December 2017

The know zone

  • Cold turkey
    Christmas comes but once a year... which is just as well for one head who dreads the forced jollity of scratchy sweaters, Secret Santa and elves dancing to Slade. More
  • Mind the gap!
    Despite all the talk about improving social mobility, Kevin Gilmartin says that the latest data on sixth form university admissions indicates that social mobility is actually getting worse. More
  • Measuring up
    Suzanne O'Farrell shares some tips on strengthening your assessment system to make it as robust and effective as possible. More
  • Primary assessment: the next instalment
    This term has seen the government respond to two major consultations affecting the primary sector: one on primary assessment, and one on the Rochford Review into assessing children working below the standard of the National Curriculum tests. Julie McCulloch picks out the headlines. More
  • Smooth transition
    How do you help pupils during the transition stage? Is your school or college doing something innovative to make the process run smoothly and to gently ease children and young people in? What approaches do you take? Here, ASCL members share their views... More
  • Leaders' surgery
    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
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How do you help pupils during the transition stage? Is your school or college doing something innovative to make the process run smoothly and to gently ease children and young people in? What approaches do you take? Here, ASCL members share their views…

Smooth transition

Working together

Transition from secondary to post-16 for the majority of young people is an exciting time but what about those for whom school was not a success? At our college, a team of three professionals work closely with the local Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) and alternative providers to support their transition into post-16 education. Historically, this is a vulnerable group of 16 year-olds who, in significant numbers, end up Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET).

Through phased transition packages, including guided tours; the building of relationships with the young people, key staff, their families and outside agencies; transition packs and videos; the sharing of key information; and targeted interventions directed at meeting the holistic emotional, social and educational needs of this group of young people, 22 more vulnerable young people in Greenwich are accessing further education at Shooters Hill than the previous year.

Matthew Belson
Transition Lead, Shooters Hill Sixth Form College, Greenwich, London

Transition programme

Our school runs an innovative three-week transition programme for students moving from primary to high school before the summer break.

During this time, students complete transition activities, such as tours of the school, getting to know staff and school rules and team-building activities to get to know one another. New students spend the majority of that time in their timetabled lessons (the rest of the students in the school roll over their timetable at this time, too).

This means that students return in September ready to pick back up with their learning and they do not have to worry about learning about their new school’s systems and rules.

Hayley Oakes
Associate Assistant Headteacher, Sherburn High School, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Package of support

We are fully aware of the stress and anxiety that transition from primary to secondary can pose on students, so we offer a comprehensive transition package that gives students numerous opportunities to meet with staff and with existing and new Year 7 students, and explore the building.

In September, we welcome Year 6 students to our Horrible Histories themed event where we encourage students to dress in costume. Our staff also dress in costume and deliver a lesson in their subject around the theme of the day.

During the course of the year, Year 6 students are also invited to our annual Christmas school production and to numerous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities.

When we visit primary schools, we identify, with the help of Year 6 teachers, which students are likely to find transition to secondary school challenging and then we invite those students to spend a few extra mornings with us.

Following this, if any students still have anxiety or are in need of additional support after starting with us, we place them in a smaller form with a more nurturing environment until they are ready.

We also offer a one-week Summer School to help students become more familiar with our school prior to commencing their education with us in September.

Steve Casey
Associate Assistant Principal, Wellacre Academy, Flixton, Manchester

Key criteria

Our SLT discussed transition in terms of reviewing the pastoral elements of transition to our school and considering how to improve the academic elements of transition alongside. While there is much literature about transition, there is little evidence to support any particular activity. We used one document – Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education 3–14 Project (EPPSE 3–14): What makes a successful transition from primary to secondary school? Published by the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) in 2008 (see https:// – as the basis for reviewing current practice and considering future practice. All Year 7 students are now tracked by tutors, parents and also by themselves on five criteria that collectively lay the foundations to enable academic progress. The definition of a successful transition for children at our school is that:

  1. They have developed new friendships.
  2. Neither parents nor teachers have concerns about the student’s life at school.
  3. They are showing an increasing interest in school and school work.
  4. Routines and organisation are secure.
  5. Self-esteem and confidence have improved.

Most students in Year 7 ‘graduate’ in December while others need more support. We have learned from our first year and are now focusing on the impact of the programme in this second year.

Jo Halliday
Headteacher, King Alfred’s Academy, Wantage, Oxfordshire