Academic and organisational concerns
What support is offered for pupils who are disorganised and not self-motivated, especially with homework?
Teachers often give extra support to pupils during break times, for example helping them catch up work missed due to absence. Each tutor will also regularly check the work habits of their tutees and is quickly informed of late work or missing equipment. They will discuss and work with tutees on their organisation, suggesting ways of preparing for school, filing, prioritising etc. If more support is needed, a student may be referred to the Learning Support department for longer sessions involving study habits and revision skills. Often classmates will help those who may need a helping hand too, and we have Academic mentors - students in the Lower Sixth who help those with difficulties in certain subjects.
What kind of learning support is offered and how good is the support?
Our learning support is excellent and highly valued by students, with several teachers from different disciplines including Dyslexia/Dyspraxia specialists. Some pupils receive help with study skills, while others need help with a specific skill, such as essay structure, some with word processing or how to use extra time in exams and others techniques for dealing with specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia.
Do children feel overly pressurised academically, and if so, how are they helped?
Some pupils feel pressurised as they have very high personal aspirations. They may also 'feel' pressure from parental expectations that are often unfounded. Teachers and tutors are always on the lookout for signs of stress and are there to talk to the student concerned. They will also help to plan work if a student has a backlog. Subject teachers will also help, offering extra time if necessary and possible. At Sevenoaks we stress the important of regular exercise and relaxation, and support this with PE & Games sessions at least twice per week. In assemblies and other group occasions, we regularly remind students not to leave work to last minute (which is the biggest cause of stress by far). We plan our coursework assessments carefully to avoid bunching but sometimes it is unavoidable and pupils like to do lots of activities (which may need careful negotiation too). Sometimes it is possible to take away some of the pressures by having time off an activity. We work carefully with parents to support these pupils.
What academic support is offered if someone falls behind?
Teachers regularly offer one-to-one help if a pupil needs it. This may happen after school or during breaks or free periods. Tutors will help them plan their time and prioritise work and communicate this with parents who may also help by monitoring their work at home.
How does the school ensure that homework requirements are met?
Teachers regularly mark and record homework according to departmental policy. Late or poor work will be reported to the tutor who will always follow it up, first by chatting to the pupil. Repeated late or poor work would involve intervention, maybe an extra session with the teacher, some supervised working time (after school, or during prep for boarders), or perhaps being on report card to ensure each lesson is monitored too. Parents would at this stage be informed and may be invited in to discuss the matter.
Does the school ensure consistency of staff throughout a school year or an exam course (eg throughout a child's GCSE years)?
If possible a pupil keeps the same tutors in the Lower School (Years 7-8), during the Middle School (Years 9-11) and the Sixth Form. Where at all possible classes will also keep the same subject teacher from Year 10 to Year 11 and throughout the Sixth Form.