Well done to all students on their examination results. We are delighted that 70% of students in Year 11 achieved grade 4 or above in both English and maths; an increase of 4% from last year. There are so many individual success stories and it was fantastic to see the smiling faces of students who opened up their envelopes and saw that their hard work had paid off. They can now confidently access their next steps in post-16 education or training.
We are proud of all of our students who worked incredibly hard at a difficult time for us. Headteacher, Dr Letman, who sadly died a few weeks before the exams started, had every confidence in the year group and he would have enjoyed celebrating with the students.
The number of Holbrook Academy students meeting the government benchmark of 5 A* to C GCSEs including Maths and English has jumped to 69%. That’s up from 59% in 2014 and puts Holbrook among the most successful schools in Suffolk. The Academy’s score for student progress is now 1009 – again one of the best scores in the County. A previous gap between the attainment of boys and girls has narrowed.
Headteacher, Dr Simon Letman, said: “We are absolutely delighted. It has been a team effort. Everyone has played their part. I am very, very pleased.”
Tim Fenton, outgoing Chair of Governors, said: “The students, staff and Dr Letman all deserve high praise. This is appropriate reward for many months of very hard work. I would also like to thank the parents who kept faith with the school when the results were not so good, their support has contributed to these fantastic results.”
UPDATE: Two re-marks in English Language have pushed our final score up to 70% for A* to C, including maths and English. That gives us a student progress score of 1012. Even better!
Holbrook Academy has been rated in the top fifty for schools in its category by the Times newspaper. The school is ranked 44th nationwide for state secondary schools with no or new sixth forms. That’s up from 50th last year and reflects a particularly strong performance at A* and A-grade GCSEs.
Headteacher, Dr Simon Letman, said: “This is good news and further evidence that we are going in the right direction. It is good to see the stronger candidates get what they deserve and that must continue. But our goal is progress for all and if we can continue improving that we will get the ranking we deserve from the most important authority; Ofsted.”
Children from a Ugandan orphanage won the hearts of students, parents and staff on a two-day visit to Holbrook Academy. The 10-18 year-old members of the Destiny Africa choir stayed with local families and gave two spectacular song and dance performances at the Academy. They also joined in with sporting activities and led an assembly describing life in Kampala.
Frank Anstee-Parry, the Academy’s Head of Religious Education and organiser of the visit, said: “The children played together, ate together and learned together. It was inspiring.”
Academy Principal, Dr Simon Letman, said: “This was a hugely successful visit. The positive outlook on life held by these young people is truly inspirational. We are developing a strong connection with the Kampala Children’s Centre. We have already raised a considerable sum to support their projects and students now intend to do even more.”
Holbrook Academy governors have given the go-ahead for a longer school day from September. The governors approved a proposal from Principal, Dr Simon Letman, to push back the end of the school day to 3.35pm on all five days of the week.
The governors’ decision came after a five-week consultation period, during which the proposal was amended from a 4.15pm finish on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to the even extension across the week.
A motion in favour of the amended proposal was passed without objection.
“I’m grateful for the whole-hearted support of the governors,” said Dr Letman. “A longer day won’t, on its own, give us all the benefits we’re looking for but it will provide the right framework.”
More than seventy parents contributed to the consultation process. The overwhelming majority were in favour.
The chair of governors, Tim Fenton, said: “I’d like to thank all the parents who contributed to the development of the proposal. We realise the change may inconvenience some parents but are convinced it is the most effective thing we can do now to accelerate progress. A lot of good work is being done in the classrooms at Holbrook Academy. There can now be more”.
Holbrook Academy’s spectacular production of the Queen musical We Will Rock You proved a sell-out success. Tickets for all 4 nights were sold out within days.
Students of all ages plus Year 6 pupils from the main feeder primaries took part. Year 8 student Imogen Brown, a singer and dancer in the chorus, said she had found the whole experience “really inspirational” and that she hoped to take on bigger parts in future productions. Sydnee Nicholas from Year 7 said she had learned a lot and thought it had been “the best fun ever”.
Principal, Dr Simon Letman, said: “It was hard work for everyone involved but the benefits for the students are enormous. It’s a show that gives a lot people the chance to shine and everyone here took that opportunity. I’m grateful for the support of parents and staff.”
Congratulations to Abi Tearle and Luke Handley for doing so well in the annual Young Speakers competition at Ipswich High School for Girls. Both made a very positive impression on the judges; with Abi selected as overall winner.
The competition, for Year 10 students, included participants from the High School and Framlingham College. Abi spoke on ‘Changing attitudes to homophobia’ and Luke spoke on ‘Education in our schools today: what really matters?’ Each student had to speak for 5 minutes and then take questions from the floor.
Abi’s argument was that we all have a responsibility to challenge homophobic attitudes. She asked the audience to reflect on why we appeared to be more comfortable looking at two men holding guns than at two men holding hands. Luke challenged the Government’s view that the school curriculum should become more knowledge-based. He argued the case for more opportunities like those he had had at Holbrook to ‘learn for life.’
Speakers from the other schools covered topics including immigration, space exploration and the age of consent.
Holbrook Academy Principal, Dr Simon Letman, said: “This was very, very pleasing. Both Abi and Luke prepared hard and demonstrated great skill and speed-of-thought. We will be doing more to develop public speaking at all levels at Holbrook. This is part of our new approach of developing literacy skills across the Academy.”
Following another visit this week, the school inspectors, Ofsted, have decided Holbrook Academy no longer needs to be in Special Measures. The inspector found a number of good features and some that still require improvement. The full details will be available from Ofsted within a couple of weeks.
Principal Dr Simon Letman said: “This is very good news. We have more to do but it is very encouraging that the inspector has recognised the progress made to date.”
Chair of Governors, Tim Fenton, welcomed the judgement. “The governors appreciate the hard work being put in by staff and students,” he said. “We are grateful, too, for the support and encouragement being shown by parents.”
As members of the UK Youth Parliament took over the House of Commons’ famous green benches, it was students from Holbrook Academy who stepped into the role of BBC Political Reporters.
On Friday November 15th, nearly three hundred members of the UK Youth Parliament aged from 11 to 18 debated topics including Bullying, Careers Advice and Votes-at-16. The debate was chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP. The benches’ usual occupants were enjoying their autumn recess.
Above the Chamber, in the House of Commons Press Gallery, students from Holbrook Academy watched the debates and took notes before preparing online, audio and video reports.
The 12 Holbrook Academy Students were all from Year 10 and keen to learn more about Journalism or Parliament or both. They were taking part in a BBC School Report Practice Day.
The students, plus teachers Mr Anstee-Parry and Mrs Tinker, set out from Holbrook before 8am. They based themselves in the BBC’s Westminster Offices with teams going into the Palace of Westminster to the House of Commons Press Gallery for both the morning and afternoon debates.
Working with a cameraman and sound recordist, students interviewed the Speaker and members of the UKYP, wrote a story for the BBC website and wrote and recorded a 12-minute Today In Parliament audio programme summing up the whole day.
You can read, see and listen to what they produced here.
The debates ended with a vote to decide which would be the UK Youth Parliament’s priority campaign for 2014. For their national campaign, members chose ‘Votes at 16’.
Holbrook Academy student Luke Handley said: “It was awesome. It was a really different experience.” Rachael Collett, who interviewed the Speaker, said: “He was engaging and gave very good answers”.
Coral Edgell thought the day was “amazing” and Millie Garnham said: “I found it fascinating and am going to be more interested in politics from now on.”
Mrs Tinker said: “The children enjoyed every moment. They worked really hard and did a great job representing the Academy. I’m sure this trip will make a difference to how they all think about their futures.”
Our ‘taster session’ for any would-be Ben Ainslie proved a hit, with plenty of pupils opting to try the training on offer at the Neptune Sailing Centre at Woolverstone. Discussions are continuing but we plan to offer sessions throughout next summer term, probably in the form of two five-week courses suitable for both beginners and more experienced sailors. It was a fun evening on the Orwell, as these pictures show.