18 Sep 2020

WEEKLY MAILING

This week’s mailing is:

Letters:

Notices:

From the Headmaster to all parents:

Dear Parents

It has been wonderful to see the boys enjoying the sunshine this week. Other Half activities are up and running and the boys are making the most of the opportunities that are available to them.

Our new boys are settling in well and I enjoyed reading the thoughts of members of the 1st Year about their first experiences at Abingdon. You can read more here.

A definite personal highlight for me this week was hearing the sounds of the first Chapel Choir next door, rehearsing with suitable distancing. The Chapel had been silent for too long.

I also enjoyed meeting members of the Upper Sixth this morning for the first Head’s Praise of the term to celebrate some exceptional achievements, ranging from success in two significant national essay prizes to the programming of a new webpage that gives live information about our JBS coach arrivals. It was also good to reminisce with a member of last year’s 1st XI hockey team about his last-minute reverse flick goal against local rivals which ensured that the team not only won the match but came out on top of the league. This match, under floodlights at Tilsley Park, was our last fixture before lockdown in March. It feels like a long time ago now but we are delighted that so many boys have signed up to our internal fixtures on site tomorrow and I’ll look forward to seeing them then.

As we settle into the routines of the term, it is inevitable that colds and coughs will arise, raising questions about Covid-19 processes. I hope that Section L of the Q&A for Parents will answer the questions that you may have if your son is exhibiting any symptoms but do get in touch if you are not sure. The Health Centre has asked me to let you know that they do not need to be informed if a test is returned negative; in such an instance, please just inform the Attendance Secretary (attendance@abingdon.org.uk) when your son will next be in school.

Best wishes, Mike Windsor

Mixed Mode Teaching

We thought it would be helpful to clarify our protocols for ‘mixed mode’ teaching. These are lessons where the majority of students are physically present in the classroom with one or two joining via Zoom.

We have put mixed mode teaching in place in the interests of the small number of overseas boarders who have chosen not to travel to Abingdon due to the Covid-19 situation. We also want to ensure continuity of education for pupils who are healthy but required to self-isolate while testing is carried out for members of their household or other close contacts.

We need to stress that mixed mode teaching is limited to these circumstances and is not available for boys who are off school due to illness. This is for the following reasons:

  1. We are very aware that the facility to join lessons via Zoom has the potential to put pupils (and parents) under undue pressure. If a pupil is unwell, we want their focus to be on getting better and convalescing. We are concerned that diligent, conscientious students (and their parents) may feel a pressure to join lessons via Zoom, when actually when a pupil is ill, or in pain, they need to take the time out to get better, without feeling compromised about this. Zooming in to lessons would potentially stop them from relaxing, sleeping and recovering in the way that they should.
  2. The flipside of this is that we do not want pupils who are not genuinely unwell to abuse the system by opting to join lessons via Zoom on days when they could and should be in school. We know that this will be a small minority, but we need to be mindful of guarding against this.
  3. Mixed mode teaching is not an ideal solution for either pupils or staff. It is not equivalent to the full remote school that we were able to deliver last term, and mixed mode teaching is not only a poor relation for the boys on Zoom but also makes the delivery of lessons in the classroom much, much harder for staff, who are already facing the extra challenges of working within Covid-19 protocols. We are therefore very concerned about the potential risk of a deterioration in the quality of the physical classroom experience if the facility to join lessons via Zoom is over-used.
  4. It is important that we give teachers as much notice as possible that boys may be joining lessons via Zoom to enable them to plan accordingly. This is manageable if we restrict numbers to those who are working remotely in the longer term and to Covid-related cases. It would be very difficult to sustain if we extended provision to the mildly ill.

There will inevitably be some interruptions to boys’ attendance this term, not least while the Government resolves delays in its testing procedures. We believe that our mixed mode provision will allow for as much continuity of education as possible but also hope that parents will understand why we cannot allow it to extend to all pupils who are off school for other reasons.

For Parents of 5th Year Pupils: Morrisby Aspirations Programme – Opt Out Deadline Today, Friday 18 September

If you do not wish for your son to participate in the Morrisby Aspirations Programme, please opt-out by 12 midnight today, Friday 18 September 2020. Email Michael Triff at michael.triff@abingdon.org.uk. To read more about the Morrisby Aspirations Programme, go to bottom of this web page: https://www.abingdon.org.uk/academic/career-guidance

Open Day online – 10.30-11.30am, Saturday 3 October, 2020

As you are probably aware, Open Day will not be taking place onsite this year, but will be online.  Current parents are of course more than welcome to join us.  Should you wish to attend, please complete the form available on the Admissions page of the school website.

Signing up to the Joint Bus Service

We are aware that some families delay signing up to the Joint Bus Service until a few weeks into term.  Due to the current COVID pandemic, there is slightly less flexibility this term, therefore if you are thinking about signing up for the service, please contact Tom Peeke by Tuesday 22 September, tpeeke@shsk.org.uk 01235 546565.  Joint Bus Service information can also be found here.

Opro Mouthguards

With both Rugby and Hockey now accelerating their road maps towards the re-introduction of matches, we will potentially be requiring boys participating in either of these sports to wear a mouthguard shortly. However, due to the current COVID restrictions, Opro are unable to send their dentists in at present to take any impressions, so they will be offering a “Home, self impression kit’ instead. Boys requiring a new mouthguard will have the opportunity to collect one of these kits from their sports teachers during Core Sport sessions next week. You will then need to take the impression at home, fill out the form included and then send it directly to Opro in the envelope provided with the kit. Once they have made the mouthguard, it will be sent direct to you at home.

Archive Webinar:  What a Difference the Years Make! Abingdon School 1870 – 2020, Thursday 8 October, 7.30pm

The past 150 years have seen enormous changes at Abingdon, not only to the buildings, nor just in pupil numbers, but in the way we think, dress, study and play. Using the School’s vast archival collections, the archivist, Sarah Wearne, will show what a difference the years have made.  Open to all. For more information and to sign up, visit: www.abingdon.org.uk/the-oa-club/event/archive-webinar/

Parking

Parents are asked to remain respectful and courteous to local residents at school bus departure and pick up points by considering where to wait or park so that driveways do not become inaccessible.

Abingdon School Parents Association (ASPA)

Welcome to the start of a new school year. Our main purpose as ASPA is to facilitate parent to parent contact within the school but sadly this term we will not be able to achieve this through face to face events but this won’t daunt our efforts!

Our mainstay for encouraging parents to contact one another will be via ClassList whereby (once you are a member of ClassList) you will have access to contact details for parents in your son’s year group and tutor/house group. We would encourage all parents to reach out to arrange small group gatherings (in line with government guidelines at the time) and if you need our support in coming up with or sharing creative ideas on how to do this then please get in touch aspa@abingdon.org.uk.  If you haven’t received your invitation to join ClassList and you would like to please email us. We will endeavour to hold some remote events such as quizzes and will communicate this information in due course.

Finally – we always welcome volunteers to join our merry band of committee members! We have parents from across the school on our committee and, no surprises, our once termly committee meetings will be held via Zoom for the foreseeable future. If you would like to join our committee or for any other queries relating to the points above then please contact us on aspa@abingdon.org.uk.  We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully seeing you in person in the not too distant future!  Karen Hope, Chair ASPA

Abingdon Box Office:

News from the Week:

Food Menu for the coming week – Week 3

Catering: Sustainability and Covid

In our new working practices, where we are feeding boys from satellite areas, we have had to make some changes to how we serve the food. In order to keep everyone safe we made the decision to package meals in takeaway containers, however over the summer period we did some research into varying products and their sustainability.  We would like to confirm that the packaging that we have chosen is “Sustain” which is biodegradable and compostable which means that the food containers can be put into the food waste stream lessening our impact.  Hopefully this will alleviate some fears around our use of takeaway containers.

School Calendar

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

Here is the link to previous weekly mailings.