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A Bridging Unit to Support Vulnerable Children and Families Through Year 6 Transition and Year 7 Induction.

Apr 25, 2021

The transition from primary to secondary school is an important life transition that can affect children’s attainment and wellbeing in the longer term. Not only is it a change for a child as they take their next step on their educational journey, but it will change and impact family life.  

Transitions as part of school life are a great opportunity for learning to manage and deal with change. It is an important life skill The best support for children and their families through the transition and induction process is likely to involve a combination of opportunities and strategies to explore and develop the skills to successfully manage and embrace change.  

Additional strategies for vulnerable groups and individuals should be delivered as part of the programme according to the identified needs of the children and families in the cohort.  

Wdo know that:  

We do know that effective interventions delivered during transition periods can have long-lasting positive effects (Gottfredson and Hussong, 2011). 

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring how we can support vulnerable children and their families to manage the change from primary to secondary school. 

So what is vulnerable in the context of transition from year 6 to year 7? 

No single group of children are especially vulnerable to a poor transition. However, studies have found that: 

Children with SEND were more likely to be bullied, and children living in low socio-economic households found it harder to get used to the new routines. But these children did look forward to secondary school, which had a positive effect on them developing an interest in school and school work.

Lockdown for some families has been particularly stressful. Anxiety levels are high, the closing and opening of schools, the changes in routines and long periods of time away from the classroom and friends means that for some children returning to school has been very challenging. Facing another change could feel overwhelming. 

Iwill be important to encourage primary colleagues to not just evaluate vulnerability in terms of attainment or socio-economic circumstances but use their broader knowledge of family circumstances to identify those children and families that would benefit from some additional support through the transition process. 

 Parents know their children best.

Once the year 6 children and families have been identified as potentially vulnerable, make contact. Informal, warm and friendly communication works best. 

Offer a range of opportunities to meetdrop-in zoom sessions, telephone chats, and (hopefully later in the term) in person on the school site.  Parents have had a great deal of involvement in their child’s learning over the last year and communication between staff and families has become ‘normal. We don’t want to lose that good practice.

Parent Concerns 

Anticipate what parent worries and concerns might be. The STARS study showed that the main parental worries before transition were: 

  • Bullying 
  • Safety 
  • The amount of homework 
  • Adjusting to having lots of new teachers 
  • Making new friends 

Listen to parents, share strategies that can be worked through both at home and by the school to support the child. 

Moving UpA bridging Unit started in year 6 and completed in year 7. 

Moving Up is a PEN family home learning resource that is fun and creative giving opportunities for children and their parents to work together exploring the common concerns and issues relating to transition and induction. 

The majority of children can work through it at home but for families needing additional support, it can scaffold an actual or virtual workshop delivered in both year 6 and in year 7. 

Making Friends 

Vulnerable children often need additional support to make new friends and maintain friendships. A common concern is mixing with older children in a large school. 

Some ideas: 

  • Create Year 7 tutor groups early and have virtual tutor meetings before the summer holiday. 
  • Use remote tools such as google classrooms. This may be helpful to begin to support children to make links with others within their tutor group and beyond. 
  • Consider ways of setting up ‘buddy systems’ and ‘e-buddies’ via school emails or virtual learning environments.  
  • Create ‘Friendly face’ videos from older pupils who will be in roles as peer mentors, leading clubs etc. Follow this through once schools are open. 

Finding out about the new school 

Vulnerable children and their families need additional support to get used to new routines and organisation of secondary schools. 

The Year 7 section of Moving Up, Settling In’, contains home learning materials that provide a framework for support but in addition here are some more ideas. 

  • Video clips of key staff introducing themselves (SLT, Year Heads, Inclusion Team, Department Heads, Year 7 tutors etc). Vlogs can then be added to websites and social media. 
  • Photos and videos of where children will eat lunch, the toilets, the SEND base. 
  • Videos of journeys around the school and mini-tours of key areas. Keyworker and vulnerable children who are currently in school could be involved in creating these. It could involve a ‘hide and seek’ activity where children have to spot certain objects around the school. 
  • Simple maps with photographs of key areas attached.  
  • Words matter an explanation of keywords used in Secondary vocabulary e.g. ‘tutor’. 
  • Videos showing a typical Year 7 timetable and how to use it. 
  • A ‘treasure hunt’ involving activities to encourage pupils to explore the school website to find answers to commonly asked questions e.g. timetable, lesson times etc. 

 References: 

EPPSE project (Evangelou et al, 2008). Key Factors That Contribute to a Successful Transition. 

The School Transition and Adjustment Research Study, STARS, 2013.

Further resources: 

BBC Bitesize. Videos on a range of topics around starting secondary school. 

Find Your Feet. A BBC Teach and YoungMinds partnership supporting students with transition.

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