3 Jul 2020


This week’s mailing is:


From the Headmaster to all parents: 

Dear Parents

And so we reach the end of an extraordinary term.

It has been fantastic to catch up with members of the 4th Year and Lower Sixth in school this week, some of them sporting superb lockdown ‘haircuts’. It was a confirmation that the school really comes alive when the boys are around and they quickly seemed to be at home here.

I’ve also enjoyed celebrating with the boys their notable achievements of the past term, culminating in our final assembly today. They have shown such resilience and flexibility in their response to this remote working phase and many have gone above and beyond, such as those 5th Years who took part in the ‘STEP’ (Summer Term Extension Project) programme, producing some academic work of the highest calibre. We’ve seen notable engagement in the Other Half as well, for example in the latest editions of The Martlet and Words and That or in the entertaining and creative responses to the art lockdown challenge. You can read more in the latest edition of Abingdon News. I am always hugely proud of the boys and am more so than ever as I reflect on their attitudes and achievements over recent months.

We’re delighted that the Government has now published its guidance that allows schools to bring all pupils in all year groups back in September. We will be working carefully through the guidance over the summer so that day boys, boarders and staff can return safely. We will share detailed information about arrangements for the new school year with parents via email and the website on Friday 21 August, so do look out for our messages then. We have set up a new page on the website to which we will add all the information you need for the return to school in September.

In the meantime, you can see below two important announcements about uniform and the Joint Bus Service.

We will need to be flexible next term and ensure that we are ready for all possibilities, including the scenario that the School, or sections of it, may need to revert to remote working for short periods of time, for instance if there is a local lockdown or if pupils or teachers are required to self-isolate. To ensure that we are prepared for this, it would be helpful if you could ensure that your son has headphones that he can bring to school in case he needs to access lessons via his device.

We are aware that some pupils have struggled to take full advantage of lessons this term because of technical difficulties at home, for example with wifi. We recognise of course that sometimes these issues are difficult to resolve, if not insuperable, but it might make sense to review home provision over the course of the summer so that these problems do not arise if we have to revert to remote working.

Our contractors have continued to make good progress with the Faringdon Lodge project over recent months. It’s looking great and we’re really looking forward to showing the boys round it when they return in September. I have no doubt that they will benefit from the new facilities.

As we reach the end of the academic year, we say farewell to all our leavers and thank them for their superb contribution to the School. We also say goodbye to a number of teachers, including four colleagues who are headed for retirement. These include Ms Bennison, who has led the Psychology department, Mrs Griffiths, from the Physics department, and Mrs Fishpool, although happily the latter will be returning to the Classics department this very next term to cover a sabbatical. We also say goodbye to Mr Fishpool who has given great service to Abingdon since the 1980s in many different roles, latterly as Head of Geography and Senior Teacher. I am grateful to them all for their hard work and commitment and would like to express my gratitude to all my colleagues for their collective endeavour, creativity and cheerful application over the last few months.

Finally, I would like to thank all Abingdon parents for their sustained support which we have appreciated so much while we have dealt with the consequences of the pandemic. I am grateful to those parents who chose not to accept the discount offered on this term’s fees, which has allowed us to support other boys through our hardship bursary provision. We still face uncertain times but I am confident that this community can pull together and emerge strengthened, ensuring that the boys are well equipped for any challenges that lie ahead.

I hope that students and staff alike will take the opportunity to step away from screens over the summer break and that all Abingdon families are able to enjoy some rest and fun together.

I will look forward to welcoming the boys back to school in September.

Best wishes, Mike Windsor

School uniform for September 2020 return

We are very aware that September will require some adjustments to our normal practices. One of these is temporary adjustment to our school uniform. A key factor is to try to minimise pressure on our changing facilities. Given all this, please see below the school uniform requirements for September. These will be reviewed at the end of September.

Pupils should wear either summer dress or sports kit (including tracksuit bottoms), as stipulated below:

Summer Dress (no school blazer or jacket)

  • Lower School: grey trousers plus white shirt
  • Third and Fourth Year: grey trousers plus plain blue shirt
  • Fifth Year: grey trousers plus striped blue shirt or plain blue shirt
  • Sixth Form: chinos and smart shirt
  • Black leather, polishable shoes, not black trainers, but trainers are allowed when wearing sports kit

If the weather turns cold, pupils may wear a plain jumper:

  • Lower School and Middle School: plain, NOT patterned, blue or grey jumper
  • Sixth Form: plain, smart jumper (of any colour)

Sports Kit

On days when boys are exercising, and only on those days, pupils may wear Sports Kit:

Pupils should wear Abingdon shorts, Abingdon t-shirts/games shirts, and Abingdon socks. Pupils may wear trainers.

ALL pupils MUST wear blue or black tracksuit bottoms (for reasons of safety in Science and practical subjects) but these do not have to be Abingdon branded.
For reasons of hygiene, pupils MUST bring in a change of t-shirt and a change of socks. Their change of t-shirt should be inoffensive and does not need to be Abingdon branded.

Joint Bus Service update regarding September 2020

Please be assured that we understand how integral the JBS is to many families and that we are doing everything we can to minimise any disruption in September. We continue to work with the JBS coach companies to understand the restrictions they will face and what capacity will be achievable and what additional safety measures such as face coverings will need to be in place.

Whilst this is inevitably still work in progress, we are now confident that we can commit to being able to satisfy all booking requests for seats on the JBS in September. Charges for travel on the JBS will appear, as usual, on bills for next term (to be issued shortly).

However, it is possible that there may be temporary changes to some timings and some route stops, particularly if coaches are unable to run at full capacity.  We have explored adding more coaches to the routes but there aren’t spare buses available in the local market, particularly at the required times of day.

We know that many parents will have questions about how the JBS will operate next term.  The JBS expects to announce the final arrangements in mid-August, including any temporary changes to the routes and timings. In the meantime, please direct any queries to the JBS via https://www.jointbus.co.uk/Contact-Us

Covid-19: Information for Parents

We have added a page to the website under the School Life section where we will post information regarding the reopening of the School in September. All information will also continue to be sent directly to parents via email however we thought it would be useful to have all the details on one website page as well. The page will be updated when we have new information and can be found here.

Headmaster’s assembly – w/c Monday 29 June 2020 

In the Headmaster’s assembly this week, Michael Windsor discusses the lessons we can learn from sport.  View the assembly.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for September 2020

Parents of the current 2nd Year and above are reminded of the school’s BYOD scheme: all Middle and Upper School students are required to bring an appropriate device into lessons as part of their normal ‘kit’ from September 2020.  Mr Jenkins has already made arrangements for the return of their school chromebooks, and we recommend these devices as very suitable for a student owned device if they do not have one already.  Given the present uncertainties, we feel it is more important than ever to make sure your son is suitably equipped.  There is an updated Q&A document available and if you have any questions please email Mr Ben Whitworth, Director of eLearning on [email protected]

To parents of current Third year pupils re German Exchange – revised dates

Dear Parents,  Due to travel restrictions in both countries, the German exchange group will not be visiting us during our original dates in October this year. We are still aiming to visit Bielefeld from Wednesday 10 – Thursday 18 February 2021 and will continue to review the situation in both countries and areas.  The revised dates for the visit of our exchange partners to Abingdon and us hosting are the following: Sunday 16 May – Wednesday 26 May 2021.  We will be in contact again in the Michaelmas term.  If you have any questions in the meantime, please, do not hesitate to contact me on [email protected].

STEP: Summer Term Extension Project Winners

The Summer Term Extension Project for fifth years, a new programme encouraging independent scholarship and research, has yielded some fascinating work. The suggested topics were time, disease and water, respectively, and students were encouraged to respond to these in a range of ways (e.g. creative or academic), as long as they took a multidisciplinary approach. There were a high number of entries and it was very competitive with a great breadth of topics and great depth of research, but in the end the following projects stood out. In alphabetical order, here are the names of this year’s winners who will receive book tokens:

Aidan Chan: Fairytale Noir; Cameron Eilbeck: Fractured; Aryann Gupta: A Time Misinterpreted – The Asian Financial Crisis; James Healey: Fighting for Water around the World; Tom Henderson: Water Conflict; Alexandre Peuch: The Past is Written in Water; Edward Saunders: How has the control of communicable disease changed over the past 2500 years?; Ross Tselos: The History of Prime Numbers

from Dr Burnand, Mr Jamison and Mr Taylor

National Poetry Day Competition

Please view here for details of this year’s competition. The deadline is Thursday 1 October.  From the English department.

Summer Reading Challenge

The English department and library have invited boys to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge.  To enter, boys should read either a book or fortnight (4-book challenge) or a book a week (8-book challenge) over the long summer break, writing a short review of each on this sheet. On his return to school, your son can hand in his form to his English teacher or Mr Coolin to receive chocolate prizes. The most committed reader in each year group will receive a more substantial prize. If your son is wondering what he might read over the summer, he can consult the attached reading lists. Have a wonderful summer of reading!

Pupil Wellbeing during COVID-19

Dear parents, Please find attached a useful guide to support teenagers during the summer break whilst we are working through Covid. You might also like to follow us on Twitter (@Ab_Wellbeing)  and refer to the parents’ section of the Young Minds website which has some really helpful information.  Paul Gooding, Head of Wellbeing.

Second Hand Uniform Shop – To all parents of boys moving into the Fifth year.

SUS has a large selection of blue and white striped shirts. 2 for £10!  Please email [email protected] for further details.

BLM & the history curriculum, Covid-19 Exam Results, stunning Art and Design, entertaining videos, and lots of creativity! … Abingdon News 

In this final edition of the year, Abingdon News looks back at the last five weeks of term and explores some of the high profile topics that arose including Black Lives Matter and the school curriculum, and the procedures used to determine predicted grades for this summer’s A Level and GCSE examinations. The lockdown has certainly not curtailed Abingdon boys’ creativity from Lower School taskmaster challenges, impressive art and design to kitchen chemistry and online music concerts. There is a wide-range of news and comment for everyone to enjoy in this bumper edition.
Take a look at Abingdon News.

News from the week:

School Calendar

Given the number of calendar changes, owing to the impact of Covid-19, please continue to consult the School Calendar.

Next Weekly Mailing

The next weekly mailing will be on Friday 4 September.  We look forward to school beginning for all pupils on Tuesday 8 September.  Best wishes for the holiday.

Here is the link to previous weekly mailings.