FAQs

Academic

We will learn from best practice in education across the world and use setting in some subjects, such as maths, where it has been shown to be the best way to maximise progress of learners of all abilities.

However, we are also committed to inclusive classroom practice and will ensure that teachers at The Swan have the highest expectations of all students. Differentiation will take the form of scaffolding learning so that all students can meet our high standards but we will not have lower expectations of some students than others.

 

 

 

Absolutely. We believe that each and every student has the potential to achieve and learn quickly and securely. Where students are struggling, our SEND team, alongside the full commitment of the teachers to successful, inclusive classroom practice, will ensure that progress is supported. Another key advantage of the extended day is the ability to help students catch up if they have fallen behind, e.g. through absence or difficulties in grasping learning first time.

In a school this size, we will be able to provide a broad range of GCSE options. Where students may be drawn to less commonly provided options, we will take a flexible and positive approach to facilitating this where possible.

Homework and independent study will have a key role in helping students to learn quickly and grow good habits of organisation and a disciplined approach to work. Therefore, students should expect regular homework. Some of this can be completed in structured conditions due to the extended day. We guarantee that all homework will be valuable and worthwhile, with no ‘filler’ or pointless activities set.

Teachers in the early years may teach more than one subject, but only when we are able to guarantee that their subject knowledge and confidence in delivering the curriculum is excellent. Senior leaders will teach much more than is typical in the early stages, ensuring that students will have ample access to experienced and highly accomplished staff.  We will pride ourself on providing the highest quality professional development for staff to help ensure that student are provided with the best possible learning experiences.

Class size will vary by subject. A typical classroom-based subject, such as English, maths, science etc will be approximately 30, with teaching in smaller groups for some practical subjects such as design and technology.

The longer school day has three main purposes. One is that it will help create more time in the day for sport and the arts – such as drama and music. The second reason is that it will be used to give children time and space to complete independent work – they will have less to do at home, and can complete ‘homework’ in a place where they can get help and support. The third reason is that the extra time can be used for ‘catch-up’ if a child has missed learning because of illness, or if they haven’t understood it yet. This means that all children will learn quickly and deeply, and no-one will be left behind.

All students are expected to remain in school for the longer day. If there is a particular reason why a child has to leave school early – for example involvement in elite sports training – this may be facilitated as appropriate following discussion with the school.

Admissions

Admissions criteria and a detailed map of the catchment area are published on the website here: https://stage.theswanschool.org.uk/apply/ . The catchment area for The Swan School mirrors that of The Cherwell School, with some minor additions and expansion. There are no plans to change the catchment area for The Swan School or The Cherwell School in the foreseeable future.

Asked at Feb 11th Information Event

No.

We hope to have a specialist music teacher in September who will coordinate music in our core curriculum and electives. They will also organise peripatetic music teachers who will provide individual tuition. We are exploring links with the Oxford Music Service and other local schools and organisations to ensure that music at The Swan is of the highest standard.

Students will take part in four co-curricular activities per week. Two of these will be ‘electives’ where students can choose to take part in a range of different enrichment activities. Two of the sessions will be supervised study or ‘prep’ time when students will be able to complete homework in calm, focused conditions with teacher support.

Buildings and Facilities

We plan to move into our new building during the summer holiday next year. It may be that students return to school slightly later than normal in September 2020 to ensure that staff can fully embed themselves and their resources into the new building. This will ensure that there is no disruption to learning when students return to school.

In line with successful modern school design we will provide separate boys’ and girls’ toilet cubicles with an adjacent gender neutral toilet, promoting safe and monitored behaviour in the combined common area. This is an approach that has proven to be very popular with both staff and students in other schools.

The school is set in a beautiful natural site, and this has been very much reflected in the design of the school. The building will meet high standards of efficiency and passive design, with maximising a positive environmental impact being considered at every stage. The landscape design includes substantial replanting of bio-diverse species of trees and hedgerow, as well as incorporating meadow mix green roof areas to encourage insect and wildlife habitat. The finished design shows a higher ecology rating than exists currently. The school is making use of ground source heat-pump technology and whilst solar panels (PVs) are not installed at the initial build stage the roofs are being constructed to allow this in due course.

Experience in other new-build schools suggests that a phased opening is likely on a project of this size. This means that a restricted area of the school buildings will be used by the school on opening, whilst the remainder of the site is being completed. This is a common approach, and will not disrupt the quality of education provided.

The Swan School will have up-to-date computers and IT equipment available, including computer suites, high-quality wireless, and wireless devices available for student use.

No – unfortunately not! But we are reasonably close to the Ferry Sports Centre, and will aim to use their facilities when appropriate.

Each student will have access to a locker on site, and will be able to store possessions securely during the school day.

Enrichment

We hope to have a specialist music teacher in September who will coordinate music in our core curriculum and electives. They will also organise peripatetic music teachers who will provide individual tuition. We are exploring links with the Oxford Music Service and other local schools and organisations to ensure that music at The Swan is of the highest standard.

Students will take part in four co-curricular activities per week. Two of these will be ‘electives’ where students can choose to take part in a range of different enrichment activities. Two of the sessions will be supervised study or ‘prep’ time when students will be able to complete homework in calm, focused conditions with teacher support.

Structured play means that lightly supervised activities are provided at lunchtime, and students may choose which to take part in. Activities will include options to relax and chat to friends, sport and use of the library or computer facilities. It is useful to arrange play in this way, so that all students – including those less confident in sport, for example – feel comfortable taking part in enjoyable activities every day.

Electives will be changed every one or two terms. We don’t know yet exactly what will be on offer, but are planning a variety of exciting options, including sport, drama, music, art, games and hobbies, and languages such as Latin and Greek. We will encourage students to choose a range of electives to broaden their interests and develop their skills in different areas.  If a reasonably sized-group of students show interest in an activity which isn’t currently offered, we will look to include it as an elective for future terms. Every attempt will be made to include small group electives where there is sufficient enthusiasm and interest from students.

The longer school day has three main purposes. One is that it will help create more time in the day for sport and the arts – such as drama and music. The second reason is that it will be used to give children time and space to complete independent work – they will have less to do at home, and can complete ‘homework’ in a place where they can get help and support. The third reason is that the extra time can be used for ‘catch-up’ if a child has missed learning because of illness, or if they haven’t understood it yet. This means that all children will learn quickly and deeply, and no-one will be left behind.

All students are expected to remain in school for the longer day. If there is a particular reason why a child has to leave school early – for example involvement in elite sports training – this may be facilitated as appropriate following discussion with the school.

Extra Sport

We will work hard to ensure that our teachers are aware of the needs of all students and they are well trained in the best techniques for inclusive classroom practice. Where appropriate, teaching assistants will work closely with teachers to provide additional classroom support and resources.

The Swan will be a fully inclusive school where all students, including those with SENDMH, can be successful. We will have a member of the senior leadership team who will lead on SEN provision and a learning support department who will help to provide support and interventions for pupils as needed. However, we believe that quality first teaching is the best way to ensure that students with additional learning needs achieve the best they possibly can. We will work hard to ensure that our teachers are aware of the needs of all students and they are well trained in the best techniques for inclusive classroom practice.

Absolutely. We believe that each and every student has the potential to achieve and learn quickly and securely. Where students are struggling, our SEND team, alongside the full commitment of the teachers to successful, inclusive classroom practice, will ensure that progress is supported. Another key advantage of the extended day is the ability to help students catch up if they have fallen behind, e.g. through absence or difficulties in grasping learning first time.

Governance and Finance

The first full Ofsted inspection will take place in the school’s third year of opening. Prior to this the DfE sends education advisors to the school to review how well the school is doing. The River Learning Trust also has a school improvement team that will work with the school to secure the highest possible standards and we will be communicating to, as well as consulting with, parents about how the school is doing.

The Swan School and The Cherwell School will have strong links, because they are geographically close and are both part of the River Learning Trust. This means that there may be some shared teaching and use of facilities, particularly at sixth-form level. The schools will also work together on teaching, curriculum and assessment to learn from each other and ensure that students receive the best experience possible.

However, it is important to note that The Swan School will very much have its own identity, values and ethos. Students and staff will be proud to attend or work at the school.

Miscellaneous

No.

The school day will start at 9.15am and end at 4.45pm, except on Fridays when we will have an earlier finish. The longer day will allow time for co-curricular activities, which will be a combination of supervised study and enrichment activities. Students will go straight into lessons at the start of the day and have tutor time/assembly later on. All students will enjoy a family style lunch in the middle of the day.

 

 

There is unlikely to be a dedicated school bus for The Swan School, but the site is close to various bus routes, including 13, X13, 14 and 14a.

We are currently sourcing our uniform supplier and value for money is an essential requirement in how we are approaching this process. More information will follow later in the year.

A ‘family lunch’ means that all students and members of staff will eat good quality food together.  The concept will help teachers and students to get to know each other better, to talk, and to make sure the atmosphere in the school is always happy and positive. Because it is a shared dining experience, packed lunches will not be allowed; instead, staff and students will enjoy a range of nutritious and tasty meal options. There will be religious and vegetarian options on the menu.

Pastoral

Every member of staff at The Swan will look out for our students and be available for them to speak to if they are having problems.  Each child will have a form tutor, a head of house, and pastoral assistant – these are likely to be the adults who know them best and so best placed to provide support when needed.  In addition, there will also be specific members of staff who will support students having particular problems, for example the designated safeguarding lead. The names and roles of these people will be publicised so all students know where they can go to get help.

Yes, students will have tutor time or assembly every day as a regular part of the day.  These are an important opportunity to come together as a community and build our school’s ethos.  However, these will be timetabled later in the day, rather than first thing in the morning so that children go straight into academic curriculum lessons when they come to school.  This will help us maximise valuable morning learning time and maintain high levels of punctuality.

When the school is full, students will be organised in houses with a head of house, supported by a non-teaching pastoral assistant.  We believe houses are the best way of building a strong community and positive interactions between children of all ages. This also creates excellent student leadership opportunities for older children.

We will create a culture of kindness through a strong focus on our values of respect and integrity in assembly and tutor times in particular. Where rare incidences of bullying do occur, we will take a zero tolerance approach. All our teaching staff will be vigilant to bullying and our pastoral teams will ensure that students will know who to go to if they are having a problem. We will take a restorative approach to repair relationships where possible.

 

 

 

Rules and Behaviour

No.

Phones will not be allowed for use during the school day. Students are welcome to bring phones to school, for example to ring parents on the way home, but they must be switched off and be away in lockers or bags between 9am and 4.45pm.

Yes, where required – this will take place before or after school. However, because the expectations of the school will be so clear, students will be very clear about how to avoid detention – basically by working hard and following instructions.  Integrity will be one of our most important values so we will use a ‘restorative’ approach to behaviour management – rather than just being punished, students will be taught to understand why their behaviour is not acceptable and how to make better choices in future.

We are alert to the role of information technology in education, and at this stage we have no plans to see all pupils equipped with a laptop or similar device, rather we will use school-owned technology in school as fits with lesson requirements. As such, as the school opens students will not be able to bring in laptops. However, if there is a genuine educational reason why they are needed – for example a special education need for an individual which means that a laptop is required, or if required for the sixth-form curriculum in due course – then, of course, this will be allowed.

No – students will not normally be able to leave the school grounds at lunch or break time. An exception will be for sixth-form students, who may need to attend some lessons elsewhere.

Sports and Arts

There are plenty of facilities for sport, including a brand new sports hall, football, rugby, athletics and cricket pitches, outdoor table tennis and basketball, and a good quality multi-use games area for netball, hockey and others. They will be used regularly during PE, electives, the extended day and at break/lunchtimes. Students at The Swan School will lead active, healthy lifestyles, with sport playing a big part of this.

Absolutely – regular competitive sport (both in school and with other schools) will be a regular feature of the school.

Staff

Teachers in the early years may teach more than one subject, but only when we are able to guarantee that their subject knowledge and confidence in delivering the curriculum is excellent. Senior leaders will teach much more than is typical in the early stages, ensuring that students will have ample access to experienced and highly accomplished staff.  We will pride ourself on providing the highest quality professional development for staff to help ensure that student are provided with the best possible learning experiences.

The First Year

Parents are such an important part of our school community and we will be setting up a PTA to facilitate these links and get feedback on how we are doing as a school. We will also be looking to recruit parent governors to help shape the strategic direction of the school and volunteers to support our electives programme. If you have an idea for how you would like to get involved, let us know!

 

 

 

We plan to move into our new building during the summer holiday next year. It may be that students return to school slightly later than normal in September 2020 to ensure that staff can fully embed themselves and their resources into the new building. This will ensure that there is no disruption to learning when students return to school.

We are in touch with several recently opened free schools, having visited their premises and talked with staff and students. If there is sufficient interest, we will be happy to put prospective parents in touch with parent organisations at these schools.

A strong sense of partnership between the school and parent/ carers is fundamental to the vision for The Swan School. Therefore, we would be very interested in encouraging and facilitating a PTA group, which has the potential to be particularly influential in the early years of the school.

Experience in other new-build schools suggests that a phased opening is likely on a project of this size. This means that a restricted area of the school buildings will be used by the school on opening, whilst the remainder of the site is being completed. This is a common approach, and will not disrupt the quality of education provided.

Working with Other Schools

The Swan School and The Cherwell School will have strong links, because they are geographically close and are both part of the River Learning Trust. This means that there may be some shared teaching and use of facilities, particularly at sixth-form level. The schools will also work together on teaching, curriculum and assessment to learn from each other and ensure that students receive the best experience possible.

However, it is important to note that The Swan School will very much have its own identity, values and ethos. Students and staff will be proud to attend or work at the school.