Q. How are places allocated at Southborough? How do I apply?
The school admissions criteria states that the children will be allocated a place in the following order
We are a voluntary controlled Church of England Primary School and although this means we are a Church school, attendance and faith preference are not taken into account, we are an inclusive school and welcome all pupils whatever their faith.
Further details about how to apply, admission processes and how school places are allocated are found on the admissions page of Kent County Council website.
Q. What is the catchment area for the school?
Our school is frequently oversubscribed and we receive many applications. However, we do not have a fixed ‘catchment area’ – the distance of the last place offered varies from year to year and the number of ‘distance’ places depends on the number of siblings in any one year which again varies significantly.
For example places offered for admission in September 2019 the distance range from 1st place – last place offered was 0.06-0.93 and in September 2020 this range was 0.06-2.19
We always encourage everyone who would like their child to come to Southborough to apply and not be put off by a ‘catchment area’ myth as in some years we have been able to offer children a place who live significantly further than 2 miles away.
Q. How are the Reception classes organised?
Each year group consists of three classes with a maximum of 30 children in each. After you have been offered a place at Southborough, we will review all of those offered a place and allocate them one class. We do this by looking at the range of birthdays, gender and any other information we know about the child, such as any particular needs. This helps us in allocating classes. We aim to have an equal mix of ages, gender and needs in each class. Once children have been allocated into the three classes, they stay as a class for their reception year although will learn, play and mix with children from the other two Reception classes. Towards the end of Reception year we decide whether to re-arrange the children into 3 new classes from Year 1 depending on whether, having got to know the children during their Reception Year, we feel the balance of the classes is the best it can be.
Once we have discussed and finalised the structure of the 3 classes going into Year 1, then the children will stay within these classes for the rest of their years at Southborough. If we do decide to mix them ahead of their transition to Year 1, we ensure they still have friends in their ‘new’ class and for the last few weeks of the Reception Summer term children would be placed in their ‘new’ classes. There are no settling issues with rearranging the children as all Reception classes have mixed with each other inside and outside from when they first start.
Q. Can I request that my child is placed in the same class as his/her friend from their Nursery?
I’m afraid we cannot accept requests as this would make the allocation too difficult. Please be reassured that, as all 3 classes mix with each other throughout the day, there will be plenty of opportunities for your child to learn and play with their friends from Nursery.
Q. How do you allocate classes for twins or triplets?
We do not have a policy on keeping twins or triplets together or separating them. That is very much an individual choice which we would discuss with you as you know best whether they are more likely to thrive being together in the same class or being in different classes. A three form entry school is able to offer a lot of flexibility around these type of situations.
Q. How will my child be supported if they have any additional or medical needs?
We are an inclusive school and welcome children who have any additional and medical needs. Additional and medical needs may mean your child needs more learning and medical help and our Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) would work closely with you and their class teacher (and any other agencies and their Nursery) in your child’s transition and support their provision at Southborough. Your child may also have additional needs because of particularly high ability in certain areas and again the class teacher would liaise with the SENCo and Early Years lead in ensuring their provision matches their ability.
Q. What is the transition process?
The ‘typical’ transition process for Southborough is as follows:
Once we know which pre-schools children currently attend, we start to contact and visit them where we can. This is to support class allocation and to find out more about each child from their current setting.
There are usually ‘stay and play’ sessions in July for each half of the class. They are one hour and allow the children to meet the staff as well as exploring their environment.
During the first week of term, staff from each class arrange either virtual or actual home visits to those families new to our school. These are an opportunity for children to meet and remember their class adults in a known environment. For our other new Reception children who have siblings in school, we arrange in school or virtual consultations. Home visits and consultations enable us to find out more about your child and to personalise our planning for them.
Children start on a part time basis in the second week of term. Each class is split into 2 groups of 15 with one group attending each morning and the other attending each afternoon. This is typically for one week and allows the staff to develop strong relationships with each child as well as children having the opportunity to explore their environment and establish routines within a smaller class setting. All children are usually full time by the end of September.
Q. What time does my child start and finish school?
Our Reception school day starts at 8.20am and ends at 3.00pm. Other Year groups vary start and finish times and these are between 8.20am and 3.15pm.
Q. Do you provide wrap around care at Southborough?
Our staff run a breakfast club for the children attending Southborough. We don’t offer childcare after school but liaise and support a range of local providers who will collect your child from us.
Q. Do you run after school activities?
We run a number of clubs in lunchtimes and after school for children in Y1-6. These include chargeable clubs run by outside companies such as football, dance, drama and Spanish. We also run a number of clubs at lunchtimes such as choir, drumming and PE. Wednesday after school each week is our big club night where staff run a whole range of activities including sports, art, coding, comics and computers, board games, and science investigation.
Q. Do children have the opportunity to swim when they are at Southborough?
We are very fortunate that our school is so close to the St John’s swimming pool. This means we can easily walk to the pool for lessons. Year 4 and 5 go swimming for half the year each meaning that all children have a year of small group lessons. It is our aim that every child can swim at least 25 metres confidently before they leave us and those children who are already able to swim have the opportunity to further improve their swimming skills.
Q. How is behaviour approached at Southborough?
The school expects every member of the school community to show respect and care for each other and their environment. Our Christian school ethos and values underpin our behaviour policy and strategies. Our children are well behaved learners as a result of the strong importance we give to being a kind, honest, courteous and compassionate members of our school.
We know from time to time a very small number of children struggle with their behaviour due to particular challenges they have to deal with. On those occasions we offer them extra support and understanding as well as focusing on the rest of the class’s learning and wellbeing.
Q. Is there bullying at Southborough?
Unfortunately no school is going to be able to say that there aren’t episodes of bullying from time to time. However, at Southborough all our children know we have zero tolerance to this and when this is identified as such then we work closely with the children involved in addressing this. Children know any incidents will be dealt with. Our incidences of bullying are extremely low as a result of our school ethos and Christian values as well as our robust PSHE curriculum. We ensure children enjoy playtimes (where research shows incidents are more likely to occur) by providing a range of supervised games and activities and our high staff ratio mean that children are well supported during these less structured times and staff can address any potential issues early.
Q. Do children wear uniform?
At Southborough we believe it’s important that we look smart and dress appropriately for school. We believe that uniform unifies all the children in the school, giving them a strong sense of identity and being part of a team.
Q. How many teachers do you have?
All of our classes benefit from having fully trained teachers, usually one per class or in a few cases benefit from two teachers as part of a job share arrangement. Teachers also work across the year group so they lead a class and teach their specialist area to all three classes in the same year group. This means that children gain hugely from the expertise of all teachers in their Year group ensuring high standards of teaching and learning in all subjects as well as an increased number of teachers to support and mentor them.
In addition we have a team of specialist teachers who teach across the school, our P.E., Art and Music teachers meaning that we have an experienced, rich and diverse team of teachers to enhance children’s educational opportunities.
Q. How do you communicate with parents?
We have an open door for all parents and carers. We believe passionately in strong parent partnership and working together to ensure your child is happy and learning well. There are regular opportunities to contact the class teacher or member of the senior management team informally at the beginning or end of the day on the school gate or via email or a telephone call. There are also regular more formal occasions such as termly consultations and bi-annual reports.
Our website has a huge amount of general information about our school as well as specific class pages for you where we share your child’s life and learning. We use Arbor Parent Portal to electronically send you letters and news including our weekly mid-week news and newsletter. The website and newsletters in particular give you a good range of information and a flavour of what’s happening in the whole school.
Q. Which secondary schools do children go on to?
As we are situated in Southborough, children are fortunate to have the opportunity to access a variety of excellent secondary schools in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge. We find many of our parents wish their child to move onto a secondary school that is also a church, local school and generally a third of our Year 6 move to either Bennett or St.Gregorys which is particularly popular with it being so close in proximity. About a third of families also choose the Grammar school route and these children chose a range of Grammar schools including Judd, TOGGS, Skinners, TWGGS and Weald. The rest of the cohort often chose specialist subject schools such as Hayesbrook or Hillview or choose a mixed gender secondary such as Skinners Kent Academy.
We know that moving to secondary school can be just as challenging as choosing a primary school and we support you through the process. Our formal and informal assessments at Southborough every term and year ensure that we build up a very strong long term academic picture of your child during their time at Southborough and which types of schools may be the right setting for them to continue to thrive in when they leave us.