July 2016

The know zone

  • Testing times
    What do the controversial Key Stage 2 tests really mean for how schools assess children – and how the government assesses schools? Julie McCulloch looks for some answers. More
  • Bye bye benchmark?
    It is in the government’s interest, as well as the profession’s, to retain a national standard for pay and conditions, argues Sara Ford. More
  • Progress report
    As the first recommendations from the post-16 area based reviews are announced Kevin Gilmartin looks at what has happened so far. More
  • Ask a silly question...
    Children are adept at spotting the flaws in our interrogation techniques, as Carolyn Roberts knows too well. More
  • Urgent business
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Moving on up...
    What are the key things that you think should be in place to ensure that pupils are ready to start secondary school? How do you help your new pupils to settle in? Is your school doing something innovative to help the transition go smoothly? Here, ASCL members share their views… More
  • Decoding the data
    Are you ready for Progress 8? David Blow looks at what this major change to accountability will mean… More
  • Building a generation of lifesavers
  • Planning for Maths and English November GCSE resits
    A student who has a grade D or below in both GCSE maths and English will need to be enrolled on a GCSE in both subjects in each academic year and is required to continue to study both of these until they achieve at least a grade C in the current GCSE or a grade 4 in the new GCSE. More
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What are the key things that you think should be in place to ensure that pupils are ready to start secondary school? How do you help your new pupils to settle in? Is your school doing something innovative to help the transition go smoothly? Here, ASCL members share their views…

Moving on up...

Children’s university

At Denbigh School we recognise the importance of starting the transition processes early. To help foster a sense of belonging we offer Year 6 students the chance of joining our ‘children’s university’. This involves them attending our school every Tuesday for an hour to take part in a range of secondary school lessons including modern foreign languages (MFL), computing, science, art, drama, and design and technology. Not only does this expose students to what it is like to be in a secondary lesson it also helps them become familiar with the building and teachers, as well as providing them with an enriching learning experience.

Lesley Dale
Assistant Headteacher and Humanities Teacher at Denbigh School in Milton Keynes

Understanding Key Stage 2

At Whalley Range High School we have been focusing on moving the transition work from the pastoral to the academic transition.

In light of the increase in challenge at KS2 and the new scaled scores and teachers assessing against age-related expectations it is vital that the secondary teachers have an understanding of the new KS2 curriculum. We have worked with some of our feeder Primary schools in order to support mutually one another in understanding and supporting the curriculum, observations of one another’s lessons and looking at one another’s exercise books, so that students will be making progress from the start of Year 7 and not be spending time being stagnant in their learning. This has not only lead to a greater respect of the work that is happening at KS2, but has really helped us be better prepared for next year’s Year 7.

Mike Lea
Assistant Headteacher at Whalley Range High School in Manchester

Strengthen cross-phase work

One of the primary purposes of creating our multi-academy trust (MAT) was to strengthen the cross-phase work between ourselves and the primary schools in our area. It quickly became evident that the primary schools were expecting far higher standards of students in Year 6 than we were in Year 7. To address this, we have sent our staff out to see what students are producing before they reach us to up the level of challenge in Key Stage 3.

One of the most effective strategies we have done is to have a cross-phase ‘book look’ for students from Early Years to Year 11. The primaries in our MAT brought exemplar books and we supplied core subject books and they were all displayed in the school hall for all MAT staff to peruse. This led to a real re-evaluation of what we expect from our students.

Peter Tomkins
Vice Principal at Montsaye Academy in Northamptonshire

Week-long experience

Our school hosts a ‘primary week’ each July, where the pupils from our local primary schools are invited to join us for a school week and experience a full timetable of activities. Year 6 pupils get to meet their form tutor and some subject teachers and learn to move classrooms between sessions and navigate between the different buildings.

We use groups of Year 9/10 guides to meet pupils from the bus and escort them between lessons to ensure no one gets lost and to help pupils identify some friendly faces in the older pupils once they begin in September. The head and deputy head from our school also meet half-termly with local primary heads as a partnership, to work together to ensure transition is smooth. For example, our new house system and SHINE awards have been adopted by the primaries so that they can then continue with these once they join the secondary school.

Zoe Andrews
Assistant Headteacher at Cottenham Village College in Cambridgeshire

Making friends

Long experience with potential pupils and their parents have revealed that one of the most frequently expressed concerns regarding starting a new school is “My friends (from junior school) might go somewhere else and so I won’t know anyone”. Our aim has been to make sure they have ‘friends before they come’.

Many schools put in place buddy or mentor schemes to pair new pupils with existing ones, but we have a series of events beforehand where potential new pupils and, importantly, their parents get to meet and know one another prior to starting in the school. These range from afternoons of sample lessons to social events. Contact details are exchanged, friendships started and even lifts and school-run shares are sorted before starting.

Parents and pupils are appreciative of the efforts made and they help establish a good home–school relationship from the outset.

Paul Mitchell
Headmaster at Cobham Hall in Kent