Although children do not have to start school until the term after their fifth birthday, our policy is for all children (who will become five during the school year) to start full time in our Reception Class in September. All children starting at the same time allows friendships to be built from the start and for all the children in the class to share the same experiences and teaching input. If your child was born from January onwards and you would prefer your child to start later than September, please discuss this with the school.
During the summer term a meeting is held for the parents of children due to start school the following September, this gives them the chance to meet the Reception class staff and other members of the school community. They also have the opportunity to view the Reception Class learning areas, both indoors and outdoors and some of the resources available.
Following this meeting, the children are invited into school for three ‘taster sessions’. During these sessions they meet the Reception class staff, begin to get used to the learning areas, and meet their new classmates.
In addition to visits, Pre-School Packs’ are available, during the summer term. The Packs contain a story book with suggestions of activities for the children to do at home. The children will also receive a small booklet telling them about school life, while the parents receive the ‘Parent’s Guide to Starting School at St. Barnabas’. All parents are offered a home visit, these visits take place in September just before the children start school, they are carried out by the Reception class staff and usually last about 20 minutes. These visits give the parents the opportunity to inform the staff about their child and to ask any questions they may have about school life.
We are delighted to act as the designated Middle School for Defford-cum-Besford and Norton-Juxta-Kempsey First Schools. We welcome children from both schools into St. Barnabas at the start of Year 5. From this point onwards, we usually operate three parallel classes in each year group, depending on the size of the cohort.
During the summer term, a meeting is held for parents and children who will be joining us the following September. The purpose of the meeting is to tell them about the school and offer the opportunity for questions. The meeting is attended by the Headteacher, Deputy Head, Chair of Governors, School Nurse, Family support worker, School Travel Team, Friends Association representative, and where possible, the following year’s Year 5 teachers. Year 7 children are also present to model uniforms and act as guides around school, conducting tours once the formal meeting is over.
During the school year, children from Defford and Norton visit St. Barnabas for a variety of activities with children in our Year 4. This serves to familiarise the children with our school and for friendships to begin to form. Also, children from St. Barnabas visit Defford and Norton schools to see and to put into context where their future friends are coming from.
Working together on these days allows teachers to begin the process of knowing their new children and facilitates good professional dialogue between staff in different schools. Towards the end of term, the Year 5 teachers and SENCO formally meet with First School staff to discuss all children individually and to pass records on.
Close liaison between the Headteachers of the three schools is maintained throughout the year.