When will the children start school?
We are currently planning for all children to return to/start school in September, however this may be impacted by Government decisions over the next few months. We will be reviewing the guidance regularly and will inform all parents of any changes to the arrangements.
What is the transition process?
The ‘typical’ transition process for St James’ is as follows:
- Pre-school and Nursery contact
- Once we know which pre-schools children currently attend, we start to contact and visit them. This is to support class allocation and to find out more about each child from their current setting. Paperwork is often passed across either directly from the Pre-School or via the parents, showing current assessment information.
- Parent information evening (parents only).
- This is towards the end of June and is to provide information about the school routines and class lists, as well as an opportunity to meet staff and visit classrooms.
- Stay and Play
- There are usually two ‘stay and play’ sessions in July for each half of the class. Children can attend the first with a parent and then come in for the second independently. They are one hour each and allow the children to meet the staff as well as exploring their environment.
- Home Visits
- During the first week of term, staff from each class arrange home visits. These are an opportunity for children to meet and remember their class adults in a known environment. It allows us to go through arrangements individually and to discuss any worries or concerns. They are not compulsory.
- Part Time
- Children then start on a part time basis in the second week of term. Each class is split into 2 groups of 15 with one group attending each morning and the other attending each afternoon. This is typically for two weeks and allows the staff to develop strong relationships with each child and to find out more about them individually. The children are able to explore the environment and establish routines within a smaller group as they would be familiar with from Pre-School.
- Full Time
- This usually commences at the start of the fourth week of term (towards the end of September). All children will attend school full time in their full class of 30.
Following the impact of COVID-19, this process will be adapted for children starting in September 2020. We recognise the value of each part of the process and would like to continue to follow this where possible but with timings adjusted. The Parent Information evening in June has been cancelled and information will be provided via email or the school website. You will be contacted once this has been finalised.
How are classes organised?
At St James’ we have 3 classes each with 30 children. When places are accepted, parents receive paperwork from the school. Part of this paperwork is a form identifying which pre-school or nursery your child currently attends. This is the only way this information is passed to the school and is vital to the transition process. Once this information is gathered we start to contact pre-schools to find out more about friendships and individual children. Where there are a number of children from one pre-school, we will split these children across classes based on information provided by the setting. This ensures all children have opportunities to develop new friendships as well as some familiar peers where possible. We also have to balance the number of children from different groups within each class – gender, DOB, SEND etc. This process takes a number of weeks and is primarily based on the information provided by current settings and the sessions children attend (as gathered from the parental paperwork).
How do we find out more information?
As mentioned above, the Parent Information evening (2020) has had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. We are currently in the process of ensuring all information from this meeting is available to parents. This is likely to either be via email or the school website and will be available by the end of June. All parents will be contacted via email when this process is finalised.
What can we do to help prepare our child?
Many children may now not be returning to pre-school before they start school. This may mean that they are more unsettled when they start in September. Please have regular conversations with your child about starting school. Allow them to share any worries and ask any questions about the process. Explain that they will be able to meet the adults before they start and that is it ok to feel uncertain. Our main priority is the wellbeing of the children; we are not expecting parents to feel they need to ‘pre-teach’ any particular skills. We will be adjusting our planning and environment to suit the needs of the children based on our initial assessments in September.
Key things to continue to practise are: independent toileting, use of cutlery when eating and dressing and undressing independently. Opportunities to talk and share stories will also be beneficial.
We have concerns we would like to pass on. Who do we need to contact?
In the first instance, use the office email address or school phone number to contact Mrs Angie Pierce in the office. She will be able to answer most questions. If there is something to discuss further, your message will either be passed to Miss Sarah Greenfield (Assistant Headteacher/Lower Phase Lead) or Mr John Tutt (Headteacher).
How do we order uniform?
Contact Mrs Pierce using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org or school phone number (01892 523006). She will be able to take orders and arrange collection.
Can we visit the school?
At the current time we are not allowing visitors on to the site. We are following a strict timetable for arrival and collection of current pupils to prevent cross-contamination between groups so we cannot allow others on to the site. We are trying to ensure our staff, pupils and families stay as safe as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are hoping to put together something you can share with your child to show them the school virtually.
How will we receive information?
As decisions are made and plans are finalised we will contact all new entrant families using the email addresses provided upon application. Information may also be published on the school website (https://st-james.kent.sch.uk). We will make contact towards the end of June.
How can I help my child prepare for school?
We have put a video and document on the 'New Entrant Information' page to support transition. You can share these with your child and talk through what will happen when they start school. If your child is worried, it is best to have lots of positive conversations about school. Try talking about what they would like to play with, who they may see at school and remind them that they will always be collected at the end of the session. They may struggle to vocalise their worries, so playing with figures and acting out being 'at school' may help them to process and identify their anxieties.