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James Marks Academy


What is the difference between Primary and Secondary School?

Age Group - The most obvious difference between primary and secondary schools is pupil age. Primary-school ages range from 4 to 11. Secondary school pupils generally range from 11 to 18. Clearly, the age difference of pupils can determine the teaching approach. In simplistic terms, primary schools provide the groundwork and necessary tools to access education, and secondary provision builds on what has been learned. 

Organisation and Content- Primary and secondary schools are different in orientation. For instance, in primary schools, every subject is taken by the same group of pupils. For example, they all go to music lessons together. Once pupils enter secondary school, there is more choice of subjects; not everyone will take the same subjects. This makes the education more focused, as there is a level of choice allowing for greater subject breadth to be covered. Secondary schools therefore prepare pupils for college, university and apprenticeships.  

Mainstream or Special?

A special school is a school which is “specially organised to make special educational provision for pupils with SEN” (section 337 of the Education Act 1996).

A mainstream school is a school which is able to support all pupils, if their special educational needs and disabilities aren't recognised as being of the extent that something 'additional to' mainstream provision is required.  These can be either state schools or  Academies (section 83 CAFA 2014). Independent schools are not classed as mainstream schools.

What are the uniform requirements - if any?

We appreciate that many of our pupils have sensory issues, which can and does result in difficulties with certain types of clothing and the materials they are made from e.g ties, nylon, neoprene etc. This is why we do not have a uniform. You should be comfortable in the clothes you wear to school but you are not allowed to wear low hanging trousers, short skirts, crop tops or clothing that contains explicit, derogatory or offensive pictures or slogans. If you arrive at school in clothing that is not appropriate you will be asked to go home and change. 

What are the equipment and learning requirements for me as a parent e.g. do I need to pay for a lap top, text books, calculators, stationery etc?

The school provide equipment and resources including text books, calculators, etc. It would be useful for a pupil to have a laptop, or computer at home should they need to complete any work, or log into a remote learning session, but not essential. We will loan equipment to parents if necessary. 

What to do if my child is ill?

Please call the main office on 01442 256915 to report your child's absence. Please see the attendance page for more information. - link below. 

What will the school do if my child is ill for a prolonged period of time?

If your child is absent from school for a prolonged period, evidence will need to be provided, it is also essential that parents engage in dialogue with the school until normal access resumes. 

What should I do if my child has health needs and needs to have medication administered when at school? 

Please ensure the school are aware of the details of any medication your child is taking, whether at school or at home.

If your child does need to have medicine administered at school, please contact the main office who will be able to provide parents with the necessary forms and all additional guidance.  Please do not send your child in to school with medication EVER (even if it is to keep in their bag and is 'over the counter' medication) all medication, including paracetamol must be kept securely in the office. 

What if my son/daughter needs access arrangements?

We are a specialist provision, with a very experienced SENDCo who will ensure that your child has the access arrangements for examinations that are required to meet their needs.

What to do if I have educational concerns - who do I contact reference educational progress?

Upon arrival at James Marks Academy, our Integration Manager will be your initial point of contact. Following the transition period, your child will be allocated a staff member as a mentor. The mentor will phone you weekly to discuss how things are going. If you have any concerns, please contact your child's mentor in the first instance. 

What to do if I have behavioural concerns regarding my child, or another child ie: bullying, safeguarding etc and who do I address these too?

We would recommend that you initially speak to the mentor regarding any behavioural concerns. Alternatively, or if it is urgent, you can speak with our Behaviour lead.

If it is a safeguarding issue, please speak with the DSP  - David Morgan or Deputy DSPs - Scott Martin, Ashley Purser or Elizabeth Cooper. 

How will the school tell me how my child is performing?

You will get weekly calls from your child's mentor to regularly discuss all elements of your child's progress as we like to ensure the communication between school and home and is frequent. 

You will receive a termly report from the subject teachers;  two parents evenings are also scheduled on the 26th September 2023 and 13th February 2024. 

How can I say thank you?

We appreciate you taking the time to supply us with feedback whether this is via email, card or letter. Thank you notes are put in our 'Good News Folder' anonymised, so that we can share pupils' journeys with others. 

When will parents evenings take place?

We have two parents evenings a year; one in the Autumn term and one in the Spring term. We will put the proposed dates on the website calendar in addition to writing to parents. There are currently two parents evenings scheduled, one on the 26th September 2023 and the second on 13th February 2024 (subject to change). Information  will be sent out via email and pupils are asked to book times for you to meet with their subject teachers. Parents will be informed so that they can encourage their child to make the appointments. 

What are the school rules which I should uphold and expect my child to adhere to?

At James Marks Academy, we expect everyone to treat each other with respect at all times and staff model this behaviour, so that pupils are clear as to our expectations; we will not tolerate deliberate vandalism, fighting, or abusive language. We ask pupils to complete the work asked of them during class time (we do of course consider 'reasonable adjustments and a child's EHCP needs) but, occasionally 'catch up' is needed after school to complete the work. In these cases, Parents will be called and the situation will be explained. 

How can I communicate concerns?

We would always ask you to communicate your concerns to your child's mentor in the first instance as they are the school to home link.

If there are any concerns about members of staff, please direct these to the Head Teacher:

If there are any concerns about the Head Teacher, please direct these to the Chair of Trustees:

What happens at lunch time and are there any food restrictions (e.g. nut allergies) and what does the school consider to be nuts, etc?


Catering information

Your child can bring in a packed lunch; we just ask that it does not contain any nut substances (actual nuts, peanut butter sandwiches, or cakes with nuts in etc)

We encourage healthy eating and we do not sell or provide any confectionary.  We provide free fruit in the dining hall for pupils to help themselves to if they get hungry throughout the school day. 

What do parents need to pay for?

The school pays for most of the day to day educational activities and parents will be invited (free of charge) to community events to celebrate their child's achievements. 

Parents will only be asked to pay for meals, if their child is not eligible for free school meals, and if they choose eat a meal provided by us. 

Parents will be asked to make voluntary contributions towards some of the trips and extension activities. Letters will be sent out in advance of all events. 

We hold fundraising events which your child may wish to be involved in. Please see our news feed of activities that take place to give you an idea. 

How does the school deliver Pastoral Care e.g. Mentoring? 

Initially, when your child arrives the Integration Manager will be the main point of contact. After a few weeks, the Integration Manager will introduce your child to their staff mentor who will be their main point of contact for any concerns. We also have a Pastoral Lead who will work with all pupils around their behaviour and attendance and be another point of contact if the mentor is unavailable. 

What does the school day look like eg start times, break times, end of school?

Does the school run clubs or extra-curricula activities?

  • Our Assistant Head teacher (Mark Reynolds) runs Dungeons and Dragons sessions.
  • Our Deputy Head teacher (Scott Martin) runs football club once a week in lunchtime.
  • Our HLTA (Jo Duxberry) runs a textiles club once a week in lunchtime. 
  • We run holiday activities, especially throughout the summer break. 
  • How is lost property dealt with?

Lost property is handed into the main school office. If your child has mislaid something, please contact the office in case the item has been handed in. The office will usually send a message to all staff if something has been handed in. Alternatively, the office are happy to send an email to all staff to keep their eye out for any item that has been mislaid. 

Travel arrangements

When your child joins the school you will be asked to complete a transport application form, if you live over 3 miles from the school site and require transport to get your child to and from school. Please hand this to our Transport Liaison colleague, Tony Gott, who will forward this to the Local Authority transport team. Tony will monitor the progress of the application to ensure that transport is in place for you when your child is due to start.

If you live less than 3 miles from the school site, the local authority expect that your child get themselves to the school site. 

Is there parking for parents who need to come to the school site?

We are very fortunate that we have a large site with ample parking facilities for staff and visitors. 

What happens at transition points?

Stage 1 - When your child joins the provision, you will be looked after by our Integrations Manager who will work with you and your child on integrating them into James Marks Academy.

Stage 2 - The Integrations Manager will introduce your child to their staff mentor who will support them through their journey at James Marks Academy. 

Stage 3 - Our Careers and Transition team will start to get involved with your son/daughter in Year 10/11, with supported work experience opportunities and college transition programme where appropriate. They will work with you and your child to prepare them for their onward transition, whether it be university, college, mainstream school or employment.

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James Marks


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Roman Fields
11 Box Lane
Hemel Hempstead