Newsletter – End of Spring Term 2017

Somehow, almost as if by magic, we have arrived at the end of another packed term. As ever we have been busy on all fronts in our search for the talents in all the children at Cumnor. Not just the academic subjects but of course in the co-curriculum. There have been individual and collective highlights aplenty but the most important thing is that all the children can take advantage of the broad range of stimuli and opportunities that a country prep school can offer.

Congratulations to our most recent scholars. Archie R. has been awarded a Latin Scholarship to Cranbrook. Lulu R. the Ashdown Leadership Award to Ardingly and also to Ardingly Sammy M. has achieved a Sports award. There are still a whole clutch of academic awards to be finalised next term but in the meantime our children have already amassed 27 different scholarships.

Many thanks to the parents involved in putting on and supporting the MDNA art exhibition by Jeremy Houghton last Thursday. The evening made a wonderful £3,422.50 which brings the grand total we have raised for MDNA to £31,500.00

The annual event at this point of the term is for the Y6 children to take part in the Greenpower Goblin event at Plumpton last weekend. Thank you very much to Tony Woods and Gerard Shannon for all their hard work in preparing the Y6 children and 21 of them, alongside their entries, Bread Buggy, Bubble Trouble and Emoji Empire achieved a very respectable third place overall and were also awarded a trophy for the best Portfolios.

Yesterday a group of Y7 children went to the Global Canvas Art and Poetry Exhibition for the prize giving ceremony at the Natural History Museum. Their art work, created with a textile piece to represent animal and plant cells using fused fabrics and recycled materials, was created in response to the title ‘Our Precious Planet’. 13 pupils out of 1834 who submitted work have been invited as finalists; so to exhibit their work is wonderful news!

This term for many children, as like the last one, has been dominated by pre-tests and follow up test days at different public schools. We are pleased with the many successes of the children thus far and of course, in some cases, deeply hurt that our children are perceived to be wanting at this early stage. We shall be reviewing all the results across the year group in the early part of next term and then announce the next stage of the response to the ever-burgeoning testing juggernaut.

I am delighted to be able to remind you that early next week the ground works begin for the extension and renovation of our new Dining Room. You will recall that a key part of our 2020 strategy document was the extension of the dining room. At the moment we have 4 lunch sessions on most days, running from 11.50 to 1.50. This is due to lack of space in a dining room built in the 1950s with a new kitchen added in the early 2000s. Our new design virtually doubles the floor space and changes the flow of queues into and through the space. We shall be able to reduce the number of sittings, freeing up more lesson and activity time over the lunch period; lunch will also become a more relaxed, less rushed and noisy part of the day. 20 minute lunches will be extended to 30 minutes! There will be more space for additional ‘guests’ at breakfast and supper alongside boarders, as well as a designated space for parental coffee meetings/late breakfasts!

Planning permission has been gained, builders engaged, Luke and Luke – the same that we used for the Peake and the Nursery, and work begins over the Easter holidays. It will be completed over the summer holidays in good time for September 2017. Plans and an artist’s impression will be on display in the front hall from the end of term and throughout the holidays.

Cumnor Sports

50 very excited children and parents too, head off to Gatwick for the start of their Ski Trip to Passo Tonale, Italy; accompanied by Mr Thackway, Mrs Brown, Mr Park, Mrs McMenemy and Mrs Harding. Please check our Twitter and Facebook feeds to keep up to speed with their adventures.

Craig Burgess writes: Multi-sports camp. We will be running a multi-sports camp, open to pupils from Years 1–3 and Year 4–8 (half & full day options available) on the 29th, 30th & 31st March. Most afternoons we will focus on striking sports in preparation for the summer term. The cost for a half day is £20 and for a full day it is £40. All three days can be booked for a reduced price of £110. Timings are as follows:
Half day
9.30am-12.30pm or 1.00pm-4.00pm
Full day
9.30am – 4.00pm (you will need to provide your own packed lunch)
To register your child please email As always it is appreciated that you register your interest as early as possible so suitable staffing can be arranged.

Ben Chapman writes: We will also be running a Cricket Coaching Course on Tuesday 18th April from 2.00pm-5.00pm for boys and girls in Years 7 & 8. The cost for the 3 hour session is £20. To register your child for this course, please email As above, please register your interest as early as possible so suitable staffing can be arranged.

Cumnor Logistics

Cumnor Credits: As ever, I am delighted to share our weekly list of Cumnor Credits.

Start of Summer Term: Boarders return at 8.00pm on Wednesday 19th April and day children from 7.45am on Thursday 20th morning
The Kalendar will be available for collection from the Office from the first day of term. In the meantime, please do use following link.

Simmonds Opening Hours: During the Easter Holidays Simmonds will be open on Tuesday 18th April 2.00-4.00pm and Wednesday 19th April 10.00-noon

And finally please find following the core transcript of my speech to the children at Prize Giving today which I share with you now.

There is a great deal in this world that I do not understand. The exact structure of DNA: how to explain Fermat’s theorem; how to bake a perfect cake; why there are blue smarties?

More seriously at school: why are people ever unpleasant to one another? How do perfectly pleasant children sometimes end up doing or saying something in a way that turns out to be bullying. Why do we as staff sometimes lose track of our common purpose to educate and support children at all times?

I suppose the standard response to all this might be ‘human nature’ – which is often used as an excuse for poor behaviour or unkindness. In Christian terms, we are all sons and daughters of Adam & Eve, born with that original sin that we must struggle to contain – when we fail its human nature. In school we can reinforce from day one what we think human nature should be: ambition, kindness and tolerance and acceptance of others. Treating others as we wish to be treated. And everything that we do and say should be led by this guidance.

I’ve always thought that the extreme of ambition for ourselves and our children might lie in the nation’s favourite poem – Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’.
Calmness, integrity, patience, honesty, modesty, imagination, perseverance, tolerance, kindness, forgiveness – these are the values extolled and they resonate with us all.

When we are faced with others failing to live up to our Cumnor values, our response must be to keep on doing and saying what we know is right. As a child, as an adult. We should not respond in kind, being mean or hurtful.

This same advice was echoed by our Prime Minister, Teresa May, this week when an act of random cruelty and madness was carried out adjacent to the Houses of Parliament. She spoke of the values of free speech, liberty, human rights and the rule of law and she also spoke of carrying on as usual doing what you know is right even when others are being wicked.

We all need to be the best possible examples to others – trying out hardest, being kind to everyone, not just our friends. If we get it right at school level, school by school, then the outside world will have nothing to worry about.

It simply remains for Belinda and me to wish you every happiness during the course of the Easter holidays and the opportunity to be together as a family over this period.

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