Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

It is heads down for our Year 11 and 13 students right now with exams looming.  Past papers are dominating the lives of students and teachers ……but all good preparation!  The Easter holidays brings students space and time to consolidate their learning, to hone in on exam technique but also to find time to relax, sleep and be with family.  We are grateful to parents for their support at home….I have never met any students who enjoyed revision day after day before public exams and we know from their tales that frequent encouragement from parents, usually involving foodie snacks is welcome.  We have given lots of pep talks to parents about looking after their phone whilst their son/s/daughter/s are studying… obviously doesn’t always go down too well with teenagers…..but last week students were telling me how it is so much better for revision (fancy!) and they love to check all their notifications at the end of a revision session.  I would really encourage all parents to have a go….it is really liberating for you and your daughter.

We train our girls on how to prepare for exams from Year 7, with the end of year assessments.  Obviously in Year 7, 8 and 9 they are very low stakes and it is more about the girls working out which revision methods work for them and how they manage feedback.  We were delighted to welcome so many Year 7, 8 and 9 parents to our information evening last week, which was all about effective study methods as well as how parents can support at home.  The ppt presentation is on the website

The KS3 assessments are not imminent as they are after half term.  We are encouraging girls to start preparing two weeks before May half term, when staff stop setting home learning.  This will mean that girls can relax at half term, go out on trips with their families and so on.  The exams are nicely spread out over the two weeks ….so lots of time for revision during the assessment fortnight too.  We will send out ‘what to revise’ lists nearer the time so please do not worry about the end of year assessments now….it is all low stakes!

Mrs Weaver ran a study skills session for Year 10 last week to help them prepare for their Pre Public Exams (PPEs), which are in early May. The revision lists were issued as well – the girls were all given a lesson on cognitive science…revision is about shifting knowledge from the short term memory to the long term memory… ready for this time next year but again they were encouraged to revise in a timely, planned way that does not cause too much angst.  The ppt on revision tips that we presented to parents in October can also be found on the same link above.   Good Luck to everyone!!  If you have any worries just contact the school, we have had a lot of experience between us in dealing with exam preparation.

Without the need for revision, Mrs Pearce and I called upon our bar tendering skills, which were honed decades ago, as we  served lots of Doom Bar, Bud and Sauvignon Blanc to 140 parents, staff and friends on Friday night at the annual Friends of The Holt quiz night.  Everyone seemed to have a lovely time, despite the questions being hard. Thank you to The Friends of The Holt for organising the evening, the raffle and auction prizes and to Chartwells for cooking a delicious curry.  The evening raised £3479.68, which is a record and it will go to the school teams’ travel costs.  Thanks to everyone who participated in this low high stakes competition and made it so enjoyable!

Year 10 Food and Nutrition students were experimenting with different fats to make shortcrust pastry for their first GCSE practical assessment  Their friends were keen to give the jam tarts the Paul and Pru treatment at the end of the experiment too – there was a mass exodus at the end of period 3 to the food rooms! Thanks to Mrs Van Wyngaardt for making food and nutrition so exciting!

Year 10 took part in the science general knowledge challenge on Friday and are through to the final at Reading University in June.  Well done!

I think we are through snow days for another year and we are really looking forward to the summer term, when girls can picnic outside on the grass at lunchtime. Some hardy Year 7 girls have managed to picnic outside for most of the winter!

One more week until the Easter holidays – which is my favourite break and even more so this year as it is the first time in seven years I don’t have any of my own children taking any sort of public exam in the summer.  I will miss not preparing breakfasts to make them get out of bed, providing interesting snacks to keep them going throughout the day and it will be a relief to look after just my own phone!

Best wishes

Anne Kennedy