Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

This week I have been ‘testing the temperature’, this involves observing different areas of the school throughout the day, visiting clubs and getting a general feel for the school environment. When I heard the Government announcement that schools need to be open for 32.5 hours per week from September 2023, it made me reflect upon how we actual use our school hours (which are already more than that!).

The majority of students arrive at school between 8.20 and 8.40. They always give a smile as they pass the duty teacher on the gate (and immediately put up their hair when asked!). The Cafe is busy providing hot drinks and breakfast. When the bell goes the students make their way to form rooms for registration or to the Hall or Sports Hall for assembly, the main assembly last week was about neurodiversity and was led by Mrs Dakovic and Mrs Griffiths. Taking an assembly is very popular amongst staff and assemblies are booked in months in advance. Heads of Year lead their own assemblies and just last week, Year 9 heard about careers in technology, Year 7 were reminded about looking after the school environment and 8H led an assembly called ’Hobby Lobby’! Meanwhile form groups will be talking about a news item, discussing TFTW or planning a charity event.

The school becomes busy again on the bell as 1200 plus, students travel to their first lesson, this happens five times throughout the day. It is a reminder to me to discuss one-way systems at SLT on Wednesday! During lesson time, the school is calm and quiet, occasionally a science lesson will use the school grounds for an investigation. Football and rugby lessons are out on the field and other students are orienteering around the school site. Sixth form students come into school for their lessons.

At break time last week, Year 11s could be seen lining up for their latest set of PPEs. They queue under one of the new canopies and go in calmly to their exam. This is the last of their PPEs before the start of study leave in May.

At lunch, queues form for the Holt café, particularly on Friday when it is chips day! The separate queue for pasta and drinks is working well and the snack shack remains popular. The sunshine over the last week has meant the students can now eat their lunch on the field; they have designated places for picnics, games, and football. Littering is a challenge! However many bins there are, rubbish is always left behind. The Form who are litter pickers for the week will collect as much as they can.

Lunchtime is not wasted at all. Revision sessions and catch up take place, as well as numerous clubs. Geography club are having a great time making papier-mâché volcanoes that I am sure will explode, History club are learning embroidery stitches so that can create the Bayeux Tapestry. The Holt singers sounded wonderful singing Mamma Mia, chess club, Minecraft, MasterChef and Ukulele club are just some examples and of course there are all of the sports clubs.

The end of the school day is no different; students leave promptly for buses or wait for their friends to walk home. Increasingly students cross the road to walk down through Joel Park. The traffic can be really dangerous here, particularly if parents pick up right outside the school gate. To avoid endangering students’ lives parents should pick up in Jubilee Avenue.

The school day is still not finished at 3.30! Sports clubs and fixtures are happening on the site as are clubs, revision sessions and of course detentions! The LRC is open for Home Learning Club. In the lead up to their exams Year 11 students have been preparing and presenting final performances and products which are part of their GCSE. Recently the GCSE Drama students performed their pieces and the GCSE and A level Technology students put on a display of all of their work which was attended by parents.

We don’t often do things on a Saturday morning but occasionally PE fixtures occur at the weekend and of course the Climate Change Task Force planted 50 trees on a Saturday morning, which are still going strong! Last week a group of students and staff competed in the Magistrates competition at Reading Crown Court and won!

That is just a snapshot of a school day – I haven’t mentioned anything about the great lessons delivered by our staff, or charity sales, Spanish plays, PSHE performances, Language orals, and I am sure many more things I have forgotten. The (over) 32.5 hours our students are at school are certainly full!

 Yvonne Smith
Assistant Headteacher