Frequently asked questions
We are delighted that you are considering Parliament Hill School for the next stage of your daughter’s education. We are confident that this is a good choice and that we will continue to live up to our motto, High achieving and Happy.
How is Year 7 organised?
The 180 students joining us in September will be divided into 6 form groups and most lessons will be taught in form groups (exceptions are Design & Technology, Art, Science, Maths and English when students will be in different groups across forms). We take great care to make sure that each class has a good mix of ability, ethnicity, primary schools and languages spoken. We are very proud of our diversity but even more proud that this features in students’ top 3 things they love about Parli.
Each form group will have a Form Tutor, carefully chosen for Year 7 to support their transition from primary school. There are also co-tutors and Year 10 students are attached to each class as an additional support. The year group will be led by an Achievement Team Leader or ATL (often known as a Head of Year in other schools). The Form Tutor and ATL will be your main contact points for any questions, worries or for sharing information.
Will my daughter be in a form with her friends?
We try to make sure that students are in a form with at least one other student that has come from their primary school. If a student is the only one from their primary school, we put them with other students in the same situation. As we consider so many different factors when creating the tutor groups we can’t promise that students can be with their friends. We also have found that students very quickly mix with other students and make new friends and that whilst it might matter in the first week, it doesn’t matter for very long.
What languages are offered?
We offer French or Spanish, with half the year taking each. In order to ensure we are able to balance the form groups, we do not offer a choice unless there are special circumstances so please get in touch if this is the case for you. Many students take GCSEs in other languages if they are fluent in the language and would like a formal qualification – but we won’t worry about that until much nearer the time!
How does my daughter pay for lunches?
Please use Parent Pay. You will be set up with log-in details and then you can top up your daughter’s account at any time by simply going to the Parents’ section on the school website. Contributions towards other things such as PE kit and trips are also made through Parent Pay.
Lunch is quite late. Is there food on offer at break?
We have a 25-minute morning break so students have time to have something to eat and drink. The canteen is not open but students can bring a healthy drink and snack to school to have during breaktime.
Are students set in Year 7?
We do not set students for any lessons except Maths and we make sure that the tutor groups are mixed ability as well. We are fully committed to mixed ability teaching and feel that our exam results prove that this works really well for all our students. In fact, we do not set in any year group and teachers are very skilled at making sure that all students are both challenged and supported.
In Maths, teachers find that the most successful grouping is to have a top set, mixed middle sets and a nurture group in each half of the year group. English does not set but does have a nurture group so students can have intensive support whilst following the same curriculum as everyone else.
How do you prepare Year 6 students for the transition to Year 7?
We hold an Induction Day in July where all Year 6 students come to Parliament Hill for introductory activities. We make this day as fun and exciting as possible. It is an opportunity for students to meet their classmates; learn about the school; meet their teachers and ask any questions they may have about starting in September. We also run a Summer School in August which all students are invited to. In September, we only have Year 7 in school for the majority of the first day, other students arrive for the afternoon. This also helps students gain confidence in their new environment.
How do you identify girls who have additional learning needs?
We run Cognitive Abilities Tests on a Saturday in the summer term of Year 6. The tests cannot be revised for and allow us to identify areas of need that may require further investigation. In addition, we will carry out reading and spelling tests during the Autumn term of Year 7.
Alongside these tests, we use information from parents/carers and primary schools to identify strengths and additional needs and any necessary specialised provision. If further assessment is indicated, we will contact you directly to discuss this.
If you have any questions please contact Donna Billington Senior Leader for Inclusion/SENDCo firstname.lastname@example.org
What exactly are CATs tests and how do you use them?
CATs tests are Cognitive Assessment Tests which look at students’ aptitudes in 4 areas (verbal, numerical, non-verbal and spatial). The tests require no preparation and, in fact, it is not possible to revise for them. They are a series of multiple choice questions and are carried out online.
We use the information from the CATs tests, along with information from primary schools, to help us balance the classes and understand where students need further challenge or support. In addition, CATs are part of the information we use (but only a part) to draw up our register of high potential learners.
Please make sure that your daughter understands that CATs are not to worry about; we do not set (except for in Maths and this is based mainly on information from primary schools).
Is it possible for my daughter to take Biology, Chemistry and Physics for GCSE or will she have to choose?
It is possible to take these 3 separate subjects for GCSEs if the Science department feel that this would be a suitable choice for your daughter. We are very proud of our uptake of Sciences at GCSE and A Level. However, it isn’t the right route for everyone and you will be guided through the choice of GCSEs in Year 9 and Sixth Form courses in Year 11. We do have a careers adviser who helps ensure that students make the correct choices, in line with university requirements, whilst keeping their options open in case they change their minds along the way – which is often in our experience!
What clubs do you offer?
There are many clubs! These include plenty of sports, dance and music clubs, plus homework, maths, creative writing, photography, Stonewall, board games clubs etc. As your daughter moves up the school, there will be opportunities to join the highly successful Debating Club and take part in Duke of Edinburgh challenges.
In addition, we have a thriving Climate Action Group and Young Reporters club. Our popular STEAM Club is about to build a greenhouse out of used plastic bottles – and then get planting so we can sell our produce at the Parliament Hill Farmers market next year.
What is your Wellbeing Project?
As you know, at Parliament Hill we describe our school as ‘high achieving and happy'. Happiness is really important to us. Moving to secondary school is a big event and all of us at Parliament Hill are here to support your daughters. Big changes are challenging for everyone and it is normal to feel worried or anxious about them.
The Wellbeing Project is our counselling and emotional wellbeing service. We have a team of warm and approachable counsellors, art therapists and psychotherapists who work with students. We also organise other workshops and activities for the whole school community and for students who want a little extra support.
We are all here to help new students make a great start at Parliament Hill and to provide a space for them to share whatever they are feeling throughout their time with us. It's important to remember that although endings can feel sad, they are also a time to celebrate achievements.
What provision is there for students with high learning potential (HLP)?
Parliament Hill School has an impressive record of success in securing excellent outcomes for high potential learners (HPL). We don’t use the terms ‘more able’ or ‘gifted and talented’ as we believe it’s important for all students to recognise that hard work and perseverance will ensure success, academic risk-taking and a smooth transition to university. In 2019, 41% of every GCSE result was Level 7-9 (the old A*-A) and this rose to 42% in 2020.
We have won several awards for our practice. In 2018, we became the first secondary school in the country to achieve the Potential Plus UK Gold Award; in 2019 the school won in two categories at the national Above and Beyond Awards, Excellent Provision for Learners with High Potential and Excellent Enrichment Opportunities for HPL and in 2020, Challenge Partners confirmed that our provision for this group was an Area of Excellence.
Is there any bullying? How does the school deal with bullying?
Whilst we can’t stop bullying altogether, we have very few incidents of bullying. We take a zero tolerance approach to bullying and students know that we take each and every incident very seriously. We use a restorative approach which means that we teach students how to recognise how their actions have made someone else feel and take responsibility for what they have done. We actively promote kindness, community and tolerance which helps to contribute to our High Achieving and Happy community.