Prep School Parents Information
To help you and your child settle easily at Downsend School main here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
Each child has a Form Tutor whom they see every day. The day begins at 8.30 am with a short form time during which registration for the day occurs. Once a week, each class has an extended form period in which to raise all manner of issues and discuss achievements, concerns and current problems. Your child will develop a close relationship with their Form Tutor very quickly, and should naturally turn to this person whenever they need help.
In Years 2 & 3, the children also have Teaching Assistants working with them. Teaching Assistants are particularly hands-on at playtimes and in the dining room, and again these are people to whom the children will naturally turn. In addition, both the Heads of Lower School and Upper School and the Headmaster are readily available and approachable at all times.
The school opens at 8.00 am. From this point all Lower School children can choose whether to play indoors or outdoors. Year 2 children are allowed to go to their classrooms, where they are supervised while they play quietly. Children in Years 3, 4 & 5 go to the Peterborough Hall to play. Upper School children are supervised outside, unless it is raining when they are supervised in their form rooms.
All children make their way to their classrooms at 8.30 am ready for the start of the school day.
Registers stay open until 8.45.
Playtime is well supervised by Teachers and Teaching Assistants. All children are allowed to bring in a healthy snack (a carton of juice and a piece of fruit or plain biscuit). Year 2 children are provided with a carton of milk (optional) and a biscuit each day.
In the Lower School, playtime is kept as relaxing and fun as possible as it can sometimes be a confusing time for young children. A variety of toys are provided for the children to play with, and the playgrounds are divided into specific zones.
There is a gentle play area (with houses, sandpits and a climbing frame), a football area, an imaginative play area (for chasing games and other imaginative play), a climbing trail playground and a quiet area (with benches for seating and magnetic wall games). The children are also encouraged to bring in a small toy.
In the Upper School, pupils have a choice as to whether they play outside on the tennis courts (or on the fields in the summertime). Pupils may also choose to use the ICT suite for work or play. Students can also use the well stocked library to read, listen to story books or catch up on work; there are Junior newspapers available for students to keep abreast of current affairs.
The Year 8 students have the additional privilege of a Common Room where they can watch TV and talk with their friends.
The lunchtime menu at Downsend is varied and well-balanced. There is a choice of a hot meal, including a vegetarian alternative, pasta, baguettes, jacket potatoes, a pudding, a salad bar and a fresh fruit bar.
In the Lower School, the younger children will have a copy of the school menu sent home each term so that you can discuss with your child what they might choose to have each day. The menu for the term is also on the school website.
The Form Teachers and Teaching Assistants go through the choices with the children each day, to help them choose a balanced meal and one which they are confident they will enjoy. Teaching Assistants supervise the dining room and always help those children who need extra support making their choices.
In the Upper School, the children are encouraged to choose a balanced meal for themselves and are also expected to clear away their lunch things.
Upper school students are expected to clean up any mess that they make before leaving the Dining Hall.
There is plenty of flexibility for remaining in school after the school day finishes. To tie in with the Upper School finishing times, each year group in the Lower School runs a complimentary After-School Class, from 3.30 – 4.10 pm, from which parents are welcome to collect at any time.
Clubs in the Lower School tend to run from 3.30 – 4.30 pm and from 4.20 – 5.20 pm in the Upper School. From 4.10 – 5.45 pm, the school’s Extended Day programme is available for a small extra charge. This is something you can use as frequently as you wish to.
If you are running late to collect your child, simply call the school and we will arrange for your child to be looked after in After-School Class and Extended Day, as appropriate. If somebody else will be collecting your child, please notify the school, so we know who to expect.
Your child will need their games kit, swimming kit and trainers (indoor and outdoor) in school each day. All children are encouraged to bring in a healthy snack. In the Lower School book bag, each child will need their reading book, any school work, and a pencil case.
In the Upper School, they are expected to have the necessary text and exercise books for each day’s timetable and a pencil case. Each pencil case should contain basic stationery including pencils, rubber, colouring pencils, ruler, sharpener, glue stick and scissors. In the Upper School, they will also require blue ink pens and a protractor.
If your child is unwell and unable to come to school, please telephone the school on the first day of absence before 8.30 am and send in a note of explanation to the Form Tutor on return to school. If your child is taken ill while they are at school, the school nurse will contact you to arrange collection. If your child is unwell in the morning, please do not send them to school in the hope that they will get better.
We are always happy to talk to parents about any particular worries or concerns. The first port of call should always be your child’s Form Tutor. This is the person who will know them best and will see them most frequently. The Form Teacher is available before and after school for informal chats, or to make appointments for a more formal discussion.
The next person to contact is the Head of Year. The staff from each year group meet weekly to discuss academic and social issues, and so the Heads of Year tend to be very well informed as to current issues. For subject specific concerns, the subject teacher is best placed to advise. Following initial contact with the subject teacher, the Head of Department can then be contacted regarding academic matters. The Heads of Lower and Upper School are always happy to talk to parents about their concerns.