Are students tolerant of one another?
Sevenoaks students are very accepting of difference, in fact there is almost a lack of awareness as it is so 'normal' to be different. The range of cultures, interests and skills is so vast that there is no 'normal'. No school is without teasing and occasionally hurting each other's feelings but pupils themselves don't like seeing others upset and quickly ask teachers to help. Pupils respond well and are often upset to have caused sadness.
Pupils show very high levels of confidence and are highly articulate. Mutual respect is a hallmark of the school community.
ISI Report 2013
How does the school celebrate all kinds of achievement?
In our assemblies we recognise all sorts of success, from scoring goals for a D team to raising money for charity. Special 'colours' ties are awarded not just for sport but also for published creative work and service activities, and these are coveted. Merit prizes are awarded for effort, not just results. Our student reports focus on achievement and effort, and effort is the one that students look to.
Sevenoaks is a large school; can struggling students be overlooked?
Struggling pupils are picked up by subject teachers as well as tutors and Divisional Heads. Tutors and parents receive early feedback when they join the school to highlight concerns. Tutors talk to tutees regularly one-to-one and monitor how they are feeling about work. Homework often picks up problems as do parents who can contact us to tell us if their children are taking ages on it. Good use of the Homework Diary helps this communication. Our Learning Support department is hugely effective and well-regarded by pupils, and will help those who need long-term or specific assistance.
How does the school deal with problems such as drugs, sexting, drinking etc?
Awareness of all such issues is raised through our PSHE lessons, which help pupils to acquire the values and skills which are necessary to value themselves and respect others. When problems do occur, we respond quickly, sensitively, fairly and consistently, in communication with parents. Sanctions are well known and applied carefully. We believe children can make mistakes and allow them to serve a detention and move on, making it clear that sanctions increase with repeat offences.
How do you tackle personal problems such as illness, family problems, crime, bereavement or loneliness?
Discreetly, quickly, in communication with parents, confidentially where appropriate, but alerting relevant staff if appropriate. The school is a community and therefore there is a great deal of support for those that require it. In addition to tutors, pupils can see the nurses in the Medical Centre, the School Counsellor, and the Divisional Heads and Pastoral Deputy, who have lighter teaching loads to allow time for pupils in need. Peer Mentors trained by School Counsellor for more everyday worries of younger pupils.
Is Sevenoaks a good school for bright, talented but shy children?
Yes. The varied curriculum and co-curriculum naturally give opportunities to bring out pupils' strengths. Tutors encourage participation and teachers regularly rearrange seating plans and incorporate group work and discussion involving all pupils. Our curriculum requires presentations to be done and these help develop confidence, but equally, we appreciate that students are individuals, who may need longer than others to feel confident presenting to classmates. Activities such as clubs and societies, CCF and Service activities allow pupils to find like-minded friends or take a leadership role.
How do you encourage students to get involved with co-curricular activities?
Tutors know what activities their tutees are doing and regularly encourage when they are lacking. Drama and music are really inclusive, as they provide different types and levels of participation, from acting to set design to writing reviews. Our PE and Sport options provide opportunities for everyone to participate in an activity, whatever their interests or abilities.
Does the school have a school counsellor?
Yes we have a part-time, self-employed independent counsellor. She offers confidential counselling. She will always aim to work with tutors and parents too with the pupil's permission.