St Mark's C.E. Primary School

“Achievement, respect and care in a happy, Christian community.”

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Starting School Reception 2017

Thank you for applying for a place at St Mark's CE Primary School.

We are delighted to be welcoming you and your child into our school community.


You should now have received your welcome letter from us. We look forward to seeing you at our transition events.


In the meantime, we hope the following information will be useful in helping you prepare for your child's start to school. Thank you to parents of our current and previous Reception cohorts, who have helped provide some of the FAQs.


Important dates for your diary:

  • ‘Look and play’ sessions will run 21st – 28th June (2:15pm-2:50pm) – we will be in touch to let you know which dates you have been allocated. These sessions will be an opportunity for you and your child to come into school and explore the reception class areas, where staff will be available to chat to you and meet you informally. Some current Reception children will be on hand to play with your child.
  • Wednesday 5th July – Induction Evening 7pm (tour at 6:30pm, optional). This is an information session for parents, when we share information about starting school and the curriculum. There will be an opportunity at this session to sign up for your September home visit. Prior to the meeting, tours of the school will be available from 6:30pm. This meeting takes the form of a presentation and is not suitable for children. You will be able to collect your induction information pack at this session.
  • Thursday 13th July – Teddy Bears’ Picnic 1:30pm. Please bring a picnic and your teddy bear! This will be an informal occasion where you can meet other parents, governors and staff, After School Club and School & Parents Association members. There will be entertainment provided by other children in the school.
  • Home visits will take place 5th - 8th September. These will last approximately 20mins and will give you an opportunity to meet one of the class teachers and teaching assistants in the familiarity of your own home.


Starting school:

Start dates – Our induction programme starts with home visits, then we stagger the children’s start date according to age (unless there are extenuating circumstances), starting the younger children first (who usually need more support) from 11th September. This allows them a little extra time to settle into the classroom, initially in smaller numbers. All children will have started school by 25th September.

You will need to confirm whether your child will start school on a full-time or part-time basis by Friday 9th June (please see your initial letter, which you will receive during May). We find a lot of children remain part-time for at least the first term but this is an individual decision, personal to each family. It will be dependent on a number of factors including how old your child is, their stage of development and the nature of their pre-school experience. Your child does not need to be in compulsory full-time education until the term after their 5th birthday. The school encourages you to make the decision which is right for your child. If you decide to start your child part-time, then wish them to go full-time, we ask for a week’s notice in writing. Once your child has opted to go full-time, it is not then possible to change to part-time.

The part-time session is 8:30am – 12:10pm and the full-time session 8:30am – 2:55pm (including lunch).


Buddies – We operate a buddy system for new Reception children. A child from the upper school will be paired with your child so they get to know a friendly face when they start to use the main playground. Buddies will also read with your child. Look out for a welcome card from them, which will be posted to you during August.


Lunches – All Reception, Y1 and Y2 children are entitled to a free hot school meal. Initially, we will bulk order the ‘main’ meal option for all full-time Reception children. Examples of main meals include: turkey or roast beef roast dinner, fish fingers/chips/beans, chicken pie, pasta Bolognese, gammon and pineapple, macaroni cheese, sausages and Mexican tortilla lasagne. These are served with a variety of vegetables and potato (if appropriate). Fresh bread is also available. Puddings may include yogurts, rice pudding, jam sponge and custard, flapjack and muffins – fruit is always available. Portion sizes are appropriate for younger children. Our roasting joints, sausages and burgers are sourced from a local butcher and are of very high quality.

Once your child had started, you will be issued with a Wisepay account, which will allow you to select from different meal choices (link to Wisepay can be found under the ‘Parents’ tab in ‘Useful links’). Please advise us, during your home visit, of any dietary needs or if you require a vegetarian option during the first few weeks. Bookings for meals must be completed by midnight on the Tuesday, for the following week. Alternatively, you can provide a packed lunch.

Some of the buddies will be on hand to help your children with lunches during the first few weeks. Reception children will eat at around 12:05pm, before the main lunch service starts (at 12:20pm). They are supervised by their class teachers and teaching assistants until the lunchtime supervisors take over at 12:20pm Children will be able to sit with their friends but due to the tables in hall being set with cutlery, children with packed lunches will sit together.

When you use Wisepay to order lunches, there are several confirmations you need to click as a first time user – including agreeing to their Terms & Conditions. If you have completed the order successfully, you will receive a confirmation email. If you haven’t had the confirmation email, your order has not been placed and you will need to log back into Wisepay and check your order.

Children will be supervised by a lunchtime supervisor who will remain the same all year. If you have any concerns or queries about lunches, please speak to your class teacher or the senior lunchtime supervisor (Mrs Harvard-Taylor). Adults in the hall will support your child with cutting up their own food and encouraging them to eat. The children have plenty of time to eat but we would usually expect them to be out to play by 12:40pm.


Drop-off – During the first few days you are welcome to bring your child into class. As your child settles into routine, we would ask you to say goodbye to them in the courtyard.


Friends – We know that children come to us from a variety of nursery and pre-school settings. They make new friends quickly and there are lots of opportunities for the children to develop new social groups. However, if your child already has friends from pre-school, you will have the opportunity to name up to three children who your child knows. We will endeavour to ensure that your child is placed in a class with at least one of these children. Please email us ( to let us know your child's friends FAO Mrs McHugh, midday on Friday 30 June 2017.


Toys – pocket-sized playground toys may be brought. Please do not send toys of great monetary or sentimental value.


Pick-up – Please come into the courtyard outside the reception entrance and your child will be brought out to you.


Book bag – Your child needs a book bag to carry their reading and homework books. All other resources (pencils etc) are provided.


Extended careBreakfast Club and After School Club provisions are available – please see details on the website and in your induction pack.


E-praise - The School and Parent Association have funded the use of an app-based reward system called MarvellousMe, where badges and comments are sent by teachers straight to your smartphone. We have had super feedback and we currently have 97% of families signed up to receive alerts. You will receive a login code shortly after your child starts.


Additional needs (SEND) – if your child has any special or additional needs (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities), which you would like to discuss. Please contact Mrs Clark, the SENCo.


Milk – is provided for children free of charge up until their 5th birthday – you need to register and order this through the Cool Milk website. After their 5th birthday, you can opt to purchase milk at a subsidised cost. Details are also in your induction pack.


Fruit/Snacks – Please provide a piece of fruit and a drink (non-fizzy, preferably water). Both should be named. In the afternoon, they are also provided with a piece of fruit to bring home.


PE kit – (S&PA are providing each child with a white t-shirt). Children just need black shorts and a white t- shirt for the first term (tracksuits and plimsoles are not needed). In the spring term half the class will need a swimming kit as well as their P.E. kit (we will let you know in advance when your child is swimming). They will need the green long sleeve top and trainers for the summer term, as well as short black socks, their black shorts and the white t-shirt. Current PE timetables can be found here – they will be updated for next year over the coming weeks.


Swimming – For Reception children there is always one adult poolside and two adults in the water, a ratio of 1:5 at all times (only 15 children swim at a time). The ASA guidelines for beginners, non-swimmers and young children when swimming in school are a ratio of 1:12 for health and safety and 1:8 for quality of delivery, therefore our ratios at 1:5 are significantly better than this.

Parents do not need to come and help with changing but please encourage your child to be able to do as much as possible themselves.

The children have back floats and woggles, they can have arm rings too if they wish them, these are all provided in school.

Reception children only ever swim at the shallow end until they are ready to go deeper, the deep end is roped off.

If you wish your child to wear goggles, please equip them with a named pair.

It is optional for the children to put their head in the water.

The pool is 90cm at the shallow end and 95cm at the deep end.

The children need to wear a swimming hat, these can be purchased from the school office at £2.50.

For more information, please see our ‘Curriculum’ page.


Uniform – Please see the ‘What are the uniform requirements?’ page.


Other information:

  • There will be a curriculum newsletter sent home each half term.


The Autumn Term

  • Your child will need wellies in school for outside walks and practical work.
  • You don’t need to provide swimming kit or outdoor PE kit or tracksuits for the Autumn term.
  • Reading books will start to come home during the first week – please don’t be worried if these are initially picture books; this is to encourage children to create stories before beginning to tackle reading words.
  • There will be a parents’ evening this term to discuss how your child is settling in.
  • Sounds books will start to come home during the first few weeks.
  • There will be a reading and phonics information meeting for parents this term.


The Spring Term

  • Children will start swimming (we will tell you when your child is swimming); they will need appropriate kit.
  • You don’t need to provide outdoor PE kit or tracksuits for the Spring term.
  • There will be a parents’ evening this term to discuss your child’s progress and development.


The Summer Term

  • There will be an educational trip.
  • Green PE top will be needed and trainers, as well as short black socks, their black shorts and white t-shirt.
  • There will be an opportunity for children in all year groups to work for two mornings with children from other schools in the Bournemouth Septenary Trust, as part of the 'Around the world' collaboration project.
  • There will be an annual report at the end of the year reviewing your child’s progress and achievement against the Early Learning Goals.
  • Sports Day will take place this term and will probably take the form of activities in the morning and races in the afternoon (subject to confirmation).


Reception new starters FAQ

What is the reading log book for?

Please write in here every time you hear your child read from their Oxford Reading Tree or phonics book. Comment on how your child did. The teacher writes in here once a week when they hear your child read too.


Do they need to bring a pencil case to school?

No, but a zipped wallet is useful to keep their books clean and dry.


Can they bring any toys into school?

They are allowed to bring a named playground toy that is pocket sized.


Can my child bring a comforter or cuddly toy?

If you feel this is necessary then they can initially but we will try and wean them off it as soon as possible (precious belongings should not be brought).


What if my child is ill?

Ring school as soon as possible in the morning (we have an answerphone) or email .


Can I send any medicines into school if my child is prescribed them?

We are not able to give anything other than inhalers. If your child needs Calpol or antibiotics you can come into school at lunchtime to administer this, if you feel they are well enough to be at school. If your child is well enough to be in school, they will be expected to participate in all activities, including PE and swimming.


Can I give them something to supplement their fruit and drink?

Only if there are medical reasons that make it necessary. If children complain of being hungry there is always spare fruit.


Do we come and help them get changed for swimming?

No, there is the swimming teacher Mrs. Horne, a swimming assistant and their class teaching assistant to help. Only 15 children swim at any time.


Do they need to bring goggles or floats?

All flotation swimming aids are provided. If parents wish their children to use goggles, these must be provided by parents and named.


When does my child have to be in compulsory full-time education?

Compulsory school age is set out in section 8 of the Education Act 1996 and The Education (Start of Compulsory School Age) Order 1998. A child reaches compulsory school age on the prescribed day following his fifth birthday (or on his fifth birthday if it falls on a prescribed day). The prescribed days are 31 December, 31 March and 31 August.

Children becoming 5 years old between 1st January and 31st March are of compulsory school age at the beginning of the term after 1st April.

Children becoming 5 years old between 1st April and 31st August are of compulsory school age from the beginning of the term after 1st September.

Children becoming 5 years old between 1st September and 31st December are of compulsory school age from the beginning of the term after 1st January.


New Reception starters questions form

If you have a general query or question, please post it using our contact form below and we will add the answer to our Q&A section above. Please do not ask specific questions about your child or share personal information about your child via this form. If you need to ask a question or talk to somebody in advance of the induction activities, please contact the school office on 01202 512241 or email