Transition and Induction

Transition is the name given to the phase of education which covers movement between primary and secondary school. It is common for there to be a ‘dip’ in students’ achievement at the transition stage. For example, a student can commonly end up at the end of Year 7 with lower National Curriculum levels than they achieved at the end of Year 6. Induction is the process of settling a Year 7 student into their secondary school. The quality of the experience a young person receives in their first few days at a new school can impact on their subsequent career. Parents will often say that a child, who was successful at primary school, inexplicably begins to fail at secondary school. Therefore, the right secondary school for your child will offer transition and induction processes that seek to counter potential dips in performance.

  • Many secondary schools will send someone, often the prospective Head of Year 7, to primary schools, to visit Year 6 students who have been allocated a place at their school.This can have a positive effect, as it gives the students a chance to ask questions in an environment that feels secure.
  • Most secondary schools interview the Year 6 students who have been allocated a place, to gather details, and get to know the child. Often parents are invited or requested to be present at the interview. This can help the student feel secure and valued, and shows that the school is taking children’s individual needs into consideration.
  • Schools which liaise regularly with local primaries, for example,working on joint lesson provision, sharing facilities and holding joint functions, have a better track record in avoiding the Year 7 ‘dip’, because they are more familiar with the primary school context from which their students come.
  • Schools which give Year 6 students work to do over the summer holidays to prepare them for Year 7 mean business. It is an even better sign if the school then acknowledges the work properly at the start of the new academic year, and incorporates it into the students’ new studies.
  • Schools which take samples of Year 6 students’ work and use them to assess the students’ starting point in Year 7 are serious about countering the Year 7 ‘dip’.
  • Secondary schools often have an induction taster day for the students allocated a place in Year 7. This can help reduce the new students’ anxiety about the unknown.
  • If a school organises an induction taster day, it should set a precedent by running smoothly. The day should be set up in such a way that Year 6 students end it motivated, reassured, and secure. It is a good sign if the Year 6 students have been introduced to the Head teacher, and other key members of staff on the induction day.
  • Secondary schools should have a very organised programme for the new students’ arrival on their first day, and parents should be told about it well in advance. Common practice is for the Year 7 students to arrive in school before the other year groups, so that they get used to the building without being overwhelmed by older students. So, for example, Year 7 might begin the first day of term in the morning, and the rest of the school join them in the afternoon.
  • Secondary schools should be clear about the equipment they want the students to bring, so that every family has the chance to get their child prepared. A list should be published well in advance of the student beginning in Year 7.
  • The school will have someone who is in charge of the Year 7 group, either a Head of Year or House. These members of staff should be introduced to the Year 6 students in advance of their arrival at the school, either through a primary school visit, or an induction taster day or both.
  • Often parents feel more anxious about transition than their children, and this parental anxiety feeds into the Year 7 ‘dip’.Consequently, the right school for your child should respond to the anxieties of parents. Ideally, every parent should have met a member of staff before their child begins at the school. Information about all aspects of transition should be clear and sent in good time, to minimise potential parental anxiety. A school might invite parents in for refreshments on the taster day to make it easier for them to leave their child. Sometimes schools make sure there is PTA contact with  new parents prior to their child’s arrival, so established parents can provide reassurance.
  • If a school wants to ensure good relations between the new intake and the rest of their cohort, they should involve other year groups in welcoming the new Year 7s. For example, at the induction day, it is good practice for prefects or older students to be responsible for the Year 6 students and help them out if they have any problems.
  • If a school wants to maintain high standards, it will make these expectations clear from the outset. Students should come away from an induction day feeling they are valued, and that they will be challenged and supported to do their best.
  • Some schools begin Year 7 with a programme of lessons similar to those found in primary schools. Others bring in the students’ primary teachers to help in class. Others have early lessons in a single area giving students time to get used to the building’s size.
  • It is a good sign if a school has members of staff who have built up good relationships and contacts with local feeder schools.
  • If schools set or stream in subjects in Year 7, then they should use data from primary schools, combined with information gleaned themselves during the first half term or term. This means they are much more likely to group students correctly and start them off with work of appropriate challenge.
  • A school that wants to combat the Year 7 ‘dip’ will make sure that teachers have the Key Stage 2 SATs results of their Year 7 students as soon as they are available. Teachers should then be planning their lessons around this data. Note:  at the time of writing, some primary schools have boycotted Key Stage 2 SATs.

Further Information

Extra–curricular

Go to a school event organised by the PTA. To find out when this might be, ring the school.When you are there, ask PTA members how they felt about transition arrangements for their child.

Open Evening/Visit

Ask to speak to someone who is responsible for transition or Year 7. Ask them to give you details about their induction and transition processes. Try and speak to a Year 7 pupil about what their transfer experience was like.

School Publications

Ask the school to send you copies of correspondence sent to parents of prospective Year 7 students last year.

Case Study

Summary




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