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Cure for big school blues

Primary practice is helping acclimatise vulnerable pupils to life in a secondary, reports Stephen Lucas

A Northamptonshire secondary has set up a primary-style classroom for children who find the move to "big school" difficult.

Corby community college's 15 feeder primaries have drawn up a list of 14 vulnerable pupils who will be taught most subjects by a single teacher from the start of the new academic year.

Trish Rose, a Year 6 teacher at Studfall junior, Corby, will take the group every morning and one afternoon a week.

"Moving to a secondary school is daunting for me too - the increase in the number of bodies per square metre and all the different ages. However, I will bite the bullet.

"The children and I have chosen the colour scheme - no magnolia. They will have a place where they can store their books like in primary school. It will be like my Year 6 room. I want to make it as welcoming as possible," she said.

The children will be taught English, maths, science, history and geography together and will join the rest of their Year 7 classmates for lessons such as drama and music in which specialist equipment is needed.

Seven pupils from Exeter junior school, Corby, will be part of the group.

Iain Peden, Exeter's headteacher, said: "It is a smashing idea. I have seen fairly well-rounded Year 6s leave here and six months later have major problems at secondary school, even getting excluded. Some are just not mature enough. It is often more a problem for boys.

"At long last, secondary schools are starting to use primary practice.

Children are judged too much on their academic performance at secondary school. That can lead to frustration and rebellion."

Corby community college, which has a mixed intake of 11-18 pupils, holds a nurturing group for vulnerable pupils twice a week in which pupils learn how to make friends, discuss problems at home and even learn how to use a knife and fork, if necessary.

Chris Steed, the school's learning manager, said: "There has been a need for this for a long time. The bridging group will be an extension of the nurturing group in many ways."

In London, an agreement between primaries and secondaries for them to teach similar English and maths lessons has been brokered through the national secondary strategy. This means that when pupils transfer to senior school, they will have had a similar experience in these subjects.

* newsdesk@tes.co.uk

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