I hope half term went smoothly and you were able to take some time out to spend time with your families - away from the pressures of work and endless emails!
I have had some lovely chats with Year 9 students in their GCSE option interviews. We talked about half term, their aspirations, GCSE option choices and how Year 9 compares to Year 7 and 8. Most girls said they met with friends at half term …we know that teenage girls love to hang out with their peers! More heart-warmingly, they talked fondly of spending time with their parents and siblings on days out….nothing fancy in most cases; a walk in Henley and having a Starbucks at the end of it, day trip to the beach in Bournemouth in the rain, strolling around the lanes in Brighton and a few girls took day trips to London. Many of our girls have parents who come from other countries and it is so good to learn of their heritage, their ability to speak another language and of course how proud they are of their background. We are lucky at The Holt that we have so many girls from diverse backgrounds – it makes for a much more eclectic mix in school. The girls said they are enjoying Year 9 and feel more relaxed as they have grown more confident compared to Year 7 and 8 and many recognised that they had established strong friendships over the last two and half years. As for their option choices, it is evident that the girls have thought long and hard, discussed subjects with their parents and their teachers. It was good to hear that they found the options evening and taster day very informative and helped them weigh up choices. As a rule of thumb girls should take subjects, they enjoy and are a mixture of creative subjects and humanities, although this is not set in stone. We look forward to meeting Year 9 parents at parents evening on Thursday 22nd February, where they weigh up the choices made by their daughters and make any changes. The profile of Careers Education has been raised with recent government statutory guidance that we fully endorse – our vision is very much to ensure students leave school ready for work as responsible adults and contribute positively to their lives and that of others. Year 12 students are sitting their PPEs (mocks) this week – good luck to them. Some of my economists said the week is really quite relaxing as they just need to come into school to sit the exam and that being at home on their own during the day is brilliant! I think we all like space and solitude at times.
Year 11 and 13 students are on the final straight to the summer exams. Year 11 have their English and Maths PPEs at the beginning of March and many girls will be finishing off their controlled assessments too. Staff are setting up structured revision lessons in class and focusing on sharpening exam skills as well as embedding knowledge and understanding into the long-term memory through recall and retrieval. We continue to recommend to students, as we have over the last 15 years, that they should do on average two hours a night home learning/revision and about four to six hours over the weekend. Setting out a plan of revision and doing it makes them feel in control and this reduces the worry in the build up to exams. A plan also reassures parents – especially when it is on the fridge door being ticked off day-to-day and all this makes for a calmer household. We do not underestimate the impact parents can have on the outcomes of their son/daughter and we are grateful for all nagging and encouragement that goes on during this tricky and often tense period. Parents celebrate as much as their son/daughter does when the last exam has been sat – a big sigh of relief from all! If you have any worries about your daughter/son please do not hesitate to contact the Head of Year.
Six members of staff took 42 students skiing over half term to Kitzbuhel in Austria – thank you to the staff for giving up their half term and also to the students; the tour guides were very complimentary of the politeness and positive attitude of the girls. The girls skied for four hours a day and even got to try curling one evening. The Year 9 Battlefields trip leaves this morning so we wish them well too.