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Holmleigh Park High School

Letter from the Head - 21st January 2022

In this issue: A focus on reading

Dear all,

On Monday, Year 7 had a fantastic talk from author Catherine Bruton, author of No Ballet Shoes in Syria. She talked about her career and the book, which follows the story of an 11 year old girl fleeing the war-torn city of Aleppo. We were hugely impressed, as was Catherine, with the mature and sensitive questions Year 7 asked.

I'm also delighted to say our BookBuzz delivery has arrived, which means all of Year 7 will be getting a free book (which they've chosen) on Monday. It was great to see so many challenging selections, and we really hope Year 7 enjoy them!

More broadly, reading is of course something we take extremely seriously at Holmleigh Park. Like oracy, we know that a student's reading ability can have a huge impact on their success in later life, and that's why we set Bedrock homework each week; to help students develop a wide and powerful vocabulary.  It's also one of the two main reasons we start every day with Tutor Time Reading, and teach students to track texts with their ruler; following along while listening to an expert reader is one of the best ways to build students reading ages. 

We have recently done some analysis of the impact this is having. At the start of Year 7, only around one quarter of our students have reading ages above the national average. After two years, at the start of Year 9, this increases to around half. I know that many of you encourage your children to read widely at home too; this helps massively, so a big thank you!

But of course, the other reason is that reading is simply wonderful. Nothing can quite trigger the imagination like a good novel. Through reading, we open our eyes to other viewpoints, cultures, and experiences. It's no surprise, therefore, that one of my favourite parts of my job is going into different tutor groups and reading with them. We have an incredibly diverse set of texts - if you are interested, please do take a minute to look at the full list here

Finally, a big congratulations to the Year 7 A and B netball teams for two fantastic wins over Gloucester Academy this Thursday. Playing another Greenshaw school is always a special fixture, and the games were played in a fantastic competitive spirit - it was also brilliant to see how far the girls have come in a few months of playing netball at school. Well done to everyone involved.

With best wishes for the weekend,

Mr Farmbrough