15 Jan 2021


This week’s mailing is:



From the Headmaster to all parents:

Dear Parents

During this period of remote working we continue to run a varied and engaging programme in the Other Half. We are all aware of the importance of stimulating intellectual and physical activity for our wellbeing and this is particularly true for the young. There are 108 activities to choose from and they suit every interest and aptitude, so we encourage all our students to make the most of the opportunities available to them. Students can view all the activities available on this Firefly page.

We are delighted with the way in which the students have engaged with remote working. However, we are also aware of the increased fatigue caused by the extra screen-time that it calls for. Lessons will therefore cease at 1.15pm on the afternoon of Friday 29 January so that students and staff can have some time away from their screens. Students may wish to enjoy some exercise outside or read a book or play board games; the only ‘rule’ is to get away from screens. The provision for the children of key workers will run as normal and we will ensure that the students involved have the opportunity to get outside or to read quietly. Lessons will resume as normal on Monday 1 February.

I remain very much aware of the ongoing uncertainty around this year’s public exams. Parents may have seen speculation in the press about ‘mini exams’ and so on. All we know for sure is that the Department for Education and Ofqual intend to go out to consultation once they have some plans to put forward for consideration and hopefully by the end of the month. We will of course respond promptly to any such consultation, as will bodies representing the sector such as HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) and the Independent Schools Council.

In the meantime, it is important to note that the awarding bodies which run IGCSEs and the Pre-U qualification have again confirmed that it is their intention that these exams will go ahead as planned in the summer. Subjects in which candidates are entered for IGCSE in the 5th Year are as follows: Geography, History, Maths, Modern Foreign Languages (except Mandarin), Science. Sixth Form students in Modern Foreign Languages are entered for Pre-U; all other entries are for A Level.

All this is of course subject to change so my key message to the students is not to worry about what lies outside their control and thus simply to follow their teachers’ guidance to the best of their ability. We will of course ensure that students and parents are informed as soon as there is further information.

In my assembly this week, I spoke about a podcast I listened to over the summer called 13 Minutes to the Moon, which describes the key moments of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon and the personal stories of those involved. I focused on the teamwork that underpinned the success of the mission, as well as the optimism that I drew from it in terms of what is possible when everyone pulls in the same direction. Definitely worth a listen if podcasts are your thing.

With best wishes for the weekend,

Mike Windsor


For Lower Sixth students and their parents: UCAS

I’d like to invite you to After Abingdon, an online introduction to the university application process and alternatives to university on Monday 8 February at 6.30pm. This evening, which has been purposely designed to introduce the Lower Sixth to the options open to them after they leave Abingdon, is an important opportunity for students and parents to learn about some of the key features of the UK university application process, and alternatives such as vocational courses, work-based learning, apprenticeships and school leaver programmes.

Mrs Caroline Taylor (Assistant Upper Master, Universities) will give a key-note presentation outlining the UCAS process and what is expected of students at each stage, as well as highlighting key factors to consider when choosing degree courses, UK universities and writing the personal statement.

Following the key-note presentation will be two more that will run concurrently: Oxbridge (Richard Taylor, Assistant Upper Master, Extension) and Alternatives to university (Michael Triff, Head of Career Guidance). Students will have an opportunity to watch a third seminar in tutor time that week. We’ve entitled it, “If I’d known then what I know now” (a panel of U6 students reflecting on their application experience, hosted by Sarah Gibbard, UCAS assistant).

I will publish details of how to access the webinars and recordings nearer the time.  Nick O’Doherty, Upper Master

Beyond English – Stretch and Challenge Tasks for English

Beyond English is a new stretch and challenge programme from the English Department, to help students engage with and enjoy the subject beyond their lessons. It consists of a wide range of enjoyable and stimulating tasks for all age groups. Everything you need to know is included in this document.  Best wishes from The English Department

Recommended reading for Lower School

The dark days of the winter months are an ideal time for curling up with a good book. To support and encourage reading for pleasure amongst Lower School students during the Lent term, here are the librarian’s latest reading recommendations: eight books, ranging from realistic fiction to fantasy, most of them published during the past six months. If your child wants further recommendations, the librarian, Dr Gardner, graham.gardner@abingdon.org.uk, is very happy to give advice, drawing on his own extensive reading and what other students have recommended.

E-books and audiobooks

Although the library building is temporarily closed, students continue to have access to a range of ebooks and audiobooks through the school’s e-library. Logging in has been simplified; as long as students are logged into their school Google account, they just need to click ‘Sign in’ – no need to remember a password.

Workstations, wifi and equipment

Now we are back to remote learning, please can we remind you that all pupils should be working from an appropriate workstation in lessons, preferably, working at a desk or table. Please can you also check that your child’s equipment is in good working order – being able to hear and see everyone in a lesson or activity is crucial. Finally, we know that lockdown has put pressure on everyone’s wifi. It would be helpful for tutors and housemasters to know if you are experiencing wifi issues.

Sport & PE during lockdown

Once again we find ourselves teaching remotely but I am very pleased to say that it has been superb to see all of the students still fully engaged in the sporting offering during the first week.  There have already been many Live Zoom HRE classes, some 1-2-1 coaching sessions and personal training programmes developed.

We have taken the decision to offer the vast majority of lessons live but we also feel it is very important that the students get the opportunity to move away from their screens and exercise outdoors under their own steam where appropriate.

Please see our information booklet for further details on our provision within Physical Education, Core Sport and the Other Half.  Pete Bignell, Director of Sport


  • In the light of our new remote way of working, there has been a radical rethink of our music calendar. Parents are invited to review our new calendar here and to make a note of our filmed and streamed concerts this term.

Abingdon Box Office:

  • Pink Mist – Friday 29 January at 7pm – We are happy to be able to share with you once again the recorded performance of Pink Mist by Abingdon 5th Year which took place in November last year. If you would like to book a ‘ticket’ to view this online, please click here.

News from the Week:

School Calendar

Please continue to consult the School Calendar for up to date information.

Here is the link to previous weekly mailings.