The School Day
As far as life at school in London pupils are expected to arrive to school between 8.45 and 8.55 when the whistle is blown by the duty teacher and children line up in their class groups and wait quietly for the teacher to send them to their classrooms. Upon arrival in the classroom pupils hang their coats in the cloakroom and lessons begin. Lessons are divided into periods of varying lengths. A morning period is approximately one hour while a late morning class will last only 40 minutes. There is always a 20-minute break in the morning around 11.00.
The lunch break is likely to take place at 13.00. Each school has a fee-paying canteen, but lunch boxes are allowed. Children are not expected to go back home for lunch, but older pupils, usually starting around 16, are allowed to leave the facility for lunch.
School finishes between 15.10 and 15.30 and an adult must come to pick up the children. If it is not the parent or guardian of the child, it is often necessary to have the name of anyone who will pick up children registered with the school and identification will be required. Some school issue special identification badges which are required when picking up a child.
Pupils are expected to attend everyday unless they have a valid excuse from their parents who must notify the school.
Schools have many rules and regulations and one that is extremely popular across the board is the school uniform. The school will advise you as where to buy the uniform and often there exists the possibility to buy second-hand uniforms. There are variations, but generally the requirements are:
- Long trousers (shorts may be worn in the Summer)
- White Shirt
- School tie (optional in most primary schools)
- Jumper or sweater with the school logo on.
- Black shoes
As above, although girls may wear skirts and during the summer term, girls often wear summer school dresses.
During sport and games activities it is often as follows:
- White/blue shorts
- Tracksuit or jogging bottoms (dark colour) for cold weather.
- White tee-shirt
- Trainers or plimsolls
Note that swimming requires a one-piece swimsuit and no bikinis are allowed.
iPods, mobile phones, jewelery, and toys are often not allowed in schools.
Transport is left to the parents to organise. However, if your child has an handicap the school will take charge of transport for you, often a taxi service.
Children of all ages will have lockers in the school and are not expected to carry their books home everyday. They will, however, need a satchel or a bag which often goes with the uniform and can be purchased from the school itself to carry notebooks and other small essentials such as a pen/pencil box.
Each school has a qualified first aider or nurse to care for sick children.
The relationship between pupils and teachers though on the surface relaxed is indeed rather formal. Children and teenagers will address their teacher as Miss or Sir at all times.