Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

As March draws to a close, it really feels as if spring is bursting forth. At this time of year, rather than being woken by my alarm clock, I begin to stir with the birds’ dawn chorus each morning. One sign of the brightening year is the return of swallows from their winter migration. The Greek philosopher Aristotle is attributed the saying, “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy”. As we pass alternately from sunshine to downpours and a chilly breeze, the weather laughs at the foolishness of making judgments based on a day or two’s experience.

On a completely separate note, we have welcomed a team of six inspectors from Ofsted into our school this week. We are really pleased that this is finally happening after a wait of nearly fifteen years! Inspectors have been into many lessons and spoken to many students and staff. We are also grateful to those of you who have taken the time to fill in the parent survey.

We are committed to our vision of our students to developing their self-confidence, knowing how to build and sustain strong relationships, having high aspirations and achieving their very best. Whatever the outcome of this inspection, we will make full use of the feedback we receive to work towards these goals.

We really hope that our visitors come away with a real sense of The Holt community, and activities have continued as busily as ever in the run up to the end of term.

The ever-industrious PE department have much to report. Last week, Mrs White and Mrs Bolton took some of our Sports Leaders to the Berkshire School Games in Maidenhead where they ran hockey and badminton competitions for a host of primary school children. What a great learning experience for all involved!

Our annual interhouse hockey tournaments have been taking place on a sometimes soggy MUGA pitch. Hotly contested as ever, the winners were:

Year 7: Haberdashers

Year 8: Goldsmiths

Year 9: TBC

Year 10: Haberdashers

And, in their final interhouse sporting competition, the winners in Year 11 were Clothworkers – at least some of whom are pictured below.

Complementing more athletic side of life, our Houses also compete to raise the most money for their chosen charities, and fundraising events have been coming thick and fast. Mr Bennett and Mrs Amye stole the show at 10G’s teacher karaoke event (modesty forbids me from making the comparison with Miss Izod’s and my duet of The Carpenters’ classic Close to You). There is definitely a market for students stumping up to see their teachers suffer in some way; I passed through the hall at lunchtime today to see 8W putting staff through obstacle races to the merriment of the many paying onlookers. 7C organised an Easter egg hunt, and there are a couple more events to go. The final standings for both House points and charity fundraising will be revealed in our big end of term assemblies on Friday, led – as ever – by our Head Student and Student Leadership Team. Holt drum roll, please…

Being a mathematician at heart, I wanted to thank Mrs Baker for leading our maths enrichment week. Assemblies, thought for the week, and lunchtime challenges all focused on the maths we see around us and some fiendish problems to solve. If that sounds like your idea of fun – and I appreciate that it may not – you can find some of those puzzles to scratch your head over at The week finished with Mr Partridge and Mrs Sawyer taking two teams of Year 10 students to Edgbarrow School to compete in the deliciously named Maths Feast.

On Monday, Year 9 were able to hear a talk from Paul Hannaford as part of our PSHE programme. This powerful presentation saw him talking from first-hand experience, in and age appropriate way, about the problems caused by illegal drugs. As a parent myself, although I would quite like my children to remain young and innocent forever, I know that we all need to play our part in educating our young people in the right way about the challenges that life may bring their way; it is part of preparing them for responsible adulthood.

It is important that we prepare our students for the next stage in their education. We’ve recently held interview practice days for our sixth form students and a personal statement workshop for our Year 12 students who will be applying for university placements this year. We are grateful to the sixth form team and the many external contributors – including many of our governors who supported these events.

As I write, our Year 10 students are making their way home from their sixth form taster day. It is important that they start thinking about what they will do following their GCSEs, and we think The Holt Sixth Form is a great place for those considering A levels. From speaking to many of the girls, it seems they have had a great day finding out about different subjects and life in the sixth form – especially, perhaps, our Costa franchise! Staff have told me how impressed they have been with the maturity and curiosity on show.

Your child may have brought home some certificates awarded in our end-of-term presentation assemblies. These events are used to celebrate achievements of all kinds and often showcase performances of jaw-dropping quality. We are grateful to our Heads of Year, Student Support and our data team who pull these events together, to our tutors who support their tutees throughout the year, and our students whose flourishing helps make our job so worthwhile. Do see below for the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage’s new verse in celebration of spring and flourishing in adversity.

Thank you again for your support throughout this term. I wish all our staff, students, parents, carers and friends a very happy Easter!

Ben Adams

Assistant Headteacher



Plum Tree Among the Skyscrapers by Simon Armitage

She’s travelled for years

through tangled forests

and formal gardens,

edged along hedgerows,

set up her stall

on tenanted farms

then moved on, restless,

empty handed sometimes,

sometimes with fruit

in her arms.

She’s hopscotched

through graveyards and parks,

settled down in allotments,

clung to a church roof

by a toe.

She’s pitched camp on verges

and hard shoulders,

stumbled on threadbare moors

above the tree-line

and slummed it on wasteland,

but dug in on steep hillsides

and rough ground.

She was Queen of the May

on a roundabout once

in a roundabout way.

She’s piggy-backed

across trading estates, hitched

in a mistle thrush beak,

drifted with thistledown.

She’s thumbed a lift into town.

Now here she is,

in a cracked slab

in a city square

in a square mile

mirrored by glass and steel,

dwarfed by money

and fancy talk.

Hand-me-down brush,

pre-loved broom,

to the paid-by-the-minute

suits and umbrellas

and lunchtime shoppers

she’s a poor Cinderella

rootling about

in a potting compost

of burger boxes

and popped poppers.

In that world,

orchard and orphan

are one and the same.

But she’s here to stay –

plum in the middle –

and today she’s fizzing

with light and colour,

outshining the smug sculptures

and blubbering fountains.

Scented and powdered

she’s staging

a one-tree show

with hi-viz blossoms

and lip-gloss petals;

she’ll season the pavements

and polished stones

with something like snow.