OPENING its doors for prospective pupils and their parents/carers, Holsworthy Community College held a number of tours on October 3, to show off what the school has to offer.

In attendance on the day were primary school pupils, who are hoping to join the school in the next academic year. There were Year 6 pupils from many of the surrounding primary schools, including Black Torrington, Halwill, Bridgerule and Highampton.

Executive head and principal of Holsworthy Community College, David Fitzsimmons helped out on the day by showing parties of prospective students around the facilities.

He said: “I’ve been here for around 14 years now and have seen the school make some fantastic strides and improvements during that time. I am delighted to get to show you around today.”

Mr Fitzsimmons began his tour by explaining to those pupils hoping to join next year how the college’s ‘house system’ works.

When pupils from Year 6 come up to the college they are put into a ‘vertical tutor group’, which is made up of a boy and a girl from each of the school’s five year groups, giving an average tutor group of 10 pupils. Each tutor group is then placed into one of four houses.

When the house system was first introduced pupils were able to choose the names given to each group. They opted for a Greek mythology theme, with the houses being named ‘Poseidon’, ‘Thor’, ‘Zeus’ and ‘Apollo’.

The school currently has around 565 pupils, which Mr Fitzsimmons said can be a bit daunting for new intakes if they are previously from one of the smaller village schools in the area.

He added: “We have a system in place where new pupils will be ‘buddied up’ with a current Year 7. The advantage of this is that you get to know them before you start.”

Mrs Woodward, head of Key Stage 3, will be visiting feeder primary schools in the run up to the new academic year to give them more information. He said: “We will be holding extra transition days as well for some of the smaller rural primary schools, who may only have a couple of pupils coming up.

“We also provide an online mental health system and have two trained counselors in the school. We try very hard to get pupils mentally ready for school.”

With regards to sport, Mr Fitzsimmons said: “We have football and rugby pitches and were recently lucky enough to have new flood lights installed on our hockey pitch, thanks to a Torridge District Council lottery fund donation.

“There are opportunities here to join after school clubs as well, however, due to the rurality of some of our pupils these can sometimes be difficult to attend if parents aren’t able to pick them up due to work.”

Carrying on the tour, the prospective pupils were briefed on some of the beneficial schemes the school runs in order to aid their learning.

Mr Fitzsimmons explained that they have a ‘bring your own device’ scheme, which allows pupils to bring in their smartphones and tablets.

“We used to be a technology college, although we don’t push a technology subject as much anymore, pupils are still able to do one. We enable our pupils to connect their smartphones, tablets etc to our internet, which is filtered. They obviously can’t have their devices out during lessons without a teacher’s permission but we do allow them to use them responsibly to aid their learning experience.”

When pupils join the college they are given a choice between a foreign language, either French or German.

Mr Fitzsimmons, a linguist himself, explained that a pupil will choose one language to study for three years, then they are able to pick up a second language in Year 9 and 10 during after school lessons provided at the school.

Mr Fitzsimmons said: “We have a variety of residential trips for our pupils to join in with, with field trips specific to lessons provided.

“We have our successful German exchange trip and also a skiing trip. These are both fairly expensive trips and we do cater for those who may not be able to afford it. No child will be left out and we offer cheaper trips as well, for example, we will take pupils to see a panto so they can experience a real theatre.”

The college also offers other extra curricular trips as part of the pupils’ learning, for example there is a geography field trip to Sandymouth, Bude at the end of Year 10 and a ‘Holsworthy History Battlefield Trip’.

Mr Fitzsimmons rounded off the tour by taking the party through the various buildings, showing the wide range of facilities and options they have to offer.

The school has a fully equipped library, which provides numerous programmes to improve pupils’ reading levels like an ‘accelerated reader book level’ system, weekly library lessons and visits from professional authors.

Maths, English and science are core subjects for any pupil and the college has excellent facilities for all three, boasting one of the best results overall for science grades — ranking in the top 15% in the country last year. They have fully kitted out labs, and even have an electronics lab, which contains around £70,000 of equipment.

Lessons are based on interactive learning and aim to give pupils a practical knowledge as well as a theoretical one.

Mr Fitzsimmons concluded the tour by saying: “I am not saying that we are better than any of the other possible schools you could go to, we are just different.

“We aim to provide our pupils with the best facilities we can and help to give them a well rounded education along with opportunities for self development and growth.

“I am personally a fan of the open door policy and welcome parents and carers to come along when they can and book a tour so they see what a typical day here at Holsworthy Community College is like.”