School transitions: why we need to talk about them

When children make the leap from nursery to primary – or primary to secondary – those who once thrived can struggle in their daunting new surroundings. Henry Hepburn explores different approaches to a period that can make or break a child’s experience of education

How to get the transition period right

Think about how unsettled people feel in an airport. It’s no wonder: you’re disorientated and rushed; the ropey food is overpriced but you can’t go elsewhere; you get ordered to remove items of clothing and go through full-body scanners in front of onlookers; you are corralled into sweaty holding pens, where you fret about whether you’ve forgotten something; and loudspeakers bark unintelligible orders at you.

But once through the other side of this weird, discombobulating limbo, says early-years expert Aline-Wendy Dunlop, you feel like a “real person” again – because you’re returned to ...

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