Transition Talks | Issue #1

Page 1

June 2020

Issue #1

∞ Getting started ∞ Transition + SEN ∞ The blogs to follow ∞ The books to read


Welcome to the very first issue of Transition Talks, created in collaboration with the Transition Ed Conference 2020. Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Change is perhaps the only constant we have in our lives and so, as educators, it

is essential that we support our students to handle change effectively. Both issue 1 and the 2020 conference focus on

one of childhood’s biggest changed:

the transition from primary to secondary school. Although more recent years in

education have seen the introduction of the now staples of the transition diet, such as transition days, staggered starts to the academic year, and transition projects in

core subjects, all too often these can fall into the realms of tokenism and lip service

during what is one of the most commonly experienced upheavals for young people. So, we have many changes to consider here: the drastic changes from one phase

of education to the next; the changes, as a profession, we have already embedded

in our practice to respond to the immediate period of transition between June and

October; and the changes we need to continue to make if we are to ensure that the

UK’s education system truly is world class, even in terms of making solid connections between two disparate systems.

We hope that Transition Talks and Transition Ed give you lots to feel confident about plenty of challenges to your current thinking, and a wealth of ideas to continue improving and adapting your KS2 to KS3 offer. Thank you for joining us, Ellie and Liz Ellie and Liz met in October 2019 as presenters at the New Voices conference in

London. Both of them were there to talk about transition - Liz was leading with the

pastoral aspects, followed by Ellie with the curricular, making them the perfect duo in

terms of transition. On a whim, only days later, Ellie suggested the ‘outlandish’ idea of

them hosting a conference together to share their joint passion for transition; it seems she really had found the perfect person, as Liz agreed! They have met more times

virtually than in real life but this hasn’t put the brakes on their mission: to get people talking about transition all year round. 2

Contents Contributors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 04 Top ten curricular transition tasks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 08 Ellie Grout

Transition for students with SEN: The same principles apply. . . . . . . . . . 14 Vicks Marshall

Residentials – always expensive, always extreme sports?. . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Anita Kerwin-Nye

FAQ’s of the disadvantaged through transition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Liz Stevenson

Using off-site visits to support transition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Chris Davies

What’s the difference between pastoral and curricular transition?. . . . . 30 Ellie Grout



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Book reviews & blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32


Contributors Ellie Grout @ellie_grout Ellie is the founder of Grouty’s Guide (www.groutysguide. - an educational platform which seeks to make learning enjoyable through vigour and challenge that are carefully targeted to each student’s needs. It is also the home of

LitSparks. As an experienced English teacher who has worked across a range of secondary schools - and in partnership with many primary schools - since 2008, Ellie has a keen interest in curricular transition; she is dedicated to developing the conversation around curricular transition and supporting

teachers in this area of their expertise. Ellie tweets as @ellie_ grout.

Liz Stevenson @lstevenson2410 Liz has worked in Primary, Secondary and Special schools for over 20 years. The last 4 years she has been the Transition Manager for a Local Authority working with over 100

schools regardless of Academy status. She is passionate about ensuring a smooth transition for all pupils and in

particular the disadvantaged. You can follow her on Twitter @

lstevenson2410 and she writes in a blog which you can find at

Vicks Marshall @vicks_marshall I am a SENCo and English teacher at The John of Gaunt School in Trowbridge. I have worked at the school for 6 years now

and this is my 4th year as SENCo. Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked as a Youth Worker and as a Teaching Assistant. It

was these roles that gave me an enthusiasm for working with young people with SEN and for working with disadvantaged

students. It was the experience I gained in these roles that led to me doing the role I have now. 4

Professor Divya Jindal-Snape @divya.snape and @intr_tcelt Divya Jindal-Snape, Personal Chair of Education, Inclusion and Life Transitions, Director of Transformative Change:

Educational and Life Transitions (TCELT) Research Centre, University of Dundee, Scotland.

Anita Kerwin-Nye @anitakntweets Anita is the Executive Director of YHA and Lead at Every Child

Should. Her career has been spent in access and inclusion and she has a particular interest in the links between charity sector and schools.

A life-long supporter of residentials she helped establish the

Learning Away Campaign and credits her time on residentials

at Hindleap Warren in Sussex as life changing and saving. She will be speaking at Transition Ed on the power of residentials

to support primary to secondary transition; including work on pilot run by YHA in partnership with Moulsecoomb Primary School in Brighton.

Anita can found on Twitter @anitakntweets being provocative, pushy and (she thinks) funny in equal measure.

Alison Hopper @AlisonHopperMEI Alison has been involved in primary education in various roles for over 20 years. As a class teacher and senior teacher, she

led maths, assessment and music in a number of schools. For

many years, she was a Primary Strategy Mathematics Consultant in Surrey and also spent two years lecturing at The University

of Brighton on their ITT courses in maths. The combination of

these roles allowed her to explore how children learn and how teachers teach from many perspectives. When not banging a drum about transition for MEI, she can be found playing the violin and literally banging drums!


Trevor Sutcliffe @RADY_Trevor Trevor is very experienced in supporting schools in their improvement journey and has worked in all phases

of education for two large local authorities and as an

independent advisor. He has an excellent track record

in supporting schools to improve leadership at all levels, outcomes for children and inspection grades.

Improving outcomes for disadvantaged children is key to Trevor’s work as part of RADY (Raising Attainment of

Disadvantaged Youngsters). Following the success of RADY

in secondary schools, Trevor organises and delivers the free Primary RADY network meetings to allow for the sharing of ideas and good practice in ensuring that disadvantaged

children are given every opportunity to achieve in line with their non-disadvantaged peers.

Memorhyme Education @MemorhymeEd @Poetsinschools @KurlyMc Richard Grant (Dreadlock Alien) Birmingham Poet Laureate 2005.

Buckingham Palace attendee, British Reception for contemporary poetry. C.A.Duffy.

International schools work in South Africa, Poland, India, Japan, Brunei and Malaysia. Previous clients include Premier League

Academy, BBC Radio 4, Channel 4, Islam Channel, Arts Council U.K, Teachers T.V., Glastonbury Festival, The Poetry Society,

and Apples and Snakes. Over 1,000 U.K schools visited over the last 20 years.

Alan (Kurly) McGeachie

Birmingham Poet Laureate shortlisted, British Council, National Trust, National Literacy Trust, Birmingham

Educational Partnership, UNCRC, Arts Council, Royal Albert

Hall, Birmingham Central Resident Poet, Director of National ‘Safeguarding Words’ literacy project. 6

Primary2Secondary @primary2second Sue Atkins @SueAtkins Sue is an ex-deputy head teacher, has over 15 years

experience as a parenting coach and has raised two children of her own. As the Parenting Expert for ITV’s ‘This Morning’,

BBC Radio, Sky News and Good Morning Britain, she’s helped thousands of parents like you to overcome their challenges and develop their own balanced, down-to-earth parenting

approach that creates happy, positive children, and relaxed confident parents.

Jo Fitzgerald @TinySponges Birmingham Poet Laureate shortlisted, British Council, National Trust, National Literacy Trust, Birmingham

Educational Partnership, UNCRC, Arts Council, Royal Albert

Hall, Birmingham Central Resident Poet, Director of National ‘Safeguarding Words’ literacy project.

Challenging Education @Challenge_edu Louise Blackburn @RADY_Louise

As a qualified and experienced teacher and senior leader Louise has a track record of improving outcomes for

young people. Her biggest passion is as an advocate for

disadvantaged youngsters and her most rewarding days

of work are helping school leaders to effectively raise the

attainment and improve life chances of the most vulnerable learners.

Simon Blackburn @RADY_Simon

Simon was the headteacher of a medium sized comprehensive school serving the poorest wards of a town in the West

Midlands for 5 years. Since then he has coached, consulted and inspected, leading 65 inspections in both primary and secondary schools.


Top Ten Curricular Transition Tasks Ellie Grout

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

As with any aspect of teaching and learning, the number of things we can put into place are endless, however I’m going to share here my top 10 tasks for curricular transition between KS2 and KS3.

Develop a transition project between schools. Of course this task comes in at the

top of my list - not that I intentionally

ordered them - because it is perhaps the chief thing schools already do in terms of curricular transition. Host a meeting between key staff in primary and


secondary clusters and decide on what

via email or web chat) it is SO worth

with 3 primary schools, all of which have

anything which helps to gain a better

works for you. In the past, I’ve worked

been able to commit to different inputs; we were able to agree on a select set

of non-negotiables so that the project

would fit around the differing demands of each school. For us, this meant that each primary school would read ‘The

Giant’s Necklace’ by Michael Morpurgo; would allow a KS3 teacher to come and

teach each Y6 class in term 6; and would provide a ‘Pride Piece’ of writing for

each pupil to the secondary school. Input from me and the secondary

school included - of course - delivering KS3 style lessons to Y6 in term 6, as

well as the delivery of the first unit of Y7 which continued with an author

study of Michael Morpurgo under the theme of ‘Innocence and Experience’

doing. It ought to go without saying that understanding of teaching and learning in the phase which directly precedes or follows the one you teach in is going to be of benefit.

Admittedly, the first time I shared

student work in a forum like this, I was

worried. Reading the lengthier pieces of writing from students working at greater

depth in Y6 was almost enough to make my cheeks flush with shame - they were immaculate, accurate, more engaging than a lot of KS4 work I’ve seen.

However, it was in these meetings that my confidence was really boosted by

teachers of Y5 and 6 who were able to

point out how well students were doing in areas I was taking for granted.

(the thematic title under which the

Perhaps the most interesting insight that

time to the project worked in term 6).

that whilst KS2 seems to have a more

primary schools able to commit more Additionally, ‘Pride Pieces’ were stuck

into the front of English exercise books

at the beginning of the year and used to

set and maintain standards of writing for each individual child.

Moderate student work and SoLs across phases. Even if you can only make this happen remotely (share exemplar work and

mark schemes from years 5-8 - assess

and make notes independently - review

was reinforced by these meetings was clear focus on skills, KS3 seemed to

be more based on content. Of course this may well be completely different in every other group of schools, but in my then position as KS3 Lead for

English, I realised that we needed to

adapt the curriculum so that there was an explicit recognition of the many

skills students had gained by the end of their primary education, and an explicit expectation that they continued to use and develop those, as well as learning the content we taught in KS3. Oddly,


KS4 always seemed to go back to a skills

Not only does this again offer a brilliant

many secondary English teachers find

and planning structures compare, and

focus and I do wonder if this is why so

themselves lamenting that Y10 students have given up using capital letters,

commas and full stops accurately, when Y6 students visit on Transition Day

and are able to use the full range of

punctuation to create specific effects.

Introduce crossphase enrichment and intervention programmes. Paired reading between Y5 and Y7. Y9

directing key scenes from a Y6 play. KS3

teaching KS2 something they have been studying.

If you know me in practically any

therefore how we can further bridge the gap between primary and secondary

teaching of English, but it also makes for some very interesting self evaluation.

Jointly plan. In a dream world, I imagine

that Y6 and Y7 teachers would jointly plan units of work across those two

years. I imagine that Y7 would become

a ‘transition year’, successfully bridging learning between these two core

phases of education. I imagine that

there would be shared approaches to teaching that combined the best of both worlds.

capacity, I’ve probably chewed your ears

Picture this: a Y6 curriculum that starts

least one article of its own!

steadily builds towards the changing

off about Rising Stars, but that needs at

Teach a lesson in a different phase. Whether as a part of your transition

unit or not, teach elsewhere. I’d made

arrangements in my previous post for Y6 teachers to come and teach Y7 classes in early October, followed by a paired

look through students’ work. As a follow

on from having KS3 teachers teach Y6 in the Summer term, this seemed like the obvious other piece in the puzzle.


insight into how our teaching styles

off clearly following on from on Y5, and expectations of Y7 - not just for a week,

not even just for a term, but steadily and surely throughout the year. Conversely, picture Y6 students entering Y7

after the summer holidays: they are

overwhelmed by the new setting and

new systems, but when they settle into their English lessons, they recognise

the language their teacher is using, they recognise the way they are expected to lay out their work, they recognise the structure and content of the lessons.

KS3 doesn’t have to be a rush. We have 3 glorious years to prepare students

for GCSE study, so we don’t need them

the things that came out as needing

questions until then.

with the more complex reading skills

to be au fait with AOs or exam style

Create a map of new learning across all phases. As a secondary practitioner, how do

more focus in secondary school, along that are more of the bread-and-butter of secondary English teaching.

Make a standardisation folder across phases.

you know what your students ought

Ever asked yourself any of these

Do you need to teach them how to

this Y6 student working at greater

to know in advance of coming to you? use commas? Do they need a lesson dedicated to starting sentences with

adjectives? Do they know how to select

quotations from a text and embed them into their writing?

A lot of primary schools have very clear

questions? How can I further challenge depth? This Y8 student can’t write in sentences - how do you teach that

explicitly and what else might they

struggle with? If this student’s work

looks like this now, how can we expect

that to correlate with their GCSE grade?

maps of new learning introduced in

I strongly suggest developing a cross-

usage tends to be taught in year 3, so

it work that is at the expected standard,

each year group. For examples, comma by year 7, it should be expected that

students can use commas accurately,

although some students might need to revise explicit rules.

In secondary English, do you know

what learning is new? Do you know

what is embedded? Do you know what will need revision? In my experience

the answer to this is no. It’s not an easy

phase standardisation folder. Include in working towards the expected standard, and above the expected standard, for every year group. If you can find-tune it more than this, that’s great, but this will go a long way in supporting staff

to support students needs better. Build up the bank of work to include reading

responses, speaking and listening, nonfiction and fiction writing.

answer to change, either. Whilst this

Whenever you find yourself looking at

to complete, I suspect it would take a

tackle a problem that is not normally in

may seem like one of the simplest tasks whole lot of discussion and picking part of the KS3 curriculum and outcomes to

get the basics down. As a starting point, comparing features of prose is one of

a student’s work and wondering how to your remit, the standardisation folder will be the perfect place to find out where to start.


“If students in year 6 know that a ‘WOW word’ is an impressive piece of vocabulary that is used to improve the quality of their writing, but in Y7 they don’t seem to know what is meant by ‘using a variety of appropriate and interesting vocabulary’, call them the same thing.”

Invite staff from a different phase to complete selfevaluation activities. In the previous multi-academy trust that

I worked in, I invited the primary Literacy Lead (a longstanding Y2 teacher) to join me on a learning walk, in a book-look,

and to lead some student voice activities with year 7. This was done in the first half of the year and was of course, largely in order to focus on curricular transition. As with the other joint activities I’ve suggested, this made for a very

interesting experience as we inherently had different focuses.

In particular, some of the questions

my colleague asked lower and higher

attaining groups of Y7 were revealing: 12

lower attaining students were enjoying

English more than they had in Y6 as they felt that content was more important

than explicit teaching of skills; higher attaining students felt frustrated that

there were so many things they new and wanted to show off, but they weren’t

being explicitly asked to use them. Also, lower attaining students found peer

assessment a really positive experience as it felt like a middle ground between working alone and showing their work

to a teacher, so the process gave them confidence; higher attaining students felt that peer assessment was useless

and they only really respected feedback that was coming from a teacher.

Suddenly, my work on peer assessment structures shifted from providing the

right structures to make the feedback

meaningful in my eyes, to emphasising the benefits of peer feedback to the

students to make it more meaningful in their eyes.

Agree on a shared language for learning. If students in Y6 are really good at

using a ‘polishing pen’ to improve and edit their work, but then struggle to

meaningfully respond to DIRT tasks or green pen feedback, call it the same thing.

If students in Y6 know that a ‘WOW word’ is an impressive piece of

a centralised system, you’ll know how ridiculously frustrating this can be!

I’ve organised events before by having to: email all schools invited to ask for

feedback on suggested dates, terms,

days and times; deiced on a time and

date; submit a request for the activity to be approved by my SLT; confirm date

and time to other schools; wait for other schools to submit separate requests to

each of their SLTs; wait for confirmation from each school; start again if one or

more schools cannot commit to the date and time decided.

vocabulary that is used to improve the

If you’re in a MAT, it should be easy to

don’t seem to know what is meant by

schools and is discussed in a higher-

quality of their writing, but in Y7 they ‘using a variety of appropriate and

interesting vocabulary’, call them the

submit one request that involves all level meeting.

same thing.

If students in year 6 are able to select a

phrase from a text that supports an idea they have about that piece of writing,

but then in Y7 they look dumbfounded when asked to ‘select a quotation’ or

‘find a piece of evidence’, call them the same thing.

Have a centralised system for organising transition events. If you’ve ever tried to organise an

in-school event with KS2 and KS3 that

involves more than two schools, without 13

Transition for students with SEN: The same principles apply Vicks Marshall Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

We are great at recognising what support students with SEN need in school and we have a range of strategies that we use on a daily basis. However, I think we forget some of these principles when it comes to transition; perhaps because they are so ingrained that we forget we are doing them most of the time. We are great at recognising what

We know that when learning a new

in school and we have a range of

from lots of repetition and practise

support students with SEN need

strategies that we use on a daily basis. However, I think we forget some of these principles when it comes to

transition; perhaps because they are so ingrained that we forget we are doing them most of the time. 14

concept students with SEN can benefit of the new skills/knowledge being

taught. The same is true with transition. Students need to be given as many

opportunities as possible to become

familiar with new information. Consider

how you can facilitate repeated visits to

the school and/or making use of a video tour so that students can watch and re-

watch this as many times as they want. If we agree that students need repetition to be successful then transition cannot be a one off event in the summer term of year 6.

We acknowledge that many students in our lessons need advanced warning if

there is to be change in their routine so

that they feel prepared. Again, this is true for transition. It is important that staff

involved with transition (at least) have

“If we agree that students need repetition to be successful then transition cannot be a one off event in the summer term of year 6.”

a good understanding of the different

as the adults in school. It is useful to

feeder primary schools. If we do not

secondary school and the Y6 students

routines/procedures in the different

know what the current routines are, we cannot possibly prepare students for

the inevitable change in these routines

when they start secondary school. Here the primary and secondary staff really

need to work together so that each can have a good understating of the way

each other’s schools operate. That way

we can successfully discuss and prepare students for these changes to their

routine. It is useful to work with parents here too as it is likely that there will be

changes to their routine in the mornings before school and perhaps after school too when students start secondary school.

We recognise that students benefit from having clear expectations, in terms of not only what is expected from them,

but also what they can expect from us

open on ongoing dialogue between the and their families so that they are able

to ask questions to allow them to have clear in their mind what is expected of

them and what they can expect from the school. I have often seen sessions on

transition days where there is a chance

for students to ask questions about their new school. Realistically we all know

that it is only the confident students who put their hands up to ask a question and many students sit quietly with various

questions running through their minds –

this is not the right environment for them to have the questions answered.

These are some basic ideas, but I

really believe that if we apply the same principles to transition that we use to

support students day in day out that the transition for students with SEN can be more successful.


Residentials – always expensive, always extreme sports? Anita Kerwin-Nye Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

Residentials are a right of passage and a key tool used by schools to support transitions. At YHA alone over 200 000 young people missed their transition time away this year – whether the traditional year 6 post SATs residential, NCS summer camps or University Fresher programmes. This makes it even more important to ensure that we use the residentials we can have to best effect, drawing on best evidence of what works. Now, to declare an interest, part of my job is to sell YHA residentials to schools. So, know that when you read this. But my passion for their import comes from personally experiencing their transformative power and seeing this power in action with 1000s of children across my career. 16

It is worth exploding two of the myths of residentials:

They do not have to be far away or expensive I will be upsetting my own sales team to say this but one of core values in

schools to develop the best models

on transition residentials; using both our own evaluated residential work

with over 200 000 children and young people every year, and drawing on evidence from Learning Away ; the biggest study on residentials.

the residential comes in the time away

‘In partnerships focussing on primary-

This can be just as easily achieved in a

phases stated that a residential was

and seeing relationships in a new light. campout in the school hall or in tents

on a school field. Further away and in

new contexts like those that YHA offers definitely have their own benefits but

low cost/no cost on school grounds can be very effective.

High octane is great but not essential YHA has great activity centres for adventure sports. And Education

Endowment Foundation are clear that adventure activities have their own positive impacts. But these are not

an essential component of transition

residential success. Quiet time, problem solving activities, chances to talk,

secondary transition, staff from both “worth half a term” in terms of gains

students made in acquiring skills and

relationships helpful for the secondary

school environment. Secondary teachers benefited from getting to know new

students in a relaxed environment and developed a better understanding of their needs prior to transition.

“The fact he’s come to high school

knowing staff he can really trust has had a big effect on him.” (Secondary Staff Focus Group)

Post residential, 67% of KS2 pupils said

they found it easier to make new friends because of the residential.’

Learning Away Evaluation 2015

opportunities to meet new people or

Learning Away identified the key

connections to nature - feedback from

#brilliantresidential and at YHA we build

to see known people in a new light,

young people and teachers consistently

rates these things as just as beneficial as jumping off something very high!

factors that make an effective and these into all our provision.

What makes a residential brilliant >>

Residentials and transition At YHA we have worked together with 17

What makes a residential brilliant? Brilliant residentials are school trips with at least one overnight stay, which are: • fully integrated with the school

curriculum and ethos

• designed and led by teachers and,

where appropriate, students

• inclusive and affordable for all students

• deliberately and collaboratively

planned to meet students’ specific

reinforce learning back in school

learning needs, and to embed and

• part of a progressive programme of experiences

• designed to include a wide range of

new and memorable experiences

• designed to allow space for students to develop collaborative

relationships with both peers and staff • evaluated rigorously • supported by senior leadership and

school governors

Brilliant residentials can play a vital part in the transition experience and YHA’s work with schools, Learning Away and the

pilot project with Moulsecoomb Primary School show consistent success in:

• building student confidence in transition

• supporting new friendships 18

• developing different relationships

with teachers

And at Transition Ed we will be exploring the factors that help build this success

and to consider how autumn and winter residentials may be able to support

both transition and the return to school for children who have been away from

full time learning for the longest time in their school lives. Further reading


The YHA offer Build your own Our research showed how much schools value the potential to create their own

approach – both to reduce costs but also to tailor an approach to meet the needs

of their students. So, for the first time this year we have included Exclusive Hire

options over the summer and into the

Autumn. A chance for a school to book a

whole hostel to build their own transition residential from £299 per night. Supported programmes

For YHA full range of programmes visit

Subscribe to Transition Talks Magazine Issues are released 3 times per year and will cover a wide range of educational transitions, both in terms of pastoral and curricular matters.

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FAQs of the disadvantaged through transition Liz Stevenson This article is through the eyes of a child and I am providing no answers. They are all situations that I have encountered through comprehensive research with children in both primary or secondary settings. I have changed some of the language, and added a Covid spin on a few, but the issues are real! Hopefully the questions are enough to spark debate in leadership meetings:


I think I will need to get the bus to school but I don’t know how to, I have never been on a bus before. What if I get lost or I am late?

I will need to get the bus to school most days but I won’t be able to afford it everyday. What will happen if I am late?

My primary school know what my home life is like because I trust them and feel safe to talk to them. How will you help me to feel comfortable enough to do the same at secondary school?

Will I need to provide my own pens and pencils? I don’t have any at home, and I don’t want to have to ask my parents for the money to buy some as I know we don’t have much spare.

The trousers I wear now won’t fit me in September. My parents have not been able to work since March so we can only afford part of the uniform I need. What should we buy first?

I don’t know where I will be living in September. I am worried about how I will get to school each day. Who do I need to talk to about this? How do I know I can trust that person?

I haven’t been able to do much work at home because I have no one to help me and no access to the internet to search for answers. Will I miss out when I start year 7?

How will I know how much the food in the canteen costs? I am worried I will spend more than I have and that will be embarrassing.

My primary school keep a spare PE kit for me in class but they help me pretend that it is mine because they know I am embarrassed about not being able to afford one. I am worried about what to do in PE when I get to secondary school.


When will I be able to spend my money if I am Free School Meals? I won’t have breakfast at home, will I have to wait until lunch time to be able to eat?

I have never been on a school trip, I know my family can’t afford it so I make sure that I am not allowed to go by getting into trouble and so I don’t have to ask them. Will you help me break that cycle?

I have a medical condition but I don’t want any children to know about it. How will school support me?

Will I have to write about what I did during the holidays? I don’t want to tell anyone that I didn’t do anything!

I am really scared about moving to secondary school. I don’t have anyone at home that understands and none of my friends seem to feel the same. I am too embarrassed to tell a stranger, how can you help me?


Will I have to bring my own ingredients/resources for any subjects? I know my family won’t be able to afford them but I am embarrassed by that and don’t want the new children in my classes to know I am poor.

I work hard in school but I never do any work at home because I have little a little brother I have to care for. I don’t know if that will ever change and I can’t get to school early or stay late. Will I get in trouble or will I miss out on anything?

I have never been to an ‘out of school club’, will that hold me back? Will I be allowed to join them at secondary school or will I need special kit?

My house is so cold in the winter that I get very poorly. Will I get in lots of trouble if I have a lot of time off?


My parents did not enjoy secondary school and they have told me it will be horrible. Is that true?

I just don’t like school, I am so busy at home that I don’t feel like I have time. I will do my best to get sent home!

My big sister said that when she started secondary school she had to do some tests. I know my friends have been doing lots of extra work at home but I haven’t. I am worried that I won’t look as clever as the other children in my class. What should I do?

What if I don’t understand my homework? I have no one at home who can help and I won’t know how to find the teachers who set it. I always know where my year 6 teacher is. That will be different at secondary school.


People pick on me now because my clothes are always dirty. I lose my temper when children are mean to me and sometimes I lash out. I get in trouble but my teacher knows the whole situation. I am scared that this will get worse when I get to secondary school and I have heard that I will get in trouble. Is that true? Will anyone hear my side of the story?

I know the last one wasn’t a question but it is something I have heard from children in the past and thought it was a poignant comment to end on. I wonder how many of us have met this child over the years, without realising their motivation for poor

behaviour. I could go on with several more FAQ’s and I am sure, in hindsight, we all know a pupil who will have been in one or more of these situations.

I have written this through the eyes of a child to be their advocate. Of course, we

all know that the vast majority of disadvantaged children that we work with might

not want to admit or acknowledge their disadvantage. As the adults in their lives it is our responsibility to help and support them to reach their potential despite the

circumstances that surround. I hope this article has provided some discussion points.


Using off-site visits to support transition Chris Davies

Making the case for residential visits in support of transition does feel a little odd whilst, in June 2020, our fabulous centres stand empty. However, it is heartening that so many teachers and headteachers are planning visits for later this year and next; there is a ‘rebound’ determination, and it’s clear that children will need outdoor, creative, and residential learning experiences more than ever. At a time when life for young people is tough, a well planned residential - or even a day visit - can offer additional meaningful support around wellbeing, re-engagement, social interaction and certainly transition; all of which may be significant challenges for some. 26

There are two key pieces of advice I’d offer when planning a residential:

1. Make sure that it is “well planned”

2. To get the greatest return on your

investment, plan to go as early as possible in the school year.

There is no shortage of advice,

guidance and research that evaluates

the impact of a well planned residential; the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom have done a great job in

compiling so much on their website.

Some highlights are that a residential visit can:

• develop social and emotional skills • make young people more confident

and believe in themselves

• make participants more resilient and

better able to cope with setbacks and stresses

• develop the ability to stay calm and

in control when things go wrong

• help people to work better in teams

and interact positively with others.

But what is a “well planned” residential? For me, it’s that perfect blend of fun activities and shared experiences,

coupled with some really intentional

learning that will help young people to

recognise what they are capable of. To enhance the impact of a programme,

‘Learning Away’ and residential learning providers encourage you to lead visits which are, amongst other things:

• Fully integrated in the school

curriculum and ethos

• Deliberately and collaboratively

planned to meet students’ specific

reinforce learning back at school

learning needs, and to embed and

• Part of a progressive programme of experiences

• Designed to allow space for

students to develop collaborative relationships with peers and staff

At Sandwell Residential Education Service we go further and believe passionately in the value of the

whole residential experience; a warm welcome, great food, strong focus on outcomes, developing positive

relationships and prosocial experiences. 27

As for when the best time to lead a

residential visit, I’d plan to go in the

autumn or winter every time. The case is strong: not too hot, darker cooler

nights with stars and torch walks and

campfires, and better sleepers; better

appetites, no biting insects, nettles and hayfever! And of course, our creative

and expressive arts residentials aren’t

outcomes - for less money. Visits in

AND it sets up the rest of the school

Ok it might rain, or hail, or sleet;

experiences and reference points, and

Remember last year?! It might even

affected by the weather anyway!

year with transferable skills, shared stronger relationships.

Autumn and winter are usually cheaper.

but we know that’s possible in June., that could be brilliant!

There is a cost to residentials in

I’m not saying that summer residentials

investment, schools and parents should

working outdoors with groups every

money, time and effort. Viewed as an want the best value and maximum

return, and this often offers it. You’ll recognise things in your pupils that it’s hard to simulate in a classroom environment, so a well planned

residential at the earliest opportunity in the school year gives you more chance to embed learning, and deepen the

aren’t great. They are; we have enjoyed bit as much in the summer as at other times of the year. But, objectively, the arguments in favour of planning your

residential visits for earlier in the school year really do add up. Not to mention Ofsted’s shift toward judging schools on their intent to have an ambitious

curriculum developing skills beyond the academic, including a Personal

Development judgment; many schools will be looking carefully and creatively at how residential visits can provide support this.

It is of course unclear at present how residential visits will restart when

schools fully reopen, so at Sandwell

Residential Education Service we are 28

“Ok it might rain, or hail, or sleet; but we know that’s possible in June. Remember last year?! It might even, that could be brilliant!”

planning for outreach work, day visits,

Sandwell Residential Education Service

occupancy at our small, welcoming

opportunities for children, young

and smaller group sizes. We have sole centres and I suspect that this will be

particularly important to schools in the

near future, as we embrace their way of working.

And as part of Sandwell Council, we are extremely grateful to our

colleagues for helping us to navigate the current situation. From Public

Health, to Educational Visit Advisors, to

exists to provide lifelong learning

people and adults to lead happier and more successful lives. They deliver memorable learning experiences

through outdoor exploration, adventure and creative arts from 3 outdoor

learning centres and the UKs only dedicated residential arts centre.

ideas and resources from Educational

Psychologists and School Improvement officers; we will be confident in our

capacity to reopen safely, and deliver

the most impactful programmes to help our groups to recover.


What’s the difference between pastoral and curricular transition? Ellie Grout Photo by Ramin Talebi on Unsplash

Transition is the term usually used to refer to the time that spans from the final term of year 6 to the end of the first term of year 7 and tends to loosely refer to both pastoral and curricular elements. However, these two aspects of transition cover quite different elements of a process which spans significantly longer than June-October. Whilst the key aim of both pastoral and curricular transition is to support students’ social and emotional wellbeing during what is likely to be one of the biggest changes in their lives, both go about doing so in different ways. Pastoral transition is most likely to focus on issues such as friendships, timekeeping, and adapting to structural changes to the day, whereas curricular transition is more likely to focus on maintaining students’ confidence in their knowledge and skills, whilst successfully building on these to introduce new concepts and challenges in a non-threatening way. Nonetheless, pastoral transition done well will have curricular benefits, and vice versa. 30

Pastoral Transition

Curricular Transition

Open evening

Cross-phase teaching between KS2 and KS3

HoH/HoY visits to primary schools

Transition projects

Exchange of information between primary and secondary SENDCos

Pride pieces

A staggered opening at the beginning of the academic year

Shared language between phases

Transition days

Standardisation that spans from EYFS KS5

Whatever we might have to say about the year 2020 so far, one thing is for sure:

it has given us reason to reflect, review and re-evaluate. At a time of year when we would normally be sending year 6 up to secondary school, or hosting transition

events, we instead find ourselves reacting to almost daily changes to our timetables, with far fewer students in front of us that any would have expected. In this odd time

I urge you to reflect upon your school’s transition offer and ensure that it is as strong as it can be, both in terms of pastoral care and curricular vigour.


Book reviews A-Z of Transitions by Divya Jindal-Snape £15.99 Of Divya’s many excellent publications, this book is certainly a seminal text in the field of educational (and life) transitions. It

perfectly summarises the vast range of different elements that

need to be considered in transitional periods, using digestible

chunks of relevant research to exemplify each topic. The books is perfect to dip in and out of dependent on your needs at any

given time, and provides bitesize portions of CPD that are easy to read and endlessly useful.

Go Big: The Secondary School Survival Guide by Matthew Burton £7.99 Matthew Burton has written the guide to ‘big’ school that arguably every child needs. He has addressed all of the

most common worries children have regarding primary to secondary transition, acknowledging that many of these haven’t changed since his own childhood (head getting flushed down the loo, anyone?). Crucially, Burton has

structured the text to ensure that the different stages of

transition are addressed: before the move, arrival at secondary school, settling in, and then into the future. Surely this book

is a contender for shelf space in all school libraries and every teen’s bookcase!


Blogs The Happy Leader Hosted by Lucy Flower, an SLE in transition and attendance, this blog is home to the

‘Metamorphoses Collection’, a series of blogs commissioned during isolation by Paul Keen and written by a group of experts in educational transitions.

Transition Matters Transition Ed 2020 host Liz Stevenson, the Transition Manager for Sandwell Council, also writes a regular blog about all things transition. Most of Liz’s writing ends to focus on the primary to secondary transition, but she blogs about pastoral and curriculum matters.

Research Centre for Transformative Change: Educational & Life Transitions Professor Divya Jindal-Snape is such an influential figure in the world of transition,

that it is no wonder her name crops up so frequently! However, in addition to many

books, articles, journal entries, speeches and presentations (along with a huge body of ongoing work at the University of Dundee) Divya also the Chair of the Board

which oversees the International Network of Transition Researchers and the Research Centre for Transformative Change. To get a flavour of what this group of researchers are studying, their blog is certainly worth a read. Also, you can follow both networks on Twitter: @TCELT_Research and @IntrTcelt


Building wellbeing through residentials


A le d

O p ac cr o

Building wellbeing through outdoor adventure is key to helping young people effectively deal with adversity and change. YHA has over 90 years’ experience of working in partnership with schools to deliver memorable and life-changing residentials across England and Wales.

O vi



Why choose YHA? A YHA residential provides plenty of fun outdoor challenges and meaningful learning opportunities. They enable young people to increase their resilience and develop bonds with their peers and teachers through transitions and beyond. Our flexible approach to planning your residential sets us apart from other providers. Whether you want a self-led adventure, the whole place to yourselves, activities and meals provided, or a bespoke combination, our experienced staff will create a tailor-made residential to meet the educational needs of your class and offer exciting ways to engage, challenge and inspire every member of your group. Over 80 LOtC accredited sites – the most of any provider in the UK Choose from 130 unique properties across England and Wales, from grand mansions to mountain lodges, country houses to coastal retreats Ideal for celebration, transition and enrichment programmes Our self-led options give you the freedom to run your own residential whilst enjoying a wide range of accommodation and group-friendly facilities Free planning visits and leader places available Tailored, affordable options to suit each and every group. Hire a whole hostel for exclusive use from as little as £299 per night. Our experienced team are here to help you with every aspect of planning your visit, contact us on For the full range of YHA programmes please visit


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