Y6 to Y7
The move from a relatively small primary school, where everybody knows everybody else and is taught by just one or two teachers, to a secondary school with much older children and lessons with up to 15 different teachers in the course of a week can be a daunting prospect! We therefore do our utmost to ensure the move is both worry free and exciting. Throughout the Year 6 we provide a programme of events to ensure a seamless academic and pastoral move to New Mills School.
An open evening is held at New Mills School in the fourth week of September. This is an opportunity for prospective students and parents to come and visit the school, hear about our vision and ethos, and then experience the various subjects and talk to staff. The evening is open for families with children in Y6, Y5 and even younger.
Later in the autumn term, all Year 6 students from our feeder primary schools visit New Mills School for a Bonding Day. Students are placed into mixed groups and take part in activities to get to know each other. These activities have included sessions from Take Part in the Art, team building exercises and musical workshops.
In the spring term, Mrs Johnston (Year Manager for Y7) visits primary schools and speaks to all children making the move to New Mills School in September, getting to know them and gathering information on interests, strengths and any specific needs. In addition, each feeder primary school is visited for the day by New Mills School Year 7 students who work with students in various year groups. On the same day, Year 5 students from these schools spend the day at New Mills and experience a variety of lessons.
During the spring and summer terms, students in Year 6 at local primary schools have the opportunity to work with key members of staff from each of our faculties. This involves teachers from New Mills School visiting the primary schools to teach lessons, and students from primary schools visiting New Mills and using the specialised facilities (for example the Science labs). These events are dual purpose: to help New Mills staff understand the academic capabilities of new students and therefore ensure lessons are planned for strong academic progress right from day 1, as well as enabling new students to get to know New Mills teachers.
In the summer term the students who have secured places at New Mills School spend three days on our site in a planned programme of activities designed to familiarise them with the school's layout and routines before arriving in September. On this day they will meet the Year 7 tutor team and as many of their new teachers as possible. In the same week parents are invited into school in the evening to meet key staff and to pick up information for the new school year.
From these events, students are sorted into Year 7 tutor groups. In each class we strive to achieve a balance of gender and ability, a blend of primary schools, a blend of interests (musical, sporting etc.) and that all students, as far as possible, has at least one friendly face they recognise from their primary days in their new secondary groups
Our aim is to have all students starting their careers at New Mills School feeling comfortable and supported but over the summer holiday, and in the first few days concerns can arise about any number of aspects of moving to secondary school. Our Year Manager for Year 7, Mrs Johnston is always available to help new students with difficulties that may arise. We do rely on parents to keep us informed if they feel their child might be unhappy for whatever reason. When we receive information on any problems we do our best to rectify the issue rapidly.
In late September we take all of Year 7 to Whitehall, in their new teaching groups, for a one day team building event. The focus is on getting the new groups to gel and get to know one another whilst doing a range of challenging activities.
Just before the half-term in October, parents have the opportunity to come into school and meet their child’s tutor who will be able to provide an overview of how their child is settling into life at New Mills School. This is followed by school ‘snapshot’ reports in December and March. In April there is a full parents evening and a chance to meet and talk with all relevant teaching staff. Formal written reports follow towards the end of the first year.
Throughout all of this, we are just a phone call or a visit away and we positively encourage parents to stay in touch with us. It is a sad inevitability that the sort of relationship parents enjoyed with their primary school teachers is difficult to sustain at secondary school because of the number of teachers now involved in each child's education. Additionally, many parents begin to feel left behind as the nature of their child's work changes, or indeed, that they shouldn't interfere or intrude or make a fuss. On top of this, many students will actively discourage their parents from phoning up or coming into school to see how things are going - the last thing they want is for their friends to see their parents coming into school! However, we welcome such visits or phone calls, and tutors, and Ms Johnston are always available by appointment and can make space to meet with parents or discuss matters over the phone.