Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends,

Looking at the school calendar for this time of year – it is clear that things are gearing up gradually for the Spring term.  Year 11s are currently undertaking their PPEs, Year 9s options process will start shortly, the extracurricular timetable has been published and we have several trips, events, and masterclasses on the horizon that I am sure will be mentioned in future blogs.

My calendar is busy with several events involving my role as Assistant Head Teacher (AHT) responsible for teacher training and career development. I am currently at Sand Martins Golf Club, having just had a great lunch, (a real treat). This is the Early Career Teacher (ECT) mentors’ conference. The conference is part of the government funded Early Career Professional Development programme. We are very fortunate in Wokingham to be able to come together as a group of schools; the eight Wokingham Secondary schools work together to facilitate and run the ECT programme.  The conference today has been delivered by an AHT from St Crispin’s and the ECT Coordinator from Bulmershe, as well as guest speakers from Reading University and Wellington College. Mrs Whitehouse and I will also be delivering a session later this afternoon. 

Next week the ECTs themselves will have a similar one-day conference once again facilitated by Wokingham Federation of schools and delivered by staff from local schools including Mrs Rooms and Mrs Barker from the Holt. This a part of the planned two-year programme of centralised training the ECTs receive.  We are very fortunate that all the Wokingham Secondary schools recognise the value of supporting entrants new to the profession. The opportunities for the ECTs and Mentors to meet and share experiences, issues and ideas cannot be underestimated and is in great contrast to many other schools whose centralised training is online.

We currently have five ECTs in Year 1 of the programme; I asked some of them how they were getting on and what they found rewarding about teaching –

Mr Turner said –

“The best thing I find about teaching is seeing the work and support you as a teacher put in, allows students to get to and go above their targets. There is nothing better than seeing a student’s face when they have achieved a great test result or answer a challenging question correctly in class. 

Teaching Design and Technology also allows me to see students using their creative skills to produce products that they can show and be proud of.”

Miss Goldschmidt said –

I have really enjoy helping students achieve their goals and helping them to improve during their time in school. Also watching them develop into adults and going on to achieving their dreams.

Teacher training and career development does not end with the end of the two-year ECT programme. There are numerous opportunities in school to take on extra responsibilities and new challenges – for example planning and leading a trip, running an extracurricular club, delivering a master class and of course becoming Head of House.

Mr Thrower who is Head of Clothworkers said –

When I was doing my PGCE I distinctly remember the advice I received to take any opportunity that you are presented with as you never know where they might lead. I honestly never envisioned myself doing the HOH role, it wasn’t one that existed in the school I attended or trained at, but by applying this mindset of giving anything a try I have come to greatly enjoy and value the role. The obvious benefits with progression aside, the role has allowed me to give back to the school, see students thrive outside of my subject area, improve my notice board designing skills (something I never knew I needed to improve until now!) and challenge and push students beyond the confines of a curriculum. If there is one bit of advice I could give to anyone student or staff it would be to look for new opportunities and take a chance.

Teachers that have become proficient in their role and are keen to take the next steps towards a pastoral or curriculum role or are currently HoDs or HoYs, have the opportunity to undertake a National Professional Qualification (NPQ).

So far three of our staff have completed their NPQs and we have an additional 6 who are just about to receive the final assessment. I am sure they will all do brilliantly!

Mr Green said –

I did the NPQ on Leading Teaching. The main thrust of the course was about how to implement sustained change in teaching practice that is based on sound educational research. I was surprised how much of this high-quality teaching we already do at the Holt through the Holt Pedagogy. Because of this rather than learning anything new on the evidence behind high quality teaching practice, the main thing I learnt was how to implement this change within a school and in leading staff in making this change. That change is difficult and costly and shouldn’t be done without proper planning and investigation first.

Mrs Lamey said –

I really valued the opportunity to take time to reflect in more depth on my teaching. The Leading Teaching Course connected the theory of teaching and learning and related it to our everyday practice. It was encouraging to see the overlap between The Holt Pedagogy and what we were studying in the NPQ. We also looked in detail about the theory and reality of leading change within the classroom and across a school, the need to root this sound research and the time it can take to implement change.

Mr Adams (who completed his NPQH) said –

Undertaking the NPQH provided me with valuable opportunities to engage with educational research and to network with colleagues with different levels of experience in various settings. I was able to reflect on the areas of responsibility that I oversee at The Holt, and to remind myself what it is like to follow a course of academic study.

In addition to formal qualifications there are numerous other opportunities available to continue to develop within the profession.

Mrs Whitehouse said –

 I fully believe that there is always room for improvement, and I have always enjoyed being a part of multiple working parties, of which there are different ones every year in line with the school improvement processes. In addition to this I am part of the teaching and learning team where we can focus on evidence informed practice and use educational research to inform our practice, which we then deliver during inset days to other staff.  I completed an SLT pathway which enabled me to lead working parties, be a part of policy decisions and attend meetings I would not normally attend. I am currently completing a diploma in Global Leadership through Wellington College, through which I have attended courses on coaching, leadership and having tough conversations and have completed my own research as part of an assignment on how to allow people within your team to flourish and develop. I am looking forward to the next stages in this qualification, furthering my knowledge of coaching and completing another assignment.

Mr Mirams said –

I was recently given the opportunity to complete a two-part pastoral pathway as part of my continued professional development. The first part provided me with experience of the role of the head of year in the lower school and the second part provided me with experience of pastoral leadership in the sixth form. I thoroughly enjoyed both aspects of the pathway and was given the opportunity to complete external visits and courses to supplement the in-school experience that I was gaining, which included shadowing members of staff, sitting in multi-disciplinary panel meetings, presenting at parent information evenings and more. Having completed my pastoral pathway, I was eager to gain more academic experience that would enhance my skillset, specifically linked to my TLR position – head of key stage three science. With this in mind, the school directed me towards the NPQ programs offered my UCL and I am pleased to have been accepted onto the NPQ Lead Teaching program from February this year. I am sure both experiences will broaden my skillset as I aspire to progress my career in the future.

Teaching is often hard work and always challenging, we often need to work at evenings and weekends, but it is an extremely rewarding career it is never dull and there is always something else to keep you ‘stretched and challenged’ if that is what you want.

 So have I convinced you yet? 

According to Reading University there are shortages in many subjects.  Bursaries are available –

So if you or someone you know are thinking about a teaching career or know anyone who is… here are some links!

For enquiries or information about training to teach in Wokingham     or please email Julian Bushell, The Wokingham Federation  Manager directly

I would recommend that first step towards embarking on a teaching career is to spend some time in a school to see what really goes on so please contact Julian or myself if that would be useful.

I will finish with the quote which exemplifies our approach towards professional development at The Holt.

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


Yvonne Smith

Assistant Headteacher