Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

Last week was a nice, gentle start to the new term with only a three day week. Whilst I’m sure, we could all get used to these, we still managed to pack in lots!

The Year 11 of course, have been studying hard and started their PPEs on Thursday. I must say, I am so impressed with their work ethic and attitude to these exams. The students are revising in lessons between exams, and I have seen first-hand how seriously they are taking these opportunities through the various flash cards they have produced, the numerous revision apps they are working through and how well they test each other in those brief moments before the next paper to get in as much last minute revision as they can. Well done to all and keep up the good work.

On Thursday evening we had a fabulous staff inset on reading. As you will be aware from Mrs Kennedy’s blog last week, reading and literacy is one of our key teaching and learning priorities. Much work has been done on this already led by the teaching and learning team and Mrs McClelland, but the aim of Thursday was to share some of the excellent strategies the team have compiled to improve not only reading for pleasure, but also for better understanding of the curriculum. Departments then went away to develop in more detail one or more of the strategies that would have greatest impact on their subject.

I particularly enjoyed the session on reading for pleasure….. It was great to hear from some Heads of Year about how they have developed our long standing “drop it and read” session in their registration programme and to share some of the good practice of their tutors. I really liked the “try before you buy” idea. This was where upon finishing a book, students would present a mini book review to their forms. This could be a PowerPoint presentation but is also a verbal presentation to try and encourage others to read that book.

Another way of finding inspiration was through “BookTok”. BookTok is a subcommunity on the app TikTok, focused on books and literature. Creators make videos reviewing, discussing, and joking about the books they read. These books range in genre, but many creators tend to focus on young adult fiction, young adult fantasy, and romance. This could be an excellent use of an app that normally has us rolling our eyes for all the wrong reasons!.

Reading by example is so important and as such, the staff reading challenge was launched. Staff have until the end of the school year to read nine books and ideally the three bonus challenges. We are to choose a book that fits each of the nine different categories, for example a book that has been recommended to us by a student being one category. My first challenge though, will come from a book set in a country that I have never been to but would love to visit. The book is “The House of Spirits” (La casa de los espíritus) by Isabel Allende. This book is set in Chile, a country I would love to visit. I must confess, I have actually read this book before, back in 1994 when I lived in Santander, although it was in the original language of Spanish! However, I am sure I will enjoy the translation.

The PE department has also embraced the challenge and selected their first set of books, sporty ones to start with of course, with a display on their staff room door! As too have the maths and social sciences departments. Well done to those departments!

This term, we are continuing our Key Stage three Masterclass programme. This week, the drama department will be leading a session on physical theatre. Last week, the technology department held an on line event led by staff from the Jimmy Choo Academy. Their presentation included a virtual tour of their amazing facilties. This was a very popular session, and thanks to the technology department for organising this.

Lastly, thank you very much to those of you who bought items from our Christmas auction. It raised in excess of an incredible £3,500. The proceeds of this auction all come back to The Holt to be spent on the extras that will really benefit your daughters and sons, so we are very grateful. I would like to say a massive thank you to Rochy Wilson one of our parents, for her incredible work gathering prizes and then managing the auction. Thanks also to Linda Carroll, Chair of The Holt Association for then matching the winners to their prizes. A great team effort!
Our next fundraiser is the Holt quiz. if you would like to join us on 3rd Feb, we would love to see you there.

Katie Pearce