Transitioning from primary to secondary school is a landmark step in a child’s journey towards maturity and independence. In addition, moving from a smaller school, where everyone knows each other, to a larger environment in which children are taught by several different teachers and in several different rooms can also bring its challenges.
At Meadow we believe that it is important to prepare children carefully for these changes, in order that they have the best chance of making a smooth and confident transition, by focusing both on the skills sets required and the opportunities that such a change presents. We start preparing the children in Year 5 - the children are encouraged to become much more self-reliant in their learning, to think about how to organise their learning and manage their time, how to research, how to evaluate their work and to identify the next steps in their learning journey. This helps them to prepare for the greater demands for independent learning and juggling their time that secondary school makes.
In addition, children in years 5 and 6 take on a variety of school monitor roles, helping with a range of tasks around the school, including Team Leaders, Head Boy and Girls, Play Leaders and a whole host of other responsibilities. As well as making a valuable contribution to school life, these roles help the children to develop commitment, organisational skills and a sense of personal responsibility that will stand them in good stead for secondary school.
Spending time at secondary school ahead of transition
Experience of the secondary school environment is also very helpful. At various points throughout Years 5 and 6, children gain experience of local secondary schools as we participate in activities such as the Science and Technology event at Blenheim High School – enabling pupils to become more familiar with the physical surroundings, as well as meeting pupils and children from other feeder schools.
Transition information for parents
It is acknowledged that transition from primary school to secondary school may be just as big an event for parents as it is for children. Therefore, we invite parents to contact us for any information that they need.
PHSE work in school to support children through the transition process
Any period of transition can be emotionally unsettling and confusing, and transition from primary school to secondary is no different. On the one hand, and oscillating back and forth from moment to moment, children may feel that they are looking forward to new opportunities, or on the other may feel insecure at leaving a familiar environment; they may be looking forward to meeting new friends, or worried that they may lose touch with current ones. We explicitly recognise this and, in the summer term in particular, timetable regular PHSE sessions to voice and constructively address their mixed feelings. For example, we reflect on past experiences and look forward both to opportunities and challenges; we explore ways to make new friends and who they can speak to at their new school if they are worried about anything once they start.
What parents can do to help their children prepare
Secondary school undoubtedly places extra demands on children in terms of personal organisation, time management and a more complex journey to school. Experience shows that children who are well-prepared for these transition more successfully. Parents can play a key role in helping children to gain confidence in taking on these challenges in a progressive way. For example, throughout Year 6, children should be encouraged to take responsibility for organising their own school bags, PE kits and musical instruments. In addition, they could be encouraged to identify a regular time for completing home learning each week.
Closer to the time of transition, parents could explore bus timetables with their child and could try a dummy school run – perhaps allowing the child to board the bus independently and arranging to meet them at the other end.
Information sharing between Meadow and secondary schools
In order to ensure that children make a smooth academic transition from Meadow to their chosen secondary school, and that new teachers are fully aware of each child’s strengths and capabilities, our Year 6 teachers fully brief each school about each pupil. As a result, in addition to the sharing of SATS results, this affords a valuable opportunity to share teacher assessment data, as well as information about children’s sporting, artistic or musical interests.
For SEN children, our SENCo and Year 6 teacher may also hold additional meetings with the SENCo from the relevant secondary school. Furthermore, formal documentation of primary school SEN support arrangements for the child may be completed and passed over, where this is necessary.
Five key elements of a positive transition
Research by students at Oxford University found that there were five key elements - in the eyes of a child - which constitute a positive transition:
These may sound pretty basic, but there isn't a simple, 'one size fits all' way to transition into a new environment. Every child is different: academically, emotionally and socially.
We understand the transfer to secondary school can be a daunting time for everyone and maybe even more so if your child has SEN. We will support you and your child by:
Top Tips – to help your child be ready for secondary school
Making the change from primary to secondary school can be a daunting time, both for your child and for you! This guide is for you as a parent to read and share with your child to help you both prepare for the transition.
As a parent there’s lots of practical matters you'll need to consider before the start of school and thereafter.
Do you remember your first day at big school? Were you daunted by how large your new school seemed or maybe you felt a bit lost amongst all those teenagers at breaktime? How about all the new subjects, the fact that you had lots of different teachers and, of course, new school mates to try and make friends with? When preparing your child for secondary school it can help to step back in time and remember all those emotions you felt as you stood in your new school uniform and prepared to make the leap into the great unknown.
Whatever you do, don't dismiss any apprehension your child says they're feeling about starting secondary school. It's important to listen to their worries and have a think about what you can do to help.