Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope you have all had a good summer break with your families and feel ready for whatever the Autumn Term brings.
Right now, I am self-isolating, having tested positive on Sunday. The symptoms are not too bad but I will really appreciate the return of my sense of smell and taste…..I think I am most relieved, that for me, there is no pain – this must be the vaccine kicking in.
Today, from my bedroom, I loaded up TEAMS for a remote lesson and I think hybrid lessons will be commonplace this term for staff and students who have tested positive. We have 25 students who have had PCR positive tests along with one other member of staff. As Mrs Martin wrote in her parent letter on Monday, there is no need for students to self-isolate if a member of their household has tested positive, but they should do a LFT test every day and of course if they test positive or have symptoms, they should self-isolate and book a PCR test via the NHS Covid app. Please let school know, via the absence line so we can let your daughter/son’s teachers know to set remote learning. We can only set remote learning if your daughter/son has tested positive. We would really urge you to encourage your daughter/son to do a LFT twice a week, even if they feel well, with Monday and Thursday being the ideal days.
Thank you to Mrs Hart for coordinating the Covid rapid testing before students started school and to all the staff who agreed to be testers for the last few days. Testing approx. 1400 students twice should not be underestimated but with students being well trained on self-testing and Mrs Hart’s intricate planning it all went to plan when students had parental consent. Thanks to you for completing the forms.
Last week one of our two training days focused on pastoral issues. Grace Barrett from I Am Ally ABOUT | I Am Ally , gave an engaging talk on what it means to be anti-racist and what we can do to strive to help make our school get closer to being anti-racist. Grace certainly made staff feel more confident in discussing racism and tackling it. We have set up the firstname.lastname@example.org email for students to use as they requested last term.
Following on from Grace, Alex from the Self Esteem Team School Speakers | Self-Esteem Team | United Kingdom (selfesteemteam.org), delivered an entertaining presentation, where he shared helpful tips with staff to give them more confidence in engaging in meaningful conversations with students about anxiety and mental health issues, again drawing upon his own experiences.
Year 7 and 12 started their first day of 21/22 on Friday and Mrs Pearce and I were happy to welcome them to school in a proper face to face assembly. Year 7 took part in all sorts of induction activities and one included Linda Carroll and Steve Thomas (ex Holt teachers enjoying retirement) giving a fascinating history of The Holt. They showed them the old uniform, old exercise books with red pen scrawled all over them, photos of deportment lessons and examples of school reports. It was so good that the students could look over old photos and appreciate how much the school has grown over the years and to understand where their House names came from. One Year 7 saw her mum in the photos…so they are not all from the 1930s, 40s, 50s or 60s! Thanks also to Hannah Dyson, our behaviour support worker, who led a session on friendships and gave some top tips to Year 7. We have 240 Year 7 students and 142 students in Year 12. We are delighted that so many Year 11 students chose to study A levels in our sixth form.
On Monday the rest of the school returned to a pre Covid, bubble free, normal timetable…..with an hour for lunch and finishing at 3.30pm…a bit of a shock to some students. Fingers crossed we don’t have to go back to the Covid restrictions of last year.
During the summer, our finance and site teams have been busy making improvements to our buildings and the site in general. In the spirit of ‘fabric first solutions’ and ‘retro fitting’, that is reducing energy use by adapting current buildings to make them more efficient, we have installed LED lights throughout the school and we have added more roof insulation to our buildings. A government adviser on net zero carbon, said that increasing energy efficiency in schools by 1% is equivalent to 100 people being vegan for a lifetime! We have also reconfigured classrooms and by making more efficient use of space we have created two more classrooms at minimal cost to accommodate our increasing number of students. We have had ramps fitted to more doors to improve accessibility and the canopies groundworks has started. We are hoping they will be completed this weekend. With growing numbers of students choosing design and tech subjects we have refurbished T10 to make it into a graphics teaching room. The boiler house chimney looks much more attractive having been repointed and Mrs Pearce and I are very relieved to be told that the broken boiler in the Holt Building has been replaced. I think we were guilty of excessive use of electric heaters last winter with no central heating and windows wide open (covid measure). Thanks to Wendy Simmons and Ben Phillips for overseeing all this work.
Miss Pyle, our charities and extracurricular coordinator, is organising the Harvest celebrations. The theme is linked to the #COP26 meeting in Glasgow in November. Students will be looking at the actions different countries are taking to meet the net zero carbon emissions by 2050. A Holt tradition at Harvest is for Year 11 students to deliver food parcels to the elderly and those in need in our community. A letter went out yesterday to parents and students with examples of produce that we would appreciate being donated and our aim is for each student to bring at least one item in – it would be great if you could nudge your daughter/son to bring in something next week to add to their form’s Harvest box. The Harvest assemblies, led by our Student Leadership Team will be on Thursday 23 September.
We are looking forward to meeting Year 7 parents tonight (Wednesday 8 September) in the Hall at 6pm.