Day & Boarding 7-13 years,
Pre-Prep & Nursery 2-7 years.

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Headmaster's Blog Spring Term Week 6

What a week! Storm damage, power cuts, police sniffer dogs, Open Morning, German Spotlight and more.

I have to start with the excitements of Thursday. Storm Doris was signalled well in advance, but there is not a huge amount one can do. I have a vague memory of a rush to batten down the hatches and tie down anything that might move in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when they know the cyclone is on its way. However, at Abberley precautionary measures were more along the lines of making alternative games plans, avoiding the woods and having the team on standby.

In the event the winds became quite spectacular quite quickly. Children were escorted between classrooms, certain doors were locked and an attempt was made to mitigate the unpredictable gusts and bouts that blow and suck through our buildings slamming doors. The tiles started to rattle and shake on the library building and more alarmingly some fell off Ashton roof. Areas were roped off and routes up to lunch were worked out that avoided the danger zones.

The headmaster abandoned his post in the early afternoon on a trip down to Shrivenham, leaving VMB in charge. It turned out that I missed all the fun: later in the afternoon the lights flickered, came and went, and then went off properly just after 5pm. It was at this point that the team kicked into gear: VMB, Mr BT, JAP, Mr Schellenberg, Mrs Payne and all the staff still on site made some quick decisions: the Kitchens, not to be left out, stepped up to the mark – hot gammon seared on the hob ensured that everyone would get a good supper inside them – it also ensured a lot of smoke and as the power cut had stopped the extractors doing their bit. So we had a fire alarm thrown into the mix to make the challenge a little more testing! Stories and jokes were told in Ashton Hall, and then it was early to bed after games in front of the fire in the Front Hall. I arrived back at 8.30, just to see the last of the boy boarders disappearing off to bed, as the emergency lights began to fail one by one. We all had to go to bed early and the next day I was not the only one to say that it was the best and longest night’s sleep I had had for a long time.

Well done the Abberley team: the children were fantastic and did exactly as they were asked and with very good spirit throughout; the staff were outstanding too. It just goes as a reminder that people’s true colours are shown in a crisis.

The Police asked if they could use us as a ‘live’ training site for their sniffer dog teams, and in the spirit of helping the community we said yes. In Bun Break Algy & Josh were a little surprised to see their dorm being used by a large policeman and quite a large and excited dog to practise hunting for illicit substances – they were found in Rory’s bedside table, which was a relief to Algy.

The fun continued on Saturday with a very lively Open Morning, I am pleased to report, with lots of families with children of all shapes and sizes coming to look around. There felt like a particularly good atmosphere this time, with many extremely positive conversations about the school, the pupils, members of staff and facilities. We finished with a fairly impromptu concert in Ashton Hall, where several pupils of all ages played or sang a quick solo – I was so proud of them – and quite a few of the families stayed on to have lunch in the PDR. The beef stew seemed to go down well, and set us up for an excellent round of matches in the afternoon against Moor Park, in both netball and football. The icing on the cake was to hear that our U13 girls, playing away from home, got their revenge against their nemesis.

If next week is like this one, we will be ready for the exeat this weekend.

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