Tag Archives: Matthew

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. 



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 (www.holbrookaustraliayear.wordpress.com) 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

Gifts from Australia

On the last day of term 5, Mr Whitewick received a parcel from Holbrook Public School our link school in Australia.  Inside the package there was a t-shirt.  It is their summer sports uniform.  It has their school logo on the front and their school name on the back.  The package also contained 3 books about their town and region in Australia: The first is about the connection between Holbrook and Submarines; the second about the town of Holbrook; and the third is a tourist leaflet for Holbrook.  They have some interesting pictures in and the writing is very detailed and descriptive.


One of our pupils in Kingsley Class modeled the shirt for us.  He is standing next to our school dragon.


The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is an explosion of colour underwater off the coast of Australia. Its outstanding variation of corals and sea life make it an extraordinary place to see. It is the world’s largest collection of corals on earth, with over 400 types! It is home to a vast range of amazing sea life such as the Humpback Whale which are usually 12-16cm in length; the Hammerhead Shark which is one of the most easily recognised types of shark because of its outlandish head and the Green Sea Turtle which are unfortunately classed as an endangered species.

The Great Barrier Reef is situated in the North East of Australia. It is the largest reef of all, stretching an incredible 1,250 miles across the deep blue sea. I would absolutely love to go and see the Great Barrier Reef one day! If anyone has been and seen the Great Barrier Reef please leave a comment about your experience.


Interview with Mr Whitewick

Why did you choose the two books for The Big Read?

I went to Waterstone’s with a list of books I thought would be good.  I discussed these with the manager, Sara.  She had some ideas too.  Not all of the books on my list were easily available.  Sara used the Waterstone’s internal website to get ideas from other stores and, eventually, we came up with two books we thought would work well.

Out of the two, which one is your favourite and why?

I don’t have one.  ‘Diary of a Wombat’ is sweet and amusing and it suits KS1 but KS2 need a harder and more challenging read. I also like books with deeper meanings which the ‘Stories from the Billabong’ have.

Do you think people will read the book?

The idea was to read the books at home so that parents got involved as well.  I think that sharing books is very important.  The Big Read was designed for parents and children to read and discuss the books together.  This sort of thing really helps our pupils get better at reading. 

What are you expecting to do with people’s opinions?

The best thing to happen will be for opinions to go on the blog.  Our blog will be better if more people added comments and opinions.  

Are you excited about the schools partnership with Waterstone’s?

Yes, I’m very excited that Waterstone’s want to help us.  When I had the idea, I did not know what help they could offer.  So, I was really pleased when they gave a discount card to every family.  It was also very good to talk about the books with experts.

How did you manage to get all of the school a discount card for Waterstone’s?

It was Sara , the manager, who came up with the idea.                                                          

How well did the book sale go?

It went very well and it was very busy. We sold all the copies of ‘Stories from the Billabong’.  I think we emptied all of Britain of the last copies of the book because the publishers sent more from a warehouse in China, I think.  You can see some pictures on the blog.

How did you think of The Big Read idea?

Last year, the Deep See Readers went to see Ali Sparkes in Bath.  She was there because the festival had chosen her book, ‘Frozen in Time’ as the festival children’s book.  The idea was to get as many people as possible to read the same book.  I thought we could do the same thing as part of Australia Year and that thought led me to contact Waterstone’s to see if they would help us out. 

Thank you for your answers

Matthew and Sophie

Sydney Harbour Bridge turns 80!

This year the 1,149m Sydney Harbour Bridge has turned 80 and there are going to be a lot of celebrations going on. I think that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performing from the top of the 134m high arch was an absolutely brilliant idea. Its official birthday is the 19th March as that was when it was opened in 1932. Another festivity being held in Sydney for its birthday is a 1930’s themed picnic party. The bridge cost a whopping 6.25 million pounds! It took over 8 years and planning started even earlier in 1912. I think it would be an amazing experience to climb to the top of the bridge or even stay on the ground and watch the amazing celebrations going on.


Big Read: Jackie French

Jacqueline French is an Australian author of books such as the KS1 book ‘Diary of a Wombat’. She was born in November 1953 and lives in New South Wales. She has written well over 100 books and has won a lot of awards for her writing. Diary of a Wombat itself won over 10 awards so you can tell she is a great writer. She began writing when she was 30 and at the time she was living in a tin shed with a black snake and a wombat! There have been other books like Diary of a Wombat such as Diary of a Baby Wombat and How to Scratch a Wombat. The books have really cute illustrations which make the book nicer to read.  I haven’t read Diary of a Wombat so I would like to know if anybody that has read its opinions. Also if you have read any other Jackie French books please tell us!


Jackie photo