Australia Year Highlights

The school year is over and Australia Year is over too!   At the final TD day, teachers reflected on the highlights.  Here are some thoughts from the teachers:

“Francis Firebrace’s visit was exciting and something completely different!”

“It was a fabulous way to teach the children about differences and similarities across the world!  I left a very impressed supply teacher.”

“The most enjoyable experience for the children was pairing up with another class for the day to complete Australian activities.  They also appeared to love Francis Firebrace and the art work in the hall.”

“The coherence that ran throughout the school was fantastic.  The children were all incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgable about the theme.”

“I enjoyed visiting the children in their classes; they were all working so hard all working on different activities, and I loved the map they produced.”

“One of the highlights for Redgrave Class was the visit from Francis Firebrace- they thoroughly enjoyed his assembly.”

“The children enjoyed being involved in a whole school topic, especially when children had siblings in other classes and were keen to tell you all about their home learning or what they know about Australia.”

“It was a continuous theme that ran throughout the year linking other events that we normally focus on, e.g. Black History etc.  It gave these things more purpose and the children were engaged.”

“The best bits: It gave a focus for class topics, e.g. Where’s Wally?; The Big Read and author visits.

“The best thing was- The whole school all learning together.”

Australia Year- Personal Highlights

Australia Year is coming to an end.  The school term (and year) finishes on Friday, so this is a good point to find out what we most enjoyed about this special year.  To finish our blog we will be asking lots of people what they thought the highlights were.  We have started with views from the blog group. 

“The event I have most enjoyed through Australia Year is when Frances Firebrace came in and did lots of Aboriginal-type paintings with KS2.  We had to pair up and were only allowed to use red, yellow, blue and black paints, but that made it more exciting!”  Mollie

“My highlight of Australia year was when we made the Australian Poles for the end of Year 6 art.  I enjoyed this activity because we all got to be together and I really like calving wood. I wrote R+E+C=BFF. I did get a big cut in my hand but I do have a bit of me left behind (my blood).” Robyn

“My favourite thing about Australia year is when we did our aboriginal poles with Chris Holland (The Didgeridoo man!) I am looking forward to the signing of the t-shirts this Friday.”  Emily

“I haven’t got a favourite. I just Liked the whole year round and am glad I was a part of it. But I can’t wait till Friday!”  Sophie

“I think that the highlight of Australia year has got to be the year 6 Totem poles but Australia day comes close.  I know that almost everybody in Holbrook loved Australia day including me because of it’s extremely fun activities.”  Matthew P

The Other Facts of Life

We have finished performing the play! We think it was a great success, we have enjoyed it but glad it’s over.

Emily said: “I think that all the parents thought it was funny and enjoyable.”

Sophie said: “I think parents liked it and everyone was amazing at their parts.”

Mollie said: “It was good and I liked it!”

Matthew W said: “It took lots of practice and we enjoyed it lots!”

Mr Whitewick said: “I enjoyed it very much, it made me laugh, but I preferred it when you sang along to a backing track.  Singing along to a  CD doesn’t work as well- you cannot hear the pupils, just the CD.  I thought it was a very well written play, though.”

Matthew P said: “It was good, but I think it was a bit long.”

Ella said: “I enjoyed making the props more than acting in the play.”

Robyn said: “I enjoyed watching the making of the props and putting on the play.”

Aborigine Ancestor Poles


In June, Chris Holland returned to Holbrook to help us with our Year 6 project. He came in to have a talk to us and tell us about what we would be doing for our project. We all took turns to complete our piece of artwork. We used drills and chisels to make our own section unique. We could then use paint in the colours of red, ochre and black to make it stand out more. After all the brilliant designs, including one of the Holbrook dragon, we held a special ceremony for our poles to be put up. Each year 6 then wrote a wish and a gratitude to be put inside the wood. 



The Other Facts of Life

Yesterday was the third and final performance of our Y6 play called ‘The Other Facts of Life’.  It was based on the Morris Glietzman novel of the same name.  The script was written by Mrs Nunn.

Adam played the part of Ron, the father of Ben.  The play was about Ron’s younger son, Ben, who starts to worry about world issues such as the starving millions and the treatment of animals.  Ron does not really understand his son and tries to talk him out of being so serious.  It doesn’t help that Ben’s father is a butcher and Ben decides to become a vegetarian!

“Acting in the play was fun but it could be difficult as well.  There were many lines to remember and you had to make sure you didn’t get the lines wrong,” said Adam.

Y6 have been rehearsing since the end of the SATs tests in May.  “Wednesday evening at 6.30 was the best performance because the audience laughed at the jokes and they were not a tough crowd!”  Adam had one fo the main parts.  “We had to sign up to say whether we wanted a big part or small part and I really wanted a major part; either the role of Ben or Ron.  I was happy with the part I got.”

Adam’s wife in the play was Di, played by Becky.  “She was good at influencing the audience,” said Adam.  “She was a good singer and actor.”

Here are some photos of the Y6 play in performance.

Interview with Harvey

On 28th June some of the Year 4 pupils from our school went to Royal Wootten Bassett Academy to talk about our Australia Year at Holbrook.  They had included a bit from their play but tweaked it so it went with what they were doing and so the audience would understand what was going on.  I asked Harvey (my brother who went to the school) a couple of questions about what he thought about it:

1) How long did it take to put the whole thing together?

It took quite long but it was worth it.

2) What did you think of it and why?                                                

I thought it was really good.  All the schools were great but particularly Holbrook.

3) How well did it go?

I thought it went very well because we worked very hard and we did extremely fantastic.

4) Did everyone enjoy it?

Yes I thought everyone enjoyed it because we all thought it was a really fun thing to be a part of.

5) Were there many schools there?

Not many schools were there, but some left a presentation because they couldn’t be there.

 6) Do you think Mr Whitewick did a good job and why?

Yes because he directed it, tweaked it, taught us the drama and made it a success!

7) Were people impressed by the peformance?

Yes because everyone else had scripts but we didn’t.

8) Was there anything you could have changed to make it better and why?

No because it was perfectly AMAZING!

9) Do you think everyone was loud?

Everyone was very loud and clear and you could tell that people could tell what they were saying.

10) Were Holbrook the best and why?

Yes because we are just awesome and we were well behaved!


Wiltshire International Book

At the same conference at which our Y4 pupils presented their drama about Australia Year, we received copies of the new book all about Wiltshire schools’ links with partner schools around the world.  Matthew and Sophie wrote the Holbrook contribution to this book.

This is the text they wrote for the book:

If you can’t go to Australia, get Australia to come to you!

Over the current school year, Holbrook has been focusing on Australia. This is so that everyone connected to our school can share their knowledge and find out more; parents and governors as well as pupils.

Throughout the year we have given our usual school events an Australian flavour, for instance on 11th November we remembered Australian soldiers, for our annual contribution to the dance festival we performed a dance based on Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, and our Year Four play was about Australia.

We have had many visitors to school to help, some of them real Australians. The year started with a visit from Travis, a student from Adelaide.  He taught us Aussie rules football.  Mr Clarke, a Wiltshire Adviser, visited us several times.  He told us Dreamtime stories, talked about Aboriginal Art and Australian animals. Chris Holland is a musician and artist. He taught us some basic didgeridoo skills.

We started a blog ( which a group of Y5 and Y6 pupils keep up to date with all the news of our special year.

The best thing is that we found a school in Australia also called Holbrook School.  We made contact and asked them to work with us.  Their Principal and school leaders have shared ideas with our headteacher and School Council; we have exchanged work and they have answered our questions about their country.

Australia Day (26th January) was a big day in our school.  The blog group led an assembly and we worked together to create a giant map of Australia, now on display in our hall.  We wrote a letter to the Australian High Commissioner to ask for some support and he wrote back and put us in touch with people who could help us.

We got the whole school to read the same books: ‘Diary of a Wombat’ by Jackie French for KS1; and ‘Stories from the Billabong’ by James Vance Marshall and Francis Firebrace for KS2. Waterstone’s store in Trowbridge helped us with this project. Then, we had a brilliant visit from Francis Firebrace himself, an Aborigine from the Yorta Yorta people, who showed us his artwork.  We all then had a huge art session and tried our hand at art, aboriginal style.  After school pupils had their books signed.

To sum it all up, we would say that learning about Australia is brilliant when you can learn from real Australians.

Sophie and Matthew