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Circle the issues

(Photograph) - For pupils at Eccleston St Mary, preparation for secondary school begins in reception. Throughout the Lancashire primary, teachers attempt to give pupils the emotional skills necessary for transition.

William Mann, the head, said: "You don't deal with emotional intelligence in Year 6. It needs to be embedded earlier on, and to change as children mature."

In circle-time, Eccleston pupils discuss relationships with other pupils, debating how they would solve playground problems without a teacher's intervention.

"Giving children a grounding in dealing with problems is as important as giving them a grounding in literacy and numeracy," said Mr Mann. His son David, a Year 6 pupil, agrees. "When you go to high school, it's hard to ask a teacher for help," he said. "If you can sort problems out for yourself, you're less likely to get into fights."

Photograph: Roger MoodyGuzelian

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