Dear Parent/Guardian and Friends

It has been a quiet week at school. Year 13 students are sitting their PPEs enabling them to consolidate their Year 12 content and exam technique and for some, they are also hoping to boost their UCAS predicted grades before applying to university. It is busy time for Year 13 right now, as they are juggling studies and PPEs with UCAS applications, entrance exams, driving lessons and tests, part time jobs and 18th birthday parties…. nothing new for this year group but never the less, busy times where good organisational skills play a big part in keeping ducks in a row!

Year 11 have just finished their maths PPEs – three papers in three days last week. Their teachers are pacing themselves to mark as many of the 90 papers as they can before the Year 11 parents’ evening on Thursday. As with Year 13, Year 11 students also have a lot going on with finishing off their NEAs, setting up revision schedules in preparation for the PPEs in January as well as attending 16th birthday celebrations, watching I’m a celebrity, Bake off and maybe The Crown! Year 11 are also thinking about their post-16 studies. We would very much welcome all our Year 11 to attend The Holt Sixth form next year and we are holding our sixth form information evening on Thursday 17 November at 6pm. Students will learn more about how very different life is in the sixth form compared to being in the main school…with more freedom, independence, and choice. We look forward to seeing you and your daughters next Friday.

During half term the school library was upgraded with a wall coming down and then refurbished with new shelves. The library is a popular resource in school for students to relax and read, to use the computers and to get on with homework. It is very welcoming and open after school until 4.30pm.

On the theme of books and reading, Ms Mirza, our KS3 English Coordinator organised for Berkshire Refugee Support to come in to present an assembly to Year 7 last Wednesday about how they support refugees within Berkshire. The presenter covered what would force a person to leave their home and this links in with the texts Year 7 are studying this term:

To enhance our students’ understanding of how various charities help those in need around the world, Ms Mirza has also invited The David Nott Foundation to present a session to Year 7 on Tuesday 22nd November on the effects of conflict on civilians. Each of the above texts explore how civilians are forced to leave their homes when it is no longer safe for them in their home country

At school we expect every student to have a book to read for pleasure in their bags – ask your daughter about the book she is reading…..they read for 10 minutes in every English lesson in KS3 and in registration once a fortnight. It would be great if parents could encourage reading at home too.

• Choose books with your daughter – scroll on websites and either buy or take note of the title and ask you daughter to see if it is in our well stocked school library. Here are some reading lists recommended by the English Department. Like us, your daughter’s tastes will change as they get older, so it is important to let them choose what to read.
• Make time and space to read and role model – suggest a half hour reading session before bed or at a good time during the weekend. It is great if you all read at the same time to get into the routine and great for teenagers to see others read. Make space by limiting electronic devices…for half an hour put them aside. Remind your daughter that they have time for both Netflix and reading.

Once your daughter rediscovers the pleasures of reading then the habit sticks. Research shows that reading as a teen leads to success. The extra reading expands their vocabulary, it also shows them how different writers put down their thoughts leading to better writing skills and the more teenagers read, the more information they pick up. This means they can learn more as they can make more links, and it helps very much with their academic progress. Reading also helps teenagers expand horizons and perspectives as they learn more about people and the world. Plus, reading enables teenagers to empathise with characters in tricky situations and may even help them see solutions to their own problems. Finally, reading is enjoyable and can bring a great deal of pleasure to teens which is important. It is a good skill for life to be able to read without distraction and enjoy it. Today I had around 25 students in detention at lunchtime for forgotten home learning or equipment…. but they all had their reading books and enjoyed 15 -30 mins of reading in a warm science lab whilst the rain and wind picked up outside – not so bad!

Finally, to help raise money for school, when you start your Christmas shopping it would be great if you could go through smile amazon or easy fundraising…every click generates a little revenue for us – here is more information.

Thank you

 Anne Kennedy