Dear parents, guardians and friends,
As this blustery month of May draws to a close, our Year 11 and 13 students are beginning to breathe sighs of relief as their assessments come to an end. This time of year is always a challenge for students sitting their final examinations – the constant planning, revising and performing when it counts is not enjoyable for many. What this year’s cohorts have also had to deal with is the uncertainty of school closure, online lessons, and exams being “cancelled” before being replaced, at Ofqual’s behest, with what have looked and felt very much like exams.
On Thursday afternoon Year 11 will be signing shirts and saying farewells on their last formal day of school. Year 13 will also be bowing out. However, it is “au revoir” rather than goodbye as we look forward to welcoming Year 11 back for their leavers’ assembly on 2nd July and Year 13 for a barbecue on 11th June. We hope to both year groups a good send off – even if, happily, most of Year 11 will be back with us in September.
I would like to pay tribute to the resilience and strength of character shown by our students, and to their teachers who have helped them navigate some very choppy waters. We hope that over the summer they are reminded that there is more to life than exams.
Our Year 12 students will be hoping that the whole process runs more smoothly next year. They have already started thinking about university, and last Thursday enjoyed a day aimed at helping them in writing compelling personal statements as part of the UCAS application process. We are fortunate to have a sixth form team who are very knowledgeable and experienced in this regard.
Both Year 10 and Year 12 will have the opportunity to test themselves and learn important skills around revising for and sitting examinations as they tackle their PPEs in the weeks after the half term break. Mrs Kennedy wrote at length about revision in her blog a fortnight ago. Do have a look if you didn’t catch it first time round and you would like some ideas about how to support your daughter or son.
As the stages of lockdown easing progress, we have been able to start adding back in some of the enrichment opportunities that have been sorely missed over the past 14 months or so. The life of our school depends as much on what happens beyond the classroom as what happens in it. Many afterschool clubs have started back up, and it has been lovely to see students enjoying these together.
Mrs Pearce trailed HoltFest in last week’s blog – an event that will combine our traditional sports day with the performing arts and a fundraising colour run. Before we get that far, interhouse competitions in netball and rounders will take place. It will be followed by the English department’s speech competitions for Years 7 & 8. There is lots to get involved in for all of our students.
School trips have been a casualty of the pandemic. We are cautiously beginning to dip our toes back in the water in this regard. Our Year 12 historians have been invited to see the play “The Last Abbott” in Reading Abbey ruins next month. This retelling of the conflict between Church and King in Tudor England should bring to life an important part of A level syllabus.
Our Year 10 geographers will also be braving the streets of Wokingham in July to conduct GCSE fieldwork. We are cautiously planning a return to a much fuller programme of off-site activities for the next academic year, and we will keep you informed about upcoming opportunities.
Finally, I would like to congratulate our Year 7 & 8 students who participated in the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge at the end of April. The results are in and we are very proud of our 38 students who earned gold, silver or bronze certificates. Particular congratulations go to Emily who achieved the best score in Year 7, and Teah who achieved the highest score in Year 8 and qualified for the prestigious Junior Kangaroo competition.