Starting a new school can sometimes feel a bit daunting so with this in mind, the following 'Guide for Parents' has been written to help make the transition a little easier. The guide will hopefully answer your questions – the obvious and not quite so obvious – and give you lots of background information about Benhall St Mary’s.
Benhall St Mary’s is a small primary school, currently teaching children from Reception year to Year 6. The majority of children start full-time at Benhall in the September/Autumn term after they reach the age of 4. They enter at Reception level and then move up to Year 1 at the start of the new school year in September. Each September, your child will move up to the next year group.
Classes are organised as follows:
• Squirrels Reception
• Acorns Year 1 & Year 2
• Oaks Year 3 & 4
• Woodlands Year 5 & 6
This can sometimes change year on year according to numbers in each year group.
The School Office
Miss Woodroffe is the Admin/Finance Assistant; she is in the office Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (8:30 – 14:30). Mrs Revell is the Office Manager and she is in the office all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (8:30 – 16:30).
Our Head of Kitchen is Sam. All our food is cooked fresh on site. We have a great menu with lots of options enjoyed by both children and staff. If your child has any dietary requirements please let us know.
The House Teams are:
Thorpeness – Red; Orford – Blue; Aldeburgh – Green; and Dunwich – Yellow
Ask a teacher if you are not sure which house your child is in – they will be happy to let you know.
School coats, bags and book bags are also on the website and are recommended. Shoes must be suitable for school (no trainers or heeled boots), polo shirts must be tucked in and uniform worn smartly. Only small plain stud earrings can be worn and these must be removed for PE. Alternatively plasters must be provided to cover them over during PE. It’s much easier if earrings are not worn on a PE day – avoids problems with them getting lost! Teachers are unable to remove earrings or apply plasters to ears. No other jewellery is allowed.
What else will children need?
All children will need a book bag and these are again available from www.schooltrends.co.uk. All stationery and writing materials are provided. Please send a named bottle of water in for your child to drink during the day. There is a water fountain in the playground for break times. Juice or flavoured water is not permitted. Please ensure your children always come with a suitable coat…we do like them to get some fresh air during the day. Each child will be given a numbered locker where they should keep their PE kit, book bags and coats. They are not locked, so there is no problem with lost keys!
All uniform is currently available online from www.schooltrends.co.uk.
We would recommend ordering from them as soon as possible as orders can build up during the summer holidays.
The school has four classrooms. Squirrels, Acorns and Oaks use the three classrooms adjacent to each other in the main part of the school. The fourth classroom is situated behind the school hall and is the home of Woodlands. The Hall is used for collective worship, PE, school plays and productions and at lunchtime it is used as the dining room. Behind the hall is the library area. Adjacent to the main doors (back and front) is the school office and next to this is the Headteacher’s office. Also along this corridor are the staff room, toilets and blue room and purple rooms. The blue and purple rooms are used for teaching smaller groups.
The Daily Timetable
School starts at 8.50am. For all children’s safety, if you bring your child to school by car please do not park out the front, you should use the car park at the back of the school (turn down School Lane – next to the school – and then turn left). Please watch out for younger children as the Pre-School also use this car park. You can then use the gate to the playground to come into school. Parents are welcome to wait with their children until the bell goes, but a teacher is on duty from 8:40am, so feel free to leave at this point if you need to. The children then line up with their class group and their teacher will lead them into school. Please note that the play equipment is designed for school use and we would ask that it is not used by the children before/after school. The gym equipment is not suitable for children under 7 years.
Morning break is for 15 minutes between 10:30am until 10:45am. The children in Reception to Year 2 are given a piece of fruit each day free of charge. Children in Year 3 to Year 6 are welcome to bring in a piece of fruit from home or a savoury snack. We are a healthy school so no sweets please. Lunch Break is from 12:00pm - the children wash their hands and then queue up in their classroom. After lunch they go out to the playground. Each day during morning registration the children will advise whether they are having a school lunch or are packed. School meals comprise of two courses which are designed to be nutritious and appealing to children. There is one main choice and an alternative/vegetarian every day and the menu works on rotation and is published in advance. In addition, baguettes, wraps and jacket potatoes are available every day on request. The children eat together in the hall and can choose where they sit. Fizzy drinks and sweets are not included in school meals and are not allowed in packed lunches please.
Children in Reception through to Year 2 receive Universal Free School meals (UFSM), but in addition Free School Meals (FSM) may be available to children of families receiving benefits. Information is included on our website under the Lunches tab outlining the difference between the two schemes and you can apply on
Illness/absence If your child is unable to attend school due to illness or any other reason, phone the school office as soon as possible to let them know, stating the reason for the absence. If no one is there to answer, there is an answerphone where you can leave a message. The school calendar and term dates are published on the school website under the Our School tab, and you can also check the opening times at the office. For children over 5 years, a leave of absence will only be authorised during term time for exceptional family reasons. An absence request form is available from the school website/office and you should use this to request permission to take your child out of school. If they are taken out without permission, any absences will go down in the register as unauthorised.
We would like children to read to an adult every night, even if only for 10 minutes, especially in the first few years! Squirrels and Acorns have home/school reading log books for ease of communication and the older children have the GoRead app for parents and school to log their reading.
Collective Worship is held every day. It includes a welcome, prayer, song and something to reflect on…maybe a story, for example. We sometimes have visiting guest speakers and “Open the Book” from the local church. We are currently in an interegnum and are waiting for a new vicar to be appointed. We invite parents to church services every term.
The Daily Mile
We try to include The Daily Mile into each school day. It gets children out of the classroom for ten minutes every day to run or jog, at their own pace, with their classmates, making them fitter, healthier, and more able to concentrate in the classroom. Long term research (The Education Endowment Fund) has proved that increased oxygen in the brain increases the ability to focus, concentrate and retain learning.
Letters & Texts
There are often letters sent home so please check your child’s book bag. We would ideally like to be able to send letters out electronically using out email system, so please provide us with an email address if you can. Text messages are also a quick way to find out what’s going on
especially if something changes at short notice, so make sure we have your up-to-date number.
Several school trips take place each year and parent helpers are often required, especially for the younger year groups.
Reports and Parents Evenings
A report is sent home for each child once a year in July and there is a Parents Evening during both the Autumn and Spring terms when you can book an appointment with your child’s class teacher.
There are many events throughout the year when parents, grandparents etc. are invited to join us, including Christingle, Harvest Festival, School Plays, Sports Day and many more!
Benhall St. Mary’s PTA
The school has an active Parent Teacher Association who raise funds for the school. New members and help are always welcome! Check with the school office for contact names. The Chair of Governors is Dr Roland Edwards. We are always looking to invite new members onto the board, so if you are interested, please contact Dr Roland Edwards, Mrs Revell in the office, Mrs Atima (Executive Headteacher) or Miss Flowers (Acting Deputy Headteacher).
We realise that there is a lot of information here to digest, but please don’t worry as we are all very approachable and here to help. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions, no matter how small and we shall endeavour to answer them as best we can. We look forward to welcoming your child to Benhall St. Mary's Primary School and we hope that they enjoy their time with us.