If you are joining Holcombe in September 2021 and have not received details please telephone Ms Wood, Admissions Officer, 0333602130.
Congratulations on being offered a place at Holcombe.
We have created your very own Year 6 Holcombe page on our website which will give you everything you need to know before you begin your educational journey with us. The transition from Year 6 to Year 7 can be daunting at the best of times, and must seem mountainous with the current circumstances we find ourselves in. Here on your page we will do everything we can to make this transition as smooth and easy as possible for you.
This page, therefore, is designed especially for you. It will contain everything you will need to know before your first day with us and will answer the questions you may have. It will also provide guidance to support your parents and carers to support you getting ready for your new school.
Read on to find out about everything Holcombe.
Please have a look in particular at our section Policies, which contains links to the policies we require your parent/carer to look at, sign and return to us before you join.
We look forward to welcoming you into our great community.
- Basics – houses, planners, ID badges and reward cards
- Religious Education and Collective Worship
- Extra-Curricular Activities and Medway Victory Sea Cadets
- Home Learning
- The School Day
- General Appearances and School Uniform
- Pastoral Support
- Special Educational Needs
- Valuables, Mobile Phones and Chewing Gum
- Holcombe Habits
- Holcombe Connects
- Holcombe – A Thinking School
- Term Dates
- Site Security, Parking and School Minibuses
- Holcombe Association
- Policies – required read for all new parents and carers. These should be signed and returned to us before students join.
- Frequently Asked Questions – support for students and parents/carers
When you join Holcombe, you will be given a reward card, which you must carry around with you at all times. You will also be given a school planner and an ID badge with your name and year group, which you must also always have with you – this will be what you use if you need to purchase any food from the canteen. Finally, when you join us you will be placed into your house – Barfleur, Guardian, Shannon, Conquest, or Ardent.
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Up to five house points may be added to reward cards by members of staff for showing evidence of the Holcombe Habits, which is why it is important to keep your reward card on you at all times. The Holcombe Habits are our own adaptation of the Habits of Mind (Costa 2008) twelve problem-solving, life-related skills that promote success, strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship (for more information, please see the Holcombe Habits section). Students who not only demonstrate that they can meet the high expectations of a grammar school environment, but also go above and beyond these to stand out from the crowd of high-achieving students, should be very proud of their House Point reward record.
We consider it extremely important to recognise good work and effort, and teachers will also praise students as much as possible both verbally and through rewards or written comments in planners and exercise books. These are recorded and there is an annual competition between Houses. Certificates and rewards are available for students gaining the appropriate number of house points, for academic and pastoral achievement and progress.
The curriculum in Key Stage 3 at Holcombe Grammar School is designed to help you develop a solid foundation and support you in your high level academic studies and in your development as a productive and valuable member of society.
Our fortnightly timetable (Week A and B) ensures you will have access to a range of lessons and home learning opportunities to attain knowledge and abilities in preparation for your GCSE courses. Our curriculum builds on many subject specific skills, including numeracy and literacy covered in primary school, and develops transferable thinking skills that are used throughout the subjects. Many topics studied are demanding and unfamiliar but enable you to discover new ideas that may shape your future choices in work and education.
Academic mastery in KS3 is rooted in a student’s wider reading, research and general world knowledge that supports the classroom-based learning. Therefore, throughout KS3 lessons, form time and extra-curricular activities the development of a love of reading is a priority. In addition, you will be encouraged to make use of the School Library, share book reviews with peers and attend extra-curricular book clubs to extend interests and reading skills.
Individual focus days include Thinking Tools Training and Revision Skills. These days are led by the Form Tutors to introduce the Thinking Tools that form the basis of Holcombe’s approach to teaching and learning, and by the School Captains and Prefects to help you prepare for your exams successfully.
3. Religious Education and Collective Worship
Religious Education is known as Religious Studies or R.S. at our school. It is the one subject that is a statutory requirement throughout a student’s time at school. The subject does not teach that one way of looking at religious beliefs is right at the expense of all other opinions. The subject is equally accessible to students of any faith or none. However, parents do have the right to withdraw their child from all or part of Religious Studies lessons on the grounds of personal belief. Parents should first contact the school, by email, should they wish to exercise this right.
Regular assemblies are held and are an integral component of the school day. They are broadly Christian in character, promoting some key aspects of the Christian ethos, for example the concept of treating others as you would wish to be treated. However, assemblies do attempt to be as inclusive as possible for everyone, not just Christians. Again, parents should contact the school should they wish their child withdrawn from acts of collective worship on the grounds of personal faith. Finally, the school endeavors to promote positive values and attitudes as vital elements of all aspects of school life.
4. Extra Curricular Activities
We have many clubs available on offer, which change every term. We will be finalising our new clubs list for the new term soon, but to give you an idea of some of the clubs that may be available to you, please see an old clubs list here. In particular, we have Debate Society, Book Thieves, where we are joined by a librarian from Medway Libraries, and the Medway Victory Sea Cadets, where you will be able to challenge yourself and learn new skills. You will be able to take part in all of these clubs in Year 7. For a flyer about the Medway Victory Sea Cadets, please see here, and for further information, please see here.
Have a look at the section Holcombe Connects to see how we use our school website and social media pages and other communications, including our fortnightly blog, to encourage our students to participate in extra-curricular activities and celebrate their achievements and extra-curricular growth.
5. Home Learning
In Year 7 it is expected that students will devote approximately 1 – 2 hours per night and 2 hours at weekends to homework, research and revision. Students should spend an additional 20 minutes each evening reading the work that he has completed during the school day. Research shows that revisiting work in this way greatly enhances the learning process. This will also enable parents and carers to support student learning and make informed decisions about any revision guides and academic tutoring options.
Students should then take time to read around the subjects covered, using the internet and library material available to fill in any gaps in knowledge and ensure clear understanding of new vocabulary/subject terminology.
In addition to wider reading and reflecting on work completed during the day, each student will be assigned the following homework regularly:
– 1 hour per week for English, Maths and Science
– 45 minutes per week for Geography, History, French and Spanish and
– 1 hour per fortnight for C.S., R.S., D.T., Music and Art.
Students are expected to use their planners to record tasks set and due dates, and teachers will feedback to parents in the planner if a homework assignment is overdue or incomplete. We provide a Homework On Time club until 4.00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to support parents with enabling students to use a quiet study area in school.
Failure to regularly complete and hand in homework on time is seen as a serious concern. Students should never be asked to complete homework on the night that it is set, so that there is time available to seek help from their teachers. Should students be taking a disproportionately long time to complete homework, parents and carers should make a note in their child’s exercise books and school planners when they have completed the allocated minutes and instruct them to seek further support from the subject teacher.
The School provides access to computers outside of regular timetable lessons both at lunchtime and after school. At the start of each academic year students are allocated a fixed sum of print credits. Individuals can top up these credits. Printing prices are as follows:
A4 – 0.65p – £0.0065
A3 – 1.49p – £0.0149
A4 – 2.95p – £0.0295
A3 – 3.79p – £0.0379
This cost is made up from the average cost charged for the toner and a sheet of paper. A small discount is applied to the page cost when a job is printed using Duplex or 2-Sided printing, to reflect the cost saving in using both sides of a sheet of paper.
£1 is equivalent to one of the following:
153 A4 Mono sides
67 A3 Mono sides
33 A4 Colour sides
26 A3 Colour sides
7. The School Day
Please see the timetable for the school day here. All students must be in school by 8:35am, ready for a 8:40am start.
8. General Appearances and School Uniform
All students are expected to dress in an appropriate manner that brings credit to them and to our school, both on the school grounds and on their journey to and from school.
For our School Uniform list, please see here.
Should you arrive to school with incorrect uniform, your parent or carer may be contacted by telephone and you may be sent home. This will be recorded as an unauthorised absence. Always ensure you come to school well-presented and in correct uniform.
Hairstyles should be appropriate and not contain exaggerated colours, styles or adornments. No hats, hoods, caps or other head coverings are to be worn in school other than for religious purposes. If belts are to be worn they must be discrete and appropriate. No badges are to be worn other than those that are issued or approved by the school. Jewellery should not be worn, other than a practical watch. Earrings, visible piercings and rings should be removed before arrival at school. Any student attending school without wearing full school uniform should provide a note signed by parents explaining full reasoning.
Protective clothing: It is essential that students wear protective clothing during D.T. lessons.
Our uniform is supplied by Simmonds. Simmonds have bought out two units at Notcutts. Parents and carers will be able to book an appointment and will have one to one assistance in purchasing uniform. This will be open seven days a week. For more information about the company, or to purchase uniform online, please see here: Simmonds & Sons (simmonds-ltd.com). When shopping online, delivery is free of charge and there is no spend threshold. There are also videos and documents to aid with the sizing and fitting of school uniform, which have been put together for families to make choices easier.
Simmonds can also be reached via their customer service team on 01892 837202 or their email address: email@example.com.
Simmonds will be running a 10% discount on all orders for 49 days from 22nd May to 10th July, which we hope will prove useful. For more information, please see here and here. However, uniform will not be available to purchase from Holcombe at our Parents’ Evening, as in previous years.
9. Pastoral Support
Your Form Tutor is responsible for overseeing personal and academic welfare and is normally the first point of contact for your parents and carers. Should parents and carers wish to meet with a member of staff then they will need to make contact via the School Office to arrange an appointment. Further to this, should your enquiry merit the attention of a more senior member of staff, your child’s Form Tutor will work with the Head of Year or the relevant Senior Leadership Team member; or on some extreme issues may work directly with the Principal.
In addition, our Student Services team look after the pastoral needs of our pupils from Year 7 through to Year 13 and provide a point of contact and support for pupils and their families throughout their time with us. For more information about the department and what they do, please see here: Student Services · Holcombe Grammar School. For useful resources and contact information for external financial services, health and mental health services and more, please see here: Resources.pdf (holcombegrammar.org.uk).
10. Special Educational Needs
The Special Educational Needs Coordinator is responsible for the management of additional needs resources within school and is first point of contact should your parent or carer have any concerns regarding long term or short term difficulties that impact upon your learning or sense of wellbeing at school or home. For more information about SEN support at Holcombe, please see here: Special Educational Needs and Disabilities · Holcombe Grammar School.
Regular attendance to school is a legal requirement for all children of compulsory school age. It is a proven fact that students whose attendance is below 96% do not achieve their full potential. The TSA-Trust and Local Authority target is 96%. The TSATrust expectation is that every student should strive for 100% attendance. Parents and Carers – please report your child’s absence by calling 03333 602130 and selecting option 1 by 9:00am on each day of illness.
Absences of three or more days must be covered by medical evidence. Any absence during the week before, and the week after any school holidays, must also be covered by medical evidence regardless of the amount of days. Medical evidence can be in the form of an appointment card, medicine label or prescription. Time off school for reasons other than illness must be applied for in writing and in good time before the date requested. Non-essential medical appointments, where possible, must be made after school hours or during school holidays. Leave of absence in term time (includes holidays) will not be authorised, in accordance with the TSA-Trust and government guidelines.
Any application for leave must be for exceptional circumstances and the Principal must be satisfied that the circumstances warrant the granting of leave. Parents can be fined for taking their child on leave during term time without consent from the school. The Trust will make contact with you should your child’s attendance drop below 96%. Encouraging regular school attendance is one of the most powerful ways you can prepare your child for success, both in school and in life. When you make school attendance a priority, you help your child achieve the best grades possible, develop life habits and avoid dangerous behaviour.
For more information about attendance at Holcombe, please see here.
Students are expected to behave impeccably and responsibly at all times, which includes when travelling to and from school. When a student chooses not to behave appropriately through their actions, words or attitude, there will be consequences. Sanctions may include: verbal reprimands; community service; detentions; removal from lessons or exclusions from school.
Serious misdemeanours might involve a detention and the nature of this depends upon the seriousness of the offence. These can be a ‘Reconciliation Detention’ with the subject teacher; a ‘School Detention’ (one hour after school), or a ‘Senior Leadership Detention’ (two hours after school). This may include the setting of ‘Same Day’ detentions. Where detentions take place after school, parents are expected to make alternative arrangements for their child to travel home and must bear this in mind when preparing their child for Holcombe Grammar School expectations. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure parents are aware of the detention. Arrangements can be made for notice to be given to students who travel by school bus or coach.
Where there is a repeated failure to meet the expectations of the school, your child might be placed ‘on report’ to a Head of Department or Head of Year. He might also be asked to sign a ‘contract of good behaviour’ where sanctions will be applied should the contract be broken. Rarely, we may be forced to impose a fixed term or permanent exclusion from school.
Where the behaviour or attitude of a student gives cause for concern parents will be notified and involved in developing strategies to modify their child’s behaviour.
Should a student be misbehaving, a member of staff may also record the incident on this reward card. If the sanctions are full before the rewards, or if a student is found without his reward card, a detention will be issued. Please check pockets before washing the blazer at home.
We endeavour to work with students and parents to modify unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour and may well adopt an approach of restorative justice, especially where students have been in dispute with each other or indeed with their teacher or another adult. Students will not necessarily be notified of sanctions given to other students involved, and we ask parents to understand that we cannot disclose information that is not about your own child.
13. Valuables, Mobile Phones and Chewing Gum
You should not bring any valuables into school, if you do then you do so at your own risk. In PE lessons any valuables must be handed to your PE teacher at the start of the lesson and collected at the end – this is your responsibility. It is vital that all clothing should be marked with your name, which will aid us in returning items if lost. Take extra care if you are bringing in watches, wallets, etc. If coats are taken off students must ensure that valuables are kept with them and not left in pockets.
Lost property is stored in our Student Services Department and students can enquire about lost items when not in lesson. Parents and carers – please think carefully about what you allow your child to bring into school as we do not have the resources to either store securely or search for lost or stolen valuable items.
The use of mobile phones is not permitted in school. If you want to bring in a mobile phone, it must be switched off and kept in your school bag during the school day. If you have it out during the day it will confiscated and you may be asked to collect it from Student Services. If you need to contact home during the day you should discuss this with Student Services.
Chewing gum is banned at all times from the school site.
14. Holcombe Habits
At Holcombe, you will be learn about and be encouraged to use our Holcombe Habits. These are skills that we want all of our students to get used to using in all of their lessons and their day-to-day activities at School. You will be shown how to immerse yourself in the Habits, in order to help you with your learning, your studies, and your successes. Please see the full list of Habits below. Which Habits have you used today?
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For further information about the Holcombe Habits, and more, please see Habits, Hats, Maps and More.
10. Holcombe Connects
At Holcombe we have numerous ways that we keep our community connected and informed. Firstly, we have our school website. We post key information and news articles here, so it’s useful to keep checking the site. The website is also the go-to in the event of school closures, e.g. in the instance of adverse weather updates will first be posted there.
We also have a Facebook page, TSAT – Holcombe Grammar School, and a Twitter page, https://twitter.com/holcombegramma1, which we keep up to date with useful information about goings on at School to support parents and carers. These pages also contain posts and news that give a glimpse into life at Holcombe and celebrate the achievements – both school-related and extra-curricular – of our students. Please do encourage your parents and carers to follow us on these pages to keep up to date with everything Holcombe related. Parents and carers may also wish to follow the Thinking Schools Academy Trust’s Facebook and Twitter pages: TSAT – Thinking Schools Academy Trust and https://twitter.com/tsa_trust.
We also have the fortnightly blog, another way we communicate with parents and carers and stay connected. The blog is distributed to them via email every fortnight. It is a document that compiles together all of the exciting news stories about events at Holcombe over the last two weeks, keeping your parents and carers up to date with what you and your peers have been doing at School. Also in the blog is the ‘Quickfire Week’ – the fortnight in bulletpoints, which allows parents/carers to see, at a glance, both the main events of the past fourteen days and a quick briefing on what to expect in the fortnight ahead. This means that, even if parents/carers are short on time one week, they will still be able to catch up on key events and prepare for the coming weeks. Our blogs always contain anything they may need to know about, i.e. clubs, notices, upcoming events, trips and fundraising efforts. All blogs sent the past two academic years can be found here. Parents and Carers – please ensure we have your current email address, so you don’t miss out when we send this useful document via PS Connect, our parent emailing system, which we also use to send letters and official school correspondence, for example from the Thinking Schools Academy Trust.
Our school newsletter is sent at Christmas, Easter and Summer. It compiles all news stories from the past two terms in one place, so the Holcombe community can reflect on the weeks behind us, take pride in and celebrate what has been achieved and look ahead to the future. To view our newsletters, please see here.
We also have our My Ed School App, which we would also encourage all parents and carers to download. MyEd gives you direct access to your child’s attendance, their timetable, absence records, achievements, behaviour reports and much more. It will eventually be how parents and carers will be able to book Parents’ Evenings also. It is available for both iOS and Android devices and can be found using the directions below:
- Go to your App Store
- Search for MyEd
- Download the app for free!
Once you have installed and opened MyEd, search for Holcombe Grammar School and follow the simple instructions to identify yourself.
For any queries about PS Connect or My Ed, or the other communications we have mentioned, please contact the School Office via firstname.lastname@example.org.
16. Holcombe – A Thinking School
At Holcombe we believe passionately in providing our students with the best foundations on which to build their academic and personal success. In doing so we draw on the very latest pedagogic research to place cognition and Thinking Skills at the heart of our teaching and learning provision.
As part of our journey toward being acknowledged as a centre of best practice in this field, we recently gained accreditation as a Thinking School from University of Exeter’s prestigious Cognitive Education Development Unit. We were delighted after we became one of only thirty schools in the country to receive the ‘Thinking School’ accreditation from the University in September 2019, a status we will hold until September 2022. In its report, Exeter University highlighted the strong partnership between the School and the Trust, noting that staff at Holcombe Grammar School have “fully embraced” the Thinking School vision and are “committed to creating a positive learning culture”.
“The philosophy of developing students’ thinking skills is being developed well… evidently motivating students to challenge themselves and step outside of their comfort zones.” – Ofsted October 2014
Ofsted have also noted how our School’s ‘vision to develop pupil’s thinking skills was having a positive impact on the quality of learning and teaching.’
What is a Thinking School?
Thinking Schools follow many different paths, but one useful definition that encapsulates our approach at Holcombe is that offered by Knapp:
“A school which is successfully developing as a thinking community will strive to ensure that all pupils are developing and demonstrating independent and co-operative learning skills using a range of thinking tools and strategies. The school will generate high levels of achievement and an excitement and enthusiasm for lifelong learning. ”
Thinking Maps are eight graphic organisers that are used here at Holcombe. They will enhance your abilities to see connections across your studies and encourage lifelong learning. Taken together they form a visual language of learning that is shared by staff and students.
Widely used in business, Thinking Hats provide a practical method of directed cognition. Each of six distinct types of thinking are represented by a different coloured hat. When an individual is ‘wearing’ a specific hat they focus their thinking in the associated manner. Consequently the method helps people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved.
Thinkers’ Keys are a set of twenty different ways of approaching an issue or subject designed to engage and motivate learners in a range of thinking activities.
17. Term Dates
For our Term Dates, please see here.
18. Site Security, Parking and School Minibuses
Parents and carers are required to make an appointment before visiting the school. All visitors must sign in at the School Office, and sign out when they leave.
Parents are asked to drop off and collect students away from Letchworth Avenue. The area surrounding school has serious traffic congestion, which has developed from parking on both sides of the road. Please note that there are parking restrictions in place. Buses arrive between 8am and at 4pm. Parking opposite the drive is both dangerous and inconsiderate to others.
Parents should not use the entrance to the driveway as a turning circle or temporary dropping off point. Reversing into our narrow and partly obscured driveway, especially at dark times of the year, constitutes a particular hazard. They should not drive into the school when delivering students in the morning or picking up at the end of the school day, unless special arrangements for children with injuries have been made. If a child is late then a few more minutes will make little difference, we therefore request that they walk up the school drive. Please pass on the information in this paragraph to relatives/others who may collect your child from School.
Our school minibuses are equipped with forward‐facing seats with seat belts and are serviced according to manufacturers’ specifications, including checks of mechanical condition. All our staff‐drivers have been trained and tested to the appropriate standard.
19. Holcombe Association
Your preferences have prevented this content from being loaded. If you have recently changed your preferences, please try reloading the pageThe Holcombe Association is the Parent and Teacher Association (PTA) of Holcombe Grammar School. The Association has been going for many years and is one of only a few secondary PTAs in the Country. It is a registered charity and although was set up to support the school, the association has its own governing document and must follow the rules of the Charity Commission.
Every parent, carer and staff member is automatically a member of the Holcombe Association and as such are welcome to monthly meetings. For more information, please see here: Holcombe Association · Holcombe Grammar School.
We have a number of policies that we require parents and carers to complete and return to us as part of their admissions paperwork before their student joins us. They are as follows:
21. Frequently Asked Questions
1. First Day at School
- What do I need to do before September?
- What do I need to bring with me on my first day?
- Where do I go when I come into School for the first time?
- What is the earliest I can come into school?
- What do I do if I have forgotten my pencil case?
- What do I do if I lose my reward card, my planner, my tie, or my timetable?
- What if I want to call home?
- What if I get lost?
2. Life at Holcombe
- What do I do if I have a problem with someone in my class/form?
- Where can I find out about clubs?
- Where can I find out about trips?
- What are school meals like at School?
- Where do I go if I feel sick or I need help?
- What happens if I am late to School?
- What if my phone dies at School?
- What if I want to cycle to School?
- What if I want to skateboard to School?
3. Parent Support
- I am a parent. How do I check if I am entitled to Free School Meals?
- How can I pay for meals and trips?
- How can I check on my child’s progress at School?
- How do I make a complaint, or let the School know about an issue?
- Can I get a teacher’s email address?
- What do I do if my child has an appointment or will be absent for any reason?
- What do I do if my child is running late to school?
- What if I am going away from home for a period of time, e.g. for work?
- What if my contact details have changed, or I wish to change my emergency contact?
- I live outside of Medway. Do I need a local emergency contact?
First Day at School
Life at Holcombe
If you have any further questions, please contact the School Office via email@example.com.