12 October 2017

Abingdon Prep welcomed back one of their old boys to this year's Open Morning. Patrick McCubbin left Abingdon Prep in 2013 and is now one of the Joint Heads of School at the Senior School. Patrick talked fondly of his time at Abingdon Prep. Below is what he said:

'Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

First of all I would like to say thank you to Mr Williams for inviting me to say a few words about my time at Abingdon Prep. It is something that I could not be happier discussing.

I am now in the Upper Sixth at Abingdon School, studying Biology, Chemistry and Further Maths, and I was a pupil here at Abingdon Prep from 2004 to 2013. When I started in 2004, this hall also served as the sports hall and the block containing the art department had not yet been built. It is remarkable how much the school has physically grown in the last decade, and it was interesting to have the school grow in size as we grew up too!

To a Sixth Former such as myself, studying three or four subjects, it seems quite amazing that I had the time to study the number and variety of subjects that I did during my time here, especially when you add this to the activities that go on outside of the classroom. I myself enjoyed the rugby and football here, and I also played the piano. I fondly remember playing in the school music competition at the end of each year and singing in the Christmas concerts. Today I have put on my music colours tie, since I was awarded it on my very last day here at Abingdon Prep, and have not had the opportunity to wear it to school until now.

There was also a lot of time for fun outside the classroom and away from the sports field. I distinctly recall when my class had a conker competition. He probably does not remember this, but I clearly remember my conkers’ triumph over that of my then teacher Stefan. Unfortunately this heroic victory took it out of my conker and it promptly lost in the next round!

Of course I also recall the Ridgeway trip in Year 4, which no doubt contributed to my continued love of our local countryside, and also the memorable final year trip to Normandy. I gather that both trips are still going strong, which is of no surprise to me at all. The Year 6 ‘bushcraft trip’, learning outdoor survival techniques, has also proved helpful in an entirely unexpected way – last year on a senior school trip I visited Star City in Russia, which is where Tim Peake trained to go to the International Space Station. We had a go at some winter survival training cosmonaut style, so I was very grateful that I already knew the intricacies of shelter design and how to build a fire!

On a serious note, going to Abingdon Prep was without doubt the most comprehensive preparation I could have for life at senior school. First and foremost was the quality of the teaching. I can say from experience that by the end of my time here in many of my subjects I was approaching GCSE level standard. As an example, my Abingdon Prep French Grammar book was a great help during revision for my French GCSE, and I wrote about a geography case study I learnt here in my Geography GCSE exam, which no doubt contributed to my A star in both subjects. This also meant that during my GCSE years I could work around the syllabus to an even higher standard, which has set me up for my A levels, and hopefully next for university. Several of my year at Abingdon Prep were delighted to win exhibitions and scholarships to the Senior School.

Attending Abingdon Prep gave me the opportunity to push myself beyond the school curriculum, from maths challenges to the science project that I completed in my last term here. During the latter I actually collected such interesting results that I have even mentioned it on my university application, which I think really demonstrates the high standards of academic achievement promoted here.

The values of humility, kindness and hard work that are instilled here are of benefit whatever you turn to next in life. Every single one of my year at Abingdon Prep would agree with these sentiments. As an example, one friend Josh rowed in the Abingdon first boat last year, a fantastic sporting achievement that requires determination, resilience and commitment. Another Prep school friend, Peter, whom I still sit with in Chemistry, is applying to study medicine at university, which of course requires compassion and academic rigour at the same time. Earlier some of you may have met Harry, who like me is part of the team of prefects at the senior school, and also plays for the first team hockey. To my mind, the most important value of an Abingdon Prep education is the positive, humble attitude that it instils in you.

Thank you for listening to me talk about my experiences at Abingdon Prep, and I hope that you enjoy the rest of your day here.'

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