Thank you to over 70 families of prospective students who joined Mr Pavey for our virtual Q&A session on 15 October. We had a huge range of questions, covering every aspect of school life. We have transcribed the answers given at the time, and added a few additional references.
1. What is discipline like at Cheney?
In a community of over 1,600 students, we do need some rules in place, we want students to do the right thing. We try to make things as simple and clear as we can. We have a formal warning system in place, students will get plenty of warnings and detentions are either 30 minutes or an hour after school. For more details, see our Behaviour: Respect for Learning page.
2. How are the tutor groups arranged?
Tutor groups are chosen so we achieve a good balance of students from different primary schools.
3. Are siblings and twins put in the same tutor group?
Generally, no. If you have twins that you want to be in the same group it is best to talk to us and we will see what we can do.
4. Can friendship groups from primary schools be put in the same tutor group?
We have seven main feeder primary schools, so students will end up with some people they know in their tutor group. We do communicate with primary schools, so if there were any issues they usually would have told us. However, you can also get in touch with our transition team directly if you need to discuss this.
5. Will we get a chance to look around the school?
6. What is special about Cheney?
Cheney is representative of its area with a fully comprehensive intake. We are proud to be a genuinely inclusive school. We support our students across the board, including some very high achieving students. We have the country's only accredited in-school museum, a classics centre and dedicated staff across all our faculties. We hope our Virtual Open Event and Transition pages will give you a flavour of what makes us special.
7. Are mobile phones allowed at school?
No: children can bring them in but they are not to be used in school. We will take them away if we see them. Most students have them, but as long as we do not see them, that is fine.
8. Is there an after-school homework club?
Usually yes, but unfortunately not at the moment.
9. How many students are currently in Year 7?
10. What happens with bullying?
People are often concerned with this subject. It is a big step going from primary to secondary school. In any large community there will be tensions and unfortunately, there may be some unpleasantness. Bullying is not tolerated at Cheney and as soon as we hear about anything, we deal with it immediately. We look at trying to resolving any issues. See our Student Safety page for more information.
11. How can I find out more about the Curriculum?
See the full curriculum on the website. You can also link to subject pages here, which have additional information.
12. When do students make their GCSE choices?
At the end of Year 9, this gives students longer to make up their minds on what they like and what direction they want to go in.
13. What are your A-Level results?
Generally we get very good results here. If students do the work, they will do well! You can see our previous exam results here.
14. Do you have sets in Year 7?
We set in maths. We do not pay too much attention to SAT scores but will do a test on the first half term of work. A further test would be done later on and sets re-adjusted if needed. For every other subject we do not set until students have made GCSE choices.
15. Can students take more than one language?
Yes, students can take two languages at the same time. Latin is an additional language that we are pleased to be able to offer, it is more of an extra after school provision, offered later.
See more on our Languages page.
16. How easy is it to move between sets?
Pretty easy – we can move students up and down fairly easily, based on test results and performance.
17. How much homework do Year 7 students get?
Most Year 7s would probably say too much! We try to be merciful, we do realise the transition to secondary school is a big one.
18. What will happen in the event of a lockdown?
We hope by the time Year 6 come this will be a thing of the past. However, no matter what happens, the full curriculum keeps going.
Lessons are live streamed so if anyone is self-isolating or out of school, they can join a lesson at home: teachers can teach remotely via Google Meet.
In the event of a full lockdown, we would make adjustments so students are not online all day, and would be given a mixture of activities.
19. Do you have Google classroom?
Yes, it’s an excellent tool for students. It is a great place to store resources.
20. What about laptops for students?
We are aiming that every child in the school has access to a laptop for home learning.
We are offering parents a chance to purchase them at a reduced price through the school as we are buying in bulk.
It is a Chromebook so note games cannot be played on it!
21. Is homework online?
Yes, except for maths and we will probably carry on with this. We have found there are many advantages to this; you cannot lose the planner or forget to write it down. You can submit it easily. The dog cannot eat the internet, usually!
22. Do you have school trips?
Usually yes! We also offer the DofE scheme here. We usually have overseas trips too; we want to make them available to everybody, and can use funding to ensure everyone is included.
23. Is there an update on the school finances?
Last year we were in the news regarding finances. However, this has now been resolved and there will be no impact on the education of students. There are also no debts. The budget is balanced now and moving in the right direction. We are also looking at joining the River Learning Trust. We hope that will happen in 2021. That will re-enforce a solid budget going forward.
24. What learning support do you have available?
There is additional support for those students who need it. We have a wonderful and dedicated learning support department, but we do have limited resources (rooms and staff). We do the best we can and usually have catch-up classes and homework clubs for students to catch up and get help.
25. Are you planning to make changes to the building?
No plans now, but we do have a bid to refurbish to the older, central block. We will let everyone know if we succeed.
26. What pastoral care is available to students?
We have a tutor system, a consistent group where students meet for half an hour every morning. We also have a Head of Student Progress and Pastoral Lead for each year group. Beyond that, we have the school counsellor, school nurse, SLT team, and external services as and when required. You can find out more on our Pastoral Care pages.
27. What are the music and drama opportunities at Cheney?
We have lots! We like productions and concerts at Cheney! We have many opportunities to learn an instrument; everyone can learn an instrument, even if you have never had a lesson before. To find out more, see our Music and Drama pages. If you haven't already seen it, the music department put together a fabulous lockdown production remotely last summer: Livin' la Vida Lockdown
28. Is the library open?
Yes. Find out more here.
29. Are there social spaces or common rooms?
Each year group has an area. Due to current restrictions, we have designated areas for students in each year group.
30. What is Art like at Cheney?
We have some fantastic Art here; we have a big, inclusive Art area. I am hoping come the summer you will be able to see it in person. In normal years we showcase art from all our year groups at our Summer Art Show as well as our Pop-up Art Event specifically for Year 7s. A number of students carry their study of Art on to GCSE and A-Level. Visit our Art page to find out more, and see our latest online gallery.
31. Can I apply if I live just outside the catchment area?
If you live just outside catchment area, it is still worth applying. We do have a wide catchment area.
32. What is your vision for the future?
Our motto says it all – ‘Think for yourself, act for others’. I am not changing this.
We want fully engaged students who can form their own views, Cheney students are not shy about sharing views, which I value very much.
33. What are Cheney's exam results like?
See our results page. Generally, students do very well and follow the most appropriate pathway afterwards. We put a lot of effort into getting students into the place they will be happy.
34. What is the biggest challenge going forward?
Aside from a global pandemic, we are pleased we have every child in learning.
35. How do you manage behaviour?
We want to mke it easy for students to make the right choice and hard to make the wrong choice. There is a discipline code in place, which I mentioned earlier.
36. What are the teachers like?
We have great teachers here, it is a great place to work, a real community where we want the best for each child. You can meet many of our teachers by taking a tour of our subject pages.
37. Are you offering more virtual meetings with teachers?
Hopefully there will be a chance to do this during the transition process.
38. What happens if a class is being disrupted by a student?
At Cheney, we have a behaviour system, so generally these students would be removed from the class. If a student is just chatting, they will go through C1, then C2. C3 is a detention after school. If a student is being continually disruptive, they would be removed from that class. See more on our Behaviour: Respect for Learning page.
39. If you get C2 does it carry onto the next day?
No, every day is a fresh day. But if someone is racking up endless detentions there will be follow-ups and consequences.
40. How do teachers interact with students?
In general, the relationship between staff and students is based on mutual respect and tends to be very good. For less self-directed students, we do have staff members who will work with them.
41. Will you be visiting Year 6 students in primary schools?
Yes, as part of the transition process.
42. Are there TA’s at Cheney?
Yes, but not in every class. Students who have healthcare plans will have a specific assistant to help them.
43. What is the canteen system?
Usually, students can "take away" or choose to sit down in the canteen and enjoy a variety of hot and cold food. We have a payment system so students pay via fingerprint - the school is cashless. We ensure food is healthy and nutritional. If you listen to the Year 7 student voices on our Virtual Event and Transition pages you will hear that the food is very popular!
44. What is the food like?
As above, generally, students are very happy, but students can always bring in a pack lunch if they want.
45. Does the teacher stand at the front of the class?
46. Do you have Houses at Cheney?
We have re-introduced houses to Cheney. There are five houses, so around 320 students in each house.
47. How long is the school day?
Currently the school day is 8.30am -3pm.
48. Are there competitions with other schools?
Yes, we have internal competitions within our house system and these aren't just about Sports, but things like Art, Debating and Drama.
49. Do you still have the school dog?
We have two school dogs at Cheney! Maxi and Luna are very popular with students. They love coming to school. The dogs are fully trained and are on leads, so if you do not like dogs, you can avoid them. Meet them here.
50. How long is break and lunchtime?
Half an hour each.