Trying to get Transition Right

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Transition:a passage from one state, stage, subject or place to another.

As the corner that leads towards the summer term is slowly rounded, now seems an apposite time to blog on the subject of transition. For some, this may well be a notion yet to even have appeared on the horizon; for others, it is hopefully an ongoing aspect of their work and one which underpins the success and happiness of the children in their charge.

I do not profess to be an expert in transition; I am not seeking to hold my own school’s work up as a model of exemplary practice; but I have seen sufficient cases of transition being poorly planned and managed to be able to highlight some practices that do work.

I currently work in a junior school. We have between three and five feeder infant schools but 97% of our intake come from one of them. We are fortunate to have a very close working relationship with that school and together have developed and refined our KS1 to KS2 transition arrangements over a number of years.

For the Year Two cohort who will join us this September, transition planning is already well underway. Following is an attempt to briefly summarise the work done so far and that which is scheduled for the summer term.

SPRING TERM
Headteachers have met to discuss the development of a joint ‘leveless’ assessment system.

All subject leaders across the two schools have met to map cross-phase curriculum coverage and the implications of the new National Curriculum.

Year Two and Year Three teachers have all spent two days in each other’s classrooms observing learning behaviour, environments, routines etc. (but NOT the quality of teaching).

Accompanied by the Headteachers, transition governors have carried out learning walks in Year Two and Three classrooms, familiarising themselves with the similarities and differences that exist between the two schools. In addition to this, those governors have met with Year Three teachers and teaching assistants to talk about the transition process; they have also spent time with small groups of children to gain their perspective as the people at the centre of our work.

Year Three teachers and the INCO have met to identify areas of the infant school’s practice that could be adopted in Year Three in order to create greater parity of provision between the two settings; we are aiming to create a learning environment which is familiar and safe yet which also allows for development and growth.

SUMMER & AUTUMN TERMS

As the summer term progresses, so increases the focus on involving children and their families in transition.

At the end of April, Year Two and Three Teachers and both schools’ INCOs are given a day to plan fully a transition ‘unit’. This includes scheduling dates for Year Two children to spend time at our school at different times of the day: mornings, afternoons, assemblies, lunchtimes. For particularly vulnerable children, extra visits are planned.

In July, an informal open evening is held. New parents have the opportunity to visit our school and, just as their children have, acquaint themselves with new teachers and a different environment.

In the final two weeks of the summer term, the first half of our transition unit is taught in Year Two. Some of this teaching is done by the Year Three teachers who then provide a ‘bridging’ project for children to work on during the summer holidays. During the first two weeks of the autumn term, the second half of the transition unit is delivered and parts of this are taught by the Year Two teachers.

At the end of September, our transition work is rounded off. The parents of our new intake are poised with a short transition ‘report’. In effect, this is a simple tick-list but it provides helpful information on how children have copied, and are coping, with an often difficult period.

So, our transition work- not a how to do it, just a this is how we do it. Our experiences have taught us that socially, emotionally and academically, the move from infant to junior school, from KS1 to KS2, can be enormously difficult for children (and their parents): get it wrong and you can pay for it for a long time; get it right and the payback can be huge.

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