Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

I hope you all made some good memories over the summer holidays…I loved the ‘new look’ dry and hot British summer. It was the first time, ever, that I have been camping for a week without rain – it was fabulous.

Today the weather felt autumnal with the rain and cooler temperature. Today marks our first full week of the Autumn Term and it has been an eventful week for sure.

Last Tuesday we welcomed Year 7 and Year 12 to school for their induction day. Year 7 set up their biometrics, got to understand the traditions and geography of the school on a delightful trail that their Head of Year, Miss Harris organised. They were given sound advice on how to make and sustain friendships from Hannah Dyson, our school counsellor and we welcomed Linda Carroll and Steve Thomas – both former Holt teachers – back to school to take the students through an engaging presentation of the history of The Holt..from the beginnings in 1931 to the present day. Miss Harris said “It was wonderful to see the students working in their forms and excitedly using team work to hunt the clues around the school! I was very impressed by the enthusiasm of all the forms. The students really impressed everyone they met during the whole day, a great start to Year 7!”

Year 12 and 13 have a brand-new Costa branded café to enjoy in the sixth form centre along with a new slick system for signing in and out. Their first social event has already been organised as well….Fright night at Thorpe Park in a couple of weeks’ time……they have settled well into their lessons this week too and we are delighted to see them again after the summer – the sixth formers’ add so much to our Holt community.

The new Secretary of State for Education was announced on Wednesday – Kit Malthouse. The previous Secretary of state was in post from July to September – the summer holidays!!!

On Thursday at the end of the school day, we were closely following the news and were saddened to hear of the death of Her Majesty the Queen early evening.

Mrs Pearce and I put together a presentation for tutors to show in registration last Friday. Students watched an informative and balanced clip from the FT ‘Queen Elizabeth II – a long life of duty and service’ and then they watched the adorable clip of the Queen having tea with Paddington Bear in ‘Ma’amalade Sandwich Your Majesty’.

Father Richard from St Paul’s Church kindly educated us on the tradition of ringing full muffled bells on the death of a Monarch, which sounded both eerie and beautiful at around midday on Friday and we lowered our flag to half-mast. Around 40 students visited St Pauls after school to light a candle and reflect on the passing of HM the Queen.

This week, Mrs Pearce and I are delivering assemblies on stoicism, one of the three character traits upon which we encourage our students to draw.. the other two are gratitude and humility. We believe with these three character traits students will be able to cope with most things in life. Many of the recent reflections of the Queen in the media have mentioned her stoicism and we gave examples of this in our assemblies, but we also reminded our students that it is fine to show emotion and passion…whereas the Queen had to keep her feelings under wraps.

Our thanks go out to Mr Gray, Head of Music, for leading the staff and senior choir in performing Abide with Me after a one minute’s silence in memory of Her Majesty the Queen at the beginning of our assemblies to a different year group each day this week. We hope this will be a memorable moment for our students.

We look forward to meeting Year 12 parents tonight (Wed 14th September) at an information evening and on Saturday, The Holt Association are holding a lunch for past pupils, which we look forward to every year. The women have some very entertaining stories and I always leave thinking some things just do not change…..House rivalry for example, Holt girls’ love of cake…and other things do change eg having to wear woolly vests (mmmm…..they maybe a good idea this winter) and deportment lessons.

Don’t forget school is closed on Monday for the Queen’s funeral.

All the best
Anne Kennedy