Is FBS an academic school or a sports school?
Both – and more. FBS has high academic aspirations, high sporting aspirations, and equally high expectations of our enterprise programme. We are aiming for all boys to study 10 GCSEs and we have set challenging targets for success – significantly above local authority norms. Equally, sport is integral to school life: not just for the technical skills and physical benefits this brings, but for the wider developmental benefits.
What about boys who aren’t appropriate for Russell Group Universities?
FBS has a comprehensive intake and will be preparing all boys for the next stage of their life – whether this is university, vocational training, apprenticeship or the world of work.
What specialism does the school have?
FBS is founded on the three pillars of faith, boys and enterprise. These are not specialisms so much as the FBS DNA, running through the school structure, its curriculum and its co-curricular programme. There is no single specialism in the sense that some academies and free schools have set up as ‘Science’ or ‘Sport’ specialists.
What does Enterprise mean?
At The Fulham Boys School we understand enterprise to mean a readiness to undertake new ventures; show initiative, creativity, originality and to have a ‘can do’ attitude. It’s not something that’s ‘done’, so much as a theme running through all school life – skills embedded in lessons and developed in the co-curricular programme, culminating in the FBS Enterprise week every summer.
How long will lessons be?
Each lesson is 50 minutes long but there are some doubles, and even triple periods for Sport.
Can boys move up and down between classes? How and when?
Most Year 7 boys sat CATs tests in the summer and these, together with the information received from their primary school, determined their class at the start of September. Boys have since completed our own baseline assessments and we’re continuing to assess how they perform in class. As a result, some boys will change class at the end of this half term. From then on, as for all Year 8 boys, classes will be kept under half termly review.
What if my son isn’t being challenged?
No class is set for good – top or bottom. There’s always some movement – see above.
How are the sets set?
From the baseline assessments all boys have now completed and ongoing assessments.
How much homework is set?
Homework at FBS is known as ‘ownwork’ because boys can do it as part of the extended day, making the most of the school facilities and support from teachers. In Year 7 the average will be about an hour a day.
Why hasn’t my (Year 7) son had much ownwork?
In part, because we didn’t want to throw too much at them at the start of Year 7 – when they are adjusting to the different demands of FBS and our longer school day. And in part, because boys spent a fair bit of time at the start of term doing baseline assessments. Rest assured, ownwork will pick up by the second half of term.
What/how many languages will you be teaching?
Year 7 boys study French in the timetabled MFL lessons, with Latin as co-curricular options. In Year 8, the more able linguists can opt to take two languages – Spanish and French.
If my (Year 8) son is doing two languages isn’t there a danger he’ll get confused?
At first, maybe, but the reason we have given some boys the opportunity of picking up an additional language is because last year they showed themselves to be able linguists. One of our interns from Dulwich College gained two language As at A level in the summer and is on hand to support and challenge our boys.
How are boys whose first language is French or Spanish being challenged?
As in all subjects, MFL class work and own work is differentiated to ensure all boys get the right level of challenge. Some boys are already tackling GCSE papers in French and Spanish and will be entered for exams once we’re confident they’re secure in their knowledge – eight just sat mock GCSE papers (French and Spanish combined). The results were 5A*, 2 As and a B.
If you push boys into doing two languages won’t they resent missing out on some of the art/music/drama the rest of their year are doing?
Hopefully not, as they will be picking up these subjects and interests in the co-curricular club time. Despite our extended school day, we only have a limited number of hours to play with, but we will continue to juggle the expectations of an academic school with our determination to ensure every boy gets a rounded education. We believe the aspirational culture at the school is one where boys, even when things are hard, recognise the value what we are asking them to do.
What music lessons are on offer?
Year 7 have timetabled music lessons every week and our music teacher has a vibrant choir going. Almost half of our Year 7s are having additional music lessons within the school day from peripatetic teachers, and the first bands and instrumental groups are starting to form from them. All boys are encouraged to take part in music, drama and dance, as this is an excellent way to develop confidence and self-esteem. We’re forging links with girls’ schools, including GreyCoat and Lady Margarets, for future joint concerts and productions.
What plans have you got to teach technology?
We want to introduce a range of technology clubs into the co-curriculum, to be taught by outside professionals. We plan to do this as soon as possible and are investigating how best to raise the necessary funding.
What size are classes and are they streamed?
Classes are a maximum size of 24. Our extended 2015 Year 7 intake will be split into six classes, streamed to ensure boys are grouped with others of similar ability. The most able of these will be taught with the Year 8s.
How will you be pushing literacy?
Our Head of English ensures that literacy skills are identified in all programmes of study and developed in all lessons and subjects. All teachers are teachers of English. Among other things, we have a literacy focus of the week, book of the week, literacy support in lessons, after school support as part of the extended day and reading support. There will also be an annual audit to ensure Text Purpose – recount, instruction, information, explanation, persuasion, and discussion – is being used and developed across the curriculum.
Do you do sports on Saturdays?
Our Wednesday afternoon sports (rugby first term, football in the spring, cricket in the summer) are taught by professional coaches, associated with external sporting clubs. They encourage/talent spot FBS boys to sign up for these clubs for weekend sports.
Can boys put forward ideas for individual as opposed to team sports?
Yes. FBS’ core sports are Rugby, Football, Cricket and Rowing but our Head of Sport is very keen to listen to what boys want to do and incorporates their ideas into PE lessons, as well as offering minority sports as part of the co-curriculum.
My son hasn’t got any of the clubs he said he wanted– can he change?
Some clubs are hugely in demand, others less so. They change every half term and if a pupil hasn’t got the club he wanted first time round, we’ll do our best to ensure he gets it the next time or certainly with the year.
If a boy really isn’t enjoying his club he can change – but we do ask that he gives it a go for half a term.
What co-curricular sessions are there?
We want boys to try out a real range of activities, so have a mix of sessions running through the week. Sports based clubs include table tennis, fencing, judo, boxing and indoor rowing, there are also arts, dance and music clubs, academic stretch and boost and homework clubs, debating and public speaking, cookery and languages clubs. It’s an interchangeable programme, fed by boys’ passions and teachers’ expertise, and next year’s programme may well change to reflect these. Tutors encourage boys to mix in at least one academic, one sports and one alternate club.
What else happens before September?
Boys will be invited to a transition day at the school in June – designed to be a fun activities day. Letters will go out in May with further details. Further information will then be sent in July telling boys about their first day.
Lunches – how do you pay? Can you bring packed lunches or snacks?
All boys will be expected to have school dinners unless exceptional dietary needs mean a packed lunch is the only practicable solution. The school chef provides fantastically good quality, and highly nutritious, food for boys and staff. Payment is via a biometric scanner, and parents can charge up their sons’ accounts remotely.
My son’s starving by lunch – can he bring in a snack?
Home made cookies and healthy snacks are on sale in the canteen at break, and we’re introducing another till to ensure all boys who want to buy something have time to do so. Boys can bring in their own snacks, but it must fresh fruit and water in a clear bottle.
Where do I get the uniform?
Sogans in Greyhound Road stock the school uniform. The school orders the sports kit separately and will be sending out order forms with the details for transition days in the summer term. Click here for more information.
Can we buy a bigger school bag to help manage all their kit?
We hope to unveil a bigger school bag that will carry all your son’s kit and books by half term. This will be compulsory from September 2016 but optional this year. It will retail at less than £30.
As a Free school, how do you know you’re not going off-course?
Ofsted won’t now be inspecting us until we’re in our third year, but in the meantime we’ll continue to have regular check ups from the Department for Education (DfE) to ensure we’re on track in delivering the educational vision we’ve promised.
In addition, we’re continually moderating our academic performance against established outstanding boys’ schools – in the private sector and in the state sector – and against outstanding girls’ schools, to ensure that our assessment of our pupils’ progress is as realistic as can be. We also continue to use external moderators in our termly Whole School Reviews.
We are also working with businesses and universities to see what they want 18 year old boys to look like when they leave school, and ensure the ‘diet’ they get at FBS equips them for these demands.
Many of our heads of department work with exam boards and on curriculum and qualification reviews to ensure that what we are doing in KS3 is more than equipping our boys for the rigours of KS4.
Term dates – you seem to break up early?
Compared with most secondary schools, our boys spend far more time in school due to our extended day. This is balanced against our longer holidays and half terms.
Who is mentoring the first boys – showing them leadership?
We are forging links with universities with the aim that, among other things, these links will enable first year university students to mentor our boys. This year we are fortunate enough to have three A’level interns from Dulwich College who are proving to be very positive role models for our boys.
How does the house and tutor system work?
Boys meet in their houses for tutor time at the start of each day, unless there is an assembly (twice weekly). The four houses go across the year groups.
Is there a school council?
Yes. Student Leadership plays an important role at FBS. The school council is alive with ideas for the new school and meets with the Headmaster once a term. All boys are part of a subject council (for the school departments), and further develop leadership skills running the school houses and as monitors around the school. Boys also play an active role in reviewing school policies and in interviewing staff.
We didn’t get the form in in time for the Belgium trip – are you running another?
This trip is limited to 45 boys and we offered it on a first come first served basis. We’ll certainly look at the unmet demand, and find possible dates for another.
Are there school trips?
Yes. We’re making the most of being a school in London and the boys this term have already been on a trip to Kew Gardens and REDstart, a financial education programme. Last year’s residential trip was to France and in November 45 boys will be going to Belgium.
What happens if you can’t afford them?
FBS has set up an amenity fund, and asks all parents to contribute as they feel able. This is used to support any boys unable to afford the ‘paid for’ trips. All trips organised as part of the curriculum are paid for by the school.
How is the school building coping with the extra numbers?
We made some physical alterations to the layout over the summer and are continuing to tweak the way we use the building to accommodate the larger number of boys now in school. For example, we’ve just introduced a one way system for the corridors at change over and breaks, which has had an immediate and calming effect on the atmosphere.
What will your library be like for the first few years?
Our resource centre is growing year on year, starting with a range of books picked out to encourage boys to read for enjoyment. Our Head of English had an article published in the TES about not bewildering/off-putting boys with too much choice: Click here for more information
Do boys have lockers?
No. There’s not room on our temporary site but we have installed hooks for them to use for their bags and blazers.
Is there a PTA?
All parents and carers are encouraged to become active members of the Friends of FBS. Click here for more information.
Can I get other parents’ contact details/class lists?
We will be emailing all parents shortly to ask if they’re happy to have this information shared with other parents.
How can I track my son’s attendance/performance?
New parents will be issued with a log in to the parent portal, where the school information system iSams holds all this information. All parents are expected to attend a termly meeting with their son’s tutor to discuss performance.