Dear Parent, Guardians and Friends

Welcome to the Spring term! Last week we carried out lateral flow testing for all year groups over two days. The turnout rate was approximately 70% across the year groups so thank you for encouraging your daughter/son to attend. We have 22 students self-isolating and just one member of staff, so we are not doing badly compared to other schools across the country.

On the INSET day teaching staff refreshed their pedagogy knowledge and skills including creating challenge in lessons, questioning techniques, using recap and retrieval techniques to help students memorise content, using diagrams to support explanation and using the visualiser to live model. Yvonne Smith, Assistant Headteacher and our CPD coordinator always shows us this quote to remind us of the importance of continually working on how we teach.

‘Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.’
Dylan Wiliams SSAT Conference 2012

Further on the theme of continuous improvement, Mrs Pearce, our governors and I are always keen to learn how we can make The Holt even better for our students, staff and local community. We are expecting an Ofsted inspection at any time, not having had one since 2008… We await the call! In the meantime, we have been working with external organisations to validate what we do in school. A CEO from a large group of schools visited us in July to validate our whole school approach to safeguarding and the pastoral system. The findings were very positive regarding compliance, culture, relationships and our PSHE curriculum. This term, the CEO and her colleague will be validating our Quality of Education and they will be dropping into lessons, speaking to Heads of Departments and of course students. On the school business function front, we have also had several internal scrutiny financial reports as well as the annual audit – both were very positive. Next month we have colleagues from WBC visiting to do a Health and Safety audit. These visits from external organisations are not only reassuring but there are always good suggestions for improvement.

The extracurricular timetable has been published for this term. Year 7 and 8 will receive their own copies and the timetable can be found on the website too. Please encourage your daughter to join at least one club at lunchtime or after school – these wholesome clubs will give your daughter another interesting experience in school, build her confidence, independence and practise in striking up conversations with peers that may lead to good friendships.

The KS3 Drama club has been running for almost three years and just before we broke up for Christmas, the KS3 Drama club were able to perform their very first Christmas showcase. The students had been working on the Christmas Carol project since late September 2021, developing scenes based on the Charles Dickins classic. Groups were a mixture of Year 7,8 and 9 students, with Year 9 students taking a lead in directing, creating a modern retelling of the miserable Scrooge, who is told by the ghost of Marley that he will need to repent, even in death, for all the suffering he has caused others.

The performance was a success with a large turnout of parents and teachers attending. Students were able to showcase their drama techniques and skills which they have been developing in drama club. Well done everyone involved and thanks to Miss Edwards, Head of Drama, for giving up so much time to make the drama club and performance happen.

Last Thursday, the Drama department were able to take Year 9 students to the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, to see the National Theatre’s Olivier and Tony Award winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Students have been studying the play since the beginning of September 2021, the play is an adaptation of a 2004 novel. The play is fictional and is based on imagined characters, events and conversations around the understanding of autism and neurodiversity. Students were able to experience a live theatre production, as well as understand how lighting, sound, set and costume design works. Students had a wonderful time analysing and evaluating how drama skills and techniques were used, which they have been exploring in the classroom in the last term. Thanks again to Miss Edwards for organising the trip.

Year 9 students have an important decision to make this term… Which three subject options to take at GCSE. The process starts tomorrow with options evening, where they will hear from departments offering option subjects. This will be a remote event and Year 9 parents will be sent a link to the presentations.

Year 11 are coping well with their PPEs this week and next week Year 12 sit their PPEs – good luck to all!

Best wishes
Anne Kennedy