We're in June, a time when transition to secondary school is a big part of schools' focus. But how do you support the move up from primary during a coronavirus pandemic?
At the secondary school communication support service where I'm based, we have been in discussion about this from the first department meeting after lock own was announced. Here is what we have come up with:
This is an oldie but still a goodie: a "pupil passport" gives an idea of what a pupil has achieved and enjoyed at primary school. It allows the pupils to know that their voice is being heard by their new teachers, and gives us a chance to start getting things organised, and to tailor certain activities to pupils' likes.
Transition: Why schools should focus on transition all year round
This was something I was really keen to do, as I once taught a boy who spent the whole summer worrying what type of chair he would sit on in his new high school. I have been into the empty school during lockdown to record a video showing what the school looks like, and, in particular, our department, where the new pupils will spend the majority of their time. I videoed everything in the department and made sure to show how to access it from the main door, after remembering the acute fears of a pupil I once taught who thought they would get lost immediately when entering the school.
We are sending home our own transition booklet for pupils and parents with lots of information about the school. It also has our photographs, as I think it is important for pupils to know a name and a face, particularly given that, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, they might not have the opportunity to meet us.
These will still be going ahead with as many organisations as possible included, in an attempt to make this as robust and "normal" as possible. We may meet at a socially distanced level or it may be done through a video meeting; regardless, we have all agreed that these are too important not to do. Giving parents that voice from the start is crucial.
We are anticipating creating a new class for each of the new first-year groups and allowing them the chance to introduce themselves and perhaps take part in any activities set by the teacher. In the absence of meeting in person, then meeting virtually will at least allow for some kind of relationship to be formed.
I feel that we have managed to keep the transitions process as "normal" as we can so far, but I’d be delighted to hear other teachers' views. How are you planning your virtual transitions?
Adam Black is a teacher in Scotland who, in the 2019 New Year's Honours list, received the British Empire Medal for raising awareness of stammering. He tweets @adam_black23