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We hope you find our most common questions, here, to be useful. You will find a mix of questions from both parents/carers and students.
Q: Valley Park is a much bigger school than my primary school and I know I will have different teachers for all my lessons. Will anyone know me as well as my Year 6 teacher?
A: All students are allocated a tutor group, and your tutor group will be assigned a teacher who will be your form tutor. They will help you to get to know Valley Park and will meet your parent/carer a few weeks into Year 7, to let them know how you are settling in. In addition to your form tutor, who you will see every morning during Registration, you will have a Head of Year and a Student Support Manager to support you – you will be able to visit them in our Student Hub. Mr Whatley oversees the whole Lower School, so you and he will get to know one another quite well, too.
Your form tutor will be the first teacher you see every morning, and Registration will last 20 minutes. You will complete form group activities to get to know one another and might even win competitions against other tutor groups! Although you will be with different groups of students for your various lessons, the students in your tutor group will be the same throughout Year 7, and possibly longer.
Q: I usually bring my Airpods into school to share with my friends. Can I bring them into Valley Park and what happens if I lose them?
A: Unfortunately, if you chose to bring any valuable items (whether they be Airpods, or a mobile phone, or money, or an expensive smartwatch) you will be doing this at your own risk – the school is unable to accept responsibility for looking after your items, nor for any loss that may occur. The safest place for your valuables is keeping them at home. Anything that you do decide to bring into school must be carefully and securely named.
Q: I don’t know anyone who is coming to Valley Park as I am the one person from my school. How can I get to know people before I arrive?
A: Have you taken part in our Transition Project? We have written to you already to explain what you need to do, and you can find the link to the website in Mrs Hutchinson’s letter at the front of this booklet. If you send us one (or more – there is no limit) example of a piece of work that you are really proud of, we will display it on our website. Even if you don’t want to send us a piece of work of your own, you can look at the site to see the interests of some of the people who are going to be in your year group at Valley Park. At the moment, we are talking to our current Year 7 students, asking them for advice that they would like us to pass on to you. Look out for their feedback, which will be sent to you soon!
Once you arrive in September, there will be lots of activities that will help you to get to know other people – you won’t be the only one! We always recommend that our new students join one or two clubs, as they are great places to meet like-minded students.
Q: Will I be able to have a locker?
A: Yes! In September, you will be able to hire a locker. A £5 deposit is required, and you will then receive a padlock and a numbered locker which will be yours for the year. There will be more details coming to you about this, so don’t worry!
Q: If I can’t use my mobile phone during the school day, how can I call home if I need to?
A: You can visit the Student Hub, where they will be able to help you.
Q: Since my child has to have their mobile phone off during the school day, how do I contact them if I need to pass on a message during the school day?
A: Please do call Reception. Depending on the subject of your phone call, they can either put you in touch with another member of staff, or they can take a message that can be passed on.
Q: I’m not used to changing classrooms every hour. How will I know where to go and when to change lessons? What if I get lost?
A: We have a set of “pips” that sound at the end of each lesson – you can’t miss them! However, you will get used to the routines of Valley Park surprisingly quickly. When you first start Year 7, you will be given a copy of your timetable, and your form tutor will go through what it means with you and the rest of your tutor group. In the early days, you will have time in school when only Year 7s are there – plenty of time to explore – and, especially when the whole school is on the site, there will be plenty of people who you can ask to point you in the right direction. You will be given a map of the school and don’t forget that your teachers know that you are new to Valley Park, so don’t worry about getting into loads of trouble for being late in your early days – we were all new once!
Q: What times are lessons at Valley Park? When is lunch time?
A: You will find more information about lessons and our curriculum in the main part of the booklet, but the actual lesson times are shown below. Co-curricular activities are clubs that take place at the end of the school day, and we recommend that you attend a couple each week – they are a great way to meet new people!
- Assembly/Registration - 8:40am-9:00am
- Lesson 1 - 9:00am-10:00am
- Lesson 2 - 10:00am-11:00am
- Morning Break - 11:00am-11:20am
- Lesson 3 - 11:20am-12:20pm
- Lesson 4 - 12:20pm-1:20pm
- Lunch (including optional clubs) - 1:20pm-2:00pm
- Lesson 5 - 2:05pm-3:05pm
- Co-Curricular Activities - 3:05pm-5:00pm
Q: I have got an older sibling at Valley Park already. Will I be able to see them?
A: There is no reason why you can’t see your brother or sister, even if they are in the Sixth Form! Valley Park is a big site so, if you want to meet up with them, perhaps to walk home together, then you would both be wise to decide whereabouts this will be.
Q: What happens if I feel unwell or need first aid during school?
A: If you are in a lesson, make sure you tell your teacher. If it is before school, or during break or lunch time when you are not with a teacher, make sure you speak to your Head of Year or your Student Support Manager in the Student Hub. We have a Health and Welfare Manager who is based in school and, if they think you need to visit the Medical Room, they will know what to do. If you feel really unwell, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to accompany you.
Q: Where should I go if I need help?
A: That depends on what you need help with! If you are having trouble in a particular lesson, the best thing would be to ask the teacher while the lesson is happening. The same applies to homework – if, say, a piece of English homework is troubling you then the best person to speak to would be the teacher who set it.
With general queries, start with your form tutor – they will always be able to point you in the right direction even if they don’t know the answer to your question. At break times and lunchtimes, or when you aren’t sure who to ask, then the Student Hub would be a good place to try. However, do remember that we are a big school, which means there is always someone close by who you can ask!
Q: What will happen if I am late for school?
A: That’s a really good question, as it is very important that you are on time to school. We believe that the skills you learn in school will get you into really good habits ready for when you enter the world of work eventually. Registration starts at 8.40 am each morning, and you need to be in your tutor room by this time. If you are late for school, this will be recorded and you will be challenged if your lateness turns into a repeated pattern. Make sure you leave plenty of time to get to school in the morning and, if you are dropped off, do make sure you allow time for the traffic to be congested in Maidstone (it often is!).
If you are going to be catching a bus to school, your parent/carer will be able to let us know, so that we can keep an eye on the services that routinely arrive late to school. We meet regularly with the main bus companies, and are able to raise any concerns in these meetings.
Q: What do I need to bring to school?
A: You will find an equipment list, and a list of the required PE kit here. Make sure you clearly name anything that you bring into school so that, if anything is mislaid, it will find its way back to you.
Q: What do I need to wear?
A: You will find a uniform and PE kit list here. As with anything else that you bring into school, make sure that you clearly name everything.
Q: Am I allowed to have a drink during lessons?
A: Yes! It’s really important that you keep hydrated during the school day. Make sure you bring to school a reusable bottle filled with water, and you will be able to drink this during the day. We don’t allow drinks other than water, in case of messy spillages, however.
Q: If I empty my water bottle during the day, will I be able to refill it? How?
A: There are water fountains in the PE department and in the canteen, so you will be able to refill your bottle at break and lunch times. If you want to purchase a different drink to consume during break or lunch times, you will be able to do so in the canteen, too.
Q: Where do I eat my lunch? What if I need to buy my lunch in school, how do I do that?
A: If you purchase your lunch from the canteen, you can eat in the canteen building itself. If you a bringing a packed lunch to school, there are a number of different places where you can eat – you don’t have to eat inside the canteen. There are a number of benches and tables available across the school site that you may use if you want to eat outside, and the Hall is available whenever the weather is wet.
Q: What should I do if my child wakes up on a school day and is too ill to attend school?
A: Please call our Absence Line (01622 656162) or email us to let us know. If your child is unwell for a number of consecutive days, too, please also call/email at the start of these days. As part of our rigorous safeguarding measures, we will contact you if we are expecting your child to be in school but they do not arrive.
Your child will need to bring a written absence note into school, stating the reason for absence, when they return to school. There are absence slips provided in your child’s planner, which can be detached from the planner and used for this purpose if you wish.
Q: Am I allowed to take my child out of school for a family holiday during term time?
A: We are not permitted to authorise absence from school for a family holiday, and we do pursue penalty notices for extended periods of absence. If you need to make an application for your child’s Leave of Absence for some other serious reason, please write formally to Mrs Hutchinson, providing as much information (and time) as you are able.
Q: When my child’s report is produced by Valley Park, how will I access it?
A: You will be allocated a secure login to our parent portal and, through this, you will be able to view your child’s assessment data and their attendance information. You will be receiving further information in due course.
Q: I follow the school’s Twitter and Facebook feeds for general information, and I keep an eye on the website, but how will the school write to me about, for example, trips and important information?
A: We will communicate formally with you via email, so please do ensure that you update us as soon as possible with any changes to your email address. We will write to notify you of any forthcoming school trips/activities and meetings, but also to send you updates about the school, or any community projects that you might be interested in.
Q: How do I pay for trips, a locker, etc whilst my child is at Valley Park?
A: Alongside your access to the parent portal, you will also be given access to our online payment system – WisePay – which will enable you to make payments to school via a credit/debit card (this means, of course, that your child also does not need to bring the cash into school).
Q: Will my child be involved in RSE (Relationships and Sex Education)?
A: The biological facts of Sex Education are delivered by the Science Department, who follow the National Curriculum. Relationships education is delivered across the curriculum and PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) is embedded in a range of different subject areas who deliver these topics in a variety of different ways. In addition to this, discrete PSHE focus days, assemblies and specialist workshops cover specific, age appropriate, sex and relationship education topics at least once a term.
The vast majority of parents are supportive of this important SRE programme. You do however have the right to withdraw your child from the Focus Day delivery of Sex and Relationships Education until they are 16 years old.
Q: Does Valley Park operate a rewards system?
A: Yes, and we are hoping to grow it further next year, too! We have an annual Certificate Presentation Evening for prize winners in each year group, and have just established a new programme of praise postcards (which have had to quickly become virtual postcards during the lockdown period!), to celebrate our students’ successes. Watch this space, because we are intending to establish some new awards starting next academic year…
Q: My child has to take medication during the school day. Can they keep it in their bag and self-administer?
A: No. If your child has to take regular medication, this should be clearly marked with their name and tutor group. Instructions for its use should be given to our Health and Welfare Manager, Mrs Jones, who will support as necessary. If your child becomes unwell during the school day, they should either speak to their class teacher or to a member of staff in the Student Hub, outside of lesson times. Minor injuries will be dealt with by our first-aiders; should a child require emergency treatment or need hospital attention, we will contact parents/carers as soon as possible – please do ensure that we are in possession of at least two up to date emergency contacts, therefore.
Q: What will happen if my child gets into trouble?
A: At Valley Park, we believe that every member of the school community has four rights, and these rights are non-negotiable – we are pretty sure that they are so fundamental that you will agree with them, too:
- Every teacher has the right to teach;
- Every student has the right to learn;
- Everyone has the right to safety;
- Everyone has the right to fair treatment.
When things go wrong, as they unfortunately sometimes do, you will expect the situation to be dealt with fairly and consistently, and that is what we always endeavour to do.
As with all policy documents, this will be updated for September 2020.
Q: How will my child become involved in school trips and visits?
A: The trip organiser for any trip to which your child is invited will write to you via our GroupCall email facility, to let you know the arrangements and any cost that is incurred. We will seek your consent for any emergency medical treatment that might be needed, including the administration of an anaesthetic.
Occasionally, we have the opportunity to take students on local visits, which would take place during the normal school day, would be subject to the required supervision by staff, and will generally be on foot or by minibus. We therefore seek your consent for local visits in advance, thereby avoiding the need for you to complete a consent form each time (for example, your child might visit Invicta Grammar School to participate in their locally-renowned Maths Challenge event). We will, of course, let you know if your child is going to be out of school.