Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How effective are mixed-aged classes?
We find them to be extremely effective for all pupils in every one of our classes. Younger and older children working together has a positive influence on their communication skills, and encourages younger children to set their heights high.
Older children also greatly benefit from improving their understanding of topics in order to support their peers in occasional mentoring roles. Work in class is set according to ability, not age. This allows pupils of all ages to be challenged to build on their learning and achieve their best.
How can a small school prepare my child for secondary education and beyond?
Feedback from our feeder secondary schools over the years has confirmed that small schools massively benefit the social and emotional development of children in ways that appear counter- intuitive. We strongly believe that the best educational resources in school are our highly skilled staff. Being in small classes means children have significantly more time being supported and challenged by them. It also means children are chosen to take part in a greater number of activities across the year.
Children at Churchfields typically have a longer period with the same class teacher. This reduces the amount of transition time/settling in periods, and allows stronger relationships to develop along with a greater understanding of every individual child’s needs.
We all know that all children have fallings out occasionally. The most important thing is that they learn how to work out any problems with their peers and move forward. In small schools, there is rarely the option to walk away and join another friendship group time after time, as there may be in a large school. Children have to learn how to face problems and deal with them effectively. This stands them in good stead for both secondary school, and eventually life in the adult world.
Does the school utilise parent volunteers?
We believe that our partnership with parents/carers is key to our success. We welcome in a variety of volunteers across the week, both parents and other members of the community. They may choose or suggest the activities they take part in – reading and coaching/mentoring pupils are just two examples!
Any activities that will take place in school but beyond the eyes of a member of staff requires any volunteer to undergo a DBS check. The school can arrange this on your behalf if you are interested in volunteering with us.
How does dinner time work at Churchfields?
Our school dinners are freshly made on site at both Atworth and Monkton Farleigh bases, and very popular!
Every day there is a choice for children, one option always being vegetarian. Our catering company (Eynon) also caters for pupils with food allergies/intolerances and clearly marks different options on the menus that are shared with parents for your peace of mind. Children may bring a packed lunch to school instead if they prefer.
Children in Reception, Year One and Year Two receive FREE school dinners every day thanks to the national “Universal Free School Meal” scheme. The lunchtime is divided into eating time and playing time so children have the chance to burn off energy outside whenever possible.
How do parents/carers stay in touch with the school?
We pride ourselves on our level of communication with parents. Teachers go into the playground at the end of most days and can be spoken with at that time. Alternatively parents may request a more private meeting if preferred. These can be booked with the person involved or via the school office.
The headteacher is often on the playground at key times of the day, dividing his time between the Atworth and Monkton Farleigh bases. We also send a newsletter to the school community most weeks which allows us to share important news alongside what has been happening in school. Our website included past newsletters for parents to peruse, as well as other content which may be of interest.
Can I join the PTA or Governing Body?
We welcome parents/carers to a variety of roles in school. Many parents which to support the school by helping to raise money that can be put towards making children’s educational experience better. This is the remit of the Parent/Teacher Association (PTA) and you are automatically a member when you join the school. It doesn’t matter if you only have a small amount of free time to offer, or more – we always welcome your support. The role of the Governing Body is a strategic one, and involves more time commitment but is hugely rewarding.
If you are interested in finding out more about either of these roles, please contact our school office.
Does the school offer taster days if we are unsure about joining the school?
Absolutely. For children yet to start school, we are happy for them to look around with you at a mutually convenient time. Once their place at Churchfields has been confirmed, they will take part in a comprehensive induction programme before they officially start with us. This will allow them to feel at home with the staff and buildings by the time they begin.
We also offer staggered starts for children who may need slightly longer to get into the pattern of school life. Flexibility is important to us to make the transition to school as smooth as possible for our new pupils.
Where can I get school uniform for my child(ren)?
The school office will be happy to answer any school uniform questions you may have. They can
clarify what is needed, where to get it new, and where to get it second hand for reduced cost.
How important are school trips in the life of the school?
The experiences children have are a crucial part of their education. For this reason, they are prioritised greatly at Churchfields. We always begin every new topic with a ‘Wow! Day’ where children commonly either go out of school on a trip or invite a visitor into school.
These are run with children from both our Atworth and Monkton Farleigh bases simultaneously to make it a more social event that children look forward to! We offer a variety of experiences from a visiting circus to huge dinosaurs (of the animatronic variety) to provide children with the motivation and drive to develop their love of learning.
What adult support do children have?
Our staff are our greatest resource. Every class has an experienced and fully qualified teacher, accompanied by a part-time teaching assistant (TA).
TAs typically work mornings, although in practice they are in school working with children for much longer to ensure we meet their needs – whatever they might be. We also draw upon other experienced teachers and tutors to support our work in school, as well as the skill of other professionals, such as Parents Support Advisors and Emotional Literacy Support Advisors. The way we operate is clear: Identify the needs of the children in our care then carefully select the resources (human or otherwise) to support these needs. Take a look at our website for further information.
What wrap-around care is available?
We fully appreciate the needs of working parents in today’s demanding world so are developing our wrap-around care offer to support them. We have a morning club that runs from Tuesday to Thursday at our Atworth base from 7:30am until the start of school.
Pupils of both bases may also use the 7:30am to 6:30pm wrap-around care based at the Lookout Day Nursery at our Monkton Farleigh base. We are in the process of arranging transport between the bases.
Wiltshire Council also provides a list of registered childminders via an online directory. Please speak with the school office for further information about wraparound care for Churchfields.
What extra-curricular provision is available?
We offer an extensive range of extra-curricular clubs which can be viewed on our dedicated webpage. They range from teacher-led clubs which are free of charge, and external providers who charge a fee. We pride ourselves on having a wide-ranging selection of clubs to suit a multitude of interests!
Can we visit the school?
We are proud to provide such a nurturing environment for our pupils and encourage
parents/carers to visit the school to see if for themselves. Those that do can experience the family-
feel the school has at both its bases. We can accommodate visits during the COVID-19 pandemic
by taking precautions to ensure the school community and our visitors remain safe. Please contact
the school office for further information.