Q: Do you accept children of any age?
A: Yes we do, within the 2 to 18 years age range. Children join at any age, the most popular being Nursery (2,3 or 4 years), Year 3 & 4 (age 7,8,9) and Year 7 (age 11).
Q: Can children start at any time during the year?
A: The normal and popular time for starting at St John’s is in September i.e. the beginning of the academic year. However we are quite used to children starting in either January or April.
Q: How big are the classes?
A: Our staff/pupil ratio is 1:10 and class sizes may be as small as 8 or 9 and rarely get bigger than 20.
Q: Is there an entry test?
A: St John’s is a non-selective school and as such there is no specific entry test. All students will be required to undertake a placement test either on arrival at St John’s or in their country of origin in the case of overseas students, in order to ensure that staff are fully aware of our students’ needs and requirements.
Q: How often do parents receive reports?
A: How school reports to parents differs by age group. Please refer to the relevant School Handbook where full detail is provided.
Handbooks can be downloaded here:
Q: Are there scholarships available to St John’s School?
A: We offer scholarships to able and talented pupils from Reception to Year 12. Scholarships can be academic, sports, music or art. In addition, there are a number of local Scholarships available for students living near to St John’s which are worth up to 25% of fees and Headmaster’s Awards worth up to 50% of fees. These are open exams which usually take place in January and the scholarships run from the following September.
Scholarships at St John’s.
Q: What is St John’s known best for?
A: Feedback from past parents and pupils indicate that the care and attention that we give to children as individuals is valued most highly. As a result our students succeed in life. They leave as confident, friendly children who enjoy their learning and appreciate the importance of making a positive contribution to the community of which they are a part.
Q: What are the arrangements for weekends?
A: We organise activities for the boarders each weekend and invariably one of the two days we will be taking the boarders out to activities, excursions or points of interest. For example, we may visit Plymouth to go ice skating in the morning and visit the Marine Aquarium in the afternoon. In the summer time we tend to do quite a lot of swimming in our own pool, play tennis on our courts as well as taking the children out to Dartmoor, go camping, rock climbing or other similar activities.
Q: Can I take my children out at weekends?
A: The school is very flexible on this issue and welcomes parents wishing to take their children out for weekends. Some of our children go out each weekend, others alternate weekends and several occasionally. Nonetheless it is interesting how many children who have the opportunity to go out at weekends, choose not to as they either like staying with their friends, joining in with the activities and generally having fun within the boarding community.
Q: Are my children allowed out unsupervised?
A: The children are not allowed out of school except in the company of an adult. Our programme is so busy that there are very few opportunities for the children to do this in any case, although at weekends and at certain times, members of Year 7 upwards may leave the premises without adult accompaniment to Sidmouth and Year 9 upward may also go to Exeter, provided the school has received permission from their parents that they may do so and that they also go down with at least two other children from the same year group. This is a privilege not a right.
Q: What do the children do in the evenings?
A: At five o’clock there are a range of clubs and activities in which the children can participate. It is also one of the few moments of free time that any child has in the school since they are so busy and the children enjoy playing with their friends, using the computers, playing sport, reading or generally just relaxing. Supper is at 6.00 pm after which the students from Year 5 upwards have prep and students in Year 10 and above have an extra study session after snack. They are then in their dormitories relaxing, getting ready for bed and generally winding down after a busy day.
Q: How much pocket money do the children receive?
A: This is entirely up to parents and all pocket money is looked after by the matron who keeps careful accounts of the students’ spending and helps them to budget! The norm is approximately £10 per week depending how often the children may see their parents and what kind of activities they enjoy doing.
Q: What if my child needs equipment for school?
A: The House staff run a school shop for boarders which contains all the necessary equipment that children may need to replenish stocks of pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers etc. It also includes toiletries, key rings, padlocks and other items that children so much enjoy and feel they need!
Q: How easy do the children find it to communicate with parents?
A: Very easy! They can do so as often or as little as they wish. All children have an email address, the school has a fax machine and there is access to telephones. For children overseas we tend to suggest that parents make a regular phone call each week at a particular time so that the child can arrange their busy weekends knowing that they can still talk to their parents at this time. Most senior boarders have mobile phone and/or laptops. Controlled wifi access is free throughout the school. Children are not allowed phone during the school day nor at night after bedtime.
Q: How will I know what is going on at school?
A: The school publishes a termly calendar which all parents receive so that they are aware of the fixed occasions in the term and are welcome to attend any one of these. In addition to this the school publishes a weekly newsletter, “Blazer Post” to endeavour to keep parents up to date with what is happening in the school and to remind them of the next occasion to which they are warmly invited. All events and activities are posted on the school’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Q: How often are the boarders’ clothes laundered?
A: We have a laundry on site which is in operation every day. There are simple routines for the boarders to put their clothes out for wash each day so the children’s clothes are always freshly laundered and the matrons can keep a regular check of the state of repair.
Q: Are the boarders allowed sweets in school during the week?
A: We discourage the eating of sweets by any child at school during the working week. At weekends the matrons runs a sweet shop for the children and they can purchase items from it to eat during their weekend break. We prefer that sweets or other foods are not sent to the children through the post since this can be a cause of argument and we feel that there are plenty of opportunities for the children to have sweets or snacks throughout their weekend. On a Wednesday night boarders may sign out but may not bring sweets or tuck back into the dormitories. Any food brought in to the building will be stored in the tuck cupboard until the weekend.
Q: How is the children’s health monitored?
A: Our experienced matrons keep a careful day to day eye on the students and are very quick to spot any child who is clearly under the weather. In addition to this we have a medical Centre in Sidmouth should a child fall ill during other times or have an accident the doctor is called immediately. With the exception of coughs, colds and minor ailments, parents are informed when the children are ill or have had an accident so that they are completely familiar with what steps have been taken to ensure the children’s health and safety.
Q: Do boarders become Homesick?
A: It would be unusual if from time to time children did not display some kind of Homesickness. It is easily recognized and we are very experienced in helping children through these uncomfortable moments. Our present experience is that this is most unusual and normally occurs with the younger and newer children for a short period of time in the early settling in period or with the more experienced children from overseas who occasionally take a little time to adjust to the different time zone and weather. Invariably these moments pass quickly and the children are surrounded by supportive friends and boarding staff.
Q: How will I be able to communicate with my child’s teachers?
A: In the first instance contact your Form Teacher. We also have regular parents evenings which we hope boarding parents may be able to attend. We quite understand, however, if they are unable to and are quite happy to make special arrangements to suit the boarding parent. In addition to this the Head is nearly always available by telephone and written reports are sent to every parent, outlining their child’s progress, strengths and weaknesses.
Q: How long has St John’s been a boarding school?
A: The site at St John’s has enjoyed a boarding community for over 100 years. The site is ideally situated above Sidmouth so that the children can enjoy the surrounding countryside and environment as part of their boarding experience. The building lends itself to community living with excellent dining facilities, spacious playing fields and a warm Homely feel to all the bedrooms, common rooms and other living areas. The children are genuinely accepted as extended members of a large family and comments from past pupils indicate that the boarding experience at St John’s School is a positive, unforgettable experience which plays a major influence in children’s lives.