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INFORMATION FOR YEAR 6 PARENTS/CARERS

Welcome to Ashlyns School

We are delighted to welcome you as a parent/carer to Ashlyns School.  The information on this page is designed to help with your child’s transition to Ashlyns and answer any questions you may have.  You will find further information on the page for Year 6 pupils.

Transition from primary school to secondary school is a very important event in a child’s life; we are sure your child will quickly feel at home at Ashlyns and will settle into our school community.

Ashlyns has a well-motivated and reflective staff, and students who are warm, positive and engaging.  The school blends traditional values of respect, trust, honesty and hard work with forward-thinking teaching and innovation.  Our aim is simply that we provide the best opportunities and support for every student to flourish and succeed; the motto ‘Aspire and Achieve’ underpins all aspects of school life.

Evidence shows that students with attendance below 97% are less likely to make good progress.  All students are expected to attend school punctually and regularly.  Students only attend school for 190 days each academic year and therefore full attendance is vital for them to fulfil their academic potential.  The attendance policy supports all stakeholders to ensure high levels of attendance and punctuality.

Most common ailments do not require students to be absent from school.  If in doubt, please send your child in and Matron will assess your child, if needed, and contact you if he/she should be sent home.

Attendance Procedures

If your child is absent from school, please:

  • Report absence to the school via Insight before 9.00am. This is the preferred method of contact. Information regarding Insight, including log in details, will be issued once your child has joined the school.  You can also email the school: attendance@ashlyns.herts.sch.uk.  If you do not have access to email or the internet then call the school absence line (01442 863605, extension 2223).  Please detail why your child is absent, including the symptoms, rather than that they are ill, unwell or feeling under the weather.  This is important in case of contagious conditions.  Please note that reporting absence does not mean it is authorised, but it allows the school to make that decision.
  • Report absence every day that your child is away from school.
  • Where possible, provide the school with copies or photos of appointments, prescriptions, letters from a medical professional relating to this bout of illness.

Registration is at 8.35am.  Procedures for arrival after registration are as follows:

  • If your child arrives between 8.35am and 8.45am they should go straight to their form room; they will be marked as ‘late’ on the register and will receive a signature on their standards card. If your child arrives after 8.45am they must go to Student Reception to register.
  • If your child arrives after 9.15am they must sign in as above but have a note from home explaining the reason for arriving late.

If your child needs to leave school during the day:

  • He/she should bring a note from home to show to their teacher at the beginning of the lesson, and should then leave at the set time.
  • If your child needs to leave school during the school day for any reason, they must sign out and back in (if applicable) at Student Reception.

Applications for Leave of Absence forms are available from Reception and on the school website.

Further information about attendance, together with a advice regarding whether or not your child should attend school, can be found HERE.

It is very important to us that we work closely in partnership with parents and carers, and communication between home and school is key. We recognise however that it can often be difficult communicating with teachers because they have a very full timetable; and we recognise that parents and carers also have very busy lives.

Communication by email is our preferred method.  Teachers want to respond to parental queries at the earliest opportunity and will do their best to do so, however, most of a teacher’s time is taken up with lessons, meetings, planning and preparation. For clarification: teachers are on duty from 8.20am until 3.35pm; after this time, staff will often be in diarised meetings or running after-school clubs. Therefore, they may not be able to respond on the day that the query is made. The school, in caring for its staff, has advised teachers that there is no expectation to respond to queries in their personal/family time, such as at weekends.

Please use the general admin email admin@ashlyns.herts.sch.uk  to provide factual information or to leave a request for a teacher to contact you (with brief details of the nature of your query). Our admin team will direct your query to the most appropriate member of staff.

  • Teachers are not in a position to check emails during the day and the school does not expect work emails to be checked during a teacher’s personal/family time from home.
  • We aim to respond as soon as possible, and within three working days. Part-time staff may take longer to reply. Occasionally emails go astray, so if you do not get a reply within three working days, please re-contact admin@ashlyns.herts.sch.uk, who will pursue your enquiry for you.

If you wish to contact the school by telephone, please use the main reception number to leave a message for a teacher to contact you, with brief details of the nature of your query.

  • Reception staff will relay this to the teacher as soon as they can.
  • Please note that there are no phones in classrooms and lessons will never be interrupted for teachers to take calls.
  • Calls to and from the school may be recorded for security and training purposes.
  • If the nature of the call is extremely urgent, please tell the receptionist why this is the case and they will attempt to find a senior member of staff to speak to you, where necessary.
  • We will endeavour to respond on the same day, but within three working days where this is not possible.

The day-to-day care, welfare and safety of your child is managed by the person who is placed closest to them.

  • In the first instance, please approach the following members of staff who are responsible for your child in the following order:
  1. Form tutor (if query relates to a pastoral issue) or classroom teacher (if query is relevant to a specific subject)
  2. Head of Subject (if subject query has not already been resolved)
  3. Head of Year (if pastoral query has not already been resolved)
  4. Assistant Headteacher
  5. Deputy Headteacher
  6. Headteacher
  • Meetings should always be pre-arranged with a member of staff, with advance notice of the meeting’s purpose.  Due to the very busy nature of the school, and there being in excess of 1300 students in our care, it is not appropriate for a parent to come to school expecting to speak to a particular member of staff without an appointment.  Appointments can be requested via the school office; this will enable us to have notice of any concerns which can be investigated in advance of the meeting, and to ensure that a member of staff is available.
  • Parents arriving at school without an appointment will be turned away except in exceptional circumstances (for example, a serious family emergency or a child protection issue).
  • For non-urgent meetings we will aim to meet with you within 5 working days. The school will determine the level of urgency at its discretion, to enable it to manage multiple demands.
  • If you urgently need to see someone, for instance if there is a serious family emergency or a child protection issue, please phone ahead and the reception staff will do their best to find a senior member of staff to see you.

Our preferred means of contacting you is via Groupcall (letters, emails, texts). We also use these systems to text you if we have to close the school in an emergency.  It is very important that we have an up-to-date email address for parents/carers on our records.  You can email admin@ashlyns.herts.sch.uk to give updated email addresses or mobile phone numbers (used to send out text messages to parents/carers).  Please ensure you include your name, together with your child’s name and tutor group, in any communication with us.

Parents can access their child’s attendance, behaviour and school reports through our online system ‘Insight’, and review details of homework assigned through ‘Google Guardian’.  Parent-Teacher Consultation Evening bookings can be made via our online booking system.  If you require assistance with accessing these, please contact a member of our admin team.

Our weekly e-Bulletin contains information about events which have taken place, together with forthcoming events. 

We sometimes use Twitter to promote student achievements, subject information and generic educational information. Our whole-school Twitter feed is @Ashlyns_School. The school accounts are for reason of publicity and information sharing, and the account and its monitoring is not set up so that the school can respond to social media comments or replies.

Whilst we recognise that some parents may set up their own group chats for classes or year groups on social media platforms, and that they may find these useful, these are not endorsed by the school and the school will not respond to or post on such forums.  On occasion, posts made by parents or students on such forums can be inaccurate or not representative of the school’s view.  Please therefore rely on official communications from school or the school website for information about school business.

Our staff have the right to a personal life and to be protected from harassment online, via email or in person.  We ask that parents avoid addressing staff members directly via social media, and avoid posting inaccurate or defamatory statements about staff or school on social media platforms. This is reiterated by our Home-School Agreement.  

Concerns or disagreements should be dealt with politely, and in line with the school’s policy and procedure which can be found at:

https://www.ashlyns.herts.sch.uk/about/policies-and-statutory-information/

In the event that you have contacted the school and have not received a response within 3 working days, please contact the school by emailing admin@ashlyns.herts.sch.uk or alternatively call the main school telephone number, and we will chase up your enquiry. Communication with parents and carers is important to us, and we will continue to monitor practice under this policy, in seeking ways to improve our communication processes further.

Your child’s progress and attainment are regularly assessed and recorded throughout the school year.  There are three formal data collection points (one in each term) when current working levels/grades, progress, attitude to learning and any home-learning concerns are recorded.  This information is collected into a report which can be accessed by parents/carers via Insight.

Your child’s progress against their targets will be tracked rigorously and personalised intervention strategies are put in place if they are failing to make expected progress.  Form Tutors will play a key role in the monitoring and target setting process.

Form Tutors play an essential part in the pastoral care of your child.  Tutors will be with their forms every day during morning registration, following a weekly programme.  This includes a formal assembly, focused tutor-led mentoring, merit collection, student voice, house discussions and tutor-led activities relevant to the year group.

Some Ashlyns students may experience difficulties, such as those listed below:

  • Problems at home
  • The death or illness of someone important to them
  • Being abused or the fear of being abused
  • Difficulties at school (such as friendships, bullying or work stress)
  • Getting used to new family members
  • Feelings of depression, loneliness or of feeling different

We encourage students to speak to a member of staff; whatever is on their mind or is worrying them will be taken seriously.

Shortly after your child joins the school, an email will be sent to the primary carer inviting them to join the Google Guardian system.  Once the invitation is accepted, emails will be sent home on a daily or weekly basis (dependent upon which option the parent selects) advising them of home-learning that has been set. 

Our school was built in 1931 as a Foundling Hospital.  The original Foundling Hospital was situated in London, built in 1742, and was designed to maintain and educate deserted young children.  During the 1920s it was decided that a countryside location would provide a healthier environment for the children and Ashlyns was designed as a purpose-built Foundling Hospital.  In the 1950s a report highlighted the benefit of family-based solutions for illegitimate children, and the Foundling Hospital stopped taking new children.  Between 1951 and 1955 the school was jointly occupied by Foundling boarders and children in the town, becoming a school solely for local children in 1955.   More information about our rich heritage can be found on the Coram charity website: https://www.coram.org.uk/about-us/our-heritage-foundling-hospital.

Home-learning will enable your child to:

  • Become an independent learner and take ownership of their learning
  • Implement skills required in later life such as time management, self-discipline and organisation
  • Develop presentation skills
  • Learn how to research topics
  • Understand how to work at their own pace
  • Explore their own interests
  • Show the teacher what they have learnt
  • Indicate to the teacher the areas where they need to improve

Home-learning could take the form of answering questions, writing a report, carrying out research or learning for a test.  It is helpful to have an area where home-learning can be completed without interruption and away from distractions. 

All home-learning is notified through our online learning platform, Google Classroom.  Full details will be provided to students and parents/carers in September.

This is a copy of the Home-School Agreement which forms part of our Admissions document.  

The Parent/Carer acknowledges:

• I have read the school prospectus (available via school website or hard copy on request)
• I am aware of the school’s policies (available via school website or hard copy on request)
• I understand that the school will not authorise holiday leave as outlined in the School’s Attendance Policy

The Parent/Carer will:

• ensure my child attends school regularly, on time, properly dressed, properly equipped and that he/she understands the importance of punctuality to lessons
• make the school aware of any concerns or problems that might affect my child’s behaviour/learning
• support my child with his/her home-learning opportunities and ensure my child completes his/her home-learning on time
• attend parent-teacher consultation evenings and other information events about my child’s progress
• support my child in responding positively to the general expectations and regulations of the school
• support the school’s approach to online safety and not upload or add any text, image, sound or videos that could upset or offend any member of the school community, or bring the school name into disrepute
• ensure that my/our online activity would not cause the school, staff, pupils or others distress or bring the school community into disrepute.
• support the school’s policy and help prevent my child/children from signing up to services such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube whilst they are underage (13+ years in most cases)
• close online accounts if I/we/teachers find that these accounts are active for my underage child/children
• read and respond, (if appropriate), to all communications sent out from the school, including the ebulletin. I will also regularly log on to the school’s online system to access information about my child’s attendance, behaviour, assessment data and other information relevant to my child’s year group.
• Update the school promptly with any changes to contact details for any parent/carer and/or any changes which may affect my child, eg family/home circumstances

The School will:

• care for your child’s safety and well-being
• promote high standards of teaching, learning and behaviour and provide clear guidelines for students and parents
• ensure your child is given every opportunity to succeed as a valued member of the school community
• provide a broad and balanced curriculum
• keep you informed about your child’s progress and how you can help them at home
• be open and welcoming

The Student will:

• attend school and lessons on time and with any necessary equipment
• adhere to the school’s dress code and be tidy in appearance
• observe the school’s rules and regulations
• apply myself to learning to the best of my ability, completing all class work and home-learning on time
• be fully committed to school life and participate in its activities inside and outside the classroom
• inform an appropriate member of staff about any concerns or worries I may have
• support the school approach to online safety and not deliberately upload or add any images, sounds or text that could upset or offend any member of the school community

Ashlyns welcomes students of all abilities, treating each one as an individual.  Experienced Teaching Assistants work alongside our Inclusion Co-ordinator (INCO) and teaching staff to assist children on the Special Needs Register who experience learning difficulties.  Learning Mentors support Heads of Year to ensure students make good progress.  The school also offers a counselling service and works with outside agencies to support the education of all our students.

To plan for the individual education of our students we initially use the data supplied from previous educational establishments.  At Ashlyns, progress and welfare of students is closely monitored and we welcome the help and support of parents.

Students with Special Educational Needs follow the normal curriculum with additional support in the classroom.  Students may be withdrawn from time to time to provide them with additional help, primarily in literacy or numeracy.  This takes place in a dedicated area where specialist staff work with individuals or small groups. 

Ashlyns’ policy for students identified as having Special Educational Needs takes account of the recommendations of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 and the Special Education Needs and Disability Code of Practice.  This policy, along with the Accessibility Plan and Equal Opportunities policy, can be obtained from the school.

Insight is the system used by the school to enable parents to access information regarding their child’s achievements, attendance, timetable, behaviour and progress.  Parents will receive log in details shortly after their son/daughter joins the school.

You will have received details of the locker rental system in the Admission Pack.  Subject to availability, you will be able to rent a locker from Independent Locker Solutions Ltd: Independent Locker Solutions.  It is your child’s responsibility to keep the locker clean and tidy.  Spare and replacement keys can be purchased directly from Independent Locker Solutions Ltd.  Lockers have to be emptied at the end of the academic year.

If your child has mislaid any item, please encourage them to look where they last had it.  Students can also go to Student Reception to see if the item has been handed in.  Lost property can only be collected during lunch/break or after school.  Named items are returned to students as soon as possible.

Peripatetic lessons are organised by the Head of Music and an online application form may be completed: HERE.  Each student is responsible for checking the time of their lesson each week; a timetable of lessons is posted on the Music Department notice board and is also available on Google Classroom.  Lesson times vary to ensure students don’t miss the same lesson every week.

It is very important to establish a good routine at secondary school as this is often the pattern followed for the rest of school life.  Organisation can sometimes be one of the issues where students need assistance.  Your child may initially require help with getting everything ready for school each evening and checking their timetable to see which timetable week it is (week 1 or week 2), and which lessons will take place the following day.  They may need support with planning when to complete home-learning tasks.  Combining secondary school with family life, home-learning and after-school activities can sometimes be a challenge and it is important to establish a sensible routine. 

Parent-teacher consultation evenings are one of the most important communication opportunities that we have, and therefore attendance at them is very important.  We use an online booking system which makes it easy for parents to book appointments with their child’s teachers.  You will be sent full details shortly before the evening takes place.  Children accompany parents/carers to all parent-teacher consultation evenings, wearing school uniform.

Please click on the image below for suggestions of how to encourage your son/daughter to read.

So what is different about secondary school?  If your eldest child is about to join Ashlyns you may not be aware of the changes that they are about to face at secondary school.

  • Instead of one teacher, who has often known them since their early years, students will be taught by many different teachers and will have to get to know a whole range of adults in different roles within the school.
  • The site will be much bigger and students will have to find their way around, moving from classroom to classroom between lessons.
  • They will have to use a complex timetable (on a two weekly cycle) and also a Standards Card.
  • For the first time children will be responsible for ensuring that they have the correct books and equipment for several different lessons, as well as PE equipment, lunch, etc.
  • Children will be given full responsibility for their home-learning, completing it and handing it in on time.
  • There will be new lessons and new variations on familiar ones.
  • Teaching and learning styles may be different. Children may be expected to write more frequently and for longer.
  • Breaktime and lunchtime will be organised differently with less adult supervision and children having a lot more independence in terms of getting back to lessons on time, making their own choice of snacks and lunches, etc.
  • In general, students are expected to be more independent, self-reliant and self-organised; a welcome development for many students, but also a challenge for others.

When your child starts at Ashlyns they are expected to cope with a whole variety of new experiences and changes, many of which demand skills and abilities that they have not had to use before.

Most parents would like to help reassure their child and we want to work with you to help provide the support needed for your child.  The top two worries that Year 6 students express relate to friendships and getting lost.  Although common, most children report that they are no longer worried about these after just one or two weeks at school.

If your child expresses these worries it is useful to tell them this, and to emphasise that everyone else will also be feeling anxious.  As there will be many more children in Year 7 at Ashlyns than in Year 6 at primary school, everyone has a good choice of friends and even children who move up with many other children from their primary school tend to make new friends at secondary school. 

The remaining worries are nearly all to do with the new organisational demands that they know will be placed upon them.  These are the areas in which we can help the most, both at school and at home.

Parents/carers can help in the following ways:

  • Take an active interest in your child’s progress and development
  • Encourage your child to fulfil work requirements to the best of their ability and encourage them with home-learning
  • Attend Parent-Teacher Consultation Evenings.
  • Encourage your child to take part in extra-curricular activities
  • Join the Ashlyns School Association, attend their meetings and help with events
  • Be a part of the Parent Forum – look out for the invitation to join the Parent Forum in the weekly eBulletin at the start of the year

Students are expected to be positive ambassadors for Ashlyns when travelling to and from school.  They should behave in a sensible, mature manner whilst walking to school or on public transport and must wear school uniform at all times.  Poor behaviour travelling to or from school will not be tolerated and a range of consequences will be used in line with the school behaviour policy. 

Please note, parents should only drop students off at the front gates and not drive into the school; where practical, students should walk to school.  Parking is not permitted in the turning circle at the front of the school.

At Ashlyns School we are able to take online payments using a company called WisePay.  This can be used to pay for meals in the canteen, trips, music fees and donations.  The benefits of using WisePay are:

  • Payments can be made when the school is closed
  • Safe and secure
  • Balances can be viewed at any time
  • No more searching for cash or your child having to carry large sums of cash into school

A unique user name and password will be sent home with your child during the first week of term. 

WisePay is our preferred method of payment but we are also able to accept cheques.  Cheques should be made payable to Ashlyns School and can be placed in the locked Finance Box which is on the wall outside the staffroom.  Cheques should be sent in a named envelope and be accompanied by the relevant, completed, return slip.  If you are unable to pay by Wisepay or cheque, please contact the Finance Office.