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We speak to James Passam, Deputy Head, about welcoming students to Seaford

A new Academic year is upon us once again, and we’re very pleased to be welcoming back our students.  We hope everyone is fully refreshed from the summer break and ready for whatever challenges the new term brings. 

Here at Seaford, we aim to make the transitions into Prep School and from Prep School to Senior School, and Senior School to Sixth Form, as smooth as possible. In previous years our Year 12 students would have been heading off to Wales for a few days on a bonding trip, and our Year 9 students would have been heading off on an overnight Camping and Activity experience.  These activities have not been able to take place this year due to the pandemic, but Seaford is still buzzing with happy and excited students.  Our senior team and teachers are doing all they can to give everyone a fantastic Seaford welcome!

Our Prep School students have been enjoying activities on site.  All of our induction activities are designed to help new and existing students to get to know each other, encourage team work and to have fun.  The induction for Year 7 & 8 has included outdoor team building.  Students have enjoyed laser tag, archery, bushcraft and orienteering. 

Our Year 2-6 students have had a Teddy Bears' picnic and a circus skills workshop. 

We caught up with James Passam, Deputy Head, about the transition to a new school, and any advice he has for parents and pupils:

"The start of a new academic year is hugely important, and as a new pupil in any school, you have to expect information overload. But don’t ever be afraid to ask someone for help or advice. All schools work hard to welcome new pupils, and understand that it takes time to settle into a new school, its systems and structures. Quite often there is a grace period of a couple of weeks to allow for any turbulence in that process. The key focus for the first few weeks needs to be friendship building and the development of relationships.

"That said, some pupils can start well but then falter over the coming weeks. It is not unusual to find a young boy or girl struggling to find their place in their new school, sad that their former friends have moved on to other schools, and feeling overwhelmed and tired (particularly by the beginning of October after four or five weeks of long days). Where pupils also board, this can be especially true, and of course some may suffer with homesickness. The key message is speak to the School, to your son or daughter’s Houseparent, their Head of Year, or tutor as soon as possible. We also have a Pink House (a dedicated centre for pastoral care in the middle of campus), and students can drop in any time for an informal chat, or even the chance to take our pastoral dog for a walk in our beautiful grounds. Wherever you ask for help, you will find that staff can support positively without being intrusive, and quite often by working with parents and the pupil concerned, things can and do turn around.

"At Seaford, we also have peer mentors (Sixth Form pupils who are trained to listen and support younger pupils). Quite often, an older pupil to talk to, who can empathise readily with what a younger pupil might be experiencing, can make a big difference. Many of our Sixth Formers may well have joined Seaford at the start of Year 12, and so their own experience of joining the School is still fresh in their minds and gives them a unique perspective in talking to and helping younger pupils settling into their new school.

"A very significant time for students is moving from Prep School up to a Senior School which is a naturally daunting proposition for many, if not all, Year 8 pupils. You essentially transition from being at the top of one school to the lowest year group in another. From the perspective of a twelve or thirteen year old, senior schools can seem vast communities, with scary looking older children populating their quads, corridors and pitches. And yet, there is also a natural excitement, a sense of moving on, and an optimism for what might be to come. The key then is to ensure effective transition from one school to the next, and all senior schools work hard to get this right.

"The fact that at Seaford we have our Prep School, Middle School and Senior School on the one site also provides an advantage in that pupils can transition across the Schools with all staff very aware of them as learners, which in turn enables continuity in education.

"Probably the key thing to remember is that everyone wants the same outcome: a happy child thriving in their new school, able to make the most of the opportunities on offer."

  • Induction
  • outdoor education
  • Prep School
  • Senior School
  • Sixth Form
  • Team building