School Life

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Heatherton is an exceptional school. They have cherished my daughter, providing her with support when she has needed it and always encouraging her to do her best. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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- Heatherton Parent

Starting at Heatherton

Nursery

Heatherton Nursery is Co-Educational, providing for both boys and girls. Heatherton remains a girls’ school from Reception to Year 6.

Your child’s first day at Heatherton Nursery is an important moment. We understand that you may be feeling anxious as your son or daughter takes this step and so we aim to make their transition from home to school as positive an experience as possible.

We work in close partnership with you from the very beginning to ensure that we give your child the highest quality of care and education. This enables you to feel valued and supported as a parent and means that we can tailor your child’s education to their specific needs and personality.

The process begins with a home visit. The purpose of this is to see each pupil in their own family environment to begin to build up a picture of their personality, needs and interests so that these may be built upon when they attend Heatherton Nursery. This initial contact paves the way for a smooth transfer to school.

Alongside the home visit, you and your child will be invited to join us for a welcome meeting at Heatherton with the other new pupils and their parents.

When a pupil joins our Nursery as a ‘rising three’ (the term they turn three), he or she may start on the current minimum of three morning sessions per week. Once a pupil is three years old, the minimum sessions required are currently either:

  • Four morning sessions
  • Two full days
  • One full day and two morning sessions

Sessions are usually increased term by term to meet a child’s needs in preparation for their transition into Reception and can be regularly discussed with our staff. We do ask that the sessions are consecutive as this helps with the settling-in process.

Heatherton Nursery accepts childcare vouchers as payment from accredited companies for school fees. We are not registered for the Early Years Government Funding.

Reception

Many families choose to move their daughter from Heatherton Nursery into our Reception class in September. The process will also begin with a home visit to ensure a smooth transition into school and you and your daughter will be invited to join us for a welcome meeting at Heatherton to meet other new girls and their parents.

For the first week, you have the option for your daughter to attend morning sessions only (or with lunch) to aid the settling-in process. From the second week, the Reception class operates for five full days until 3:15, but girls may go home on Wednesday and Friday after the morning session if they have not yet turned five. They can continue with this schedule for the whole term in which they turn five.

Years 1-6

Once you have accepted a place for your daughter at Heatherton, she will be invited to visit for a day before she joins, to enable her to meet her new classmates and teacher and experience a school day at Heatherton. This will help her transition to her new class.

Moving up to Senior School

At Heatherton, we know that choosing the right school is one of the most important decisions that you will have to make about your daughter’s future. We prepare the girls at Heatherton for a diverse range of senior schools, including grammar and independent schools.

Heatherton pupils will stand out from others in their comprehensive preparation for moving up to Senior School. Our pupils are wholly supported in preparing for interviews they may have to attend for entry into any Senior School they may wish to apply for and also when preparing for scholarships.

As part of the Berkhamsted family of Schools, our Year 6 girls have the benefit of sitting Berkhamsted Girls Senior School entrance tests in September if they wish, in advance of applicants from other external schools. If necessary, they are able to retake the exams with external applicants later in the year.

Heatherton girls go on to a variety of Senior Schools. The majority choose to continue on to Grammar or Girls’ Day Independent Schools, including:

Berkhamsted Girls The Royal Masonic School
Chesham Grammar School St Helen’s School
Dr Challoner’s High School St Mary’s School
Pipers Corner School Wycombe Abbey School

 

Wellbeing

Our girls’ wellbeing is of vital importance at Heatherton. Our Director of Wellbeing for the Berkhamsted family of schools supports our teaching staff in implementing a proactive strategy that focuses primarily on keeping pupils well and looking for any early signs of potential issues.

In addition, Heatherton pupils have access to a team of qualified counsellors available for confidential counselling five days a week. A full-time residential Chaplain and an Assistant Chaplain regularly visit Heatherton.

This focus on wellbeing provides our students with resilience. We listen and support them, while at the same time allowing them to learn from things they find to be a challenge and mistakes they make. This enhances the students’ ability to think clearly, positively and independently, equipping them with the skills and coping strategies they will need to succeed in the future.

Pastoral Care

Pastoral care is at the heart of everything we do at Heatherton.

Our pupils thrive within a family community, where they develop excellent moral and social awareness, a strong appreciation of their own traditions and compassion and respect for others.

Every student in the school has a Form Teacher whose primary role is to support their pupils’ development throughout the year.

The subject teaching staff provide feedback to the Form Teachers throughout the year to ensure that a holistic view of a child’s performance in school is obtained.

In addition to their form, our pupils are placed into one of three Houses. We believe that the House system is an important element of school life which supports each pupil’s development.

Our House system provides the opportunity for children of different ages to come together and support, encourage and celebrate each other’s achievements. It helps to develop a real understanding of our School aims and values and promote a healthy spirit of ambition and competition.

Each term, a variety of cups and shields are awarded at Heatherton. During our Fab Friday assembly each week we celebrate the girls’ achievements both in and out of the School.

Chaplaincy

Spiritual development and a sense of meaning and purpose make a significant contribution to the mental strength and wellbeing of young people. Spirituality can provide an anchor in a storm, enabling students to manage stress and prevent any feeling of isolation. The values also encourage students to be compassionate towards each other.

At Heatherton, there are numerous opportunities for reflection, wonder and curiosity and pupils are encouraged to consider and contribute to the wider community.

Assemblies have a Christian focus, often with visits from Berkhamsted’s Chaplains and representatives from local churches. We ensure our assemblies are accessible, inclusive and beneficial of those from other faiths and beliefs.

The School Day

Nursery

While each day at Heatherton Nursery is a new and exciting adventure, there are some aspects of routine in the school day which are vital for engagement – providing the children with a sense of security and discipline and developing good habits.

A typical day begins with the children arriving between 8:00 and 8:40 in the Early Years Department home base room.

A small healthy snack such as fresh fruit, breadsticks or raisins is provided during the morning session and water or milk are available for pupils to drink.

Children are collected from the main Early Years Department door in the foyer at midday unless they wish to stay for lunch in the dining room, in which case they stay until 13:00. Those staying all day are collected from the foyer at 15:00.

Reception

Reception girls can be dropped off from 08:00 and are encouraged to join the older girls outside on the playground until 08:20. The member of staff on duty in the playground will then ensure that the Reception girls are safely escorted back to the Early Years Department by 08:25.

A small healthy snack such as fresh fruit, breadsticks or raisins is provided during the morning session and water is available at all times for pupils to drink.

The girls participate in regular mid-morning assemblies and the weekly assembly themes are followed up in the classroom. Lunch is at midday in the dining room and is followed by playtime. The afternoon session resumes at 13:10 and ends at 15:15.

Reception parents collect their daughters from the Early Years Department home base side door located within the Early Years Department courtyard.

On a Wednesday and Friday, any Reception girl who has not yet turned five may be collected either before lunch at midday or after lunch at 13:00. They can follow this timetable until the end of the term in which they turn five. For the avoidance of doubt, all girls aged five should be attending full-time school.

Lunchtime collection will always be from the main Early Years Department door in the foyer.

Years 1-6

All girls can be dropped off in the playground between 08:00 and 08:20, when school starts and registers are taken. They are encouraged to bring in a healthy snack to eat at morning break to keep up their stamina and energy levels.

All the girls from Years 1-6 participate in regular mid-morning assemblies and the weekly assembly themes are followed up in form times and Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) lessons.

Lunch is eaten in the dining room and the sessions are staggered with the younger children eating first. During the lunch break, all children will have lunchtime play or may attend a club.

Collection times

Unless the girls are participating in extra-curricular activities or attending after-school care, collection times are:

  • Years 1 and 2: the school day finishes at 15:20, when the girls are collected from the back door
  • Years 3 to 6: the school day finishes at 15:40, when the girls are collected from the back door

The House System

The House system is at the heart of life at Heatherton. Our Houses provide our pupils with a sense of belonging, helping to develop their self-confidence.

We believe the House system is an important element of school life which supports each pupil’s development. Our Houses provides the opportunity for children of different ages to come together and celebrate each other’s achievements, helping to develop a real understanding of our School’s aims and objectives and promote a healthy spirit of competition.

Pupils at Heatherton are allocated to one of three School Houses, comprising of students from different age groups.

The Heatherton Houses are:

  • Mars – whose members wear red
  • Saturn – whose members wear yellow
  • Venus – whose members wear blue

Each House has a Head of House, who has the primary responsibility for the academic and pastoral support and progress of each student in their House.

The main channel of communication between each pupil’s school and home life, the Head of House takes responsibility for the social and academic development of each pupil, alongside House tutors. Each House also has a number of teachers attached to it who help lead the House in a variety of activities.

At Heatherton, our Houses also provide an environment for cooperation and competition. House Points are given for positive work and behaviour and there is a competition to see which is the most successful House is at the end of each term, with awards made to its members.

Every child at Heatherton has a Form Teacher whose primary role is to support their pupils’ development. These teachers are supported by the Headteacher, the Deputy Head and the Head of Pastoral Care who monitor the day-to-day academic and pastoral progress of each child.

Our specialist teaching staff provide feedback to the Form Teachers throughout the year to ensure that a holistic view of each child’s performance at school is being obtained.

Wrap Around Care

At Heatherton we understand that parents need childcare flexibility and support out of standard school hours. We offer Wrap Around Care from 07:30 until 18.30 for all Heatherton pupils from Nursery to Year 6.

Wrap Around Care give parents peace of mind that their child is being cared for, whilst children benefit from ensured continuity of care and a routine which helps to prepare them for longer hours away from home in the future.

Breakfast Care runs from 07:30 until 08:00 and a healthy breakfast is included in the fee.

After-School Care sessions are available to all children from the age of 3 from the end of their school day to 16:30, 17:30 or 18:30.

Children may also be booked in to attend before an After-School Club, when a credit reduction will be applied.

After 16:30 a sandwich tea and drink will be provided. This is not intended to be a substitute for a proper evening meal.

Parents can arrange Wrap Around Care for regular days in advance, however we understand that family life can be unpredictable so parents may arrange for children to attend on the day. Breakfast Care may be booked until 07:00 on the day of attendance, with the cut off for After-School Care bookings at 14:30.

The number of places available for both Breakfast Care and After-School Care will be limited so that we can adhere to the correct staff-to-pupil ratios, so you are advised to book in advance where possible.

The Wrap Around Care facility is charged separately to school fees and sessions are booked and paid for in advance via our online booking system, where further details about the cost and length of sessions for both Breakfast Care and After-School Care can be found.

Parents may choose to pay for sessions via credit card or by using childcare vouchers.

BASECAMP Holiday Clubs

At Heatherton we understand that parents are busy and often lead demanding lives, which does not stop during the school holidays.

We also understand that you will be looking for holiday care to be as good as if you were alongside your child, but with the added benefit of opportunities and fun, stimulating activities that couldn’t be provided in the home.

At Berkhamsted we run BASECAMP, the highest quality holiday play scheme. This is an extensive range of courses for children during the summer holidays.

BASECAMP also includes multi-activity courses, swimming (for club and county level swimmers) and cookery courses during the Easter and Christmas holidays.

Alumni: The Heatherton Society

It is a credit to our School that Old Girls (and Old Boys) enjoy staying in touch, networking and reminiscing about the happy times they spent at Heatherton.

The Heatherton Society is a great way for former Heatherton students and members of staff to keep in close contact with their classmates and former colleagues after they leave our School.

The Society is totally free to join and open to all leavers, regardless of when they left the School.

Members will receive termly newsletters and be sent invites to school events and special Heatherton Society occasions.

If you would like to join or you are already a member and would like to update your contact details or let us know your news, then please email our Marketing Team.

The Friends of Heatherton

At Heatherton we consider ourselves very fortunate to have an active Parents’ Association, with many parent volunteers who wish to contribute in a more personal way to their child’s education.

The Friends of Heatherton is at the heart of the Heatherton community and plays a vital role in bringing everyone in the Heatherton family together.

Whilst running fun-filled social events for everyone throughout the year, The Friends also raise significant amounts of money for the School.

Amongst the many successful events organised for pupils and parents are the Family Fun Day, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day Sales, discos for the pupils and a fabulous Christmas Fair, which is one of the highlights of the year for the whole family.

Due to The Friends’ efforts over the years, everyone at Heatherton has benefitted from the purchase of a new school minibus, state-of-the-art lighting, sound and projection equipment for the hall, wonderful outdoor playhouses and our incredible Eco-Cabin.

We are looking forward to welcoming new parents to The Friends of Heatherton. If you would like to join, please contact the school office for details.

@HeathertonSch retweeted

Christmas lunch in Nursery! #sprouts #crackers https://t.co/fmfzPLT3J0

@HeathertonSch retweeted

Year 3 were sorting the different apparatus for measuring in maths this morning. #Heathertonmaths #noticing https://t.co/iF8IggoySW

@HeathertonSch retweeted

Year 4 enjoyed creating a Conscience Alley to help them plan persuasive letters! #HeathertonEnglish https://t.co/YrhMgfKzdq