Top Tips for Starting at the Academy

Biggest Concerns

Starting a new school is a major event for both students and parents.  Below we have put together some top tips to make sure students have the best start. It is natural to worry but remember you are part of a community all going through the same experience along with thousands of parents and students across the country.

Children’s top 10 worries about starting secondary school

  • Being bullied
  • Not making friends
  • Getting lost
  • Homework
  • Not being able to do the work
  • Getting to school and back (especially if it involves a bus journey)
  • Not having the right books and equipment
  • Not knowing what to do if there’s a problem
  • Not getting on with the teachers
  • Getting into trouble

At WBCA we have taken away some of the top worries. There are no older students, it’s a small Academy being built in two phases so it should be hard to get lost and students will have 4 or 5 teachers rather than 12 or 13.

Here are some of our top tips to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Travel

One major difference is travel.  Your child may be travelling further, on their own for the first time or on public transport.

  • Make sure you have tested the journey beforehand, several times if needed.
  • Note the differences between traffic in the holidays and at peak drop off.
  • If your child is walking, is there a friend from the same primary school they can walk with?
  • If taking the bus, are you going to use a bus pass or cash?
  • What time does your child need to leave in the morning?
  • How is your child getting back and do they need a key to your house?
  • Smartphones are banned at the Academy: if you are worried about the journey invest in the cheapest pay as you go phone with £5 of credit for an emergency

Experience shows large numbers of parents dropping students off in the first week or so and this tends to tail off as students find friends they want to travel to school with. Don’t besurprised if you get a request to drop off round the corner!

Morning Routine

  • Plan backwards from the latest time to leave the house.
  • Think about the morning: shower now or at night, make the lunch now or beforehand? When will your child be responsible for making their own lunch?
  • Make sure your child has enough sleep, especially when moving back to term time from the holidays. As puberty hits it is not uncommon for children to want to sleep more and it may be harder for them to get up in the morning.
  • Make sure that consoles and phones are not in bedrooms overnight to ensure a good night’s sleep. It is not uncommon to see a student about to fall asleep in class because they were up at 2:00am on phones or the latest games.

Encourage Independence

Good advice is that great parenting is about making your child completely independent of you.

  • Make sure your child can tie their shoes and tie.
  • Make sure they know the uniform rules.
  • Make it their job to know when they need their PE kit or swimming kit or musical instrument.
  • If necessary, make a plan and put it on the fridge for your child to follow. Better still, get them to make the plan.
  • Have your child pack their own bag the night before which discourages last minute flapping about looking for lost items.

Be Organised

  • Get a copy of your child’s timetable; we will provide a spare. Keep this on display so that you and your child can refer to it.
  • Encourage your child to learn what lessons they have on which days so that they can become independent.
  • Persuade your child to wear a watch.

Homework

  • Agree a routine for homework with your child. Life can become a constant nag if you don’t start this from the beginning. Homework becomes an increasingly important part of the curriculum as your child progresses through the Academy.
  • A good time for homework is after a short break when your child returns from the Academy; the worst time is 8:00pm when they suddenly ‘remember they have this’.
  • Have a quiet space away from the TV and a phone where homework can be completed. If students say that they need their phone for music or study, it’s probably more of a distraction.
  • Spend time with your child in the first few weeks, establishing a routine.
  • Don’t let children struggle for longer than the recommended time. If they cannot do the work please mark it in their planner and let us know how long they tried and ideally what they found hard.

Friendship and Falling Out

Starting a new school can be daunting and you may worry about your child making friends, but remember that everyone is going through the same experience and teachers are monitoring and making sure students are not left out.

It is inevitable at some point children fall out with each other and it usually blows over. If you feel that things have gone too far please speak to us at the Academy. Certainly speak to us if there is any hint of bullying or your child is unhappy or depressed.

One of the differences in today’s schooling is social media. Things which used to calm down can be escalated by more and more people jumping in and stirring the pot. Make sure you are aware of your child’s social media activity and where appropriate have time without phones and screens.

Name Things

Losing uniform, PE kit, pencil cases and bags can be an expensive business, so invest in a sharpie and some name tags and make sure that everything your child is taking to the Academy is named.

Communicate with Us

Most importantly, communicate with us. Let us know if there are problems and ask if there are questions. We want the best for your child and all the students at the Academy and will plan, mediate, counsel and work to find solutions.

If your child is struggling, is getting too much / not enough homework, is unhappy or confused, has an issue with another child or any other issue you can communicate with us via Reception, a note in a planner or by email. If we are not made aware of any issues, there is nothing we can do; you are best placed to tell us about your child’s needs.