Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends
It is such a privilege to be part of a learning community such as The Holt. Aiming high is part of what we do, and we want our students and staff to experience the thrill of broadening perspective and deepening understanding throughout their time here. The mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss described his own inquisitive nature when he wrote, “It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.”
I have had this in mind in recent weeks because my children are in Year 6 and at that point where we have needed to decide on which secondary schools to apply for a place at. We are very fortunate that there are so many great schools in our local area, and I have enjoyed experiencing open evenings from a parental perspective. We are hoping that our two will continue to develop their love of learning as they take the next step in their education.
When my wife and daughter attended an open morning at The Holt before the half term break, they certainly came away with the sense that great learning happens here. What most impressed them, however, was the confidence and ease with which our Year 11 prefects showed them around and gave them the lowdown on our school. Many other parents have said the same thing. We have also had students lead assemblies on combatting the use of racist language. On gate duty recently, I was able to chat to some of our Year 10 students who were staying behind at the end of the day to run a Year 6 netball tournament. We are so proud of the leaders and learners we see growing in our midst.
Taking up that sporting theme, our interhouse football competition took place. With thanks to the PE department, we have seen a wonderful level of friendly rivalry. The results saw Haberdashers come out on top in Year 7, Clothworkers in Year 8, Lacemakers in Year 9, Broderers clinch the title in Year 10, and Haberdashers go out with a bang in Year 11.
Among many sports fixtures against other schools, our junior cross-country team qualified last week for the Southwest Regional Finals. Well done to the girls and thank you to Mrs White!
And lastly for now, on the sporting front, congratulations to our U16 netballers who have progressed through to the next round of the National Cup after an outstanding win over Claires Court. We have entered this competition to pit ourselves against the best, so it is wonderful to see the team rising to the challenge.
On the Monday before half term, Year 9 students had the opportunity to watch a drama production called ‘Unacceptable’ focusing on challenging negative and harmful gender stereotypes. Students watched as a group challenged a friend’s views and attitudes, and were educated about different types of discrimination, healthy & unhealthy relationships and online sexual harassment. Students were given the opportunity to discuss these themes as a year group and then ask questions to the actors directly. A big thank you to Mrs Williams and the Alter Ego team.
The English Department have started some exciting initiatives this year. Students have asked for an opportunity to develop their creative writing beyond normal lessons. Mrs McClelland has responded by organising the Key Stage 4 Writers’ Club which will be open to students from Years 10 and 11 on Wednesday lunchtimes. Our sixth formers can now attend KS5 Lit Soc meetings on Tuesday lunchtimes in which they will be able to discuss modern classics starting with Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. One for the Christmas list?
In preparation for Halloween, our sixth form students enjoyed a visit to Fright Night at Thorpe Park. I understand that they had a suitably spooky time and I know they would like to express their thanks to the staff who organised and accompanied the trip. We will be organising more social events for the sixth form across the year; we want them to work hard but also to enjoy a range of activities together by which to remember their time as senior members of the school community.
My son thinks trick-or-treating is pretty much the best thing ever – fun costumes AND sweets! I don’t go a bundle on Halloween, but I do find it fascinating that in every culture around the world there are particular times when a connection to those who have gone before is celebrated or explored. So, I’ll leave you with the poem below.
Samhain by Annie Finch
(The Celtic Halloween)
In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.
Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil
that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.
I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and when I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother’s mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
self, I find her, and she brings
arms that carry answers for me,
intimate, a waiting bounty.
“Carry me.” She leaves this trail
through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.