Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

Welcome to the last SLT blog of 2022! As I write, our school site is still sparkling with frost and a light dusting of snow, and this may well have added to a certain festive feeling about the place…

Despite the chill, we have been continuing to focus on our core function of teaching and learning. We think every day in school is important, and so lessons will keep the focus on increasing knowledge and skills and deepening understanding in each subject. Well done to students in all years who are continuing to be kind, aim high and work hard as we reach the end of a long term.

Year 11 have been preparing and delivering presentations for their spoken language assessments as part of their English GCSE. Public speaking regularly tops lists of adults’ fears and phobias, so hats off to these students for working hard in preparing and delivering their talks, and then fielding questions. What an important experience for them all! These same students will have their revision well in hand now as they prepare for a round of PPEs (mock examinations) after the Christmas break. Year 12 then take over the exam desks for their first formal assessments since starting their A level courses. I do wish them all the best of luck, but I often remind students that luck plays a very small part when set alongside hard work throughout the year and a great strategy for revision.

I would hate to give the impression that we have only been focused on the academic side of school life. As Miss Ward mentioned in last week’s blog, many Christmas themed activities have been going on too!

Entries (if you’ll pardon the pun) to our annual Christmas Doors competition have now been assessed by the judging panel, and the winners will be revealed in our final assemblies. We are always taken aback by the enthusiasm, ambition and creativity on display!

On Tuesday of this week, the Senior Leadership Team joined our catering staff, finance team, IT support and site teams in setting up and serving Christmas lunch. The Holt Café was awash with antlers, Christmas jumpers, and not a little gravy as students tucked in and sang along to some festive favourites. This particular elf was a little too busy helping students clear their trays to take photographs of this event, but I was really touched by the gratitude and good-natured fun from so many of them. Our Student Leadership Team were on the case, however, and managed to post some snaps to Instagram (@theholtschool):

A big thank you goes to Mr McWilliam and Mrs Wilson – our Operations Director and Finance Director, who pulled this together in their first year here.

As I write, we are setting up for Wednesday’s Christmas Fayre. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the tombola prize mountain or helped provide anything for the other stalls. We hope the girls enjoy their time at the fayre and that a good amount of money is raised to make the school a better place for everyone. Further fundraising has been taking place through our auction of promises. Those who placed the winning bids will be contacted shortly, and it looks likely that we will raise over £3000 for the school. Thank you to Friends of the Holt School for organising this.

Last Wednesday, our Head of Drama, Miss Edwards, took many of our Year 7 students to see a production of A Christmas Carol at the Reading Rep theatre last Wednesday. For some, it was a first trip to the theatre, and all enjoyed the experience

Another recent trip, this time not Christmas themed, saw our sixth form artists visit Shoreditch in East London. For those who may be unaware, the area is a hotspot for street art. It’s well worth a visit at any time of year, but the experience was made all the more memorable when the group ran into a record signing by a young man called Louis Tomlinson who you may recall was a member of One Direction.

There have been a number of charity events this term run by our Houses. These have included students paying to watch teachers endure an “I’m a Celebrity…” bushtucker trial, and also witnessing a similar level of teacher discomfort at a Just Dance event this Monday. I only went in to take a photo of Mr Partridge, and then was roped in to dance to Boney-M’s Rasputin. Look it up on YouTube if you would like to understand quite how breathless it left me for my Year 11 lesson when the bell went!

Lastly, I wanted to mention the work of our Careers Lead, Sharon Hart. As you will have seen in her recent newsletter, we are so fortunate to have such a dedicated colleague who supports the students in so many ways as they consider their future steps. On Monday, Year 10 students were able to hear from four entrepreneurs who shared stories of their careers from part-time jobs through to founding their own successful business in fields as diverse as healthcare, human resources and IT. We are very grateful to Mrs Hart, Elizabeth Corse – our Enterprise Advisor, and to our guests for a memorable morning.

Well not quite lastly, because I would also want to wish you a peaceful end to 2022, a merry Christmas, and – when it comes – a happy New Year. Thank you for all your support across this autumn term, and we will see students on Wednesday 4th January!

Ben Adams

Assistant Headteacher

Janus am I; oldest of potentates;
  Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count, as god of avenues and gates,
  The years that through my portals come and go.

I block the roads, and drift the fields with snow;
  I chase the wild-fowl from the frozen fen;
My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow,
  My fires light up the hearths and hearts of men.

Henry W Longfellow