Staff Testimonials

Laura Hayes – Science teacher & Head of Broderers House

I have been at The Holt just over 6 years now, applying for The Holt and accepting their job offer was an easy decision, the interview team was friendly and approachable, the students were well mannered and kind during my interview lesson. I also checked out their most recent Ofsted report and was pleased with what I read, it definitely sounded like a community I wanted to be a part of. 


Having trained in a co-ed school with some behavioural and attainment challenges, I was pleased to be able to join a team with a strong focus on staff CPD and in particular teacher pedagogy. I love that we can try new things in the classroom, to have time to reflect on the successes or challenges and to be able to share best practice with colleagues. This experience has helped me thrive personally in and out of the classroom. It is also great to have opportunities for developmental roles such as Head of House and training pathways for Head of Year and Head of Department. In fact, I love being a Head of House and would be reluctant to give it up.  

Hayley Illingworth – Head of Social Sciences

I am new to the school, I started in September 2023. 

I have taught since I was fresh out of university, at the age of 21, so have been teaching for about 14 years. My specialist subject is Psychology and I lead the Social Sciences department, which is something I have done for several years, at previous schools as well as this one. However, my new role at The Holt also includes the running of Child Development and Health and Social care, which I have not been responsible for previously. 

The best thing about working at The Holt is having a strong SLT team who are all very approachable and willing to listen to any ideas or thoughts that colleagues may have. They are very patient with new staff and understand that it takes time to learn the new systems and processes, so this has made me feel a lot more comfortable to ask lots of questions and to collect as much information as possible without fear of being judged or looking silly. Being head of faculty is also something where sometimes I need to ask for adaptation and when I came to the school, I noticed initially we were under resourced in two of the departments, and one of the classes was too large. I put a proposal together for more resources and for the class to be split in half, and the co-heads and my line manager listened to my viewpoints and took seriously what I was asking for. As a result, they accepted my proposal which meant my departments are now well resourced and have good numbers in. This made me feel listened to and valued as a middle leader.

Gemma Whitehouse – Head of Biology

I have been at The Holt for 18 years. I was first attracted to The Holt as an NQT due to the Outstanding Ofsted rating and the interesting fact that it is an all-girls state school. I applied and the conversations I had with the current Head of Faculty really gave me motivation to work here before I even came for an interview. There is a calm atmosphere as you walk around the school, yet there is a buzz in lessons, showing the engagement of the students and their willingness to learn.

My whole teaching career has been at The Holt and I have been able to hold different responsibilities within that time, as well as having the privilege of attending so many residential trips, from biology field trips in South Wales to a history trip to Berlin, from skiing in the Alps and kayaking the Ardeche to camping in Wiltshire. I have been a Head of House, Head of KS3 science, Second in Science and I am currently Head of Biology alongside sixth form early entry coordinator. In addition, I am part of the teaching and learning team and led a group coaching team. I have stayed at The Holt because I love my job, the students are lovely, the staff are exceptional and the CPD available is second to none. My colleagues and I are encouraged to constantly improve and the CPD delivered to staff always contains new ideas that are practical and achievable. Each year there are different working parties and groups open to staff to work on policies and be part of the wider school community too, so there are constant opportunities to look out for. As part of the Wellington Teaching Alliance there are also numerous opportunities sent out to all staff, many of which I have taken advantage of. There are also different career pathways available, I have been able to complete the SLT pathway which was really informative, and the experience enhanced my leadership skills. I am currently completing a diploma through Wellington College and the willingness of the school to support this is really appreciated. The support from SLT and my department in both my development and personal life has been immeasurable and is a large part in why I stay. Even after all of these years I still love working at The Holt, the students continue to amaze me, the staff are supportive and everyone is always striving to improve.

Nikki Welch – Physical Education teacher

I have worked at The Holt in the PE department for since 2021. When I saw the job advertised, I was immediately drawn to it, even though I was happy in my teaching position at the time. I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years and have had the opportunity to work in great schools with fantastic students. Teaching at The Holt is in some respect no different to others, but the difference here is I feel that I’m really “teaching”. The student’s behaviour and attitude towards learning and personal development is excellent. They are not afraid to challenge themselves and challenge me (!) with their inquisitive thoughts and ideas both in theory and practical lessons. There is always a positive buzz in the air as you walk around the school, and the extra-curricular provision is vast, there is something for everyone to get involved in. I was a little apprehensive about teaching in a predominantly all-girls school (apart from 6th form lessons), but I shouldn’t have been… it’s great!

Josh Miriams – KS3 Science Coordinator

My Holt journey began in 2019 as a PGCE student, unaware of exactly what to expect in the world of education, but my concerns were quickly put to rest by the supportive staff at The Holt. From day one, I was mentored expertly and provided with advice on how I could become the excellent teacher that I aspired to be and by the end of the first term, I had been offered a full-time role at the school.

During my NQT year, I found that with a clear behaviour for learning policy and strong pastoral system in place, it allowed me to really focus my time on lesson planning and my own pedagogy. This benefited me throughout the year and beyond, as I was able to focus my time on planning the quality-first teaching resources that I still adapt and use to this day.

By the end of my NQT year, the first progression opportunity had arisen. I took on the Head of House role where I was able to develop my leadership skills, contributing to the personal development of students outside of the classroom, by coordinating assemblies, House events and encouraging students to raise money for our house charity.

By the end of my third year employed by The Holt, further opportunities had arisen. I had taken on the role as acting head of department and key stage lead for science. More recently, I have undertaken the Head of Year pastoral pathway and have been accepted onto the NPQ Lead Teaching programme, further highlighting the career progression opportunities that I have gained at The Holt.

When I look back to 2019, as that unsure, prospective PGCE student, I realise that I had no reason to be worried about entering the world of teaching, mostly due to the support of the outstanding school that I would soon become a part of.


Jo Schotting – Art teacher

I have been here 9 years now, having been attracted to The Holt by the creativity and outcomes of the art department, the facilities in the dept and the fact that the school obviously recognises and values the creativity and importance of the arts and invests in it.  

The school has fantastic behaviour management which makes it an environment where excellent teaching can take place with students who want to achieve. Staff wellbeing is really important to the senior leadership team and staff are shown they are valued through end of term gatherings, praise and thank you letters sent to teachers, senior leadership showing teachers they trust them by encouraging autonomy in the classroom, reflection at the end of each year and acting upon suggestions of teachers. It is a very safe, caring, and nurturing school as shown by fantastic events such as our culture day, student led assemblies and the wide variety of trips and residentials that take place.  Early closure days on online parents’ evenings help reduce staff workload along with being able to go home during PPAs.   A warm and friendly staff team with a great staffroom committee that organises many events.  

I really can’t imagine working anywhere else and absolutely love my job here at The Holt.