The commitment to the pastoral care of our students begins when a place is offered and accepted. Each pupil will have a form tutor and junior forms also have sixth-form prefects who assist with the running of the tutor group.The Pastoral Care of each Year group is overseen by a Head of Year. The School child protection officer is the Headmaster (a copy of the Child Protection Policy can be viewed here)
The induction programme for Year 7 students is seen as a year-long process. It begins with the allocation of Forms.
Allocation of Forms
When the boys are allocated to Forms, 11+ scores are used to achieve an academic balance between the classes. Where there are a number of boys transferring from the same school, the Head of Year 7 seeks advice from year 6 teachers to ensure the division of boys across the Forms promotes the ‘best’ combination of personalities; there is a chance to consolidate relationships, make new friends and enjoy a new start.
As we believe that one of the major changes the boys have to face is travelling from home to school, groups of boys who travel from the same direction are placed in the same Form.
Each boy belongs to one of four Houses of Atwell, Hunt, Knott and Sebastian, in which he takes part in games and competitions. All boys wear uniform; in the Junior Years the coloured edging to a boy’s blazer indicates his House.
At the New Parents evening we encourage parents to identify, through tutors, those whose son(s) will have the same transport requirements. On the induction afternoon boys are encouraged to meet those boys and exchange phone numbers. This is regularly followed with get-togethers arranged by parents in the summer holiday preceding entry to Skinners’.
New Year 7 Parents’ Evening
In June there is a chance to introduce parents to the school and establish the first step towards the Home-School partnership. Parents also have the opportunity to talk to year 7 Form Tutors about concerns, additional educational needs or just to make reassuring contact. During the second term a Year 7 Parent/Tutor evening is organised. This is an early chance for parents to meet with form tutors to establish that a successful transition has been made to life at Skinners’.
Visiting Feeder Schools
As we have a large number of feeder schools (usually around 50) the Head of Year 7 visits as many boys as possible in the familiar surroundings of their primary schools. Visits usually last one hour, during which time the boys can ask any questions about Skinners’ and we can gather useful information from the year 6 class teachers to help us build on the success of the primary years.
Induction afternoons take place in July. Boys are invited to attend one of these afternoons. The support of 6th Formers is used to guide the new boys round the site and talk them through life at Skinners’ with the emphasis on answering any questions from a student’s perspective. The boys meet their new Form Tutors. Apart from familiarisation with the school the most important purpose of this afternoon is to introduce the boys to each other.
Before the Autumn term officially begins, the year 7 boys spend a ‘normal’ day in school. This introduces them in a more formal way to life at Skinners’. They are able to experience registration, assembly, break and lunch-time arrangements, plus two lessons and a games’ afternoon, all without the additional pressure of the rest of the students on site. Form Prefects help the boys to feel comfortable during the day and to feel part of their new community. Mr Johnson, The Head of Year 7 is also introducing (safe) social networking 'Connect' into the the range of transition activities.
Junior Form Prefects and Mentoring
The role of Form Prefect is a key one in ensuring the junior boys settle happily in the early weeks. In the following months the perceptive observations of the Prefects often alert tutors to concerns before they become problems. Parents, staff and boys acknowledge that our Prefects are a credit to the school, each bringing a unique contribution to the role. (The thoughtful and imaginative choice of leaving gifts from boys to ‘retiring’ Form Prefects speak volumes about how they are valued!)
The level of commitment of the older boys is a notable strength in our school. Each year lower sixth form volunteers follow an intensive programme to train as mentors.