Some time ago, we noticed that on rainy mornings, we were having a calmer and more productive start to the school day. On a 'normal day': children arrive on playground, teacher goes out on duty and at the allocated time, blows a whistle to indicate everyone should come inside. On a 'rainy day': all doors opened 15 minutes before 'school start' so that pupils and parents wouldn't get too wet - teachers on duty required to go out to say that the doors are open.
So we started a little trial with the Year Five pupils. We invited them to sign up to come into school slightly earlier and 'get on with some learning' if they wished to. About half the year group did and it worked well. This then carried on as a rather informal arrangement with children allowed to come in early if they wished to read or change a book.
In the autumn of 2016, we watched a webinar (See video at 23:35) organised by Whole Education. In that webinar, the term 'Soft Start' was used and this is what we chose to adopt for our change in how the school day would begin. We discussed it as an SLT. Year Heads took it back to their teams. Finally, we discussed it as a whole staff; raising issues, resolving them and identifying the process.
There were many issues raised: parents following children in, teacher 'teaching time' being extended, fire regulations and more...
Here is what we have done:
At 08:35, a door is unlocked by a member of SLT. This is the door all children (yes, all 480) must enter through. The member of SLT stays there to welcome children and talk to parents if required.
At 08:45 all children should be in their classrooms and the register is taken. As a record of who is in the building, the children move their name on an 'Present/Not Present' board in their classroom as they enter.
At, or before 08:55 the teacher should be able to begin their first lesson.
Some parents thought we'd moved the start of the school day. No, still expected at the same time.
Some children have required reminders to 'come in and get on' independently.
Some Y6 pupils initially took to hanging around outside school as opposed to coming in.
On assembly days, everyone is now in the hall about 10 minutes earlier!
Children are allowed a bit of gossip and catch-up time as they unpack in the extra ten minutes they have.
We have gained learning time.
Less parents are interrupting teachers at the start of the day.
Members of SLT greet children and parents.
Many classes put out a task to be done that can help out a discussion or task later in the day.
The late children really stand out and can be spoken to about time keeping.
It really could not have gone any better. There has been the odd thing to iron out. Like, in hot weather, children finding an open door at 08:20! But, those have all been sorted. We will continue next year. All year groups, and adults in our KS2 have coped with this and we know of primaries who do similar in every year group.