May 26, 2023

Weekly News – Friday 26th May 2023

Message from the Head

Dear Parents,

So, vaping was the assembly on Monday – thank you Mrs Wright!  We attach a useful leaflet here.  Sadly, it’s a real issue in schools.  It’s marketed at the teen audience as a way of coping with anxiety and, of course, being cool.  I could swing for the shops where teens can buy vapes illegally – they are clearly only interested in the money and not in the health and well-being of our teenagers (or even younger I believe).  We have encouraged anyone in school who feels they can’ t cope with peer pressure to vape or who are finding themselves addicted to talk to us.

My thanks to Mrs Howlett and Mr Dean for looking after our Year 10 Geographers and Biologists last weekend on the residential in Norfolk.  Thank you for giving up your weekend.

As assessment weeks draw to an end and as this is my second year of ‘going through’ them I will be writing to the parent body with the following:

‘We’d like to invite your feedback about the recent assessment weeks in the Prep School and for Years 7-9.  Whilst we fully support the idea of testing because ‘study, test, test, test’ is 150% more effective than re-reading, highlighting or massed/blocked practice, we feel that labelling weeks ‘assessment week’ is counterproductive to the testing we need to do.  As a school that uses Cognitive Science to underpin the curriculum, we know that recall aids recall and thus we employ low stakes testing throughout every week of the year.  We do this naturally as most lessons will start with recalling previous information.  We use quizzes and low stakes tests all the time.  We have a new system, iSAMS – which you must log onto if you haven’t (as all data for your son/daughter will – in future – be stored here – progress grades /assessments / reports).

We will do more formal ‘high stakes’ testing in Year 10, Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13 as this is good preparation for the real GCSEs and A levels.  However, our new assessment and reporting system (effective from September and when you sign up to iSAMS) will allow us to send you a half termly or termly progress grade and more or less deletes the need for ‘assessment weeks’ as such.  As said – testing should underpin the curriculum anyway as it is the most effective and efficient form of learning, but we will deliver this in a way (using low stakes tests, quizzes etc) that takes away the need for a ‘formal’ assessment period; we are thinking of the well-being of our young people.

You will receive half termly / termly progress grades / marks which are based on the ‘in house’ constant data from recall tasks that we gather regularly.  You will need to be signed up to the iSAMS portal.  We welcome your feedback on this – please email Lucy on

Please do feedback to us with your thoughts and thank you to so many parents for coming to my coffee morning this morning where we discussed assessments in general, AI in education and of course, how wonderful Hollygirt is!

Have a good half term!

Helen Barsham

Message from the Deputy Head / Head of Prep

Good afternoon,

What fantastic weather we have had this week – I hope it continues into the half term holiday.

When we return, Years 3 and 4 will be heading straight off on their residential to Wollaton Park.  I know they are all looking forward to this and will have a wonderful time.

A reminder that the Prep and Kindergarten Art Exhibition will be on Tuesday 6th June.  All the children will be showcasing a piece of art.  Please come along – it will be a lovely event.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to help at Sports Days.  I will be in touch after the holiday to confirm timings for this.

Later this afternoon, Clumber will be selling ice creams and lollies to raise money for Make-A-Wish.  Well done to all of our houses who have worked so hard over the past two terms to raise money for this important charity and thank you for your support.

Have a great half term break and I look forward to seeing you on Monday 5th June.

Have a lovely weekend,

Victoria Wright
Deputy Head / Head of Prep