Please find below responses to some frequently asked questions.
If you have another question that you feel should be added here, please let us know.
How can I find out how my child is doing?
Come and speak to your child’s class teacher. Teachers are usually available after school (once they have dismissed the children in their class). If you just want a short update they will be able to see you then. If they cannot speak to you then they will make an appointment to meet you at another time. If you cannot make it into school, please telephone the school office and ask to speak to the teacher. If they are teaching they probably won’t be able to speak to you but will ring you back as soon as they can.
When can we view our childrens’ books? Are there particular sessions during the year for this, e.g. parent/teacher meetings?
Children’s books can be seen during the two formal parents’ evenings – one in the autumn and one in the spring term. Teachers don’t normally send class books home as sometimes they are mislaid, but you can also make an appointment to speak your child’s class teacher to discuss their work and view their books.
When I ask my child what they have learned at school each day they say “I can’t remember” – where can I see the class timetable?
It is not at all uncommon for children not to want to (or be able to) share what they have done at school with their parents when they get home. Please do not think that this means that they have not been learning at school. This is quite the opposite in fact! The school day is so buy that sometimes children cannot always remember everything that they have done, especially if they are very little. Asking them to go through the whole day to remember what they have learnt can be a little overwhelming. Try to ask them something specific such as: ‘What did you learn in your maths lesson?’ or something general such as: ‘What was the best thing about school today?’ Class timetables can be found on the website, on your child’s Class Page.
What is the point of homework for primary school children?
At St Mary’s, we believe homework is important. Teachers use homework to reinforce skills and enhance understanding of concepts taught in class. Homework is often an extension of the lesson or it can be something for the children to practice, such as multiplication tables or spellings. Homework reinforces good habits such as working independently, laying out work neatly and being organised, and is excellent preparation for secondary school.
Should I help my child with their homework?
This really depends on the age of the child and what the homework is. For younger children, we ask that you help your child by listening to them read regularly – every day if possible. You can help them by talking about the book they are reading or by helping them with any sounds or words they may be finding difficult. For older children, homework should be something that your child can do on their own. Once your child has completed their homework, you can help by checking it over and maybe providing some support to correct or improve what they have done.
How much homework will my child get?
The amount of homework your child receives will depend on which year group they are in. Reading, phonic sounds and sight words are types of homework given in Reception Class and Year 1. In Year 1 children may also have spellings to learn each week and some writing or maths work to complete. In Year 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, homework will be given on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday and will consist of a piece for English and for maths. Your child’s teacher may give homework in another subject on occasions. Each piece of homework should not really take much longer than twenty five minutes. If you find that your child is taking a long time on their homework or if they are finding it too difficult, please speak to your child’s teacher.
When and how will my child get feedback on their homework?
This again depends on the homework. Homework will usually be marked by the teacher and handed back to the child. Sometimes the teacher might speak to children individually about how they have done. For homework such as spellings, children will know their tests scores on the day and so should be able to share this with you at home.
When does the school publish the SATS results?
The school receives the results to KS2 SATs test from the government in mid July. Test results and Teacher Assessments are shared with parents of children in Year 6 and Year 2 in the July Annual Report of their child’s progress. As soon as results are received and confirmed we add then to the school website. However in July, we do not receive results of any appeals we might make, results of higher grades or standards or any comparison with Lambeth or National results. That is why we then update the information about SATs results in the following autumn term.
The government releases the KS2 SATs results in public league tables in mid December.
What are the milestones in British school education in primary schools? I have heard about SATS but are there any other exams?
The first milestone is at the end of the Early Years i.e. Reception. At the end of the Reception year, teachers assess the children according to the Early Years Framework. Parents will receive information about how their child has achieved against each of the areas assessed.
In Year 1, children are tested on their knowledge of phonics. This is called the Phonics Screening Check. Children are tested individually against a list of forty words – some of them pseudo (made up) words. Parents will be informed about whether their child has passed this check. If a child does not pass the check in Year 1, they will be supported and tested again in Year 2.
In Year 2, teachers are asked to formally assess each pupil in the core areas of reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers will use their own knowledge of the children’s ability; supported by tests the government send to schools, to determine a Teacher Assessment for each child in each area.
In the academic year 2019/2020, the government aim to bring in a multiplication test for Year 4 children. We will let you know more about this when we are informed.
At the end of Year 6, every child undertakes a series of government tests in mathematics, reading and spelling, punctuation and grammar (known as GPVS or SPAG). These tests are sent away to be marked and results returned to the school in July. Writing is not tested but teachers must make a judgement about each child’s writing ability to report as a Teacher Assessment. Parents will receive information about how their child has done and whether they have met the government’s expected standard.
What is “test week”?
Children are formally tested at St Mary’s at the end of each term apart from Year 6 children who are formally tested each half term. This is in addition to any smaller tests or assessments undertaken throughout the term, at the end of each topic for example. Testing will be in reading, maths and science. A writing assessment will also be undertaken. These formal tests help the teachers to see how well the children are doing and what additional support is needed for everyone. They help the school to see the attainment and progress of children across the year.
What music lessons are available?
Every child has a timetabled music lesson each week with a specialist music teacher. We also offer children the opportunity to be part of one of our three choirs. Every Year 3 child is given recorder, a music book and a year of free music instrumental tuition. Alongside this provision, we have a number of peripatetic music teachers who support children to learn musical instruments during the school day and the cost for this is borne by parents. Once a child has mastered the basics they may be invited to join our orchestra or one of our ensemble groups.
Do you have an information meeting for parents to discuss the process of choosing an instrument?
The Music Coordinator holds a meeting at the beginning of the academic year to inform parents about the music instruments and lessons available, how much these might cost and the process for participating. Some of the peripatetic teachers who teach music at St Mary’s may come along to the meetings to demonstrate and talk about their instrument.
How will I know if my child is eligible for Free School Meals?
Please telephone and ask to speak to Mrs O’Sullivan about this. She will tell you what you will need in order to be eligible and what you have to do next. The school receives extra funding for children in receipt of Free School Meals so [please do enquire even if your child is in years Reception to Year 2 and you don’t currently have to pay.
What does SEND stand for?
SEND stands for special educational needs and disabilities.
I think my child is struggling with some lessons. What should I do?
If you have a concern about how your child is getting long at school you should make an appointment with their class teacher. They will talk with you about how well your child is doing and how they are being supported in school. They may give you some ideas about how you can help your child too. They may make an appointment for you to meet with the school’s Inclusion Manager. She will talk to you about other support that may be available for your child.
My child has special educational needs. Who can I discuss this with?
You should make an appointment to discuss your child’s needs with your child’s teacher and Miss Doody, our Inclusion Manager.
My child is dyslexic. How will they be supported?
At St Mary’s we aim to support every child. Please speak with the class teacher in the first instance if you have any concerns about your child. They may then direct you to Miss Doody, our Inclusion Manager for further support.
I think my child might be gifted or talented in a particular subject or area. Who can I talk to about helping them further develop their talents?
You should talk to your child’s teacher who may make an appointment to see one of our curriculum leaders or to speak to Miss Doody, our Inclusion Manager.
English isn’t my first language. Is there anyone at school who could help me better communicate with my child’s teacher?
Your child’s class teacher will invite another member of staff to come along for a meeting with you if you do not speak English as your first language. We have staff who speak a range of languages including: Spanish, French, Polish, Portuguese and German. If there is not a member of staff who can help we can always speak to the Local Authority to arrange a translator.
What does EAL stand for?
EAL stands for English as an additional language.
Are there any recommendations for good methods to help support my child at home in reading, writing and maths?
There are many ways that you can support your child’s education. In the first instance, please speak to your child’s teacher for more information. You can also speak to one of the curriculum leads, one of the Senior Leaders or to the Headteacher.
Can I email my child’s teacher?
Yes - you can email your child’s teacher by using the office email. This will be forwarded to the teacher. We do not give out individual teachers email addresses.
The school office email is: www.st-marys.lambeth.sch.uk
Is St Mary’s on twitter?
We are not currently on twitter.
What charities does St Mary’s support?
St Mary’s supports a range of charities. During harvest time we raise money for CAFOD and collect goods for The Ace of Clubs. We also collect Christmas gift boxes to send to families in Eastern Europe. At Christmas time we raise money for CRISIS at Christmas and our local Ace of Clubs charity.
During Lent we raise money for charities connected to the Redemptorist order – our priests at St Mary’s. This has included the school in Zimbabwe and in Albania. In Lent we often choose another charity to support – for example Mary’s Meals who supply meals for children in the UK.
When do we need to pay for school meals? How do we pay for school meals?
Children in the infants – Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 – are currently entitled to a free school meal paid for by the government. Parents of children in all other year groups must pay in advance for school lunch. Parents are asked to pay for school lunch through the Parent Pay website. Parents will receive login details in order to access their account. Some parents may be eligible to receive help paying for school lunch. Parents should ask to speak to Mrs O’Sullivan in the office if they need help with this.
Sickness – is there a way of reporting sickness of a child online or via an email?
Currently all sickness absence should be reported by telephoning the school office. You can leave a message on the answer machine if there is no one to take your call. If you wish to go into more depth about why your child is absent then you could email Mrs O’Sullivan on the school email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you found these responses useful.