2021 Spring Term 2

The know zone

  • Effective transition
    The impact of the pandemic on lost learning for primary school pupils moving up to secondary school is a growing concern. Never has the focus on high-quality collaboration and early transition planning been so important, says ASCL Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • Getting our priorities right
    ASCL Specialist Margaret Mulholland believes that Covid-19 has highlighted the stark reality of disadvantage and segregation in our education system. Now, she says, it's time to get our priorities right. More
  • Brave new world?
    As the government launches its consultation on changing the way our students apply to university, ASCL Specialist Kevin Gilmartin examines the key proposals. More
  • Defining your benefits
    ASCL Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski highlights the benefits of belonging in the Teachers' Pension Scheme. More
  • Remote teaching
    We've all had to change the way we work during this crisis, especially during lockdown. Here, ASCL members share their experience of remote teaching and working throughout the pandemic... More
  • Candid camera
    Principal Hannah Knowles says being a member of ASCL Council is a privilege and it has widened her vision of education. Here she shares her passion for Council, teaching and leading, and her dislike of... 101 Dalmatians. More
  • A time for peas
    Home schooling plus online meetings and lessons while minding three youngsters... not to mention the head injuries, disastrous baking and 'comfort breaks'. Alex Wallace opens up his lockdown diary from early last year. More
  • Remote audit
    The impact of Covid-19 has brought many challenges for academies over the last ten months, but one rarely mentioned is that faced by finance and management teams as they undertake the annual external audit remotely, says Andy Jones from Cooper Parry. More
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The impact of the pandemic on lost learning for primary school pupils moving up to secondary school is a growing concern. Never has the focus on high-quality collaboration and early transition planning been so important, says ASCL Specialist Tiffnie Harris.

Effective transition

Findings from a report by the Education Endowment Foundation (see tinyurl.com/yjhgshsl) suggest that the impact of learning loss due to the pandemic will affect pupils, including pupils currently in Year 6 who are looking towards a secondary school curriculum. These children have missed significant chunks of learning since they were in Year 5.

So, while all of this may be unsurprising, it does raise the question of how can schools best prepare pupils for the move to secondary?

Possible transition issues

Effective and early transition planning is one solution, however, transition arrangements between primary and secondary schools can also be one of the problems.

Transition leaders may have experienced some of the following issues when planning for pupils moving from Year 6 into Year 7:

  • There is not always a shared understanding of how primary schools assess work, and how this translates into the ‘language’ of Key Stage 3, for secondary school teachers to use quickly and effectively.
  • Many detailed and useful files of information about pupils and their learning are passed from primary feeder schools to secondary schools, but, often, the focus centres mostly on end of Key Stage 2 test scores (SATs) and not on the wider picture.
  • Secondary school subject-based setting in Year 7, centred only on SATs scores, can mean pupils may initially be placed in the wrong sets and this can then affect their learning, confidence and self-esteem in the longer-term.
  • Information from primary schools on pupils’ learning or SATs results traditionally arrives at the end of the summer term and, therefore, it can often be too late to be used by secondary schools to plan ahead with subject leads for early intervention, or to make any curriculum changes as pupils arrive in Year 7.

While there are some very strong examples of leadership across transition, it can still dominate agendas among senior teams, trusts and local authorities looking to improve this process.

Possible solutions

Last year, a pilot group of school leaders who are ASCL members suggested the following ways transition could be improved:

  • Primary schools could provide secondary schools with information on any specific learning gaps pupils may have.
  • Primary schools could share information with secondary schools on what pupils have been taught already, in order to prevent them from having to re-learn the same information in Year 7.
  • There needs to be a focus on primary English and primary maths skills with a set of judgements provided on each pupil that can then be easily and quickly understood by secondary school teachers.

As growing evidence suggests the impact of lost learning will be high due to the pandemic, there is also an added need for schools to be able to support pupils with their mental health and wellbeing. Should any concerns arise, then this could be shared with secondary schools to ensure pupils are supported when they transition.

In addition, this may also be another summer with limited (or even no) face-to-face transition opportunities, including physical visits to new schools. All of this means that information about children in Year 6 as they change school, teachers and key stage is vital in considering an early and effective pupil-centred handover – a metaphorical ‘baton-passing’, where primary and secondary leaders, and teachers, collaborate more than ever before as a united team.

ASCL, in partnership with AskEddi, relaunched SixIntoSeven in February this year to support primary and secondary transition (see opendataproject.org.uk/sixintoseven). The time-saving data portal was developed and designed with school leaders for school leaders, in response to Covid-19 school closures and cancelled SATs.

As the country begins to get back to some sense of ‘normality’, there will still be many mountains to climb, but this also presents opportunity for positive change. As headteachers look towards a brighter future ahead, SixIntoSeven could be one school-led, child-focused solution for academic transition, not just in Covid times, but also in the longer-term.

Save the date

ASCL Primary Conference is taking place on 21 April. It’s a great professional development opportunity for primary leaders and a one-stop-shop to find out all the latest information on the primary sector. Book your place online at www.ascl.org.uk/primaryconference

Tiffnie Harris
ASCL Primary Specialist