4 Dec 2020


This week’s mailing is:



From the Headmaster to all parents:

Dear Parents

I’m sure parents, and especially those with boys taking A Levels or GCSEs this year, will have picked up on the Department of Education’s announcement about exams yesterday. We have all been craving greater certainty so this announcement is welcome, although recent events have taught us all to take nothing as read.

The department has confirmed their intention for exams to go ahead as planned in the summer of 2021. A Levels and GCSE will start three weeks later than would normally be the case although, on the whole,  subjects following iGCSE courses will be examined in their usual, somewhat earlier, places; detailed timetables will be issued in the New Year. Further measures to reflect the exceptional nature of 2020 are as follows:

  • more generous grading than usual, in line with national outcomes from 2020, so students this year are not disadvantaged;
  • students receiving advance notice of some topic areas covered in GCSE and A levels to focus revision;
  • exam aids – like formula sheets – provided in some exams giving students more confidence and reducing the amount of information they need to memorise;
  • additional exams to give students a second chance to sit a paper if the main exams or assessments are missed due to illness or self-isolation; and
  • a new expert group to look at differential learning and monitor the variation in the impact of the pandemic on students across the country.

These measures would be in addition to those that were put in place at the beginning of the school year, such as the reduction of examined curriculum in certain subjects, e.g. English Literature and History.

We will of course continue to do our utmost to ensure that the boys taking public exams this year are as well-prepared as ever and I believe that they can look forward to their exams with confidence. We will be running mock exams for the Fifth Year in January and the Upper Sixth after half term in February and these will provide an excellent opportunity for boys to revisit and revise material covered to date as well as to hone revision techniques.  We remain clear that the primary purpose of mock exams is diagnostic – to help teachers and students see where the gaps are and adjust their teaching and learning accordingly.  Though last summer we did use mocks as a basis for Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs), we are keen to avoid the notion that mocks should be ‘higher stakes’ than in fact they are for two main reasons:

  • After the problems encountered across the country with the CAG system, it seems extremely unlikely that a similar system will be called into play for this summer’s results;
  • Mocks and other internal exams formed the starting point for our CAGs last summer but were far from the only thing we took into account.

We have communicated directly with the boys with information about GCSE mocks and further information will follow for the Upper Sixth.


We are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in school next week. Please remind your sons to wear their Christmas jumpers into school on Tuesday 8 December, in aid of our school charities, and then on Friday we will share a recording of our carol service for you to enjoy at home. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy looking at this Advent calendar which has been put together by the Old Abingdonian Club, capturing different facets of school life.

Best wishes

Mike Windsor, Headmaster

6th Form Parents: Gap Year Advice Webinar, Thursday 21 January 2021, 6.30-8.00pm, on Zoom

Is your son thinking – even remotely – about taking a Gap Year? If he is, this is an event he and you will not want to miss. You are both invited to attend a Gap Year Advice Webinar on Thursday 21 January 2021, 6.30-8.00pm on Zoom. The event kicks off with a 20 minute presentation on electing, planning, and then managing a Gap Year. This is followed by a 15 minute presentation from Independent Gap Advice on travel abroad during a Gap Year. Then, a panel of two SHSK Old Girls and two Old Abingdonians will share their individual Gap Year stories. There will then be an opportunity to ask questions of any of the speakers or the panellists. Please register in advance for the webinar: https://abingdon.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_AQ6mdiqoRZWyNDGSXEUggQ.  Note: Students can download (from the Gap Year page of Firefly) the Abingdon School Gap Year Guide, which is intended to help them think carefully through all the considerations involved in electing, planning, and managing a Gap Year.  Michael Triff, Head of Career Guidance.

Fifth Year Parents’ Evening Webinar: Monday 25 January 2021

In addition to the appointments on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 January 2021, there will a webinar on Monday 25 January at 7pm to 7.45pm, to hear the Headmaster, the Deputy Head Academic, the Curriculum Director and the Middle Master looking, among other things, at GCSE preparation and A level choices.  A recording will be available later.

Middle School Scholars’ Newsletter – Michaelmas 2020

The fifth year academic scholars have been working hard to produce the latest newsletter, brimming with a wide range of articles, which have been excellently researched and eloquently written. We hope you enjoy it.

Abingdon Partnerships – Shlomo music event – Wednesday 9 December

Abingdon Partnerships are proud to present an evening with world renowned Beatboxer/Composer/Musician SK Shlomo. With a strong emphasis on self-confidence and self-expression, this free music event is something you can’t afford to miss. To find out more about Shlomo click here to view his website. To register for the event please follow this link.

Abingdon Toy Drive – Reminder

In the lead up to this Christmas, the Abingdon Community is collecting toys to be gifted to children from low income families, and the Charities Committee aims to support them as much as possible. If you would like to donate new, unwrapped gifts for children aged 1-16 there will be collection boxes in both the Park Road and Faringdon Lodge receptions. It is also possible to donate through an Amazon wishlist (www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/BKA6K6MACCG0) and JustGiving page (https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/acefundraising) if you would prefer non-contact options. Any help would be greatly appreciated especially this year with all the challenges people have faced.


  • Parents’ Carol Service Reminder – In place of the service planned for Thursday 10 December in St Michael’s, there will be a recording made available in the Weekly Mailing the following day.  Pupils will have seen this with their tutors as part of their festivities on the final day of term.
  • Christmas Concert – A recording of the concert which was streamed on Wednesday 2 December is available to view here.

Abingdon Box Office:

Friends of Abingdon School Boat Club (FASBC)

The 2021 Abingdon Rowing Calendar will be available in the next week in time for delivery by Christmas. The FASBC has had wonderful support from the school archivist, Sarah Wearne to create a calendar that covers the 180 year history of the boat club as well as more recent images of the boys. The calendar is always a very popular item and is a great present for a relative.  The Calendars cost £10 each with £2.50 package and postage. Numbers are limited this year so If you would like to order a calendar please email Simon Peacock at [email protected].

Second Hand Uniform Shop (SUS)

SUS will reopen on Saturday 5 December, 10.30am – 12.00pm.

Stevensons – School uniform

Stevensons will be closed in-store between Monday 14 December 2020 – Friday 1 January 2020.   During this break customers will still be able to shop online. The store will reopen on Saturday 2 January 2021.  From Monday 4 January, the stores will be closed on Wednesdays until June 2021.  Please see this link with an update from Stevensons.

OA Club – Abingdon ‘Advent’

The OA Club is heralding the start of the festive season with their 2020 online Abingdon ‘Advent’ calendar. The calendar has been designed with OAs in mind but can be enjoyed by the whole Abingdon community.

News from the Week:

Food Menu for the coming week – Week 3

School Calendar

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

Here is the link to previous weekly mailings.