the corner of the garage. Quinn was certainly transfixed by this whole new experience of snow as I pulled him around on our newly purchased sled!
Letter from the Head, 25 January 2019
Friday 25 January 2019
Winter seems to have finally bitten this week with frozen ground and snow and ice taking hold. I must admit to some nervousness as the snowflakes fell more heavily and seemed to get larger on Tuesday afternoon with our inspection due the next day. Fortunately all the staff and pupils were able to make it into school on Wednesday!
I wanted to start my letter this week by thanking Tommy in Year 7 for his brilliant assembly about HMS Triumph’s disappearance in WW2 and his participation in the HMS Triumph Association. The boys were riveted listening to the story of his great-great-uncle’s missing submarine and the association’s role in tracking down members of the crew’s family today to celebrate and honour those brave men.
We have welcomed two ISI inspectors to APS this week and undertaken our compliance inspection. I will be able to share their findings with you all once they are formally released to us. This process is likely to take up to 6 weeks. It was a lovely opportunity to share so much of what we do in school with educational professionals.
On the football pitch this week all of our Year 5 and 6 boys played in matches against Pinewood and despite the freezing conditions, were able to play some very closely contested matches. Our U11 groups managed two wins, one draw and one loss whilst our 10s finished with one win, one draw and two losses. On Tuesday some very intrepid cross country runners took on the snow and freezing temperatures to compete in the first cross country event of the term. An impressive 2nd place team finish was achieved with APS boys coming home individually in 1st, 3rd and 5th places.
Today has seen a number of boys sit their LAMDA exams which they have all been working so hard towards. I look forward to seeing some more excellent results when they come in.
Pre-Prep have also had a very interesting day today with a visit from the Planetarium. They learnt about star gazing and the different constellations, they found out that a number of planets were currently visible to us and they also discussed the possibilities of alien life forms. What an exciting day at school this was!
The first concert platform is taking place this evening after school and I know that many or our boys sitting music scholarships later in the term will be performing, so it will undoubtedly be a wonderful occasion and a lovely way to finish off the week.
Our Annual Quiz Night organised by the JPA is scheduled for next Friday, but we are currently a little light on numbers, so please can I encourage you to sign up and join us for a very enjoyable evening, with quiz master Rob.
I hope you all have a good weekend and that the cold temperatures do not stop you from getting out and about.
Letter from the Head, 18 January 2019
Friday 18 January 2019
I hope you have all had a good week despite the cold weather and the boys are certainly very well settled back into the routines of school life.
Mike Windsor and I enjoyed popping in to see some lessons yesterday morning and it was refreshing to see the boys working hard in each and every room we entered. Year 7 were undertaking some tricky algebra whilst Year 5 were solving time word problems in their Maths lesson. Some challenging distance calculations and 6 figure grid references using OS maps were being undertaken by a Year 8 group. There was a genuine sense of purpose and enthusiasm from all the boys as they worked their way through the questions. 8R, meanwhile, have been very busy this week sitting their mock scholarship exams and I know they will be looking forward to getting back their results to see how they are progressing.
Today, I presented a number of flames to our boys in Pre-Prep for achieving the first stage of their specific target. They are building up a rocket because they are ‘aiming to fly through the stars to get to the moon’. The display should be spectacular as they all move towards achieving their aims. They also got to place some ‘moon rock’ in their house collector jars so we shall see how quickly we can fill those up too.
Yesterday, the boys took part in a series of E-safety workshops running throughout the day. In the evening, there was an excellent talk to parents with so many useful tips for keeping our children safe online. This is such an important topic to discuss and to be fully aware of the issues surrounding it, both for boys and parents and something that is regularly revisited within school. I hope that you will have received an email too from us with some useful websites for parents to use and a checklist for parents to help keep their child safe online.
Football matches this week saw all of our Year 5s and 6s take on Chandlings in the first games of the season. Eight competitive games were played with an even split of wins and losses with both teams competing in exactly the right spirit. There were five matches for our Year 7s and 8s against Davenies, resulting in four wins and one loss with the boys starting off the season in a very positive fashion, despite the rain and rather chilly conditions. Good luck to our Year 6s who are taking on The Dragon tomorrow.
I would again like to take this opportunity to remind parents that they should ensure that when crossing the car park with children that they stick to the hashed lines. Drivers should also please take great care in this area and ensure they are not crossing the hashed lines adjacent to the parking spaces. The safety of everyone using our car park is of paramount importance to us.
I hope you all have a good weekend planned and I look forward to catching some of you on the touchline tomorrow.
Letter from the Head, 11 January 2019
Friday 11 January 2019
I hope that you have all had a great Christmas holiday and enjoyed the start to 2019. It was lovely to welcome the boys back to school on Tuesday and hear about what they had been getting up to in the holidays and about some of their exciting Christmas presents. I was lucky enough to be given a crocodile keeper for the day experience as one of my presents and I was able to get up close and personal with crocodiles and alligators. Feeding them was certainly an experience!
As we should probably expect, despite the unusually seasonal end to 2018, the cold weather is very much back with us so it is good to see so many boys in hats and coats of a morning and at break times. Hopefully this will help to keep those winter colds at bay for a little longer.
School has started back with a bang with all our Other Half activities starting from the first day of term and the boys working hard in lessons. I particularly enjoyed seeing our Year 3s this week experimenting in Science with forces and measuring different forces applied by objects on the newton meter. This followed on from the class pairings where my highlight was a series of chess matches between the Year 5s and the Year 8s which were of a very high quality. Scrabble also proved popular with the Year 4 and Year 7 groupings. Old School games certainly still have a place in our boys' lives.
My first assembly on Tuesday was all about New Year's resolutions and taking the targets from the boys’ reports in the autumn term and trying to address them at the beginning of this term. Hard work and a focus on improving our effort grades was the message that the boys came back with.
Our boys in Griffin were able to celebrate their Merit point’s victory from the last half of term with a home clothes day today which has been greatly enjoyed. Having signed off a number of golds today, it looks like there will be a strong number of merits generated this half of term too.
We had a very successful pre-season football morning on the Friday before term started with 37 Year 5 and 6 boys attending and 28 Year 7 and 8 boys. It was great to see them so enthused about the upcoming season and working hard on their skills. We are looking forward to matches starting next week.
Please could I ask that with the dark evenings still very much in force that all parents who are picking up at about 4.15pm are aware of all the minibuses moving around the site and take great care when crossing over the car park to collect and leave with their children.
If I have not seen you at the front gate yet this term then I will take this opportunity to wish you all a belated Happy New Year.
Letter from the Head, 14 December 2018
Friday 14 December 2018
We have reached the end of the Michaelmas term and what a great term it has been. On Wednesday I shared a montage of photos from the term with the boys (it is now live on the website) and it was a lovely reminder of all the amazing things the boys have been involved with since September.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first Abingdon Prep carol service this week. It never ceases to amaze me how musical our boys are. It was wonderful to hear all of them sing so well and the musicians were equally impressive throughout. The reindeer playing the trumpet was just one of the highlights for me!
The Debating and Public Speaking competition took place for our Year 6, 7 and 8s this week and we had topics such as the death of Stan Lee, President Macron’s current troubles, and a debate on both the current Brexit deal and also whether the human race is doomed or not. All the boys who took part were incredibly impressive and spoke with clarity and confidence.
Christmas lunch took place yesterday and huge thanks go to our catering team for producing such a lovely spread – turkey with all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding or jelly and cream. The boys certainly seemed to enjoy the occasion and the boys I sat with were looking at it as a warm up for the real event on the 25th. Pigs in blankets probably came out as the most looked forward to part of any Christmas lunch!
Also yesterday, we had our inaugural Gifts for Grown Ups. The boys really seemed to enjoy the freedom of choosing gifts for the adults in their lives on their own. Fingers crossed most of you will enjoy their selections! Thank you so much to our amazing parent body who gave up their day to man the tables and organise the event.
Out of school a couple of the boys have been performing to large audiences on stage and on the ice. Yumi has been treading the boards in ‘The Pied Piper’ and Lucas has been skating in the Oxford Ice Rink Christmas Show. It is great to hear of our boys sharing their talents with the wider general public.
Griffin was victorious in the house points competition this half of term and will, I am sure, enjoy their home clothes day on their return in January.
I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and enjoy the festive season, whether you are staying at home with family or jetting off to exciting foreign soils. I am looking forward to spending time with Hannah, Quinn and Dizzy, and celebrating our first Christmas with Quinn.
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.
Letter from the Head, 11 May 2018
Friday 11 May 2018
What a difference a few days of warm sunshine make. Abingdon Prep feels so welcoming with the wisteria blooming, and the smell of freshly cut grass pervading the School. The boys have certainly enjoyed their break times with the warm weather and shirt sleeve order, not to mention a four day week!
The cricket season is finally underway too. Our 1st XI have started strongly with a final over win against St Hugh’s in the national knock out cup, and a convincing win over Cricklade Manor. The warm weather training camp in the holidays clearly has been paying dividends. U11 teams shared the spoils with Cothill on Wednesday with impressive bowling performances but work required with bat in hand, whilst the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th teams all performed well against Cothill and Caldicott, despite not quite being able to register a win.
On Thursday evening I visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to see the wonderful artwork produced by children in Oxfordshire Schools, on the theme of ‘Journeys’. Abingdon Prep boys had numerous pieces exhibited and they should be immensely proud of their work. Hundreds of people were touring the galleries and all appeared to be extremely impressed by the standard of art on show. Artweeks at Abingdon Prep is almost upon us and I would encourage you to drop in for tours at the given times if you possibly can, to see work produced by our boys.
Year 5 have been away this week on their PGL residential in Liddington. I called to see them yesterday, and saw some very brave abseiling, aeroball and kayaking, all undertaken in glorious sunshine. The boys were relishing the challenges, and it was heartwarming to see them shouting encouragement to their peers at the top of the abseiling towers. Bringing people closer together is something that can never be undervalued.
Some of our Year 7 and 8s competed earlier in the week at Tilsley Park for an Abingdon School Athletics event. There were strong performances in the sprints and the relays which bodes well for Sports Day later this term.
3L gave a delightful personal message about May Day and traditional activities like Maypole and Morris dancing, in their whole school assembly this week. So many of the boys had spent Bank Holiday Monday outside in the beautiful weather playing games and visiting friends and relatives. A few boys had even seen some Morris dancing!
The Life Education Bus is visiting Abingdon Prep today, and again early next week, with year groups taking turns to have sessions learning about a variety of life skills and choices that we make which affect our bodies both positively and negatively. This sends a really important message to our boys about the importance of making good choices.
I hope you all have a good weekend and may I take this opportunity to remind you about next Friday morning’s Coffee and Catch Up with me. It would be lovely to see some of you in the Drama Studio between 8.15-9.15am for a hot drink, pastry and a chat.
Letter from the Head, 4 May 2018
Friday 4 May 2018
Another week has flown by here at Abingdon Prep. On Tuesday, Year 6 visited Oxford Central Mosque to support some of their learning in RE this term. The boys were stunned by the beauty inside the Mosque and were able to see for themselves what they had previously only seen in textbooks or photographs. Firsthand experience is an exciting way to learn.
Wednesday brought the rain again, but it did not dampen spirits at our Open Morning. It was a warm and friendly event with some more prospective families able to see for themselves what Abingdon Prep has to offer. Our Year 7 tour guides acquitted themselves admirably again, and were excellent ambassadors for Abingdon Prep, receiving compliments from many a guest.
As is so often the case, the weather was not ‘playing ball’ for the first cricket matches of the season, which sadly had to be cancelled. However, if forecasts are to be believed, drier weather is on its way over the next few weeks, so I look forward to seeing our boys play in their first matches very soon. I know they are desperate to get out onto our beautifully prepared squares. My game was also sadly rained off last week, so I, too, am looking forward to starting the season this weekend.
Yesterday evening, the Year 5 parents and I were treated to an outstanding Year 5 Soiree with music, public speaking and drama taking centre stage. It was a delightful event, with informal picnics being taken in the Hall whilst our boys performed poetry, sketches and a medley of songs from the musical, ‘Oliver’. The standard was superb, and I commend all the Year 5 boys for their excellent production.
I would like to finish my letter this week with congratulations. Last Saturday we sent four Year 7 boys to compete in the IAPS U13 Table Tennis Championships at Edge Grove. All four boys were a great credit to school playing some exciting matches but Todd managed to defeat all who came before him to become National Champion (a year young!). A fantastic achievement indeed, and one of which Todd and the School should be extremely proud.
I hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather that is predicted.
Letter from the Head, 27 April 2018
Friday 27 April 2018
Welcome back to the Summer Term. I hope you all managed to have an enjoyable Easter holiday, whether you stayed at home like me or you managed to go further afield for some sunshine or snow in the mountains. The boys certainly seem to have returned with renewed energy, ready to throw themselves into the activities of the busy term ahead. A couple of lovely warm days have certainly been most welcome this week, despite writing this with rain currently cascading down the windowpane.
In the final week of the holiday, nineteen of our Year 7 and 8 boys attended a pre-season cricket camp in Murcia, Spain. Four beautifully warm and sunny days provided perfect conditions for our boys to train hard and improve their cricketing skills vastly in a short space of time. The wonderful swimming pool and resort may also have helped to make their trip such a successful one. It was very pleasing to hear that our boys were excellent ambassadors for Abingdon Prep whilst they were away, and I am looking forward to watching plenty of cricket in the coming months.
At school we also ran a pre-season training session for the Year 5 and 6s, and a smaller group of Year 7 and 8s who were not in Murcia. It was lovely to see their enthusiasm for a game very close to my heart! Sadly both of my own pre-season cricket matches have been rained off so far this month but I am hoping finally to play tomorrow in Berkshire. 50 overs keeping wickets may lead to some aching muscles for me on Monday!
I have been very impressed with the extremely imaginative designs and creations that so many of the boys have produced for the CDT recycled bottle challenge over the holidays. If you haven’t yet seen some of them on display in the foyer, do take the opportunity to come and look. There have been some extraordinary designs and ideas from all year groups, including ships, garden planters, flamethrowers, planes and robots!
Term has started at a pace, with our Year 7s already off on their three day residential trip to Whitehaven this week, where they have been undertaking adventure activities and team building exercises. I am looking forward to hearing their stories on their return and seeing the photos of them in action. Residential trips are an enjoyable way to reinforce and develop team building and leadership skills, and to create memories that will stay with the boys forever. I see them as an invaluable part of education. I certainly still remember my trips as a child, as I am sure many of you will too.
Other Half has started this week and I am delighted to see so many boys seizing the opportunity to try new activities or hone their skills in others. All we now need is some consistently warm weather and sunshine for the term ahead. We can but hope!
Letter from the Head, 29 March 2018
Thursday 29 March 2018
We have reached the last day of the Spring Term and I am greatly looking forward to delivering the Easter service to the boys later this morning. It has been an eventful term with everything from a snow day to a visit from the Easter Bunny.
On Saturday last week I was lucky enough to attend the Pre-Prep and Year 3 Easter Eggstravaganza. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did the boys, especially with so much chocolate around. There were craft stalls, treasure maps, chick racing (the wind-up variety, of course), an Easter egg hunt and the ever popular chocolate tombola. The Easter Bunny was hopping around doing high-fives with the boys and there was a wonderful sense of fun and camaraderie. The hardest part of the morning was trying to judge the magnificent Easter bonnets and Easter gardens. The boys had produced so many superb designs and I know that everyone who saw them was impressed. Many of them were back on show for the Easter Parade in Pre- Prep and the egg painting and rolling down the mound later in the week. With the lighter evenings and the warmer (I think) weather, this is a lovely time of year.
On Tuesday a guest presenter came to run three separate Architecture Workshops for Year 2, Year 4 and Year 6. The boys had to plan, design and create bridges, Viking longboats or octagonal bird houses. The finished products were very impressive and the boys had great enjoyment experiencing something completely different. CDT is thriving at Abingdon Prep.
During the holidays, nineteen of our Year 7 and 8 boys will be flying off for five days to Spain for a warm weather pre-season cricket camp. I’m sure they will have a wonderful time and benefit enormously from the cricket training. They are very much looking forward to the Summer Term and all of the exciting events ahead, as am I. I would encourage you all to look at the calendar online and see what your son may be involved in.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the boys for their efforts this term. It has been a very busy and very successful one in so many different areas of school life. I hope that you all have something nice planned for the break, and I wish all of the Abingdon Prep community a very Happy Easter. Please do access our website (in latest news) to see a slide show of events from the term which I shared with the boys in our Easter service today.
Final Thunk – if I borrow every single book from a library, is it at that point any less of a library than when it was full of books?
Letter from the Head, 23 March 2018
Friday 23 March 2018
It has been a very different week standing at the school entrance welcoming you all in the mornings. I have not needed to don a coat or a scarf, and have enjoyed the warm spring sunshine beating down. I hope that this will continue to be the case for the final week of term.
The week got underway with our Year 1s visiting the Steam Museum in Swindon. They all returned so excited by the trains they had seen alongside all the other huge steam-based machinery. As the photos testify on the monitor in the school entrance, they certainly had a wonderful day and learnt so much.
We found out this week that in May, twenty one of our pupils will be exhibiting their art work at the Ashmolean Museum having been successful in the Young Art Oxford Competition. George, in Year 5, has been chosen for the coveted Ruskin School of Art Award which is a noteworthy achievement. Art continues to be a source of great pride at Abingdon Prep.
After six of our boys participated in the Abingdon School Business Challenge on Tuesday, in which the brief was to design a new type of ice lolly, all of our boys in Years 5 and 6 took part yesterday in the Abingdon Prep Business Challenge. In groups they were given the challenge of designing an Easter Egg, complete with packaging. They had to draw up a plan to take it to market to compete with other brands, and then present their idea to the panel of judges who had joined us from Abingdon School and the Oxfordshire Young Enterprise Group. Dragon’s Den beware, as we may have some young entrepreneurs coming your way!
Our Bake Off Finals have been taking place this week with Anne’s technical challenge acting as the decider. Many cupcakes have been baked (and tasted again) and the boys involved have shown some genuine skills and love for baking. My thanks go to all who were involved in this initiative, and I know we have raised an impressive sum for charity, as well as enjoying some delicious cakes along the way.
In another busy week of sport, our U13 and U12 hockey squads played three matches against New College School at St Edward's School in Oxford. All the games were very close affairs but resulted in three close losses. The boys should be very proud of how much they have improved this term in what is their first experience of hockey.
On the football pitch the final matches of term saw our U12A and B and U13A and B teams take on Abingdon School. Our U12As finished the season in real style with a 6-4 win, coming back from 0-3 down, whilst the 12Bs lost an exciting match 4-5. Our U13As were competitive again but lost and there was a similar fate for our U13Bs. It was very rewarding to have so many of our senior boys representing school in fixtures, whether on the hockey pitch or the football pitch. It is lovely that the boys, no matter what year group they are in, have these opportunities to experience matches and of course, match tea, socialising with their opponents afterwards.
The British Schools Biathlon Championships on Sunday were weather affected but an impressive performance from our U12 team meant that they have finished 4th in the country, with Quinn finishing 4th individually. Congratulations to all the boys who qualified for the finals which is an excellent achievement in itself.
It is our Easter Eggstravaganza tomorrow morning for boys in Reception to Year 3. There is palpable excitement amongst them as they look forward to discovering the eggs which the Easter Bunny will hopefully have left around school. Our thanks go to the JPA for organising this and persuading the Easter Bunny to give up time from his busy schedule to come to see us at Abingdon Prep.
Next week I will let you know the results of this afternoon’s Inter-House Cross-Country. The conditions are slightly more conducive to running this time, after the Siberian blast caused us to postpone the event a couple of weeks ago. It will be wonderful to see all of the boys across the school taking part.
I hope you all have a good weekend and are looking forward to a final busy week of term in the spring sunshine – especially as the clocks will have gone forward over the weekend and we will have that extra hour of evening light.
Thunk for the week – is daylight saving a good or a bad thing?
Letter from the Head, 16 March 2018
Friday 16 March 2018
Where to start this week? There are so many exciting pieces of news to share…
One of the many highlights of the week was the APS Bake Off. I was particularly honoured to have been asked to judge some of the entries, and every one of the many cakes and bakes I tasted was delicious. It is a creative way to raise money for our school charities and it is fair to say that we have some very talented bakers at school. I look forward to seeing the finalists in baking action next week.
Tuesday saw the senior production of ‘Smike’ take place in the Amey Theatre at Abingdon School. It was a wonderful evening with some delightful singing, acting and dancing. The audience certainly seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Debbie and Jennifer for all their hard work in producing such an impressive spectacle.
There was a raft of football matches this week. Our U9s played twice against St Hugh’s and Chandlings, and of the six matches, we won two, lost two and drew two. Our U9As win on Thursday meant they have remained unbeaten all season and they should be very proud of their efforts. Our U8s played Chandlings and had some very exciting games in which the As and Cs drew, and the Bs and Ds lost. This completed another impressive season in which all the boys have played many games of football and have improved immeasurably. Our U10As and U11As both completed their seasons with excellent wins giving them 100% records – a very admirable feat, whilst the other U10 and U11 teams also had strong final results. On Thursday, our senior boys took to Cox’s Fields to play Cokethorpe. The 13As lost a close match 2-4 whilst the Bs won their first game of the season 3-1 with a strong performance. The U12s continued their excellent season with a 4-2 victory, whilst the Bs also impressed with a 5-2 win.
Our U12 and U13 hockey teams took to the astro again on Wednesday to play against Cothill. The 13s went down in a high scoring match 2-6 whilst our U12s lost a thrilling match 4-5. Every week, as the boys gain more experience of hockey, their understanding of match play is improving visibly.
Our football matches tomorrow are a new venture for Abingdon Prep. We will be competing against Bedford Modern School as a Foundation together with the U12 and U13 teams from Abingdon School. I wish the boys luck and look forward to supporting them from the touch line.
A busy sporting weekend continues on Sunday with the British Schools Biathlon finals at Crystal Palace. We have ten boys competing, all of whom have qualified from the regional heats earlier in the year. This is always a gruelling event and huge credit goes to our boys for qualifying. I look forward to hearing how they have fared.
Year 2 travelled to Warwick Castle this week and had a wonderful time exploring the medieval castle and learning first-hand about life hundreds of years ago. The castle certainly helped bring their History topic to life and I have been hearing from the boys how much they enjoyed the trip. Year 5 are also visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum today and I look forward to hearing the highlights of their outing.
4T’s assembly on Thursday was extremely well presented and the class shared an important message with the rest of the school about appreciating all the wonderful things that we have in our lives and considering how people in other parts of the world are not so fortunate. It is so powerful when the boys share these messages with their peers. I also had the privilege of seeing Reception’s class assembly today. The boys were so proud to tell their parents about their beanstalks, and their playlet of the Gingerbread Man was well received by the audience of parents and Pre-Prep boys. They have certainly been busy in the classroom this term.
This week we also received the results of the final group of Abingdon scholarship assessments. We are exceptionally proud of all our boys who sat scholarships in their chosen sphere this year. They all devoted enormous effort to the process and can be justifiably proud of themselves. I am delighted to report that this year our boys have gained five academic scholarships – four to Abingdon and one to Magdalen College School. We have also been awarded one Art, one Music and one Drama scholarship, all to Abingdon School. I would like to take this opportunity to thank openly all the staff who have helped to prepare the boys so well for their scholarships.
I sincerely hope the snow does not return this weekend as it is high time that Spring makes an appearance!
With best wishes
Thunk for the week – can you be accused of cheating if you do not know the rules?
Letter from the Head, 9 March 2018
Friday 9 March 2018
I would like to start by thanking everyone for their patience and understanding with regard to the snow day last week. I appreciate the difficulties faced when a school is closed for the day. However, the boys seemed delighted with the decision and I hope they all enjoyed the opportunity to use their sledges.
Rehearsals for our production of ‘Smike’ have been ratcheted up this week, with the technical rehearsal on Saturday and the main performance on Tuesday evening at the Amey Theatre. There are still some tickets available, so I would encourage all parents with children in Years 3 and above, to come along for what promises to be a very entertaining evening. Having listened to a number of the songs already, we are certainly in for a treat.
On my learning walk this week I was treated to a Year 3 Science lesson on the topic of teeth. I am reliably informed that during their next lesson they will be experimenting with disclosure tablets, so there may need to be some focused teeth brushing going on before that. Year 7 were putting together some drama sketches and I was particularly impressed with the saxophone accompaniment creating the scene of danger in the tomb! Cross curricular links were certainly coming to the fore in this lesson.
4AP produced an informative and very well delivered school assembly yesterday, in which we all learned about the life and diet of some Bolivian people, and it gave our boys food for thought with regard to their own food choices. 4AP’s mixture of singing, acting and public speaking entertained us all.
Our Year 8 academic scholarship group sat their exams this week and it was very interesting to welcome them back into school and hear how they felt the week had gone. They can be very proud of their efforts leading up to this very stretching set of exams, as can all of our boys who have been involved in scholarship assessments this term. As a school, we are certainly proud of them all.
Hockey fixtures took centre stage for Years 6 to 8 this week. There were impressive victories for our U13s against St Hugh’s and U11As against the Dragon. Every other match was a closely fought contest, with the Dragon just coming out on top. I hope the boys have enjoyed their first foray into Hockey and will look forward to more fixtures next year.
On the football pitch, our U8s and U9s enjoyed fixtures against Moulsford. Our U9As continued their unbeaten run, whilst our U8As lost their first game of the season in a very high quality match. The U9Bs won one and lost one, and the U9Cs won two very good games. Our U8B, C, and D teams were all involved in multiple matches as Moulsford had brought eight teams to take on our four. The boys certainly seem to be enjoying their game and improving each and every time they take the field.
Our long anticipated Scalextrics Evening, so kindly organised by the JPA, is taking place this evening and I have been hearing that there has been many a practice session taking place at home, and that is just the parents! Trophies are all in place and I know that the boys are excited about the event. Track conditions are forecast to be favourable with some fast times expected.
I am delighted to have been asked to judge some of the entries for the APS Bake off next week, so I hope that the boys will take the opportunity at the weekend to get creative in the tent, sorry, I mean kitchen, and put their baking skills to the test, all in aid of our school charities of course.
As this letter attests, term continues to be busy and purposeful, and the boys are grabbing opportunities that come their way. Long may that continue.
Thunk for the week – can a cake ever be considered a work of art and not simply something to eat?
Letter from the Head, 2 March 2018
Friday 2 March 2018
I write this letter with the school eerily quiet as the snow has returned with a vengeance and we have unfortunately closed the school today. An unusual end to a busy week and hopefully, with the official start of meteorological spring yesterday, this was the final blast of winter and the daffodils can start opening up again in the next few weeks.
I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of some staff changes for September and also next term. Mrs Natasha Watson will be joining us as Head of English in September. Natasha is currently teaching English at The Beacon and we look forward to her joining us here and becoming fully involved in a wide range of activities, including Drama, for which she clearly has a passion. However, for the Summer Term, Mrs Karina Philip will be our acting Head of English. Karina has a wealth of English teaching experience and is also a published author of children’s books and English textbooks, and has a real interest in music too. Rebecca Schwarz has been appointed as Head of Science for September. She currently teaches Science at Headington Senior School, and has a wide range of interests including hockey and other sports. We very much look forward to welcoming them all into the Abingdon Prep community.
A number of our Year 8 boys have been sitting in the past few weeks, and this coming week, their scholarship exams and assessments. Their desire to work hard and give their very best has been clear for all to see and I would like to congratulate all of them on their efforts. They can be very proud of themselves.
Sadly, all of our football matches and inter-house cross-country this week had to be cancelled due to the frozen pitches and snow cover, but we have rescheduled the date for 23 March to run the cross-country and parents will, of course, be more than welcome to attend.
Last Monday, our Year 6s performed a cantata, St Frideswide, with words and music written by our own, very talented Debbie Rose at Christ Church Cathedral. The first part of the afternoon took the form of a talk by Ruth Buckley, a St Frideswide expert, so the audience arrived well informed to hear the boys sing. Our boys sang beautifully with pure tone and clear diction, and the story of the saint’s life gradually unfolded through the nine songs, dramatic action and linking narration. It was a wonderful experience for the boys to perform in such an impressive venue.
We now have four weeks of term remaining, so I hope the boys enjoyed their snow day and will return refreshed after their three day weekend. I look forward to hearing all about their sledging and snowballing exploits.
With best wishes
Thunk – can we really know that every snowflake is different if we do not analyse all of them?
Letter from the Head, 23 February 2018
Friday 23 February 2018
I hope you all had a very enjoyable half term and that any illness that may have been lurking before the break quickly disappeared. The second half of term has started well and with our usual diverse array of activities.
Earlier this week three pupils from the Middle Section attended the annual 'Let's Debate' competition at Oratory School. After attending a morning of debating workshops, pupils were then tasked with opposing the motion “This House believes that teachers should be replaced with computers”, which was proposed by a team from Farleigh School in Hampshire. The boys acquitted themselves eloquently and I am assured that teachers are here to stay, at least for the time being!
This week’s football matches saw our younger boys playing Christ Church Cathedral School. Our U8As claimed another very impressive 9-0 victory whilst our B, C and D teams all lost closely fought matches. The U9A, B and C teams all celebrated solid victories, as did our U10B and D teams. The U11C and D teams lost to strong CCCS teams. Our U12s played Oratory School, with our As losing an exciting game 3-4, the Bs winning 1-0 and the Cs losing 1-4. This Saturday five of our teams travel to Cokethorpe and I hope that I will see many of you on the touch line offering your support. According to the weather forecast, warm clothes will be in order.
Yesterday, the second class pairings of the term took place. This time the theme was book-sharing which linked to World Book Day which is happening on Thursday next week. We are all greatly looking forward to seeing some interesting costumes that day. I particularly enjoyed hearing some of our Year 1s sharing their stories with our Year 6s and in return, having a Mr Men book read to them. It brought back fond memories for me of Mr Bump and Mr Tickle! Year 2 have also impressed me this week with some of their excellent Lego creations which are already starting to be displayed.
Whilst walking around the school yesterday, Mike Windsor and I popped in to hear our Year 5s sharing their recent stories based on the detective novels of Sherlock Holmes. The boys had managed to build tension in some especially well written pieces, some of which had character names which suited the storylines perfectly. Reviewing and improving their work had certainly been effective, and judging by how eagerly they were explaining their stories to their partners, they enjoyed the task immensely.
Next week continues to be busy with our Year 6s performing at Christ Church on Monday, and a whole school Open Day on Tuesday.
I wish you all a good weekend and look forward to seeing some of you at matches tomorrow.
Thunk for the week – if I deliberately drop a bucket of paint onto a canvas, is it Art? What if I drop it accidentally? Is it Art then?
Letter from the Head, 9 February 2018
Friday 9 February 2018
Yesterday was an important day for the Junior Section. They performed ‘Daniel and The Lions’ Den’ to a packed house in the school hall. There was standing room only to see some impressive acting, singing and dancing from our very talented Year 3 and 4s. The boys should be very proud of their efforts and the way in which they have all worked together to produce such a memorable performance. I have heard from numerous parents that there had been a lot of song rehearsals in cars on the way home from school in the lead up to the play. The tunes were certainly catchy and I could not get the encore out of my head on Thursday evening. I even caught myself humming away today at lunch.
We started this week with Safer Internet workshops and a talk to parents in the evening. Whilst the information received was hard hitting, it is certainly something that we should all be aware of. The internet is a wonderful tool when used in the right way and safely, and the earlier our boys learn about how to stay safe when using it, the better. We always encourage the boys to make the right choices, and I am sure that with the information they received on Monday, they are more likely to make better choices when it comes to social media and the internet. No matter what our personal views on social media are, it is here to stay and is a huge part of a child’s life now.
On Tuesday, Year 5 visited Abingdon School for a Science day. They returned so excited by the range of experiments with which they had been involved. How could one not be enthused by Science when it is so ‘hands on’? What an inspiring way to learn and sincere thanks to the Abingdon School staff who organised the day.
Most of the Middle and Senior Section boys were out on Wednesday playing football against Oratory Prep School and Abingdon. All the games were competitive affairs and our U10 A and U11A teams remained undefeated with impressive 5-0 and 6-1 wins respectively. Our U12s kicked off the season with a good win against Oratory Prep and a draw against Abingdon School whilst our U13s teams just lost out in two very close matches.
The IAPS swimming qualifiers last Friday saw some strong performances both from individuals and in the relays, and now we must wait to find out whether the times our boys achieved are fast enough to qualify for the National Finals. We have our fingers crossed having won three events in a remarkably competitive field.
I wish you all a very enjoyable half-term break. I am certain that the boys are more than ready for some down time, as are the staff!
Thunk for the week – If you could take a pill that meant you could never fail, would you?
Letter from the Head, 2 February 2018
Friday 2 February 2018
Last Friday our Pre-Prep Grandparents’ afternoon took place. This was extraordinarily well attended and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to so many proud grandparents and watching our younger boys playing ‘Old School’ games with them. There was not a Playstation in sight but instead, lots of lovely interactions taking place. As these boys move higher up the school, it will be lovely to welcome their grandparents back to watch them in productions, concerts and fixtures.
Football matches this week saw our U8As, U9As, U10As and 11As victorious once more against both The Oratory and St Hugh’s respectively, whilst the remainder of the games saw an even split of wins, losses and draws. There is certainly visible improvement across all teams, and with the popularity of football at break times too, that is no surprise!
Our first Hockey matches of the term took place on Wednesday against Cothill for our U12 and U13 D teams. After just two hours of practice, our U13s struggled to match a well drilled Cothill team and found themselves conceding regularly in the first half. However, with a few team adjustments, and a huge improvement in dynamism around the pitch, we drew the second half 2-2. Our U12s threw themselves into their game right from the start and a close match with a huge effort from both teams saw us finish 1-4 down. With more Hockey to come, there is much to be optimistic about on the MUSA.
The cross-country season is well and truly upon us. Last Friday saw us competing at the St Andrew’s event where boys from Years 3-8 performed very well, with our U12 and U13 teams winning their respective sections. A week later at Pinewood, our U11s and U13s ran impressively again, with Abingdon Prep having 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed runners in the U13 category.
I am currently waiting to hear the results of the IAPS swimming qualifiers which took place this afternoon at The Dragon School. I am sure our boys will have acquitted themselves admirably.
Thursday’s assembly saw 8J take to the stage. They conveyed an important message to the other boys about having a passion for something and being prepared to dedicate time to it in order to improve. There were demonstrations of cycling around the hall, a handsome Jack Russell on stage and we were treated to tales of karting, robotics and golf, to name but a few. The boys showed genuine enthusiasm for and commitment to their hobbies, and they explained it extremely well. Some in the audience may even have been inspired to take up a new pastime!
Play rehearsals are in full swing in both the junior and senior sections and I am very much looking forward to the Year 3 and 4 performance of ‘Daniel and the Lions' Den’ on Thursday next week. I have heard some beautiful singing coming out of the Hall on my walks around school and the boys seem very excited about the upcoming performance.
It was a pleasure to see all of those parents who were able to join me this morning for coffee and pastries. It was a welcome opportunity to catch up and chat about school and the boys. The staff were very grateful for the leftover pains au chocolat that appeared at morning break time!
And finally, this week’s Thunk – if you break down in the middle of the road, is your car parked?
Letter from the Head, 26 January 2018
Friday 26 January 2018
As the Spring Term races by and the weather seems to be worsening, Abingdon Prep has been a hive of activity all week. Thursday was our ‘paper aeroplane challenge’ in houses and buddy groups. There were some wonderfully creative designs on show. Some, when thrown, even managed to fly backwards, but a well-engineered few have progressed through to the finals. There are a few hot favourites but no one can predict what conditions will be like on finals day!
On one of my learning walks this week I was lucky enough to visit a Year 8 Science practical where neutralisation of acids was taking place and blue copper sulphate crystals were being created. The boys were able to explain fully the process behind the reactions and impressed Mr Windsor and me with their detailed understanding. The Year 8 Maths group were equally as impressive with their knowledge and manipulation of areas and perimeters using π. Our Year 7s were producing playlets and setting them to music in the Gamalan tradition – not a style of music that I had come across before. There were plenty of diverse and enlightening topics being studied yesterday morning.
The inclement weather on Wednesday did not stop our first football fixtures for the middle school going ahead against Pinewood. The U10 A, B and C teams all won exciting games whilst our U10 Ds lost a tight match with Pinewood’s U10Cs 3-4, having recovered to 3-3 from 3-0 down. The impressive U11 As won 10-2, whilst the Bs drew 2-2, Cs lost 2-3 and the Ds lost 7-9. It would be fair to say that football was the winner in this game! Our Year 7 and 8 cross-country team also competed in their first event of term this week, running out convincing winners against Abingdon, New College and Sacred Heart. To have two boys run under ten minutes for 2.8km was rather impressive.
Our Year 8 Art scholars are very busy preparing for their Art assessment day and this week they had a crank clay masterclass. Some of their animal sculptures are truly remarkable and I look forward greatly to seeing them after they have been fired in the kiln. They are certainly a talented group of young artists.
The concert platform last week was a resounding success again with many boys, some for the very first time, performing to an appreciative audience. If you missed it, please do look at the short video clip of some of the performances in the news section on our website – ‘Performers wowed the crowd’ – one cannot help but be impressed by our wonderful musicians.
I am still receiving some fascinating answers to these at morning drop-off (from both parents and pupils) so here is another Thunk for the week –
Is it better to play well and lose, or to play badly and win?
Good luck to all those brave quizzers who are back at school this evening eagerly anticipating Rob’s selection of general knowledge questions. I look forward to welcoming you all and to making my debut on the staff quiz team.
I hope you have a good weekend, and do remember to pop in for ‘coffee and pastries’ next Friday at morning drop-off in the Drama Studio.
With best wishes
Letter from the Head, 19 January 2018
Friday 19 January 2018
I started this week in assembly with a favourite quote of mine from the great golfer Gary Player, ‘The more I practise, the luckier I get’. It has been delightful to see that the boys in all areas of the school have been working really hard this week and I have been encouraged by the purposeful atmosphere in their classrooms. 8R have been sitting their mock scholarship exams and I thoroughly enjoyed being invited to see the Year 3s undertaking some science experiments. Year 3 had designed and created a range of parachutes with different shaped canopies and different surface areas. They proceeded to drop them from the top of the stairs and had to time how long it took for them to reach the floor. After that, they had to calculate average times and draw conclusions from the data sets collected. It was pleasing to see them so actively engaged in their own learning.
On Wednesday, our Under 13s kicked off the football season with matches against Davenies. This was our first ever fixture against this school. The A team were involved in a very competitive game and were just edged out 0-2, despite having much of the possession and creating lots of chances. Perhaps a little more shooting practice will be needed this week! The B team had a tougher game against strong opposition but worked hard to the end.
Our Year 4s visited Sulgrave Manor yesterday. The weather was kind (at least, it did not rain), and all of the boys had a wonderful time learning about the Tudors in such an impressive setting, helping to bring history to life. I am told that the boys carried off the Tudor costumes expertly and there were many Tudor themed packed lunches on show! It is hard to beat learning about key periods in history when you are surrounded by history itself.
Yesterday afternoon saw the first swimming gala of the year at Abingdon School for both A and B teams against Moulsford Prep and Abingdon. Our Under 12s had an exciting battle with Abingdon School but were defeated by just 2 points after a series of very tight finishes. Our U13s were extremely impressive and were victorious by a reasonably large margin. There is clearly a great strength in depth in our senior section swimmers and they should all be very pleased with their performances.
I wanted to take this opportunity to let you all know that I will be hosting another ‘Coffee and Pastries’ morning in the Drama studio on Friday 2 February from 8am to 9.15am. I really enjoyed chatting with so many of you last time and I hope that even more of you will be able to drop in on that day.
And finally, after receiving numerous impressive answers to last week’s offering, here is this week’s Thunk – Is there more future or more past?
I hope you have a relaxing weekend.
Letter from the Head, 12 January 2018
Friday 12 January 2018
I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas break and have settled back into the routines of the new year. Although I could not quite believe how dark it was, when standing outside on the first morning welcoming the boys back to school, it is good to be back and focused on an exciting term ahead. I have heard many lovely stories about the boys’ holidays and what they got up to, in addition to what their favourite presents were!
I would like to take this opportunity to let you know about our appointment of a Head of French for September. We had an excellent series of applications and from a very strong field we have appointed Mr Russell Macdonald. Russell is currently Head of MFL at Dean Close Prep School in Cheltenham, and he has also taught at a number of other prep schools. He stood out in the interview process as someone who was passionate about his subject and prep school education in general. He is currently a form teacher and also coaches Games. We very much look forward to welcoming him into the Abingdon Prep community in September.
I am also delighted to pass on that Jennifer Brown, who has been with us as Head of English on a maternity cover, has secured an exciting role as Head of English and Drama at Sherborne Prep in Dorset. I know that Jennifer is greatly looking forward to the production of ‘Smike’ which will be an excellent swansong for her.
We started the term with a delightful group of class pairings yesterday. The theme this time was card games. Having visited all the rooms, it was obvious that we have some boys well versed in the art of card games and I certainly wouldn’t have been tempted to join one of the poker tables or the Blackjack group! It is so enjoyable to watch the boys interacting so well and enjoying each other’s company across the different year groups. This was followed today with a well-earned home clothes day for Dragon House pupils after their victory in the House points competition last term.
Pre-season football was a great success with 32 boys in Year 7 and 8 and 36 boys in Year 5 and 6 attending the sessions. It is an event that we are very keen to continue to arrange for the boys prior to the beginning of each term. Thank you to the staff and boys who gave up the final day of the holidays to come in to practise for the season ahead.
I asked the boys in my assembly on Tuesday to consider the statement “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting what you’ve always gotten!” but related it to our effort grade descriptors (and some cricketing technique too!). I encouraged them to approach the term with a fresh attitude and desire to change the things they felt they might need to change. After popping into a number of lessons this week, I certainly saw evidence of a renewed desire to learn and improve themselves in areas that they may not previously have been seen as strong points. I really do hope that this positive approach is at the forefront of the boys’ thinking this term.
As far as thinking goes, I am hoping to include a Thunk in most of my weekly letters as I think it is an excellent way to spark interesting conversations across the dinner table or in the car on the way to or from school. There are sadly, however, no prizes for the best answers! What on earth is a Thunk, you may ask? Well, a Thunk is a simple-looking question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks and hopefully helps you start to look at the world in a new light. So here goes with the first one of the term….
Which is heavier – a lie or a promise?
I look forward to hearing some of thoughts on this one at the front gate next week!
Letter from the Head, 15 December 2017
Friday 15 December 2017
Perhaps I should not have ended my letter last week with a wish for a flurry of snow! We got a little more than that. However, I will happily include mention of snow again in this letter and hope for a repeat of last Sunday now that we have the holidays ahead of us.
It seems like yesterday that I was welcoming parents and pupils into school on my first day of term. Time has flown by and I feel very much a part of the Abingdon Prep community, especially now I know what people are talking about when they refer to ‘Firestorm’ and ‘The Bazaar’! It has been a great pleasure getting to know the boys.
I would like to take this opportunity to let you all know that Adrian Burn (OA 1963) will be stepping down as Chairman of Governors of the Abingdon Foundation on 31 December 2017 after nearly five years in post. He has given superb service. Over the past three years under his leadership the Governors have appointed new Headmasters both for Abingdon School and Abingdon Prep as well as a new Director of Finance and Operations. This has also been a period of considerable investment in facilities at both schools, including the works undertaken at Abingdon Prep School over the summer. I have been very grateful for the support that Adrian has offered me and Abingdon Prep.
Adrian’s replacement as Chairman of Governors will be Professor Mike Stevens. Professor Stevens is an OA (1968) who qualified in medicine at the University of London. He held senior leadership positions both in the UK and Europe and he is Emeritus Professor at the University of Bristol. He has been a Governor since 2014 and has recently been Vice-Chairman of Governors and Chair of the Education Committee. More information about Mike Stevens and our governing body is available here.
It is also an opportune moment to inform you that Claire Delo, our wonderful Head of Science, has taken the decision to retire at the end of this academic year. Claire has been a huge part of this school for a long time and she will be greatly missed by staff and pupils alike. However, I will save my words about her for the end of the Summer Term.
The House merit cup was awarded on Thursday this week and with just 15 merits separating first and second, it was certainly a close run thing. Dragon, however, were victorious and have earned themselves a home clothes day next term. The final results were as follows:
4th Unicorn, 3rd Phoenix, 2nd Griffin, 1st Dragon
It was a dreadful shame that our annual Carol Service had to be cancelled on Monday evening. However, we were delighted to be able to run a version of it in school this morning, before term ended. The music produced was, as always, of an extremely high standard and I would once again like to thank Debbie and all of her music staff for their outstanding efforts this term. I do apologise to all parents that we were unable to accommodate you for today’s concert, as there was simply not enough space in the School Hall.
I thoroughly enjoyed our colours and awards assembly yesterday. There was much to celebrate after such a busy term and I would like to thank the boys for their efforts throughout the term, both in and out of the classroom. They have achieved so much, and I know they will return in the new year with the same positive approach.
That just leaves me with the task of wishing you all a very merry Christmas and to thank you for all of your support and kind wishes in my first term as Headmaster at Abingdon Prep. I feel lucky to be part of such a warm community.
With best wishes
Letter from the Head, 8 December 2017
Friday 8 December 2017
We have almost arrived at the final week of term. The nights have drawn in and the weather is definitely on the turn. The Christmas tree is up and the decorations are out. Abingdon Prep, however, is showing no signs of slowing down for the holidays.
6S gave an assembly this week where the theme was the selfless spirit of Christmas. During the assembly they explained that they were undertaking a ‘reverse’ advent calendar idea, whereby they would bring to school an item of food when it was their turn to open a door. This collection of food items will be taken to a local charity where, hopefully, it may help struggling families enjoy a more festive Christmas. I believe this shows a very mature and compassionate attitude, and I commend them on their thoughtfulness.
There were a range of matches against Cheltenham College this week. Our U10 A and B both had convincing victories, U11 A and B both lost whilst the U11 C team played superbly in a 9-6 win. Our U13 As, Bs and U12 A s all lost in exciting contests whilst our U12 Bs ran out comfortable winners. This was a competitive and enjoyable final set of rugby matches for the term. I would like to thank our grounds staff publicly for all their hard work in maintaining our pitches to a very high standard, for the boys to enjoy. Three of the Cheltenham staff commented on the good condition of our pitches, considering it was December – not a trace of mud anywhere!
Yesterday it was the turn of 4A to see Jack and The Beanstalk. All came back with broad smiles having thoroughly enjoyed the pantomime. The Christmas period is well and truly upon us.
I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that Linda Rolls will be leaving us at the end of this term to take up a position as a Teaching Assistant in her daughter’s primary school. I would like to thank her for all of the work she has done with our Pre-Prep boys over the years. She will be greatly missed and we wish her all the very best in her new role.
On Thursday next week it is our Christmas Lunch. At the suggestion of one of the Year 5 boys, we have decided that the boys will be allowed to wear Christmas jumpers to the special lunch that day, and would ask that they donate £1 to our school charity for this event, to be collected by the form teacher in registration. Boys should come into school in normal uniform and then put their festive jumpers on for first break. Boys in Years 5 to 8 who are involved in the House Debating Competition after lunch will need to return to their school jumpers for the competition.
I am greatly looking forward to my first Abingdon Prep Carol Service on Monday, and have heard some delightful singing practices as I have walked past the music room this week. I do hope that all parents of boys in Years 3 to 8 will be able to attend. It is always a wonderful way to round off such a busy term, giving the boys a chance to showcase some of their musical talents and also an opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. I know that St Helen’s Church looks forward to welcoming us but please do bear in mind that parking can be difficult, so please allow plenty of time to get there for a 6.30pm start.
I have my fingers crossed for a little flurry of snow this weekend! It seems to have been a while since we have experienced it in this part of country. I hope you all have a good weekend and I look forward to seeing many of you on Monday at the Carol Service.
Letter from the Head, 1 December 2017
Friday 1 December 2017
I would like to start my mailing this week by extending enormous thanks to everyone who was involved in the Bazaar. It was a wonderful afternoon and the generosity of our parent body is hugely appreciated, with exciting raffle prizes being donated in addition to all the work from our impressive JPA in preparation for the event. The boys certainly enjoyed themselves and the sugar rush seemed to have worn off by the time they all returned to school on Monday morning!
Springfield School, one of our school charities this year, brought three pupils to Abingdon Prep on Wednesday for a Forest School lesson led by Steve. Our Reception boys helped the Springfield pupils enjoy their Forest School experience and further cemented a close relationship between the two schools.
Wednesday’s arctic weather saw every boy in Year 5 and 6 play in matches against Magdalen College School. Despite freezing hands, the boys did Abingdon Prep proud with a strong set of results. Our U10 As, Bs and Cs all won whilst the Ds lost out in a close contest. In the U11s, our As and Ds won, the Bs drew and the C team just lost in another tight match. A day later our U8s and U9s also took on Magdalen College School. The U8A team won a very close game which sees them undefeated for the season, whilst the U8B and C teams both scored lots of tries but narrowly lost. As for the Year 4s, our U9As lost a superb game 14-16, but both the U9B and C teams ran out winners.
The Year 7 and 8 House matches also took place on Wednesday and Dragon finished victorious, unbeaten in both the A and B team tournaments. Again, every boy in those year groups took part and played with a great pride for their House. Rugby continues this Saturday with matches against Cothill and I look forward to greeting all of our supporters on the touchline.
Year 3 and 4AP visited the Oxford Playhouse to see Jack and the Beanstalk this week. The boys returned very enthusiastic about the show. It certainly reinforced that the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun.
Each of our Houses spent Thursday morning assembly time choosing their House Charities for the year. They have chosen the following: Dragon – Children’s Air Ambulance, Griffin – Great Ormond Street, Phoenix – Help for Heroes, Unicorn – Wild At Heart. I was fortunate to hear a number of our Year 8s explaining why they had chosen to propose certain charities and it was fascinating to hear their personal reasons for wanting to give them our support.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Pre-Prep Nativity today and it was a delight to watch. Our younger boys should be very proud of their performances on stage. We undoubtedly have a number of budding thespians coming through the school. They had learned all of their lines superbly and gave heart-warming entertainment to a packed audience.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind parents to check the weekly mailings as this is one of our main methods of communication, and there are often important documents or information relating to certain events that may need to be returned to school within a specific timeframe. Your support with this would be greatly appreciated.
I hope you all have a relaxing weekend.
Letter from the Head, 24 November 2017
Friday 24 November 2017
It has been another busy week here at Abingdon Prep with a wide range of autumnal weather conditions to contend with.
On Thursday morning, our second ‘class pairings’ of the term took place, this time with a board games session. I witnessed some Year 5s pitting their wits against some Year 8s at Chess, Monopoly, Battleships and Trivial Pursuit, whilst the Year 1s were partnered with Year 7s during which Snakes and Ladders, Connect 4 and Guess Who all featured prominently. Whilst walking round the groups with Mike Windsor, there was a warm feeling of camaraderie between the boys which is such an important element in any successful school. Unlike many of my family games as a child, no one dissolved in a tantrum with Monopoly money being strewn across the room!
Prep-Prep assembly was led by Rachel this week who told an engaging interactive story to the boys about teamwork and cooperation. I had the pleasure of handing out Achievement and Effort Awards which the boys have worked very hard for. Earlier in the week, I presented the first two Headmaster's Certificates for achieving five Golds and I know there are many other boys who have also nearly attained this total. It is one of the highlights of my week when boys bring work to show me that has been rewarded with a Gold.
Another packed week on the games field saw the U10s participate in a strong tournament under lights at Tilsley Park. They won one match, lost one and drew one. As a team they have certainly improved over the course of the term. Our U13As competed at the Pinewood 7s tournament, gaining an excellent win and a draw whilst a combination of an U12/13C team played in a triangular fixture against Christ Church Cathedral School and Pinewood.
House Rugby took centre stage in the Junior Section and the standard of play and commitment to the cause was very impressive indeed. In Year 4, eventual winners Phoenix won all their games by a single try so it shows how closely contested the matches were. The result was as follows: 1st – Phoenix, 2nd – Dragon, 3rd – Unicorn, 4th – Griffin
Year 3 House Rugby matches are still underway, with results hopefully to come next week. The trophy is still all to play for with the Middle and Senior Section competitions to come.
The annual Christmas Bazaar will take place tomorrow and I am looking forward to being involved for the first time. There is a palpable sense of excitement amongst the boys who have been eagerly helping to prepare their stalls over the course of the week. I very much look forward to welcoming everyone into school and starting the long build up to Christmas. Now the John Lewis advert has been released, we are all allowed to start talking about it, especially as the Christmas trees are now on display and fully decorated in school.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the Bazaar.
Letter from the Head, 17 November 2017
Friday 17 November 2017
Year 6 took great delight in their hands-on Forces Day delivered by Science Oxford this week. There were gravity defying hoops (magnetism I am reliably informed!) and the boys designed and built KNEX cars and had to make them come to a stop in set areas using motors and rubber bands. We certainly have some budding engineers in this group! It is a great pleasure to be able to give the boys more hands-on experience to match the theory that they have been learning in the classroom.
Even though the rain was falling, there were some exciting matches played across our Under 8 and Under 9 age groups this week. Our Under 9 matches with Chandlings were great contests across the board with us winning one by a single try and losing two by the same margin, and I am told that there were some admirable tackles made by both teams. What a wonderful way to be learning about sportsmanship and the joys of matches! Our Under 8s also competed extremely well and finished with two wins and a loss, in another series of very close games.
Continuing the sports theme, today we have our first cross country event of the year at Cokethorpe for our Under 9, Under 10 and Under 11 teams. With all the training they have been doing after school, I am sure that they will acquit themselves well.
I hope you may have seen some photos of our magnificent Silver Coin Trails that took place on Wednesday to support one of our charities, Springfield School. It was an impressive feat to recreate their school logo in shield form and a sincere thank you to all the boys and parents who donated so generously.
Anti-bullying week took place at school this week, with our boys taking on board the important message of ‘All Different, All Equal’. There have been assemblies, PSHCE lessons, workshops and form times devoted to the topic and it is so important, although a focus for this week, that it is always in our minds and not just at certain times of the year. A happy boy is one who is making good progress across all areas of school life.
As autumn comes to a close and winter begins to set in, please do remind your sons to bring in a coat to school. Break times in the drizzle and cold are much more fun with coats and hats, and hopefully the healthy time outside might help to keep those winter sniffles away too.
Please could I also remind you that if you have any queries at the end of the day, please do speak to the staff in the School Office so that they might be able either to answer them or direct you to the right person.
And finally, I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with a number of parents at my informal coffee morning after drop off today. I would very much like to repeat this on a monthly basis, so please do look out for future dates. I hope that those who could not come along this time, may be able to do so next time. The pains au chocolat really were rather delicious and worth coming for!
With best wishes
Letter from the Head, 10 November 2017
Friday 10 November 2017
There is only one place I could possibly start my letter this week and that is Firestorm. What an event! I can safely say that I have never seen anything quite like it. The light sabre battles were so obviously enjoyed by all the boys, and it was a pleasure to watch the Pre-Prep pupils playing on their own mound area whilst the older boys jousted on Josca's field. As for the firework display, it was simply stunning. Just when I thought nothing could beat the house figures firing at one another, the unicorn breathed a ten foot flame from its horn, swiftly followed by the griffin shooting flames back! To call it ‘breathtaking’ would be an understatement.
The joy on the children's faces (and on the faces of those experiencing the event for the first time too) was visible. The whole evening was a real show of Abingdon Prep community spirit and I am delighted that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. As I mentioned last week, these events do not happen without the enormous time and effort from the organisers, and I would once again like to say a huge thank you to Paul Wentworth for putting on his last Firestorm with the support of his wonderful team led by Simon Stanford. Paul certainly went out with a bang! I am sure you will also join me in extending our thanks to all others who gave up their valuable time to make the event run so smoothly, namely our remarkable JPA representatives, and also many other parents who kindly volunteered their help on the night. Our next event will be the Christmas Bazaar on Saturday 25 November, so please do add your donations to the boxes currently outside the School Office.
Our Service of Remembrance today was a very moving event. The boys observed the two minute silence with genuine respect, and it gave them a quiet opportunity to reflect on how lucky we are to live in a world shaped by those who so willingly gave their lives in conflicts so that we might live in peace. The Last Post and Reveille were skilfully played by Ruairi (Year 7) on his trumpet. The service was preceded by a poignant assembly from 5S on Thursday, sharing their thoughts and personal stories about relatives and events in WWI and WWII.
There were three rugby festivals this week involving our U8s, 9s, 10s and 12s, in addition to matches for most of the U11s and U13s. It was wonderful to see so many boys out representing the school this week and performing so well.
The term certainly does not slow down next week, with Science Oxford visiting school to put on a Forces Day for Year 6. Anti-Bullying week commences on Monday with an assembly, and will run through PSHCE lessons, section assemblies, form times and in workshops on Thursday for the boys, hopefully giving them another chance to reflect on attitudes and behaviours towards others. This year's message is 'All Equal, All Different'. Abingdon Prep is a special place to be part of, and all of us should be aware of how important it is to be yourself and be proud of who you are. Do take the opportunity to familiarise yourselves with our anti-bullying charter and our policy, which can be found online and also as a paper copy at Reception and in the Prep-Prep letter rack.
Our Pre-Prep staff visited Springfield Special School on Thursday, one of our charities this year, with the aim of setting up joint events with them in the next couple of terms. Year 1 will be experimenting with some new games in PE lessons over the next few weeks using a jingle ball, and are hoping to teach these games to Springfield pupils next term.
As I write this, Year 4 are out visiting Christ Church, Abingdon, and I am looking forward to finishing off the week listening to some of our boys playing in the Concert Platform this evening. It is encouraging to see so many boys taking the chance to share their musical talent.
On Monday next week we will have a new face in our School Office. Mrs Karen Cornford is joining us as School Secretary. I know that we will all welcome her with open arms into the Abingdon Prep community and help her to settle in to her new role.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to invite parents to join me in the Drama Studio next Friday morning, 17 November, after drop off, for coffee and pastries and an informal catch-up.
I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend planned. I will be going to Uxbridge to play my first game of vets football this season. There could be a great deal of warming up and stretching required before kick off!
With best wishes
Letter from the Head, 3 November 2017
Friday 3 November 2017
It seems some time ago now that, on the first Sunday of half term, twelve Abingdon Prep boys participated in the Abingdon Vale Biathlon and achieved a superb set of results in what was a strong competition. Six of the twelve finished in the top three in their respective age groups, with the others narrowly missing out on podium finishes in most cases. This was a commendable effort, especially given that the event took place during the school holidays!
On Monday this week, our Year 1 and Reception boys were treated to a day about Divali, during which they wore traditional dress and ate Indian food, as well as being introduced to the key characters of Rama and Sita. They were very excited to tell me all about it when I saw them later in the day.
In the classroom, or more specifically out of the classroom, I had the pleasure of watching the Year 8 CDT recycled material hovercraft race across the swimming pool. Stormy conditions made the crossing hazardous but a number of vessels were sturdy enough in design to make the crossing successfully and rather quickly too!
Year 3 were excited to be using their pin hole cameras for the first time, framing up the tree line within the school front door, and I had some very clear explanations of how they worked. We clearly have a number of budding scientists in the group.
There was a ‘Free Will’ debate in Year 7s RE lesson to which I thoroughly enjoyed listening, and hearing the perspectives of the boys. An appreciation of others’ points of view was evident, matched with rebuttals and personal opinions. It is great to see the boys being given opportunities to express their views and improve their all-round communication skills.
This week’s Wednesday fixtures produced a very high standard of play across all of the age groups. The Oratory Prep School’s physicality and desire to break the tackle line meant that they just edged out Abingdon Prep across most games, but our boys should take great heart from the way they played and the fact that they were able to match strong opposition in so many of the matches.
House meetings in buddy groups took place yesterday, and I was fortunate enough to see all the Houses competing in their ping pong ball and cup games. It is such a valuable opportunity for the younger boys to get acquainted with the older ones and interact with them, and I know the older boys enjoy running the activities.
Continuing the House theme, Phoenix House have enjoyed the treat of a home clothes day today. They were house points winners for the first half of this term and it is wonderful to see their efforts being rewarded. I know that Griffin, Dragon and Unicorn will all be striving to overtake them in the second half of term, and to earn themselves a home clothes day.
The boys (and most parents to whom I have spoken!) are all looking forward immensely to Firestorm this evening, as indeed am I since it will be my first. I have my fingers crossed for some kind weather and the BBC weather app seems to suggest that we might just be in luck! I would like to take this opportunity to thank Paul Wentworth who will be arranging the fireworks display for the last time tonight. It has clearly been a labour of love and I know all of the Abingdon Prep community is enormously grateful for the time and effort he has put into making it such a special occasion each year. I would also like to thank the countless volunteers from the parent body who help out at this exciting event, as without them it could not take place. I personally cannot wait for the hog roast!
Lastly, I would like to extend a warm invitation to parents to join me after drop-off from 8.15am on the morning of Friday 17 November, for an informal coffee in the Library. I look forward to catching up with some of you there.
In the meantime, I hope you all have a relaxing weekend.
Letter from the Head, 13 October 2017
Friday 13 October 2017
Half-term has arrived! From chatting to the boys over lunch this week, it seems that many of you have exciting trips planned, so fingers crossed for some Autumn sunshine, whether you are staying at home or going further afield for the fortnight.
The ‘Bold and Bright’ theme for Home Clothes Day was certainly taken literally today by the boys, and it was a fun way to raise money for one of our school charities, Springfield School. Sunglasses were a must if you were spending the day with one or two of the boys…and a few of the staff!
Thank you to all of the boys who gave up their Saturday morning last week to be part of our Open Morning. It was a hugely successful event and the boys showed off their school in its best light, demonstrating hard work, ability and personable qualities in equal measure. Our Year 7 guides were exceptional ambassadors and it was a pleasure to see the boys showing such pride in their school.
Fifteen pupils from Years 6 to 8 went to Radley College to participate in their ‘Orchestra Day’ this week. It was an inspirational opportunity for them to play with other high quality musicians from local prep schools, and they had a wonderful time, thoroughly enjoying the challenge of performing difficult pieces with others they had only just met. Debbie reported that the day was spent rehearsing hard in preparation for a final concert including separate brass, string and concert band pieces followed by all one hundred musicians coming together to play Mussorgsky's 'Night On A Bare Mountain'. It was a marvellous day!
Our Reception boys visited Cogges Farm on Monday and had a fantastic time. They learnt how to bake bread in a hot bread oven, grind corn into flour, plant corn seeds in little pots they had made and they retold the story of the Little Red Hen. They followed this with an expedition into the woods, where they had to cross over the rickety bridge with a troll waiting beneath! It was delightful to hear them so enthused about the trip on their return.
Matches were played on Wednesday against Beachborough and a very pleasing set of results were returned. I was lucky enough to referee the Under 11B team who played with pride in their shirt and showed great team spirit, alongside some impressive rugby skills. All matches were closely contested with Abingdon Prep winning the majority of the fixtures.
I very much enjoyed catching up with a number of Year 6 parents at Parents’ Evening this week. It was a valuable opportunity to discuss the term so far. I think it is fair to say that we all felt the term has flown by.
I would like to take this opportunity to let you know that Lynne Hough, our Head of French, will be retiring at the end of this academic year. As a result we will be starting the process of recruiting her successor over the next few weeks. Lynne has been with Abingdon Prep for many years and will be greatly missed. I will, of course, say more about her in the summer. In the meantime, I know that Lynne will continue to inspire and work hard with the boys in the classroom.
We also say a final farewell to Sallie today. She has been an absolutely wonderful School Secretary and she will be greatly missed. I know that you would all join with me in wishing her the very best for her new role.
That just leaves me to wish you all a relaxing and restful half term and to thank you for making my first half term here so enjoyable. It is a lovely place to work and I have certainly been made to feel part of the community. I hope that the boys will get you to look up the National Trust “50 things to do before you are 11 ¾ ” and that you can get them to tick off a few more from the list. I was astounded in my assembly on Monday that not all the boys had had a conker fight. Perhaps that might be the first one to tick off!
Letter from the Head, 6 October 2017
Friday 6 October 2017
As we near the halfway mark of the term, school seems to get busier and busier. On Monday, our Year 8s visited the Natural History Museum in Oxford for a combined Art and Science day. I hope many of you have seen the photos on Twitter or Facebook of the boys sketching some of the exhibits. The boys showed me some of their drawings on their return and I was impressed with the likeness they had created of the creatures they had seen there.
Tuesday saw a very busy Year 5 Parents’ Evening. I very much enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with several parents whilst they waited for their appointments and to chat about their son’s start to the term.
On Wednesday a host of rugby matches against Chandlings took place for the U10 and U11 teams. It was wonderful to see every single boy in both Year 5 and Year 6 representing school in those fixtures and thoroughly enjoying it. Almost every game was very closely contested and the overall results reflected this with three wins, two draws and two losses.
Our Year 5s visited the Black Country Museum yesterday. This was the first time that Abingdon Prep had visited the museum and the feedback from the boys suggested that the trip was very enjoyable, and it should be repeated next year. The two highlights of the trip, according to the boys, were going down into a real coal mine and the sight of their teacher being given ‘six of the best’ by a Victorian schoolmistress! That alone would surely be reason enough to return.
Today, eight of our Year 5 and Year 6 boys are heading to Magdalen College School to represent Abingdon Prep in their annual quiz. Hopefully, they have been swatting up and putting in the hours watching ‘Eggheads’ and ‘Pointless’ as revision! I am sure they will have enjoyed the day and perhaps set themselves up for a life of future quizzing.
Pre-Prep Harvest Festival is also taking place this afternoon. This is a lovely event and I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the parents who have kindly contributed towards this. I know our offerings are greatly appreciated and hugely valued by those in our community who need them most. This year, they will be donated to the Gatehouse Charity which provides meals for the homeless.
We are busy preparing for our whole school Open Morning which takes place tomorrow, and I look forward to welcoming the boys into school. It is our chance to show off our excellent school to a new group of parents, with the Year 7 boys taking them on tours and answering their questions. This may well have been how so many of you were first introduced to the school yourselves.
Although chronologically out of order, I would also like to mention our Concert Platform that took place last Friday. This was my first opportunity to hear our talented musicians this term and I was thrilled to hear such a range of instruments and the standard to which they were played. Boys just starting out along their musical journeys played alongside more seasoned performers and it was lovely seeing how much they enjoyed the opportunity to play in front of an audience. I would encourage more of you to come along on a Friday afternoon to listen to these events. It is a delightful way to end a week, and there is even coffee and cake to tempt you into the Hall!
As you can see, it certainly has been a busy week but that is exactly what life in a thriving prep school should be like. Busy boys, learning both in and out of the classroom, arriving home tired but fulfilled.
Letter from the Head, 29 September 2017
Friday 29 September 2017
I was lucky enough to sit in our Charity Assembly on Thursday to hear the Headmistress of Springfield School talk to our boys about the work they do there and how many challenges their pupils face. This year, Springfield School is one of our chosen charities and it was a pleasure to hear Emma talk about inspiring their children, who have a wide range of special needs, and installing key equipment to help their children see what they ‘can’ achieve, not what they can’t. It was lovely to see pictures of them enjoying adapted playground equipment and playing cricket on their fields, in spite of the difficulties they face. Our boys even learnt a little sign language as well! We hope that we will be able to set up a visit between the two schools sometime this year. It is so important that the boys know what they are raising money for in our charity events and how much benefit that can bring.
As I wandered round school popping into lessons this week, I was treated to a huge variety of topics. Our Year 8 classes were given a fascinating talk on Visual Thinking in Art, referencing Romanesque Church architecture with beautiful images of Durham Cathedral, Orthodox Russian Churches and Istanbul’s Mosques. They answered questions about this far more knowledgeably than I could have. This tied in well to a Year 7 Latin lesson about Roman Baths and the names of the different rooms within. Year 6 were writing informal letters based on characters from the novel ‘Holes', whilst the other Year 6 class were in Science discovering the upthrust that water provides to an object. It was delightful to watch our boys answer and ask questions to help further their knowledge.
I was also able to watch a raft of matches this week. Our plucky U13s lost a couple of close games to Abingdon whilst our U12s came away with a win, a draw and a loss – all closely contested games in which the boys really had to push themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the first U8 Tag Rugby matches of term and I must congratulate our parents for turning out in great numbers and supporting the boys, who performed admirably in high scoring matches across the board. Our U9s continued their strong start to the season with another set of victories in the away games against Christ Church Cathedral School.
Thursday and Friday also saw Fundamental British Values workshops in which all of the boys from Reception to Year 6 took part. Pablo involved them all fully to demonstrate what these values meant. The boys loved his energetic style and appreciated the message that he was conveying.
Special thanks should go to the JPA this week for organising such a successful Macmillan Coffee Morning, but also to all the parents who kindly baked cakes to donate to the event. It was lovely to see so many parents chatting away in the Library, and I certainly had to restrain myself from polishing off the remaining cakes at the end of the morning!
Finally, I would like to end my letter by letting you know that Sallie Swain, our wonderful school secretary, has been offered a very exciting new role at Radley College and will be leaving us at half term. I am delighted for her, but know that we will all miss her greatly and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for everything that she has done for Abingdon Prep and all of the staff, parents and pupils. Nothing has been too much trouble and I know the boys have always been able to go to Sallie about anything and everything. Sallie will be greatly missed but she goes with all of our best wishes and we hope that she will stay in touch.
I hope you all have a good weekend.
Letter from the Head, 22 September 2017
Friday 22 September 2017
I have been greatly encouraged this week by the positive attitude and approach that our Year 8 boys have demonstrated, both in and out of the classroom. In PSHCE lessons, they have been talking about leadership and decided that being a good role model was probably one of the most important aspects of this. One of the key thoughts for them was that they should be demonstrating to the younger boys in school the right way to behave and act, to ensure that everyone gets the most out of life at Abingdon Prep. On that tack, we now have more young leaders in our activities program for Badminton, Tag Rugby, Hockey and Gardening club. It is great to see so many boys seizing their opportunities and broadening their horizons. There might even be the makings of a few young teachers amongst them!
Our Year 4s have been out for the last couple of days, on their first residential trip, trekking along the Ridgeway. Their excitement was palpable as they came into school in home clothes yesterday, all set for a real adventure. School is so much more than just learning in the classroom, and the teamwork skills and bonding opportunities that they will get from this trip will stay with them for years to come.
I was lucky to see great teamwork in action on Wednesday when I refereed my first rugby games at Abingdon Prep. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing our U11Cs and Ds try so hard and make tackles that even they thought they could not make. There were a number of very impressive performances on the rugby pitch on Wednesday, and I hope the boys take on board the attitude that Ben Stokes (England Cricketer) feels is so vital in all aspects of life – “Don’t improve to be better than others, improve to be better than you were yesterday”. If they can consistently do this, they will be able to accomplish so much more than they thought they were capable of, across all aspects of the curriculum.
Knocks on my study door this week have led to me being shown kaleidoscopes made by Year 4s, desk tidies by Year 7s, and buzzer wires by Year 5s, just like the games we play at fairs, but much harder in some cases. The boys were clearly very proud of their creations and keen to explain how they worked and how they made them. A normal week in CDT from what I can see!
It has been Safety Week this week, with important messages about how to keep oneself safe in and out of school, as well as online. These messages are so important for our boys as they start to make sense of the world around them and have access to more and greater technologies than we, the older generation (I speak for myself!), ever could have imagined. An assembly was given by the NSPCC, and workshops too, for our Year 5 and 6 cohorts. Add to that an extremely exciting visit to Pre-Prep by the Fire Engine, and it has been a busy week for all.
With best wishes
Letter from the Head, 15 September 2017
Friday 15 September 2017
It was lovely to welcome so many of you to our informal parents’ evening on Tuesday this week. I hope you found it useful to meet with your son’s new form teacher and members of staff, as well as other parents. It certainly demonstrated to me the wonderful sense of community that Abingdon Prep has. I know that Mike Windsor enjoyed meeting many of you as well.
The AGM for the JPA which followed was an absolute eye-opener for me. I did not realise quite how many wonderful events they run, and I am looking forward to being involved in these events, starting with our Fireworks evening at the start of November. The JPA does a fantastic job to raise money for school projects and for charity, and I would encourage you to support them and help out, if you can, at any of the upcoming events.
Wednesday afternoon saw the start of matches for the boys, with a tough set of fixtures against St Hugh’s. I was lucky enough to watch the U13B and C teams, who showed great determination and spirit, even after conceding a number of tries. The U13B team should be very proud of their second half display, which, if they can repeat, will lead to victories later in the season.
The first of our ‘class pairings’ took place yesterday. This is a completely new idea to me and I really enjoyed seeing the camaraderie shown between the classes when engaged with their construction projects. The older boys were eager to help the younger ones with the K’Nex and Lego, and the results were spectacular. Seeing boys in different classes working together and enjoying each other’s company reinforced the strong sense of community that pervades the school.
Last Saturday, our Year 6s returned from their Cornbury bushcraft trip still decorated with camo paint from their activities. Some seemed to be still in the same clothing that they were wearing when they departed, just encased in a layer of caked mud! All of them seemed to have had a great time and there is photographic evidence to prove it!
Jez Fernandez visited Abingdon Prep this week to talk to the boys in Years 5-8 about resilience. It was a fascinating presentation which our boys seemed enthralled by. It sent an important message, very closely aligned with growth mindset and being prepared to fail. ‘FAIL’ is simply the First Attempt In Learning, and we can benefit so much from failing the first time and then having to find a solution. As Thomas Edison said about his lightbulb invention, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. As the nights begin to draw in, we can all be glad that Thomas Edison did not give up!
I hope you all have a good weekend.
Letter from the Head, 8 September 2017
Friday 8 September 2017
I have had a thoroughly enjoyable first week at Abingdon Prep and would like to thank everyone openly for extending such a warm welcome to me. It has been lovely to see the boys come back into school with such positive attitudes and genuine excitement about the term ahead and to meet so many parents at the front entrance in the mornings.
I believe that a positive approach to all aspects of school life will help the boys make the most of their talents. I really enjoyed seeing this in abundance in a Year 4 Drama lesson (where I was asked to join in) and a Year 7 CDT lesson. The Year 7 boys were so excited watching their ‘Jitterbugs’ crashing into each other on the table! Rolling toy cars down half pipes in the Reception play area was another highlight and reminded me of my own attempts at this along a trackway down the stairs when I was their age. A pile up at the bottom always ensued and that certainly hasn’t changed, judging by the mass of cars at the bottom of the pipes!
My first assembly focused on the importance of good manners and always trying one’s best, no matter what the task in front of you. I have been greatly heartened by seeing the boys put these two messages into practice regularly as I have walked around school.
The Multi Use Sports Area (astroturf) has been an enormous hit with the boys in Years 6, 7 and 8 at break times, although, having personally retrieved a number of footballs which had made their way over the high fences, there may be some additional shooting practice required. The redesigned car park seems to have worked well and it is good to see so many of you utilising the drop and go area.
Our first trip of the year took place this week as Year 6 departed for Cornbury Bushcraft. I look forward to hearing the boys’ stories about creepy crawlies and sleeping in self built dens on their return to school. Trips like this are a great way to foster teamwork and an excellent way to start the year for our Year 6s.
I genuinely feel part of the Abingdon family already and I hope that this is also the case for all of our new boys and parents who, like me, have joined Abingdon Prep this term. I hope lots of you will be able to join us at the Informal Parents’ Evening next Tuesday to meet other parents, both new and old, as well as staff.
Once again, thank you for making my first week here such an enjoyable one. With best wishes
Letter from the Head, 1 September 2017
Friday 1 September 2017
I hope you are well and have enjoyed a lovely summer. The start of term is almost upon us and whilst we have been away, Abingdon Prep has been a hive of activity. A huge amount of work has been undertaken and I am sure you will be as delighted as I am with the improvements to both the fabric of the building, the site and the facilities. The boys will benefit enormously from it.
We have fifty one new pupils joining the Abingdon Prep community this term and I would like to offer a very warm welcome to all of them and their families. I am sure that they will really enjoy being part of such a supportive community. As a new starter myself, I am also looking forward to getting to know the boys and their parents, and I hope you will bear with me as I try to learn everyone's names!
On that note, I would like to draw your attention to the Informal Parents’ Evening on Tuesday 12 September which will be an excellent opportunity for you to meet with me, the staff and other parents. I look forward to welcoming as many of you as possible to that event.
At the start of this academic year we are also welcoming a number of new staff:
Jo Caputo joins us as a Year 3 form teacher
Alison Heaton joins us as a Year 4 form teacher
3 new gap year students – Sam Barder, Edward Cockerham and Jamie Webster
Over the summer, as part of the building project, there has been some changes to the School driveway as detailed in Mike Windsor's letter, which includes important information about parking, drop and go, and exit. I am sure that this will ease much of the congestion at busy times, and it will also make the area much safer for the pupils entering and leaving school. Staff will be on hand on the first morning to offer direction and assistance.
I look forward to meeting you all in the very near future and to welcoming your sons into School on Tuesday.