Meet The Southport School (TSS)

The Gold Coast is a hub for several of South East Queensland’s most outstanding schools and educational institutions...

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We caught up with The Southport School's Deputy Headmaster and Head of Preparatory School, Jeff Symms to gain some insight into The Southport School and find out all you need to know about enroling in Prep at TSS.

What’s unique about your school?

The Southport School is the only single-sex boys’ school on the Gold Coast, set in beautiful and expansive grounds.  It has been educating boys since 1901 and currently the Primary School, (known as TSS Preparatory School) is ranked as the highest performing academic school in the city.

The teaching staff have an exceptional knowledge of how boys learn and the best approaches to engaging them in the learning process.  An extensive co-curricular program in sports and music is available to extend the boys’ development.  Leading programs in literacy and numeracy, outdoor education and IT make the school an exciting place in which to learn.

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When do I need to enrol? How do I secure a position for my child? What is the enrolment process?

Places at the school are offered based upon the date of application, so the earlier an application is made, the more likely a place will be available.  Main entry points are Reception (Prep Year), Year 3 and Year 5.  Generally, parents attend one of the regular ‘Walking Tours’ of the campus with the Head of the School  during which he talks about the school’s programs and parents get to view the state of the art facilities.  The walking tour dates remaining in 2020 are: 29 July, 19 August, 9 September, 14 October, 4 November, 18 November and places on these tours can be booked through our admissions office admissions@tss.qld.edu.au . After the walking tour, or after viewing the school’s website, parents submit an application (found on the website) and then will be invited to bring their son in for an admissions interview at which parents can ask any questions they may have about the school and/or share information about their son’s strengths or any possible concerns.   Within a fortnight of this meeting, and with all things being satisfactory, the school issues a letter of offer.

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What’s your prep/pre-prep orientation like? What activities are in place to help my child and family settle into school?

In the year prior to starting Prep, the boys attend an orientation day followed by an orientation evening for parents.  This is followed by a second orientation day in January at which the boys explore their classroom more fully and meet all of their teachers and classmates.  Our school recognises the importance of strong relationships and our teachers form strong connections with boys and parents early on which facilitates happy children.

How does your school communicate with families?

In a variety of ways.  Regular Parent Teacher interviews, an online portal called Prepbook for all school news, events, homework and co-curricular information.  Emails and newsletters. Class notices and flyers.  Phone calls where necessary.

How can I help prepare my child for ‘big school’? Are there particular types of knowledge, skills or abilities children are expected to have prior to starting at your school?

There is nothing in particular that our school requires that is different to all schools.  Parents working with their son on issues of basic independence (toileting, dressing, bag-packing, lunch-box opening etc) is always beneficial.   Social skills – sharing, resilience, working with others and good listening skills are all very helpful as well.    Prior attention to fine motor skills helps set children up for success. This is how they hold a pencil, cut with scissors and paint.   Recognising their own name and perhaps being able to write their name are useful skills to have when starting school.

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How structured is the classroom environment in Prep/Pre-prep? What is expected of children in a typical day?

Prep is the first year in Australian Schools with a set curriculum, so this does involved some more formal learning which is required.  However, at our school, learning is very activity based with plenty of time for movement and fun.  We run special programs in Lego Robotics, Visual Art, Music, Physical Education which break up the day into active learning blocks in between more focussed learning times.  Our Reception (Prep) Classes are fun-filled, busy learning environments in which boys can flourish in both the social/emotional and academic domains.

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Is there homework in Pre-Prep/Prep and what does this involve?

A small amount of homework is set in Prep.  Mostly this is just home reading and later in the year simple spelling words.

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What are some of the teaching and learning strategies used by class teachers to engage students requiring additional support?

Our teachers have a great deal of knowledge of child development and so are very adept at identifying any learning difficulties in the early stages.  Our school focusses on an early intervention model for learning support where by we attempt to remediate any difficulties before they become entrenched in a boys learning behaviours.   We also have on site speech therapy, occupational therapy and child psychological services.

In addition our class teachers are supported by a team of highly educated special learning needs teachers and learning support teacher assistants who run a number of programs to address learning difficulties.

Are there any considerations I need to make when packing a lunchbox (nuts, eggs etc.)?

We currently operate in a ‘nut free’ environment.  Occasionally, when a child presents with a specific allergy, the class or cohort of children will place other items on the ‘do not bring’ list to help their classmate stay safe.   We encourage healthy lunchboxes and we employ a fulltime qualified nutritionist/dietician who works with our canteen staff, teachers and families in understanding the role of a healthy diet in a young person’s overall development.