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