Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

I hope you had a good half term with your families.  My children are independent young adults now and as is the cycle of life I now spend more time visiting my father in Portsmouth, aunt in Skegness and mother-in-law in Manchester as they cling on to their independence in the face of old age adversity.  They are doing well though.  The current generation of grandparents are probably the first to see their grandchildren grow up to be adults. I have noticed from my own family but also in chatting to students at school that the grandparent/grandchild relationship is very special; they learn so much from each other and give each other good vibes.

We finished last half term on a high with the publication of the Progress 8 scores by the DFE.  The Progress 8 score shows how much progress students at The Holt made between the end of Key Stage 2 and the end of Key Stage 4, compared to students across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2. The Holt was ranked 69th in the country, out of around 3,500 secondary schools, with a progress 8 score of +1.03.  This means that a student at The Holt achieved a grade higher is every GCSE they took in the summer compared to students of similar ability at another school. This puts us in the top 2% of schools in the country which is a remarkable achievement.  We are very proud of this score and our success is down to the dedication, skill and passion of our staff and governors, the commitment and support from parents and of course the hard work and enthusiasm of our students.  Well done to staff, governors, parents and students for the class of 2023!!

We are not complacent and know that this success is now in the past – we have our current Year 13 and 11 to focus on.  Year 11 are taking PPEs this week and Year 13 also begin their PPEs at the end of the week.  Good luck to all! 

Friday before half term was an INSET day, where teaching staff focused on their pedagogy skills. Passionate colleagues on The Holt teaching and learning team gave presentations on metacognition, that is, teaching students to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning, to become more resilient in their learning and to believe in their ability to succeed.  The team shared lots of useful resources to use in the classroom to encourage deeper learning and thinking – one of our school priorities.  Teaching staff also agreed on areas of focus for their department coaching such as questioning, modelling, scaffolding, deliberate practice, challenge, lesson planning and feedback. All staff are involved, irrespective of experience as we know we can all tweak our practice … Mrs Smith, Assistant Headteacher who coordinates all training in school constantly reminds us of Prof Dylan Wiliams message back in 2012

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better’’

The biennial careers fair was held on Thursday before half term.  Mrs Hart, our Careers Lead, started planning for the event last March…putting out the feelers, following up with companies and getting them to commit to taking part during the day. The first careers fair was in 2018, when we had 29 organisations attend, this grew to 33 in April 2021 and this year we had an impressive 51 organisations.  Mrs Hart secured representation from a range of sectors including hairdressing, architecture, cybersecurity, construction, automotive engineering, NHS, creative arts, retail, marketing, solicitors, the army, AWE, Norland College, childcare, various universities and local colleges and apprenticeship providers.  More companies asked for electricity sockets this year and reflected the interesting interactive tech they had to help students visualise various careers.

All year groups prepared for the day by completing the careers handbook in registration and they had 50 minutes to visit the various stalls. Mrs Hart was very proud of all the students, she said they embraced the careers fair by being well prepared in that they knew which stalls to visit and had questions to ask. The representatives commented on how polite and engaging students were as well as the excellent questions that they posed.   All our guests to the school felt it was a worthwhile day as they shared their knowledge of the sectors they were representing and their own career path. They said they really felt they could reach out to students to help them think about their future and life beyond school. The students joined in the competitions run by Pepsico, Mars Wrigley, Belron and Nationwide and enjoyed the various prizes! 

A huge thanks to Mrs Hart for organising the careers fair, it gets better every time and to the students for being so enthusiastic as this makes our visitors from all the different organisations want to return. Finally thank you to all the representatives for giving up their day job to speak to and inspire our students!


On Thursday before half term, the cross-country team were crowned Reading and District Cross Country League champions and Runners up!  A huge well done to all of the Cross-Country team, who have taken part in three races over the last few weeks as part of the Reading & District Cross Country league!! Year 7s are District Champions and Years 8 & 9 are 2nd in Reading. Over the last few weeks, we have had some fantastic running from the top performers in Year 7 who placed 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th and the top runners in Year 8&9 who placed 3rd, 5th, 10th and 11th. Mrs White has been amazed at the commitment to the cross country races and training on a Wednesday morning last term, keep it up this half term. 

Six of the junior girls’ team have also made it to the regional cross country finals, happening on the 11th November. Good luck girls! 

The U14 Basketball team also started off their season well, with a fantastic first match of the season. Mrs Welch is excited to see how the team progresses this half term. 

Last half term the U16 Basketball team had an excellent game against Maiden Erlegh, along with some fantastic skills shown by the U12 Hockey team in their first game for The Holt against Reading Bluecoat School.

The PE department also had great success with the U15 team who won 7-5 in their first game of the season! We had some outstanding play and Miss Stanborough is excited to see how this team progresses throughout the year. The success continued with the Year 11 Netball team in their Southeast Berks netball tournament, where the B team came 2nd and the A team came 7th! 

Thank you so much to the PE department, they have truly had a positive impact on their students…their confidence, enjoyment, and success.

Finally thank you for all the donations for non-uniform day.  We raised £814 for WaterAid, our Harvest charity. Water | What we do | WaterAid UK

Anne Kennedy