The transition from year 6 to year 7 can be a difficult and challenging time. Feelings of anxiety can be overwhelming and a fear of the unknown will leave many students feeling nervous and apprehensive about starting Secondary School.
A notable group at risk of having a poor transition are those with Special Educational Needs. Also, those of low socio-economic status and children who speak English as an additional language (Bloyce & Frederickson, 2012; Evangelou et al., 2008). This research has prompted the Learning Support Department at Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS) to take action and plan a more robust transition package for these at risk groups and their families.
Research has suggested that student concerns are more social and emotional as opposed to academic. Common concerns are; disrupted friendships and making new friends, navigating a new environment, more challenging work, and the risk of bullying (Pratt & George, 2005; Rice et al., 2011). Evidence suggests that the best way to address these concerns is through the delivery of group interventions. These will usually start during year 6 and continue into year 7.
At Saffron Walden County High School we have always understood the importance of transition and the importance that a positive transition can have on both wellbeing and academic progress. We have consistently offered a number of transition days for key groups as well as whole cohort experiences. Key staff will visit Primary Schools to prepare students and start to bridge the gap between Primary and Secondary. These strategies have always been empowering for students. We do recognise however, that for the above key groups of students that more may be required to aid and support them in transition.
Therefore, we have now added to our programme of transition with the following;
Regular visits for students throughout the year
Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) visits to Primary schools and share strategies
Primary LSAs visits SWCHS to assess potential barriers
A one-hour Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) based transition workshop delivered to small groups in Primary schools
A 10-week Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention run at SWCHS in year 7 for identified students
An informal coffee morning at Starbucks for parents
A transition pack to be shared with parents and schools
It is our aim that with these new additions and the well-established interventions, that we will be able to offer a positive transition to all. It is important, we feel that parents are part of this process. Lowering parental anxiety will benefit students through more positive language being used about the progression to secondary school.
Saffron Walden County High School