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Orchard School Bristol

FAQs from Parents of Year 6s

What do I need to do before my child starts at Orchard?

Please complete the information questionnaire which is being posted to you at the end of June.

Please make sure you have purchased the correct uniform and sports kit.

What will my child need for their first day?

We are not sure what September 2020 will look like at the moment. We will keep in touch with you and make sure you’re really clear on what’s happening. For example, we are not asking our Year 10 students to wear uniform at the moment, as it is safer for them to wear their own clothes.

As and when we know more, we will keep in touch with you. The wellbeing of your child will be at the centre of our decision making.

The first day will start at the normal time at 8:30, however we recommend arriving at 8:10 to meet key staff members in the school hall. All pupils will spend the first two lessons with their tutor, at this time they will be provided with timetables and tutors will ensure they understand the timetable and know the direction of the day’s lessons. Pupils will have fingerprints loaded up ready for buying food/drink at break and lunch time on our biometric system.

Please bring a good school bag to carry a PE kit and stationary.

Ensure your child and yourself know the travel plan and timings that your child will come home.

My child wants to be in the same tutor group as their friend. Is this possible?

House and tutor groups are allocated depending on the whole year group and individual children’s needs. We take into account all pupils’ needs, most able, SEN, EAL and ensure the needs of all pupils are shared to make sure all support is provided. We always take into account any requests but cannot guarantee the same house.

It is worth remembering that tutor groups are not taught together. They see each other in the morning for 20 minutes, and in the afternoon for 30 minutes. It is possible that your child could end up in the same tutor group as a friend, but then not be in the same lessons – or vice versa!

We will, of course, listen to your requests but we can’t make any guarantees about this.


Just like life at primary school, students wear uniform at Orchard School. Here is all you need to know about what to wear and where to buy it

What rewards system do you have in place?

As part of our Ready to Learn (RTL) behaviour system, we have introduced RTL Rewards where our students are recognised and celebrated for outstanding behaviour in the classroom. When students exceed expectations in the classroom, they receive a '1' on the school system – which we now call a ‘House Point’. The more House Points a student receives, the more points they accumulate to redeem special prizes. Students who have received the most House Points in each house are also recognised on our 'Star of the Fortnight' board in our school corridor. We also hold termly house assemblies where students receive certificates and prizes for high attendance and good behaviour, and regular rewards trips which our students thoroughly look forward to.

Students receive House Points for the living the Orchard Values. This could include: independent learning, teamwork, great questioning, caring for others, helping staff, resilience, high quality work, sustained improvement, responding positively to feedback, showing initiative, representing school, and linking learning. 

What extra-curricular activities will be on offer to my child?

Currently all students from Years 7-9 take part in Enrichment Lessons on Wednesday and have been able to take part in a wide range of activities including fencing, boxing, debating, drama, comic book club, sport, yoga to name a few. Students can suggest activities and if they are popular we endeavour to run them. You can click here to see our current selection of enrichment opportunities.

In addition, students are able to take part in a wide variety of sporting activities during lunch times and after school, including sporting fixtures and the Stages dance competition.

Students from Year 9 can participate in the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze Award Schemes. All students are eligible for participation. The school also participates in the Ten Tors event each year – a difficult and challenging walking event based in Dartmoor.

What happens if my child is bullied?

At Orchard, we take bullying very seriously and there is a comprehensive reporting system which records any incidents and informs relevant members of staff.  The pastoral team always deal with any cases of bullying swiftly and uses the restorative justice approach to resolve matters effectively. 

We have a hands-on pastoral team who know the students well. We communicate effectively with our students and families to make sure that issues of bullying are truly resolved.

You make have seen our ‘Whisper’ button on our homepage. This button is for students to report any incidents (of bullying or anything else that concerns them) to our staff. This can be done anonymously or openly.

How will my child be assessed during their first few years at Orchard School Bristol?

We usually use the national SATS tests from Year 6 to help us understand what your child is good at and where they may need a little more support. We couple this with further comments from your child's Year 6 teacher and any other adults who were able to give us guidance.

This year is a bit different, of course. The Year 6 teachers have given us an overview of their strengths and areas for development - in fact, this is probably more detailed than a SATs score!

On their arrival at Orchard. they will also have some assessments to help us get more detail. Students will have a GL Assessment. This is a baseline assessment for secondary school students aged 11-14, designed to measure student aptitude for, and attitude to, learning. GL Assessments assess students in key cognitive areas which research shows are linked to later academic outcomes. The assessment comprises four separate, timed modules, always following the same order of vocabulary, mathematics, non-verbal and skills.

Students will also take a reading test which has been designed to drill down into pupil’s reading and comprehension skills. This will allow us to see where a student needs literacy support and we can plan their learning accordingly. Each subject may also ask students to undertake a baseline test so they have robust information that tells them what a student knows or can do at the beginning of Year 7. Lessons and adapted following this and future assessments can be tracked to see if progress has been made.

How will I be able to support my child with homework?

You can support your child by checking what homework they have been given and the deadline it is due by on the school’s homework system. You can establish with them a routine at home for completing homework perhaps doing some each day before they play games or go out.  You could also ensure they have a quiet space in which to work, the equipment they need and then check how they are getting on. Ask them if you can help and if they are struggling refer them to either (a) homework club which is on every day in the library or (b) their class teacher well in advance of the deadline. If you would like your child to do additional study then we always recommend reading to and with your child – both fiction and non-fiction on a regular basis. Just 20 minutes reading a day will boost their knowledge and vocabulary no end!

What sports opportunities will be on offer to my child?

In sport, we run equal opportunities for all, although seasons may vary in length. We have a variety of club links including Hawks gymnastics, Bristol Handball, Bristol Storm basketball club and Bristol Rovers. We also encourage students to be part of the Leadership Academy.

What drama opportunities will be on offer to my child?

The English department incorporate drama activities into their lessons, whether it be recreating a storm in Macbeth or becoming fantasy creatures from the novel Northern Lights. Furthermore, Orchard School takes part in a national event called The Shakespeare Schools Festival every year. This involves several months of rehearsals that lead to performances of Shakespeare's plays at a variety of Bristol theatres (such as The Tobacco Factory). We are also hoping to teach GCSE Drama next year and are currently recruiting year 9 students.

What music opportunities will be on offer to my child?

We encourage all instrumental players to continue lessons with their previous teacher. If the teacher works through Bristol Plays Music we will contact them directly.

The music practice rooms are bookable during lunch and break times for independent practise. We have a range of opportunities throughout the school year for students to perform in front of audiences. We encourage that they join the local Orchestras run by Bristol Plays Music.

During enrichment we offer singing, music technology, samba band and guitar lessons. All of the lessons are delivered by trained music teaching staff. This is a popular choice for student during Period 6 on Wednesdays.