4 Sep 2020

WEEKLY MAILING

This week’s mailing is:

Letters:

Notices:

From the Headmaster to all parents:

Dear Parents

I hope that you and your families have been able to enjoy this rather strange summer and that you have been able to find opportunities for rest and relaxation despite the challenges that everyone is facing.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming your sons back to the School over the coming days. We have of course already had some of our overseas boarders with us for the past two weeks as they completed their period of quarantine. The rest of the boarders will return from Sunday onwards, while the 1st and 3rd Years will be in on Monday, and the remainder of the School come in on Tuesday. It will be great to see the boys in person and I am excited about getting underway again.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to our new boys and their families. There may understandably be an added level of anxiety amongst new boys but I am sure that the induction day will bring reassurance. I know that they will be made to feel very welcome by their new schoolmates and by the entire Abingdon community.

As you know, school will feel different as we have implemented our measures to ensure that boys and staff remain safe and healthy in school. I am keen though that these arrangements do not overshadow the excitement and anticipation that come with a new academic year. There is lots to look forward to in the return to live lessons, to Other Half activities and seeing friends in tutor groups and Houses. I am sure that boys will enjoy the new facilities at Faringdon Lodge, which will initially be part of the 4th Year ‘bubble’, and it will just be great to hear the sound of their chatter and laughter round the school site again!

Of course, we understand that some may be feeling some trepidation after spending such a prolonged period of time at home. This has been a focus of our training for staff this week and we will make sure that boys feel supported and cared for as they adjust to being back in school. I have recorded a video for all the boys to offer reassurance and a few tips as they return to school.

Unfortunately, our anti-Covid-19 measures mean that we cannot allow visitors or even parents onto the school site. I am very sorry that I won’t have the chance to talk to parents in person in the usual way at concerts, on the touchline and so on. We will be running our parents’ evenings as online events and this will give me an opportunity to speak to parents. I hope of course that you will not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns. As ever, your first port of call should be your son’s tutor or his Housemaster who can pass on questions to me and the Senior Leadership Team if necessary.

I wish you and your sons all the best for the coming academic year.

Kind regards, Mike Windsor

Leadership of Learning Support

Many thanks to Celia Collins who has led our Learning Support Department for the last eight years, after thirteen years of leadership elsewhere.  As was her plan, she remains with us to focus on teaching full-time.  The new head of department is Sarah Beynon, to whom questions on learning support matters should be addressed, please.

Start of Term

We look forward to welcoming new boys and those returning.  Extract from Key Dates:

  • Monday 7 September – First and third year induction
  • Tuesday 8 September – Term begins (first day back for lower sixth)

Covid-19 – Information for parents

Please can we ask that all parents read the Covid-19 information for parents page on the school website. The page includes the School’s risk assessment (published on the website on Thursday 1 September) and information on: the school bus service, music, sport, uniform, health & hygiene and a comprehensive Q&A document for all parents plus a second Q&A for boarding parents.

Reminder of actions for parents and pupils preparing for term (from: Q&A for parents 21 August 2020)

  • Be cautious with possible Covid-19 symptoms: stay at home and get tested if concerned – don’t come to school
  • Immediately tell the health centre if your son tests positive for Covid-19: call 01235 849059 or health.centre@abingdon.org.uk
  • Ensure your son carries a face mask/covering in a clear plastic bag for use on the JBS and school minibuses.  Face masks/coverings should be discreet, appropriate and not distracting.
  • Take note of school uniform adjustments – details available on school’s Covid-19 webpage
  • Check pencil cases: independent set per pupil including glue stick
  • Bring in a water bottle as drinking fountains have been disabled
  • Respect the visitor policy of essential visitors only
  • Resolve any remote learning technology difficulties (eg poor home WiFi) as far as is possible in case of a return to remote learning

AND, in addition, bring headphones, please.

Medical Matters

Asthma: All boys who require an inhaler must carry it with them at all times whilst at school. It must be clearly labelled with their name. The Health Centre will hold a spare generic inhaler for use in an emergency only.

Epipens: All boys who have an Epipen or other adrenaline-auto injector (AAI) must keep 2 devices with them at all times. They must be clearly labelled with their name and expiry date. There will be generic AAIs kept in specific areas around the school for use in an emergency only.

Book Collection – reminder

Remote working by staff and students has meant we have needed to adopt a different system for the return of textbooks this year.  We recognised it was difficult for parents to ensure books got back to school last term, as posting would have been expensive and difficult to arrange, given social distancing expectations currently in force.

Boys who were Abingdon pupils last year need to respond as follows:

·      On the first day of term they should bring in books in any subjects which they are no longer studying. These books should be returned to locations as directed by their tutors.

·      On subsequent days they should bring their old textbook to their new classes, and their subject teacher will collect the relevant old books.

·      Many departments number each book, and record the book number. Boys MUST put their name in the book, too. When the issued copy is returned by your son, the Head of department then knows not to charge parents for the book. If the pupil returns a copy belonging to someone else then his parents are billed for the ‘missing’ copy and the original ‘owner’ is credited with having returned his book.

Term Dates and Key Dates

Boys will be given a hard copy of the calendar at the start of term, but, for information for new parents, there is an online calendar which is kept regularly up to date.  It is available from the front page of the website under ‘What’s On’. In addition, there is a Term and Key dates page. This page highlights events such as parents’ evenings and social evenings, and also gives the term dates for 2021/22.

Requests for absence

Extract from 2020/21 Parents’ Handbook: Requests involving the absence of any boy for more than a day of School time should be made in writing to the Headmaster.  His Housemaster may deal with requests involving absence of a day or less.  Parents are strongly requested not to take their sons out of School for any but the most pressing reasons.  It must be said that we object strongly to applications for leave that have the effect of extending the already generous School holidays.

Tutor Groups

Please see the attached document for details of the tutor groups in each house.

Coach Park and Faringdon Road

Parents are reminded that cars waiting by the coach park impede prompt departure of the buses as well as causing traffic problems.  The pick up point is Park Crescent.

Bus Safety

Parents are asked to remind their sons that they should wait to cross the road until well after the coach has departed from a stop, to ensure boys have full sight of other traffic.

School Uniform supply delays

Stevensons are most apologetic for the delays in supply of parents’ orders.  Owing to COVID-19 they are experiencing difficulties in the supply chain.  Staff will be understanding if boys are in variations of usual school dress and sports kit in the forthcoming days.

Music:

Alexander Technique lessons – what are they?

The music department is delighted to be able to offer pupils the opportunity to take individual lessons with our Alexander Technique teacher, Cathie Kidger. Alexander Technique gives pupils the opportunity to learn how to deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life and the tools to look after their own mental and physical well-being. They learn how to recognise and change habitual patterns that interfere with their thinking and movement creating tension, anxiety, pain and postural issues. With the current pandemic, stress and mental health issues are increasing as well as stiffness and Zoom fatigue from using a computer more than usual. Online lessons can support pupils as they navigate their way through this ‘new normal’, as well as being of great benefit to their instrumental playing and singing. For more information please follow this link.

Abingdon Box Office:

While the Amey Theatre remains closed, please visit our ‘Arts in Lockdown’ page for up-to-date information on where to watch performances online.

News from the Week:

Faringdon Lodge opens its doors.

Food Menu for the coming week – Week 1

School Calendar

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

Here is the link to previous weekly mailings.