In a few weeks the new Year 7's will be pouring into schools, some excited, some scared, some confident and some feeling like they own the place.
In an ideal world all those students will be appearing in school uniform, neatly pressed and clean with a full set of pens, pencils and an open enquiring mind. In this world, all the students will be kind and compassionate to each other, be polite and well mannered. No bullying and no name calling and no leaving children to stand alone at breaks.
But we don't live in this ideal world. Schools throughout the country will offer totally different learning experiences. Some schools with unqualified teachers, some schools with no clear ethos on behaviour and discipline, some schools who have handpicked their students, some schools where its more about behaviour control and some brilliant schools.
So how do you know that your child is going to have a positive learning experience?
Firstly a quick tale. I remember teaching in a school that quite frankly was scary. The students basically marauded like pack animals, others running in and out classrooms and the uniform was a joke. In one class I had two students who were polite, clean and both told me about how they were frightened at school. One of them told me that their parents believed that they should go to any school and that they would somehow be a big fish in a small pond. How wrong they were and how much I wanted to contact the parents and ask them if they genuinely cared about their children's education.
Anyway on a more positive note, here is a quick checklist!
And although you may feel that some items are not important believe me it makes so much difference to behaviour and learning.
- The school has a strict uniform policy
- You have been invited into the school and have been given information relating to homework, discipline procedures and home/school agreement.
- If your child has special needs, you have been approached by the Primary AND Secondary School to ensure support is in place at the START of the term.
- That you can meet the SENCO - The Special Needs person in charge! - and discuss your child before they start.
- That you know of the Head of Year and the team, with appropriate email and phone numbers.
- The school runs various clubs and activities outside of teaching hours.
- When meeting the staff, they appear approachable and friendly.
- They have a strict bullying and harassment policy.
- Make sure you attend all the preschool meetings, you need to know as much as your child does before starting.
- Remember that it is a massive leap from students spending time with one or two teachers, to "travelling" from class to class to see different teachers. Expect that it will take some weeks before they settle in and they will arrived exhausted for the first few weeks.
- Make sure you keep an eye on homework. Get involved! Help your child organise when they do homework and have an appropriate place to complete it. (Even though I personally don't agree with homework!)
- And finally? Read the start of my blog on who to contact if a problem occurs!
And relax.......in another 5 years you will be thinking about Colleges......