In September 2020 Wellingborough School introduced its Year 7 and 8 pupils to the Senior School as part of a whole school structural change. Joanne James, Head of Year 7 and Joseph Ramsden, Head of Year 8, gave their thoughts on how the first few months have gone.
Years 7 & 8 were formerly part of the Prep School, why the change?
JJ & JR: The key outcome in moving Years 7 and 8 to the Senior School is improving the school’s ability to oversee the pupils’ learning journey as they approach the important GCSE years. With GCSE courses now approaching three years in length, this has become an even bigger priority.
How has the new structure been received and how have the pupils settled in?
JJ: I have been very impressed by how all the pupils, both those who are new to the school and those who came from the Prep School, have embraced this academic year and settled with relative ease.
JR: One of the best things about Year 8 pupils’ arrival into the Senior School has been the fact that they now have a dedicated environment of their own. This has allowed Year 8 pupils a base, a hub to interact with friends and a place for tutors, and me as Head of Year, to monitor them pastorally.
How do your roles add to the overall experience of the pupil?
JJ: Starting secondary school is a huge milestone. My role, along with tutors, is to ensure that pupils feel fully supported in their time in Year 7. I am here to support and nurture them to adapt to life in a much larger environment and to encourage the life skills which they will develop throughout their time at Wellingborough School.
JR: My role, ultimately, is to keep Year 8 pupils healthy, happy and safe. I try to interact with every pupil in the year group at least once a day, asking them how they are getting on. Whether they need my help with friendship issues or to take a pair of bolt-cutters to a misbehaving padlock, together we will sort them out.
What is the most enjoyable part of your new roles?
JJ: The daily interaction with the pupils is without a doubt my favourite part of this role. Whether it be helping pupils to locate missing items of their games kit or trying to decipher a code for a locker – there is never a dull moment!
JR: The most enjoyable part of my role is the day-to-day interaction that I have with pupils. One of the first items we had installed was a table tennis table and it’s great to see the enjoyment pupils get out of this. I have even been known to get involved myself and, on rare occasions, I even let them win a point or two.
What makes Year 7 and 8 at Wellingborough different from other schools?
JR & JJ: Wellingborough School prides itself on academic, artistic and sporting excellence, underpinned by committed pastoral care. At the heart of the pastoral care system are the Houses. Pupils are affiliated to one of seven Houses in Year 7 and 8 and participate in all major House activities.
How has the school coped with remote learning?
JR: Wellingborough was very well prepared for remote learning. We already use a platform that teachers, pupils and parents have access to, and where homework is set for pupils. It was not a giant leap to organise remote learning through it: setting tasks, uploading resources and communicating with pupils.
Aside from the academic curriculum, what extra activities are on offer?
JJ: Wellingborough has a vast co-curricular programme which includes opportunities to get involved in music ensembles, drama productions and sports teams as well as multiple enrichment activities during lunchtimes.
What support is in place to help new pupils joining the school?
JR: This year, there have been many new starters both in September and since then. We recognise that this transition can be difficult and based on information from new pupils’ previous schools and parents, we assign each new starter a ‘buddy’. Buddies help new pupils to find their feet, introduce them to new friends, show them where their lessons are and everything in between.
Can pupils start at any time of year if space is available?
JJ & JR: Although entrance examinations for Year 7 and 8 predominantly take place in January (for the next academic year), we welcome in-term admissions throughout the year, space permitting.
Register for Wellingborough School’s virtual open event on Saturday March 6. To find out more about Wellingborough School and its wealth of opportunities, visit www.wellingboroughschool.org/open-events.