After Lights Out

Headmaster's End of Term Letter - Summer 2016

July 2016

Dear Parents

Another terrific academic year has drawn to its close.  This year our boys and girls are leaving for Benenden, Bryanston, Clayesmore, Eastbourne, Eton, King’s Canterbury, Rugby, Stowe, Tudor Hall, Uppingham, Worth, Winchester and Wycombe Abbey.  Uppingham commended three of the candidates’ results as Highly Meritorious whilst Rugby awarded Lisa Gorelik Top Performing Girl prize and Abba Wada their Greek Prize.  These excellent results complete a successful year for our leavers in the 1s.  On the scholarship front Teagan Galloway was awarded both an Academic and All Rounder scholarship to Bryanston,  Morten Tilley was awarded a Sports Scholarship to Worth and Edouard de Vitry d’Avaucourt was put on a Sport Award programme at King’s.

At the other end of the school, the pre prep’s new home is a fantastic addition to the school and is much admired by visitors.  With double the numbers at the bottom of the main prep school, we will be splitting the ‘upper’ 5s (ie Year 4) into two classes in September and the ‘lower’ 5s (Year 3) will be based down at the bungalow which will make the transition to the prep school a little gentler for them.  We will also be offering Saturday school for the lower 5s (Yr 3) as an option and Miss Pugh will organise activities for any lower 5s child wishing to come in on a Saturday.

What with trips to The Old Malthouse for the 3s and 4s, to La Chaumière for the 5s, and the leavers’ trip to Rock, as well as numerous outings both curriculum based and fun ones on Sundays, it is really amazing how much we manage to achieve.  The 3s’ performance of ‘As You Like It’ was a truly fitting tribute to The Bard in this, the 400th anniversary year of his death and we were extremely lucky that the weather held for the two outdoor performances.  The 2s put on another great O’Neill ‘Pièce de Théatre Française’, this time a take on ‘The Great British Bake Off’ but full of delicious looking French French pâtisserie – indeed it was ‘Vive la Pâtisserie’!  Again, the children managed a sleek performance with very little time for rehearsal.  The final triumph on stage this term was, of course, the Leavers’ show, ‘West Side Story’.  Gosh what talented children we have and, gosh, what dedicated staff who cajole, nurture and polish them.  Hats off to George de Moraville for his enthusiasm and talent in either writing or adapting to such great effect, to our ‘Suzies’ Hennegrave and Hiron for some amazing sets and great make up, and to Gail Schreiber and Louise Pugh for the great costumes. Richard Coppack has been instrumental (!) musically with ‘West Side Story’ particularly but his contribution to the less musical plays is also notable along with all the preparation for the concert held the evening before Sports Day and the Leavers’ Soiree that followed the leavers and parents’ cricket and rounders matches last Sunday.  Terrific success in the music exams is a credit to Dicky and to all the music teachers.

As so often happens at the end of the academic year, we sadly say ‘adieu’ to several members of the Common Room.  Regan and Gail Schreiber are heading off (after 10 years at Ashdown) to Hazelgrove;  the energy of both will be hugely missed. Lucy Cooper will be leaving the Log Cabin to become Key Stage 1 co-ordinator at Cross in Hand Primary School, and Jo Kay has left to focus more on little Alfie. After five years looking after the junior girls, Lottie Britton is heading off to Lancing to take on the challenges of older children.  Lottie has been a larger than life character to have in the school and we wish her – and the others leaving us – much success and happiness over the coming years.   Mention here must also be given to Fran Philipps who has so efficiently stepped in to cover Biddy Clayton’s maternity leave and to Charlie Butcher, OA, who has been a terrific gapper this year.  To both we extend our thanks and good wishes.

So…along with the 25 new children joining us next term, we will be welcoming Tim Hills who is taking on the role of Head of Geography, Alex Grimmer and Geraldine Ackroyd who will be joining the Maths and Learning Support teams respectively and Chardia Flemmings who will be looking after the younger girls. Charlie Stanton will be returning to his first love and will take over as Head of English, whilst Mike Hogue will be Head of History and of Games.  Will Koops will become form teacher to one of the two upper 5s’ (Yr 4) classes and will assist George de Moraville as House Tutor and Claudia Kingsley will be Day Matron to the senior boys.  From January, when Victoria Mason returns from maternity leave, Caroline Hawkins will be running the Log Cabin, but meanwhile Annie will be working with Caroline to ensure all runs smoothly.  Also next term we will be welcoming Biddy Clayton back into the office and Will Taylor will be taking the baton from Charlie Butcher – another OA returning to the fold!

Annie and I will be visiting Bermuda in September to attend a Schools’ Fair (21st & 22nd September) so please do urge family, friends or colleagues out there to come and meet us.  We will be holding our annual Drinks Party at Tony Marshall’s home in Victoria on Thursday, 6th October and will have an Open Day here at school on Saturday, 8th October so please do spread the word and encourage family, friends and colleagues who may be interested in Ashdown to come along.

Finally, may we all here at Ashdown thank you, the leavers’ parents, for your incredibly generous present of a climbing frame/tree house which will, we hope, be ready for all here to enjoy at – or soon after – the beginning of next term for everyone to enjoy.  Thank you all and come back to admire it very soon we hope.

Annie joins me in wishing you all a lovely summer holidays with your families and we look forward to another busy term come September.

With best wishes

Haydon

 

Headmaster's End of Term Letter - Summer 2015

July 2015

Dear Parents and Friends

The end of the Summer Term and therefore the end of another academic year…. Time certainly does fly when you’re having fun and that is how I would like to think the past year has been for all at Ashdown. Certainly there have been times when perhaps ‘fun’ might not apply but I do believe that the ethos here is very much to learn whilst feeling happy and comfortable – and having fun.

The year’s work paid off for all the 1s and they are off to many of the finest schools in the land – with Benenden and Eton heading the single sex schools and Bryanston and Stowe the co-ed field this year. Academic awards to St Leonard’s Mayfield, Sevenoaks and Winchester were the icing on the cake and other awards to Clayesmore, Sherborne and Worth (Sport), Shrewsbury (Art), St Leonard’s and Lingfield Notre Dame (music) demonstrate just how much is achieved by your talented children with the help of some marvellous teachers and coaches.

As usual the summer has been our prime term for seeing the majority of the parents. Sports Day of course is the big event of the year and we were blessed with a superb day for everyone to enjoy their picnics in the sunshine and to witness some tough tussles on the track and field. Add to the mix the leavers’ stalls (that raised nigh on £500 this year), the beer tent, the jazz band and the kind words of The Trust’s Acting Principal, Neil Brooks, and I hope you will agree that it was a memorable day. We’ve also enjoyed both the 2s and 3s’ plays and the Leavers’ musical this term. The 3s’ outside performance of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ was terrific and Chapel Lawn really lends itself brilliantly to this sort of event (when not in use as a croquet pitch or tortoise ‘run’!). The annual 2s’ ‘weekend’ was, once again, much enjoyed by the 2s and their parents with matches to watch, dinner to be enjoyed and their super French play ‘Bon Appetit’ to be applauded. Yet again Mme O’s witty play involved the majority of the 2s’ children and the benefit to their French during their time in Sauveterre were confirmed. The Leavers yet again managed to put together a memorable version of ‘Guys and Dolls’ in about three weeks and credit for this must go not only to the children themselves, but to George de Moraville and to Richard Coppack whose vision and professionalism really did create a dazzling performance. The sets for these plays don’t just happen and the hard work behind the scenes by Suzie Hennegrave and Suzy Hiron must be applauded.      

On the sports field we’ve enjoyed the usual highs and lows of any season, but overall the picture has been one of terrific progress and not a little success. The 1st XI cricket team put in some great performances and won our own U13 VI-a-side tournament for the third year running and the other teams had some terrific wins against much bigger schools than Ashdown. The girls won the U13 local IAPS’ schools rounders tournament and, like the cricketers, recorded plenty of excellent wins through the season as did the girls in the more junior teams. Congratulations too to all our athletes who competed in the Regional Tournament recording some excellent times – and indeed school records. David Li (shot put) went up to the National Finals in Birmingham where he flew the Ashdown flag. Roland Bourne has done fantastically well on the chess circuit and is through to the Challengers Cup having got through the gigafinal of the De Lancy Cup – this makes him in the top 15 of 2000 under 11 children in the country. One other area where we’ve seen success has been the emerging show jumping team which has harvested a lovely array of rosettes over the course of the term.

The end of the academic year is often the time when we bid farewell to colleagues and this year is no exception in that we are losing two giants in the Ashdown family… David Gibbon moves on to St Ronan’s where, along with his teaching duties, he will doubtless take on the coaching of key teams who we will have to face in the future! David, along with Barbara for several years, ran the junior boys’ landing with great success and latterly he has looked after the youngest children in the prep school. David is the consummate prep school teacher – dedicated to his charges, always willing to go the extra mile whether it be seeking out a lost sock, fixing a grip to a cricket bat or, indeed, spending hours helping a homesick little boarder. His patience as a coach is legendary whilst of course he is a very talented sportsman. We wish David and Barbara and their three lovely girls much success and happiness in the future. Tom Bennett also leaves us to pursue his singing career at The Guildhall School of Music to which he has been awarded a scholarship. Tom’s input to the music at Ashdown has been enormous and just to hear the choir sing brings a tear to many a hardened eye. Add to this his care on the landing, his skill on the sports field and his undoubted school-mastering skills in the classroom and music’s gain is very much teaching’s loss….as I said when the staff bade him goodbye, if The Royal Opera House/La Scala/Glyndebourne begin to pall, there will always be a teaching post for Tom at Ashdown. Jennie Upton has been a key member of the games staff and has been coaching the U11 teams for 14 years. She has had some amazing results, often with barely enough girls to make up a team, and has prepared them well for success at senior level. Thank you to all three for all their hard work and camaraderie during their time at Ashdown. One other temporary member of staff I must thank is John Cope who rallied to the call and came out of retirement to help with the Latin. He has been a wise and much respected member of the Common Room for the last couple of terms and his time and effort have been much appreciated.

We look forward to welcoming William Koops (OA) back to Ashdown in September to teach Latin and Geography as well as Louise Pugh who will be looking after the ‘little’ 5s (year 3). Fran Phillips is covering Biddy Clayton’s maternity leave in the office and many of you will have met her at the end of term.

The new pre prep building is well on course for next term and we hope very much to have it ready for the start of term. We are thrilled that the numbers enrolled for the 6s is now nine which is a fourfold increase to the number we were expecting just a couple of months ago and, with the interest shown locally for this facility, we will very soon be in double figures.

Enclosed in this envelope is an invitation to our annual London Drinks party; do please make a note of the date (Thursday, 1st October) and let us know of any friends or colleagues who might like an invitation. It is always a very enjoyable occasion and, once again, we are indebted to Tony Marshall (father of OAs Everest and Charles) for hosting it.

Annie and I wish you a wonderful summer holiday with your super children and much look forward to seeing you during the course of the Autumn Term..

With kindest regards

Haydon Moore

STOP PRESS:   I am sure you will join me in congratulating Biddy Clayton on Charlotte Mary Anne’s safe arrival on the first day of the holidays (Saturday, 11th July). Super news and all best wishes to Biddy, Pete and Ed.

Headmaster's End of Term Letter - March 2015

March 2015

Dear Parents

How lucky are we to have such a range of talent amongst the staff!  As well as the willingness to embrace every challenge that comes their way they show the most tremendous enthusiasm that has to be infectious to even the most reluctant pupil.  This term we’ve enjoyed events ranging from Choral Day to chess tournaments, cake baking to the Mock Trial plus a good helping of academics for good measure.

Although the children may disagree (and the child in most of adults might have wished for a weekend of snowmen and toboganning) it has been a term relatively undisrupted by bad weather, although we did have to endure a tediously lengthy power cut during a particularly cold spell. It has been a joy to watch so much progress being made on the rugby pitch and on the netball courts where, despite disappointingly not making it to the National finals, our girls have shown enormous skill at the top of the school and huge progress at the bottom.  Alongside these core sports, our riders have enjoyed terrific success and the chess team continues to prove itself a force to be reckoned with.

Academically much progress is being made and the 1s recent exams indicate that all is on course for success at Common Entrance.  With Emily’s Academic and Choral scholarships to Mayfield, Annabel (Shrewsbury) and Marin’s Music & Art scholarships (Eastbourne and Lingfield), and Marcus (Sherborne), Elizabeth (Worth) and Josh’s (Clayesmore) Sports scholarships there is much to celebrate and our Eton, Winchester and Sevenoaks scholarship candidates are on course for these examinations next term.  I would once more urge parents to ensure the right school is chosen for their son or daughter and, if you are in doubt, please do come and talk to me.  Registration by the end of Year 5 is important at several schools – and certainly not a bad idea to have in place at all schools.  Factors such as whether to go for a co-ed or all boys/girls school as well as locality (town or country/proximity to family or airports) are important to take into consideration. Do please take a look at the Public Schools information on the parents’ area of the website.  I have good relationships with the schools to which our children move on at 13+ and can guide you in the right direction should you have any doubts or concerns.  This term I have visited Winchester, Sherborne, Tudor Hall, Benenden and Gordonstoun and in the diary already for next term are visits to Uppingham, Eton, Milton Abbey and Radley.

As mentioned above, it has been a fantastically busy term.  We all enjoyed the Mock Trial on the final Sunday of term and, once again, must praise the children for all their hard work to make it such a success in a very short time frame.  Thanks to Mr Bennett for interpreting Mr Stephenson’s ‘whodunnit’ and to all the people who contributed behind the scenes with props, scenery, costumes, make up etc.  Some brilliant acting, excellent comedy and of course high drama!  The previous week the whole school had gathered with several parents and friends of the school to rehearse and then perform Schubert’s Mass in G.  Mr Coppack’s first Choral Day was voted a resounding success and thanks to him, to Mr Bennett and to the String Orchestra for all their work.  Emily and Flora’s solos were most impressive and it was, as always, a real treat to hear Aimee de Havas and Mr Bennett’s solos.  It was lovely to have Mr Jackson back to join us with

P.T.O….

his ‘cello.   A short orchestral concert before we sang the Mass was a terrific opportunity to hear Marin,

William and Flora on ‘cello, guitar and flute respectively.  Whilst on the subject of music, Chapel Choir’s anthems in Chapel add another dimension to our Sunday worship as does the presence of parents who join us for our services.

I preached on Wednesday about the danger of being constantly ‘plugged in’ to an iPad, iPod, desktop etc as I feel there is a real danger than inter personal skills are being lost.  It also worries me that academic progress is being hampered because people are spending hours and hours a day playing games and using social media when there has to be free time for exploring the world through outdoor activities and books.   Added to this, the speed with which technology advances is frightening and I really do begin to feel rather old as each generation becomes more adept than the one before.  Of course the computer age has very many benefits, but I do worry about the comparative ease of access to sites that, as parents, I am sure you would rather your children were not privy to ever – much less at their tender ages.  The school has an excellent filtering system, and we hope to have Karl Hopwood to speak on internet safety to the school and any parents and friends who might be interested to hear him in the next couple of terms.  Meanwhile I do urge parents to ensure that their home security against unsavoury sites is tight.  My worry is that, once children see something that is inappropriate (be it an 18 film or any of the horrors of which we have recently heard), it cannot be erased from their minds and I am convinced that this can lead to psychological damage later in life.  Enough…  I must get off my soap box, but I do feel passionately about this.

Great news hot off the press!  We hope to start the conversion of the bungalow into our pre prep department in the next few weeks with an aim (hope!) that it is ready for use in September.  It really will be a fantastic addition to the school so do please spread the word to friends who might be interested.  Enclosed with the reports is an invitation to our Open Day on May 9th and again, it would be great if the bush telegraph could pass the word on this too.  Finally on this front, you will also see a ‘Save the Date’ message on the back of the invitation and hope you will be able to encourage friends and colleagues to come along to our London Drinks party in October.   We have had something of a tidal wave of interest over the last half of term and have shown a very encouraging number of prospective families around the school with a good percentage signing up. We will be adding another 4s’ class next term so all is very positive and encouraging I am sure you will agree.

I have visited several London day schools this term and was asked to join other heads at one of them to debate the benefits of day or boarding.  It was a very positive evening and I think our tree climbing, pony walking philosophy took some London parents by surprise.  Of course one has a very different vision when cradling a new born to the one when surrounded by three or four boisterous seven year olds which is possibly why we have had so many visiting parents of children of this age during the term!

It is lovely to see the first buds on the trees and the daffodils and crocuses blossoming, but best of all it is splendid to see and hear your children out on the Patch at the end of the day.  Roll on summer and let’s hope for fantastic weather and continued success both in and out of the class room.   For new parents Sports Day is probably our biggest event of the year so please do try and join your children and staff with a picnic;  the 2s’ weekend for Year 7 parents is June 19th & 20th and we hope most of you will be here for that and then we have the 3s’ play (hopefully outside) to look forward to just before the second exeat as well as the Leavers’ Play at the end of term. 

Have a wonderful Easter with your families and Annie and I look forward to meeting many of you next term.

Kindest regards

Haydon Moore

Autumn Term 2014

Dear Parents and Guardians

I can hardly believe that we are already heading for half term, such is the speed with which the last few weeks have sped by.  It has to be said that the glorious Indian Summer has aided and abetted this as feet barely hit the ground between classroom, games field, (prep!) and then the Patch, the Jungle and Chapel Lawn.  The latter have been the backdrop to so much that goes on ‘out of school hours’ for the boarders (and, to their parents’ chagrin, often the day children who have to be rounded up out of trees or from camps deep in the rhododendrons!).

Despite the best efforts of a few, morale has never been better and Ashdown is a wonderfully positive and happy place to be, whether you be child, parent, teacher, member of the support team or visitor.  All the new children have settled in marvellously well – both at Ashdown and out in Sauveterre where the 2s (Year 7) are spending the term – and, it has to be said, the new staff haven’t done badly either!   The intense programme of refurbishment that went on through the summer holidays has benefited the children – new (air and watertight!) windows, new carpets and new bathrooms as well as redecorations smartening up various areas.  Alongside this we’ve had scaffolding up through the summer whilst the builders repoint the front of the school and reroof the roof above the 1s’ Playroom.

Paddy and Victoria’s wedding was a high point of the summer holidays and it was lovely that Chapel could be used for the ceremony.  A really happy day with the grounds lending themselves perfectly for the reception.  Many congratulations to the happy couple and also to Suzie Fox and Charles Hennegrave on their marriage during the summer.

Parent of two OAs, Tony Marshall, very kindly hosted a second London drinks party at his home in Victoria which was well attended by interested London based families, current (and past) Ashdown parents and two or three London prep school headmasters/mistresses.  The latter were interested to know that we accepted children at 11+ - often an option for London parents who have not considered a country boarding school for their younger children.  When asked about advertising/marketing I can honestly say that the only sure way of recruiting is via positive feedback from happy families so do please continue to spread the word and, with London and other city based parents around the world in mind, do impress what a difference our location and magnificent 40 acres of ‘playground’ make to an inquisitive and energetic child.  

Now is the season of …..visits by many of the children to public schools for interviews and tests.  I shall be taking four would-be Etonians to Eton tomorrow for their computerised test whilst others either have already done so or will taking this sort of test later in the term.  As already mentioned, do put your child down for the next school as soon as you can – lists do fill for the most popular a few years in advance of entry.  I am always happy to advise and help in this regard.  The 1s are working hard towards their CE and scholarship attempts to the usual mix of public schools;  Harrow has pipped Eton to the post for the last two or three years as the most popular all boys school for Ashdown children but this year it’s Eton’s turn for top billing!  Benenden continues to be the most popular girl only school whilst honours are pretty even between King’s Canterbury, Bryanston and Stowe for co-ed.  Add to the mix the many other top ranking schools (Radley, Sevenoaks, Wycombe Abbey, Marlborough, Eastbourne, Worth, St Leonard’s Mayfield, Sherborne, Heathfield and Rugby) and you can see that our boys and girls all go on to schools where a high level of achievement is required.

Richard Coppack has taken up the baton in the Music Department and has already made a great impression on all involved in the music of the school.  He expects high standards from his pupils and certainly the Choir’s anthems in Chapel have been highly praised.

The riding team has been going from strength to strength and will be competing in several competitions.  Jo Kay and Fiona Nolan have been running this activity with much enthusiasm and the help of Eloise’s parents has been hugely appreciated.  Good luck to Eloise too, who is off to the Horse of the Year Show at the NEC, Birmingham this week.  

I hope you agree that our new website presents a ‘crisper’ image of Ashdown than the last, rather tired, version.  Inevitably there are a few teething problems, but we’re getting there and hopefully will have match reports in chronological order ere long – something that I know has frustrated a few in their search for their child’s latest achievements on pitch or court!

Congratulations to our team of 3s’ mathematicians who put on an excellent show at the Windlesham Maths Challenge last week and to Max and Roland, in particular, who came second out of 54 pairs;  also to Momoko Eliot for organising a coffee and cake morning and raised over £400 for Macmillan Cancer Relief.  Thank you too to all who contributed to our ‘harvest’ of goodies that were delivered to Crawley Open House last week – it really is an incredible charity giving hope to those whose lives have fallen apart both practically in ways such as this but also supporting the weakest in society.

Our little trio of bantams is sadly down to two as Derek, the rooster, succumbed over the weekend.  The Ashdown animals – great and small – are a key feature of the school and give invaluable lessons to the children.  Of course they are a source of entertainment for the most part (the clamour to walk the staff’s dogs as well as the miniature ponies being proof of this) but also of succour for those feeling a little sad or insecure and they offer invaluable lessons in caring and sharing as well as, ultimately, make life’s mysteries a little more comprehensible to us all.  RIP Derek.

Ashdown’s Book Day was a huge success with the children competing to see who could name the most characters wandering around the school – well done to Esme, Airlie and Kitty who could identify all 30 ranging from War Horse to Dracula by way of Pi, Snow White’s wicked stepmother, the enormous crocodile and Madame Defange to name but a few.

We have at last received planning permission for the conversion of the bungalow into purpose built pre prep form rooms.  We hope to start work in the New Year with a view to moving into it in  September 2015.  Do spread the word – out of little acorns the mighty oak grows….

And so Autumn is upon us it seems and with it lengthening nights which give the opportunity for play and concert auditions and rehearsals, industry in the DT and Art Rooms and debate and improvised entertainment both in the theatre, halls and up in Common Rooms.  One outdoor event to flag up is ‘The Airman’s Grave Walk’ on Tuesday, November 11th – our annual walk across the Ashdown Forest to pay our respects to those lost in both World Wars as well as during subsequent wars.   Parents and friends are always most welcome and more details will follow.  Do also join us at The Chequer Mead Centre in East Grinstead from 18-21 November when Ashdown art work will be exhibited.

We look forward to welcoming several of the 2s back to school next week to spend the week before half term here whilst others are taking advantage of an extended half term. I know they’ve been having a great time over in Sauveterre as the photos on their website show.

Annie and I look forward to seeing you during the course of the term

Kindest regards

Haydon

Lent Term 2014

Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends
Another frantically busy term has just ended and all but one or two have gone leaving the school rather quieter than it was just an hour or so ago!

The snow of the last couple of Lent Terms was replaced with the tempest but we were more fortunate than many in terms of damage. The fields below us were a vast lake as the Medway burst its banks – and the pitches were unplayable sadly for quite a lot of the term – but it was very much business as usual although the wet weather programme rather governed quite a bit of the first half of term’s sport.  

It has been a very successful term in the Art Department with no less than three scholarships being awarded. Alexander Kushnarev was successful to Stowe, Georgie O’Brien at Benenden and Liz Jeong to Epsom. Some of their work can be found on the website (Latest News & on the Gallery in the Parents’ Area) and really is of an amazing standard . Add to this success that in the David Shepherd Global Challenge Competition where Georgie came out as joint overall winner and Josh Schreiber won in the 8 year old category, and you will see what can be produced from a relatively small number of children. Miss Fox works quietly and tirelessly in her Department to encourage the children and the busy-ness of the Art Room bears testament to her dedication.

 The Theatre has been much in use this term. The 4s’ play, ‘Snow White in New York’, was first off for 2014 with a terrific take on the fairytale. Once again we enjoyed a quintessentially Ashdown play and performance and I could certainly see one or two stars of the future on stage. Choral Day followed with parents, family and friends joining the school to rehearse and then perform a choral work, this year Faure’s Requiem. The school had practised much of it during the preceding few weeks, but for many of the adults who joined us in the morning it was the first time they’d sung the work. Four brave tenors were, as usual, positioned on one side of the balcony whilst a (slightly) larger group of basses were the other and the mums, sisters, grandmothers and aunts congregated with the choir on stage. Mr Bennett took on two solos, but the evening was made by Violet Mackintosh’s beautifully sung solo. Finally on stage, we had the other stalwart of the Lent Term – the Mock Trial. This courtroom drama, with its many twists has now been running for 61 years and Mr Stephenson has produced the last…..well for more years than I can remember. The injection of comedy, current issues and of course all things familiar are what keep us all guessing and the requisite members of the jury to eject as unsuitable (Mr Mason’s turn this year!) always ensures plenty of laughter from the audience. On the sports front, we’ve had some excellent results with our 1st 7s’ team scooping both our own and Brambletye’s trophies. The girls did well in the Regional IAPS netball tournament where the U11, U12 & U13 teams competed. The U13 girls got through to the final stages and, despite illness and injury, came out 11th in the country. Mollie Beale has got through to the final section of the IAPS national swimming competition and we wish her success in that – as well as congratulations on being given an All Rounder award to Lewes Old Grammar.

 Richard Fitt will be leaving us at the end of next term to take up a position at Windlesham House. Richard has contributed enormously to the Music Department and the school as a whole during his time at Ashdown and he will be sadly missed. Richard Coppack, who has headed up the Music Department at St Christopher’s in Hove, will be coming to join us in September and will, I know, ensure that our strong musical tradition continues.  

The 6ses are flourishing in the Jungle Block with Mrs Clarke, but we are hugely excited at the prospect of moving them to their own space, hopefully, by the end of the next academic year. We are currently drawing up plans for alterations to the larger bungalow below the main car park where there will be three classrooms, an outside area and of course easy access for dropping off and picking up as well as to the Dining Room and the Patch.

 Next term will be as busy as ever. Trips for the 3s, 4s and 5s to The Old Malthouse and La Chaumiere will take place before half term, the 3s will perform ‘Comedy of Errors’ on the Thursday evening and Friday morning of the exeat in May (note there is an extra Monday tagged on to this exeat), CE will dominate the 1s’ first half of term and the first ‘half’ of term will end with Sports Day on Saturday, June 7th when we hope very much to see most families for what is a very special ‘Ashdown’ occasion. School exams will follow half term and the school year will be rounded off with our annual farewell to the 1s who will perform their play on the 10th July at 5.30 (and again for their parents and families on 11th July). Term will end on 11th July at noon for all but the 1s’ leavers who finish after their final performance and farewell supper.

Annie and I wish you a marvellous holiday with your lovely children and look forward to seeing them back, rested and raring to go, on Thursday, 24th April to be ready for classes from 11 am
Best wishes  

Haydon Moore

Headmaster's End of Term Letter

Dear Parents and Friends

The term seems to have come to its end in the blink of an eye! We’ve enjoyed a glorious Indian Summer, plenty of rain, a whisper of a hurricane (the fact that the power stayed on through that episode indicates that this time too the forecasters were not right!) and now very short days and the need for log fires and the central heating to be turned up. Before we know it the Spring and Summer will be upon us, but first the joys of Christmas and family time to look forward to.

Your children have been splendid throughout the long term. I know I must sound like a rather scratchy record in reiterating that I am amazed by the amount they pack into their days and they are all ready for some ‘chill’ time to recharge batteries that are running low. There have been some winter bugs about and quite a few have succumbed, but managed to just about keep going. The staff too have been wonderful and the level of enthusiasm and energy that they exude despite illness and exhaustion is testament to their commitment to your children and the reason Ashdown is such a happy place to live and work.

Over the last few weeks of term, the music and drama departments have come to the forefront of Ashdown life. The 1s’ performance of ‘Alice’ was terrific and the de Moraville touch once again wove its magic whilst Mr Gibbon’s ‘Who is the greatest of all the animals?’ was tailor made for the 5s. They were joined by our youngest children, the 6s, who performed with such gusto that I hugely look forward to watching their thespian talents over the coming years….

….speaking of whom, I have been thrilled by the way in which the 6s have taken to life at Ashdown as the proverbial ducks. Under Mrs Clarke’s watchful eye, they have really blossomed and become a very important part of the Ashdown community. We do hope that you will spread the word about Ashdown to friends with smaller children and tell them to come and see us.

With the 2s away in France, Chapel Choir has been somewhat depleted in number, but the 3s have joined the 1s and the result has been fantastic and, of course, a marvellous experience for them. A choir of 3s joined children from other reasonably local schools in Haywards Heath for a Remembrance Sunday concert where their singing and their conduct were applauded in equal measure. Then Chapel Choir has serenaded the guests at a Gala Evening at The Ashdown Park Hotel as well as Mr Stanton’s parents’ guests at a charity evening at their home in Kent. Again, on both occasions the children were fantastic ambassadors for the school. The Concert on the penultimate Saturday of term was terrific fun and the range of talent shown by the children simply mind-boggling! We had classical work, show tunes, pop singing and disco dancers as well as amazing bands, groups and soloists. Just when we thought the repertoire must be exhausted out popped a trumpet playing Father Christmas (aka Mr Paton), a herd of reindeer and the icing on the cake, the Christmas Fairy in the shape of Mr Playford complete with tutu! Crazy fun and just the sort of thing to ensure the most reluctant performer gives it a go! Huge thanks to Richard Fitt for all the work he has put into all these events….and do pencil in Choral Day 2014 – Sunday, March 9th.

The exams have, as usual, confirmed your child’s progress and, overall, I have been impressed by the standard they have shown. They are very useful barometers as to the suitability of a public school for which a child is registered. Recent correspondence has highlighted that not all parents are aware of the procedure for registering for the next school nor whose responsibility this is. Most parents will have ideas for their child but I do urge you to speak to me in this regard. Public Schools’ Information can be found on the parents’ log in section of the school’s website.  I hope this is helpful but please do arrange to speak to me so we can make sure we are all singing from the same – and the most suitable – sheet.

The Lent Term is short but we have a lot going on. Do come along to one or two of the Wednesday evening talks; next term we have the important Internet Safety talk on Wednesday, January 22nd which I really would encourage anyone who can to attend. It is a frightening internet world and the children are often one step ahead of their parents in its regard. Another talk that is particularly relevant is Nicholas Hurst’s talk on the First World War in what will be the centenary year; this is on Wednesday, 29th January. Both will start at 6.30 and will last a little over an hour. Robert Taylor, Harrow’s Registrar and one of my predecessors is coming to talk about the 1908 Olympics on 5th February and we are hoping to have parent, Andrew Moon, telling us all about his expeditions to Antarctica during the term.

Other events to look forward to will be the 4s’ Play, Choral Day and the Mock Trial…….

Father Christmas with carols, turkey and silly hats, Scottish reels, ice skating and a theatre trip and finally the Carol Service at Holy Trinity, Coleman’s Hatch. Your children really do have a very full programme and need the holidays! We don’t advocate holiday work but suggest plenty of reading as the best way to keep the brain ticking.

Annie and I wish you and your families a blessed Christmas and look forward to seeing you in what will, I hope, be a very happy 2014.

With kindest regards

Haydon Moore

Autumn Term 2013

Dear Parents

What a busy term it has been.  I can’t believe that we are now almost at its end and that the Indian Summer of a couple of months ago has well and truly been supplanted by the depths of winter!

Your children have been in terrific form all term despite one or two short lived ‘bugs’ that have laid a few low.  The weekends have confirmed just how the staff’s commitment to your offspring encourage the true ethos of a full boarding school to flourish and I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of the photos on the website of all they’ve got up to, both here at school and beyond.

I have enjoyed meeting and talking to several public school head teachers and registrars during the term and all are very enthusiastic about the Ashdown children they have had going to their schools;  they all comment on the Ashdownians’ politeness, confidence and independence that is rare in other 13 year olds.  This is obviously a huge tribute to their families, but I hope you will agree is in no small part due to your ‘bravery’ in sending them to a boarding prep school in preparation for the move onwards at 13.   We continue to aim for the top schools in the land whilst ensuring that the school matches the child’s abilities;  do please come and have a chat with me about where to send your son or daughter after Ashdown.  May I recommend that you have drawn up a short list of schools by the time they are in the 3s and, indeed, have registered them for the very popular ones before then (Benenden, Eton, Harrow, Radley, Marlborough, Wycombe Abbey)?

The ‘6s’, the pre prep department, has got off to a flying start with Chris Clarke and we welcomed our sixth pupil after half term.  They have all settled so well in to Ashdown life and we very much enjoyed seeing their puppetry in the play this last weekend.  We have been actively ‘marketing’ the 6s locally to encourage others to join us and there are exciting plans for its future. 

The good old days of people registering a child for prep school at birth are sadly in decline leaving us with little definite idea of numbers a year in advance, but I have been hugely encouraged by recent visitors’ enthusiasm for the school and am optimistic that several of these will sign up to join during this coming academic year.  We attended The Independent Schools’ Show in Battersea a couple of weeks ago and met several London based families who were looking to send their children to prep school in the country.  Certainly the word on the street is very positive about Ashdown House and I am indebted to you, the parents, for ‘spreading the word’ – please keep it up!

Annie and I will be visiting the Cayman Islands next term – yes, a lovely place to go in the midst of winter, but as many of you will know we have strong links with several Cayman families and hope to entice others to the school.  We intend to visit Hong Kong in the Autumn Term of 2014 to meet with all our Hong Kong families, past, present and those who will hopefully be coming in the future.

Annie and I (and Florence) much enjoyed our flying visit to the 2s in Sauveterre.  They were in great form and it was really good to see some of those less confident children making huge strides over there.   We were very impressed by the way that they had all immersed themselves in the French language and indeed gave us lots of guidance when we stumbled over our vocab during meal times!  We stayed at La Chaumiere which Mme James has made so welcoming for us and for her younger visitors who spend shorter periods in the south of France.  I know many of the 2s’ parents have also visited them and hope they too found them to be in good form.  We look forward to welcoming most of them back to base on Tuesday, 10th for the final festive days of term.

The whole school’s trek over the Ashdown Forest on Armistice Day to The Airman’s Grave (a distance of about 9 miles) is something unique to Ashdown and watching the children – some as young as 6 – happily undertaking this whilst trying to envisage the hardships of their great-grandfathers was a truly humbling experience.  Despite it being a murky day everyone made it to the memorial near Nutley before being bussed back to school for a hot drink and welcoming fires.

The plays last weekend were another Ashdown experience when we had both ends of the school on stage performing.  David Gibbon’s ‘Who Is the Greatest of the Animals?’ saw the 5s & 6s giving their all to the debate and the little ones’ puppetry was a treat.  The enthusiasm of the Lions, the Bull, the Hares, the Skunk, the Ants, the Badger, the Kangeroo….oh and the humans – the Judge and the Hunters – was fantastic and then to see the 1s confidently taking the stage in George de Moraville’s adaptation of ‘Alice’ just proves how much the children can do in a short space of time, but most of all emphasises the value of treading the boards for confidence building, teamwork, creativity and indeed producing future stars….

….such as Charlie Cox (OA), who will be joining the school on Saturday evening to tell us about his experiences on stage and screen, both at home and in the States (he stars this evening in ‘Legacy’ which you may want to watch).  Do come along to meet him.  Speaking of talks, we had an excellent one last night from Peter Mansfield-Clarke, MBE who runs the Crawley Open House which supports the homeless.   Peter pitched perfectly some heart-rending stories and you could have heard a pin drop as the children began to realise that these human tragedies can affect anyone.  We hope to take some of the seniors over to Crawley to give some hands on help later in the year.

Chapel is at the centre of life here at Ashdown and it was lovely yesterday to take two of the children along to celebrate the Centenary of the completion of Holy Trinity, Coleman’s Hatch which is of course at the centre of the local community and where Ashdown children have had their Carol Service for almost as long as it has stood (and where we will return on 14th December).  The Bishop of Chichester’s address confirmed my thoughts that it is more important than ever that children are taught to consider those less fortunate than themselves and to give of their talents whether practical, emotional, spiritual or financial.   After all a kind and caring community is what we all strive for.

And so to the final leg of the term.  The children are studying hard for their exams next week, the choir is rehearsing for no less than four events and we hope that Father Christmas is waxing his sledges runners (and Rudolph and team’s antlers) for the final week of term.  We look forward to welcoming you to our Advent Service on Sunday (1st) at 6.30 pm, the Concert on Saturday, 7th also at 6.30 and the Carol Service at Holy Trinity, Coleman’s Hatch on Saturday, 14th at 11 am prior to taking your children home for the holidays.

With best wishes

Haydon

  1. If you are at the school over the next couple of weeks, do pop in to the Dining Hall to admire Miss Hiron’s wonderful Christmas display which went up over the exeat weekend.

September 2013

Dear Parents

As we gallop towards the first exeat weekend, the Indian Summer that we had hoped for seems to be with us.  Not that the cold, grey and often damp weather at the start of term has deterred the children from enjoying the Patch, the Jungle and other areas around the school before the light evenings dessert us till next Spring.  The three weekends we’ve had this term have been terrific with plenty of activity and fun.  Fires were alight on the first, such was the chill in the air, but this last weekend had most of us out on the Patch in shirtsleeves!  Alongside Patch games and tree climbing, they’ve been baking and bowling, there’ve been cinema trips and pedalo-ing in Tunbridge Wells and ping pong matches and football in the Barn as well as quieter time in the Library or ‘chilling’ with friends.  

Sunday Chapel services are a wonderful part of Ashdown life and we are always pleased to welcome guest preachers.  This term Mr Simon Davies, Headmaster of Eastbourne College, opened the year’s batting and was, as usual, a very engaging preacher.  Father Nicholas Leviseur was here yesterday to take Mass for the Catholic members of the community.  Father Nick always keeps us on our mettle so the silver polish was hastily employed as well as refresher classes in Hail Marys!   As with guest speakers for Wednesday night lectures, if you know of someone who enjoys preaching to prep school aged children (either ordained or lay), do please let us know.

Annie and I were full of admiration for the new children (and their parents) who have adapted to life at Ashdown with barely a backward glance.  A lovely bunch of girls and boys – both home grown and from further afield – as well as. of course, the pioneers of our new ‘6s’.  Chris Clarke has created a wonderful area in which to learn and play and the area around the decking and on the sweep of lawn towards the Jungle has been fenced in for them to enjoy a little gardening, animal husbandry (well guinea pig and rabbit husbandry) and romping around.  Do pop down to see it in action and tell any families with little ones to come and meet us.

There has been a bit of an explosion on the animal front which has, of course, been greeted with enthusiasm by just about all the community.  We have welcomed Miss Britton’s mini dachshund, Watson, and Mr Mason and Miss Randle’s miniature Schnauzer, Reggie.   At the end of last term  a Dartmoor pony and a miniature horse were to be seen being led around the grounds during free time and on Sports Day they were adorned with the colours of the Rhinos, Miss Kay’s Patrol!    Of course our bantams rule the roost in all senses despite the odd attempt by one of the dogs to stage a take over!

During the holidays we received all the music results – a clean sweep.  Eliza Gethin deserves singling out for achieving maximum marks in her Grade I oboe exam.  We look forward to enjoying performances from her and all the other musicians during the course of the year.

Mandarin has really taken off now.  We were fortunate to secure the services of Ms Anna Chen during the Summer Term and her enthusiasm and commitment to her pupils is second to none.  With the language being a necessity in the 21st Century for international business and commerce, this addition to the curriculum can only be positive.

We hosted a super little U8 football tournament last week – the sun shone and several London schools travelled to Sussex to enjoy a true Ashdown day complete with barbecue lunch.   Congratulations to Charlie Stanton for organising a terrific day – and indeed welcome back, Charlie.  Our new Head of Sport has taken to his role superbly and we look forward to many similar events in the years to come.  Another stalwart of the Ashdown staff has rejoined us this term as Sister Corbin swaps her author’s pen for her nurse’s thermometer and her gentle but no-nonsense approach has been much appreciated by Annie and me as well as all the children.

On Thursday, 19th September we held a very enjoyable Drinks party at the London home of Mr Tony Marshall, father of two OAs.  There was a wonderful mix of old, current and prospective families – as well as several OAs.  The message all who were present left with was one of enthusiasm and a terrific belief in the merits of a boarding school prep school education – but specifically an Ashdown boarding school education.  We are a very special community and this message was definitely given to all the prospective families there – thank you to all who came along to support us.

Standing on the balcony of our flat watching a flock of Canada Geese make their way to their day time pastures and the tractor ploughing the fields beyond the Patch, I could not help but to think how fortunate we are to live and work in this wonderful corner of Sussex.  As we move towards dark nights, log fires and bare trees, we are also planning for Spring and Summer – as will be those geese and of course the farmer!

With best wishes for an enjoyable exeat weekend

Haydon and Annie Moore

Summer Term 2013

Dear Parents and Friends

The Summer Term has been incredibly busy but equally positive and I have been thrilled with all that has gone on at Ashdown over the last three months and the way in which your children have given their all to whatever is asked of them.

Over half term last week, I was thrilled to hear of a clean sweep from my first batch of CE candidates.  Benenden awarded two of our girlsprizes for the highest CE mark in a subject – Claudia Grace the Maths & Classics prizes and Charaspat Krairiksh the English Prize, and Ai Yokoyama was awarded the Greek Prize at King’s, Canterbury, James Bradley was awarded a Headmaster’s Prize by Uppingham for his excellent CE results and we recently heard of Adeoluwa Pearse’s success at Harrow where he was awarded the Chemistry and Greek Prizes.

I continue to be amazed by the amount the children pack in to a term and, alongside preparation for CE, we have enjoyed a marvellous Sports Day with the usual athletic events (and several Ashdown records broken), leavers’ stalls and the reintroduction of the ever popular waterslide, the introduction of a Sailing Club at the local reservoir which has proved very popular, success in the David Shepherd Global Challenge Competition (four of our artists had their winning work exhibited at The Mall Galleries recently) as well as taking part in the first SATIPS Ski Race earlier in the term.  It was wonderful to have Shakespeare back on stage again and the 3s’ performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was deemed among the best Ashdown plays many in the audience had seen. The 2s’ evening and the Concert were other terrific Ashdown events bringing parents and friends to share in events that are unique to us. Mr de Moraville’s version of ‘War & Peace’ that the leavers performed on the last two nights of term was a rip-roaring success, though I am not quite sure what Tolstoy would have made of his masterpiece’s Ashdown adaptation!  The Leavers’ party after their final performance encapsulated the spirit of Ashdown – it was the happiest evening (despite the tear stained faces we waved goodbye to…) as we launch these fantastic youngsters off to new adventures and exciting opportunities.

At the other end of the spectrum we are very much looking forward to welcoming our first ‘6s’ to Ashdown when we open our doors next term to children in Years 1 & 2. Chris Clarke (who has enormous experience of running a pre prep department) will be looking after these children, initially in the Jungle Block. Please do spread the word to any local friends – we’d love to share our plans with them.

We were sad to be saying goodbye also to four members of staff at the end of term:  John Boddington is moving on to West Hill Park School to head up the boarding, Madeleine Renie returns to her studies in France and Sister Holt leaves us to work nearer to her home – we were very grateful to Sarah for staying on this term despite her Easter wedding and wish her a wonderfully happy future with Matt. At the end of term Jeremy Branfoot approached me as he had been offered a post in Dubai which he had to take up in
September or lose the opportunity. Jeremy has been a terrific servant of Ashdown and it would have been unkind not to have released him. We are of course very sorry that Jeremy’s unique way with the children – and his colleagues – will no longer be with us, but we wish him all the very best in his future career over in sunnier climes. I was thrilled that two erstwhile favourites of the Ashdown community, Charlie Stanton and Julie Corbin, have agreed to come back to replace John and Sarah respectively.  Paul Coughlan, who looked after the maintenance in the school, left at half term, but we have been fortunate to have found Paulo Amaro who was immediately able to take over this important area.

As well as the 5s and 1s’ plays to look forward to next term, may I just draw your attention to one of our visiting speakers next term. The calendar will flag up several Wednesday evening talks to which parents are always welcome, but Karl Hopwood of Internet Safety will be coming on Wednesday, 6th November and is one who will give us all – young and old alike – a lot to think about in this electronic age.

A Drinks party in London on Thursday, 19th September is one to put in your diaries – and please do let us know of any London based friends or family who might be considering boarding for their children (or might be persuaded at least to hear what we have to offer…

A few boring bits of additional (or reinforced) ‘housekeeping’ notes…. PLEASE remember the 5 mph speed limit once into the school grounds – your children do cross the drive to go to the Patch and back and PLEASE would day parents park in the car park, not outside the main house.

Annie and I wish you a wonderful summer holiday with your children and much look forward to seeing everyone back at Ashdown on the morning of Thursday, 5th September by 11 am (so as to be ready for form period at 11.20)

With kindest regards

Haydon Moore

Lent Term 2013

Dear Parents 

I would like to start this letter by thanking you for all your kindness and support following my appointment as Headmaster.  Annie and I have been tremendously touched by the warmth and enthusiasm you have shown us which has made us the more excited by the new direction in our lives.  The staff too have greeted us in a similar vein and we are confident that we will carry Ashdown forward into a bright future.

Last night’s concert and choral recital were a fantastic example of the Ashdown team effort.  Richard Fitt managed, with very little rehearsal time, to pull together children, parents, friends and staff to give the audience an uplifting hour of Vivaldi’s Gloria.  Those of us who are not natural singers are given the opportunity to ‘perform’ along with the professionals and others who are members of choirs and it is indeed a truly fantastic experience – I recommend it to anyone who shied away this year and encourage you to sign up next year…for it will be back as one of the staples of the Ashdown diet!  It was wonderful to have Aimee de Havas (who left last year with a music scholarship to Roedean) singing a solo and congratulations to Adeoluwa on his solo…and on his flute, piano, bassoon and saxophone pieces in the preceding concert.  The concert itself contained just the right mix of classical and more popular music to suit all tastes and all were a delight to listen to (do look on the website for photos of the evening).  To bring us down to earth rather, may I ask that anyone who finds themselves with a copy of the score please return it to school as soon as possible so Mr Fitt can return the full complement.

More positive news has been the awards we have heard of in the last two or three weeks.  Many congratulations to Aiko Eliot on her Exhibition to Benenden, to Claudia Grace on her Drama Scholarship to Benenden and to Dominic Prest on his Sports Scholarship to Sherborne.  Also congratulations to our prize winners in the David Shepherd ‘Global Canvas’ Competition: Esme Heath, Lucy Hunt and Freddie Smith are joint 2nd Prize winners in their age groups and Aiko Eliot came 3rd in hers.  They and other artists who were commended for their work go to the Natural History Museum this week to receive their awards from the great wildlife artist himself.

It is with regret that I have to tell you that John Boddington is moving on to become Head of Boarding at West Hill Park School in Fareham.  John has been a tremendous asset in the Staff Room and we will be very sorry to see him go, but wish him much happiness in his new role.   Those of you who were able to come to Choral Day can’t fail to have spotted Charlie Stanton in the audience!  It is with great pleasure that I pass on the good news that Charlie will be returning to Ashdown in September.  Charlie Stanton will come in to teach History and to assume the role of Head of Sport.

I know you were advised of Sarah Holt’s impending wedding recently, but would like to reiterate her invitation to all children and families to join her and Matt for their wedding on 12th April at St Michael’s & All Angels Church, Sunningdale at 1 pm.  There is no need to let her know if you are going, but sadly she can’t invite everyone back to the reception thereafter. 

This shortest of terms is the most action packed – and this at a time when the Sick Bay is at its busiest.  We have had the usual round of seasonal ‘bugs’ this term, some of them rather persistent.  I must thank Sister and the matrons upstairs for their unstinting kindness and their diligence with their charges.

So now we’re into the run up to the end of term with lots more activity still to come – we host our U11 VIIs rugby tournament on Thursday which is always a great day for the players and supporters alike.  16 teams will be joining us in battle for the Ashdown trophy and we hope that the Spring-like weather we have had today holds fast till then – and beyond.  The girls go off to Roedean to take part in the IAPS regional netball tournament and we look forward, hopefully, to hearing that they are moving on to the National finals…  The Mock Trial, a Daniel Stephenson special, will be performed on Sunday, 17th at 5 pm.  The cast is largely made up of 1s’ children but this, like Choral Day, is very much an ‘Ashdown Special’.

Once again, thank you for all your kind messages and Annie and I much look forward to seeing you over the next two or three weeks and then during the Summer Term.

Kindest regards

Haydon Moore

Monday, 4th February

Dear Parents

As we move out of the gloom of January and towards half term, the first crocuses and snowdrops of the season have definitely been good for morale despite the best efforts of assorted ‘bugs’, snow, gales, lashing rain and the darkness at the start and end of the day!

Although the snow wrought havoc with fixtures, there was plenty of competition of the snowballing, snowman building, toboggan racing variety and I hope that you have enjoyed some of the photos on the website. The children’s ingenuity never ceases to amaze me as they came up with a wide range of ‘vehicles’ with which to descend the slopes!

The rain and gales that followed cleared the snow to reveal the tractor-like traces of the badgers who had, alongside their friends the moles, done all in their power to make the rugby pitches resemble a war zone. The grounds staff worked like beavers (!) to fill in the divots, but any suggestions of how best to (legally) rid ourselves of these intruders would be gratefully received….

On the subject of war zones, it was fascinating to find, upon rifling through the chest in the Hall, relics of World War II – pieces of silk from the parachutes of US airmen who baled out of a ‘Flying Fortress’ and landed on the Patch as well as shards of a bomb that dropped behind the school and blew out many a window in dorms…one young lad, son of an Air Marshall, asked permission before leaving his glass strewn bed! My sermon in Chapel this morning was about the Good Shepherd, but linked in to the stories of wartime Ashdown.

I am so pleased with the way the daily Prayers we have reintroduced have been received by children and staff alike. A short period of contemplative calm before a busy day with a hymn, a prayer and the addressing of one or two issues, serves to reboot, as it were, the brain of even the youngest child, and ensure maximum focus for the day ahead. Lesson reading, which may seem a rather inconsequential matter, actually increases the children’s confidence in public speaking and it is heartening to witness children who shy away from being in the public eye blossom from this small act.

We’ve had a great weekend and finally the weather has allowed the matches to go ahead (although illness forced a couple to be cancelled). Great things are promised for the future by our junior girls on the netball courts where they came out victorious against the might of Holmewood House and the senior boys showed their power and commitment by convincing victories against Cottesmore. Tomorrow’s Grim Challenge sees our visitors (Brambletye and Hilden Grange) take us on over Mr Schreiber’s eponymous course.

Our cross country team must be congratulated on their performance at Great Walstead’s meeting last week and Will Brockman, in particular, for his fantastic win overall. His commitment to his distance running is commendable and plainly pays dividends.

The 1s are positioned nicely for their mock CEs later after half term and it is heartening to see how well they are all rising to this challenge.   It would be hard, too, to find the level of dedication and commitment shown by the staff in supporting them anywhere other than a boarding school and we have to be hugely indebted to the staff for their encouragement and support.

Our winter programme of guest speakers is drawing to a close, but not before we have some fascinating talks: this week Dr Stephanie Cook is coming to talk about her Sydney Olympic gold medal pentathlon and then next week Matthew Fleming, England cricketer, is coming to inspire us – the title for his talk ‘How to be heard without shouting…and perhaps play cricket for England’ speaks volumes.

On Friday next – the start of half term – the 4s’ play will end the formal part of this half of term. Before taking your children home, do come and enjoy their production ‘Operation Pied Piper’ (based on the mass evacuation of children from cities during World War II).

The parent/staff/children Charity touch rugby tournament on the afternoon of Friday, 15th February, will be particularly poignant this year as we will dedicate it – and the funds we generate from it – to the memory of Peter Allen. Peter was, as many of you know, father to Holly (who left last summer to start at Bryanston) and Sam (in the 2s); a larger than life figure with a great many passions, one of which was rugby, so it seems fitting to use our tournament to try to raise as much as possible for Youth at Risk (youthatrisk.org.uk) which supports vulnerable young people in turning their lives around.

Strains of Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ can be heard around the school as Mr Fitt has us all practising for Choral Day (March 3rd). Do come and join us – either (preferably) as singers or in the audience.

With best wishes

Haydon Moore

End of Term letter - Autumn 2015

on Monday, 14 December 2015. Posted in After Lights Out

Dear Parents

Another calendar year almost over and we are already a third of the way through our academic year (more if you count it by the week)!  Once again I have been amazed by your children’s endeavours in and out of the classroom and terribly proud of the way each is growing in his or her own way.   Several parents have commented on how special Ashdown is and, whilst we are setting about trying to up the tempo in the marketing of the school, it remains true that the best marketing tool is happy parents and children .  So I challenge anyone who really feels that Ashdown IS the best, to spread the word and tell their friends to come and see us….even if it is just to leave feeling that wherever their child goes - or is going - is the best (you and I know that that is not the case!)!  

The 2s had a lovely half term in France returning full of positive feedback.  These trips with their peers always act to cement a group, and each year we comment on how the children’s confidence has grown – as well as their ability to order croissants or even vin rouge (during their parents’ visits, bien sur!). We had a mixed season on both the football and hockey pitches, but scored some memorable wins in both – often feeling how David must have felt when pitted against Goliath when playing some of the bigger schools over whom we have scored wins!  We celebrated Roland’s success in chess when he was a key member of the Sussex Chess team who won the NYCA (Chess) National Jamboree in Telford, and in show jumping where our team were 50cm champions at the National Schools Equestrian Association Regional Finals.

The 1s’ play, ‘The Dracula Saga’ and 5s & 6s’ ‘The Silver Coin’ once again demonstrated the talent both of the children and of the staff behind them.  With so much else going on in the school, the rehearsals for the plays that we produce each term take place over a very short space of time – as does the writing (often from scratch) of them, all the set making/painting and costume making/coordinating.  We are indeed very lucky to have such dedicated and inspirational teachers.  ‘The Silver Coin’ saw the stage debut of some of our youngest children whilst ‘The Dracula Saga’ demonstrated so vividly just how the children mature over the intervening years.  Fantastic acting in both productions always makes me wonder who will be Ashdown’s next Damian Lewis or Charlie Cox!

Music continues to play an integral part in school life and the Chapel Choir has worked unstintingly to lead us magnificently in Chapel, in concerts and of course in our end of term Carol Service.  The concert on the last Sunday of term showcased some amazing talent in so many instruments and what is particularly lovely is to see the fantastic potential of several of the very youngest children. 

It has been mentioned I know but we have several exhibitors in a competition held by the Saatchi Gallery and the work is both brilliant and extremely thought provoking.  Again the breadth of your children’s talent continues to astound us all http://www.saatchigallery.com/portfolio/SchoolInfo/Ashdown+House/293.htm     

Chapel continues to be central to our life at Ashdown and it has been really good to welcome many parents to our Sunday services.  Father Nicholas Leviseur has given so much of his time to Ashdown and we are very grateful for his support and wisdom.

Next term sees the pre prep moving at last to the converted bungalow, an exciting move to a site that will, we are sure, make life much easier for parents with very small children given its proximity to the car park, the Patch and the dining hall.  We will be holding an Open Morning on Saturday, 30th January from 10.30 am so please do spread that word locally - and of course any current parents are most welcome to pop along too. 

Next term is short but very full and we look forward to welcoming the prep school back by 11 am on Thursday, 7th January.  We aim to start work after break so please do ensure your son or daughter is back by then if you possibly can, although we do of course understand that flights can sometimes delay them.  I continue to stress the importance of sticking to term dates unless absolutely unavoidable;  we do hit the ground running at the start of term – and keep them going right up to the final bell for exeats/half terms/terms’ end – and it is important on all levels that they don’t miss anything if it can be avoided.  The pre prep children return to school on Friday, 8th January at the usual time (8.45 am) meeting in their new ‘home’ for the first time.

We hope that as many families as can do so join us on Choral Day (Sunday, March 6th).  We expect all day children in the 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s to participate during the day and perform in the evening with any younger ones who would like to (and of course their parents).  It is a fantastic Ashdown occasion for anyone who enjoys singing (and no, you don’t have to be a brilliant singer – miming is allowed in the difficult bits!).  The day starts with a rehearsal for all at 10.30;  this lasts till about 12.30 when everyone is free to go out for lunch (please advise the office if your son/daughter is going out) and we re-adjourn at 5.30 to put on the finished choral concert.  It finishes with supper for all who participate….  More details next term.

The 1s’ annual Mock Trial is another Ashdown ‘institution’ and we would encourage you to bring family and friends along to our 61st (I think) murder mystery which will be on Sunday March 13th.  It is always good to perform to a full house so please do put the date in your diaries. As mentioned in a circular this term, Karl Hopwood is coming to talk to the school on Wednesday, 3rd February at 6.30 pm and I would urge any parent who is able to come along then.  Karl is an excellent speaker who does not seek to frighten us about the dangers of the internet – quite the opposite in fact as he certainly explains so much that is positive about it, but he does highlight some of the bad side of it and, with our children being considerably more internet savvy than most of their parents, it is an eye opener and one that we should all take very seriously.

Finally, I need again to highlight the danger of car parks.  There was a tragedy at a prep school earlier in the term involving a mother and I urge everyone to be extra vigilant in the car park particularly during these dark mornings and evenings when small children going home could so easily not be seen.

Annie and I – and indeed all the staff – wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas, a happy new year and a fantastic holidays with your terrific youngsters

Haydon

Headmaster's End of Term Letter - Autumn 2016

on Tuesday, 13 December 2016. Posted in After Lights Out

                                                                        December 2016

Dear Parents and Friends

And so we are nearly at the end of 2016 – where did it go?!  With such a stunning Indian Summer to welcome us back for the term that lasted to half term and beyond, the children much enjoyed what Ashdown children love   best – spending time outside either playing on the Patch, in the Spaghetti Tree,nursing their blisters from their new football boots or sitting reading or chatting with friends.  With the addition of the turkeys (Charles and Camilla, but possibly Charles and Charles!) to the menagerie, the skateboards/ripsticks have plenty of ‘hazards’ to negotiate!

It has been a super term with your super children who, it has to be said, are very ready for a much deserved lie in.  The pace of life in school is fast and it is amazing how even the smallest members of the community have kept their feet on the pedal and achieved so much.  Term started with the 2s departing for the Château de Sauveterre to spend their half term over there;  I think the overwhelming consensus amongst them was that they had had an amazing “far too short” trip, but it was good to have them back with us post half term with rather better French than that they had before the trip – and a desire to add some of the peculiarly Sauveterre customs to Ashdown (thus far resisted!).  Annie and I had a very useful few days in Bermuda at a Schools Fair over there which spread the Ashdown word to that lovely island and, on our return, the 1s went off to The Old Malthouse to do the Geography fieldwork component of the CE syllabus – another fantastic facility we are lucky enough to be able to benefit from. 

Other noteworthy events of the term were our annual walk from The Airman’s Grave on the Ashdown Forest back to school on Remembrance Day.  It never ceases to amaze those of us with limited fitness just how robust your children are in making the nigh on nine mile walk up hill and down dale!  But a wonderful tribute to those who made rather greater physical sacrifices, as I’m sure you will agree; a huge thank you to Ollie de Havas for playing The Last Post at the ‘grave’.  During the final week of course we had our Trips Days when the senior children had a fantastic day at the Queen’s Theatre enjoying a ‘Les Miserables’ workshop followed by a performance of that wonderful musical.  The rest of the school had a trip to Harry Potter Studios on the rather less than speedy ‘Ashdown Express’ (courtesy of W & H Travel) whilst the pre prep much enjoyed ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at The Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks.  Then we had the excitement of the build up to Christmas with carols, Christmas meals and a chance to tell the man with the snowy beard what we wanted him to fill our stockings with before sending everyone off home after a wonderfully moving Carol Service in Coleman’s Hatch Church.  The Chapel Choir were as good as ever and maintained the spine tingling beauty of their performance earlier in the term in Winchester Cathedral.  Richard Coppack must be given much credit for helping the children reach the level this standard.

But of course, along with all these extra curricular activities, the core of the school keeps equally busy with lessons, exams, concerts, plays and lots of activity in the art, DT and games departments.  The 1s are working hard towards the Common Entrance examinations next summer and, with this in mind, I would

PTO…

urge anyone whose child is lower down the school to be in touch with me if you are still unsure as to where to send him or her after Ashdown.  Thus far we have had two successful scholarships and huge congratulations must go to Jemima Bland for her Academic Scholarship and Eloise van Praagh for her Riding Scholarship, both to St Leonard’s Mayfield.  On the games pitches our success has been limited in terms of wins, but much progress has been made by all the teams and we have had some really close and exciting matches along the way.  I can’t commend the quality of our coaches highly enough and their commitment along with the team spirit and resilience they instil into their teams is a very important part of the children’s education – to smile in the face of adversity is a terrific life skill.

Wonderful plays from the top and the bottom of the prep school were enjoyed by parents, friends and staff.  The 5s performed their very own ‘Hansel and Gretel’ with terrific aplomb and are an exciting prospect for future stage appearances, whilst the 1s ‘Murder on the Thames’ was another de Moraville classic complete with puns.  Very many thanks to Suzy Hiron and Suzie Hennegrave for the fantastic sets and of course to the costume and make up artists.   Miss Hiron, who has been at Ashdown for nearly 15 years is leaving us this term to return to her native Scilly Isles where she and her sister will be starting their own boutique café and B & B;  I’m sure you will have a steady stream of Ashdown visitors, Suzy, and we wish you all the best in your new venture.  Suzy will be replaced for the rest of the academic year by David Hunt, a hugely experienced DT teacher who is really looking forward to running the department.  We also say a huge thank you and ‘Adeus’ to Sylva de Jesus who has been a real stalwart in the kitchen for more than a quarter of a century, always with a cheerful smile and a willingness to join in on those special occasions, be in dressing in costume for a themed lunch or showing the younger members of staff how to dance!  Our gappers return to the southern hemisphere and a warm Christmas and we thank them for their help in all areas of the school – Miss Terri and Miss Abbey go with our very best wishes for their future at university and beyond.  Along with my thanks to these hard working departing staff, I must pay tribute to the entire Common Room whose efforts on your children’s behalf are really as good as you will find in any school – 150% commitment and dedication from all is so evident.

Just a couple of housekeeping requests: 

  • Please could you note to email the all This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. & This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Please do drive really slowly in the car park and once in the drive (there was a tragedy at Sunningdale last year in which a parent was killed)

And a couple of changed dates of which to make you aware:

  • Choral Day is now on the last Sunday of next term – Sunday, 19th March and the Mock Trial on the last night of next term – Thursday, 23rd March
  • The provisional dates for the Autumn Term 2017 will be changing and confirmed on both the website and in the calendar for next term which will be ready for collection on the first day of term.

We look forward to seeing everyone full of energy and raring to go next term and, in the meantime, wish you all the most wonderful Christmas with your families and a very happy and healthy New Year.

Kindest regards

Haydon and Annie