What are you doing to help with Transition this year?
Our normal transition programme cannot take place this year. Normally we would have visited Year 6 students’ primary schools and met all the parents through a series of meetings.
While this sort of provision is not possible at present (see Government regulations here - Section 11), we are determined to implement a highly effective transition programme for this year, which will help to support all the future students in this exciting stage of their educational journey.
As part of this, our headteacher Mr Scott-Evans has prepared this short video:
Other teachers have introduced themselves here:
There is also a virtual tour of the school here with Mr Pethers (Head of Year 7) and Mr Shields (Assistant Head - Pastoral):
We contacting primary school headteachers about how best for us to make contact with students in their current schools; we have offered phone calls or video conference calls with staff and students. We are also being allowed to visit some schools.
Our 'Family Handbook' is being updated. This valuable resource is sent out to all families every year and will be sent to all Year 6 families nearer to September.
What are the timings of the school day?
Most students arrive in school between 8.00am and 8.15am. This is in plenty of time to catch up with friends and get ready for the school day starting.
Period 1 starts at 8.30am, so it is important that you are in school and organised by 8:25am.
We have 6 lessons each day, which last 50 minutes each. A few of your subjects will be double lessons.
Morning break is 25 minutes and lunch is 55 minutes.
Tutor time is always after break and this last for 25 minutes.
The school day finishes at 3:10, but many students stay on site to attend one of our extra curricular clubs.
One of the most important decisions now is to decide about your Modern Foreign Language choice. All Year 7s will have to choose to study either Mandarin or Spanish before joining the school.
We have written to parents about choosing either Spanish or Mandarin as a Modern Foreign Language to study. A video from our Head of Mandarin, Mrs Zhao is here:
There is a video here from one of our Mandarin Teachers, Mrs Zhang, giving a demo of a Chinese Lesson.
And one from Mr Scott-Evans about Modern Foreign Languages here:
Parents need to tell us if they wish their child to be considered for the Mandarin Excellence Programme by completing the form here. If they wish their child to do Spanish they do not need to do anything.
If you are not sure about Chinese Mandarin, perhaps these videos made by some of our current Year 7 families may help you...
Remember, these students have no one at home to help them with Mandarin. All that they learn is learned at school. They will become fluent in Mandarin. All they have to do is stick with the teachers and follow the programme. If you are thinking about Mandarin, fill in the form here. Remember spaces are limited to 30. Further examples of how effective the Mandarin Excellence Programme is in supporting students in learning Chinese is found here.
What will happen on my first day?
You may be worried as moving to Secondary School is a big change, we are here to help! Mr Pethers and Mr Shields have some shared information here to let you know what to expect on your first day in September.
What happens during tutor time?
This is your opportunity to see your form tutor and the rest of your tutor group every day. You will take part in structured activities which will include times of worship, independent reading and group discussions. These will give you plenty of opportunities to get to know your tutor group well. Your tutor group is also your house.
Will it be easy to make new friends?
Secondary school is a great opportunity to make new friends! We know that the idea of meeting new people will make some of you feel a little nervous, but try not to worry. We will help to make this part as easy as possible for you.
Your first few days will be spent doing activities that allow you to get to know each other. Within a day or two you will all have made new friends and you will have forgotten about any nerves that you had.
Lots of our students come on their own from their primary school (we have over 40 feeder schools!) and so a lot of students are coming looking to make new friends.
What happens if I get lost?
Firstly, do not worry about this happening. It is unlikely that you will get lost because we arrange for older students to help show you around for your first few days. After this, you only need to ask if you are unsure of where to go. Remember, you are joining a community of other students who all remember what it was like to start secondary school. Staff and students are all happy to help! You can spot Sixth Formers easily as they wear a different uniform - they are very keen to assist you and will go out of their way to take you to wherever you need to go.
Our virtual tour video will be available soon and it will help you learn which building is which and how to find your way.
What ICT will I be using?
We use a number of different online learning platforms, all of which we will explain to you in person.
We always set homework online through Satchel One - Show My Homework, which helps to make it easier for you to manage your time. Some departments use different online platforms for working in lessons and for completing homework. For example, Mathematics use a site called 'Maths Watch', while Spanish use 'Active Learn'.
You can learn a little more about how you will use ICT by clicking on the link here. However, do not worry about this, as we will explain it all to you in September!
How much homework will I get?
This will vary a little; you will have some homework to do most evenings. We ask your teachers to set homework that lasts around 30 minutes and you will have around 2-3 pieces to do most nights. You will also be encouraged to keep reading regularly.
We have a homework club at school every night from 3:15pm-4.15pm. Everyone is welcome to attend! You will find students there from across the year groups and they can help you with anything that you are stuck on. There are also teachers available each night to assist.
What happens if I miss the bus or if I am late to school?
Hopefully, you will have the chance to practise your route to school before September. If possible, try to arrange to meet a friend and do the journey with them on your first day. If you do not know anyone who is travelling from your area, please contact us and we will see if we can suggest someone who lives near you. Our older students love to mentor younger ones in these things!
If you are late into school, you will be asked to sign in at reception and then you will go to your first lesson. Just explain why you were late. It may be that you have a detention on the same day at lunchtime. However, if your parents call in to tell us that there has been a problem, you will only be spoken to very briefly at lunchtime and it will not count as a detention. It is only a long detention if there is no good reason to be late.
What do I do if I am worried about something?
We know that coming to secondary school can be daunting, as well as exciting! It is important that you know who to talk to if you have any worries in September.
Your form tutor will almost always be your first point of contact, as you will see them everyday during tutor time.
You will also have a Head of Year, Mr Pethers. Mr Pethers used to be a Primary School teacher and he knows all about the transition from Year 6 into Year 7. He will be spending a great deal of time getting to know all of you and in supporting with any issues that arise both at the beginning and throughout the year. Your form tutor and your Head of Year will be two of the members of staff that you get to know very quickly.
We also have 'Confide' post boxes around the school where you can write a message asking for help with something. The same system exists on the computers on on our website. You can see the system here. Students can write a message to any member of staff they want!
What clubs are there?
In September, we will publish a timetable of all our clubs. You will be welcome to attend any of them; they are nearly all completely free! We like to challenge all Year 7 students to try at least one club within the first couple of weeks of term. The best thing is to follow your own interests rather than wait to see what your new acquaintances are doing. Everyone ends up just watching everyone else and not making a move. Go to a club that interests you - you will find friends there.
All departments within the school will offer a club, while others like PE will offer many clubs.
After school clubs run from around 3.15pm-4.15pm. Others run at lunchtimes. Some run before school. It will all be clear on the timetable and your tutor will talk you through it as well.
What is the Headteacher’s Challenge?
You can find the Headteacher's Challenge here. This is the challenge our Head Teacher sets to all Year 6 students coming to Becket Keys each year. This year, we are hoping that families will take an even more active role than usual in attempting it. Although students are asked to complete as many challenges as possible, it is not a competition – we hope that all will try a few of the activities and that they may give you some things to keep them occupied between now and the end of the summer holiday. I would really like it if families could send us pictures of their progress on Twitter: @BecketKeys or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I ask a question?
We want to start answering any questions that families might have. We have set up an email address for everyone to use for this: email@example.com
We will feature your questions here so that everyone can benefit. If you want to, you could record your question as a video clip – we will feature you in one of our films. If you do this, please record the clip in landscape view and send it to us as an attachment to an email or using ‘WeTransfer’ and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want an individual response please include your email or a telephone number.
Here are the answers to some questions we have received:
What individual extra-curricular instrumental lessons are facilitated at Becket Keys?
We offer 1:1 tuition on guitar, bass guitar, drums, piano/keyboard, singing, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, flute, violin and cello. When we meet you in September the Music Department will put you in contact with the music tutor of your chosen instrument, they will then contact you to discuss cost and timings. Lessons take place during the school week using a rotating timetable to avoid missing the same class lesson each week.
Mr Romhany - Director of Music
Is there a list of stationery/equipment needed?
A full list of the equipment you require is here.The calculator can be purchased from the school at a later date.
Are there lockers available for the students to use?
As you saw during the virtual tour we do have lockers throughout the school and they are available to all students at a cost of £16.50 per year. You will need to provide your own padlock and all items must be removed at the end of each term and left open so that they can be cleaned. More details about how to book a locker will be sent out later this term.
The Admin Team
Can we borrow books from the library as often as we want?
Our library is well stocked with a real mixture of books. It was renovated last year and is a place many of our students really enjoy visiting. The books are readily available for students to read during the day or you can borrow them for a few days to read at home. Our library is run by our students and we are always looking for more volunteers to support with this.
Charlie wanted to know:
How many friends will I be put with in my form? How are we going to communicate which friends we would like to be with?
Many thanks for your question Charlie. We are yet to decide the forms yet. I am meeting with Year 6 teachers from all of our feeder schools over the next few weeks to discuss every student joining us and their personality. This will allow me to arrange the form groups before the summer. Do you think your teacher will know who you would want to be in a form group with?
We like to provide the opportunity for you to ‘spread your wings’ a little, too. It’s great to meet new people and this is something the school also take into account when arranging the form groups. We also take a number of things into consideration when setting forms; gender, attainment and location to name a few!
Mr Pethers - Head of Year 7 and Year 8
Amber and her Mum have enjoyed the MEP videos (see above) and were interested to discover that part of the programme was understanding the Chinese culture. They wondered how the programme would be adapted in light of Covid-19 as trips to Chinatown and indeed China itself would probably not be possible.
Mrs Zhao the Head of the Mandarin Department responded:
With regards to the culture delivery, each week the MEP students will have a lunch time club where they can learn and discuss the different aspects of Chinese culture. In this session, the students will also be able to try some hands-on activities such as calligraphy, Peking opera face mask painting, blowing a picture of Chinese plum etc. In addition to that, the school organise a Chinese day near the Chinese New Year. On this day all Year 7 students will have a cultural emersion day, when they will take part in different workshops hosted by external experts as well as our staff, and they can experience many aspects of Chinese culture.
The Mandarin department works closely with Food Technology, Art, DT and Music departments as there will be activities, like cooking stir-fry, making Chinese dumplings, and Chinese traditional pattern design. The students would also be able to make a Chinese character ornament in DT and learn words when playing ping-pong on the playground.
We will endeavour to arrange the local trips as planned, however, this would obviously be dependent upon the Covid-19 situation. The trip to China is organised by the British Council and Institute of Education and is planned to take place at the end of Year 8, so this will be in 2022 for the current cohort, so there is a high chance the group will be able to go to China. However, the school will look at the situation carefully and advise parents at that time.
Some more answers to your questions here:
Ellie and her Mum were interested in knowing when and how a school calculator could be purchased.
Mrs Blacow the Head of the Mathematics Department has the answer here:
Calculators can be ordered from the school office. They cost £11.00 each. Please let us know that you would like to purchase one.
Will there be a Bible study club?
Absolutely! Last year we ran two bible study groups, one led by one of our Assistant Headteachers, Mr Fenn. The other was held once a week and run by Ben, a volunteer from Sawyers Hall church. We intend to run these again next year.
Mr Pethers - Head of Year 7 & 8
Where do we go at break and lunchtimes when it is wet?
If it is raining, some students like to take shelter in some of the covered outdoor spaces. Alternatively, students can socialise in the Bistro, Orangery or Café. The Library and some ICT rooms are also opened, but students must eat their lunch before moving into these areas.
Chloe wanted to know what Year 7 would be studying in their Science classes next year. Miss Brown responded:
Some students are worried about the different buildings on the school site. If you would like to familiarise yourselves with the layout and names of the school buildings you can find a map of the school here.