An easier step up to secondary

Pupils will start 'transition' English and maths units at the end of primary. Helen Ward reports on the latest tactic to combat the dip in performance

MANY pupils starting secondary school this autumn will spend their first two weeks finishing off work started at primary school.

The move is a novel tactic in the drive to combat the dip in performance at the start of secondary school.

The Department for Education and Skills has published two units of work designed to smooth the transition to senior schooling. It is the first time the Government has published transition units.

The four-week English unit uses a "journal" - inspired by the ship's log in Michael Morpurgo's novel Kensuke's Kingdom. Children work on their journals for two weeks at the end of primary school and continue with them at secondary school. The maths unit covers calculation and problem-solving. It is split into five lessons each for the end of Year 6 and the beginning of Year 7.

The scheme is being introduced because of growing concern about pupils'

failure to progress when they move to secondary schools. Cambridge University researchers have estimated that 40 per cent of pupils do not make expected progress during the year after a change of school.

Angela Moody, head of maths at Neale Wade community college in March, Cambridgeshire, has already agreed with teachers at six feeder primary schools to use the maths units this year.

She said: "The real advantage is the continuity between all the schools. For our teachers it means you do not have to prepare the first two or three lessons which are the difficult ones when you are still getting to know the children."

Simon Linney, Year 6 co-ordinator at Westwood Community junior school, March, said: "The idea is very good. It will help pupils and also help the secondary school to see what we are doing in maths.

"The English unit involves texts and so there has to be an agreement with all the feeder schools on which text to use. That has to be carefully planned and we are expecting to do that for 2003."

Guy Dickens, Cambridgeshire's general inspector for English, said: "The transition units are going to be very valuable. Children arrive in Year 7 having had different experiences and covered different texts. These units mean secondary schools are able to build on a common experience."

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