01 Mar

Welcome back after the half term break, I cannot believe we are half way through this academic year already. I hope you all had a lovely week off and I know the students who attended holiday club had lots of fun.

Monday saw a staff training day. Six staff members spent the day at Hawthorns for phase 3 and 4 of Attention Autism which has been a great success in some of our classes. I know the staff are eager and keen to bring this training back to their classrooms.

The morning sessions held at Hollinwood saw the primary teachers, some secondary teachers and all of the teaching assistants take part in a phonics session. This was led by Ann-Marie Swain who has a wealth of phonics knowledge and tailored her training session to meet the needs of our students. This was very well received and I know this will help support our students.

The secondary staff teachers completed an online course regarding the new Relationships and Sex Education (RSE – Secondary) programme of study that has to be in place for September 2019. The Secretary of State for Education has confirmed the Government’s ambition to support all young people to stay safe and prepare for life in modern Britain by making Relationships Education (Primary), and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE – Secondary) statutory in all schools. Our plan at Hollinwood Academy is to weave this programme into our Living Skills sessions with a focus on age appropriate context. This term, some of our primary and secondary classes have had a big focus on Living Skills within their curriculum and the impact has been fantastic. Moving forward, we will be incorporating more Living Skills sessions into all the students’ timetables. These skills are paramount for our students and our ever changing curriculum that we tailor for them to flourish as individuals.

The afternoon session of our training day was very humbling. We invited Paul Stewart who is now an inspirational speaker to share his story with staff. Paul used to be a professional footballer playing for a number of premier league football clubs and England. He now shares his personal journey throughout his childhood and his session focuses on ‘Safeguarding: Everyone is Responsible’.

My staffing team at Hollinwood pride themselves on our school’s safeguarding and when all the professionals work together we really do change lives. It was an amazing session and one that will stay at the forefront of my mind for a long time.

Comments from staff afterwards included:

‘What an exceptionally brave human being who delivered such a moving story which I’m sure touched everyone in the room. To get through something so difficult and then go on to help maintain safety for other children is a massive achievement and you should be so proud. 100% touched me and put my daily worries into perspective. When in doubt and second guessing my decision I will most certainly be recalling back to your story and realising even the smallest incident could be, as you said, the missing piece of the puzzle.’

‘One of the bravest men I have ever met. A great inspiration and I’ve ordered his book too.’

Miss Carpenter was so inspired by his session that she sent him a message on Twitter. Paul’s response was lovely:

The work that Paul is now undertaking to safeguard children and young people is admirable. Thank you Paul.

Before we finished for half term, Miss Daniels (our secondary Science teacher) had an operation. I am pleased to inform you that the procedure went well and she is now recovering at home for a number of weeks. Mr Gold started this week to cover Miss Daniels’ Science lessons until she is fit and well for work. He’s had a great first week and he reported that the students have been fantastic. Mr Francos is supporting Miss Daniels’ form class and they would like to share their learning with you this week..

It is the beginning of our second spring half term already and form ADS have started working hard and learning lots despite missing Miss Daniels, who will not be in school for a while after having an operation. We send her our love and wish her all the best!

This week we started on Tuesday. For some students the highlights of the week have been Swimming and P.E. because it’s great to improve and develop your physical skills at school. Others thought that Music was a great lesson as they are learning to use the Garageband app to compose their own music on their iPads..

In Living Skills , the students produced tasty falafels (I should know because I tried 1 or 2!)..

..and in Science an investigation took place into the best way to make plasticine float..

In Spanish, the form have grown in confidence telling the time and we are now tackling European countries. In Maths, Miss Potts is very happy with the group’s recent assessment results, which demonstrate that they are focused and trying their best. Next up, fractions! In Dance and Drama, the students have been learning about the importance of warming up and had to devise their own warm ups..

By the end of the week we all felt we had earned a fun games assembly where we could relax and socialise together..

Best wishes to all parents, J. Francos

I am sure you will join me in wishing Miss Daniels a speedy recovery.

Let’s see what our younger students from Mrs Dunsdon’s class have been doing this week. I know a trip to the zoo took place on Friday and the students were VERY excited when I helped them to the bus, however, they were very sleepy and tired as they returned..

On Friday, 4 classes of our younger children visited Blackpool Zoo. Opportunities for learning out of school provide our children with experiences they can’t have within the confines of a classroom. It was delightful to see them all having lots of fun and representing our school beautifully – true ambassadors for Hollinwood Academy! The weather was kind to us and the animals were happy to be looked at and not hiding indoors.

We started our day with a walk round the Dinosaur Park giving us a lovely end to our previous theme ‘Land Before Time.’

We then started our next theme ‘Walking in the Jungle’ by exploring the zoo and looking at all the different animals..

We even ate our lunch watching a wonderful sea lion show..

We had some sleepy children (and staff!) on the coach back to school..

May I take this opportunity to thank our dedicated team of staff without whom this enrichment to learning would not be possible. Also to our voluntary helpers who add so much to school life, giving up their own time to help us support the children. We are now looking forward to some super learning back at school.

I have to say a special mention to Miss Sanderson’s form. They have had mock GCSE exams this week and I have been so proud of their hard work, commitment and resilience during these exams. They have more mock exams over the next few weeks and I wish them all the best.

Now to some of our amazing SEAL Superstars and our Stars of the Week:

  • Mrs Lomax’s class:
    Star of the Week: Yousef for doing some fantastic learning this week..

SEAL Superstar: Ibraaheem for finding ways to relax..

  • Miss Parkinson’s class:
    Star of the Week: Ivy for having such a settled week and concentrating hard in all her lessons..

  • Mr Heap’s class:
    Star of the Week and ‘Marvellous Meerkat’ is Jack for fantastic work and behaviour in class and after school club. We hope you and Meerkat have a fantastic weekend and we can’t wait to hear about your marvellous adventures!

Some weeks back, I shared Kim Lipinski-Burgess’ story as she was asking if she could do some fundraising for Hollinwood Academy. I would just like to share this with you again.

Kim’s son has Autism and every year for Autism Awareness Week, 1st – 7th April, she carries out fundraising events. This year, she wanted to give back to her local community and chose Hollinwood Academy. Here is Kim’s story and you can click here to visit her JustGiving page.

Help us buy some brand new Books for Hollinwood Academy.

Hollinwood Academy is a purpose built specialist school for children on the Autism Spectrum. They have a capacity of 140 places which are currently over allocated due to demand. 

The Academy opened in September 2015 and in the short space of time they have been operating, they have achieved a mark of Outstanding in all areas from Ofsted.

The Academy has recently lost the use of their library room due to demand for space. It is now being used as a classroom.

Autism is something that is very close to my heart. My son Alexander is 7 years old and he is Autistic. He struggles to talk and communicate and finds it difficult to build friendships and bond with his peers. He also has Sensory Processing Disorder which affects him daily. He struggles with certain sounds and environments and this can be quite debilitating for him.

Despite all this, Alexander is an absolutely beautiful little boy. He is happy and funny, bright and intelligent. He also gives the best hugs!

Each year I fundraise for the National Autistic Society (NAS) for Autism Awareness Week. Previously I have participated in 2 Night Walks for Autism, set up a raffle with all donations going to the NAS plus we held a Vintage Tea Party with all proceeds and donations going directly to the NAS.

This year Autism Awareness Week runs between the 1st and 7th April.

I would like my fundraising to go back into my local community. I would like to raise as much money as possible to enable me to buy some brand new books for the students at Hollinwood Academy. I want them to have their library back and allow the children to access to some wonderful new books and resources.

I run my own business called The Krafty Bookworm so I have access to thousands of amazing books and resources that I can give to the students at Hollinwood.

Every single penny raised will be spent on books and any commission I make processing the order will also be donated back into the funds to buy more books.

No profit will be made from my fundraising. Please donate where possible and please share around with your friends and family and in your local community and let’s get as many new books as we possibly can for the students at Hollinwood Academy

I have been asked by one of our parents to share an exciting opportunity for our students. There’s a new autism friendly go karting session starting in Rochdale once a month on a Thursday evening ‪from 4.30pm – 6.30pm‬‬..

The first session is ‪on the 7th March and you can find out more on their website here and a blog post here. I know some of our students will be there on the 7th March and I am sure they would appreciate seeing some familiar faces as they help support each other.

Next week, our primary students will be taking part in World Book Day. Miss Shin will be co-ordinating this as English lead and she has some lovely activities planned. Parents, please do not worry, you do not have to rush out and buy costumes as you will already have everything needed. A letter will be sent out next week regarding the arrangements for the day.

Letters have now gone home with details of the Easter Holiday Club (available here). Please remember to return your forms by Friday 8th March if you would like to book a place for your child. If last week’s Holiday Club was anything to go by, they will have a wonderful time!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend,


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