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Coronavirus: supporting pupil transition to secondary
You'll be having to adapt your normal activities for secondary transition because of coronavirus. Download our checklist to find out how primaries and secondaries can work together to deliver a remote transition programme, and get inspired by what other schools are doing with examples of resources and activities.
Updates to this article
13 August 2020: We've added some ideas of activities and resources to help you welcome your new year 7s this September.
- Know what you want pupils to gain from your transition programme
- Use our checklist to plan your transition programme
- Get inspiration from what other schools are doing for the transition
- Still share transfer documents to help secondaries prepare
- Get ideas for activities and resources to help new year 7s settle in
Below you'll find ideas aimed at both primary and secondary schools to help you overcome challenges to carry out an effective transition in the current environment. The effort you put in now won't just benefit pupils in this cohort - it'll also help ease transitions also in future.
With some primary schools reopening for year 6 pupils in the summer term, primary schools may have been able to do more in class to help ease transition. However, especially for those year 6 pupils who didn't attend, try to to provide a remote solution to these activities so everyone is included in your programme.
Know what you want pupils to gain from your transition programme
For pupils starting secondary school in September, this is going to be a difficult time, even more so than under normal circumstances. You won't be able to provide a remote solution to all aspects of your normal transition programme.
However, there's still lots that you can do.
Neil Topley from Bishop Luffa School, a secondary academy, told us that their senior leadership team (SLT) first discussed what they wanted pupils to get from the normal transition programme. It should:
- Reassure pupils
- Ease anxieties
- Develop a sense of belonging
- Engage with parents
They then asked what activities they could still do and what opportunities they needed to adapt, like:
- Induction days
- Information evening for parents
- Help with getting used to secondary learning style
After this, they started creating a 'virtual transition programme' that would follow their normal principles for transition and include ways to still offer some of the opportunities above.
Scroll down to the section titled 'get inspiration from what other schools are doing' to find out what they came up with.
Use our checklist to plan your transition programme
Primary and secondary schools should work together to help prepare pupils for the jump to year 7.
Download our checklist to help you map out what you can do during this time to help year 6 pupils transition to secondary school.
You'll find suggested tasks for both primaries and secondaries to:
- Help pupils get ready for the secondary environment
- Support vulnerable pupils and pupils with special educational needs (SEN)
- Engage parents
Get inspiration from what other schools are doing for the transition
Build excitement and get pupils familiar with their new environment
Maidstone Specialist Teaching and Learning Service brought together its schools to work out what primary schools could do before the end of the summer term to ease the move in autumn.
Together they curated a set of activities and tips for the end of year 6, that primary schools could send out to parents. This includes things like practising your walk to school as part of your regular exercise.
Read the tips on Five Acre Wood School's website (where the service is based).
Bishop Luffa School has created a page for secondary transition on their school website that includes:
- A virtual tour of the school
- Interactive map of the school
- Videos from heads of house
- Subject guides
The Academy Selsey secondary school has also created an area for year 6 transition on their website. It includes transition work for year 6 teachers to give to pupils so they can bridge the learning gap between primary and secondary.
Make your virtual introductions to parents and pupils
Rosendale Primary School is going to:
- Get year 6 pupils to record videos (in class or at home) of any questions they have about secondary school
- Ask a handful of year 7 pupils to respond to these on video
- Assemble these question and answers into a video they can share with all year 6 pupils
If your pupils aren't set up with video, you can ask them to write their questions/answers on paper and send you a photo.
To help create a sense of belonging, Bishop Luffa School has:
- Got their year 7 peer mentors to record a video saying what's good about:
- Starting at their school
- Their school house
- Asked year 6 pupils to email their questions to a shared inbox so peer mentors can answer these (with teachers reviewing responses)
See these on the transition page linked above under the headings 'Year 6 questions' and 'Year 7 house buddies'.
Still share transfer documents to help secondaries prepare
It's crucial that primaries still pass on academic information about each pupil, so secondaries have an idea of what support to provide in September.
This year, primary schools won't be able to include some of the information they'd usually provide (e.g. KS2 SATS results).
But year 6 teachers should still be able to give an idea of pupil progress before lockdown, using teacher assessments.
You'll also want to give a picture if you can of how much learning the pupil has been doing during lockdown. This might not be completely accurate but will help give a sense of any gaps in their learning.
Share information such as:
- The primary school's approach to remote learning
- If the pupil has been engaging with remote learning
- If the pupil returned to school before the end of term
Share pastoral information to better support each pupil
Primary schools should also share information about pupils' wellbeing. Secondary schools will then be better placed to support the needs of new pupils in September, as they'll be able to:
- Know what kind of support each pupil needs
- Spot signs of irregular behaviour
3 secondary schools in West Sussex have developed an online form to send to primaries to help collect this information about each pupil. It covers:
- Additional needs of the pupil
- Physical and mental health of the pupil
- KS2 attainment/teacher assessment - for this year, they're asking primaries to just use teacher assessments to fill in this section
- Strengths and interests of the pupil
- Additional information about what would help the pupil with transition
Get ideas for activities and resources to help new year 7s settle in
Classic icebreaker games such as '2 truths and a lie' (where players tell 2 truths and a lie about themselves and others have to guess which statement is false), and 'find someone who...' (where players have to find another player who fits a given description), can still work while sticking to social distancing. For example, rather than having pupils move around the classroom for 'find someone who', you can do it as a group with pupils sat at their desks while you fill in the answers on the board.
Stoke Newington School and Sixth Form are welcoming pupils with activities in English, maths, science and history, such as time capsules and fairy tale projects.
A teacher at Nova Hreod Academy in Wiltshire is planning to ask year 7 pupils to write answers to key questions about themselves (such as their proudest moment so far, their best friend, who they live with) to get to know her pupils and as a personal growth activity, as they'll then get these back when they're in year 11.
- Neil Topley, assistant headteacher at Bishop Luffa School in West Sussex
- Nick Brown, deputy headteacher and Dan Sapseid, network IT manager, both at The Academy Selsey in West Sussex
- Emma Barber, head of department at St Philip Howard Catholic School in West Sussex
- Kate Atkins, headteacher at Rosendale Primary School in Lambeth
- Maidstone Specialist Teaching and Learning Service (SLTS)
- Gemma Slack, principal educational psychologist at Lincolnshire Psychology Services
- Lorraine Petersen, an education consultant. She was previously the chief executive officer of nasen (which promotes the education of young people with special educational needs), and a primary school headteacher. She is also a governor at a special school in the West Midlands
- Alison Wilcox, education director at nasen
- Research from the Education Endowment Foundation
- Kate Holtom, head of department at Nova Hreod Academy in Swindon
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