5 Feb 2021


This week’s mailing is:



From the Headmaster to all parents:

Dear Parents

I will start with some important information for 5th Year parents. We have now heard that Edexcel Pearson (the main IGCSE examination board we use) have cancelled their IGCSE exams and will instead use an approach similar to GCSE. This will apply to students taking Geography, History, Mathematics and all three sciences (both separate and dual award). Therefore, the only subjects in which actual IGCSE level examinations are still due to be sat are French, German and Spanish. These are provided by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE). Their latest statement reads as follows: ‘we are looking at switching from exams to an approach based on teacher assessment’. It would therefore be reasonable to speculate that CAIE will eventually fall in line with the rest of the examination boards – as they did last year – but at the moment we have to take them at their word and continue to prepare students for actual exams in those subjects. We will of course be in touch should the situation change; CAIE are expected to make an announcement next week.

The Ofqual consultation about plans for assessment for GCSEs and A Levels closed on 29 January and an outcome to that consultation is now expected on 22 February; the consultation received over 100,000 submissions. Once we have had an opportunity to absorb Ofqual’s response to the consultation and to finalise processes at Abingdon, we will run webinars for 5th Year and Upper Sixth parents to go through the details. We will publicise dates for these webinars after the half term break.

We were grateful to the many parents who completed last week’s ‘pulse check’ survey. The results were overwhelmingly positive and also raised several important issues which I have addressed in a document for parents that you can read here.

Giving Day unfolded over 30 hours earlier this week. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to the event, which marked the 150 years since the School moved to its current location next to Albert Park. It featured a huge range of 150-themed challenges from students and staff, which actively brought our school community together. I’m pleased to report that there were over 400 donors and at the latest count it looks like we’ve raised over £120,000. With Gift Aid to come, we should be tantalisingly close to a sum of £150K, which will help us achieve our aim of doubling the number of students receiving bursaries at Abingdon.

There is of course another significant 150th anniversary to celebrate this weekend, as the first rugby international between England and Scotland took place in 1871. The Scots came out on top that time, in a match which featured 20 players a side and apparently a scrum which lasted 20 minutes! I’m hoping for a different outcome on Saturday…

Best wishes,

Mike Windsor


For parents of L6: After Abingdon, Monday 8 February from 6.30pm – 8.00pm

The sixth form team is delighted to invite you and your child to join us for our After Abingdon event on Monday 8 February. This evening kickstarts the students’ journey as they determine their next steps after leaving Abingdon School. For the vast majority this will be studying at a UK university, so the evening begins with a 40 minute keynote presentation outlining the UCAS application process. All students are expected to attend this presentation which provides important information about the year ahead. You are very welcome to join your child – if possible we would ask that you watch alongside your child, but we do understand that you may need to join us from a different location or device. There will be no question and answer session for this presentation but you/your child are welcome to email [email protected] with any questions after the event. We will then produce an FAQ document to share with the students.

Mrs Caroline Taylor: The UCAS application process – 6.30pm

Following this presentation, there will be a ten minute break. You and your child are then invited to attend one of the two presentations below. Each will last around 30 minutes and will include time for questions. These presentations are optional but are well worth attending should your child be considering applying to Oxford or Cambridge or have plans other than going to university straight from school.

Richard Taylor: Applying to Oxbridge – 7.20pm

Michael Triff: Alternatives to university – 7.20pm

Please make sure that you join each presentation a few minutes before the start time. There will be a waiting room and you will be let in to the webinar at the start time. We will not be able to let in anyone who is late.

The event will finish by 8pm latest.  We appreciate that many students and parents live overseas, so should you be unable to attend any of these presentations for this or any other reason, they will be made available to you after the event. While we would obviously far prefer to meet you at a ‘live’ event, we very much hope that you find the evening both informative and enjoyable.

5th Year, L6, U6 Parents: Abingdon Careers Convention: Friday 12 March 2021, 6:30-9:00pm, on Zoom.  From Michael Triff, Head of Career Guidance

Save the Date: The annual Abingdon Independent Schools’ Careers Convention, jointly run by Abingdon School, Our Lady’s Abingdon, and St Helen and St Katharine will be on Friday evening 12 March 2021, 6:30-9:00pm on Zoom. 5th Year, L6 and U6 students will not want to miss this event!  Parents and alumni of the three schools (representing a wide range of career areas) have volunteered to serve as ‘career representatives’. This is a rare opportunity for students to gather information about careers of interest and educational routes into those careers from people who know. The format of the event is that of a careers fair, with students booking onto and joining small discussion groups facilitated by career representatives. Concurrent with the careers fair will be talks on employability skills, apprenticeships, CV writing, and how parents can support careers exploration at home. Booking instructions will be sent to students shortly. The event is compulsory for 5th year students and optional for 6th form students. Parents are welcome to attend with their child.

Parent Contract Terms and Conditions

The School’s Terms and Conditions have been revised this month for clarity and ease of understanding. They are available here. There have been no material changes.

What good is poetry? The latest school blog

The latest blog from English teacher Andrew Jamison is a great read for those who have no interest in poetry as well as those who do. Andrew highlights its relevance and worth especially in this age of instant access to information. Please take a few minutes to read the blog and see what you think.


  • Sixth Form Performance Evening on Thursday 11 February at 6pm
    Next week, we have another streamed music event – this time the Sixth Form Performance Evening, so do please join us for that by contacting the Box Office or pick up the link to the video in next Friday’s weekly mailing. There are some lovely performances including that from Head of School, Andreas Lo, in the sublime slow movement of Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Concerto. Andreas is playing from a studio in Hong Kong, whilst the orchestral accompaniment is provided by his teacher, Lynette Stulting from her home near Faringdon!
  • Future Concerts and projects and opportunities over Half Term.
    There are more opportunities after half term for us to celebrate the music making that is going on at the moment. These include, on Friday 26 February the solo performances from the Lower School, Lunchtime Informal Concert, the Solo Concert Platform on Wednesday 17 March open to all year groups and the 5th Year one on Thursday 18 March. All pupils are invited to consider getting away from their screens and to use half term to share their own music making with the school community – whether as performers, composers or producers of music technology.

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.