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A message from head teacher Dr Helen Holman

Published on 24/01/17

There is absolutely no doubt that the past 11 years have been the most remarkable and rewarding of my career in education.

Thousands of young people – many of whom are now young adults – have passed through our doors in that time and are now making their way in the world.

It has been a privilege to get to know each and every one of them and of course their families too. I, like most in the teaching profession, am assured that there is no greater reward than when a child fulfills or exceeds their potential. In these past 11 years there have certainly been many, many young people in that category.

Now, however, it is time for me to make a move of my own. I have decided to retire as a head teacher and at the end of the summer term this year, I will be leaving Orchard School Bristol.

This was not a decision I came to lightly.  Head teachers may be described as control freaks – but age is one thing that I have no control over!  I have experienced the full range of emotions, foremost among them sadness that I will be leaving this place which I have come to love over 11 very happy years.

Of course I am excited about the future, but I know I can move on to the next chapter in my life secure in the knowledge that this school is in the best place it has ever been.

We have a team of exceptional professionals amongst the whole staff; the highest calibre of leaders, teaching staff and a support staff who give us all such crucial backing.

I have no doubt when I say that our teachers have developed and refined teaching and learning best practice which would be the envy of many schools across the city.

This was reflected in our latest Ofsted report and we have further ‘upped our game’ with the hugely successful ‘Ready to Learn’ system which has produced a cultural revolution in the classroom and beyond.

Over the course of my 11 years I have had the support of a strong governing body who have shared my vision but have challenged us to be the best that we can be and have ensured that our drive for delivering a first class educational experience to our students remains at the heart of all we do.   

The thing I will miss most is the daily interaction with our young people. We have cultivated an ethos where the individual is encouraged to be just that, an individual. One size fits all is definitely not our approach.

We have a wonderful diversity of children in our school. Sporty, artistic, academic, socially confident – and a few cheeky ones as well! All have made Orchard School Bristol the place it is and while they have made their mark on us, I hope we have made our mark on them. Indeed one of the real pleasures in this job is meeting ex students who come back to tell us of their personal successes. 

Having made the decision, I did not want to waste any time in informing you of my plans but rest assured I haven’t gone yet!

The next few months will fly by but I still have much to do and I will be planning for the year ahead as well as supporting the appointment of my successor.  The person appointed will be lucky indeed – this is THE best job. I am going to savour every moment of the months to come and spend as much time as possible with you all – our young people and their families.