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Welcome: Parents & Carers
The unprecedented circumstances in which we currently find ourselves have only served to heighten our anxieties, and what a time it is to make the move to secondary school! I wonder how many parents and carers feel like their role is similar to the one pictured on the left - I think perfectly - by KH who is currently at Ditton Junior School?
I hope this section of our website will help to make you a little more familiar with Valley Park, and that it will enable you to visualise what school life might be like from September, in spite of us being unable to welcome you into the school buildings at this time.
We take great pride in our transition programme and believe that it makes a real difference in helping students to adapt and grow to meet the demands of secondary school, whilst recognising that this change is not going to happen automatically or straight away.
As you will appreciate, we are running our transition programme very differently this year and I thought it would be sensible to set out the activities which we already have in place to help your child settle in and adapt to life at Valley Park.
Many things have already been happening behind the scenes, with my colleagues contacting our feeder primary schools to find out about your child and their future classmates. This includes information about their academic performance, strengths and weaknesses but also what they are like socially and what support they are likely to need, from the perspective of their current teachers. Most importantly, you will be receiving a link to an online form which gives you the opportunity to tell us about your child too!
Separately to this, I will be writing directly to your child to welcome them into our community. We would normally be looking forward to hosting them in our actual building for two induction days in July but it looks highly unlikely that this will be happening and so we will be creating a new email address so they can message us with their questions, things they are worried about or just little things they want to know... When we have had a chance to review these, we intend to produce a short ‘film’ to address the most common questions and hopefully to take away some of the uncertainty and worries that are, unfortunately, inevitable at this time.
As Mrs Hutchinson mentions in her introduction, we will be in touch to share some messages and tips from our youngest students in Year 7 and Year 8 – they have reflected upon their own time, right back to when they first joined us, and want to offer some words of advice and encouragement to your child, too.
When your child does start with us in September, we know they are going to be worried about certain things. They are going to take a while to adapt but please do everything you can to reassure them that we're aware of their concerns; this is what we do, year after year! Very little surprises us anymore but - if it would help to reassure you and your child - please do get in touch with us.
In September, Year 7 students start slightly earlier than the rest of the school so that they can have the building to themselves, to start to find their way around. For the first week, we shorten the lesson before lunch to ensure that all new Year 7 students get to the canteen first and get their food before the rest of the school. There are also plenty of teachers to help students to find the right classrooms and to support them. There is a series of small but significant things that we do to make things easier for new arrivals, and September is a time when the whole school comes together to welcome our new students – our older students are always genuinely eager to help and support.
Once the academic year has got underway, we will hold a ‘Meet the Tutor’ event where you will be invited to talk with your child’s Form Tutor (the teacher who sees your child every morning before lessons commence). Whilst it will be too early in the academic year to discuss academic progress, the main aim is to welcome you to our school and to discuss how your child has settled in. It's a good opportunity to discuss ways in which we can help and any further support that may be needed, although you can of course contact us before the event itself.
The remainder of this section of the website provides some of the key pieces of information that explain more about how we operate. There will, of course, be more information in September so we have picked the most significant items for now. Some of this information tells you about how the school runs on a day to day basis, and some of it is information we're obliged to share with you at this stage.
I look forward to meeting you all in due course and to hearing about how your child has settled in.