Dear Year 6 pupils, parents and carers,
Thank you so much for the many questions you sent in your questionnaires at the end of last year. There were many familiar questions but also some new ones and I have done my best to answer all those that I can below.
I know many of you may be worried about the impact COVID-19 has had on your child’s education and I hope I can address some of those concerns below and provide some advice on what you and your child can be doing at home now to ensure they have the best possible start to the year. Year 6 is a brilliant, challenging, memorable and, above all, very special year and having seen six cohorts through at Freemantle, I know how incredibly important it is to have a positive home-school relationship; that will be true this year more than ever.
Throughout these answers I regularly refer to the importance of reading for pleasure. Below is a link to the Year 6 Recommended Reading document, which has been put together over six years with the input of many previous Year 6 pupils.
All of your Year 6 teachers look forward to meeting you in September. We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer break and come back ready to enjoy a special final year at Freemantle.
The Year 6 Team
TEACHERS & THE YEAR 6 CLASS
Will we get a chance to get to know our new teachers?
It is sad that we were not able to have our usual transition days at the end of Year 5. Most of you will know a bit about me and some of you got to meet Miss Saunders, but everyone will meet us in September and we will absolutely have some time at the start of the year where we get to know each other like we would on a transition day. It’s important that we get to know you - and your questionnaires were really helpful for us - but it’s important too that you get to know us, what we expect from you and what to expect from Year 6. Hopefully these answers will give you an idea, but I promise it won’t be very different to all your other years at Freemantle.
How many teachers are there and who are they ?
Before the end of term you should have been told who your teacher will be next year. The class teachers next year are Mr Seymour and Miss Saunders. We’re very lucky that we will also be joined by Mrs Durham, Mrs Haworth and Mrs Bevan-Mackie (who you will have met before lockdown) who all have lots of experience helping children across the entire school.
Will we have a class pet?
We certainly will. Clyde is our Year 6 leopard gecko - he’s a small, extremely friendly lizard who loves being held and he will be our class pet. One of the benefits of being in Year 6 is you (if you want to) can look after Clyde: hopefully we’ll be able to continue doing this in the new school year.
Will anything be different in class and in school because of COVID-19?
Yes, school will be a little different. The classroom layout, for example, will be slightly different with tables more spaced apart, we’ll use hand gel when coming in and out of class and we won’t have assemblies in the same way as before. We’ll be spending the first days getting used to some of these changes. We had lots of children in school over the last seven weeks of term and, though it looked different and the way we did some things was different, I think they’d all tell you that it still feels like Freemantle.
Will we get any small privileges?
There are loads of privileges and benefits to being top of the school. From being able to take on roles such as house captains and representing the school in sports teams to having a class pet and many end-of-year rewards and experiences. We hope that we will be able to keep many of the privileges that Year 6 pupils have enjoyed in the past.
Are we going to be doing house captains this year?
Will we be in our Year 5 classroom?
Yes - you kicked Year 6 out at the start of Year 5, but we have reclaimed the Year 5 classroom for Year 6, though it will of course look a little bit different.
Will we have more homework than last year?
Year 5 and 6 follow the same homework timetable - we give homework out on Tuesdays due Friday, and Friday due Tuesday, with 20 rounds of TTRS as well. When it comes to revising for SATs, there will be a little bit more but we help you to make sure it’s never too much (and by that point, most pupils in Year 6 wants to do more homework anyway!)
Will we be doing advanced maths in Year 6?
We will, but all the maths we do is based on what you’ve already learned so even when we learn things like algebra in Spring term, it will look familiar to you.
What are science lessons going to be like, and are we going to do experiments?
We have some wonderful science topics in Year 6, including looking at the circulatory system (how your heart, lungs and other parts of your body work), evolution and adaptation (how living things have changed over time) and electricity. We plan on doing lots of experiments this year and have some all-new experiments lined up for this year.
Who I will be sat with? Where will my tray be?
Another Year 6 bonus here - your tray will always be under your desk. As for who you are sat with, we can’t tell everybody that now, but there will not be regular talk-partner changes like in the past.
Can I have help in learning in Year 6?
If I said no to this, I’d need to find another job quickly. Every adult in Year 6, like every adult in Freemantle, is there to help you. Sometimes help can be leaving you to work something out on your own, but I promise you that it is the job of everybody in Year 6 to help you learn!
Do we still have to do TTRS?
Of course. Regular reading, good times tables recall and a positive attitude to learning are all at the top of the list of things that will help you do well this year.
Will there be one large group or two small ones?
There will be two classes, just like normal.
Will I get the chance to try out for the football team?
I hope so. We can’t say, right now, what teams will or won’t be running next year, but if sports teams are running, everybody is given the chance to try out. Selection is based partly on attitude in class as you’ll be representing Freemantle in public, but as long as you’re working hard, then you’ll be considered.
Where are we going on our trips? What topics are we going to have?
I hope we’ll be able to go on trips this year, but we haven’t been told yet whether we’ll be allowed to. In the past, we have visited Fort Nelson, as part of our WW2 topic, Monkey World, as part of our topic on Darwin, we have had history days and visited Thorpe Park. What we’re allowed to do will depend on what happens this year, but I hope we’ll get to go on some of these trips. As for topics, we begin by looking at Frozen Kingdoms (the Arctic and Antarctica) before moving on to World War Two.
Will there be Elsa support in September?
To the best of my knowledge at this moment in time, absolutely.
Is it a lot tougher than Year 5?
Not if you work hard, focus, show respect to yourself and others, want to do well and are willing to learn from your mistakes! Pupils often think - at the start of the year - that Year 6 is going to be a tough year. By the end they tend to think it has been their favourite year. We work really hard, but we also have lots of fun and it’s a very special year where you will learn lots about yourself and create some very special memories.
Will we still have the same subjects that we had in Year 5 ?
Yes! We still do the same subjects as in Year 5, building on what you know in those subjects to help you learn even more.
How will we catch up on the work we missed? Will I be receiving cover work for the time I missed?
Miss Sullivan and Mr Dyer set work throughout the whole of lockdown to help make sure you continued to learn the Year 5 curriculum ready to start Year 6. We know that there will be some extra things that we need to cover, but lots of what we learn builds on what you’ve already learned in Years 3, 4 and 5 in particular. As I will have repeated probably 10 times by the end of these answers, the best thing you can be doing right now to prepare for Year 6 is reading high-quality books (there’s a Year 6 Recommended Books list on the Year 5 page already).
Will the learning programme be extended because of missing out on attending school from April? Will school hours change?
Mr Barnett will be able to give more information on this once the government give us more information on next year. At Freemantle, we already have a longer day than most primary schools. We will run more clubs for pupils who need extra help throughout the whole year. If you have any worries about having missed out, I’d recommend you make sure you are regularly reading. All the research we have - and all the experience I have - shows us that children who read regularly for pleasure do better in school. I’m confident we’ll be able to make up for that time with the support of your parents and carers at home; now is a great time to get started by reading, reading, reading. 20 minutes a day is a good start (fiction, comics, graphic novels, non-fiction, poetry, magazines are all great).
Can we have extra art lessons?
Good news for whoever asked this one - one of our Summer topics this year is called Gallery Rebels, and we’ll be looking at many different kinds of art and artists in this topic, but we’ll be doing lots of art throughout the year as well. We start by looking at the art of the Inuit people as part of our Frozen Kingdoms topic.
SATS and SECONDARY SCHOOL
Thinking about SATS, what time of year are they usually and how long do they last?
SATs don’t take place until May and they’re over and done with in a few hours (if you want precise numbers, it’s roughly an hour for GPS, an hour for reading and two hours for maths, but split into three separate parts). BUT we have a whole year of learning before then. Regardless of what happens in the tests, you still go to secondary school, nobody’s going to think any differently of you and you’ll still have had an absolutely brilliant final year at Freemantle. Again, if you want to be doing everything you can to help yourself in your SATs now: read.
What happens if you don’t get submitted to a secondary school?
Great news - everybody will go to secondary school unless your parents or carers choose to home-school you. It’s the law! Nobody stays back a year, nobody ‘doesn’t get in’. Everybody goes so nothing to worry about here whatsoever.
My parents have doubts about lost time in year 5. Will the school be able to organise additional activities to be ready for the SAT test at the end of Year 6?
We’ll be doing lots of things to help make up for the lost time including more clubs and small-group tuition sessions than we’ve ever offered before. Focus on what you can be doing now, because three weeks is a long time and if you want to make sure you’re coming back in September as ready as can be, you should be:
Reading daily. If you click here you’ll find the Year 6 Reading List which could help you to choose challenging, exciting books.
Ensuring your TTRS speed is, ideally, under 4 seconds - the quicker the better as so many of our maths topics draw on times tables knowledge.
How hard are the SATS?
How hard is cooking an egg? It depends on lots of different things. Different people find different things difficult - I find cooking hard (though I can cook eggs…) and I found French pretty tough at school, but recently I’ve mastered feeding a baby without getting any food on myself, which I can assure you is hard.
Ultimately, SATs are just a series of questions about the things you’ve learned in maths, reading and grammar, punctuation and spelling during Years 3, 4, 5 and 6, but everyone finds different things difficult. I can’t tell you how hard the SATs will be, but all we expect of our pupils is that they work hard and do their best. If at the end of Year 6 you can say that, it won’t matter how hard the tests were and you’ll have the mentality and attitude to go on and be successful at secondary school. Just as importantly, SATs only look at a small part of the curriculum. They don’t assess your skills in PE, art, science, history, geography, DT, music, drama, dance, philosophy, communication, leadership, empathy, friendship, resilience and countless other skills, so while you take SATs in Year 6, and we will talk about them later in the year and prepare for them well, they’re only a small part of what makes Year 6 an important, special year.
I think I will have a problem with learning, because I’ve studied English less than two years.
One of the things I love most about Freemantle is our diversity. I’ve taught pupils from more than 20 different countries. Some of them haven’t spoken any English at all when they’ve joined Year 6, others have missed out on some school or have come from schools that are very different to Freemantle while others come confident speaking English. It’s our job to help you if learning English is something you need help with, and luckily we have a big focus on reading in Year 6. But to learn a language quickly, there are a few things you can do to help yourself:
Read English books
Watch television in English (with subtitles if you need them)
Speak English at home
We’ll help you with English, but one of the messages that we come back to often in Year 6, as we look ahead to the transition to secondary school, is this: you are the most important person in your education and there’s always something you can do to help yourself.
I worry about getting embarrassed when asking for help.
One of the most important lessons we teach in Year 6 is that we learn from mistakes and we learn from each other. There is never anything embarrassing about asking for help - it’s a normal part of learning. We pair you with talk partners so you can ask each other for help. We employ support staff and extra teachers so you can ask them for help - it’s our job to be asked for help. And asking for help doesn’t stop when you’re a certain age or when you leave school; it’s a part of life. If I don’t understand something, I ask somebody (maybe Mr Barnett or Miss Hindley, but often Mrs Durham, too!) In fact, I probably ask Google about 10 questions a day. Never feel embarrassed asking for help. It’s part of being a learner and you don’t ever stop being one.
What can I do now to help myself do the best I can in Year 6?
If you’ve been reading these answers carefully, you’ll already know what I’m going to say… read. Using the resources we provide - such as your Year 5 CGP books, TTRS and Spelling Frame - if you know you struggle in certain areas can really help as well, but the most important thing for your success, not only this year but throughout your time in school, is that you read books that you enjoy. I hope the Year 6 Recommended Reading List provides some ideas for you, many of the choices have been recommended by previous Year 6 pupils, but you know you best! If you’re able to with a parent or carer, getting out into a bookshop or library is brilliant, but if you aren’t able to, there are some recommended ways of finding new books on the Recommended Reading List.