Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I am worried about my child?

The first point of contact should be the class teacher/s, or Norma if that is easier for you. Alternatively, email the school office at wpadmin@wyndhamstmarks.uk and Mrs Goodman will forward your message to the right person to help you. If you still have concerns please contact Mrs Morris, Head of School.

How do I contact the Head of School?

The email address for Mrs Morris is bmorris@wyndhamstmarks.uk. She should be contacted if your concerns have not been addressed via the class teacher, or Norma in the first instance.

My child seems to have their reading book for a long time, why is this?

At Wyndham Park we have recently invested in a new phonics scheme and the reading books that support this. This means the children in Reception and Year 1 are reading books that are now matched to the teaching and learning that takes place in class each week. These books help to reinforce the sounds that are taught in class and by over-learning the sound by seeing it, hearing it, saying it and reading it, their confidence and sound recognition builds in a very positive way. Repetition of the same book has been proven, through educational research supported by the Department for Education, to be instrumental in securing improved reading skills for children which then supports every area of learning across the curriculum.

We have not got such books at home, can we read anything else?

We passionately believe in the importance of promoting a love of reading and would encourage you to read a broad range of books from home, the local library, as well as from school. Whilst we are sending the phonic reading books to support your child’s reading confidence and skill development, we also want you to share other books with them to develop their listening skills, develop their imagination, and to help them access information in non-fiction books too. Read with your child, to your child, and listen to them too; it can be the greatest gift and creates special memories that cost nothing but can mean so much.

What does it mean when we are asked to make a voluntary contribution for a trip?

Educational visits in an ideal world could be fully paid for using government funding that is allocated to each child. However, year on year the cost increases we all experience at home are also impacting our school and we are unable to fund any trips further afield than our immediate location. This means that whilst we ask for a ‘voluntary contribution’, we really do need your support to plan any exiting trips or to invite visitors into school, as we plan to for science week, or to support with the high costs associated with funding coaches. Even our trip to Salisbury does require support in terms of funding a coach, otherwise the children spend nearly a day walking, rather than learning. With this in mind, we always aim to walk to town and return to school by coach. Sadly, we are not permitted to use public transport due to the sheer volume of children, and this is why the cost per child may seem high.

What happens if I cannot afford to contribute?

If you are unable to fund the trip or school visit we would ask you to contact the school office or Norma to see if we can offer any help. There is additional school funding available for families in receipt of certain benefits and it is worth checking if you are eligible, even though every infant child receives free school meals. Families in receipt of pupil premium funding do benefit from funded school trips, free books, and some free school uniform when they start in Reception. We also ensure they receive additional support in school with personalised termly targets that are shared with your family, ensuring your child makes the best possible progress at school by us working together. Please check this link to see if you can apply for this great benefit which will support your child at our school - https://parentportal.wiltshire.gov.uk/web/portal/pages/parents/free-school-meals

What happens if people do not contribute?

These current planned events will be a test case for the year. We will analyse the funds received to help make decisions regarding future planned trips, especially summer trips to places such as Longleat, London or the Oceanarium, for example. If we do not receive enough voluntary contributions we will not be able to risk booking coaches and tickets that we cannot afford as a school. Whilst we are always grateful that WPSA can often support these trips and reduce overall costs, they cannot always do this and we need must not be in a position where we rely upon it. In order to ensure families can afford these costs we will always try to give you as much notice as we can. It would be terribly sad if the actions of a minority choosing to not contribute led to trips not being accessible to all. Staff are currently looking at their planning and considering visits and visitors that will support the children’s learning and help build special memories too. We will keep updating you with regard to future events, their costs, and dates on the newsletters so please be sure to read them.

What do the staff actually do on a TD Day?

Teacher development days are an important part of the school calendar and are directly linked to our school development plan. This week teachers and teaching assistants came together, alongside our colleagues from Exeter House, to learn about an approach to teaching called Talk for Writing. Over the past two years we have been increasingly aware of the impact lockdown has had upon everyone, but especially the speech and language skills development of our children. Many of our children have missed their usual levels of socialisation with friends, extended family and at settings like pre-school or toddler groups. Our training day was a revisit to a familiar approach to some staff, and new to others. It emphasises the importance of talk and why it must be a priority for children if they are to become confident readers and writers. If they cannot say it, how will they write it? It was an incredibly valuable day and an important part of our aim to always keep learning as educators, supported by extensive research that recognises the benefits and importance of speaking and listening skills. Our learning this week will directly feed into your child's teaching and learning, aiming to make their basic skills development both more secure and exciting. This day followed training earlier this month which focused upon phonics and a Wiltshire Council initiative called Mark for Impact. TD days are additional opportunities for continuous professional development, alongside our weekly staff meetings. Thank you for your continued support of our school.

Can my child at St Mark’s collect my child from the infant school?

Unfortunately, not. Even if you believe your older child to be incredibly sensible and happy to do this we are unable to support this for safeguarding reasons. Collecting children from school is an adult responsibility, as is caring for children. As we all know, little children are unpredictable and will not always behave as we might expect. Young people cannot be expected to manage an upset or lively sibling and should not be put in this position. The roads around school are busy and sadly they do not always know every adult and may not be able to get help if needed. Please speak to Norma if you have regular difficulties as she can signpost you to alternative, safe options, or perhaps consider our after-school club offer. Contact details for after school providers can be found on the school website.

A teacher asked my secondary school child their age when they picked up this week, why?

Our school is really invested in your child and we care about them and their well-being at all times. Please do not be offended if we ask an older sibling their age, we have a duty of care and are being protective. Our relationships with families are important and we often have messages to pass on and seeing parents, or child minders really does help. Please make sure we have an up to date list regarding who has permission to collect your child, as well as any new phone numbers.

Why does my child have a sticker in their reading record?

Your child needs your help and support, alongside ours. One of our main responsibilities as an infant school is to teach children in learning to read and try to foster a love of reading and learning. Reading is an essential and key skill that helps each of us to access all areas of the curriculum, and as we grow, many areas of daily life are very reliant on our ability to read and to comprehend what has been read. Whilst we are passionate about teaching reading, this cannot be done in isolation, or only during the school day. We absolutely need every family to work with us and to ideally hear your child read as often as possible. We do not expect you to be reading entire books each night, unless you wish to, however five to ten minutes reading a book together is a great way to have quality time with your little ones and make a huge difference.

We have missed booked holidays and trips away because of COVID, so can we take our children out of school?

Unfortunately, these types of request cannot be authorised. The issue for school is that children have not had the full access to teaching and learning that they need to reach their best possible outcomes, so we are unable to support further absence from school as this will be detrimental to their education and cause further damage and increased gaps in learning. Requests to take children out of school have to be unauthorised even if they are for missed events and family holidays. Such requests will be recorded as unauthorised and whilst we recognise that some families will still choose to go ahead and remove their children anyway, we would ask that you are always honest and tell us your plans, as your children always do! Children will often tell us they have been to the beach, theme parks, or on holiday when officially we may have been told they are unwell. Similarly, their friends will often say where a child is and this makes for some very awkward conversations. Please be honest with the school and encourage your child to always tell the truth too. Honesty is the best policy.

Will I get fined?

At this present time, we try to avoid fining families unless we have engaged with them, offered support and advice, and are still increasingly concerned about their child’s low attendance and the harm caused to their learning. We will always have conversations regarding absence and try to unpick if there are any underlying causes that we may be able to assist with. We also have an Education and Welfare Officer who may be in touch with you if they are concerned by your child’s attendance levels. They meet with us throughout the year and we have to explain if a child has been absent and why. There are thresholds to meet and children will obviously do better in life if they receive a good education and are at school for every possible day. Please work with us as we all want the best for every child.

My child in Year 1 has really enjoyed their dance lessons this term, who teaches them?

We have a long-standing relationship with Salisbury Dance Studio and each long term, Miss Katy works with each year group to explore dance and support them in creating their end of term show. Next term she will work with Reception, and after Easter she will work with Year 2. Miss Katy is joined by the class teacher for each session as this also provides excellent professional development for each of them; working with a qualified and specialist dance teacher is a fantastic experience for the children and staff. We firmly believe in the benefits of dance to support children’s general physical development, but also as a positive way to support well-being. It also builds confidence, supports the development of more friendships, and also helps with skills such as listening and following instructions. Perhaps it is a new skill some of the children might like to develop in the new year…

I am worried about a child, what should I do?

There are a few options, but the most important thing is to take action, and not ignore your concerns. In the first instance you may decide to talk to us at school, even if it concerns a child we do not know. We will offer support and signposting as the child’s safety must be the absolute priority. You can call Wiltshire’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) if you think a child or young person is at risk of significant harm, or is injured, contact the Integrated Front Door (IFD) on 0300 4560108, 8.45am-5pm, Monday-Thursday and 8.45am-4pm Friday; Out of Hours 0300 456 0100. If you're ever concerned about a child, even if you're unsure, you can also contact the NSPCC Helpline, over the phone on 0808 800 5000. If a child is in immediate danger, contact the emergency services on 999.

How do you keep children safe at school?

Safeguarding is a key part of our role. Every staff member and volunteer is trained to spot any signs of harm and knows how to escalate these to our safeguarding leads. Safeguarding is the responsibility of everyone. The safeguarding leads at Wyndham Park are – Designated Safeguarding Lead – Mrs Morris, Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads – Mr Ramsay and Mrs Hallett. We use an online system to record any disclosures made, or to record any concerns. The system is called My Concern. This is a safeguarding tool that supports us to keep every child safe. If we are worried about your child on any level we will always speak to you about this first, unless we believe a child to be at immediate risk of harm. Just because there is a concern, it does not automatically mean a referral to MASH (see above). We all have struggles with our children at some stage, the important thing is to ask for help if you need it. We are always alert and watchful and would contact parents or carers to discuss any concerns in the first instance. Some parents actually ask us to contact social care on their behalf for some extra support. Seeking help or assistance if you are struggling is always the best approach, and remember Norma Hallett, our Family Support Worker, is able to help you too.

What is Christmas Jumper Day?

This is a nationwide event promoted by Save the Children which acts as a fundraiser for the charity, and is great fun for the children! Children can wear their home clothes plus a Christmas jumper if they wish to. There is no expectation that they must, this is completely optional. Some children might just want to wear a favourite jumper, and that is okay too. You can send in donations of £1 which we will send to Save the Children if you wish, however this is an expensive time of year and there is no assumption that this must be done by every child, it is a personal choice. We look forward to seeing your jumpers!

What is Christmas lunch like at school?

Christmas lunch day is always a real team effort and the lunch cover staff and the rest of the Wyndham Park team all muck in and serve up a super Christmas lunch provided by our school cook Mrs Martin, and the assistant cook Effie. The children enjoy a traditional turkey lunch with all the trimmings, or the vegetarian option. On this day we ensure that all allergy needs are catered for too, as we do every day. We have Christmas music, lots of fun, and there is always a wonderful Christmas atmosphere! - My child prefers their cold lunch, will this be available? Sadly not. On this day, the vast majority of children order a Christmas lunch and we do not have the capacity to offer both options. However, you are very welcome to send a home packed lunch if they really do not fancy the hot meal option. Again, please keep it as healthy as possible and avoid any nut products please to protect our allergy children.

My child is reluctant to read to me, what can I do?

Reading is one of the key learning skills and once children can read with confidence it opens up a whole new world to them, Children are often tired at the end of the day and may just need a snack and a drink before a cuddle and chance to read a couple of pages of their book. For others, it maybe they read and are then allowed to do a favourite activity such as playing in the garden, having time to build some Lego, start a puzzle, or possibly enjoying some crafts or cooking. Some need a complete break and may prefer to read at bedtime, before you read to them, and for others reading in the morning works better. There are many different ways to encourage children to read and there is no ‘one size fts all’. Some children will be motivated by a sticker chart and perhaps a trip to the park after a few reads, and for others it may involve building their confidence and talking through the book, looking at the pictures, reading key words, and then trying to read sentences. It is a difficult skill and does take time. If problems persist, please speak to the class teacher as they will always try to help and have a huge bank of past experiences to draw upon.

My child keeps asking to take toys into school, is this allowed?

Please discourage your children from bringing toys into school, no matter how small they are. We are finding increasing numbers of children bringing in favourite toys that are tucked into pockets and are then causing upsets at playtime and causing distractions in the classroom. When the toys are produced they often end up being passed about, lost, or even broken. If the class teacher wants the children to bring in a toy, book, or some other special item from home, this will be clearly communicated via the blog, Tapestry, or text. We will not send messages just verbally through the children, so please check these other information sources before you are encouraged to arrive with any additional resources!

What are the guidelines regarding water bottles?

At Wyndham Park School we promote healthy eating and drinking. Children are encouraged to bring a bottle filled with water each day. There are many reasons we encourage water, including being well hydrated to learn and water best supports this, developing healthy habits for life, keeping teeth healthy and avoiding additional sugars, even if substitutes, and it prevents ants in school too! Whilst many parents argue that their child will not drink anything but juice or squash, our experience proves this not to be the case. With praise and positivity, we find that the children will happily drink water and are very good once they understand why. Even if you choose to give them juice or squash at home, by encouraging each child to drink water at school we are educating children to be as healthy as possible, and that is our most important role. Please send your child with a clearly named water bottle each day. It can be refilled if they drink it all. Thank you for supporting us in keeping your child fit, healthy, and ready to learn.

What are the best things for a home packed lunch box?

Again, we encourage a healthy approach as our role is to educate and promote healthy lifestyles as much as possible. We encourage children to have a broad food choice, but not so much food that they cannot eat it. Ideally, a sandwich or roll filled with maybe ham, cheese, or tuna. A handful sized piece of fruit, bunch of grapes, or maybe chunks of cucumber. Some children may like some cheddar type snacks, or breadsticks, however we discourage crisps because they are less healthy and are incredibly messy tool. A yogurt, or small biscuit, or piece of fruit cake may also be a nice addition. Please consider how much you would normally feed your child on a plate. Some children come with a lot of food and can get quite overwhelmed by such a big lunch, especially when they want to have a long playtime too. We ask for children to never have peanut butter or chocolates spread in sandwiches due to high numbers of allergy children. Similarly, we discourage cereal and chocolate bars due to the increased risk of nuts within the product, and/or exposure to nuts in factories. Too many sweet items do also lead to some challenging behaviours for some children as they can react to high levels of sugar, and the slump that follows. It is vital that we recognise lunchtime as an important part of the school day when we develop social skills, over learn what good eating habits are, and enjoy a healthy meal together.

My child says they can choose their lunch every day, is this the case?

Sadly not. Due to high levels in food wastage and a change to sandwich preparation postpandemic, we cannot facilitate ordering food ‘on the day’ for such large numbers. Food must be ordered at the start of term to support the kitchen team and allow food to be ordered ahead effectively, especially in light of predicted food shortages this winter. Please remind your child what has been ordered each day if you can

What are the superstar cards for?

Each class has a behaviour chart and children’s names start each day on it as, ‘Ready to learn.’ Their names can be moved up to ‘Great job,’ and then to, ’Superstar.’ Their names are moved upwards if very positive behaviours are spotted in class. If children are not making good choices, their name can be moved down to, ’Think about it.’ Children are then supported to think about their behaviour. If behaviour does not improve their name may be moved down, and they may be sent to a, ‘Partner class.’ On a visit to partner class, they have time to sit for a few minutes, think about how to make a good choice, and maybe consider if they need to apologise if they have upset a friend, for example. Our focus at Wyndham is always on recognising and promoting positive behaviours in the first instance, and names moving down the chart are rare. If your child has a challenging day, the class teacher will usually have a quiet word with you to explain what has happened if they have visited a partner class. Like all of us, little people often make mistakes and this is normal and to be expected. Making mistakes often helps us learn and grow far more positively and this will always be our focus. If your child does come home with a superstar card, it means they have shown great behaviour all day, however for these to be valued they are not awarded daily to each child as this is another way to support and promote great behaviours. Please celebrate and see if they can recall what they did well!

Why does my child talk about raffle tickets?

Raffle tickets are given to children when they are working in class and are seen to be showing good learning skills development, such as using their capital letters at the start of a sentence, or maybe solving some word problems well. They write their name on the back of the ticket and at the end of the week the class teachers draw out some ‘winning’ tickets and the children choose a reward from a box of little toys, pencils, and so on. This causes great excitement and positively motivates every child, as well as reinforcing that sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose.

What happens in celebration assembly?

Each Friday we try to have a whole school assembly. During the assembly each teacher nominates children that have shown a certain behaviour that is part of the Personal, Social, Health, and Economic Education curriculum (PSHEE), for example working well with a partner, or thinking about the school community. These children receive a head teacher’s award in the form of a sticker. This is also when some children receive rainbow awards. These are postcards that celebrate children noticed by staff during the week for doing something notable, for example helping a teacher carry some books, holding open doors for visitors, or displaying great manners; living the school values. This assembly is also an opportunity to celebrate extra-curricular learning and children are welcome to bring in official certificates or medals from clubs like Rainbows, Beavers, or from activities like dance, swimming, or rugby.

Why don’t parents get told why staff are not in?

Staff are not in school for a wide variety of reasons throughout the year, these include training courses, illness, bereavement, family needs, and more. However, whatever the reasons, they are private and can only be disclosed out of choice by the person concerned. When there are maternity cover needs, these are shared and planned, however it is not always possible or appropriate to share the reason for an absence. Staff have a right to a private life and this must be respected.

Why don’t you tell families who is covering?

There are two main issues. Firstly, please be assured our priority is to spend time addressing the cover need as a matter of urgency. Once we are aware of a staff absence we need to find the cover, contact the person/s concerned, share planning, and ensure the classroom is ready for your children. This takes time, however by the time your child reaches school this is all sorted and 99% of the time the class teacher or teaching assistant they normally have will be there to offer consistency, and we are aiming to replace just one of the adults, it is incredibly rare that both adults assigned to a class are absent. Secondly, if we keep calm and make no fuss about a change in staffing, neither do the children. If managing change is modelled positively to children, they mirror that back and go with it. Quite simply this is a trust issue and we will not take risks with the children. We will always ensure your child is well taught and cared for by professional staff. This system works well and we are grateful if you can support the children and present positively if a staff member is away. Change will happen throughout their lives and experiencing different people builds confidence, knowledge, as well as building resilience and relationships. Thank you for your understanding.

What time should the children be in school?

The school doors open at 0850 and we aim to have everyone in by 0900. If most of a class have arrived at 0855, the teacher will take them in, however this does not mean your child is late. A teaching assistant, Mr Ramsay, or Mrs Morris will help your child to class if they arrive before 0900.

I have children going to Year 2 and Reception at the same time, how do I manage this?

We suggest you drop off your most confident child first, then take the other/s to their class or line. We have many siblings and it is not a worry. Please do not panic as your child will feel anxious if they see that you are. There is a ten minute window and we understand how mornings can be.

Do they really need to bring a coat every day? 

Yes, please! A thin, waterproof coat is perfect whilst it is still warm, but we have unexpected downpours. The British weather in the autumn is unpredictable so best to be prepared. 

Do they go out to play if it is raining?

Yes, they do, unless it is torrential, as with forest school. Most of our children enjoy their playtimes so much that a little bit of rain does not put them off and they get a much needed brain break and a chance to run about. For those that are not keen, there are canopies on each playground that provide shelter, however these are usually empty unless the children have forgotten their coats.

Can my child bring a backpack?

Only if they go to a childminder, school based after school club, or have wetting accidents we are aware of. The cloakrooms do not have space and the children do not need them. They should bring a named water bottle, reading folder, and PE kit. Children can also bring a home packed lunch if they have not ordered a school lunch before the deadline.

Do they need a pencil case?

Not in Reception, or Year 1 please. Children in Year 2 are allowed to bring a named, empty pencil case. We also have some spare pencil cases and access to pencil pots.

Does it really matter if we arrive late?

Sadly, it really does. The children really struggle when they arrive late as
they do not like walking in to a class that has already settled to their learning. Not only are they visibly
uncomfortable, even after lots of reassurance, but they are often then worried about what they have just missed in
terms of their learning. Every class provides starter activities for the children each morning to support English and
math skills, promptly followed by their phonics lesson. Every minute is vitally important for your child's educational
progress. Whilst we understand that children are sometimes unavoidably late, this should be very rare indeed, and
not a regular occurrence. This will be closely monitored in the summer terms.


I am running late to collect my child, what should I do?

Again, we recognise that these things happen, but it is
vitally important that you call ahead and let us know if you can. Please call school on 01722-334594, and please
persevere. Mrs Goodman has a large school to support and is often collecting children for appointments, or in
meetings. Your call will be answered as soon as possible, alternatively email wpadmin@wyndhamstmarks.uk to
explain your delay so that we can let your child know and arrange for someone to care for them until you arrive.
Again, your child will become anxious, and whilst we do all that we can to reassure, they, and we, will be worried if
we are unsure of the situation. Please ensure that you have provided school with up to date contact numbers for
your mobiles, landlines, work, and emergency contacts. There is a time threshold after which we call Social Care; if
we have not heard from anyone, or cannot contact you, we have a duty of care to contact other agencies in case
there has been a significant incident involving you and your family.