End of Term letter - Autumn 2015

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